Burn & Grow

Competitive bodybuilding nutrition plans are typically divided into two distinct phases: off-season mass-gaining diets and pre-contest cutting diets. But what if you don’t want to alternate the two eating strategies because competing onstage is not your immediate goal? In other words, you want one plan that combines the best of both worlds so you can look as large and lean as you can year-round. That’s what the 10 tips on the following pages will do.

Learning to work with your body type is a key component in keeping your metabolism in an optimal muscle-building state. On our plan, hardgainers with fast metabolisms will find that they can consume foods, many higher in fat, that will help them achieve their goals. Those with metabolisms that are not quite so fast will find tips to get their engines revving so they can gain muscle without adding extra body fat.


Here is a summary of the ten step plan:

Eat six to eight meals per day

There is a good reason that you see bodybuilders lugging around coolers filled with Tupperware containers of food: “Bodybuilders should consume multiple meals a day to support muscle mass,” Dr Mike says. “Consuming frequent meals will help bodybuilders keep their bodies stocked with nutrients and calories.”

Action plan: to take in six to eight meals each day, follow a daily schedule along these lines.


You can eat more than you think

One side effect of decreasing calorie consumption too much is that it also slows the rate at which your body is able to burn body fat. In other words, decreasing calories alone often works against your goal of burning body fat. “Many competitive strength athletes consume more than 5000 calories a day,” Dr Mike says. “This helps them grow and keeps their metabolisms running efficiently.”

Action plan: consume enough calories to fuel muscle growth without adding body fat. One of the best ways to do this is to keep meals fairly moderate in size but consume many of them throughout the day.


Don’t skip your cardio

“Perform cardio on an empty stomach or after consuming a protein shake – it’s preference,” Dr Mike says. “A study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed no evidence that a fasting cardio condition conferred any benefits for fat loss compared with one after consuming calories.”

Action plan: concentrate on your total energy consumption and expenditure and the macronutrient ratios (and foods) that work best for your body type.


Emphasise high-intensity interval training (HIIT) cardio

Cardio performed with short, all-out bursts of activity is more effective for burning body fat than longer, steadystate forms. “Increased mitochondria size and number is something the CV system provides and has become a hallmark adaptation to HIIT,” Dr Mike says. In other words, your body produces more of these tiny energy units within your cells when you perform HIIT. This helps elevate your metabolic rate for several hours after the session.

Action plan: to take advantage of the benefits of HIIT, you need to include only three to five bursts in your cardio sessions (two to three days per week). Each interval should last only 60 to 90 seconds. After each round, take a longer recovery period (usually about two minutes or so) before performing your next HIIT session.


Emphasise protein

“Protein itself won’t increase your RMR,” Dr Mike says, “but it does increase satiety, helps reduce body fat and enhances recovery and sleep.” Protein also helps fuel muscle growth, and carrying more muscle mass will ultimately boost your RMR.

Action plan: emphasise getting in at least 30% of your calories from protein with foods like lean red meat, fish, whole eggs and egg whites. In addition, protein supplements low in carbs and fats are immensely beneficial for meeting this requirement.


Take protein first thing in the morning

One of the best ways to prevent catabolism and protect your muscle mass (and thus your metabolic rate) is to take in protein as soon as you wake up.

Action plan: “You can take in protein sources that are a mix of fast- and slow-digesting proteins such as a whey-casein combo,” Dr Mike says. “The whey will be absorbed quickly, and the casein will be taken in slowly, giving you the benefits of both absorption rates.”


Embrace fibre

“Fibre holds considerable water and provides bulk to food residues in the GI tract,” Dr Mike says. “This makes you feel full for longer. Fibre also helps the body increase microflora, the beneficial bacteria that support health, muscle building and fat loss.”

Action plan: consume at least 40 grams of fibre per day, from foods like beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, and vegetables and fruits. Take these in at every meal except after workouts and with your wakeup shake, as dietary fibre slows down protein absorption.


Get in plenty of dietary fats

Many bodybuilders think that they should reduce consumption of fats when they’re dieting because they equate dietary fats with unwanted fat in their midsections. Guess what? One of the best ways to reduce body fat is to consume dietary fats in lieu of carbs. That’s because dietary fats provide more satiety than carbs, which means that each calorie lasts longer. In addition, dietary fats cause far less insulin release than carbs do. Insulin is the hormone that drives blood sugar and tells the body which fuel source to use.

Action plan: of primary importance with healthy fats is to emphasise consumption of omega-3s, which are typically very low in the Western diet. Good sources include salmon, sardines, flaxseeds and walnuts. Saturated fats provide the raw materials for hormones such as testosterone. Good sources include lean beef, dairy products and whole eggs.


Consume fast-digesting carbs and protein after workouts

Taking in protein and carbs right after training will provide your body with the raw materials it needs to repair muscle tissue.

Action plan: take in about 25 to 50 grams of fast-digesting supplemental protein (whey) with no dietary fats or fibre. Add an equal amount of fastdigesting carbs. The best sources in descending order are dextrose, glucose and sucrose (table sugar).


Choose carbs wisely

Not all carbs are created equal. Sugar, bleached flour and other fast-digesting carbs cause an insulin spike. Slowdigesting carbs cause less insulin to be released, allowing you to use the carb calories for energy expenditure over a greater length of time.

Action plan: eat these carbs at various meals throughout the day.


For the full story read the article in the Apr/May 2016 Australian FLEX.

For more health tips and articles subscribe to Australian FLEX magazine.