Carbs, Calories and Cardio

I have most definitely lamented on this fact before, that I often struggle as to what to write about. It’s not for lack of ideas, given that at least three quarters of my thoughts revolve around training or food, so much as I’m not always sure of what you, the lovely reader might find most interesting.

There are many reasons that a person might read a blog, and finding balance between useful and informative, without sounding like a research journal is ideally my aim. Coming from a science background, nutrition and physiology are predominately my interests, and while we all have unique aptitudes and interests, I tend to follow the humanistic principle that we are all inherently the same. Not that you aren’t all beautiful and uniquely bad ass, but fundamentally we are all driven by a basic hierarchy of need.

So, going forward with such principle in mind, I am going to narcissistically assume, that if you’re reading this you likely ponder the same thoughts that I do throughout the day.., “am I eating enough; am I eating too little; do I need to bulk; am I going to get fat; should I rest if I’m sick or suck it up; are rest days necessary; are supplements necessary; which ones”? And the list of neuroticisms go on. Since I most recently discussed how to stick to a plan given post holiday mayhem, and my current conundrum let’s talk about the infamous “offseason bulk”. Since I have been slowly reverse dieting myself, but allowing cheats when out for social events or get together a I’ve been trying to stick for a diet similar to prep. I like to call this my 90/10 or 80/20 rule. Meaning I eat “clean” 80-90% of the time and leave the rest for slip ups and indulgences. But given my current plan to compete this summer I know prep is once again fast approaching.

So this is where things get tricky. It’s common to have a fear of post show rebound. This fear is often associated with the dreaded and misunderstood carbs. As competitors approach a show you often cut carbs more severely in order to deplete glycogen stores and increase fat burning. But coming out of a show you have to slowly reintroduce them. During the early phases of my prep I was consuming oh so delicious carbs both with breakfast and post workout, ideal times if you’re concerned with insulin sensitivity and to maximize both fat loss while maintaining muscle and fuelling your workouts as well as recovery. In the later stages of prep I removed both morning and post workout carbs to increase fat burning. This isn’t necessary for everyone, as it does compromise your muscle mass, recovery, and immune function among other things. In my particular case my body’s is stubborn and I don’t lean out necessarily as easily as others.

So, while I have been eating carbs mostly come the weekends when I’m out enjoying what I like to call “normal life”, I’ve yet to add back in my morning Ezekiel bread (yum) and post workout rice. Now… While I am still in a calorie surplus, the question becomes am I effectively healing my metabolism. For instance, while some bodies function better on fats than carbs, such as myself, only carbs have the effect of spiking hormones to up regulate your metabolism.  And unless you’re going keto (high fat, moderate protein, little to no carbs) this isn’t necessarily going to keep you lean.

When doing multiple shows its important to ensure your metabolism isn’t damaged before dieting, otherwise each time it will become successively harder to lean out. In fact, with true metabolic damage, as I’ve previously discusses, you might In fact gain weight. Which is frustrating for any competitor or coach. So while often a little excess “fluff” does come with adding in carbs over time, if done slowly, and effectively, a person can theoretically not gain any real substantial weight, while still altering their body composition. The key here being purposeful and calculated calorie surplus, with attention to carbs.

There are lots of different numbers out there but my best suggestion is to add about 100-200 extra calories per week, ideally at times your body will best utilize (i.e.s post workout) and monitor your body’s response. Take photos, mark down your strength gains, have a second set of eyes if you’re a poor judge of physical appearance like myself. Start conservatively, until you find your ideal balance. This is one mayor reason I’m a big fan of long “offseasons”. Getting to know your body, optimizing your body’s ability to grow and heal, as well as ramping up your ability to burn fat make for a far less stressful prep (less cardio, umm, yes please). As well as quality physique. You can’t fake real gains. Which ideally is why we all got into the sport, right?

Cheers to carbs!
Your fitbetch, JP xoxo

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