Fat Loss 2001! Part
There aren't too many things in this world
that we all seem to have a common interest in. Getting and/or staying
lean may be the exception. With the exception of a handful of athletes
that need extra bodyweight for their respective sport, and the fat
guy at the gym who always brags about his bench (you know the one
I'm talking about) because he doesn't have the discipline to deep-six
the Ho-Ho's for more than two days at a time, we all want to be
lean, attractive specimens deep down inside. If we didn't, would
the supplement industry have grown from a two billion-dollar-a-year
industry to a 14 billion-dollar-a-year industry in no time flat?
What's been responsible for this industrial
uprising of mammoth proportions? Well, simply put, there are actually
good companies out there putting out products that actually work
now - imagine that. A huge percentage of these products happens
to also be products aimed at the fat-loss population, which is bar-none,
the largest segment of the industry. After all, we all need to shed
a little blubber here and there. This doesn't discriminate against
any group. Bodybuilders need to be lean, most athletes need to be
lean, middle-aged corporate America wants to be lean, hell, even
my Grandpa likes to be lean. We all want to be lean for both functional
and aesthetic purposes.
So are all these handy-dandy little pills
the Pandora's Box of fat-loss they proclaim to be? Well, to be honest,
some of them certainly do help, but not as a stand alone solution.
Fat loss gurus don't seem to agree on much these days, but one thing
they will all agree on is this - diet comes first! No supplement
will ever get you ripped without the right diet, and that's nuf'
said bout' that.
That leads us to the next obvious question.
What in the name of Joe-friggin-Weider is the best diet to follow
to get lean? There are so many diets! I'm so damn confused! Just
simma' down now my friend and pay attention while we attempt to
put all of these dietary complexities together for you in a easy-to-understand
format. The intent of this article is to simply lay down some basic
(yet often overlooked) rules to abide by when trying to dump bodyfat
with minimal muscle loss. Let's get it on!
Rule one- Don't eat more carbs than your
Notice I didn't say, don't eat any carbs.
I don't care what some of the so-called diet experts claim. Weight-training
athletes need carbs, period. Here's a simple equation for us all
to abide by: adequate dietary carbohydrates + weight training= full
glycogen stores (i.e. fuller, more attractive muscles and a faster
metabolism) inadequate dietary carbohydrates + weight training=
low glycogen stores (i.e. you look like a wuss... and feel like
We all know that moderating the carbs
is a necessity for getting lean, but how low is too low. Generally
speaking, a 200lb male will not do well going below a carb intake
of .5g/lb of bodyweight on non-lifting days and .75/lb of bodyweight
on lifting days, and these numbers are not in stone by any means.
They are merely a guideline for minimum intake. Most athletes will
do better on a slightly higher intake than this depending on activity
levels. At this rate, a 200lb athlete will consume 100g of carbs
on off-days and 150g of carbs on lifting days. In actuality, most
will probably do better somewhere between 200g-250g on the lifting
days assuming you have at least an average metabolism. The carb
sources are cut and dry, as the staple bodybuilder carbs haven't
changed for years - Potatoes, rice, yams, oatmeal, beans and as
many greens as you need for filler food, very simple stuff. Though
Dr. Atkins and Dr. Sears may attempt to have me lynched for providing
this list of wonderful, high-glycemic carbohydrates, I still stand
by it, cause' it's always worked. One grave mistake that dieters
fail to make when addressing the glycemic index issue is the overall
GI of the meal, not just the carb. Most athletes are sitting down
to a big chicken breast, and a small portion of rice and black beans
with salsa with perhaps a tsp or two of olive oil. This is a very
low glycemic meal, regardless of the fact that the white rice may
be topping the charts glycemically speaking. Don't fail to consider
the balance of the meal. This is ultimately what matters.
Rule Two- Cardio on Empty, Lifting on
Once again, I realize I may be going against
the grain with this statement, but I've proven this to be true time
and time again. I've heard many well known sources recommend lifting
and/or cardio on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. I
can only agree with half of this statement. Moderate AM cardio before
breakfast definitely works, if not abused and overused. It takes
advantage of low insulin levels and minimal glucose availability.
Morning lifting on a low-carb diet however is a different story.
The muscle functions much better after putting down a few carbs
throughout the day (increased ATP availability if nothing else)
as well as being more resistant to breakdown, thanks to our anabolic
friend, insulin. That's one you can definitely take to the bank.
I've never seen a lifter on a low carb diet have the same size or
muscle fullness when training in the morning vs. training in the
afternoon or evening, sans steroid use. Now remember, I'm not knocking
morning workouts altogether here. I'm simply saying that this tends
to be very true on a low carb regimen. So in a perfect world, schedule
permitting, I would recommend splitting cardio and lifting into
an A.M./P.M. format. You will appreciate what I'm talking about
when you try this for yourself.
Rule Three - Don't slack on the protein
Don't underestimate the power of cranking
up protein levels when trying to lose fat. I can't believe the number
of people that still ask me, "Won't all the extra protein make me
fat?". This is important for a number of reasons. One, protein has
the greatest thermic effect of any macronutrient, bar-none. In other
words, protein actually expends a greater number of calories merely
digesting than a fat or carbohydrate does. Explaining this in detail
goes way beyond the scope of this article but the lesson to take
away here is don't ever slack on protein intake during a fat loss
diet. Secondly, protein induces glucagon which plays an important
role not only in regulating blood-sugar levels when carb intake
is low, but also in mobilizing fatty-acids as fuel that is usable
by the body. Last, but not least, I believe that increasing the
protein when dropping carbs a bit will act as somewhat of a safeguard
against muscle loss. Don't take this out of context though. It's
not a be-all-end-all solution as so much muscle maintenance is hormonal
as well. Not to mention, glucagon does mobilize aminos as fuel also.
It is my belief that the extra dietary protein will be utilized
by the body as a fuel source in lieu of carbs rather than going
right for the muscle tissue, especially if it's a readily available
protein that doesn't require much digestion, such as whey.
Rule Four - Deep six the protein bars!
Okay, I'm writing this entirely under
the notion that Worldwide Nutrition probably won't be calling me
anytime soon to advertise their Pure Protein Bars. On that note,
here's my beef with protein bars. Numero uno, most protein bars
have an absurd amount of "hydrolyzed protein" in them. Hydrolyzed
protein (unless it specifically states that it is whey) is actually
a euphemism for hydrolyzed gelatin, the armpit of the protein universe.
While gelatin is technically a protein, it is not a complete protein
nor is it a very digestible protein. Have you ever seen anyone pack
on the mass from eating those Jello bowls with the cute little marshmallows
in them? Uhhhh, I didn't think so. Not to mention, we all know how
important protein quality is on a diet. It will make a difference
when it comes to reducing muscle loss. Numero dos, the soft, chewy
texture of the bars that we all have grown to love is actually due
to the high amount of glycerin that these bars contain. While glycerin
does seem to have applications for endurance athletes, I can promise
you it's not the answer for getting lean.
Rule Five - Don't eat when you're depressed
I know it's so easy to want to gorge ourselves
in fatty foods when when we're feeling blue, but this is when we
must muster our powers-that-be from deep within and resist these
kinds of temptations. Pick yourself up! Grab a copy of Chicken
Soup for the Overweight Soul. Uhhhh, yeah Arik, whatever you
say dude. Okay, relax you hardcore guys. I'm just poking a little
fun at the self-help fanatics.
1, 2, 3, 4... Put Down That Damn Tootsie
So there's the rock bottom basics of dieting
for fat loss. If you want to be lean, and you aren't applying these
rules to your program, you need to adopt them pronto. In the second
installment of this article we'll dip deeper into some lesser known
dieting tricks and map out the specifics of designing a training
protocol for optimal fat loss. Until then, you'll just have to keep
being fat. Nahhhh, just kidding! This first installment will definitely
get the fat-loss-ball rolling. After this it's all icing on the
cake. Now it's time to get to the store and stock up on some goodies.
Hey, put those Twinkie's down!