How do the bodybuilding champions stay ripped all year? Veeerrry carefully. There are a few blessed with the genetic predisposition not to store bodyfat, but most of the champs, like most of us, store it easily in considerable quantities. After a few tries at remaining shredded, most people throw in the towel and blubber up again.
Don’t quit. If you are always smooth unless you practically starve yourself, this article could change your life. By following a set of simple rules you can gradually get lean, very lean. You’ll know you are doing well when people start asking if you had liposuction. Keep yourself that lean for 1-2 years and your body will start to recognize that low level of fat as correct for you. Your metabolism will adjust so that fat is not stored so easily. The basic rules for this exciting change are shown in the 11 following rules. We will go over each in turn.
NEVER CRASH DIET
Never again reduce your calories to the point of hunger and weakness. Whenever you do, your body might lose fat, but only temporarily. Such dieting increases the production and the biological activity of a fat-storage enzyme called lipoprotein lipase. When you go off the diet, this enzyme continues to be overactive. It collects fat and deposits it again with such efficiency that your bodyfat is soon slightly higher than it was before you began. Thus, as a direct result of dieting, you have increased your bodyfat.
Dieting also slows down your resting metabolic rate, so it becomes harder for your body to use up calories. The latest studies by Dr. Diana Elliot and colleagues at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland show that this reduced metabolic rate can persist for two months following a diet of the same duration. During that period, the reduced metabolic rate alone could put back all the fat you have lost and then some. Combine it with the lipoprotein lipase effect described above, and a stringent diet of two months could result in your being 5 pounds heavier than ever. Do this once a year for 10 years and you have 50 extra pounds of fat. That is why 95% of weight loss diets fail. So never diet again.
LOSE BODYFAT SLOWLY
Male bodybuilders usually have less than 18% bodyfat, while women bodybuilders have usually less than 25%. At these levels, bodyfat loss of more than about 1 pound per week also stimulates the fat storage enzymes. Any surplus calories are then grabbed for conversion to bodyfat, even in preference to energy requirements. The result is failure to lose more fat, rapid fatigue during training, and loss of ability to train intensely The fat stays on and the muscle growth stops. Sound familiar?
Keep bodyfat loss below a pound a week and the body defense system usually cannot detect it. Losses can continue steadily until the fat level for men is down to about 10%, for women about15%.
To know whether you are losing fat and not muscle, you must have your fat and lean weight tested regularly. Underwater weighing is fairly accurate but expensive and time-consuming. Impedance and inductance methods [both of which use an electric circuit] are fast, cheap, convenient and reliable to within about 1%.
TAKE SUPPLEMENTARY NUTRIENTS
When eating only enough to maintain muscle and training energy, it’s doubtful that your diet contains even the RDA of vitamins and minerals. Dr. Paul Chance and colleagues did an analysis of all the popular diets, including the Richard Simmons, F-plan and I Love America diets. All of them provided less than the RDA for some nutrients.
The answer is to take a good multi-vitamin and -mineral supplement every day. It should contain at least 100% of the USRDA for all nutrients. The Colgan Institute recommends to athlete clients a daily supplement containing over of the RDAS.
REDUCE YOUR FATS
Most bodybuilders know about avoiding fats, especially after the studies showing that fat calories are deposited as bodyfat more easily than calories from other foods. But keeping fats down is difficult. They are hidden everywhere in our foods. Many types of dry crackers, for example, are 40-45% fat, about the same level as the American diet in general.
Worst fats are the saturated kind found in high quantities in red meats, egg yolks, dairy foods, poultry and palm, palm kernel and coconut oils. But all fats are suspect. Even those in virgin olive oil are 16% saturated. Fats in most vegetable oils are 12-20% saturated.
Keep your total fat intake to 15% of daily calories, with only 3-4% as saturated fats. Hard to do. Even a couple of ounces of cheese or a tuna melt blows it. And forget the steak and eggs entirely.
AVOID FAD DIETS
Even the best of the fad diets don’t work. Our findings are confirmed by research reported in the American Journal of Public Health. Researchers studied over 200 people who had lost an average of 84% of their excess fat on these medically supervised programs. Less than three years later they had regained 60-80% of the flab!
CUT THE SUGAR
If you exercise daily and you emphasize complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and vegetables, they are unlikely to turn to bodyfat. Complex cabs are slowly adsorbed and released as energy For the regular hard trainer this energy is used about as fast as it’s produced. There is little surplus to turn into bodyfat.
Sugar and refined carbohydrates such as white flour products are quite different. They are absorbed rapidly, driving up blood sugar. Above a very modest tolerance, blood sugar is a poison that attacks the sheaths of nerves and other tissues. So the body dumps the excess, by using insulin to convert it to saturated fats called triglycerides, which are then stored as bodyfat. Triglycerides are also deposited in arteries and organs, along with cholesterol, where they cause disease.
Even if a sugar food has the same number of calories as a complex carbohydrate food, it will deposit more bodyfat, because it created a temporary excess of blood sugar that threatens the body and must be disposed of by conversion to fat. To get ripped and stay ripped, you must consider sugars and refined carbohydrates a permanent no-no.
MAINTAIN CHROMIUM STATUS
The nutrient metal chromium acts on insulin metabolism to make it more efficient. In turn, insulin is a major regulator of sugar and fat in the body. Without an adequate supply of chromium, a condition develops called insulin resistance. Your insulin loses its efficiency and sugar and fat levels rise in the blood.
Dr. L. Fleg of the department of medicine at Yale University presents considerable evidence that insulin resistance slows the metabolic rate, thereby increasing deposit of bodyfat. Without sufficient chromium to prevent insulin resistance, staying ripped is probably impossible.
You would not have to worry if there were enough chromium in the American diet. But there isn’t. A recent study by the US Department of Agriculture shows that the average person gets less than 50 micrograms of chromium a day. Long-term studies show that a daily intake of 200-290 micrograms is required to maintain chromium status in sedentary people. Athletes need even more chromium.
One 200-mcg capsule will meet the needs of most people. Two such capsules are probably excessive, except for the largest of men. Never take more than 800 mcg. Higher doses of chromium are very toxic.
MAINTAIN L-CARNITINE STATUS
The main function of L- carnitine in the human body is as a transport system to move fats from storage areas to the mitochondria (furnaces) of the cells, where they are burned for energy. There is reasonable evidence that oral supplements of L-carnitine can increase cellular levels of L-carnitine, with the result that more fat is burned, sparing muscle.
L-carnitine can also increase exercise endurance. In one recent study, 44 men with stable angina were given 2 grams of L-carnitine daily for four weeks. Exercise tolerance on an ergometer bicycle increased significantly. Of course, these men were heart patients and their exercise levels were subnormal to start with, so this results does not automatically apply to athletes. Nevertheless, in numerous single-case studies with athletes at our institute, L-carnitine has increased exercise duration. Although single cases are scientifically lightweight, our conclusion from the medical literatore plus our own cases is that L-carnitine works.
So L-carnitine supplements increase use of bodyfat for fuel and they probably also increase endurance exercise. This second effect maybe as important as the first, if you are a bodybuilder trying to lose fat. Increased duration of exercise, of course, means longer on the bike, Stairmaster or rower, and thus more fat burned.
Caution: L-carnitine is expensive and costs more than many of the cheap carnitine supplements on the market, which are usually made of DL-carnitine (also called recemic carnitine). DL-carnitine is toxic, and poisoning of athletes with this substance has been reported.
Aerobics exercise early in the morning has two important benefits in fighting fat:
- It raises the metabolic rate for some hours afterward, thereby burning more calories.
- Earlybird exercise increases the proportion of fat used as fuel, and reduces the proportion of glvcogen used as fuel. Result: higher loss of bodvfat.
Working out in the evening raises metabolic rate also but it slows down again as soon as you go to bed.
In one study, volunteers exercised at half their maximum level for three hours in the morning. Metabolic rate was very elevated for 4-5 hours afterward. Even 18 hours afterward, metabolic rates averaged 5% higher than normal. If these subjects had exercised in the evening, most of this fat-burning effect would be lost by the automatic slow down of metabolism that occurred when they went to bed.
REGULATE INSULIN LEVELS
To stay ripped, you should avoid stimulating insulin production — getting on the insulin seesaw. Stimulating insulin production causes insulin to rise precipitously in the blood, then drop rapidly. Both ends of the insulin seesaw can cause food cravings. The high end also turns excess sugar into fats for deposit as bodyfat.
Stimulating insulin production includes high sugar intake, high-refined carbohydrate intake and excess coffee intake. Three other items bear mention:
- fish oils
If you eat at irregular times, your insulin production is also irregular and your blood sugar levels fluctuate. Skipping meals entirely is even worse. At the next meal, insulin production soars, with consequent increased storage of fats. You also get increased production of fats from sugar, again for storage. Then blood sugar declines sharply and boosts craving for snacks, especially high-sugar and high-fat snacks So…First, eat a least three meals at the same times each day.
Second, eat a high-fiber diet, 40-50 grams of fiber a day. One serving of an average high-fiber cereal will give you only 4-6 grams of fiber, so you have to work at it
Bodybuilder Menu for 50 Grams of Fiber
- 4 slices whole-grain bread – 10 grams
- Cup of cooked beans or lentils – 10 grams
- Cup of kashi pilaf – 10 grams
- Large mixed salad – 10 grams
- Large fresh fruit salad – 10 grams
In contrast you have to eat 13 slices of white or “enriched” bread, or eight cups of white rice pilaf, to get 10 grams of fiber. Scientists disagree about how fiber regulates insulin. All you have to know is that it does, and will help you keep down the bodyfat.
Third, ensure that your diet contains omega-3 fatty acids. These are the eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) in fish oils. Dr. Leonard Storlien and colleagues at Garyin Institute of Medical Research in New South Wales, Australia, have shown that animals fed a diet 6% of which is omega-3 fatty acids do not develop insulin resistance when given a diet that normally damages insulin metabolism.
Six percent of your diet as omega-3 equals 30 fish oil capsules a day. For bodybuilders, however, who are not subject to the damaging diet fed to these experimental animals, three 400-mg capsules a day are sufficient. Alternatively you can eat at least two meals per week of cold-water fish (salmon trout, sardines or mackerel) that are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
USE METABOLIC BOOSTERS
The amino acids L-arginine, L-trypthopan, L-ornithine and L-tyrosine as well as the mineral boron all indirectly affect fat metabolism by their effect on hormone levels. They have to be taken correctly, though, or the effect is canceled out.
All the above amino acids affect body-fat mainly by their action to increase release of growth hormone from the brain. To do so they have to get into the brain, past the blood/brain barrier. At the barrier they compete for transport with other amino acids. Suffice to say that the above amino acids have to be taken in multigram amounts at least two hours apart from other protein foods to be effective. Some people get intestinal upsets and/or headaches from this procedure. If you do, stop taking them.
When taken in an effective manner, L-arginine, L-ornithine, L-tyrosine and L-trypthopan all stimulate the release of human growth hormone (Rabinowitz et al. 1968, Turner 1972, Refs. 13,14). One of the well-established effects of increased growth hormone is an increase in the use of fats for energy and a reduction in bodyfat.
Boron acts differently It affects the parathyroid hormone and metabolism of testosterone. In a study by Dr. Forest Nielsen and colleagues at the USDA, 3 mg of boron a day raised testosterone in women. Testosterone acts to increase lean tissue and reduce fat tissue. Never use more than 6 mg/day however. Excess boron can be very toxic.
These are the 11 rules that divide the shredded from the smooth. If you are constantly fighting smoothness, try them and let me know how you do. Of course, you also have to watch your calories.