Extreme athletes know that getting shredded is MORE than just cutting weight. Make weight… but don't lose muscle doing it. The following guide was designed for athletes who know that lean machines fight, run, jump, ride, and look better than skinny-fat beanpoles.
You call yourself an extreme athlete. You don't consider yourself "Joe Average". That's why you train the way you do – that's why you live the lifestyle you do. You train your body like a high-performance machine. You test your limits on a daily basis, because you know that your competition is not sitting on the couch, eating Fritos and watching re-runs of the Simpsons. You're looking for every edge. You're training to be better than your competition. But for you, the biggest competition is often the man in the mirror.
Yeah, But How Much of YOU is Muscle?
In some sports, it doesn't matter how lean you are. It's better to carry around some blubber and extra weight. But, remember this – you can't flex fat – and other than leaning on your opponent, in most cases, extra weight means more work for your body—more burden for your energy systems, more weight on your muscles, your heart and your joints. Definitely something you 'd rather find on your opponent than on your own belly.
Whether you're a fighter, a track athlete, a gymnast, a wrestler, or a competitive bodybuilder or figure/fitness athlete, the ability to manipulate and control your body composition will give you the edge over your competition. In most cases, if you're involved in extreme competition, fringe sports, competitions that test your superhero, then you get it. You know that a favorable body composition means having lots of muscle on a lean physique. Being in control of your nutritional game plan will keep you strong, healthy and performing optimally while training—and on game day.
Losing fat is not that difficult. It's the retaining of lean mass while you're dropping that burden we call fat—this is the real trick. Heck, this is what the whole world is after, right?
The secret to keeping muscle while losing fat? Yep, it's the Million Dollar answer to the mystery of modern culture—"how do I get leaner without losing muscle mass? "
Well, don't tell anyone, but we're about to give you the secret. And, my extreme athletes, it isn't that mysterious. This program works. Period.
Lift big to stay big—progressive resistance training is one of the keys to successful fat loss.
- Eat anabolic so you don't get catabolic. Start "cycling"…see below.
- Supplement to protect your anabolic pathways while aggressively targeting fat mobilization and utilization.
- Supplement to support maximum physical and mental performance while targeting fat loss.
EAT TO LOSE – lose the FAT, that is!
Effective fat loss means coaxing the body into using stored energy for fuel, while avoiding the breakdown of lean tissue for the same purpose. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¨Lose the fat—the stuff that's weighing you down, inhibiting your performance or obscuring the details of your physique—protect and preserve the functional, shapely muscle tissue.
In the past several years, there has been resurgence in (and a subsequent departure from) the popularity of the "high protein" or "low carbohydrate" type of dieting. There are presently many versions of this type of diet, the plan originally made popular by Dr. Atkins. Bodybuilders have taken this concept a step further. The idea of cutting back on carbohydrates while raising protein intake is a common nutritional strategy that bodybuilders have used for years to obtain the extreme leanness that is characteristic of these athletes as they prepare for competition. The reason this type of high-protein/low carb dieting became popular? It works! …At least for a while.
Get on the Cycle!
The body is incredibly adaptive. As with exercise or any other stimulus applied to the body, the law of diminishing returns must be kept in mind. Basically, any single program of controlled calorie or nutrient intake will lead to less and less response from our bodies, over time. Carbohydrate "cycling" refers to the process of systematically varying the caloric and carbohydrate intake, to effectively keep the metabolism guessing, with little potential for adaptation. In other words, by carefully fluctuating calorie and carbohydrate intake, you'll avoid the metabolic down-regulation that will occur with simple calorie restriction.
The Simplified Carb Cycle
This is a 5-day pattern of 4 low-carbohydrate days followed by one high-carbohydrate day. The meal plans for each of the phases of the diet are very similar. Protein forms the backbone of the meal plan for each day and will remain constant throughout both high- and low-carbohydrate days. Fat remains low and constant. Remember that this diet is an aggressive program designed for results – fat loss. It is not meant to be a long-term nutritional program. But, for purposeful fat loss, this program will help you strip away that stubborn fat, to keep your physique fit, trim and powerful!
To create your meal plan, start by determining your daily protein needs, based on the following general guidelines: Protein:ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¨1.5-2.2 grams per lb of bodyweight for menÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¨1.0-1.7 grams per lb of bodyweight for women.
Protein intake is based on perceived intensity of daily physical activity (the more intense exercise activity you do each day, the greater your protein needs will be). Remember, dietary protein is your primary fuel source on this program.
- High days: carbohydrate intake equals 100% of protein intake in grams
- Low days: carbohydrate intake equals 30% of protein intake in grams
- Fats will remain low, negotiable. Include EFA's in your supplement regimen in place of dietary fats. No more than 20% of total calories should come from fats.
- Divide your nutrient totals over 6-8 meals, spaced evenly throughout the day. Choose from low-glycemic carbohydrates for all carbohydrate meals.
- Create your meal plan, and begin your cycle. Keep cardio and activity level consistent. Monitor your bodyweight over the first 2 5-day cycles. The goal is to lose 1-1.5 lbs per cycle (no more). It may take 2-3 runs through the 5-day cycle to fine-tune your diet. If bodyweight does not drop after 2 cycles, increase cardio calorie burn by 100 grams per day, times 5 days (or 500 calories per week, total).
- If weight fluctuates more than 2lbs per cycle, it means calorie intake is most likely too low. Increase protein by 25 grams per day, each day. Monitor weight for ongoing fluctuations. As your meal plan progresses, make these adjustments as recommended to keep the metabolism racing, and the fat coming off.
- You'll also want to be careful as you progress; the leaner you become, the harder your body will work to hold onto fat stores, and the more protein will be targeted to compensate for any calorie deficit induced by increased cardio activity or calorie restriction. Keep a close eye on your weight, and strength and energy levels. You'll feel a bit depleted on the last of your low days, especially the leaner you get. This is because your body will be working hard, digging deeply into the last little bit of stored energy in your fat cells.
- This is where sports nutrition plays a role. There are many fat loss products on the market today that help the body target stored fat to use for energy. There are also several very powerful performance-boosting, energy-enhancing and anti-fatigue nutritional supplements available to help keep you driving your "A-game" even while dropping
fat. We'll address many of these in several upcoming articles.
- Getting ripped isn't rocket science, but it is an extreme process. Let's face it, the body doesn't want to go into the sub 5-7% range – it's outside the body's comfort zone. But, if it were easy to be pretty, we'd all be walking around, like the cover of Men's Health, right? It's a little bit nutritional and bioscience, a little bit art, and a whole-lotta effort. But, you're an extremist, you train like a superhero to compete and be the best you can be. Hard work is just another part of your day. Try this no-holds-barred nutritional approach and just watch what happens to your physique. Better yet, watch what happens to your competition. And watch the look on their faces when they face you. You now have the tools in your arsenal to exceed your own extremes.
— Reprinted With Permission