02-02-2004, 04:54 AM #1
Maintaining muscle mass while cutting
Maintaining muscle mass while cutting
This is a common question asked by many. Below is a compilation of my findings and understandings with regard to maintaining all mass while cutting.
Many things must be taken into account while dieting; among them are:
Your metabolism is everything. It is one of the reasons that low calorie diets do not work. The only way to get rid of fat is to burn more calories in one day than we consume. See, with low calorie diets, you lose almost as much muscle mass as fat- which is not our goal. The key is to work with, not against our bodies. As muscle mass decreases, metabolic rate does as well, therefore we burn less calories at rest. (Basal Metabolic Rate). In order to maximize fat loss, we need to keep our metabolism up. This is accomplished through weight training (metabolism up after a workout for several hours), meal frequency (body temp goes up as food is digested, increasing metabolic rate), thermogenics such as ephedrine, and meal timing (ingesting carbs at breakfast and post workout will help regulate thyroid hormones and this is when your muscles are depleted the most. Your carbs will be used to replenish these stores rather than be stored as fat. It is also at breakfast and post workout that we can maximize the anabolic effects of insulin.
Insulin is a crucial factor in the burning of fat. On the flipside, it is important in the storing of fat. Insulin is produced in the pancreas as is glucagons. Glucagon has the opposite effect of insulin. Where insulin decreases the amount of glucose in the blood, glucogon increases the concentration, both working together to maintain your normal glucose levels. Glucagon releases fatty acids from your fat stores and prepares then to be burned as energy. In other words, it is responsible for releasing your fat stores. However, in order for glucagon to be released, you must control your insulin release. Naturally, the lower the insulin level, the higher the glucagon level. Less insulin = more fat burned. Problem is we need insulin to get nutrients/amino acids into our muscle cells. This is where we maximize the anabolic effects of insulin mentioned before. The more nutrients that your muscles get, the greater the anabolic effect when we weight train. Insulin also suppresses cortisol, the hormone reposible for taking protein away from your muscles. Although all food that we eat causes a release of insulin, carbs cause the highest insulin spike. The simpler the carb, the higher the spike. The more complex and fibrous the carb, the slower the release of insulin. There is only one circumstance whereby a high release of insulin will not cause us to store fat. When your body needs to replenish its muscle stores, we will not store fat. This happens twice a day, breakfast and postworkout. These are the two times that we want to take full advantage of the anabolic properties of insulin. Another factor in insulin sensitivity but I'll leave that for another time.
The most important macronutrient whether we are bulking or cutting is protein. When cutting, if we don't consume enough protein then our bodies will be forced to get it from our muscles. Result - decreased muscle mass, slower metabolism, etc.. The specifics of protein I will again leave out of this thread. In order to maintain our muscle mass we will need to consume 1 - 1.5 grams of protein for per lb of body weight. Glucagon is also released after protein consumption. Carbs are helpful in maintaining our metabolism but can be cycled to prevent fat storage. Carbs should be consumed as mentioned previously - breakfast and post workout with complex carbs such as oatmeal for breakfast, dextrose post workout (insulin spike) and more complex carbs - ideally such as green, fibrous vegetables in your post workout meal. Another way is to increase carbs every 4th week which I'll get into shortly. Fats are without a doubt a necessity. It is impossible to completely regulate fats. With the huge amounts of meats that we consume, you are guaranteed to get them. Essential fatty acids are, well - essential. These EFAs from omega 3, omega 6 and omega 9 sources have a host of benefits. EFAs decrease catabolism, help with our cholesterol, assist with the burning of fat stores, increase the secretion of growth hormones, increase insulin sensitivity and maximize testosterone levels . Need any other reasons to supplement with EFAs?
There are many ways to determine just how many calories we need in our diet. The one that I have found to be the best is to determine our basal metabolic rate first. For men, 67 + (12.7 x height in inches) + (6.24 x weight in pounds) - (6.9 x age) = basal metabolic rate ( BMR ). For women, 661 + (4.33 x height in inches) + (4.38 x weight in pounds) - (4.7 x age) = BMR. Then calculate your activity level to get your energy expenditure. Mutiply your BMR by 1.2 if your activity level is light, 1.5 for moderate and 1.8 for heavy. This will give you the number of calories you must consume in order to maintain your current bodyweight. Now of course we must decrease this number in order to cut. The ideal situation is to not decrease the number of calories dramtically so we won't shut down our metabolism. Decrease your number of daily calories by 10% in your first week, and additional 10% of your maintainance level in your second and another 10% in your third week. For a person who has a maintainance level of 2500 cals per day - in your first week you've consumed your maintainace level minus 1750 calories, your second week maintainance minus 3500, third minus 5250 for a total of 10,500 calories. The fourth week, eat your regular maintenance level calories. This will keep your metabolism up. The combination of the decrease of calories and your proper diet will shed those pounds while keeping your muscle mass.
Eating more meals per day also has its benefits. Instead of eating 3 - 800 cal meals, eat 6 - 400 cal meals. There are several reasons for this. First, with less cals per meal, the more likely your body will use it as energy and not store it as fat. Also, this will keep your metabolic rate up because the digestion of food will increase your body temperature. When our body temp rises, calories are burn at a higher rate. Another benefit is that because we are eating more often, the body doesn't realize the cal reduction therefore our thyroid levels will not drop drastically.
This brings us up to supplements. Multivitamins/minerals should be taken whether we are bulking or cutting. EFAs we already mentioned. Udo's oil is an excellent choice. Protein is a given. People who do not have the means or the time to eat 6 meals a day will greatly benefit from a product such as Myoplex. Ephedrine is a must because of its thermogenic properties not to mention the increased energy. Caffeine is also a good idea. Not only will it compliment the ephedrine but will help increase your concentration when you need to stay focused at the gym. Caffeine tablets will work better for you than coffee. BCAAs are also necessary which can be gotten from products such as BCAA stak from Universal. You will also benefit from ALA. ALA ( alpha lipoic acid ) increases the amount of glucose your muscle cells can take, preventing it from going to the fat cells. Taken before carb consumption, insures those carbs are disposed of properly, maintaining healthy low insulin levels. Tropical gels/creams to increase lipolysis are an option. Creatine and glutamine are always a great supplement.You also need chromium everyday and extra vitamin C. Another supplement worth mentioning is ZMA. Zinc and magnesium are of extreme importance. So much so that the amounts in your mutlivitamin/mineral and your diet may not be enough. Zinc assists in healing, tissue repair, and muscle growth. Zinc also has been said to help increase insulin-like growth factor 1, growth hormones and testosterone . It also helps prevent lactic acid. Magnesium activates enzymes necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids, promotes muscle strength and endurance and also is needed for the delievery of oxygen into your muscles. It also will help you sleep. This is by no means a complete list of supplements. There are many others such as T2 and a host of others as well that you will reap many benefits from.
And as far as carido goes- JUST DO IT!!! Enough said?
When it comes to training, keep in mind that we are preserving our current muscle mass, not trying to build more. There's no need to completely tear that mucle down to rebuild it. 3 sets per bodypart, 10 - 12 reps per set is more than enough. Keep your weights at a moderate level without going to failure. As mentioned before, we want to work with our bodies - not against it. No need to train heavy. Save the heavy training for the bulking stages.
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