Uploaded by Nokeya 99

toaz.info-layne-pr 5389a15274a599e917291c1d30cf3baa

Pre-Contest Dieting: Obviously the most pertinent
issue regarding pre-contest preparation is the diet
aspect of preparation. It is not enough to just clean up
what you eat, it must be far more drastic than that.
When you see the winner of a bodybuilding competition
onstage, rest assured they tracked their calories, carbs,
proteins, fats, and never missed meals.
If you want to do well in a bodybuilding competition, you should expect to do
nothing less. Before I begin talking about a proper pre-contest diet, we need
to examine exactly how long a person should diet for a contest. The first thing
that should be done is an “assessment” of your body. Look yourself over and
be honest about your faults, strengths, and about how long you think it will
take for you to get into stage shape.
Importance Of Slow Dieting
Keep in mind that if you think you have around 25 lbs of fat to lose, you are
not going to be able to lose it all in 10 weeks and keep all of your lean body
mass. Aim to diet as slowly as possible. The severity of your calorie deficit will,
to a large extent, determine how much muscle you retain/lose.
Short periods of high severity dieting (more than 1000
kcals per day below maintenance level) are not too
muscle wasting, but prolonging them for more than a
few days will certainly cause one to lose a good deal of
As a general rule of thumb, losing 1 lb of bodyweight per week will allow one
to retain most of their muscle mass. One can probably lose up to 1.5 lbs per
week and retain most, if not all of their muscle mass (provided their training
and nutrition are optimized).
Dieting Too Fast?
If one tries to push their body to lose more than 2 lbs per week for any length
of time, then they will begin to experience quite a bit of muscle loss. It is for
this reason that I usually try to give myself enough time so that I only need to
lose 1-1.5 lbs per week at most. If one is naturally ectomorphic (has an easy
time losing weight) however, they may want to diet for a shorter period of time,
and I would recommend a time period of 11-15 weeks. If one is naturally
endomorphic (has a hard time losing weight), then they may want to lengthen
their dieting time to 16-22 weeks. If this is the first time that you have ever
done a contest then you would want to also give yourself an extra week as
you will probably experience a hitch at some point along the way.
Diet Information
The diet that one follows for their contest will be the single most important
determining factor of how well they will place in the competition. A person can
have all the mass in the world but if they do not come in razor sharp on
contest day, then the mass will mean little. Judges almost always go for
conditioning over size. To design a proper diet one should give themselves
adequate time to lose the necessary body fat to achieve that aforementioned
shredded look.
Being said, what kind of diet is optimal for a person to
Well The Diet Should Have Three Main Goals:
1. Spare as much muscle mass as possible.
2. Lose as much fat as possible.
3. Not cause the person to lose intensity in the weight room.
Unfortunately, these goals all seem to contradict each
When the body is in a starved (calorie deficit) state, muscle loss can occur
although a calorie deficit is required to lose fat. This calorie deficit will also
cause one to feel less energetic. To get around the negatives, there are small
adjustments and little tricks to aid in the accomplishment of the positives.
Before discussing the diet, it is important to discuss the
three macronutrients and their roles.
Protein is probably the single most important macronutrient for the purposes
of maintaining muscle on a diet. Dietary protein is hydrolyzed (broken down)
into it’s constitutive amino acids during digestion. These amino acids are
released into the bloodstream where they may then be taken up by cells
(usually muscle cells). Dietary protein is also very important as amino acid
availability is the single most important variable for protein synthesis to occur.
This means that protein synthesis increases in a linear fashion (directly
proportional to plasma amino acid concentrations) until the plasma amino
concentrations are approximately twice that of normal plasma concentrations.
To generalize for the less scientifically inclined, ingesting enough dietary
protein is very important for someone who is looking to gain muscle, or
maintain it while dieting. Dietary protein spares muscle by helping increase
protein synthesis (and thus induce net muscle gain) and by acting as a muscle
sparing substrate as it can be used for glucogensis (synthesis of glucose).
Dietary protein however, is not as muscle sparing as are carbohydrates when
used as a substrate for glucose synthesis. Protein is also a very “expensive”
molecule for your body to use as energy.
The body would much rather store amino acids than
oxidize them as protein oxidation yields less net ATP
produced per amino acid when compared to fat or
carbohydrates. Therefore, it can be stated that dietary
protein has a thermogenic effect on the body.
Carbohydrates have probably gotten the worst reputation of the
macronutrients due to the ketogenic dieting rave. Ketogenic dieting refers to
reducing carbohydrate intake to practically nothing, while simultaneously
raising fat and protein intake. With little glucose for the brain to utilize for
energy, the body will begin producing ketones. Ketones are by-products of fat
oxidation and the brain can use ketones for energy. This does indeed have a
potent fat burning effect, as insulin levels will be severely reduced due to lack
of carbohydrate intake. Low insulin levels correlate with high rates of fat
oxidation. Indeed, the ketogenic diet may be the single best way to lose the
maximum amount of body fat in the shortest amount of time. However, if you
will quickly refer to our goals during a pre contest diet you will notice that
maintaining muscle is number one on our list, with fat loss second. If one has
not properly scheduled enough time to lose body fat and they are in need of
drastic measures, then using a ketogenic diet may be their only choice in
order to become contest-ready in time. Unfortunately, they will not maintain an
optimum amount of muscle mass.
For those who have given themselves ample time to
prepare, I do not suggest using a ketogenic diet.
Instead, I recommend reducing carbohydrates, but
keeping them high enough to possess the muscle
sparing benefits of carbohydrates while still losing body
Importance Of Carbs While Cutting
There are several main reasons that I recommend
retaining carbohydrates.
The first reason being that carbohydrates are much more muscle sparing than
fats during times of stress when glucose becomes a primary source of fuel
(i.e. anaerobic exercise, injury, infection, etc). The muscle sparing effects of
carbohydrates occur via several different mechanisms. When the body is in a
low energy state, it may try to produce energy by converting amino acids to
glucose. Carbohydrates prevent this since they can be easily broken down
(and converted if need be) to glucose molecules. Carbohydrates then spare
dietary protein from oxidation and these proteins can be stored rather than
oxidized.Carbohydrates are also very muscle sparing during exercise. When
one lifts heavy weights, the primary pathway that is used to produce ATP
(cellular energy currency) is the anaerobic or glycolytic pathway (as the name
implies this pathway operates in the absence of oxygen). The only substrate
for this pathway is glucose, which can be obtained from dietary carbohydrates
or by breaking down glycogen (the cell’s stored form of glucose).
If one is on a ketogenic or extreme “low carb” diet
however, the body will need to utilize another source to
synthesize glucose from.
Since glycogen levels are low on a ketogenic diet, the body will actually
convert amino acids to glucose and this glucose will be used in the anaerobic
pathway to produce ATP. These amino acids will come from dietary protein,
amino acids from the cellular amino acid pool, and from muscle tissue. The
latter situation is where one would experience muscle loss. Dietary protein
would be sacrificed for ATP production and the depleted amino acid pool
would not bode well for protein synthesis rates, thus causing a net loss in
muscle mass.
Muscle Sparing Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are also muscle sparing because they
are a cause of insulin release. Now I know your thinking,
“but Layne, you just said in your intro that low insulin
levels were great for fat burning!?”
Yes, you are correct. I did indeed say that low insulin levels are good for fat
burning. Insulin inhibits lipolytic (fat burning) activity and must be kept low if
one wishes to burn a maximal amount of fat. However, the pesky re-occurring
theme of maintaining muscle prevents us from totally excluding insulin from
our pre-contest diet arsenal, as insulin happens to be one of the most
anabolic/anti-catabolic hormones in the body. Insulin binding to the cell
membrane causes all sorts of reactions in your body that are beneficial to
maintaining and gaining muscle tissue. Insulin inhibits protein breakdown and
amino acid oxidation, thus promoting muscle maintenance or gain. Insulin also
has an antagonist (inhibitory) affect with regards to several catabolic
hormones, including cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is released during
times of stress such as dieting, lifting, injury, etc. Cortisol produces glucose by
breaking down proteins, including muscle tissue. Cortisol is the primary
catabolic hormone that is released when one lifts or does any kind of activity.
Insulin release inhibits the activity of cortisol by
preventing its release from the pancreas, thus sparing
muscle tissue from cortisol’s catabolic effects.
Furthermore, it is interesting to note that long-term
exposure of cells to ketones (i.e., ketogenic diet) retard
insulin-induced activation of the insulin surface receptor.
This causes one to become extremely sensitive to carbohydrates when they
begin ingesting them again after they finish dieting and could lead to an
undesired post diet fat gain. Carbohydrates act to maintain muscle mass while
dieting by maintaining cellular osmotic pressure and cell volume. Cell size is
an indicator of the “state” that the body is in. When cells are of large volume, it
signals that the body is in a fed state. When cell volume is low it signals that
the body is in a starved state. Without delving too far into the science behind
this, trust me when I say that you would like your body to think it is in a fed
state as this will increase the levels of fat burning hormones and anabolic
hormones. Cell size also indicates the anabolic state of the cell. When cell
volume is high, protein synthesis rates increase. If cell volume drops, then
protein synthesis levels drop. It is easy to infer we would like to maintain cell
volume, especially when dieting.
The problem with extreme low carbohydrate diets is they
cause severe reduction in cell size.
The Glycogen Factor
The body stores carbohydrates inside cells as glycogen. For every gram of
glycogen stored, the body stores around 2.7 g of water. Therefore, cells that
have greater glycogen levels will also have more volume. One can see then
how low carbohydrate diets severely decrease cell size due to severe
glycogen depletion. Concluding, carbohydrates help maintain muscle by
increasing cell volume. One more issue to consider is performance. If you
refer to the goals of a pre-contest diet, you will see that number three
maintains that you must keep a high level of intensity in the gym. This is
important for several reasons. If performance begins to suffer, then a person
will undoubtedly lose strength. This could lead to a subsequent loss of muscle
mass due to decreased stimulation from a decreased training overload.
Therefore, it is important that performance be kept at an optimal level. Low
glycogen levels have been associated with increased fatigue and decreased
performance in athletes (endurance, strength, power output, etc).
The Research
Several studies have shown that consuming adequate
amounts of carbohydrates before, during, and after
exercise may attenuate the increased fatigue and
increase performance.
It is worth noting that one such study concluded that “the
rate of recovery is coupled with the rate of muscle
glycogen replenishment and suggests that recovery
supplements should be consumed to optimize muscle
glycogen synthesis as well as fluid replacement.”
It can therefore be concluded that an adequate supply of carbohydrates is
crucial for maintaining performance and for proper muscle recovery. Fats are
very important molecules and are considered essential to ones survival.
Indeed, fats are involved in many of the body’s processes which are required
for survival. Several key functions of fats in the human body are for energy
storage and hormone synthesis. They are the body’s preferred source of
stored energy and the most efficient molecule for the body to burn. (in terms of
energy yield per gram, 9kcals/gram). The main hormone that fats impact
which we are concerned with is testosterone. When calories are restricted,
testosterone levels will drop, as the body will suppress its release of anabolic
hormones in order to spare nutrients for oxidation (energy production).
This makes perfect sense: the body senses it is
“starving” and thus it represses it’s anabolic hormones to
prevent nutrients from being used to increase tissue
mass and spares them for energy production.
Fat Intake & Testosterone
That’s the first hit against testosterone production. Drastically lowering your fat
intake is another hit against testosterone production since fatty acids are the
substrates for cholesterol synthesis and therefore are also the substrates for
testosterone synthesis (cholesterol is converted to testosterone, among other
things). Unfortunately, fats are also easily stored as adipose tissue (body fat)
So there must be some type of compromise between ingesting enough fat for
hormone maintenance (and subsequent muscle maintenance) and reducing
fat intake enough to decrease body fat. There has been some research done
on the effects of dietary fat on testosterone. The answer to, “how much dietary
fat is optimal” is difficult to decipher, as there are major differences in the
designs of the performed studies.
This makes it difficult to compare them to each other
and come up with a “standard” answer.
Several studies concluded that diets low in fat (under 15% of total calories)
significantly decreased testosterone levels while diets higher in fat (above
30% of total calories) increased serum testosterone levels. Rather than
continuing with this discussion I will provide a link to an article which covers
the subject quite nicely. To simplify everything that I have said, it seems that
one should not lower fat below 15% of daily calories unless they would like to
face extreme testosterone deficiencies. Likewise, one should not increase fat
to say 40% in order to increase testosterone. Although fat increases
testosterone to a degree, it is important to remember that testosterone is only
a small piece of the larger puzzle. There are many other hormones and
factors involved in building muscle other than just testosterone. By increasing
fat to extremely high levels, there will be less “space” for carbohydrates and
protein, both of which are very important for aforementioned reasons.
As with most things in life, moderation is key.
In order to keep hormone production regular and fat burning in high gear,
while allowing enough “space” to supply adequate carbohydrates and protein
for muscle sparing purposes I do not recommend increasing fat above 30% of
daily calories. In order to come up with macronutrient totals for a diet, it is
necessary to assess how many lbs per week one will need to lose to be in
contest shape. This is not an exact science, however we can still get a
reasonable experience-based estimate. Here are some example calculations
so that you may have an understanding of how to go about doing this. For
example, we have a subject who is a mesomorph weighing 200 lbs and has
13% bodyfat. Since 3-4% is considered “stage condition”, that means the
subject will need to drop roughly 10% body fat which equates to about 20 lbs.
To recapitulate, I do not recommend dropping weight any faster than 1-1.5 lbs
per week. Since 20 weeks is a long time to diet, let’s have the subject lose
about 1.5 lbs per week.
I recommend that one lose approximately 80% of their
weight due to calorie restriction and 20% of their weight
due to cardio (someone who is ectomorphic should do
less cardio, while someone with an endomorphic build
should do more cardio).
To lose 1.2 lbs (80%) per week from diet, there must be a 600 kcal per day
deficit from diet. To lose the other .3 lbs (20%) per week from cardio, one
should perform 3 cardio sessions per week, which burn 350 kcals per session.
The best way to determine one’s caloric intake required to lose fat at a certain
rate is to chart calorie intake for a period of a few weeks and try to determine
at what level the subject does not gain weight (this is the caloric baseline).
For those who do not exercise this method, a rough
estimate can be made using the following strategy.
Utilize The Subsequent Equations To Find
Your Caloric Baseline:
o Mesomorphs – bodyweight x 15.
o Ectomorphs – bodyweight x 16-17.
o Endomorphs – bodyweight x 13-14.
So for our subject; 200 X 15 = 3000 kcals per day. This
is the subject’s caloric baseline (roughly). So if he
wishes to lose 1.2 lbs per week from dieting (caloric
restriction of 600 kcals per day); 3000 – 600 = 2400
kcals per day.
Meal Frequency Is As Follows:
o Mesomorphs – eat every 2.5 – 3.5 hours.
o Ectomorphs – eat every 2 – 3 hours.
o Endomorphs – eat every 3.5 – 5 hours.
Protein Intake
The “golden standard” protein intake for a bodybuilder is
around 1 g/lb of bodyweight. This will need to be
increased while dieting. Protein is a thermogenic
macronutrient key in sparing muscle tissue when in a
caloric deficit (see aforementioned section on protein).
I recommend the following protein intakes for different body types:
o Mesomorphs – 1.2g/lb – 1.3g/lb.
o Ectomorphs – 1.4g/lb – 1.6g/lb.
o Endomorphs – 1.4g/lb – 1.5g/lb.*
For our subject, this equates to a protein intake of around 240-260 g protein
per day. Let’s go ‘middle of the road’ and set the subjects protein intake at 250
g protein per day. This means 1000 kcals have been devoted to protein intake,
leaving us with 1400 kcals for fat and carbohydrate intake.
Fat Intake
Fat intakes are as follows:
o Mesomorphs – 17% – 23% of total calories.
o Ectomophs – 24%-28% of total calories.
o Endomorphs – 23%-28% of total calories (fat intake is increased in
order to reduce carbohydrate intake, as endomorphs may have a
difficult time losing fat with higher carbohydrate intakes). For our
subject, this equates to about 400 – 550 kcal from fat per day (45g –
60g fat per day) Once again, I prefer the ‘middle of the road’ approach
and would set his fat intake at around 55g fat per day (495 kcals/day
from fat) .
Carbohydrate Intake
Whatever calories that have not been allotted to protein and fat intake will
make up total daily carbohydrate intake. For our subject in question, this
leaves 2400 (1000 + 495) = 905 kcals per day for carbohydrate intake. This
equates to 225g of carbohydrates per day.
I recommend a higher protein intake for endomorph’s
while dieting because of the thermogenic effect of a
higher protein intake and increased protein turnover, not
because they need more protein to maintain muscle
One should also incorporate re-feeds into their diet plan. Re-feeds help boost
a hormone called leptin, which is the mother of all fat burning hormones. As
one diets, leptin levels drop in an attempt by the body to spare body fat.
Periodic, proper re-feeding can raise leptin levels and help one continue to
burn fat an optimum rate. A person who is lean will need to re-feed more
frequently than someone who has a higher body fat percentage. For those
who are below 10%, it is probably a wise idea to incorporate re-feeds two
times per week.
For those people who are in the 10-15% range, refeeding every 6-12 days will probably be adequate, for
those who are above 15%, re-feeding will probably not
need to be done more than once every week to two
weeks. Obviously as one loses body fat they will need to
re-feed more often.
Re-Feed Days Should Be Planned As Follows:
o Re-feed on the day you work your worst body part(s) as re-feeding will
not only raise leptin, but be quite anabolic.
o Keep fat as low as possible during re-feed days as high insulin levels
will increase dietary fat transport into adipose tissue. In addition dietary
fat has little to no impact on leptin levels.
o Reduce protein intake to 1 g/lb bodyweight.
o Consume as little fructose as possible as fructose does not have an
impact on leptin levels.
o Increase calories to maintenance level (or above if you are an
ectomorph) and increase carbs by at least 50-100% (endo’s stay on the
low end, while ecto’s should stay on the high end) over normal diet
Nutrient Timing
Nutrient Timing
As previously discussed before, carbohydrates cause insulin release, which is
very muscle sparing, but also very anti-lipolytic. It is therefore important that
we construct a diet so that we intersperse long periods of low insulin levels in
order to maximize lipolysis, coupled with short periods of high insulin levels to
protect muscle when it is at the greatest risk of catabolism. There are
essentially two crucial times during the day when muscle tissue is at the
greatest risk of catabolism. The most crucial time is during your workout. As
many of you already know, working out is actually catabolic.
When one is in a calorie deficit, the catabolic effect of
working out is enhanced, as the body will attempt to
raise low glucose levels by de-aminating amino acids
and converting them to glucose.
One of the main hormones that control this action is cortisol. Unfortunately this
is quite catabolic as some of these amino acids may come from muscle tissue
(See carbohydrates section). It is crucial that one consumes carbohydrates
before exercise for several reasons.
o Dietary carbohydrates will provide fuel for the anaerobic pathway, and
spare muscle tissue from being converted to glucose for fuel.
o Dietary carbohydrates will cause the release of insulin, which blocks the
release of cortisol from the pancreas.
o Dietary carbohydrates will increase muscle glycogen levels which will
improve performance and decrease fatigue.
I suggest one consume 35% of their total daily carbohydrates in a meal 1.5 to
2 hours before their workout as this will allow the carbohydrates adequate
time to be digested and enter the bloodstream. I also suggest consuming a
shake composed of 30-40g of whey protein along with dextrose or
maltodextrin during their workout.
The carbohydrates in the shake should account for
about 20% of one’s total daily carbohydrate intake.
This Shake Will Have Several Benefits:
o Spare muscle glycogen and increase performance.
o Spare muscle tissue.
o Maintain a constant release of insulin, therefore inhibiting cortisol
o The continuous ingestion of carbohydrates will ensure that adequate
substrate is available for the glycolytic pathway.
It is also a wise idea to consume a post workout meal
composed of whole food, low GI carbohydrate sources
(although one may consume another protein shake if
they feel so inclined) about 30 minutes after finishing the
in workout shake.
This low GI carbohydrate should contain about 25% of your total daily
carbohydrates and will help stabilize blood sugar levels. You see, dextrose
causes a very large insulin spike, and actually can cause insulin to be over
secreted, when insulin is over secreted, blood sugar levels will drop rapidly as
insulin disposes of the glucose into the tissues and one may even begin to
experience hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Low blood sugar may lead one to
experience an increase in hunger. A lower GI carbohydrate and protein meal
post workout will help counteract this negative effect by stabilizing blood sugar
levels. The other time of day when one should consume a meal containing
carbohydrates is upon rising. Waking up is actually a stressful time on the
body and in an effort to “ready itself” the body releases several catabolic
hormones in order to produce energy for the fasted person. The main two
hormones released are cortisol and glucogen both of which can be catabolic
to muscle tissue.
Consuming a carbohydrate meal will retard the release
of these catabolic hormones and spare muscle tissue. It
will also make you feel better by providing fuel for your
brain to run on.
There is some anecdotal evidence that suggests consuming a meal
containing carbohydrates may also help suppress hunger later in the day. I
suggest consuming 15% of your daily carbohydrate intake at this meal in the
form of low GI carbohydrates. The remaining 5% of your total daily
carbohydrates should come from veggies throughout the day such as salad,
broccoli, peas, etc. If you happen to workout after breakfast, merely combine
breakfast and your pre workout meal. Thus 35% + 15% = 50% of daily
carbohydrate intake should be in pre workout/breakfast meal. During these
high carbohydrate meals one should aim to keep fat as low as possible. High
insulin levels increases fatty acid transport into adipose tissue, so it is a good
idea to keep your fat low during times of high insulin.
You should spread your remaining fat intake evenly over
the rest of your low carbohydrate meals. Protein intake
should be spread fairly evenly over all of your meals.
The Following Is A List Of Acceptable Protein,
Carbohydrate, & Fat Sources While Dieting:
o Tuna or most any fish.
o Cottage cheese.
o Eggs (especially the whites).
o Chicken breast (boneless skinless).
o Turkey breast (boneless skinless).
o Lean beef.
o Low fat or no fat cheese.
o Low fat pork.
o Milk protein isolate.
o Whey protein.
o Soy protein.
o Essentially most any other source of protein so long as it is low in
saturated fat and carbohydrates.
o Sweet potatoes.
o Oat meal, oat bran, oat bran cereal (i.e. cheerios).
o Bran cereal.
o Brown rice.
o Wheat bread (try to limit to 2 slices per day).
o Beans.
o Low fat popcorn (low fat butter spray makes this a delicacy).
o Fruits (limit to 2-3 servings per day).
o Malto dextrin (during workout).
o Dextrose (during workout)
o Vegetables.
o Stay away from refined grains and anything that says “enriched” or “high
fructose corn syrup” on the label!
o Omega 3 capsules (i.e. fish oil capsules).
o Flax seed oil.
o Primrose oil.
o Borage oil.
o Olive oil.
o Nuts (limit to 1 serving per day), peanut butter (as long as it does not
contain hydrogenated oils).
o Egg yolks.
o Fish (salmon especially).
o All other fat should come as a by-product of your carbohydrate and
protein intake.
o 1. Nygren J, Nair KS. “Differential regulation of protein dynamics in
splanchnic and skeletal muscle beds by insulin and amino acids in
healthy human subjects.” Diabetes 2003 Jun;52(6):1377-85
o 2. Garrett, Reginald H. and Charles M. Grisham. Biochemistry 2nd
Saunders College Publishing. United States: 1999.
o 3. Hart et al. “Efficacy of a high-carbohydrate diet in catabolic illness.”
Crit Care Med 2001 Jul;29(7):1318-24
o 4. Yokoo et al. “Distinct effects of ketone bodies on down-regulation of
cell surface insulin receptor and insulin receptor substrate-1
phosphorylation in adrenal chromaffin cells.” J Pharmacol Exp Ther
2003 Mar;304(3):994-1002
o 5. Meijer AJ. “Amino acids as regulators and components of
nonproteinogenic pathways.” J Nutr 2003 Jun;133(6):2057S-62S
o 6. Schliess F, Haussinger D. “Cell volume and insulin signaling.” Int Rev
Cytol 2003;225:187-228
o 7. Chen et al. “Osmotic shock inhibits insulin signaling by maintaining
Akt/protein kinase B in an inactive dephosphorylated state.” Mol Cell
Biol 1999 Jul;19(7):4684-94
o 8. Brosnan JT. “Comments on metabolic needs for glucose and the role
of gluconeogenesis.” Eur J Clin Nutr 1999 Apr;53 Suppl 1:S107-11
o 9. Shephard RJ, Leatt P. “Carbohydrate and fluid needs of the soccer
player.” Sports Med 1987 May-Jun;4(3):164-76
o 10. Tsintzas, O.K., Williams C., Boobis, L.Greenhaff, P. “Carbohydrate
ingestion and single muscle fiber glycogen metabolism during prolonged
running in man.” Journal of Applied Physiology 1996; 81 (2) : 801 – 809.
o 11. Rockwell MS, Rankin JW, Dixon H. “Effects of muscle glycogen on
performance of repeated sprints and mechanisms of fatigue.” . Int J
Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2003 Mar;13(1):1-14
o 12. Haff GG, Lehmkuhl MJ, McCoy LB, Stone MH. “Carbohydrate
supplementation and resistance training” J Strength Cond Res 2003
o 13. Karelis AD, Peronnet F, Gardiner PF. “Glucose infusion attenuates
muscle fatigue in rat plantaris muscle during prolonged indirect
stimulation in situ.” Exp Physiol 2002 Sep;87(5):585-92
o 14. Williams MB, Raven PB, Fogt DL, Ivy JL. “Effects of recovery
beverages on glycogen restoration and endurance exercise
performance.” J Strength Cond Res 2003 Feb;17(1):12-9
o 15. The Journal of Nutrition, Sept 2000 v130 i9 p2356 “High Dietary Fat
Intake Increases Renal Cyst Disease Progression in Han:SPRD-cy
Rats. ” Shobana Jayapalan; M. Hossein Saboorian; Jeff W. Edmunds;
Harold M. Aukema.
o 16. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dec 1996 v64 n6 p850(6)
“Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and
estrogens in men: a controlled feeding study.” Joanne F. Dorgan;
Joseph T. Judd; Christopher Longcope; Charles Brown; Arthur
Schatzkin; Beverly A. Clevidence; William S. Campbell; Padmanabhan
P. Nair; Charlene Franz; Lisa Kahle; Philip R. Taylor.
o 17. Abe T, Kawakami Y, Sugita M, Fukunaga T. “Relationship between
training frequency and subcutaneous and visceral fat in women.” Med
Sci Sports Exerc 1997 Dec;29(12):1549-53
Special Thanks To…
o Ted Fletcher – for his help in editing this article.
o Par Deus and Spook of http://www.mindandmuscle.net/ – for allowing
me to link their leptin articles
o Bryan Haycock of http://www.thinkmuscle.com and
http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/ – for allowing me to provide a link
to the dietary fat article on his web site.
o Vince McConnell of http://www.etfitness.com and
http://www.dolfzine.com – for allowing me to provide a link to his VICI
cardio article on dolfzine.
o Dr. Joe Klemczewski of http://www.joesrevolution.com – for all of his
help and guidance in preparing me for my contests and showing me
how to get the final week right!
o Disclaimer: Please note that this article is an archived article from Dr.
Norton and may no longer reflect all his views on the subject. Please
see his website www.biolayne.com and his column in Muscular
Development magazine to keep up with his current views.”
The Ultimate Muscle Mass Gaining Guide
By Eric and Chris Martinez
January 2013.
“Shows are won in the offseason. No amount of work ‘in-season’ can undo a lazy
offseason.” -Layne Norton
During off-season dieting, we’re almost 100% certain that you have been
down multiple avenues looking for the most efficient way to build muscle mass
while trying to avoid excess fat gain. A lot of us have made mistakes, some of
us have gotten results out of spite, not because what we did was optimal,
some of us have just flat out tried everything and are still scratching our heads
in confusion, and then there’s those who really don’t give a damn and just eat
whatever the hell they want and will literally think they’re building pure muscle
mass, but not realize they also have a huge Good Year tire around their waist.
If you are really looking to gain muscle mass with minimal excess fat gains,
then you really need to have a strategic plan for your off-season diet, plan on
being patient, be consistent day in and day out with your nutrition program,
and work your ass off in the gym. If any of these are lacking in your plan, no
amount of work ‘in-season’ can undo a lazy offseason. With all that said, let’s
get into how you can gain lean body mass without the Good Year tire.
Importance of slow bulking
When we say slow bulking, in other words we are saying be patient while in a
caloric surplus. As we should all know, results do not happen overnight with
anything and while in a caloric surplus it’s no different. It is also no different
than when one is in a caloric deficit, you have to slowly take out calories from
your macronutrient numbers each week if you do not lose weight. You want to
preserve as much muscle as possible while doing that. Vice versa when in a
caloric surplus you want to slowly add calories in from your macronutrient
numbers each week while not putting on excess fat whilst gaining muscle
mass. If you are not patient and tend to jump the gun and add in too many
calories, well you’re setting yourself up to gain excessive adipose tissue.
Bulking Too Fast
Many of us want to put on muscle as fast as possible and fill out our shirts,
and at times you hear the local guru utter, “just eat everything in sight bro and
you will get big.” Not so fast there, yes you will go up in weight, but is it muscle
mass? Most likely if you are just eating everything in sight you are going to put
on a significant amount of body fat, unless you are genetically gifted or have
an ectomorphic body type and can get away with it. The smartest approach
when in a caloric surplus (bulking) is to gain 0.5-1.5 lbs a week. That way you
know you are putting on mainly muscle mass and not excess fat. But, keep in
mind that gaining 0.5 pounds of muscle per week consistently is not
guaranteed. Eventually you will put on some fat throughout your off-season,
but wouldn’t it be better to put the least amount of fat as possible? Especially
if you have an endomorphic body type and tend to put on fat faster than the
average Joe. With that said, play it safe and give yourself a larger time frame
when in a caloric surplus; It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Cyclical Bulking
“Dude you’re never gonna get jacked if you try to stay lean all year round. You
have to eat everything in sight bro!”
Please tell us you’ve heard someone at your gym or local gurus say this?
Typically the people that say this, are the ones that don’t care about putting on
excess fat during the off-season and that’s completely fine, but we know that
we and most of you like to look like body builders year round. With that said,
adding a bunch of excess body fat will mean that you have to diet longer and
harder to get rid of it come pre-contest, leading to more muscle loss during
your diet, dealing with loose skin, and reversing whatever extra muscle you
might have gained by eating like an offensive lineman.
Excess body fat can also have negative metabolic effects. Research is
showing that adipose tissue (fat) is not just an inert storage tissue. Adipose
secretes its own hormones and cytokines (called adipokines) which can have
numerous metabolic effects. Several adipokines secreted from adipose like
TNF-α can reduce insulin sensitivity in other tissues like muscle. Not only is
this going to make it easier for body fat to accumulate but it may hamper your
ability to benefit from the anabolic and anti-catabolic effects of insulin.
So it’s pretty safe to say that eating everything in sight type of approach isn’t
the ideal strategy you want to use. Over the past years we have found Dr.
Layne Norton’s cyclical bulking method to be very effective at increasing lean
body mass while limiting fat gain. Essentially, cyclical bulking consists of
anywhere from 4-8 months of bulking mixed with 6-18 week bouts of cutting.
Now, please keep in mind that these are just general time frames and this will
all depend on the individual. It all depends on how fast your body starts
putting on excess fat during the bulk phase and how much excess adipose
tissue you want to lose during the cut phase.
Now, you are probably reading this and saying why the hell would I even try
that? By cycling your bulking and cutting protocols you can take advantage of
various metabolic swings that occur in response to bulking and cutting and
optimize your body’s response to each. When you first begin cutting after a
bulk you are in a prime position to drop body fat as there are several factors
working in your favor. Your metabolic rate is elevated from being in a caloric
surplus as your levels of T3, leptin, and other hormones that deal with
metabolic rate and fat oxidation are all elevated in response to a caloric
surplus in order to deal with disposal of all the calories you’ve been eating.
When you start dropping calories during a cut, you rapidly drop fat because all
these factors are still elevated and are working in your favor. Your metabolic
rate is through the roof and burning calories like no other! But, after a few
months the body will begin adapting to the reduction in calories by reducing
T3, leptin and other factors which will in turn cause the metabolic rate to
plummet. Also, fat loss grinds to a halt and that’s usually a good indication that
it’s time to start bulking again.
Keeping Your Body Anabolic Overnight
New research by Van Loon et al. has proven that overnight protein
administration stimulates muscle protein synthesis. There were two studies
done, the first being in elderly men and the second being done in
recreationally active young males and they both showed that protein ingestion
prior to sleep stimulated muscle protein synthesis overnight.
As it has been shown time and time again that 20-30g of protein (~10-15g
EAA) is enough to fully max out MPS. Paddon-Jones et al. compared 30g of
high quality protein to 90g of the same source and showed that 90g had no
further benefit over the 30g dose. So the point being that you wouldn’t need
more than 20-30g of a high quality protein before bed to maximally stimulate
muscle protein synthesis. But, again not so black and white, this 20-30g
dosage will also depend on the size of the individual and their overall total
daily macros.
Even though there are basically only two studies for this, it shows that protein
ingested immediately prior to sleep or during sleep is effectively digested and
absorbed, therefore stimulating muscle protein synthesis overnight. It’s very
fascinating and promising research so we highly recommend some sort of
high quality protein source before bed or during the middle of the night. Yes!
During the middle of the night, you do go to the bathroom don’t you? Just
think about it, your body will be entering a 6-9 hour fast and why not have a
steady stream of amino acids flowing in the bloodstream overnight and
keeping anabolism elevated. Another suggestion we advocate is for those that
have their calories at very high levels during bulking and are having trouble
consuming all of their macros through their meals during the day, you can
simply have a shake in the middle of the night that contains protein, carbs,
and fats and this will be an easy way to ingest some of your daily calories.
Diet Information
The diet that one follows for their off-season will play a huge role in
determining their muscle mass gains. A person can lift 7 days a week and
have the sexiest training protocol but if they don’t have a proper nutrition plan
to follow then they’re not going to fully maximize the potential results they can
attain. To design a proper nutrition protocol you should give yourself adequate
time to slowly gain the necessary muscle mass to achieve that
aforementioned lean muscular look. If you’re not realistic with the adequate
time you’re giving yourself you are likely going to put on more fat than muscle.
So what kind of nutrition plan should you follow you’re asking?
The Nutrition Protocol Should Have Three Main Goals:
-Slowly and deliberately adding in calories to avoid excess fat gain
-Gain as much muscle mass as possible without the compensation of excess
fat gain
-Capitalize on meal frequency and nutrient timing
When the body is in a caloric surplus (bulking state), it is very easy to put on
body fat although a calorie surplus is needed to gain muscle mass. When in a
calorie surplus, it needs to be controlled through adding calories each week
slowly (slow bulking) to avoid extra fat accumulation. Also, spacing your meals
correctly and timing your meals correctly are imperative to your success in
gaining muscle mass.
Before getting into more details about the proper nutrition program, it’s
important to discuss the three macronutrients and their roles.
Protein will be a very dynamic macronutrient in your diet, it’s so powerful that
when consumed, it will activate muscle protein synthesis (percentage of
muscle tissue protein renewed each day) from leucine content. The majority of
energy used to provide ATP for muscle protein turnover comes from the
oxidation of fat, as this is the preferred energy substrate of muscle at rest.
Therefore, a focus on maximizing the muscle synthetic response with ~10g of
EAA may decrease a person’s body fat by increasing their resting energy
expenditure from the increased lean mass.
Maximizing Muscle Protein Synthesis
The best way to get elevated levels of MPS is through the essential amino
acid (EAA) “Leucine.” You can only get EAA’s through diet or supplementation,
your body does not produce these amino acids. There have been countless
studies showing that leucine is the key stimulator for MPS. You’re better off
eating animal sources of protein because of the high leucine content. But,
before you go buy a bucket of leucine powder and sprinkle it on your meats,
please keep in mind that leucine is just a small piece of the puzzle, if you don’t
have the other essential amino acids you will not build a protein. Leucine is
actually a strong indicator of the quality of the protein you’re consuming as it
relates to its ability to raise muscle anabolism. When you raise muscle
anabolism, your body is in a great position to induce muscle tissue. The more
muscle tissue one has, the higher their metabolic rate is going to be and this
will keep fat to a minimum. Take home, aim for protein sources high in leucine
to build muscle mass which we will discuss in the latter part of this article.
Protein distribution
The way you will distribute protein throughout the day will play a key role to
enhancing muscle mass. A study done by Norton et al. Shows that an even
distribution of protein (30g per meal at breakfast, lunch, and dinner) caused
greater muscle gains over an 11-week period than the same total amount of
protein distributed unevenly (10g at breakfast, 20g at lunch, and 60g at
dinner). The conclusion showed that protein distribution is a critical factor in
determining the efficiency of protein use for muscle anabolism. So, when you
set up your protein distribution throughout the day we highly suggest keeping
protein feedings consistent throughout each meal. An example would look like
200g protein a day through 4 meals is 50g at each meal.
The main purpose of carbohydrates is to provide energy and fuel for the body.
Some people are very “carb happy,” meaning they can burn through
carbohydrates and not gain a pound of fat and then there’s those that are
“carb sensitive,” meaning there body has a hard time burning carbs and thus
leading to fat storage. Carbs are very important for providing the body with
energy and essential for gaining muscle mass.
Carbohydrates have probably gotten the worst reputation of the
macronutrients due to eating excessive amounts leads to excess adipose
tissue. Some of this is true, but when in a caloric surplus we feel that
carbohydrates need to be as high as possible without excess fat gain and
insulin sensitivity needs to be taken advantage of at the right times. Carbs are
going to be very variable depending upon total calorie intake and insulin
sensitivity. Some individuals will be able to tolerate carbs better than others,
so it really depends on how healthy your metabolism is. If you damage your
metabolism severely then it doesn’t matter about your body type.
The Importance of Taking advantage of insulin sensitivity
Insulin sensitivity refers to how much insulin it takes to clear a certain amount
of glucose (carbs). During a caloric surplus, it’s imperative that you take
advantage of insulin sensitivity in the a.m at breakfast, pre workout and post
workout. These are the times that your body is most insulin sensitive and can
best tolerate carbs. For example, we recommend breakfast because the
majority of the population goes through a 6-8 hour fast during their sleep, so
their bodies are desperately craving nutrients in the a.m. Pre and post
workout; your body can best assimilate a high amount of carbs into your
muscle tissues because your body is most insulin sensitive at these times.
What does the increased insulin do you ask? Well, increased insulin will serve
to shuttle all of the nutrients required by the body while also stimulating the
release of insulin growth factors because your muscle cells are volatized and
need nutrients to repair. Also, when you are working out, you cause an acute
catabolic situation and your muscle does not become anabolic again until you
consume sufficient nutrients. You also get an increase in insulin sensitivity by
working out so you can more effectively tolerate and utilize carbohydrates post
workout so it also makes sense to put more carbs post workout as compared
to other times of the day. Take home, partition the majority of your daily carbs
at breakfast and at pre and post workout to utilize insulin sensitivity best.
Fats are the most energy-dense macronutrient (9 kcals/gram) and they
provide many of the body’s tissues and organs with most of their energy. Fat
is the most critical macronutrient to optimize hormonal functions (i.e.,
testosterone, libido, etc). Fats are also essential for building muscle, reducing
cortisol levels, providing energy, helps with hunger pangs, and assisting the
body in functioning properly. The main hormone that we are interested in
elevating through fat consumption is testosterone. It is vital that you aren’t
deficient in dietary fat or it will impair hormone production.
Fat Intake and Testosterone
Since fat is responsible for optimizing hormonal functions, such as
testosterone, this doesn’t mean to go down to Costco or Sam’s and purchase
a tub of Crisco and go to town on it every day. Remember that fats are the
most energy dense macronutrient (9 kcals/gram) and they can be easily
stored as adipose tissue (body fat). So you must be aware of what your body
metabolizes better through carbohydrates or fats because it will be up to you
to play the trial and error game.
Several studies concluded that diets low in fat (under 15% of total calories)
significantly decreased testosterone levels while diets higher in fat (above
30% of total calories) increased serum testosterone levels. To make things
easier for you, it seems that one should not lower fat below 15% of daily
calories unless they would like to see their testosterone levels plummet. On
the contrary, you should not increase fat to over 40% in order to increase
testosterone. But again, this is just a rough estimation and you have to try
things out for your body. You might be able to go over 40% and make solid
gains or you might start adding fat. Although fat increases testosterone to a
degree, it is important to remember that testosterone is only a small piece of
the larger pie. There are many other hormones and factors involved in building
muscle other than just testosterone. By increasing fat to extremely high levels,
there will be less “space” for carbohydrates and protein, both of which are
very important for building muscle mass. Just be sure not to look at
consuming fat in a linear fashion, as moderation is the key to everything in life.
Fiber is a complex carbohydrate made up of non-starch polysaccharides,
resistant starches, and cellulose. Fiber tends to sit longer in your GI
(Gastrointestinal) which pulls fluids into the area. That’s normally a good thing
because it makes you feel fuller. A carbohydrate with less fiber will be digested
more rapidly and not pull water in your GI like something heavier would with a
lot of fiber. Fiber also helps with: The importance for gut health and digestive
health, it increases thermogenesis and thus helps with fat loss and it produces
short chain fatty acids through fermentation in the colon and these have
several beneficial metabolic effects.
How Much Fiber
So how much fiber should one consume a day? With fiber being such an
important part of the diet, ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition)
suggests a minimum of 25g per day for women and 38g per day for men. But,
it’s not so simple to just say “Okay, so if ISSN recommends this amount, then
that’s all I need to get for the day right?” Things are never black and white
when it comes to nutrition and metabolism, there’s always a grey scale. So,
our point being about daily fiber intake depends on a lot of factors. For
example, the greater amount of fat you want to lose and the slower your
metabolism is the more fiber should be raised as it has a thermogenic effect.
And obviously a bigger person will need more fiber than a smaller person. So,
again, there is no set calculation, but the ISSN recommendations are a good
starting point.
Can you consume as much fiber as you want?
Not so fast, by consuming too much fiber it potentially reduces absorption of
vitamins and minerals, diarrhea, cramping, and bloating. If you are fairly new
to having fiber in your diet than you will tend to get fairly bloated because your
digestive tract is not used to the high fiber content (cramps, bloating, and a lot
of pooping could be symptoms). Eventually your body will adapt to it, so don’t
Nutrient Timing
Nutrient timing is a crucial aspect during a caloric surplus. Every calorie
counts each and every day and nutrient timing takes consistency. One must
consistently spread their macronutrients out and get a good balance of them
in each meal or as we said earlier, hit your daily numbers as accurate as
possible. Pre and post workout meals are going to be your money makers.
While in a caloric surplus it’s best to get the majority of your daily carbs
around your pre and post workout meals. Why? You want more carbs for
energy during an intense training bout, also carbs are protein and muscle
sparing during exercise and because they are a cause of insulin release. We
all know insulin happens to be one of the most anabolic and anti-catabolic
hormones in the human body. Post workout you want more carbs as well
because you want to replenish all of the glycogen you depleted during your
workout and for proper recovery and to maximize muscle protein synthesis
(muscle growth). Cribbs et al. says it has been suggested that the
consumption of a protein-carbohydrate supplement immediately before and
after resistance exercise may provide the ideal anabolic conditions for muscle
growth. Also, Campbell et al. Indicates that timed ingestion of protein/
essential amino acids, and carbohydrates are best for replenishing skeletal
muscle glycogen, reducing muscle soreness, and rates of protein degradation,
inducing a positive net protein balance and amplifying strength and muscle
mass gains. Therefore it is critical that one consumes protein and carbs post
workout in order to induce muscle mass, but we’re not saying that you have to
bring your post workout meal with you to the gym and eat it immediately after
your last rep. Just keep in mind that you need to have protein and carbs at
some point post workout.
Meal Frequency
When it comes to meal frequency we are well aware of the fact that there are
many arguments floating around and everyone has their own biased opinion
on how many meals and how often one should eat. Research shows if you eat
too frequently, it could be counterproductive for overall anabolism. Studies
also show that muscle protein synthesis after a meal lasts up to 3 hours and
amino acid levels stay elevated up to 5 hours. So, you are better off waiting
longer between meals and having bigger doses of protein. This seems to be
better for muscle protein synthesis. When you constantly try and elevate
amino acids through meal frequency, (having 6-8 meals a day) overtime your
body becomes less sensitive to the anabolic effects of amino acids.Where if
you do larger protein doses and separate apart your meals longer (4-5 hours),
when the next dose of protein comes, then your body will be more sensitive to
the amino acids thus leading to greater anabolic effects. Also, when you
constantly eat every 2-3 hours your body is depending on a glucose spike.
This could lead to glucose sensitivity being low because of the constant meal
frequency. It is much better to eat every 4-5 hours because your glucose
levels will be more sensitive. It takes at least 3-4 days of fairly strict dieting to
impact on metabolic rate (and some work on fasting shows that metabolic rate
goes up acutely during the first 72 hours of fasting); a single meal means
nothing. You will not go into ‘starvation mode’ because you went more than 3
hours without a meal. Nor will your muscles fall off as an average sized food
meal takes 4-6 hours to fully digest (still releasing nutrients into the
bloodstream). Like many areas of nutritional science, there is no universal
consensus regarding the effects of meal frequency on body composition, body
weight, markers of health and metabolism, nitrogen retention, and satiety. Do
what you feel is right and what works for your body. Trial and error will be your
best bet.
Cooking in bulk
We hear so many excuses each and every day that by now we could have
written a book on them. In a nutshell, the bottom line is how bad to you want
it? What are you willing to sacrifice? If you cannot sacrifice time out of your
day to prep a meal than how do you expect to achieve physiological results. A
very good method we use and we’re sure many people do this as well, is
cooking in bulks. Each Sunday evening we sweat away in the kitchen cooking
our meats, pasta, yams, rice, and whatever else we want to eat for the week.
Why do we do this you ask? Well, for starters it beats having to cook five
meals a day and instead we can just measure it out, put it in tupper wear and
nuke it. It’s time consuming and this works for us, plain and simple. Cooking in
bulk is especially great if you are pressed for time every day, this will be a life
saver, each night you put your meals in tupper wear and boom there ready to
go for the next day. Try this method if you already haven’t, we promise this will
make bulking season and life that much easier.
Figuring total calories for bulking
Before using these very general guidelines below, we highly recommend that
you track your current diet for a week or so to find your caloric baseline. Once
you know your caloric baseline you should distribute your calories over 4-5
meals spread out 4-5 hours. We then recommend you consume adequate
protein for MPS at each meal, make sure you are consuming enough fat (2030% of total calories), then increase carbohydrates slowly each week. We
think it is imperative that you base a diet on YOUR CURRENT metabolism.
Try not to fall too much into relying on your body type to determine what’s best
for you. But here are some VERY general recommendations based off body
Endomorphs- Slow metabolisms, usually store fat easier
Bodyweight x 13 or 14
Ectomorphs- Fast metabolism, usually lose fat quicker
Bodyweight x 16, 17 or 18
Mesomorphs- Naturally fit, average metabolism
Bodyweight x 15
Once you have your baseline total daily calories you can start figuring out
your bulking and cutting macros
General Bulking and Cyclical Recommendations
Endomorphs- Slow metabolisms, usually store fat easier
Bulking Phase:
Protein: 1.2-1.35 g/lb
Fats: 0.4-0.6 g/lb
Carbs: Fill in with remaining calories
Cutting Phase:
Protein: 1.35-1.5 g/lb
Fats: 0.3-0.45
Carbs: Fill in with remaining calories
Ectomorphs- Fast metabolism, usually lose fat quicker
Bulking Phase:
Protein: 1.0-1.25 g/lb
Fats: 0.3-0.5 g/lb
Carbs: Fill in with remaining calories
Cutting Phase:
Protein: 1.2-1.35 g/lb
Fats: 0.25-0.4
Carbs: Fill in with remaining calories
Mesomorphs- Naturally fit, average metabolism
Bulking Phase:
Protein: 1.1-1.3 g/lb
Fats: 0.3-0.45 g/lb
Carbs: Fill in with remaining calories
Cutting Phase:
Protein: 1.15-1.35 g/lb
Fats: 0.2-0.4
Carbs: Fill in with remaining calories
Macronutrient sources
-Boneless chicken breast
-Boneless turkey breast
-Cottage cheese
-Tuna and most other types of fish (Salmon, Tilapia, Mahi Mahi, Cod, Halibut,
-Eggs (especially whites)
-Lean beef
Low fat pork
-Low fat cheese or no fat cheese
-Whey protein
-Milk protein isolate
-Sweet potatoes
-Low fat popcorn
-Fruits (limit 2-3 servings per day)
-Whole bread and Sprouted wheat (Ezekiel)
-Brown rice
-Bran cereals
-Whole wheat pastas
-Egg yolks
-Nuts (almonds, peanuts, walnuts, ect)
-Olive oil
-Fish (salmon preferably)
-Flax seed oil
-Omega 3 (fish oil capsules)
-Primrose oil
-All other fat should come from your carb and protein intake.