The basic premise of this type of routine involves periods of underfeeding for fat loss followed by periods of overeating for muscle gain coupled with both training for fat loss (low intensity cardio or High Intensity Interval Training) and muscle gain (large, heavy, compound weight training movements.)
It’s then theorised that for the majority of the day (when you are most likely sat at your desk at work or are in fact doing cardio) you will be eating lower carbs and lowering your calorie intake which in turn will hormonally (for a number of reasons) put your body in the ideal state to lose fat. The rest of the time you'll either be sleeping (replenishing critical neurotransmitters like dopamine and adrenalin and elevating growth hormone levels,) eating A LOT to ensure muscle glycogen levels are fully restored before a heavy workout or consuming sufficient quantities of protein and carbohydrates to drive protein synthesis, raise insulin levels and ensure you take advantage of the anabolic hormones induced by the weight training and the post workout feeding schedule.
Now without going into the intricacies of lipolysis and lipogensis, put simply the following diet plan works on the premise that you solely eat calories and carbs when you need them for a heavy workout, so:
Low Calorie/ Low Carbohydrate
On non-weight training days (and for only half the day on weight training days):
Primary macronutrient ratio: 50% protein 30% fat and 20% carbohydrate (low carbs)
Overall calorie intake: 10-12 x bodyweight (low calorie)
High Calorie/ High Carbohydrate
On weight training days from the start of the workout to when you sleep:
Primary macronutrient ratio: 20% protein 5% fat and 75% carbohydrate
Overall calorie intake: 10-12 x bodyweight (essentially the same as the entire days calorie consumption on non-weight training days but consumed within a 6 hour period)
There are many variations of this type of workout, but using the principles and nutritional guidelines explained above you will find you are able to increase muscle mass and lower your body fat percentage effectively.
The theory behind the Diet and Training
Regarding morning cardio, obviously if your goal is improved performance you will need a high carbohydrate meal beforehand to fuel your workout and reduce the onset of fatigue. But for those who are solely concerned with lowering their body fat, studies show exercising whilst on limited carbs and calories can increase the amount of fat you are able to burn.
Professor Peter Hespel from the University of Leuven in Belgium believes ‘when you exercise (on low carbs/ calories), your adrenaline is high and your insulin is low and it’s this ratio that is favourable for your muscles to oxidize (break down) more fatty acids." An idea further supported by exercise and health Professor Ron Maughan of Loughborough University who says "science is finally catching up with what smart runners have always known. If you have a long, hard run on low calories and low carbohydrates, that hard run will train you to burn fat.’
But before your weight training routine you absolutely need carbohydrates in order to lift enough weight and provide your muscles with the stimulus needed to repair and regrow bigger. Research conducted at the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at Ohio State University in Columbus showed that taking between ‘1.1 and 1.5 grams of carbohydrates per kg of body mass, 60 minutes before exercise greatly improved athletic performance.’ (WM Sherman et al 1991.)
Then following your workout, research shows your muscles are starved and possess a ‘sponge like’ property that experts believe is responsible for your body’s ability to absorb more protein than any other time of the day (R.R. Wolfe et al, 1995.) In fact some studies even report your muscles can absorb almost 50% more protein than you can at a regular meal. Plus the additional carbohydrates consumed post workout cause the release of insulin which in turn great helps to shuttle protein and other vital nutrients to the muscles. (John Ivy, Robert Portman, 2004.) For all of these reasons, that is why it’s best to consume 10-12 x bodyweight = calories in the 6 hours before and after your workout in the nutrient ratio 20% protein 5% fat and 75% carbohydrate.
An ideal supplement for the low carb/ low calorie phase would be Impact Diet Whey. Not only does it have a low carbohydrate and high protein content, but it also has added ingredients proven to help reduce body fat and increase muscle mass such as L Carnitine. Studies show L-carnitine is able to transfer long-chain fatty acids, such as triglycerides into mitochondria, where they may be oxidized to produce energy. It has also been show to reduce fatigue (due to its muscle glycogen sparring qualities) and serve as an appetite suppressant. In one study conducted at the University di Chieti it was found both maximal oxygen uptake and power output increased dramatically in those supplementing their diet with L Carnitine.
Furthermore, Impact Diet Whey also includes Green Tea Extract which contains a flavonoid called Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG.) As well as being associated with a number of health benefits such as helping to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system and reduction in the risk of cancer, it’s also thought to be responsible for the fat loss properties of green tea by increasing the amount of energy your body uses and by making it easier for your body to use excess body fat.
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