The Delusions & Reality of Hormone Cycling

Are you delusional or realistic about your physique goals?

If I were to ask you point blank what your body fat is what would you tell me face to face?

If I were to show you a picture of someone else's body that is very similar to yours, would you acknowledge it or be in denial?

If you and your significant other see a man walk by twice the musculature that you are and much leaner would you credit him or tell yourself that if you took the same stuff (drugs) he took, you would appear the same?

These are all questions and scenario's that I have witnessed, and reminds me that some people cannot grasp reality. 

Let's start from the beginning…

When you first begin weight training, you are usually clueless and unaware of proper nutrition,rest, training and all the key variables involved in getting results. For the fresh beginner, results will manifest regardless, simply due to the "foreign" stress that is happening to your fresh muscle tissue. Muscle growth, increase in metabolic rate and a better sense of well-being will inevitably happen…..AT FIRST. Once this grace period comes to a plateau (usually a few months) you will need to further educate yourself about proper nutrition and more sound training routines to keep the results soaring.  

Let's investigate a typical hypothetical scenario –

Although everybody gets results in the very early stages of weight training, some people respond ABNORMALLY well to lifting weights and will leave their training partners in the dust! So if both trainees started weight training at the same time, but one surpassed the other by a huge margin, it is very apparent that genetics are crucial in muscle hypertrophy and favorable body composition. The training partners will both accrue more knowledge in regards to nutrition, supplementation, and different training techniques but the genetic superior will always stay way ahead.  As time passes the thought of hormonal assistance is becoming extremely tempting to the genetic inferior.  In fact, he begins his first cycle in hopes to surpass his training partner. He begins to put some weight on (water–>via–>glycogen retention), his strength begins to increase, muscles appear fuller (more 3-dimensional looking) but he still does not look like his training partner?

I mean, he has put on 15-20 lbs. in 4 weeks, and has gotten stronger, but he still is not as impressive as his damn training partner! 

This scenario is so harsh and disheartening for most people to accept that it literally drives them insane. If they don't accept the fact that some peoples genetic makeup responds better to muscle stimuli, food, drugs and all other pertinent aspects of muscle growth- they begin to make assumptions for their short-comings. Perhaps thinking their superior partners are taking some special product behind their backs, taking huge amounts of hormones or all of the above. Let's say that the genetic superior decided to dabble in hormonal assistance, most likely due to other experienced people noticing his potential, telling him how well he'd do in Bodybuilding and what not. 

This is when the genetic elite trainee EXPLODES! His already lean and muscular physique gets even more profound with big & round muscles and low body fat. 

As you can see from this common scenario, it will be obvious right from the beginning who is predisposition to be a lean & muscular elitist among people with mediocre genetics. 

So what can you do about this painful, yet rude awakening fact of life?

Well, first off get your training and nutrition down as best as you can before even CONSIDERING hormonal assistance. How many times have you seen younger "newbies" choose a harsh methylated, designer hormone before considering a high quality protein powder, let alone even looking as if they lift weights to begin with? People want to take short-cuts and assume that hormones are the missing link to them looking like a Greek God. 

Once you stress all variables at your disposal then you may need to turn to hormones for breaking through new grounds. Once you commit to going to the "dark side" of hormonal cycling understand that you will get results, but DO NOT get irate when you don't turn into Mr.Olympia afterwards, 

It is truly sad when someone who fails to grasp reality will cycle steroids and gain a respectable amount of muscle (8-14 lbs.), gains some strength, loses some body fat, yet are pissed off that they did not achieve more? 

For the newbie hormone user or experienced user, you must still continue on with your diligent eating and training regimen that you SHOULD HAVE been doing in the first place. To truly maximize your supra-physiological hormone levels, you must feed the muscle high quality protein, essential fats, and complex carbs every day. Just because you have an athletic friend from Nigeria who can eat candy, potato chips and fast food all day and go to the gym for a half -ass workout and look better than you does NOT mean that you shouldn't do everything in your power to make the most of what you got.

Let's now make a "Pre-Cycle Checklist" for variables that MUST be addressed before committing to a hormone cycle

The Pre-Cycle Checklist – 

1.) I have stressed all avenues of nutrition and found out what suits my body best.

2.) I have stressed all facets of training and found out what suits my body best.

3.) I have been training diligently for more than 6 months while eating and training consistently.

4.) I understand that genetics play an integral role in nutrition response, training response and hormone response.

5.) I understand that you CANNOT continue gaining 10-15 lbs. each and every cycle.

6.) I understand that there is a "diminishing returns" effect when using higher dosages of hormones and side   effects become prominent.

7.) I understand that to improve upon each cycle I must increase a variable to continue gaining – increase calories or increase weight on lifts or increase dosage of hormone or all of the above.

8.) I understand that SAYING I eat 5000 calories a day is much different than LITERALLY EATING 5000 calories a day.

9.) I understand that SAYING I am 8-9% body fat is much different than LITERALLY being 8-9% body fat with ALL abs fully visible and have very thin skin all over.

10.) I understand and acknowledge all of the above.

If you can understand & oblige to this list, then you are realistic enough and mature enough to engage into hormonal assistance. You must segregate yourself from false perceptions and accept reality. Please do not become discouraged from the information given and use it to your benefit and seek out your underlying potential, just be a realist about it.

I personally have witnessed several competitive Bodybuilders' with average genetics annihilate genetically gifted or "elite" athletes due to impeccable work ethic, adherence to perfect nutrition, and giving everything they had to achieve the end result they sought after. I have noticed a lot of the time, the genetic elite athletes understand that they can do the bare minimum and look better than 95% of everyone else. This awareness makes them LAZY. Can you imagine if that genetically gifted person had the drive, will power, and persistence as the average athlete that is a work horse? It would be a sight to behold. 

I hope everything discussed in this article will "sink in" and let each and every one of you acknowledge the importance of all variables involved in this muscle-building equation. Leave no stone un-turned, and give it everything you got, because for most humans……..building high-quality muscle isn't easy.

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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

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