Faster Fat Loss: My "Hardcore" Tip
Halfway through February folks…halfway. Pitchers and catchers are about report to spring training (yaaay), and birds will start trekking north soon enough.
It means that it’s time to start dropping some of that winter weight. Whether you were bulking up and trying to put on a few new pounds of muscle, or just couldn’t keep your hands out of the Christmas cookie jar; now it is time to shed your layer and look more shredded than a bowl of cheddar jack cheese.
I’m sure you are tired of many of the same old diet tips that recycle year after year, blog-after-blog, and so I’m going to hopefully shed some light on a few new techniques we can implement to get better results than ever before.
Bodybuilding and figure competitions require exceptional levels of fat loss, water management, and dedication toward perfection. Some of the methods utilized by high level bodybuilders can actually be UNHEALTHY, and even dangerous. However, there are some techniques and methods used in a common “cutting” cycle that can be adapted to fit a regular-ol’ person’s lifestyle and boost fat loss to new levels.
Today I’m going to talk about one of my favorite techniques for cutting fat off your frame and reaching new heights with your body.
Carbohydrate cycling is actually my favorite way to help clients kick off a few additional pounds. It requires their commitment to at least 5 exercise days per week, and a consistency with the tenets of a healthy diet (limit junk food, no binges, etc.).
Thus, if you struggle to meet these criteria I’d aim to meet them for an extended period of time before undertaking an “advanced” dietary strategy.
The concept of carbohydrate cycling is based upon emptying and subsequently refilling glycogen stores in the body. Glycogen is the stored form of glucose (blood sugar) in the body and is necessary for muscular activity. It is stored in skeletal muscles as well as the liver and is depleted after intense bouts of exercise. Sufficient glycogen stores can power amazing workouts that lead to PRs and new bests, while depleted glycogen stores can quickly derail even the best of intentions.
I coach carbohydrate cycling in terms of a seven-day week. For most clients I ask that they do three consecutive days at lower-than-normal carbohydrate intake, followed by two days of higher-than-normal intake.
The week is then rounded off with two consecutive days of eating the recommended amount of carbohydrates for the client’s body.
What does this do?
When the body is deprived of carbohydrates in the diet, especially in the presence of intense exercise it is going to compensate for lowered glycogen levels by drawing on blood glucose. Yet, if you aren’t eating many carbohydrates in your diet, then how can you create glucose?
Gluconeogenesis. It is the process of creating glucose (which eventually becomes glycogen) from other sources such as proteins and……..fats.
Your body will burn body fat for fuel when there is an absence of carbohydrates.
This isn’t Earth-shattering news though, because many people have been utilizing low carbohydrate diets for many of years (Atkins, etc.). The secret to success is reinserting carbohydrates in supra-adequate amounts to compensate for the energy loss of previous days, while simultaneously reaching in the gym.
Whether it is your hardest set of intervals for the week, or deadlift day…the focus is to get in there and use those carbohydrates.
The additional carbohydrates will relax hormones that slow fat loss efforts, and boost your energy levels back to healthy amounts. When added to the two days of “normal” consumption one can expect feeling fully refreshed heading into their next week of training!
This reset will give you a boost physically and mentally as you drop your carbohydrates back down and work through another phase.
Advanced Tip: If you are a seasoned veteran who is very in tune with your diet and workouts, then you can increase your diet “down” days to 4, and removing a “normal” day on the backend. I’d recommend working up to this, and going no more than 4 days of low carbohydrates at any point.
Rules of the Trade:
1. On your “low carbohydrate days” start by dropping only by 200 calories of carbohydrates per day during the first week, and 400 in the 2nd-6th week. This equates to 50 grams of carbohydrates during week 1, and about 100 grams every thereafter. Don’t get cute and add to this, less IS NOT better.
2. On your “high carbohydrate days” increase carbohydrate intake by 200 calories above normal during the first week (to avoid bloating), and 400 calories above normal during the 2nd through 6th weeks. This is no more than 50 to 100 grams of carbohydrates. Don’t binge and overeat just because you can!
3. Do your best to keep your calories in check. On those depletion days do not reach for additional fats. Almonds are healthy, but even they can be overconsumed.
4. Focus on your protein intake. I recommend no less than your bodyweight in grams during phases of low carbohydrate intake, and no less than .8 of your bodyweight in grams during the high/normal phases.
5. Focus on whole foods with health benefits when selecting your carbohydrates. Gatorade is full of carbs, but it doesn’t make it a great option in your diet for fat loss.
As always, let me know if you need anything from me, or want some guidance through the process. I’m always here to design your program, and build your diet!