For the majority of bodybuilders the approach to pre-contest dieting can be summed up to the same old-fashioned rule: cut the carbohydrates! Following a diet plan without carbs or a very small amount of carbs has been repeatedly proven as effective. Additionally, following such a plan will always mean consuming less calories, which is basically how the athletes lose weight. It will invariably mean that insulin, which has the potential to cause fat storage, will have its levels controlled and maintained. All of this, however, does not guarantee that you’ll get to a shredded, 5-6-7% body fat.
The secret to building a shredded physique is about monitoring and controlling your caloric intake whilst keeping your hormonal levels in check at the same time. The aim of this article is to guide you in achieving an optimal hormonal environment that will enable your metabolism to burn body fat at a healthy and steady rate. We present you with a list of hormones while examining each hormone’s action in our body and how you can optimize its effects.
1. How to manipulate Testosterone
Testosterone is one of the most important hormones responsible for many male primary and secondary sexual characteristics as well as the development of both overall body strength and muscle size.
The most important thing is that you strive to keep your testosterone levels increased as much as possible. Any type of dieting has the tendency to cause failing testosterone levels.
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This is because having low levels of testosterone will decrease the metabolic rate and this is related to GH (Growth Hormone). Generally, when testosterone levels decrease, growth hormone also starts to plummet and growth hormone is known to be very efficient in fat burning.
There are two ways you can increase your testosterone levels whilst on a diet. First of all, you need to increase dietary fat consumption, having beef as the main source of protein, plus egg yolks, fish oil and small amounts of nuts. Monitor your carb intake at all times.
Lowering the fat intake can help in lowering the overall amount of calories, but eating no fat at all for a prolonged period of time has been proven to decrease overall testosterone levels. Eating higher amounts of fat every couple of days will prevent a decline in testosterone levels.
Second, increase your carb consumption drastically once a week. You can eat up to 3 grams of carbs per lb of body weight. This sudden increase will increase insulin levels, which will in turn decrease the SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin). SHBG’s function in the body is to attach to testosterone molecules in our blood and transport it. This is a major factor in how much testosterone can actually reach different tissues. When you increase insulin levels, this will separate SHBG from the testosterone molecules.
This in effect, “releases” testosterone, thus allowing it to reach the tissues, including muscle tissue, instead of further binding it to SHBG and denying its muscle building properties. Triggering growth will boost your metabolism and will aid you in getting a more shredded body.
2. How to manipulate Insulin
As we already mentioned, insulin has the potential to store fat, but it is also crucial in creating the proper anabolic environment for muscle gain and glycogen storage.
What you need to do is keep insulin levels increased post-workout and steady and low as much as possible while you rest. The reasons for this is that having low insulin levels while resting will help you burn more body fat if you control your caloric intake. On the other hand, increased levels of insulin after your workout will help the anabolic process by transporting glycogen to your muscle cells.
How to do it: Consume low amounts of calories and carbs most of the day. Opt for veggies and sources of lean protein, like fowl, eggs, fish, beef or whey protein powders. Pre and post-workout ensure that you consume carbs along with protein. A general recommendation while dieting is that you eat 0.2 grams of carbs pre-workout and 0.3 grams post-workout, per pound of body weight.
For example, a bodybuilder that weighs 200 pounds would need to consume 40 grams of carbs pre-workout and 60 grams post-workout. This will create an optimal anabolic environment while your body is most receptive to nutrients which is the time before and after exercising.
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