-Increasing Lean Body Mass Without Steroids
-Decreasing Bodyfat Without Sacrificing Lean Mass
-Maximizing The Effects Of Endogenous Anabolic Hormones
-Increasing Strength While Losing Bodyfat
-Decreasing Catabolic Activity In The Body
-Avoiding The Health Problems Of The High Carbohydrate Diet
-Staying In Shape Year Round Instead Of Peaking Once Or Twice
-Improving Contest-to-Contest And Year-to-Year/No Plateaus
Avoiding General Health Problems Associated With The High Carbohydrate Diet
Carbohydrates will increase insulin levels and thus produce an anabolic (muscle building) effect when used properly. In the Metabolic Diet, we use a carbohydrate loading phase on the weekends to do just that. But when insulin is chronically high or yo-yos up and down due to a diet consistently high in carbs, it becomes a lipogenic (fat producing) hormone and begins to lay down fat on the body and plenty of it. That’s why it must be controlled. You’ll note that on the Metabolic Diet the individual will increase carbohydrate consumption on the weekend only to the point when he begins to lay down fat. Then its back to the high fat diet before any damage is done.
This is why you tend to lay down so much more fat on a high carb diet. With insulin uncontrolled, you lay down fat indiscriminately. The chronic elevation of insulin also tends to deposit that fat in the thighs and other fat-plagued areas of the body causing the cellulite buildup that drives women especially crazy.
The increase in plaque buildup in the arteries that leads to heart attacks also appears to be a symptom of the chronically high carb diet. If you stay away from the simple sugars and junk food you can limit the damage, of course. It would be hard to severely criticize someone who eats a lot of vegetables, salads and potatoes.
Still, all those carbs will lead to fat buildup unless you regulate it as we do in this diet. Carbs are only increased to the point that they will have a beneficial effect on lean body mass. By spiking insulin production through carb loading on the weekends we can speed the movement of nutrients through the bloodstream and into muscle. Amino acids are driven into muscle cells where they can form the building blocks for protein and ultimate muscle growth. But before the insulin levels have been elevated too long and fat begins to be laid down in bulk, the carbohydrates are cut off and insulin brought under control.
Staying In Shape Year Round Instead Of Peaking Once Or Twice A Year: The Metabolic Diet allows you to stay in shape year round. It’s not a diet where you bulk up and then cut body fat and the process becomes so painful and difficult that you can’t maintain the diet. As such, it’s not one of those low-fat diets where you struggle mentally and physically all through the year and can’t help but go on and off it out of sheer exhaustion and frustration.
The Metabolic Diet is a lifestyle. One that you can keep up year round. It’s very comfortable because it’s natural. It punctuates high fat periods with regular carb sessions in much the same manner as our ancient ancestors’ diet.
You also don’t give up anything on this diet. You can have that meat and cheese on the weekdays and on the weekends load up with your favorite carbs. It’s not torture like most other bodybuilder diets. You want to party and have a beer on the weekends? Go ahead. All foods are available, albeit at the right time of the week, on this diet.
Meanwhile, if used properly, this diet will allow you to keep your fat somewhere around the 10 percent level consistently and cut to a 4-5 percent as needed while maintaining lean body mass. There won’t be those marathon cutting phases and you’ll find yourself getting into competition shape very quickly.
And, if you responsibly follow the diet and stay with it, each time you go through the cycle or complete your pre-contest phase you should come in heavier and at least as cut as you were at the end of your last cycle. Instead of plateauing as so many bodybuilders do, you’ll improve contest to contest and year to year.
Endurance Increases: We’ve also found that for many athletes endurance actually increases on the high fat diet. Again, this runs counter to popular belief that exercise endurance is related to the amount of carbohydrate stored in the muscle and that a low carb diet decreases performance.
In the high carb/low fat diet, the athlete begins training and the glucose in the blood is used almost immediately. At that point, the glycogen or carbohydrate stores in the muscle are used for energy. After 15 minutes or so, they’re gone too. At that point your body has to revert to burning fat or muscle for fuel. Unfortunately, when you’re on the high carb diet, your body isn’t very efficient at burning fat and you end up burning about 50 percent protein (muscle) and 50 percent fat for your energy needs.
Once you’ve shifted over on the high fat diet, though, your body is primed to use fat for energy. Once the glycogen is gone, it will go primarily to those fat stores. Fat becomes almost like sugar to the body and it will favor utilizing fat stores over muscle stores for energy. In this way, less fat is stored by the body and more of it is used. The body is much less likely to make fat and more likely to burn it off. A higher percentage of lean body mass is the result.
In one recent study, it was found that rats adapted to a high fat diet do not have a decrease in endurance capacity even after recovery from a previous exhausting work bout. The increased storage and utilization of intramuscular triglycerides (fatty acids) seems to be at the bottom of this condition2.
Maximizing The Effects of Endogenous Anabolic Hormones: This diet maximizes the serum levels of testosterone (even in women1), growth hormone and insulin (the Big 3) to help firm up and shape your body as you shed fat. If you’re exercising, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll be able to sculpt the body you want as these hormones work together.
This is one of the most remarkable effects of the Metabolic Diet and it doesn’t come easy. Many hormones are reactive to others. For instance, as insulin goes up, growth hormone may decrease. If insulin decreases, growth hormone may increase. The two substances generally don’t work together, but they can. If you can increase both substances, you’ll get better results shaping your body and keeping it firm than with an increase in one hormone alone.
Later we’ll provide some supplements that you can use with the Metabolic Diet that will help in increasing insulin sensitivity, testosterone, growth hormone and IGF-1 as needed. Some of you will be very serious about your goals and may be seeking to take the advanced path a bodybuilder normally takes. Others will just be interested in keeping the body firm and shapely. Your approach to supplements and exercise will be largely determined by how far you want to go in remaking your body.
Whatever your goals, you’ll find the Metabolic Diet an effective tool in taking the weight off, keeping it off and making your body look it’s best.
Decreases In Catabolic Activity In The Body: By “catabolic” we mean forces that break down muscle and use it for energy. When existing muscle is broken down, your body will lose its tone and may become flabby. The Metabolic Diet, accompanied by proper exercise actually results in the body producing lower levels of cortisol, a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands that leads to catabolism. By lessening catabolism we insure that the body retains important muscle mass and tone while you lose weight.
It has been shown that the carb-loading phase of the diet results in decreased cortisol levels. In one experiment the hormonal effects of muscle carbohydrate loading manipulations followed by a carb poor diet were studied.2 Carb loading provided decreased levels of cortisol not only during the carb-loading phase but also in the following carb-poor time period.
The Metabolic Advantage
At this point, a little biochemistry lesson may be in order so you can get a better idea of why the Metabolic Diet is superior to the competition. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the source of energy for all metabolic activity in the human body. In order to get the energy the body needs for muscle contraction, breathing, brain cell function and virtually all other activities, ATP must be generated. People have gotten the idea that you must have the glycogen and the glucose that comes from carbohydrates for the body to produce and replenish ATP and survive.
What people don’t understand is that the body can produce glucose without taking in carbs (gluconeogenesis) and that protein and fat can be used to provide energy and replenish ATP. It is a misconception that you must have dietary carbs to function. This is likely only true in some cases where a person may be genetically challenged as far as utilizing fats efficiently. And even in these cases it’s unlikely that there will be a need for the extremely high levels of dietary carbs now being called for by various groups and agencies.
When carbohydrates make up the bulk of your diet, you basically burn the glucose from the carbs as energy. Glucose enters the bloodstream and it’s either used for immediate energy or stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles (remember our discussion of insulin earlier?). The glucose not stored as glycogen is made into triglycerides (bodyfat). When needed for energy, the stored glycogen is converted back to glucose and used up directly by cells or transported through the bloodstream to other body cells for conversion and use as energy.
When fat and protein make up a greater part of your diet, you don’t have those large amounts of glycogen or glucose available for energy anymore. A good part of your energy will come from the breakdown of free fatty acids in your diet or from the fat stored on your body. As we discussed, some of the energy will come from glucose that is produced mainly from glycerol and amino acids. Instead of burning all the stored glycogen or glucose for energy, the body burns free fatty acids or triglycerides (the storage form of the free fatty acids) and the glucose that it makes.
Basically, a diet high in fat activates the lipolytic (fat burning) enzymes in your body and decreases the activity of the lipogenic (fat producing) enzymes. Dietary free fatty acids and triglycerides become the body’s main energy source. The triglycerides are broken down to free fatty acids and some of the fatty acids are metabolized to ketones, which in turn can be used for energy by body cells. The use of ketones for energy is especially important to the brain that can only use glucose and ketones for energy. In short, the free fatty acids and ketones take the place of glucose and the triglycerides act like glycogen.
When carbs are the main form of energy to the body, the body produces insulin to process it and store it. This is all well and good but, as we discussed above, one of the problems with insulin is that it activates the lipogenic (fat producing) enzymes on the body and decreases the activity of the lipolytic (fat burning) enzymes. What this leads to is an increased storing of body fat and a decrease in the amount of stored fat that will be burned.
The exact opposite occurs on the higher fat/lower carb diet. After undergoing the “metabolic shift” from being a carb-burning machine to a fat-burner, lipogenesis (the production and laying down of fat on the body) decreases, and lipolysis (the burning of both dietary and bodyfat for energy) increases. You’re burning fat as your primary fuel, and instead of using glycogen or breaking down precious protein, you’ll burn off the fat on your body for energy as needed.
This can have a big effect on overall bodyfat, and research documents the fact that while on a higher fat lower carb diet, weight loss is due to the almost exclusive loss of bodyfat.3 In one study of ideal-weight human subjects, it was found that higher fat diets were accompanied by a very strong lipolytic (fat-burning) effect.4 In another study focusing on obese subjects, it was found that, when offered high-carb/relatively low-fat diets or lower carb/relatively higher fat diets, the subjects on the lower carb diets lost significantly more fat.5 Though prevailing wisdom would predict that the higher fat diet would simply make people fatter, they actually lost more weight on a high fat diet.
It may sound crazy, but that’s the way the body works. Contrary to what most people believe, fat oxidation is regulated primarily by carbohydrate intake rather than by fat intake.6 Once you’ve adapted to a higher fat/lower carb diet, fat doesn’t beget fat. Despite what you’ve been told, a properly designed diet higher I fat and lower in carbs doesn’t put fat on. It takes fat off.
Similar results have occurred in animal studies.7,8 Meanwhile, I’ve seen the positive effects of a higher-fat diet time and time again in my own practice. The fat melts away. At the same time, as a bonus, body tone can be improved markedly thanks to the “protein protecting” nature of the diet.
One important by-product of the “metabolic shift” that takes place when you move from a high carb to a good, higher fat/lower carb diet is that fat protects protein in the body. When you’re utilizing carbs as your main source of energy, the body tends to save its bodyfat and will preferentially take muscle protein, break it down and form glucose from it to burn as energy when the immediate energy stores are exhausted. This is why on a high-carb diet a significant amount of muscle catabolism can take place.
Exercise should play a role in any diet. Every doctor or fitness expert will tell you that. If you want to come anywhere close to getting the kind of weight loss you want and shaping up your body, exercise is a necessity. Unfortunately, with the high-carb/low-fat diet, once you’ve exhausted carb based primary and secondary energy stores you’re going to start burning some muscle for fuel when you’re working out.
The fact is that anytime you’re exercising and the body needs energy it will break down what it needs, including muscle, to supply that energy. One of the ways athletes fight this is to sip glucose drinks during a workout. The body won’t need to break down muscle as much for energy because it has an outside source of energy constantly coming in. The problem here is that with the constant glucose ingestion you get chronically elevated levels of insulin and a decrease in the oxidation of bodyfat. Instead of losing fat by exercising you’re actually preserving it.
Fat works in the same way as glucose when you’re on the Metabolic Diet. It protects the muscle by serving as an alternative, more available source of energy and it does this without having to take in more calories since the body has learned to oxidize body fat to provide that needed energy. So now when you exercise you don’t need to take in carbs to spare your muscles. Your body will burn up your excess bodyfat to provide the energy it needs to exercise at the same time sparing muscle protein.
On the high-carb diet you may find yourself in a gym, happily working away, but you’ll be sacrificing muscle in the effort. If you look around you’ll find examples of people who seem to be at the gym all the time, working on the treadmill or step machines and doing some weight training, but they just don’t look the way they should.
They may be slender, but their bodies lack tone and they’re stringy or shapeless. With all the work they’re doing they should be looking like one of the covers of the magazines they’ve got in front of them while they walk the treadmill but they’re actually burning off muscle and sacrificing tone. You can bet they’re not on a higher fat/lower carb diet.
The Metabolic Diet works against this tendency. Some muscle will be burned, but available fat will serve as an alternative to muscle as an energy source so a minimal amount will be lost.
What we’re concerned with here is “catabolism” or the breakdown of muscle tissue. Again, I know it may sound strange, but although most people think that exercise only creates muscle it also breaks it down. Research upholds that the Metabolic Diet could well also be called the “Anti-Catabolic Diet.” Along with enabling the body’s hormonal system to better burn fat it decreases the amount of muscle that could be lost during a workout or just during day to day activities, by protecting muscle protein. This is very important to someone wanting to shape his or her body for maximum attractiveness and fitness.
Research has shown that the ketone bodies (beta-hydroxybuterate and acetoacetate) burned for energy in a higher fat/low-carb diet, actually decrease protein catabolism.9 A recent study with laboratory rats also showed that a combined treatment with insulin, testosterone and a high fat/high protein diet led to decreased loss of muscle protein caused by the catabolic hormone corticosterone.10 Another showed higher protein gains and lower fat gains for rats on a high-fat diet.11 The implications for similarly decreased catabolism in humans with the higher fat/lower carb diet are obvious.
In my own practice, I’ve also noticed that bodyfat seems to be more mobile when the Metabolic Diet is being used. As discussed above, when you begin to lose weight you often have a very hard time losing it in problem areas like the thighs, buttocks and stomach. Weight seems much more evenly lost throughout the body on this diet. Problem areas are much more easily attacked.
Recently I’ve been working with a patient who, throughout her life, has maintained a large store of fat in the buttock, inner thigh and lower abdomen areas. Whenever she diets she gets skinny from the waist up but doesn’t lose much from the waist down. No diet has ever successfully slimmed these areas. But with the Metabolic Diet she’s lost fat evenly throughout these areas. Much of the cellulite that has bothered her throughout her life has disappeared and this has only aided in motivating her to take her weight loss and maintenance efforts further.
Fat distribution also seems more evened out with the Metabolic Diet. What fat remains on the body seems to be distributed more equally on the frame. You just don’t have those pockets of fat that plague people. Fat is distributed in a more pleasing ratio across the body making any bodyshaping efforts on your part that much easier.
Metabolic Benefits of the Metabolic Diet
- Burning Fat Instead Of Glucose Promotes Lipolysis (Fat Breakdown)
- Burning Fat Instead Of Glucose Decreases Lipogenesis (Fat Production)
- Without Dietary Fat, The Body Stores Fat In Excess
- Muscle Protein And Body Tone Are Protected
- Bodyfat Is More Mobile And Pleasingly Distributed