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Intermittent Fasting: Everything You Need To Know

Intermittent Fasting: Everything You Need To Know

Intermittent fasting may improve fat loss and allow you to eat more cheat foods than a traditional diet, but how do you do it, and how does it work? Jim Stoppani, PhD, has your answers!

I believe in thoroughly enjoying life and enjoying delicious foods, but I’m also passionate about maintaining a lean, muscular physique. These two pursuits, if you’ve never personally tried juggling them before, can be extremely difficult to balance.

That’s why I’ve been following an intermittent-fasting (IF) eating plan full time for a while. With IF, you can eat the foods you want—within reason, of course—and still possess a shredded physique. But I’m not just now hopping on the IF bandwagon; I’ve been a proponent of it for many years.

In fact, more than a decade ago, researchers from Yale University School of Medicine alongside a team at the University of Copenhagen explored fasting and fat loss, and their positive results in the lab have helped in my own pursuit of a lean physique ever since!

If, like me, you’re interested in living lean while enjoying some of your favorite foods along the way, IF may be exactly what you’ve been looking for. To help you decide, I’m going to answer some common questions about IF and offer some useful tips so you can get the most out of the program.

Q. What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is simply the practice of going an extended period of time taking in zero calories—basically drinking only plain water and either black coffee or tea. Many variations of IF exist, but my preferred method involves fasting for 16 hours, then eating all of my food during an eight-hour window commonly called the “feeding window.” This type of IF is often called “16/8” fasting.

Does Sleeping At Night Count As Hours Toward The Fast?

Yes, it does. So, for example, if you have a protein shake right before bed, then wake up eight hours later, you’re already eight hours into your fast with only eight more to reach your goal of 16.

What Can I Eat Or Drink While Intermittent Fasting?

Obviously, you don’t eat anything or consume any calories during your fasting hours. Water, of course, is perfectly fine. Other than that, opt for zero-calorie, unsweetened beverages. My personal favorites include black coffee—with no milk, cream, sugar, butter (for you Bulletproof-coffee fans), or anything else in it—and plain, unsweetened teas like black tea or green tea.

When it comes to calorie-free drinks with artificial sweeteners (like flavored waters and diet soda), there’s some uncertainty. There’s some evidence to show that some artificial sweeteners cause an insulin response, which would then blunt your ability to burn fat and contradict the point of being in a fasted state, but that’s up for debate in the scientific community.

To be on the safe side, I recommend not drinking artificially sweetened beverages during a fast. If you’re absolutely dying for something other than water or plain coffee or tea during the last few hours of a fast, opt for a sparkling water that’s very lightly flavored with something like natural lime.

Do I Need To Cram A Day’s Worth Of Meals Into Eight Hours?

Regarding the “feeding window,” or the joyous time during which you get to eat, you want to reach the same calorie and macronutrient totals as you were before—provided you were already on a solid diet plan that corresponded to your goals, of course.

You definitely don’t want to undereat during your feeding window, or you’ll compromise your performance in the gym and your ability to build or maintain muscle mass. Get in all of your nutrients, particularly protein.

In theory, you’ll be eating the same number of calories and macros per day, just with a different meal schedule than a typical eat-every-few-hours nutrition plan. Of course, you can always tweak calories and macros if and when your physique and training goals change.

What Are The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting?

Research has shown that fasting for relatively long periods may result in greater fat burning, even when total daily calorie intake remains the same. Most people find that they’re able to have a few more of their favorite “cheat” foods during the feeding window and still see results. This is why IF is such an appealing diet for many people.

Other reasons why so many individuals love IF are that’s it’s relatively easy to get used to and stick with, and it’s a diet you don’t have to discontinue—ever. You can do it long-term with no adverse health effects. Instead, you’ll actually see health benefits.

How Exactly Does Intermittent Fasting Enhance Fat Burning Compared To A Standard Diet?

The Yale/Copenhagen group published several papers showing that one of the key mechanisms in fasting-induced fat loss has to do with an increase in the activity of genes that increase the number of calories the body uses and the amount of fat it burns.[1,2]

When you fast, your body turns on genes that encode for certain uncoupling proteins and enzymes that increase fat oxidation. The uncoupling proteins basically “poke holes” in the mitochondria inside muscle cells. The mitochondria are where most of your energy is derived from, especially at rest. By poking holes in them, your mitochondria produce less energy and thus have to burn far more calories to produce the same amount of energy in the form of ATP.

In other words, you may use more calories as a fuel source during the fasted state, which can aid your weight-loss efforts.

Many other studies suggest that fasting may also provide numerous other health benefits like lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels, and even promoting greater longevity.[3,4]

What Should I Eat As My First Meal Following A Fast?

That’s a good question. IF allows you to be somewhat loose with your eating, but that doesn’t change the fact that high protein intake is important along with healthy, wholesome food choices. Coming off of a fast, I recommend a high-protein meal as opposed to one loaded with carbs.

Work from the lab at Yale found that when you fast and then refeed with a low-carb meal, the activity of the genes that increase calorie and fat burning are further increased with the meal. However, when you refeed with a high-carb meal, the activity of many of these genes is decreased. I recommend a high-protein meal—for example, eggs or a protein shake—as your initial food consumption following a fast.

How About BCAAs? Can I Sip On Those During My Fast?

I get why people do this: to help preserve muscle mass while in the fasted state. But when you’re consuming branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), you’re not truly fasting.

As you probably know, amino acids combine to form protein. There are 20 aminos that are used as the building blocks of protein, including the nine essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, valine, tryptophan, threonine, phenylalanine, methionine, lysine, and histidine), as well as the 11 nonessential amino acids (arginine, serine, cysteine, glycine, proline, alanine, tyrosine, aspartic acid, asparagine, glutamic acid, and glutamine). If you consume just one of these amino acids, you’re essentially consuming some small amount of protein and therefore are technically not fasting.

One exception for using BCAAs during fasting is if you train in a fasted state. Here, you can sip on BCAAs (along with the other aminos) during your workout. When you’re exercising, BCAAs are a powerful source of energy for the muscles. And since you’re just sipping on a drink with BCAAs in it, you’re not pounding down a bunch of them. The benefits of BCAAs for your workout outweigh any potential negatives on fasting.

Amino acids that aren’t proteinogenic can be consumed during fasting. For example, it’s OK to have beta-alanine, betaine, D-aspartic acid and—even though they’re not technically amino acids, but many people classify them as such—carnitine and creatine. These are fine to sip on during the day, especially if you’re training in a fasted state.

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The Simplest Weight-Loss Diet Ever!

The Simplest Weight-Loss Diet Ever!

Hardcore dieting can become a mess of food scales, portions, and hunger that very few survive. If you’re looking to lose weight without the stress, this article is for you!

From extreme calorie restriction, to sprawling “off-limit” food lists, to tracking every single morsel of nourishment, strict dieting can be a major turnoff. The so-called “best diet in the world” is useless if you can’t stick to it, and many popular restriction-based diets are downright hard to stick to!

If you want to lose weight without following a complicated rule book that dictates when and what you can eat, this article is for you. If you want to drop fat without feeling like you have to drop your social life, this article is for you. Simply put, if you want to shed excess weight and the stress that usually comes along with it, this article is for you.

Read these eight steps, start living them, train for fat loss a few days per week, and reap the benefits of a healthy diet without having to abandon the fun in your life.

1. Eat Protein And Vegetables At Every Meal

Protein is the key player when it comes to muscle growth and recovery. But outside of its invaluable muscle-building benefits, protein slows down digestion, keeping you fuller for longer, which means you’ll be less likely to stuff yourself silly if you eat an ample amount of it.

To keep overall calories at bay, choose lean proteins at every meal, ball-parking around 30 grams. If you’re unsure which lean protein options to choose, keep this advice in mind: “The fewer legs, the better.” Think about it: Between fish, two-legged poultry, and the four-legged cow and pig, fat content increases as the number of legs increases. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but this is a solid starting place when you’re unsure.

Lean protein sources: Chicken or turkey breast (no skin), pork tenderloin, filet mignon, sirloin, tenderloin, egg whites, low-fat Greek yogurt/milk, bison, venison, soy protein, whey protein

Vegetables contribute to your fullness because they’re high in both water and fiber. Water fills your stomach, and fiber slows down digestion, both of which can keep you from steering toward extra calories and sweets. Eating veggies is also a surefire way to increase vitamin and mineral intake, which is important for optimal health as well as cognitive and physical performance.

2. Eat Carbohydrates at Three Meals

Eat direct carbohydrate sources like oats, rice, and potatoes at three meals per day. Make sure that two of these meals include your pre- and post-workout meal. Carbohydrates are your body’s primary energy source, so consuming them at your pre-workout meal will help “top off” your fuel tank. This will help you give 100 percent effort during your training. In your post-workout meal, carbohydrates can enhance recovery and replenish your used fuel, so to speak.

Note: On nontraining days, when your activity is probably much lower, reduce carbohydrate-focused meals to two per day to account for the reduction in energy expenditure.

3. Choose Complex Carbs

Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates, due to their high fiber content. Choose complex carbs over simple, quick-digesting options to enhance fullness and provide your body with longer-lasting energy throughout the day.

A quick way to identify complex carbohydrates is by observing the color of the carbohydrate. The darker, more brown in color, the better the option usually is. For instance, opt for brown rice over white rice, or whole-wheat bread over white bread.

Carbohydrate Comparison

  • Complex carbs: Oats, brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, fruits, vegetables.
  • Simple carbs: Cookies, cakes, chips, pretzels, sugar-sweetened beverages, candy.

4. Eat More Healthy Fats

Fat is a (ridiculously delicious) nutrient that promotes fullness because it digests slowly. Fat is very calorie-dense, so the type of fat you choose is critical. Eating primarily “healthy,” unsaturated fats has been suggested to improve blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, blood pressure, and weight loss.[1-6]

The Fat Facts

  • Unsaturated Fats: Avocado, fatty fish, olive oil, canola oil, omega-3 fish oil supplements, nuts, seeds, nut butters, flax seed.
  • Saturated Fats: Coconut oil, reduced- and full-fat milk, cheese and yogurt, butter, egg yolks, animal meats.

5. Use Your Hands

Measuring out every morsel of food can be a real pain in the butt. Fortunately, you can absolutely lose weight without weighing all your food. Of course, portion control is still an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but there’s an easier way: Just use your hands!

Palm of protein: Consume a palm-sized portion of protein each time you eat. Choose complete protein options (animal, soy, or quinoa) for most of your meals to ensure you’re getting all the essential amino acids necessary to optimize muscle growth and recovery.

Fist of carbs: For both vegetables and more starchy carbohydrates like oats, rice, and potatoes, use your fist to eyeball the right portion size. You can always go over on nonstarchy veggies to get more vitamins, minerals, and food in your tummy.

Thumb of fats: For liquid fats such as oils, spreads, and butters, incorporate two thumb-sized portions 3-4 times per day, preferably not too close to your training session. For solid fats such as nuts and seeds, count out one serving according to the package, which typically provides around 15 grams of fat. (For example, 24 almonds is one serving.)

6. Eat More Frequently

Let go of the traditional three-meals-per-day mindset and provide your body with the fuel it needs every 3-4 hours to stay full and maximize protein synthesis (MPS), which is the body’s muscle-building process. Whether you have big meals or small snacks, you should have protein every time you eat! Eating protein every 3-4 hours will help you maintain that precious, hard-earned muscle while on a fat-loss diet.

Around 20-30 grams of complete protein turns on muscle protein synthesis for approximately 90 minutes, and then MPS returns to baseline within three hours. By eating every 3-4 hours, you “turn on” your body’s ability to build muscle as often as possible throughout the day.

Also, keep in mind that the longer you go without food, the more likely you are to indulge in a high-calorie, high-sugar option. This is because your brain recognizes sugar as a rapidly available fuel source. Hello, cravings! Even more, long periods without food will reveal your hangry side, which nobody likes—not even you.

7. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Staying hydrated is one of the easiest ways to keep hunger under control. Filling up on fluids stretches your stomach, which is a satiety signal in and of itself. Additionally, your brain and muscles prefer to operate in a hydrated state, so you’ll avoid common consequences of dehydration such as increased irritability, decreased focus, and suboptimal strength and power.

Make sure you choose calorie-free fluids. A bottle of your favorite soft drink or sweet tea can easily contain over 200 calories! If you’re trying to cut back on calories, there’s no better place to start than with liquid calories, especially alcohol. Stick with water, diet beverages, and calorie-free additions.

If you’re ever feeling randomly hungry, don’t just dive into your candy drawer. First, try consuming 12-16 ounces of fluids before eating, and then re-evaluate your hunger situation 15-20 minutes later. You’ll be surprised how often you feel hungry when you’re actually dehydrated.

8. Cheat Occasionally, But Consciously

Chances are you’re not prepping for a photoshoot anytime soon, so there’s no reason to ramp up restriction or remain glued to your Tupperware every day. Break up your weekly routine with an occasional “free” meal, whether it’s eating dinner at your favorite restaurant or enjoying larger portions than usual.

A weekly indulgence will mentally solidify the idea that this isn’t a diet—it’s a way of eating to feel good and perform well. Enjoying the food should be your top priority, but make sure you still get your protein in at this meal!

  1. Fernandez, M. L., & West, K. L. (2005). Mechanisms by which Dietary Fatty Acids Modulate Plasma Lipids. The Journal of Nutrition, 135(9), 2075-2078.
  2. Riccardi, G., Giacco, R., & Rivellese, A. A. (2004). Dietary fat, insulin sensitivity and the metabolic syndrome. Clinical Nutrition, 23(4), 447-456.
  3. Vaughan, R. A., Garcia-Smith, R., Bisoffi, M., Conn, C. A., & Trujillo, K. A. (2012). Conjugated linoleic acid or omega 3 fatty acids increase mitochondrial biosynthesis and metabolism in skeletal muscle cells. Lipids in Health and Disease, 11(142), 2090-2098.
  4. Maroon, J. C., & Bost, J. W. (2006). Omega-3 Fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain. Surgical Neurology, 65(4), 326-331.
  5. Xu, Y., & Qian, S. Y. (2014). Anti-cancer activities of Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Biomedical Journal, 37(3), 112.
  6. Grosso, G., Pajak, A., Marventano, S., Castellano, S., Galvano, F., Bucolo, C., … & Caraci, F. (2014). Role of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of depressive disorders: a comprehensive meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. PloS One, 9(5), e96905.

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The Ultimate Guide to Reverse Dieting

The Ultimate Guide to Reverse Dieting

Eat less, work out more. It can work wonders for a while, but definitely not forever. When you can’t cut any more, it’s time to turn your diet around. Here’s how!

When most people decide they want to take control of their physique and lose some fat, the next step seems clear: Go on a diet. But honestly, not everyone should take that step.

For those with a history of crash dieting, severe calorie restriction, or multiple failed diet attempts, jumping once more on the diet bandwagon is unlikely to yield results, and will probably do more harm than good.

Over repeated bouts of calorie restriction, your metabolism takes a beating. When you drop calories too low for too long, your body intervenes on several fronts. Most notably, it reduces the number of calories you burn throughout the day, often priming your body for surprisingly rapid weight gain.

This biological phenomenon, known as “metabolic adaptation,” can really throw a wrench in your weight-loss goals. With your body continuously fighting to erase the calorie deficit necessary for fat loss, eating fewer calories than you burn can eventually become very tricky. You can only drop calories so far and increase exercise so much before that lifestyle becomes miserable, as well as impossible to maintain.

Fortunately, for anyone fighting an uphill battle against a slow metabolism, there may be a solution. It’s possible to reboot metabolism and ultimately lower what’s known as your “body-fat set point”—or the level of body fat your body finds easiest to maintain— through a process known as “reverse dieting.”

Here’s everything you need to know to get started with what may turn out to be the best diet of your life!

What Is Exactly Reverse Dieting?

Reverse dieting is pretty much what it sounds like: a diet turned upside-down. Instead of cutting calories and ramping up time spent on the treadmill, you increase metabolism by gradually adding calories back into your diet while reducing cardio.

Although it sounds very simple, there’s more to reverse dieting than just “eat more, do less.” If you want to maximize gains in metabolic rate without storing a ton of body fat, you must be strategic and patient. This means giving your metabolism time to adjust by making slow, deliberate changes, rather than hitting the buffet every day and cutting out cardio overnight.

To grasp the science behind the theory of reverse dieting, you need to understand what happens in your body during metabolic adaptation.

Metabolic Adaptations From Dieting

When you drastically restrict calories or lose weight, your body senses the energy gap and your departure from its body-fat set point. In a desperate attempt to erase the energy gap and put the brakes on fat loss, several body systems work together to orchestrate a reduction in metabolism[1,2]:

  • Your organs consume less energy.
  • Your heart beats slower as sympathetic nervous system activity declines.
  • Hormones that influence metabolism and appetite, such as thyroid hormone, testosterone, leptin, and ghrelin, are adversely effected.
  • You burn less energy during nonexercise activities, such as fidgeting, walking around the house, working, and doing chores.
  • You use fewer calories to absorb and digest food because you’re eating less.
  • Your muscle becomes more efficient, requiring less fuel for a given amount of work.

These changes ultimately boil down to burning fewer calories, both at rest and while working out. This sounds bleak, but luckily, metabolic adaptation is not a one-way street.

You can slow down your metabolism, but you can also speed it up! This is what the concept of reverse dieting is built upon. Many of the physiological changes that work to slow metabolism during calorie restriction can occur in the opposite direction when overeating to make metabolism faster.[1]

But you can’t just go on a pizza binge and expect metabolism to increase overnight. It takes time! This was demonstrated when researchers at Laval University in Quebec overfed 24 men by 1000 calories for 84 days.[3] At first, almost all of the extra calories turned into fat or contributed to lean mass. By the end of the study, however, as each subject’s metabolism adapted, more and more calories were burned, rather than being used to create new tissue.

The moral of the story is that metabolism will speed up eventually to dispose of some of the extra calories you eat. But if you drastically increase calories before your metabolism has time to catch up, you’ll pile on the pounds.

A Reverse-Dieting Success Story

While the science supporting metabolic adaptation is sound, there is currently no definitive research on the actual process of reverse dieting. But this doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of people out there experiencing real-life success stories with reverse dieting. To help show you what this approach looks like in action—down to the macros—let’s meet one of those success stories. Her name is Katie Anne Rutherford.

As a high school track athlete, Katie Anne wanted to become as fast as possible. In her mind, this meant getting rid of any extra weight that might slow her down. Being thin was the name of the game. This mentality sparked an unhealthy relationship with food that would plague her for years.

To lose weight, Katie Anne began eliminating food groups and cutting calories. At her lowest, she was eating about 1,300 calories and running over 7 miles per day. Fruit, vegetables, and lean protein made up the bulk of her diet, while bread, sugar, and dessert were forbidden.

Feeling deprived, Katie Anne had a history of binge eating. Food became a source of comfort during times of stress, and she couldn’t seem to find balance. Alternating between eating hardly anything and eating everything, she was miserable.

Katie Anne’s diet struggles continued into college, where she started on a 1,500-calorie “standard” bodybuilding diet of lean protein and veggies. Paired with 90 minutes of cardio each day, she successfully lost 20-25 pounds a few different times.

Unfortunately, this success was never long-lived. Unable to stick to the diet, she gained the weight back each time. Living a life preoccupied by food, she had become a slave to her diet and the scale.

In 2013, Katie Anne came across two of Layne Norton’s YouTube videos: “IIFYM vs. Clean Eating” and “Metabolic Damage.” She realized that her metabolism had adapted to her restrictive eating regimen and excessive cardio routine. This motivated her to start “flexible dieting”; rather than restricting certain foods, she began engineering her diet around carbs, protein, and fat.

Although it was liberating to eat more than just lean protein and veggies, Katie Anne was still subsisting on low calories—a restriction that led to continued binging episodes. She was sick of the ups and downs and frequent urges to binge, and she felt as if she was being held hostage by a low-calorie diet that was difficult to maintain. At this point, she realized that a reverse diet with higher calories might help add some stability to her nutritional life.

In April 2013, Katie Anne officially began her first reverse diet. She started out eating 190 grams of protein, 200 grams of carbs, and 50 grams of fat (2010 calories) while lifting weights and doing four sessions of cardio per week. From there, she increased her calories quickly, adding 15 grams of extra carbs and 2 grams of extra fat each week, and reduced her cardio by half a session each week.

Choosing such an aggressive reverse diet quickly gave her more calories to work with, helping to reduce cravings and the urge to binge by allowing her to fit more food into her diet. She also felt better. Katie Anne focused more on becoming strong and healthy, and defeating her binge-eating habits. She never weighed herself during the reverse-dieting process.

In April 2014, at the end of her reverse diet, Katie Anne had gained 10 pounds and was maintaining this weight on 200 grams of protein, 375 grams of carbs (+175), 65 grams of fat (+15) (2885 calories, +875), and no cardio. She was able to gain strength and put on a substantial amount of muscle through heavy lifting, and had improved her relationship with food.

After training for a figure competition in November 2014, Katie Anne decided to reverse diet again. This time, she opted for a slower, more conservative reverse to minimize fat gain, starting at 180 grams of protein, 200 grams of carbs, and 52 grams of fat (1988 calories) while lifting weights and doing no cardio.

She increased carbs and fat by just 5 grams and 1 gram each week. By the end of the reverse, she hadn’t gained any weight and was eating 170 grams of protein, 320 grams of carbs (+120), and 80 grams of fat (+28) for a total of 2680 calories (+692) per day, and still not doing any cardio.

Today, Katie Anne has been binge-free for two years. She’s stronger and healthier than ever, and is maintaining a lean physique at 2400 calories per day—a figure that is 900 calories higher than when she was at her lowest body fat three years ago.

The moral of the story: When done correctly, reverse dieting may reset your body-fat set point and allow you to eat normally and live again. Here’s how to do it correctly.

How To Reverse Diet

Through reverse dieting and heavy lifting, Katie Anne harnessed the power of metabolic adaption to turn her body into a calorie-burning machine. You may be able to do this too by following these six steps:

1. Calculate Your Current Calories And Establish Starting Macro Targets

To avoid jumping up in calories too quickly, you need to know how many calories you’re currently eating to maintain your body weight. From there, you’ll use this to establish baseline macros.

First, track everything you eat for a few days to determine your average caloric intake. Let’s say it’s 1,800 calories.

Second, set your protein target at 1 gram per pound of body weight. If you weigh, say, 150 pounds, your protein intake will be 150 grams of protein.

Third, subtract your protein calories from your current total-calorie goal to determine the remaining calories:

  • 150 grams of protein x 4 calories per gram = 600 calories of protein.
  • 1800 total calories – 600 calories from protein = 1200 remaining calories.

Take your remaining calories, and split them 40/60 or 60/40 between carbs and fat. These numbers can be manipulated, but either one of the above is a good starting place.

Let’s say in this example that you love carbs, so you decide to set carbs at 60 percent and fat at 40 percent of the remaining calories.

  • 1200 x 0.6 = 720 calories from carbs
  • 1200 x 0.4 = 480 calories from fat

To determine your macros, divide the carb calories by 4 and fat calories by 9.

  • 720 calories of carbs / 4 calories per gram = 180 grams of carbs
  • 480 calories of fat / 9 calories per gram = 53 grams of fat

You now have your baseline macros. In this example, they are 150 grams of protein, 180 grams of carbs, and 53 grams of fat.

2. Decide How Quickly You Want To Increase Carbs And Fat

To figure this out, you need to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do I care more about reaching a higher caloric intake than I do about gaining excess fat?
  • Am I trying to overcome a history of binge-eating behavior?
  • Am I planning to hit the weight room hard and add muscle while I reverse?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you may benefit from a more aggressive reverse. Although you’ll likely gain more body fat by increasing carbs and fat quickly, you’ll feel better and less deprived, you’ll have more flexibility to fit in the foods you crave, and you’ll be less inclined to binge. The extra calories that accompany an aggressive reverse may also give you more energy to train, allowing you to build muscle.

If you’re concerned about gaining body fat, you may benefit from a more conservative reverse. For example, if you’re coming off a reasonable diet where you reached your goal body weight, you may want to increase fat and carbs more slowly to better maintain your results.

3. Raise Carbs And Fat At A Rate Compatible With Your Goals

If you’ve decided that a slow reverse is more in line with your goals, start by increasing your carb and fat intake by just 2-5 percent per week, depending on how concerned you are with gaining weight.

If you’ve decided that a fast reverse is for you, you should start by increasing your carb and fat intake by 6-10 percent per week. You may even want to increase fat and carbs by 15-25 percent the first week to give yourself a jump-start.

4. Weigh Yourself Multiple Times Per Week To Control Weight Gain

Choose 2-3 days per week, and weigh yourself first thing in the morning. Assessing your average weight change over the course of the week will help you evaluate your macro manipulations and decide on your next increase (if necessary).

If you see a large jump in weight gain over a one-week period, you may want to scale back the rate at which you’re increasing your intake. On the other hand, if you maintain your current weight, or even lose slightly, bump up both carbohydrates and fat.

5. Slowly Reduce The Time You Spend Doing Cardio, And Add Heavy Lifting To Your Workout Routine

Lifting heavy 3-6 days a week is a great way to build muscle, which increases metabolism not only in the short term, but also over the long run. Long sessions of steady-state cardio do little to build muscle, and they may even interfere with muscle-building pathways.[4]

6. When You Reach Your Desired Caloric Intake, Stop And Choose Your Next Action

Once you’re satisfied with the amount of food you’re eating, stop adding calories and go from there. If you feel good, you may want to stay at this level. If you’d like to lose weight now that your metabolism is at a better starting point, go right ahead!

But be smart about how you go about it; don’t recklessly slash calories. You’ll want to diet on as many calories as possible while still losing weight. Your metabolism depends upon it.

  1. Rosenbaum, M., & Leibel, R. L. (2010). Adaptive thermogenesis in humans. International Journal of Obesity, 34, S47-S55.
  2. Levine, J. A. (2002). Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 16(4), 679-702.
  3. Deriaz, O., Tremblay, A., & Bouchard, C. (1993). Non linear weight gain with long term overfeeding in man.Obesity Research, 1(3), 179-185.
  4. Fyfe, J. J., Bishop, D. J., & Stepto, N. K. (2014). Interference between concurrent resistance and endurance exercise: Molecular bases and the role of individual training variables. Sports Medicine, 44(6), 743-762.

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Bulking With The Cyclic Ketogenic Diet!

Bulking With The Cyclic Ketogenic Diet!

Can you use the Cyclic Ketogenic Diet (CKD) as a way to gain a substantial amount of muscle mass while keeping body fat accumulation to a minimum? Learn how here!

In my last article I presented the scientific research pertaining to the metabolic state of ketosis. While in the state of ketosis we come to realize that it is the optimal metabolic state to activate the breakdown of dietary/stored fat. This is one of the greatest benefits of dieting while using the ketogenic dieting route. Now we know that ketosis presents a highly anti-catabolic environment even while on a reduced calorie diet. So now the question on everybody’s mind is, “Can you use the Cyclic Ketogenic Diet (CKD) as a way to gain a substantial amount of muscle mass while keeping body fat accumulation to a minimum?”

The Diet

The main complaints about ketogenic diets are that they tend to leave you with low energy levels during strenuous workouts, and because of the absence of carbs, the diet can be hard to stick to for long periods of time. If you find yourself agreeing with these reasons, the CKD may be a better option for you. Just keep in mind that it takes approximately three weeks to become keto-adapted, and introducing carbs during this time will make it almost impossible to be in a true ketogenic state. I personally find the CKD to work great for me, especially when bulking. I’m able to put on mass and still have energy in the gym for all my big lifts.

The most important aspect of using the CKD as a means of bulking is to set your calorie level around 20 percent (25 times your body weight) over your normal daily calorie level. On a similar note, if this causes your calorie level to be too low/high you can always adjust it to fit your individual needs. The best way to consume the copious amounts of calories needed while bulking is to eat a high amount of steak, chicken, fish, whole eggs, sausage, bacon, and protein and oil shakes. The best way to set this up is to adhere to the “ketogenic ratio,” which is somewhere around 1.5 grams of fat for every gram of protein. Your meal planning should consist of anywhere around 5-10 meals a day—that’s right, I said 10. This is to constantly keep your muscle cells saturated with the optimal nutrients for growth.

The most substantial difference with using the ketogenic diet for bulking as opposed to cutting is the carbohydrates. During the bulking phase I recommend a 36-hour carb load. This is to allow a substantial influx of carbs into the muscle but not to overdo it. The next major difference is that you are to have 1000 calories’ worth of carbs, with a good amount of whey protein, approximately two hours before your Wednesday workout. The main goal of this carb spike is to allow you to have a substantial amount of muscle glycogen to maintain workout intensity.

Now as far as the carb-up goes, one option is to start with very high-glycemic carbs, then taper down to lower-glycemic carbs. The other route is to eat what you want. For a hard-core bulking routine this is what most people will do. If you are going to follow the “eat whatever you can get your hands on” route, definitely try to choose the lower-fat route. This means if you are going to get doughnuts, try to find the brand that’s lower in fat. But if you know you can drop the fat off at a relatively fast pace, then go ahead and get Nesquik and Krispy Kreme and have a fun time!

Reasons For This Plan

Since you will be carb-loading Friday night into Sunday morning, you most definitely want to hit most of your body on Sunday when your muscle glycogen is overstocked. This is the main reason for the carb-up (bulking or dieting). The next weight workout will be performed on Wednesday, and I advocate a 1000-calorie influx of carbohydrates (preferably simple) before that. The rationale backing this up is that by Wednesday your muscle glycogen should be fairly low, and this influx of carbs will restock your glycogen stores substantially and allow you to perform at an optimal level in the gym. The next weight workout will be performed on Friday night before the carb-up. On this workout you should be performing a heavy full-body workout, mainly to fully deplete glycogen stores and causes an anabolic stimulus when you start exploding carbs into your muscles.

The Workout

I will not be going into the workout schedule in detail, because people respond very differently to various workout routines. The main advice regarding working out is to hit half of the body Sunday when your carb stores are very full, hit the other half of the body on Wednesday after your carb-spike, and then hit the full body Friday (1-2 sets to failure) before the grand carb-up. Another key point of advice is to stress exercises such as, squats, lunges, deadlifts, barbell rows, bench presses, military presses, barbell/dumbbell curls, triceps push-downs, close benches, and reverse curls. These are undoubtedly some of the best mass builders around and should be the core of your workout schedule. I highly recommend using different intensity techniques with these exercises. For example, have you ever tried doing a triple dropset with rack deadlifts? I’m talking about incorporating rest-pause and triple drops with compound movements. In another article I’ll describe some death-defying workouts.

As far as sets and reps are concerned, I highly advocate 1-2 very intense sets per exercise, around 3-4 exercises per body part (more for bigger muscles and less for smaller muscles). As far as reps go, I think anywhere between 4-10. When I go as low as 4 reps they are usually performed very, very slow with a five-second pause at the peak contraction. They are also usually the first very heavy set in a 3-set drop.

As far as time in the gym goes, keep it to a minimum. Too many people like to turn their workouts into a social hour. Just hit your muscles as hard as you can and get the hell out of there!

Also, I highly recommend that you keep cardio to a minimum, although I do recommend 10-minute warm-ups and cool-downs before the workouts. But aerobics can greatly hinder your workout intensity, so keep them to a bare minimum. Plus, they will not allow you to get the most out of your bulking phase, muscle-wise.


As far as the supplements go, I advocate essential vitamins such as C, A, E, and a high-quality multivitamin. But the best supplements I will be discussing are glucose-disposal agents. These will allow you to hit ketosis faster, and also allow you to cram even more glucose into your muscles during carb-load periods. A good dosing schedule for glucose-disposal agents would be as follows:


Vanadyl sulfate 120 mg split over 6 meals  Chromium picolinate 1000 mg split over 5 meals  Magnesium 1000 mg split over 4 meals


Vanadyl sulfate 50 mg with carb-spike meal  Chromium picolinate 400 mg with same meal  Magnesium 250 mg with same meal

Friday Night/Saturday Night

Same as Monday and Tuesday

Another powerful glucose-disposal agent is alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), which mimics insulin. A schedule for this would be as follows:

ALA 600-1200 mg per day in divided dosages

This would be used like the other glucose-disposal dosage schedule. 200 milligrams would be taken Wednesday.

The next best supplement to use is a combination of creatine monohydrate and glutamine. These should be taken in high amounts only during the carb-up, to further increase cellular hydration. About 10 grams of creatine should be taken around during your carb-up, and about 20 grams of glutamine should be taken along with the creatine. On low-carb days, stick with 5 grams of creatine and 10 grams of glutamine. If glutamine is not in your budget, then definitely use creatine. Many people prefer to use the creatine with a sugar base. That option will also work very well during carb-ups.

On a further note, if you are going to be stuffing your face with doughnuts during the carb-up, I highly recommend you take 1 gram of HCA 30 minutes before meals. This is so you don’t go overboard with your eating, and it also helps push glucose into the muscles and not the fat cells.

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