Journal Entry 326 – Date Night

It’s going to be a short post this week. I had a very busy week at work, even though it was only a four day week. It tends to slow down after the Holidays, but not so far. We probably had our busiest week to date recently so hopefully, it slows down a little for the rest of the year.

Sarah and I had a date night this Friday at Cooper’s Hawk. The wine tasting at Cooper’s Hawk is great. They pour a stout amount from each wine and it is always at least 8 wines you may try and can even try a couple more if you ask for it. I also had a $15 birthday credit from my wine club membership that you can use on food or alcohol. We decided to go to the bar after and get some sparkling wine. I went with Almond and she went Raspberry. Muy bien. Due to the perks of being a wine club member, you get a free bottle of wine each month, so I picked a Blueberry based wine, which tasted amazing.

The Hokies had a great game yesterday and earned a bowl game. A little last minute “season-saving” on their part. The Giants snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against the Eagles. Unbelievable. They had the game wrapped up in the first half and then decided to stop playing a little early. There goes our season. However, the Cowboys SOMEHOW beat New Orleans, so they are likely to win the division regardless at this point, so it may not have ever mattered anyway.

Another week of training plateaus. I plan to maybe back off strength training to 2 times a week with 3 days between each day. This way I can hit it at full strength. The days in between I plan on doing stretching and bodyweight movements, but nothing overly stressful. I plan on taking at least one day completely off as well.

Journal Entry 322 – Updates

Since my last post, I decided to update the site a bit. I updated the background to look more like an actual journal and took down some pages that I thought made the blog look crowded. As a minimalist, I like the upgrade a lot. After reading some of my older articles, I’m not sure I agree 100% with all of them anymore, but it contains good information nevertheless.

Last weekend Sarah and I went to a co-worker and friend of mine’s wedding. It was great! The venue was a country setting and somewhat isolated from outside distractions. Everyone had a good time and the food and drinks were on point. ūüôā

Unfortunately, this past week was very stressful. This is my long weekend and dear god it could not have come sooner. I really just felt like I needed a break. A break to get things done and just to relax and get out of my everyday grind. I think both physically and mentally I was starting to wear down. My gym performance is still plateaued, unfortunately. I plan to keep roughly 2 heavy days a week and the rest are going to be bodyweight movements and stretching. These movements have felt fantastic recently and heavy lifting has not felt so good. I think the extra rest from constant heavy weights every day is going to help break me through my plateau.

My diet has been so-so for the past week. I’ve been craving more oatmeal recently and I must say it is delicious. It’s also very filling. I have about 100-150grams to play with each day, so it is pretty easy to fit in. As for the brand, I always go with Quaker Oats Weight Control or Lower Sugar Maple and Brown Sugar. Hands down the best ever.

Sarah and I went to Grapevine Wednesday night with Sarah’s mom Laura and her Grandma. It was a great dinner! I think they now like the restaurant as much as we do. Sarah and I also had a date night last night. We went to Cooperhawk for some wine tasting and then went to Plaza Azteca for dinner. Copperhawks’ wine this month was not good haha. They usually have at least 3-4 wines that are good, but this month it was a very weak selection. We didn’t end up eating dinner until like 9:30-10:00 PM either. It was very delicious though.

Other than that I plan just to take it easy for the rest of the weekend. We are having some people over tonight for drinks, so that should be good times. Until next week!

Journal Entry 319 – Miscellaneous

I’m just going to do a quick update this week. No post last week as it was a very busy week at work and I didn’t have a ton of time or energy to write a post.

I have hit somewhat of a plateau in my lifts recently. I have also felt more stressed out recently, which I know goes hand in hand with the gym. My meals at night have been less keto/high protein-oriented and more or less just eating whatever I want. I have noticed a couple of days this week my dietary fat was unintentionally very low. Like 30 grams or so. I definitely felt “off” the next day. I may remedy this with a full week of eating what I think is optimal. This consists of high protein meat-based meals and a low carb content. Let’s see if that jumpstarts me a little bit.

Other than that, the Giants and Hokies are both failing. Giants can’t score points at all and Hokies lost to ODU. Great! (sarcasm intended). Also, my number one draft pick in Fantasy Football, Leveon Bell, hasn’t played a game because he “isn’t making enough money.” Don’t even get me started on this fool. Once Eli Manning is done my interest in football is going to take one hell of a step down from where it is now. If my interest in football is currently a 10, once Eli is gone it will be more like a 5.

I’m also thinking about getting a PS4. Mainly for Star Wars Battlefront 2, which is an incredibly fun game. Kylo Ren is hands down the best character in that game. They are also going to add Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan in future updates, so yeah this game is a must buy. I’ve also had the PS3 for at least 5 years. Considering the system may be a bit pricey at first at $299, it lasts several years and holds its value well. Also, since the PS4 has been out a while, a lot of the games are very cheap now.

Journal Entry 267 – Protein

Last week was way better in terms of working out. I finally felt strong again and got back to where I was before that weird performance decrease took place. I have done cardio everyday this week, except for Wednesday.

For dieting this week, I have changed my breakfast back to protein pudding instead of oatmeal. I usually drink a decent amount of caffeine in the morning before my workouts and have increased the size of protein pudding to about 40grams worth. I actually think this has made a tremendous difference in terms of working out. I really feel stronger with this breakfast vs doing the exact same thing with oatmeal. I think the carbs preworkout may not be the best thing for me, so I will just eat them later in the day.

It kind of got me thinking though, about my protein intake. It has been on the lower side recently and I wonder if I should bring it back up to a gram per pound at least. I know all the science of protein and it does seems to be on the firing block here recently, but it does have tremendous benefits that can’t be ignored. Especially in terms of body composition, even blood sugar levels, taste, volume of food at meals,¬†very high TEF, and never being stored as fat. A Recent study has found that people were able to lose more body fat and build muscle by jacking up their protein intake to 1.5 grams per pound vs .8

A Recent study has found that people on a very high protein intake were able to lose more body fat and build the same amount of muscle by jacking up their protein intake to 1.5 grams per pound vs eating .8 grams while also eating 500 more calories a day. While it may be true that you only need .8 grams per pound to build muscle, that says nothing about burning fat at the same time. Also, the other two macros are way more likely to be stored as fat, especially in a surplus, so take what you hear with a grain of salt.

 

Setting Carbs on a Diet and Carb Refeeding

Carb refeeding has always interested me. Almost every successful diet that comes out today, has some manner of carb refeeding or overfeeding to prevent and reverse so of the many negatives that comes from prolonged calorie and carb cutting. But there’s so much information, it becomes hard to know what to do and also how to to plan it in order to get results. I’m going to try and wade through the information and explain it the best I can and how you should implement a refeed based on where you are with your body fat level, appetite and motivation.

Chocolate Oatmeal with bananas, berries and pancake toppings
Chocolate Oatmeal with bananas, berries and pancake toppings

The first time I came upon carb refeeding was when I was very naive in my old dieting habits. I would cut calories and carbs too hard in order to get very low body fat. My strength in the gym was terrible, my motivation and determination was fading fast from where it started before the diet and I was starting to obsess about food. I was also in the middle of the “low carb era” which I really despise thinking back on. Way too many experts that were jumping on each others bandwagons and proclaiming ¬†insulin to be this fat storing nightmare, when in reality they were just dead wrong. It wasn’t till after many people started experiencing severe problems on low carbs (thyroid issues, low body temperature, no motivation, low libido, terrible gym performance) that some people finally admitted they were wrong. Sadly many will still not admit this. Anyway the point is, to have a successful diet you always want to keep a decent amount of carbs in the diet. I set the minimum at 120 grams a day. 120 grams a day is enough to maintain thyroid, liver glycogen (which regulates blood sugar), brain glucose (concentration and thinking straight) and Central Nervous System (regulates fatigue). These are just a few benefits, but leaving this amount of carbs also helps keep cortisol levels from becoming excessive, prevents adrenal fatigue (excessive¬†fat burning hormones and¬†adrenaline), higher leptin levels (fat regulator), various fat burning¬†hormones higher and libido intact (libido takes a nose dive when liver glycogen gets depleted).

After you have a minimum of 120 grams of carbs you also need to adjust for lifting and exercise. If you are sedentary besides walking, then 120 grams will do well for you. If you lift and run I recommend bumping up the carbs to around 150-170 grams depending on the intensity of your workout. This will cover your exercise needs and your basic physiological requirements for normal glucose. Of course once you have your carbs right you need to make sure your hitting your minimum protein intake (.8 multiplied by bodyweight) and fat intake (at least .2 multiplied by bodyweight) to prevent nutrition deficiencies and muscle loss.

Example

  • Total Weight – 180 lbs
  • Maintenance Calories with exercise – 2400 calories
  • Protein – 144 grams
  • Fat – 45 grams
  • Carbs – 160 grams
  • This comes out to 1621 calories, which is the bare minimum this person needs to lose weight without wrecking his health.

These are minimums for the low days and targets you should make sure to hit everyday. Now comes the part about refeeding. Carb refeeding originated from ketogenic dieting. Keto diets are extremely low carb and the reason high carb refeeds were implemented was too reverse the adaptations and many negative consequences these diets brought. I hate Keto diets and wouldn’t recommend them to anyone, unless they enjoy having health problems and feeling terrible all the time. That being said carb refeeding can still have enormous benefit to all diets. No matter how many carbs you have in your diet, if you don’t eat enough calories every so often your body will catch on and start to slow down metabolism. Refeeding prevents this. Here is how to implement one in your diet:

  • If you are on Ketogenic diet, I would do one AT LEAST every three days. Carbs are short term energy storage in the body and after 3 days the carbs are all depleted. Hit the refeed hard with at least 2-3 bodyweight in carbs.
  • If you are on a diet with at least 120 grams of carbs and our greater than 15% bodyfat, then do a refeed once every 2 weeks. Shoot for double the carbs you normally eat and the calories should hit right around your maintenance.
  • If you are on a diet with at least 120 grams of carbs and have 10-15% bodyfat, do a refeed once a week, preferably on day with no alcohol, because alcohol can inhibit leptin and that’s one of the main hormones you are trying to influence. Shoot for double the amount of carbs you normally eat and calories right around maintenance or slightly over.
  • If you are on a diet with at least 120 grams of carbs and are under 10% bodyfat, do a refeed twice a week, preferably every 3 days or maybe 5 low days in a row and then 2 high days in a row. This will prevent muscle loss that occurs more often for leaner people.
  • If you have been dieting for longer than 12 weeks with no or limited refeeds, take 2 weeks of with double the carbs you normally eat and calories at maintenance level. Then resume normal dieting and implement one of these refeeding strategies.
  • The last strategy might be the most effective. Listen to your body. If you find yourself overly hungry one day for no apparent reason, motivation is starting to fade and the gym seems more like a chore then a joy, do a refeed that day. Refeeds can “float” so to speak, meaning they can vary whenever you need them. I guarantee the day after you refeed, your motivation will be much higher for the entire week and you will be glad to return to your normal diet.

Is carb refeeding absolutely necessary? Not unless your on a Ketogenic diet. As I stated earlier if you eat enough carbs on a daily basis, many of those nasty hormonal functions may never effect you, but refeeds can help give you a boos. I like to think of them as an insurance policy and also a reward for dieting hard the other days of the week. That being said they do serve a physiological benefit and my bet is that you would get better results with them, than without them. Just dont get too carried away with them. Unless you have a very easy time cutting fat, too many refeeds drastically slow down your fat loss results and may even stop it completely if your not careful. Follow the advice above and watch your fat disappear, while your metabolism, strength and muscle remain intact. ūüėČ

PS – High growth hormone, which is popular among low carb experts as a potent fat burner, inhibits leptin. Leptin is the chief hormone you want to spike with refeeds as it signals the body to start burning fat for energy and that your well fed. Only carbs can signal leptin. Further reading …¬†Why You Probably Need Carbs.

The Bro Split

The “Bro Split” is a typical bodybuilder split that has been used for decades to enhance the physiques of many. Today many people claim you shouldn’t do them at all unless you’re on steroids because they don’t work for the average recreational lifter. Another common complaint is that muscles should be worked twice a week and anything less than this and you’re missing out big time. I actually disagree with some of these statements and I’ll also outline some major benefits that only a “Bro Split” can offer.

First I want to outline what the typical “Bro Split” is. The way I set mine up would look like this:

  • Day 1 – Chest
  • Day 2 – Back
  • Day 3 – Legs
  • Day 4 – Shoulders
  • Day 5 – Arms
  • Day 6 and 7 – Cardio or Off (these days can also be scheduled during the week in between sessions)
  • Note – Abs done every other day or 3 days a week

Very simple and easy. The plan allows the lifter to hit one muscle group a day and then not hit that muscle group directly again for another week. (Although some overlap always exists regardless of what split you use.)

Let me tackle the first complaint against these, which is the split only works if you’re on steroids. The reason that people say this is because most steroid using bodybuilders use this split and do incredibly high amounts of volume (sets and reps) that most people can’t recover from. I agree that if you use a ridiculous amount of volume not only would you not gain muscle, your workouts would actually begin to make you smaller. But this example is taken out of context and is an extreme example that people frequently use to make a point. This split will work awesome for an average lifter if the volume is controlled. Here is a perfect example of a good volume to shoot for, for each body part in order to ensure enough volume is used to break down the muscle, but not so much that regression begins to take place:

  • Chest Day (example)
  • Barbell Bench Press 4×6 reps (strength focus)
  • Incline Dumbbell Press 3 x 8,10,12 reps (pyramid) (size focus)
  • Dips 3 x 8,10,12 reps (pyramid) (size focus)
  • Cable Flys (isolation movement) 3×15 reps (blood flow and endurance)

Simple, effective, and not excessive. Tell me what exactly is wrong with this rep scheme? … – About 90% of intermediate lifters would progress just fine on this and maybe even better than hitting a muscle twice a week, which brings me to my next point.

Hitting a muscle twice a week can be effective if done correctly. For this to be done correctly you have really get you’re volume correct or you really risk overtraining and not allowing enough recovery. Let’s say the lifter lifts on Monday and hits Push muscles (chest, shoulders, and triceps). First of all, in order to complete this in a single day, you would need to drastically reduce the volume for each body part, which if not chosen correctly could lead to under-stimulating each muscle. So the lifter uses two exercises for each body part and lifts with a heavy rep range of 6-8 reps for each exercise. The next day he’s sore the workout went great and he doesn’t have to use these muscle groups again until 2-3 days from now when most of the damage is healed from the previous workout. So Thursday comes around and its time to hit those muscles again. The lifter doesn’t feel too sore and repeats the Push workout with a very similar workout template, expect today the lifter doesn’t feel nearly as strong and his poundages are either the same or worse. What gives? – Well in my experience its due to the muscles not getting enough recovery time. 2-3 days may be correct for most of the damage to be healed from your previous workout, but that’s just it … you’re not only trying to recover from your workout 3 days ago, but you’re also trying to get bigger and stronger in that muscle. The muscle needs to GROW not just RECOVER back to baseline levels. Those are two different things and if you are constantly bashing your muscle groups without enough rest this growth is unlikely to occur.

Another thing no one tells you with hitting muscle groups twice a week is the fact that you have to have one heavy day (4-8 reps) and one light day (10-15 reps) or you’re doing it wrong. They fail to distinguish that if you lift heavy of the same muscle group twice a week then you’re probably not going to get very far. The light day is more of “recovery day” to stimulate blood flow from your previous heavy day. To be fair the “Bro Split” actually does somewhat hit your muscles group more than once a week, but it’s more indirect. For example, Dips on arms day is a heavy chest mover and also close-grip chin-ups which is as much a back movement as a biceps movement.

And my final favorite criticism is the if you hit your muscles twice a week then you will have 104 workouts per year vs 52 from only hitting a muscle twice a week, which is far better for growth and elevates protein synthesis. Under this logic, you might as well say “Just hit all your muscle groups every day so you can fit in 365 workouts a year for maximum growth.” An extreme example, but more doesn’t necessarily mean better. Also, while elevated protein synthesis is a good thing, it’s not the only thing needed for a muscle to grow.

Those are the main points I wanted to make. I still think hitting muscles twice a week can be used effectively if you program it right, which most people don’t. If you stay on them too long you will plateau and switching to a “Bro split” may actually increase your muscle growth due to the extra rest you receive.

One thing to caution here is that a “Bro Split” can also be ineffective if you don’t structure your days correctly. Let me give you an example of a terrible split:

  • Day 1 – Arms
  • Day 2 – Shoulders
  • Day 3 – Chest
  • Day 4 – Back
  • Day 5 – Legs

Terrible:

  1. Always structure bigger muscles first in the week and finish with smaller ones.
  2. Put legs in the middle in order to prevent the upper body from being used too many days in a row.
  3. Separate shoulders away from chest to prevent the muscle from being sore the day you workout.
  4. Its wise to stick a rest day in between every 2-3 days of lifting (not absolutely necessary, but helpful).

Now I want to outline some of the benefits of the “Bro Split”:

  1. Allows the user to dedicate maximum focus and intensity to each target muscle group (try shoulders after heavy bench presses and you’ll see that intensity drops way off).
  2. Allows maximum rest for each muscle group and only hits each muscle directly once a week to allow for the Growth of the muscle not just recovery from the last workout (if structured properly – see above).
  3. Takes much less time each day and allows user to finished between 30-45 minutes if lifting intensely.
  4. Prevents overtraining that many plans that attempt to hit two muscle groups a day frequently do.
  5. Its easier to program. Most lifters don’t want to program every last detail. Tell them to hit their chest hard once a week and then let it recover vs tell them to hit their muscles twice a week with a heavy/light scheme and the questions start to pour in.
  6. It’s Proven. Take a trip over to Bodybuilding.com and look at some of the transformations people have done, especially in regards to gaining mass. I’d say at least 80% of them used some sort of split routine that hit a muscle once a week vs. a full body or upper/lower split. The results speak for themselves.
  7. It’s fun. These splits allow for intensity techniques (drop sets, high rep finishers, rest pause sets) that would be almost impossible to do while training 3 muscle groups on the same day.
  8. It’s easier to push your limits. Example – Lifter gets 200 x 6 reps on a barbell bench press the previous Monday. This Monday he shoots for 205 x 6 reps or even 202.5 for 6 reps. Trying increasing like that every 3rd day and I guarantee you it will not happen.
  9. It allows for maximum breakdown of the muscle. This is an important one, but sometimes an annihilation workout to each muscle can actually be very effective from the standpoint of getting in enough volume for growth provided the recovery is there. Sometimes by splitting your volume up twice a week and working multiple muscles per day may leave some muscles under-worked each day and overworked for the week.
  10. Allows for cardio to be done each day. Some may see this as HUGE negative, but cardio is really important for building mass. Insulin sensitivity, more mitochondria of the cells, wakes up the CNS to prepare for heavy lifting, increased blood flow and removal of waste products to name a few. Only 5-15 minutes of moderate intensity exercise is needed to stimulate these benefits.
  11. Allows for more lifting days overall. By only going in and hitting one muscle a day it allows the lifter to lift more often (almost every day if programmed correctly) without burning out.
  12. Psychological reasons. This is more of rehash, but sometimes going into a lifting session only having to hit one muscle is far more mentally refreshing than going in having to hit 3 or more muscles in the same day and making sure each is sufficiently worked.
  13. Targeting different areas of the muscle. The shoulder has three heads. While you don’t need a ton of volume to stimulate each, only doing compound shoulder presses and ignoring lateral and rear delt raises is a mistake that could prevent optimal development of that muscle.

As you can see the “Bro Split” may get made fun, but has tons of benefits and an impressive track record that speaks for itself. If you have been plateauing on a “new -age split” that has you hitting muscles twice a week, a “Bro Split” may be a game changer.

*Bonus – Sample routine for size and strength:

  • Day 1 Chest
    • Barbell Bench Press 3×6-8 reps
    • Incline Dumbbell Press 3×8-10 reps
    • Dips 3 sets of AMAP (As many as possible)
    • Cable Chest Flys 3 sets of 12-15 reps
    • Pushups 100
  • Day 2 Back
    • Dumbbell Row 4×6-8 reps
    • Chinups 3 x AMAP
    • T-bar Row 3×12-15 reps
    • Lat Pulldowns 3×12-15 reps
  • Day 3 Legs
    • Barbell Squats 4×6-8 reps
    • Dumbbell Lunges 3×10 (each leg)
    • Leg Extensions 3×12-15¬† reps
    • Leg Curls 3×12-15 reps
  • Day 4 – Rest
    • 30-45 minutes of cardio
    • 100 pushups throughout the day
  • Day 5 Shoulders
    • Barbell Shoulder Press 4×6-8 reps
    • Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3×10 reps
    • Lateral Raises 3×10 reps
    • Rear Delt Machine 3×15 reps
    • Shrugs 3×15 reps
  • Day 6 Arms
    • Close Grip Chinups 3×6-8 reps
    • Close Grip Dumbbell Press 3×6-8 reps
    • Two-handed DB curl 3×10 reps
    • Skullcrushers 3×10 reps
    • Cable Curl 3×15 reps
    • Rope Pushdowns 3×15 reps
  • Day 7- Rest
    • 30-45 minutes of cardio
    • 100 pushups throughout the day
  • * Can easily put both rest days back to back at the end of the week

Progression Scheme – 3 sets of 6-8 reps means you should get all 3 sets for 8 reps before adding weight. Once you hit 8 reps on all 3 sets then you should add 5lbs to your current lift. This is much easier if you are using barbells.

This routine prioritizes the main lift at the beginning of each workout. This is the lift you want to increase over time. The next move is a compound moderate rep exercise geared towards size gains. The last two moves are high rep, pump style that are isolation or machine moves that are there for blood flow and finishing off an already tired muscle for the week.

Never Plateau Again: Carb Cycling

Carb Cycling is a relatively new dieting concept that is supposed to achieve the holy grail of body composition, which is to burn fat and build muscle at the same time. ¬†Many people that haven’t done their research would tell you its impossible, but eating in a certain way and structuring a proper plan with meal planning will allow a person to achieve this. ¬†The concept is relatively simple.

On days you lift you eat a high carb diet (around 2 grams multiplied by your body weight or more), high protein (at least 1 gram multiplied by your body weight) and keep fat low to moderate (likely around 25% of your body weight or around 40-50 grams). ¬†Carbs release insulin, fill out muscle glycogen, enhance energy, drastically elevate metabolism, increase testosterone levels by dropping SHBG, lower cortisol, increase leptin and many other benefits. Muscle glycogen needs to be topped off and the body needs to be in a state of cellular hydration in order to build muscle and carbs achieve both very well. Attempting to do this on high fat, low carb diet is very difficult. ¬†The increase in hormones, specifically leptin drastically improves fat burning in the body and only carbs can upregulate this. ¬†If your leptin is low, which commonly occurs in chronic low carb diets, you fat burning can be diminished by 50% within 3-4 days. ¬†Basically this high carb day upregulates all the hormones needed to build muscle and properly burn fat. ¬†Loading up on high fat diet doesn’t bring these benefits. Also the body doesn’t have a long term storage depot for carbs and protein (De novo lipogensis is not efficient in humans). ¬†This means that overfeeding this day, with fat kept low, means that the chances of putting on bodyfat are very low, especially only for one day. Sample foods for this day are all lean meats- chicken, egg whites, seafood; starches – bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, oatmeal and even some low fat or fat-free junk food in moderation.

On days you don’t lift, you eat a low carb diet around 100 grams or lower, high protein (1 gram per pound of bodyweight), and a higher fat intake (60-80 grams). ¬†This day you will be in a calorie deficit in order to burn fat. Since you are in a deficit your fat intake can be much higher than the previous day. ¬†You still want to keep carbs low on this day. ¬†The main reason is by depleting your body of carbs on the rest day, you make yourself more sensitive to the overfeeding of the high carb day “by making room.” Also, since you overfed the previous day, eating a lower carb diet is very effective for burning fat. ¬†Another reason to increase fat intake on this day is for hormonal reasons, the benefits of fat and dietary variety. ¬†Fat has a lot of benefits and since your focusing more attention on carbs on the lift day, you need to make sure you eat them on the rest day for the benefits they bring. ¬†Also, eating fattier foods on your rest day, will appease your cravings and improve diet variety, so you don’t crave them on a high carb day. ¬†Sample foods for this day include fattier meats – red meat, whole eggs and veggies.

The beauty of this system though is that each day compliments the next.  The high day offsets the negatives of chronic dieting and the low day allows dieting days to remain very effective as well as preventing fat gain from too many high days in a row.  This system works very well on an every other day setup.  For example, lifting days would be Monday, Wednesday and Friday and rest days would be Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Eating in this fashion over the course a week allows for 4 fat burning days (which remain effective since the high carb days upregulate metabolism and hormones) and 3 days for building muscle (which remain effective as the low carb days make the overfeeding days more effective and prevent excess fat gain, while building muscle.)

This system can be easily manipulated to either build more muscle or burn more fat.  For example, if one wanted to gain more muscle simply do 4 high days and 3 low; 5 high days and 2 low days or if more fat burning is desired then do 2 high days and 5 low days.  Always keep at least two high days on a diet.  The high days are too important to skip.  3 low days in a row followed by a high day would be a good cycle for someone focused on more fat loss.

As for calories a very effective setup would be to find your maintenance and eat +20% on high carb days and -20% on low carb days. ¬†Another very quick rule of thumb is to find your BMR and add 800-1000 calories over this on high carb day and eat at your BMR or -100-200 calories less than your BMR on low days. ¬† A quick example for someone who weights 160 lbs would eat about 1600 calories or a bit lower on low days and 2400-2500 on high carb days. ¬†I’ve seen some recommendations to go +30% on high days, but that seems a bit too much and unnecessary. ¬†If you only need 2500 calories to build muscle then eating 3000 calories isn’t doing you any favors and will probably just increase fat gains.

A quick note on Leangains.com – Martin Berkhan created a system very similar to carb cycling. ¬†Berkhan is at 5.5% bodyfat at around 200 lbs, but has “former fat boy”genes that many people have (including myself). Berkhan overcame his own dieting issues and has done a ton of personal research, but its pretty inspiring to see someone maintain this level even with subpar genes. ¬†Berkhan fasts for 16 hours a day and feeds for 8 hours a day. ¬†I’m not a big fan of fasting, so I don’t, but overall his system is a twin brother to carb cycling. ¬†The reason I bring up Leangains though is because I’ve read many of his free articles and his website is nutritional goldmine. ¬†The most important thing I learned from his site is that eating in this fashion attains all the benefits and none of the negatives of all diets. ¬†Two more important things I learned from Berkhan are a very low level of exercise is needed to obtain the body of a Greek statue and the awesome information on carb refeeds. ¬†It seems that one refeed a week is not enough to prevent all the negatives of dieting. ¬†Also one cheat meal isn’t a long enough period of time to reverse the negatives either. ¬†That’s why refeeding with high carbs at least 2-3 times a week for a period of at least 6-8 hours is needed to reverse these negatives. ¬†And refeeding on lifting days allows one to build muscle mass while losing fat. Pretty awesome combination that many used to think impossible.