Inflammation for Muscle Growth

If you have been weight lifting for a year or more and read magazines and the internet for information, you probably have come across the topic of Inflammation. You have certain people in the industry promoting anti-inflammation for fat loss and muscle growth and other industry experts advocating inflammation for protein synthesis and fat loss as well. When I mention inflammation I am referring to inflammation derived from nutrients in food such as fatty acids. High dose fish oil has been touted as a major player in regulating inflammation from a nutritional stand point, and arachidonic acid has been hyped up as a pro inflammatory muscle builder by supplement companies. How can two polar opposite fatty acids elicit the same results for building muscle and decreasing body fat? The simple answer is: they don't. I have experimented first hand with high dose fish oil and olive oil and also high doses of arachidonic acid from red meat, egg yolks and various cheeses. I will share with you the effects that I got from both ends of the fatty acid spectrum when dieting for extreme fat loss.

Pro-Inflammatory                                               Anti-Inflammatory


After reading several articles from a popular trainer and author on a famous website that is revolved around testosterone and selling their own products, I took notice of his advice regarding extremely high dose fish oil. He was not just recommending 4-6 softgels a day, but up to 40 softgels a day of your standard 1000 mg product! After devising a plan of action about what products I was going to use and how I was going to orchestrate my diet, I would give this method a go. I planned on utilizing a low carbohydrate diet with carbohydrates only coming from green vegetables which bare minimal impact on blood sugar. I also chose liquid fish oil and olive oil for my only fat sources. The two oils were dosed at 4 tablespoons a day. Saturated fat from egg yolks and red meat were not present as I really wanted my omega 3 and omega 9 levels sky high.

 

4 tbs of carlson's fish oil
=
19,200 mgs EPA = 6,000 mgs DHA

 

4 tbs of olive oil
= 44 grams of monounsaturated fat

 

I was ready to dive right in and become joint pain free and absolutely shredded from oxidizing fat from increased uncoupling proteins. I was already in very respectable condition prior to starting this cutting phase. I had my abs displaying with a pretty thin skin fold measurement and of course arms were lean and vascular, I would say I was 9-11% maximum in body fat. My mass gaining diet prior to starting was still low carbs, but high in red meat from burgers, bacon, cheese, and peanut butter.

So the experiment began…

I was adamant about not ingesting nuts or nut butters as I really felt I would achieve optimal results from suffering with just oils and keeping trace carbs to a minimum. After the first week I began to notice some cosmetic changes. I felt like my muscle bellies were flat and deflating slightly, I also noticed my pronounced vascularity was less prevalent. My joints felt nice, but I really felt softer and smaller. I just assumed this was an awkward period from transitioning into a dieting phase from a mass gaining phase, and after 3-4 weeks, things will swing my way.

Week 3 arrived and a moment of reality hit me like a ton of bricks when a friend came into my work to talk to me. The very first thing he said when he saw me was "What happened to you? You look like crap?" "You looked bigger and leaner before you started your diet, what the hell is going on?" I immediately took offense and asked him what his problem was and he doesn't know what he's talking about, but after 5 minutes I knew he was absolutely right. I explained to him that I was experimenting with high dosages of essential fatty acids, namely omega-3 and omega-9 and that it is supposed to do all of these awesome things for fat-loss amongst other benefits. He quickly told me to ditch this protocol and do what I have always done because this obviously wasn't meshing well with my body type. Like I mentioned earlier, I already felt the signs of this diet going south from the first week and knew I had to switch gears and get myself back on track.


"What happened to you? You look like crap?"

I know that I am ectomorphic in nature and have always had a blazing metabolism. This made it very difficult building muscle and gaining weight. I knew from my past offseason that I respond extremely well to saturated fats. My new diet now consisted of lean red meat, whole eggs, whey isolate shakes with added egg yolks, light mozzarella cheese, and natural peanut butter. I would perform a carbohydrate refeed twice a week, on Thursday and Sunday for a 4 hour period.

Previous diet menu:           New diet menu:

-Olive oil                                             -Steak

-Fish oil                                              -Whole eggs (added yolks)

-Chicken breast                               -Cheese

-Whey isolate                                   -Peanut butter

After 1 week of switching from high dosages of fish oil and olive oil to an arachidonic acid rich diet, the changes to my physique were dramatic. My muscles began to swell and fill out, my vein protrusion was magnified, and my physique tightened up considerably. As the weeks flew by I got into better condition while maintaining muscular fullness even without the presence of carbohydrates. This solidified my thoughts regarding saturated fats being beneficial for ectomorphic hard gainers, and high fish oil being favorable for the huskier, endomorph body types.

 

Naturally lean ectomorphs
= High arachidonic based diet

 

Naturally husky endomorphs
= High fish oil based diet

 

From current literature it is widely accepted that ectomorphs have sufficient insulin sensitivity and higher metabolic rates. Endomorphs typically display insulin resistance issues and do very poorly with processing glucose, and also struggle with dropping body fat. Studies have demonstrated that saturated fat can increase insulin resistance by suppressing GLUT-4 production which reduces glucose transport significantly. However, for the ectomorph body type this shouldn't pose any threat. Saturated fatty acids have also been shown to increase testosterone production and increase prostaglandin formation from a class of substances called eicosanoids. Saturated fat found in red meat, animal organs, and egg yolks contain high amounts of arachidonic acid, which ultimately gets converted into the prostaglandin PGF2a. Once converted to PGF2a, it can begin doing it's magic.

Pgf2a has been shown to inhibit adipogenesis through mitigating the activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase. Arachidonic acid is also speculated to increase protein synthesis by the muscle being stretched from training and releasing prostaglandins PGF2a and PGE2. PGE2 is paramount in its role to induce satellite cell proliferation and fusion. This chain of events will increase the amount of nuclei in the cell which correlates to rapid muscle growth from mRNA production. These are just some of the attributes associated with consuming high amounts of inflammatory inducing fatty acids.

As you can clearly see from my personal experience and the facts listed, that for the hard gainer, following a pro inflammatory based diet is optimal for muscle growth and lean mass retention. For the individuals who have naturally higher body fat levels and struggle to shed fat, I would say having higher dosages of omega-3 is advisable. Not excessive amounts like the article I read from that website, but at least 8-12 softgels a day. I personally believe all body types should keep carbohydrate intake low to moderate, but especially endomorphs need to be very meticulous with their carbohydrate consumption if they value a favorable body composition.

Schematic summary of the biosynthetic pathway for eicosanoids derived from arachidonic acid.


Please understand that I experimented with such a diet while keeping my insulin levels extremely low, due to being on a ketogenic type of diet. If consuming copious amounts of carbohydrates I would definitely not implement excessive amounts of saturated fats due to health implications that could arise. In retrospect, I realized that this type of nutrition plan worked great for me, but I now firmly believe in nutritional balance. I advise people to consume both types of fats in equal ratios combined with low carbohydrate allotment.

References:

1.)Juan J. Moreno*, T. Carbonell, T. Sánchez*, S. Miret and Maria T. MitjavilaOlive Oil Decreases both Oxidative Stress and the Production of Arachidonic Acid Metabolites by the Prostaglandin G/H Synthase Pathway in Rat Macrophages 3J. Nutr. August 1, 2001vol. 131 no. 8 2145-2149.

2.)Courtney E. Leik PhD, Scott W. Walsh, PhD. Linoleic Acid, but not Oleic Acid, Upregulates Production of Interleukin-8 by Human Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells via Arachidonic Acid Metabolites Under Conditions of Oxidative Stress.doi: 10.1016/j.jsgi.2005.09.004Reproductive Sciences December 2005 vol. 12 no. 8 593-598

3.)Andersson, A., A. Sjodin, A. Hedman, RM. Olsson, and B. Vessby. Fatty acid profile of skeletal muscle phospholipids in trained and untrained young men. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 279:E744-751, 2000.d profile

4.)Shephard, R. J. and P.N. Shek. Immune responses to inflammation and trauma: a physical training model. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 76: 469-472, 1998.

5.)Rajaram S, Connell KMSabaté J. Effect of almond-enriched high-monounsaturated fat diet on selected markers of inflammation: a randomised, controlled, crossover study. Br J Nutr. 2010 Mar;103(6):907-12. Epub 2009 Oct 29.

6.)Teruo Kawada,* Shun Kayahashi, Yoshifumi Hida,Ken-ji Koga, Yoshitaka Nadachi, and Tohru Fushik, Fish (Bonito) Oil Supplementation Enhances the Expression of Uncoupling Protein in Brown Adipose Tissue of Rat. J. Agric. Food Chem., 1998, 46 (4), pp 1225–1227

7.)DJ Maron, JM Fair and WL Haskell, Saturated fat intake and insulin resistance in men with coronary artery disease. The Stanford Coronary Risk Intervention Project Investigators and Staff. Circulation, Vol 84, 2020-2027, Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association.

8.)Dorgan JFJudd JTLongcope CBrown CSchatzkin AClevidence BACampbell WSNair PPFranz CKahle LTaylor PR, Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and estrogens in men: a controlled feeding study. Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 Dec;64(6):850-5.

9.)Zalin RJ The role of hormones and prostanoids in the in vitro proliferation and differentiation of human myoblasts. Exp Cell Res. 1987 Oct;172(2):265-81.

10.)Palmer RM. Prostaglandins and the control of muscle protein synthesis and degradation. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent FattyAcids. 1990 Feb; 39(2):95-104

Don’t Get Ripped off by Carbs and Get Ripped with Saturated fat

Which food item builds more muscle? (shown below)

 

 

I am sure most of you are familiar with the common belief that saturated fatty acids are the culprit of obesity and cardiovascular ailments. I am also sure most of you are familiar with the low carbohydrate craze that flooded the media about 10 years ago due to The Atkins Diet. Dr. Atkins ideas were definitely outside of the box, and while not perfect, they were on the right track. The recommended diet for optimal health, according to the original USDA food pyramid from 1992 is a very low-fat, low protein and high carbohydrate based diet. As we know, if this diet was truly nutritionally sound then we wouldn't be facing such a high obesity epidemic at present. It is pretty clear that the nutritional food pyramid is grossly outdated and the public needs to be properly educated on proper nutrition. In actuality, high carbohydrate consumption is truly the explanation for the growing number of people diagnosed with diabetes, high triglycerides, elevated blood pressure and obesity. People need to understand that carbohydrates are not nutritionally essential for survival. Amino acids and fatty acids are mandatory for proper manufacturing of new tissue repair, immune function, hair, skin, nails, cellular integrity, brain, and heart health.

 

Back in the day people survived off of protein and fats

 

For the typical desk job citizen who performs minimal daily activity, getting rid of carbohydrates in place of red meat, eggs and cheese would be in their best interest. As for extreme athletes, like Marathon runners, Football players, Swimmers, and Cyclists involved in high levels of activity, strategic carbohydrate consumption would be extremely advantageous for supplying adequate energy reserves for optimal performance. For the weight lifters, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiast's that want muscular growth and low body fat levels, trading carbohydrates for saturated fats will be extremely conducive to the goal of attaining the ideal physique. Training with weights is not extremely energy demanding and typically only lasts around an hour. Most people train in the low to medium rep range consisting of 6-12 repetitions. This will not require extreme amounts of glucose to effectively and efficiently perform. In fact, once you metabolically shift into relying on protein and fats as your primary energy substrates, you will be able to surprise yourself in the gym and become stronger without carbohydrates. When you are consuming high protein and fats and non-starchy vegetables, you will still be able to accumulate glycogen from trace carbs from protein turnover (gluconeogenesis) and vegetables. By the end of the day, your carb count could add up to 30-70 grams depending on your total

"When you are consuming high protein and fats and non-starchy vegetables, you will still be able to accumulate glycogen from trace carbs from protein turnover (gluconeogenesis) and vegetables."

 

caloric intake and food choices. This is why I recommend people following a low carbohydrate diet to perform cardio in the morning to burn the most body fat, however, since glucose will always be low, you could benefit from cardio at any time of the day. I also advise people to weight train in the evening as you will have built up sufficient glycogen from incidental carbohydrates eaten throughout the day. Keep in mind that you can also derive energy from your creatine phosphate stores and ATP reserves. These powerhouse energy sources come into play on your first few reps during exercise. Once these fuel substrates are depleted, then glycogen will come into play. Creatine phosphate levels will be completely restored after 4 minutes of rest.

_ATP_P = ADP and Energy

_ADP + P = ATP

_Creatine = Supply of P

 

(Creatine Phosphate above)

(Fatty acid oxidation above)

 

The coolest attribute to this way of dieting is that you will be a fat burning machine. You will constantly be mobilizing free fatty acids from the mitochondria and from intra-muscular triglycerides. Making the core of your nutrition plan comprised of lean red meat, whole eggs, cheese, and green vegetables will give you the option of selecting two different scenarios depending on your total caloric intake and energy expenditure. The first scenario is a muscle gaining phase. You will need to be in a high caloric surplus to accrue tissue. You will most likely stay leaner while in that surplus due to your favorable hormonal environment. Your serum insulin levels will be regulated and testosterone output will be optimized. The second scenario is entering a cutting or fat-loss phase. This will require a slight to moderate caloric deficit with less cardio then you would need with higher carbohydrate consumption.

Sample muscle gaining phase caloric equation:        Sample fat loss phase caloric equation:

(Bodyweight x 20 = total calories)                                  (Bodyweight x 13 = total calories)

 

Given the two scenarios, it is clear to understand that you will yield the best results with a protein and saturated fat based diet. You will stay leaner when gaining size and retain more tissue when reaching very low body fat levels, since ketones have been shown to exhibit a muscle sparing effect. An interesting study investigated the ideology that "A calorie is a calorie" is not accurate and The Laws of Thermodynamics do not apply regarding high fat, low carbohydrate diets. The study involved subjects who followed a low carb, higher fat diet and subjects who followed a low fat, high carbohydrate diet. The low carb group ingested a higher caloric value than subjects on a low-fat diet and lost more weight, in addition to burning more calories throughout the day. The low-carb group ate 54 extra calories a day and lost 5.8 kg while the low-fat group lost only 1.9 kg.

Another researcher discovered that people eating 300 extra calories a day on a low-carb diet lost a similar amount of weight. Another study I will mention is one regarding a 6-week very low carbohydrate diet and its effects on total and regional body composition. Results revealed some amazing details. Fat mass was decreased (-3.4 kg) while lean body mass substantially increased (+1.1 kg) at the end of the 6 week trial. Researchers believed that the fat loss can be attributed to decreased serum insulin levels and increased fatty acid oxidation due to elevated beta-hydroxybutyrate concentrations. This proves that a calorie is not always a calorie and different macronutrients influence specific metabolic actions in the body once consumed.

References:    

1.)Kennedy ARPissios POtu HRoberson RXue BAsakura KFurukawa NMarino FELiu FFKahn BBLibermann TAMaratos-Flier E, A high-fat, ketogenic diet induces a unique metabolic state in mice.Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Jun;292(6):E1724-39. Epub 2007 Feb 13.

 

2.)Pérez-Guisado J, Ketogenic diets and weight loss: basis and effectiveness. Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2008 Jun;58(2):126-31

3.)Yancy WS JrOlsen MKGuyton JRBakst RPWestman EC, A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2004 May 18;140(10):769-77.

4.)Feinman RD, Fein EJ. "A calorie is a calorie" violates the second law of thermodynamicsNutr J. 2004;3:9. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-3-9

5.)Volek JS, Sharman MJ, Cómez AL, et al. Comparison of energy-restricted very-low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2004

6.)Mayo Clinic (2003, November 12). High Saturated Fat, Starch Avoidance Weight Loss Diet Offers Good Preliminary Results.
ScienceDaily (Nov. 12, 2003).

7.)Denise Gellene | Times Staff Writer, Low-fat diet not tops for weight loss. Subjects on the Atkins and Mediterranean regimens lost more in an Atkins Foundation- aided study. July 17, 2008.

8.)Essen-Gustavsson, B. & Tesch, P. A. 1990. Glycogen and triglyceride
utilization in relation to muscle metabolic characteristics in men performing heavy-resistance exercise
. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 61, 5-10.

9.)Anssi H Manninen, Very-low-carbohydrate diets and preservation of muscle mass. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2006; 3: 9. Published online 2006 January 31. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-3-9.

10.)Vazquez JA, Adibi SA. Protein sparing during treatment of obesity: ketogenic versus non-ketogenic very low calorie diet. Metabolism. 1992;41:401–14

11.)Manninen AH.
Is a calorie really a calorie? Metabolic advantage of low-carbohydrate diets. J Int Soc
Sports Nutr. 2004;1:21–26

Are you Ready for the Andro Series?

The release of the Andro Series Project is right around the corner and is going to be a steroidal breakthrough in the supplement industry. Each compound is a Metabolic Steroid and will elicit a host of effects such as; improved metabolic rate for losing body fat, increased anabolism for accruing lean muscle mass, heightened sexual prowess for intimacy, and improved self-confidence. What there won’t be are numerous hazardous side effects that are commonly seen with the current line of designer steroids and illegal anabolic steroids. The Andro Series has been meticulously formulated to avoid excessive stress on the liver, kidneys and heart. However, please don’t mistake a lack of side effects for a lack of results. Delivery is everything when it comes to a product being active and effective, and we have established the best in oral delivery and bio-availability.

Stack AndroMASS with AndroHARD for extreme muscular weight gain

I would like to prepare you for how to optimize and maximize your experience when incorporating the Andro Series products into your nutrition and training regimen. I would advise anyone who has experienced a training layoff due to injury, illness or laziness to first get back into the swing of things before utilizing hormonal supplementation. You will be growing regardless so it would give Andro Series a false sense of effectiveness. Once you have hit a training and nutrition plateau then it is time to implement a steroid cycle. Depending on your goals, whether it is ultimate muscle gain or extreme fat-loss you must choose the proper products to accommodate your target goal. For extreme muscular weight gain, stacking Andro Mass with Andro Hard would provide an ideal hormonal environment. The Andro Mass would be the “meat and potatoes” of the stack, yielding high conversions to Testosterone and DihydroBoldenone. Testosterone needs no description as it is the most widely used steroid available. It is known to enhance muscle mass, increase fat-loss, and raise sex drive. DihydroBoldenone is a 5-aplha-reduced form of the steroid boldenone. It elicits mild androgenic traits and is a potent anabolic. It has been reported to bind aggressively to the androgen receptor eliciting minimal androgenic side effects and substantial transcriptional gene activity that induces extreme muscle growth. The Andro Hard will convert into DHT at a high rate, so androgenic effects will be achieved. Andro Hard displays powerful characteristics such as: an increase in strength, sex drive, and mental focus for rigorous training sessions.

AndroMASS will induce –

  • High anabolic activity
  • No toxic side effects
  • Increased muscle hardness
  • Muscular weight gain
  • Superior delivery of hormones

AndroHARD will induce –

  • Profound vascularity
  • Gyno protection
  • Magnified sex drive
  • Increased aggression
  • Superior delivery of hormones

What is the optimal nutrition plan for this mass gaining cycle?

Now that you know how these 2 products can help you in your plight for extreme mass gaining, it is on you to implement proper training and nutrition to potentiate the effects of the steroid cycle. I will not expand too much on the nutritional aspect of utilizing this stack for muscular weight gain, but I will briefly touch base on a few key dieting recommendations. Make sure to structure your meals and plan ahead so you can stay consistent with no excuses. Create a nutrition plan that coincides with your body type. Meaning, if you are an ectomorph, you can get by with a higher influx of carbohydrates (400-600 grams) and dietary fat than an endomorphic body type. The mesomorph and endomorph would benefit greatly from a modest allotment of quality carbohydrates (150-300 grams) and using essential fatty acids for their fat sources. All body types would need to adjust their protein intake depending on body weight and their carbohydrate and dietary fat requirements. A good rule of thumb for mass gaining is to ingest 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. You may ask, “Why only 1.5 grams?” That is because you have adequate fat and carbohydrates to spare the protein.

Which body type are you?


Next, we will go over the goal of extreme fat-loss. Andro Hard stacked with Andro Lean would be the weapons of choice to accomplish such a goal. The Andro Lean is equipped with Super-7-Dhea, which will increase fat loss 3 times more than diet and exercise alone. Super-7-Dhea will increase fat oxidation through the mitochondria from increased thyroid output from elevated T3 levels. However, thyroid stimulating hormone and T4 levels will remain unchanged, so thyroid suppression is not an issue. Super-5-Dhea is also included to keep testosterone levels elevated for muscle preservation and increased sex drive when going on a reduced calorie diet. The ectomorph body type once again can have more liberty with their carbohydrate allotment (200-300 grams) while cutting, but keep dietary fat lower so calories are in a deficit. Cardio is usually something ectomorphs don’t have to worry about, but for general health, it is recommended 3-4 times a week for at least 20 minutes. The mesomorph would diet best on medium to low carbohydrates (100-200 grams) incorporated around training, while ingesting protein with essential fatty acids at other meals of the day. Cardio performed 5 times a week, starting at 20 minutes a day is recommended. The endomorphic body type usually responds well to very low carbohydrate intake (30-75 grams) while keeping essential fatty acids in the diet. Cardio will be a key factor in getting lean with endomorph’s, so I would recommend starting off with 30 minutes a day, 6-7 times a week. When starting a cutting phase, protein intake should get ramped up since carbohydrates and fats are reduced. I recommend 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight and adjust accordingly from there. As far as weight training is concerned, I like to see people whether dieting or bulking to base their workouts around basic free weight movements. Squats, (back and front) dead lifts, (all variations) Incline barbell and dumb bell bench presses, standing barbell curls, and bent over barbell rows should all be staples if you have no injuries inhibiting you from executing such crucial exercises.

AndroLEAN will induce –

  • Increased active thyroid output (T3)
  • Increased fatty acid uncoupling
  • Mild conversions to testosterone
  • Non stimulant thermogenesis
  • Superior delivery of hormones

It should be no surprise that having your Post Cycle Therapy planned ahead of time is always recommended. You should never start a steroid cycle without having all ancillary products and post cycle products in your possession from the beginning. There are some very effective products that stand out when choosing a proper PCT protocol. If you choose a pharmaceutical, Toremifene would be a good choice. D-aspartic-acid also has proven itself effective alongside a natural SERM-like supplement, such as Trans-Resveratrol. I would recommend running your Post Cycle Therapy for at least 4 weeks to ensure adequate recovery of natural hormones.

Toremifene molecular structure shown above:

In closing, please understand that you need to plan your steroid cycles carefully and never go into it and “wing it.” Plot out your nutrition protocol, training regimen, and PCT accordingly. Keep in mind you are suppressing your endogenous production of natural hormones so make the absolute most of your next cycle.

References:

1.)Friedel A, Geyer H, Kamber M, Laudenbach-Leschowsky U, Schanzer W, Thevis M, Voller G, Zierau O, Diel P. 17beta-hydroxy-5alpha-androst-1-en-3-one(1-testosterone) is a potent androgen with anabolic properties, Toxicol Lett. 2006 Aug 20;165(2):129-55.
 

2.)Lam P. Ly, Mark Jimenez, Tian N. Zhuang, David S. Celermajer, Ann J. Conway, and David J. Handelsman,A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Clinical Trial of Transdermal Dihydrotestosterone Gel on Muscular Strength, Mobility, and Quality of Life in Older Men with Partial Androgen Deficiency. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab., Sep 2001; 86: 4078 – 4088.

3.) Christos S Mantzoros, Emmanuel I Georgiadis, head, Endocrine Unita, Dimitrios Trichopoulos, professor and chiefb, Contribution of dihydrotestosterone to male sexual behavior. BMJ 1995; 310 : 1289 (Published 20 May 1995)

4.)Bobyleva V, Bellei M, Lardy H. The effects of the ergosteroid 7-oxo-dehydroepiandrosterone on mitochondrial membrane potential: Possible relationship to thermogenesis. Arch Biochem Biophys 1997;341:122-128.

5.)Bosy TZ, Moore KA, Poklis A. The effect of oral dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on theurine testosterone/epitestosterone (T/E) ratio in human male volunteers. J Anal Toxicol 1998;22:455-459.


Thou Shall Cut on Gear and Bulk off Cycle

How many times have you heard someone say “I’m going to bulk up while on cycle and cut up once I’m finished?” They are probably under the train of thought that they can eat everything in sight as long as it has protein in it. The trainee is most likely using aromatizing bulking agents for their cycle, which elicits estrogenic body fat accumulation in Alpha-2 enriched adipose sites.

Estrogenic Alpha-2 Receptors Shown Below:

A poorly planned diet disregarding quality calories on top of highly aromatizable compounds is a perfect recipe for looking like a sumo wrestler instead of a bodybuilder! These misinformed individuals typically think that they will magically cut up once they cease their cycle of anabolics. Due to an ignorant nutrition program and a lack of understanding about the way hormones work, they set themselves up for a major disappointment.  Sure they naturally lose excessive water retention from discontinuing the aromatizing compounds and fool themselves into thinking they are on their way to being shredded, but that surely isn’t the case. In fact, they will most likely lose everything they gained on cycle, and perhaps look worse than before starting the cycle. An insufficient recovery, due to excessive calorie cutting and ineffective PCT products will yield a catabolic environment. Deciding to diet down during your post cycle therapy is perhaps the most catastrophic time to do so. You see, when in PCT, your endogenous hormone levels are plummeted and high calories from protein, carbohydrates, and fats are crucial in holding size, and keeping cortisol levels under control.  When you diet during a post cycle therapy phase you are essentially pouring more gas on the catabolic fire. You increase cortisol by reducing calories lower than on cycle, incorporating more cardiovascular training, and opting for lighter weight and higher reps for your weight training.  Please do not make this mistake and throw your muscle gains and money down the toilet, and keep reading to learn a better approach to proper hormone cycling.

——–OR——–

The wisest approach when cycling would be to aim for an extreme composition change where you diet stringently to achieve the lowest body fat possible, while gaining muscle mass in the process. In order to accomplish such a feat, you need to be incredibly meticulous with your diet, training, and cardio regimen.  You should plan a cycle that is safe and effective so you have adequate time to meet your goal. A 12-18 week cycle would be recommended as you want to gradually lower body fat and increase muscle mass. The first half of the cycle and sometimes a little longer is what I refer to as “the grace period,” meaning, at that time you should still have adequate nutrition for muscle accrual yet low enough calories to continuously shed body fat. The final 4 weeks of the diet should be brutally strict and at this time you will you go from “ripped” to “shredded.” Calories are further reduced and cardiovascular exercise is maximized, the exogenous hormones will be able to prevent you from burning up muscle.

“RIPPED to SHREDDED”

——TO——

Once the cycle is concluded you should be in the best shape of your life and looking absolutely amazing with paper thin skin, pronounced vascularity, and very chiseled features. By having the discipline and mental toughness to get yourself into such lean condition, you have set yourself up for a very productive Post Cycle Therapy and mass gaining phase simultaneously. You will need to plan your off cycle and bulking phase to perfection to yield the desired results. I would recommend Human Chorionic Gonatropin to have been sporadically implemented into the cutting cycle to keep luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone still functioning at some capacity. Proper SERM selection would be ideal for PCT alongside natural hormonal boosters such as, trans-resveratrol, d-aspartic-acid and quality Bulgarian tribulus.

HCG + Sustain Alpha + TCF-1 + Tribestan = Superior Hormonal Recovery.

+ + +

In the initial stages of your post cycle phase you want to really take advantage of your rebound, and voracious appetite, and ingest copious amounts of quality foods. Months of dieting dramatically increases your insulin sensitivity, which makes processing glucose from carbohydrates very efficient, driving nutrients into muscle cells opposed to adipose tissue.  You should prioritize nutritious carbohydrate sources from whole oats, yams, Ezekiel bread, various beans and berries. Fats should be from whole eggs, red meat, and essential fatty acids. Protein should be in ample supply from all sources. The first 2 weeks of this off-cycle and bulking phase will be incredible as you will soak up nutrients like a sponge and muscle cells will be engorged with glycogen, minerals, and amino acids. Strength will be creeping up from the extra weight gain and water retention, while fat accumulation hasn’t started to  manifest itself yet.

Ideal protein sources:                      Ideal carb sources:                    Ideal fat sources:
-Bonesless,skinless chicken breast       -Whole oats                                 -Egg yolks
-Lean and fatty fresh fish                      -Yams                                           -Olive oil
-Cottage cheese                                   -Flourless Breads                         -Fish oil
-Lean cuts of red meat                         -Black beans                                 -Raw nuts
-Whole eggs                                         -Berries                                         -Fat from meat

Keep in mind, what goes up, must come down. Meaning, you cannot keep forcing high calories like the first 3-4 weeks or else you are asking for excessive body fat accumulation. After week 4, you must put on the brakes and begin cycling your carbohydrates and calories accordingly to make sure you stay in acceptable condition for your bulking phase. This cycling practice is very common amongst competitive Bodybuilders who choose to stay natural in the off-season and only use hormonal assistance when preparing for a competition.  This method will allow you to get into amazing condition while on cycle and essentially grow off cycle. You also increase your post cycle recovery by introducing an influx of calories, which will boost insulin and testosterone from the carbohydrate and dietary fat intake.  You also get to give your endocrine system a nice break and clean out, so you can be receptive for your next bout of cycling. By now you should realize how detrimental it is to not diet or “cut up” once you conclude your steroid cycle, and that doing the exact opposite will be your best plan of action in achieving the optimal results for the goal at hand.

References:
1.) Demling RH, Orgill DP. The anticatabolic and wound healing effects of the testosterone analog oxandrolone after severe burn injury.  J Crit Care. 2000 Mar;15(1):12-7.

2.) D’Aniello A, Di Cosmo A, Di Cristo C, Annunziato L, Petrucelli L, Fisher GH:
Involvement of D-aspartic acid in the synthesis of testosterone in rat testes. Life Sci. 1996, 59:97-104.

3.) D’Aniello A, Di Fiore MM, D’Aniello G, Colin FE, Lewis G, Setchell BP: Secretion of
D-aspartic acid by the rat testis and its role in endocrinology of the testis and
spermatogenesis. FEBS Letters 1998, 436:23-27.

4.) Meikle AAW, Stringham JJD, Woodward MMG, McMurry MMP. Effects of a fat-containing meal on sex hormones in men. Metabolism, clinical and experimental 1990;39:943-6.

5.) Ferrando AA, Chinkes DL, Wolf SE, Matin S, Herndon DN, Wolfe RR. 1999 A submaximal dose of insulin promotes net skeletal muscle protein synthesis in patients with severe burns. Ann Surg. 229(1):11–18.

Benefits of Yoga

When guys hear the word yoga they think hippies, tofu, and small muscles.

Contrary to the popular belief that yoga is only for women, it was traditionally practiced by men although it has not maintained its male student population since its arrival in the Western world. Only a small percentage of the 15 million people who practice yoga are men. (1)

What men don’t realize is that most women consider it incredibly sexy when a guy practices yoga. I imagine this probably has something to do with the fact that most males who practice yoga [and lift weights] exude incredible confidence, self-security and a strong posture.

Aside from improving your sex appeal, our primary focus in this article is to show that any guy, whether you may be a bodybuilder, endurance athlete, or strength athlete, can benefit from this ancient practice. You will find that yoga can be an amazingly powerful tool in enhancing fat loss, overall athleticism, and injury prevention and rehabilitation.

Fat loss & Cardiovascular –

One key benefit of yoga over traditional forms of “cardio” or supplemental “calorie burning” exercises is the actual pleasure found in practicing it. Compared to the boring and dreaded treadmill or stair machine, yoga is often considerably more engaging and enjoyable, yet just as beneficial. Plus, yoga is something that can be practiced from home, in the comfort of one’s living room.

Lack of steady commitment is one of the biggest factors in why ‘weight loss’ or ‘fat loss’ programs fail. One following a steady yoga practice may almost feel like they reach their goals faster and easier simply due to the fact that the exercise is enjoyed. It’s interesting to note that the positive physical effects almost start to seem secondary after one realizes the positive psychological effects. Either way, it’s a catalyst for success.

Warrior One

Philosophies on the actual cardiovascular benefits of yoga are vast and vary greatly depending on the type of yoga practiced. Most would agree that more vigorous activity such as running, field sports, or circuit training will provide stronger cardiovascular stimulus. However, research has shown yoga to be beneficial for improving lipid profiles, insulin resistance and cardiovascular risk factors. (5) Part of the benefits can be attributed to the stress and anxiety relief alone, which can reduce heart disease risk and high blood pressure.

Flexibility & Circulatory-

The most commonly known benefit of yoga is increased flexibility, which can offer potential benefits for strengthening and balancing muscle and connective tissue.

Most of us understand that when the muscles are strengthened during weight training they are in turn pulled tighter. However, this ‘tightness’ can disable your muscles and connective tissue from properly relaxing when they should be. This relaxation is especially important for the opposing muscle in any given movement. (eg, the biceps should relax during a bench press) Mechanical musculoskeletal movement can be highly compromised and susceptible to injury by overly tightened muscles.

What about old fashioned stretching?

The most significant benefit you will find with yoga over traditional stretching is the light and progressively increasing warm-up like activity and increased blood circulation. Most other forms of stretching totally neglect a sufficient warm up period and only stretch isolated muscles groups. Poses performed in yoga encourage you to support your own body weight, which engages more muscle groups and promotes rapid engorgement of blood in the muscle belly from the resistance. More blood in the muscle means more effective stretching.

Side Angle Pose

From a recovery standpoint, increased systemic blood flow will promote nutrient delivery and toxin clearance. This of course translates into faster repair and increased muscle hypertrophy when combined with the proper weight training program. The enhanced circulation will also greatly improve injury rehabilitation. Even serious injuries with the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or the rotator cuff can also be improved with physical therapy, supplemented with yoga.

An integral part of yoga is the seamless transition from one pose to the next. For instance, the controlled movement and twisting of the spine provides significant benefit for the smaller stabilizer muscles controlling the vertebrae (eg, rodatores, multifidus, interspinales, and intertransversarii). Typical back extensions, lat pulls and upright rows will help these muscles very little, if at all. A recent ACE study showed that an hour of yoga three times per week increases average trunk flexibility by 13% in only eight weeks.

Remember, flexibility does not happen overnight. If connective tissue is “stretched” it is considered an injury, so be patient. The lengthening of the muscle and fascia must happen together through months of progressive training.

Balance –

When the word “balance” is used there tends to be two thoughts that come to mind, balance in reference to symmetry and balance in reference to being able to stabilize the body. Yoga helps improve both types of balance. This is achieved in yoga because all poses are done on all sides of the body. Poses are done from side to side and front to back. When working the whole body in the equal amounts, the whole body responds as a whole and becomes balanced.

When the body becomes “balanced” it becomes realigned. All of the 200 plus bones in the body are held in alignment by your muscles and connective tissue. As discussed earlier, if one (or a group) of muscles are tighter than the opposing muscle it can cause imbalance and potentially lead to discomfort or injury. With overall enhanced flexibility you will find balance, and the benefits herein will lead to improved posture, movement and flow. Common physiological ailments can often be improved by simply increasing overall flexibility and balance. (Eg, shin splints, plantar fasciaitis, anterior compartment syndrome, meniscus degeneration, and various tendonitis related issues.) In fact, research has shown yoga can improve repetitive-stress related injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, (3) while also helping with inflammation related conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. (2)

Breathing –

Yoga can improve breathing capacity by improving the flexibility of the rib cage, shoulders and diaphragm. (4) Improved flexibility in these areas will aid in the proper involvement of the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles in the act of breathing instead of only using your upper chest. This increases the amount of air taken into the lungs.

Oxygenation efficiency can be improved by focused and controlled breathing. (4) In yoga, each pose is coordinated with your breathing which will improve your mind-to-body awareness, power of concentration, and the body’s ability to replace carbon dioxide with oxygen.

Endurance –

There are two basic types of exercise; isokinetic and isometric. Isokinetic exercise involves strength in a repetitive movement (curls, bench, squats, ect.). Isometric exercise involves the tensile strength without movement (holding a pose under load). A study done at UC Davis demonstrated that isometric exercise increased muscle endurance by as much as 57% while isokinetic exercise increased muscle endurance by only 28%. The same study showed that isometric exercise provided remarkable improvements in flexibility and oxygen intake. This increased endurance is good news for virtually any athlete, minus those exclusive to explosive strength. (Discus thrower, linemen, sprinter, ect) Just be sure to choose the correct style of yoga for your goals.

Lifting the spirit –

During an intense yoga session its often encouraged to find the connection between the instructions of the mind and the order of the body. It is this metaphysical interplay between these elements that keep the individual constantly engaged and challenged.

As you attempt to hold a rigorously demanding pose you may ask yourself –

“Am I consciously in control?”

“Can I consciously work through the uncomfortable burning sensation?”

“Can I strengthen the signal from mind to muscle?”

The act of mindfully focusing on your body and its functions while performing a difficult pose in yoga gives the mind permission to focus on the task at hand, rather than stress inducing factors.

As you practice yoga, you will find that it brings a certain feeling of clarity, order and mindfulness – and an ability to conquer stress. Learning to apply this skill set to everyday tasks will enhance your productivity and overall fulfillment – whether it is a verbal presentation, a cage fight or simply falling asleep. (6-8)

cross legged

References

1. (Seattle times article” Yoga Poises for Chain Pose” Published Tuesday Sept. 21, 2004)

2. Measuring the Effects of Yoga in Rheumatoid Arthritis I. HASLOCK, R. MONRO, R. NAGARATHANA, H. R. NAGENDRA, and N. V. RAGURAM Rheumatology, Aug 1994; 33: 787 – 790.

3. Yoga-Based Intervention for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Randomized Trial Marian S. Garfinkel, Atul Singhal, Warren A. Katz, David A. Allan, Rosemary Reshetar, and H. Ralph Schumacher, Jr JAMA, Nov 1998; 280: 1601.

4. Pattern of breathing and ventilatory response to CO2 in subjects practicing hatha-yoga

D. C. Stanescu, B. Nemery, C. Veriter, and C. Marechal J Appl Physiol, Dec 1981; 51: 1625.

5. Risk Indices Associated with the Insulin Resistance Syndrome, Cardiovascular Disease, and Possible Protection with Yoga: A Systematic Review

Kim E. Innes, Cheryl Bourguignon, and Ann Gill Taylor
J Am Board Fam Pract, Nov 2005; 18: 491 – 519.

6. Sahaja Yoga Meditation as a Family Treatment Programme for Children with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder Linda J. Harrison, Ramesh Manocha, and Katya Rubia Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Oct 2004; 9: 479 – 497.

7. The effects of yoga on the attention and behavior of boys with Attention Deficit/hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Pauline. S. Jensen and Dianna T. Kenny

J Atten Disord, May 2004; 7: 205 – 216.

8. Yoga for anxiety: a systematic review of the research evidence • Commentary

G Kirkwood, H Rampes, V Tuffrey, J Richardson, K Pilkington, and S Ramaratnam
Br. J. Sports Med., Dec 2005; 39: 884 – 891.

Other Primary Resources

Uniting body, mind, spirit: Nicole Joseph AAP News, Dec 2004; 25: 320.

Real Men Do Yoga by John Capouya

Yoga: a Yoga Journal Book.

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