STRATEGY 3: CASUAL CARDIO
Many cut-up plans use the shock-and-awe method: They require not only drastic diet alterations but long, heavy bouts of cardio. Truth is, you don’t need a lot of cardio to trim the fat if your diet is solid. Losing fat is the cumulative result of what you eat, how you eat and how much you eat, coupled with hardcore weight training. Yet cardio certainly has its place as a stimulus.
Used in moderation, cardio allows you to get over fat-loss plateaus without altering your diet too much. This week, do two moderate sessions (yes, just two) of 30-40 minutes apiece. That’s enough to facilitate fat loss. Remember, the body isn’t a machine. If you try to force fat off, it can backfire, with the body downgrading its metabolism and the amount of calories it burns in response to exercise and diet.
STRATEGY 4: GET LEAN WITH PROTEIN & LEUCINE
By the second week, after you’ve cut carbs and increased your cardio, the body will start to look for alternatives to bodyfat for fuel. Unfortunately, muscle tissue is often its first source. You can reduce that effect by increasing your regular protein intake by 50 grams per day. Either add a protein shake or two or increase your protein intake at the meals you eat before and after training—another 25 grams pre- and postworkout should do the trick. That’s a second scoop of whey protein or about 3-4 ounces of chicken, fish or lean meat.
You can also add a leucine supplement before and after training. Leucine can halt muscle breakdown, aka catabolism. The unfortunate part of attempting to get leaner is that the body often tears down protein, including muscle tissue, at a far greater clip than when calories and carbs are much higher. So to prevent the loss of protein and muscle tissue and the dropoff in metabolism that comes with it, add 5-8 grams of leucine pre- and postworkout.
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Interesting that alcohol can be seen as acutely protein-sparing in the sense that it halts oxidation of all 3 macronutrients. Not that it would be a good basis for binge drinking, but good information to know.
Question: You posted a link to Matt Stone's post about low-carb diets and lowered metabolic rate. I am wondering if metabolism is more affected by glycogen levels themselves or by the mere act of eating enough carbs to prevent the drop in thyroxine output.
1) What if I ate 150g of carbs prior to a completely glycogen-depleting training session? Would my metabolism still drop due to low glycogen? Or is it the fact that I ate enough carbs for the day that would prevent the drop? In other words, what if I did the training session first, followed by consumption of 150g of carbs? Now, those carbs would go toward glycogen resynthesis.
2) Does the makeup of the carb matter? What if out of 120g of carbs I ate in a day, 50-75g of it was fructose? Now hepatic glycogen may be full for a while, but that doesn't leave much for muscle glycogen. Which glycogen tank is more intimately linked to the CHO-T3 axis?