Good morning, day, or night depending on where you are located.
It’s been a while since I’ve written something on this blog for which I am truly sorry.
As I am drinking my favorite cup of tea, green tea, I decided that I will write a short and informative article discussing one of my favorite topics of all time:
“How to lose fat and preserve our muscle mass ?“.
This question has baffled the minds of many beginner bodybuilders, even mine. Here is a fun little anecdote that will lighten the mood of this dreadful topic.
Back in 2011 when I was just learning the fundamental steps needed for building muscle, I went on a bulk.
The problem of course was that I gained way too much fat – 6 months = 35 pounds of fat.
So I decided to go on a cutting cycle to lose all the fat I’ve gathered throughout those six months of intense weightlifting.
Two months later I had lost 30 pounds, thinking that I’ve preserved the 5 pounds of muscle I’ve gained while bulking.
Well it came as a shock to me when I learned that I’ve lost almost all the muscle I worked for every single day.
I was devastated.
That’s when I decided to start “hitting” the books and learn as much as I can.
Finally I had the answers to the dilemma and I am here with you today to share my knowledge with you.
Hopefully I will be of some assistance.
The first and biggest mistake everybody does is connected with the amount of calories they intake every day.
Here is what I mean ( I hope you will understand my poor explanation!).
As an example lets say I need to consume 2700 calories everyday to maintain my current weight.
And I train approximately 4-5 hours per week.
That means that I need about 3000-3200 to gain good muscle mass.
6-7 months pass and I decide to go into a cutting phase here is where everybody do the biggest mistake.
Instead of keeping the same amount of calories (3000 cal. per day) and just increasing the hours that they train each week they do this:
They train 6-7 hours a week and eat 2600 cal a day. I really hope you understand what I’m trying to say here.
I am probably repeating myself for the millionth time for saying this but your body hates muscle (because it requires more calories to keep them running) and loves fat (because it’s a solid source of energy) and at the point where you put your fat levels in danger your body will do everything in its power to retain as much as it can.
Even if it has to lose some of your muscle and bone mass in the process.
Take things slow no need to rush it.
When you do this [lower the calorie intake and increase the training hours weekly] you put your body in danger mode.
Cortisol and epinephrine (stress hormones) are released into your blood stream.
The effects from those two hormones are destructive – as they are going to break down your muscle tissue and store it as fat.
Second thing you have to pay attention are compound exercises.
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made as a rookie is that I wasn’t doing many or any compound exercises during my cutting phase.
I focused my attention primarily on doing cardio instead on those precious compound exercises without which nothing is possible in the gym.
Compound exercises will increase your metabolism.
For me cardio exercises (especially low intensity) are a complete waste of time.
The only time I do low intensity cardio is right after my compound exercises. And the only reason I do them is because I want to relax my muscles and my heart rate.
When you run on the treadmill or when you take that stationary bike for a ride in the gym you only increase your metabolism for the time that you are doing your cardio exercise.
If you are doing 1 hour worth of cardio you get only 1 hour worth of increased metabolism.
Of course this depends on the intensity of the cardio exercises. I personally prefer HIIT – High intensity interval training.
I give myself one day of the week in which I rest from weight-training and I complete a HIIT session that lasts for about 5-6 minutes and then ride the bike for another 10 minutes so my heart can cool down.
Plus burn some extra body fat.
HIIT boosts your metabolism for a pretty long time!
Commonly known as the after-burn effect where your passive metabolic rate is increase for a couple of hours after exercising at the gym.
If you’re wondering for how long, nobody really knows.
There are different estimates of people claiming that it can go anywhere from 2 hours to 6 or 10 hours and some even claim that this afterburn can last as long as 24 hours after your HIIT session.
Compound exercises will increase your anabolic hormone production.
This is really important as those anabolic hormones (testosterone, growth hormone, and others) will act as an anti-catabolic serum.
This in return will help us save as much muscle mass as we can throughout the cutting phase.
The third factor is of course supplementation.
I understand that for most of you out there supplements are expensive and hard to get.
That is exactly why I decided to list only supplements that you should potentially have in order to achieve better results.
Number one: Protein powder has a strong anabolic action when taken after your workout or any other time throughout the day.
The main reason why protein powder is so important (especially after your workout) is because it essentially takes your body away from its catabolic state (which naturally follows a vigorous workout session) and it promotes muscle hypertrophy.
The main benefit from protein powder comes from the insulin spike that they cause.
Interestingly, whey protein powder is a more powerful insulin stimuli than carbohydrates. It’s insulinogenic. This insulin spike causes for the cell’s “doorway” to open so that the cell can be receptive to whatever nutrients are in play – i.e. protein and other amino acids present in the protein powder that aid muscle hypertrophy and stagnate catabolism.
It also contains anywhere from 20 to 25 grams of protein which can be really helpful when you are trying to hit a large amount of protein intake per day.
Number two: Fish oil is for sure a must have.
Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids fish oil brings a lot of advantages to the table.
Our bodies need a natural balance of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3s are responsible for reducing inflammation in the body.
What that essentially means is that it allows for your body to recover much quicker from your strenuous workouts and consequently for your muscles to heal faster, which allows for the metabolism to boost faster.
Additionally reducing the inflammation in your body will also reduce cortisol levels (the same stress hormone we spoke of earlier).
All of that essentially means that fish oil can potentially help you get out of a catabolic state much quicker and enter a muscle building phase much easier.
Fish oil is also a really powerful supplement when it comes to strengthening up your immune system. You can find fish oil at any of your local drug stores.
A bonus matter is that the faster recovery rate when caused by the increased intake of Omega-3s will essentially mean that you can exercise more often throughout the week without risking any muscle loss.
Number three: Multi-vitamins and minerals.
They will help you increase your metabolism, give a pretty good anabolic boost, prevent muscle loss, help your muscles recover, and most importantly help for your overall health.
Whether or not you should take vitamins and minerals in the form of supplementation really comes down to your own assessment of your diet.
If you consider that you’re taking the necessary amount of vitamins and minerals from your food, then there is no need in doing so and vice versa.
The primary vitamins that I would recommend aiming for is Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Vitamin A. All of those are considered to boost anabolism and cut catabolism.
Number four: Green tea is a remarkable way to increase your metabolism not to mention how healthy it is for you
Drinking green tea has been shown to do wonders as it boosts fat loss. If you can even substitute your morning coffee for a cup of green tea, then I would strongly recommend doing so!
Fourth factor is the most enjoyable of them all. Just relax and rest as much as you possibly can.
The more you stress yourself the less results you are going to see and this is not only connected with fat loss. Give your body a minimum of 6 hours of sleep and a maximum of 9 hours of sleep ( don’t overdo it ).
And that’s pretty much it guys.
If you follow these simple steps I can guarantee you that you will start noticing results from the next week!
Have a wonderful week and see you till’ next time.
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