Embrace the CrossFit and Thundrbro basics for getting ripped without putting your precious muscle on the chopping block.
Dave Lipson is one of the world’s strongest CrossFit athletes who works at part of CrossFit HQ Staff and Thundrbro training programs @davefreakinlipson
Anabolism and catabolism are two types of metabolic reactions that take place in your body’s cells. This can be simplified to “building up’’ (anabolism) and “breaking down” (catabolism). Anabolic reactions store energy, uptake nutrients and drive growth. Catabolic signals release and mobilize stored energy, driving the loss of adipose tissue (body fat) and overall mass. When cutting and aiming to reduce body fat or “tighten up” it is important to spend a majority of the day in an energy releasing state. This can easily be done with a caloric deficit, carbohydrate restriction, or fasting and an increased frequency of physical activity. These methods help the body to tap into fat stores for fuel. Strategically balancing anabolic signals with catabolic ones, especially around weight training can allow you to preserve muscle or even pack on muscle mass while you lean out. Heavy weight training creates a catalyst for the uptake of nutrients into muscle cells to preserve the muscle you have, replenish growth factors that stimulate muscle growth, and repair muscle tissue that was damaged during training. That is why the timing of nutrients becomes critical during a cut. Three hours before and three hours after heavy training is a vital time period for eating a majority of calories and nutrients, especially while in a deficit. This prompts the body into short windows of an anabolism during the most opportunistic periods for growth and nutrient uptake.
Calories are king when it comes to leaning out. In order to gain muscle mass, one must consume enough calories to support growth, and in order to lose body fat, one must be in a caloric deficit. A caloric deficit means that you are consuming slightly less energy than is required to sustain your current body mass and activity. Getting too extreme in a caloric deficit will slow your metabolism and eat away at muscle mass, therefore we are looking for a mild caloric deficit and an increase in physical activity for fat loss.
Things that come and go quickly are rarely well-maintained. Put on massive weight quickly and it is usually “sloppy” mass. Lose massive weight quickly, and there can be a large rebound. Ideally, we are looking for a slow ascent to a distant horizon. Quality fat loss should look like a reduction of one-two pounds per week. For most people this will look like eating 12-15 calories per pound of bodyweight per day, depending on your current level of leanness. Lean athletes – meaning those that can see their abs – can eat closer to the 15-calorie ratio due to a higher density of muscle within their overall mass. Less lean athletes can eat closer to the 12-calorie ratio due to the higher ratio of fat in their overall mass. It is the muscle mass that consumes and uses fuel to perform work.
Hormones Dictate the Story
While working hard in the gym and in the kitchen two hormones play an important role in how our bodies respond to training and diet: insulin and glucagon. Insulin is released by the pancreas to help the body absorb glucose and reduce your blood sugar when it is too high. This happens primarily in response to consuming excess carbohydrates or large meals. Insulin helps to “feed” your cells by providing them with the ability to absorb glucose for energy. This is also important for the growth, repair and absorption of nutrients by muscles, especially after heavy weight training. However, insulin is the “storage” hormone, responsible for storing excess energy as body fat. For this reason, limiting carbohydrate consumption and meal size outside of the “training widow” (before and after heavy lifting sessions) is highly conducive for fat loss during the rest of the day.
Glucagon comes into play when your blood sugar levels become too low. This can happen in response to being in a fasted state, the absence of carbohydrate consumption and with exercise. When this occurs, the pancreas releases glucagon into the bloodstream where it prompts the liver and muscles to release its backup stores of glucose packed away as glycogen. That glucose helps to raise blood sugar levels back up to normal levels again. When glycogen stores are depleted from the liver and muscles, glucagon helps release it from body fat, using it as a fuel source. You can lower body fat by tapping into fat energy stores. For this reason, fasted cardio (low impact training on an empty gut) is extremely effective for fat loss.
Protocols for Getting Peeled Out
Spend a majority of the day outside of your heavy resistance training window in a fasted or in a slight caloric deficit.
Start the day with some fasted cardio or light activity
Consume a majority of calories before and after heavy resistance training sessions to limit muscle wasting, and to build up and replenish glycogen stores
Consume 30-40% of your daily calories in high quality protein, 30-40% carbs
Eat fruits and vegetables to get a wide variety and high density of vitamins and minerals.
Thundr-Cutz is a comprehensive manual for anabolic cutting. Find the full version of these excerpts and more at www.thundrbro.com