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The bodybuilder's eating plan

The old-school days of building muscle usually required a gaining phase in which you add muscle and unfortunately, fat too. Then you would go through a cutting-up phase to reduce body fat. Now, by using a few techniques to trick your metabolism, you can build muscle and burn fat at the same time. The Glucose Economy eating approach allows you to do so - starting as soon as your next meal! 

Your Glucose Economy 

I don't like body fat any more than you do. That's why I follow the eating approach outlined below. It allows me to keep my muscles bulging with size, shape and energy while my body fat remains low. Glucose (blood sugar) is the most important fuel source in your body - preferred over both fat and protein. Your body's total supply of glucose - what I've coined the "Glucose Economy" - ultimately determines whether you're getting leaner or fatter with each passing moment. Surprised?

The secret to building muscle and losing body fat at the same time is mastering your Glucose Economy. Anyone can do it.

Your Metabolic "Seesaw"

When you provide your body with glucose, your body burns it in preference to fat. Typically, you get glucose from the sugars and starches (carbohydrate) in your diet. The more carbohydrate you eat, the more glucose your body burns. This reduces its need to burn fat, as well as protein (amino acids).

This "braking" effect of dietary carbohydrate on your fat-burning metabolism increases the risk that any fat eaten alongside that carbohydrate will be stored. That's a good reason to choose carbohydrate sources that are low in fat ("Lean Carbs"). Of course, at the end of the day, it's how many total calories you've consumed that's most important.

As you reduce your intake of carbohydrate, or your muscles burn glucose up with exercise, your Glucose Economy shrinks. This prompts your body to burn more fat, thereby preserving any available glucose for those tissues that really need it (e.g., your brain). Your body will use fat to fuel the conversion of protein-derived amino acids into glucose. (As you'll see shortly, this is a good reason to consume more protein than is required to satisfy only muscle-building needs!)

Muscle Deflation Syndrome

The trouble with following a carbohydrate-restricted diet in order to lose body fat is that you subject yourself to "muscle deflation syndrome." As serious bodybuilders know, when you eat less carbs, your muscles lose glycogen and water. This causes them to "deflate" - they get smaller. Equally bad, muscle growth can come to a grinding halt!

Thus, if you want to build or even just maintain muscles that bulge with size, shape, and definition, you've got to keep them full of glycogen. That means you've got to eat enough carbohydrate

The Glucose Economy

Diet: Bigger Muscles, Less Fat

 

STEP 1: DETERMINE TOTAL CALORIES  

Eat 15 calories per pound of body weight.

Keep in mind that the 15 calories/lb rule is only a starting point. Try it for 2 weeks before decreasing or increasing your total calorie intake according to how you look in the mirror.

 

STEP 2: DON'T BE AFRAID OF CARBS 

Eat 2 - 2.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight. 

Your body's preferred energy source is GLUCOSE. Thus, dietary carbohydrate should be your preferred energy source.

Lean Carbs

  • Yams 
  • Brown rice
  • Shredded wheat
  • Vegetables - broccoli, asparagus, corn, spinach (contains lots of ecdysteroids)
  • Fruit (grapefruit, blueberries, oranges

 

STEP 3: EAT MORE PROTEIN THAN YOU NEED

Consume 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

This may be 20-30% more than you actually need. This extra protein can be a good thing when it comes to losing body fat. 

Lean Proteins

  • Protein powders
  • Skinned chicken breasts 
  • Egg whites
  • Non-fat dairy (cottage cheese, yogurt, milk)
  • Low-fat fish (tuna, sole)

Protein is built of amino acids. Some of the excess amino acids you eat can be converted into glucose. This "costs" energy, which your body gets from the burning of fat.

That's at least partly why Forslund et al. (1999), as well as other researchers, have found that healthy subjects eating diets providing more protein than is considered adequate for building muscle burn more fat both at rest and while exercising! The higher-protein dieters in Forslund's study consumed about 1.2g of protein/lb body weight/day. They burned more fat and they showed signs of achieving a more positive "protein balance" - an essential requirement for building bigger muscles! Those eating the "adequate" protein diet (0.73g of protein/lb), by contrast, burned less fat and failed to achieve a positive protein balance (Forslund et al., 1999).

While you may burn more fat by eating more than 1.2g protein/lb, this will require that you reduce your intake of carbohydrate. This increases your risk of "muscle deflation syndrome."

Whey protein is often marketed separately from milk protein (casein), and sold as a stand-alone protein supplement. However, when combined, whey and casein may actually do a better job at promoting muscle growth. Look for a low-fat protein powder or meal-replacement drink mix containing a blend of casein and whey. Or mix your whey protein into low fat milk, which is about 80% casein. If you need more carbohydrate, simply add some fruit or toss your protein powder on some shredded wheat cereal (very tasty!).

 

STEP 4: FAT

Don't go looking for fat (it'll be there anyway).

Eat the most nutritious, low-fat carbohydrate and protein sources you can find. Virtually all of the food recommendations below contain some fat. Don't go searching for more.

Fresh fruits and vegetables (e.g., leafy greens) contain essential fatty acids (e.g., alpha-linolenic acid), but if you want extra insurance, take an essential fatty acid supplement or a tablespoon of flax seed oil every other day or so.

Using this approach, you'll likely be consuming no more than 10% of your calories as fat, possibly less. Because of this, you don't need to track your fat intake. If you keep your protein intake constant, all you need to do is adjust your carbohydrate intake up or down with time as your mirror instructs you to do.

 

STEP 5: WHAT ELSE?

To make your nutritional insurance policy even more comprehensive, add a multi-vitamin/mineral formula to your diet.

 

Conclusion

If you follow these guidelines for choosing your protein and carbohydrate, you don't need to search for fat. The principles I've discussed will help you retrain your body, and you'll see changes in the mirror starting tomorrow!

 

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