T Nation

Calorie Intake During PCT

I have a question concerning calorie intake during PCT. I’m finnishing a 7 week pro-steroid cycle. During this cycle I’ve been cutting by about 500Kcal/day. When I enter my post cycle therapy (PCT) phase should I modify my calorie intake. Should I continue to diet, or should I bump my calories back up to isocaloric so as to not overly stress the body during a time when androgen levels may be low?

To diet or not to diet, that is the question!

Thanks,

Crowbar

Crowbar,

Well it really depends on your goals, but also on how fast you want to recover from any supression. Eating hypocaloric is not going to do you any favors as far as retaining any LBM gained on the cycle or a speedy recovery of natural hormone levels.

Check out part 3 of Growth Surge Project, and this By CT.

"
"
Training to maintain postcycle
gains
Whether we like it or not, the use of
androgenic-anabolic steroids is part of
the strength training world. I?m not here
to judge those who use nor to condone
the use of such substances.
Since those who use steroids will
eventually have to come off at some
time, I feel that its important to teach the
proper way to train after a cycle to
maintain your muscle gains. A lot has
already been said about what substances
to use to help you recover after a cycle,
but little is known about the whole
training aspect.
First, here are some of the biggest
mistakes made by those coming off a
cycle:

  1. Too much volume: When you stop
    your cycle you will undoubtedly loose
    intramuscular water. Steroids helps to
    promote intramuscular glycogen and
    creatine storage. So while you are “on”
    your muscles are swelled up with
    nutrients, water and minerals. This
    makes for great “pumps” in the gym
    (and even outside the gym). However
    when your cycle comes to an end you
    loose this cell volumizing effect and as a
    result it becomes harder to get a mindblowing
    pump. This is normal and to be
    expected. However trainees often panic
    because they’re not getting that
    marvellous pump anymore. As a result
    they end up greatly increasing their
    training volume, adding more intensive
    techniques such as supersets, drop sets
    etc. All in the hope of being able to
    attain a pump similar to what they
    experienced while ?on?.
    The problem is that after a cycle your
    body has a lowered capacity to
    synthesize muscle proteins and there?s a
    rebound cortisol increase. Cortisol is a
    catabolic hormone, and while it’s needed
    for maximum adaptation, when there?s
    too much of it you loose muscle mass.
    12
    (Training to maintain continued))
    So after a cycle your body is:
    a) less efficient as repairing damages
    made to the muscles
    b) more efficient at breaking down the
    muscles.
    The worst thing to do in that situation is
    to use a high training volume and
    frequency. Immediately post-cycle
    you?re not going to stimulate muscle
    growth. By trying too hard to do so
    you’ll actually end up catabolizing, and
    loosing, the muscle tissue you already
    have!
    So high volume and intensive techniques
    (supersets, drop sets, etc.) are not good
    ideas post-cycle as you can now see.
  2. Going too light: I’ll say it once and
    for all … your priority after a cycle
    should be to try everything in your
    power to maintain your strength levels as
    they are. After a cycle your body will
    want to return to homeostasis, and if you
    don’t give it a good reason to preserve
    the gained muscle mass, you?ll loose it!
    Decreasing training weights after a cycle
    (oftentimes while increasing volume) is
    one of the fastest way to loose your hard
    earned muscle! In the 2-3 weeks after a
    cycle you should switch to a limit
    strength-training approach: going heavy
    (80-90%) on a few basic exercises while
    taking relatively long rest intervals and
    using a very low volume of work.
    Maintaining strength post-cycle is one of
    the cornerstones to maintaining muscle
    size.
  3. Too much frequency: After a cycle
    athletes become so paranoid about
    loosing their muscles that they tend to
    train too often. This is due to the
    psychological factors involved, but also
    to the decrease in myogenic tone that
    occurs after a cycle. As I already
    mentioned, after a cycle your?ll loose the
    cell volumization effect of steroids.
    Now, in the gym that means less
    important pumps. But outside the gym it
    also means that your tonus (I know, we
    all hate that word!) or muscle hardness
    will be much lower. When you?re used
    to feeling pumped all the time this can
    be hard to accept. So in order to correct
    the situation athletes are tempted to train
    very often, just to feel their muscles.
    Remember that after a cycle your body
    has a lowered capacity to adapt to
    training-induced physiological stress. So
    for any given training session, the
    adaptation period will be much longer. If
    you train too often, just as if you train
    too much, you will breakdown more
    muscle while actually building less! Not
    a good deal if you ask me!
  4. Too little food: After a cycle you will
    often feel physically softer and slightly
    depressive. This state of mind and body
    will lead you to become paranoid about
    gaining fat. For that reason, many
    peoples actually decrease caloric intake
    too much post cycle; trying to maintain
    both super-low body fat levels and
    muscle after a cycle is extremely hard to
    do. Prioritize: do you want to keep the
    muscles you gained? Then you must
    actually INCREASE daily caloric intake
    post-cycle. Always remember that food
    is the ultimate anabolic! The more you
    eat post cycle, the more you’ll maintain
    muscle mass. First because of the sheer
    increase in nutrients availability (thus
    (Training to maintain continued)
    less need to catabolize muscle tissue) but
    also because of the ensuing hormonal
    responses. Eating a lot will increase
    insulin levels, which increases nutrient
    uptake by the muscles. Insulin also acts
    to counteract the catabolic effect of
    cortisol by stopping muscle breakdown
    in its tracks. There?s also some evidence
    that large caloric intakes lead to an
    increase in testosterone levels. So after a
    cycle EAT MORE not less! You?ll gain
    a little fat, which you’ll easily loose later
    on. Your priority should be to maintain
    your muscle mass.
    A good strategy I often recommend is to
    drastically decrease caloric intake 1-2
    weeks before the end of a cycle. For
    example, if you do a 12-weeks cycle,
    during weeks 11 and 12 you should
    decrease caloric intake significantly (by
    20% or so). You should also decrease
    protein intake to the minimum necessary
    level (around 0.7g per pound of
    bodyweight). Don’t worry you won’t
    loose muscle at this point (you will loose
    weight, but not muscle). Then
    immediately after your cycle you
    should almost double your caloric and
    protein intake for 3-4 days. This will
    lead to a great rebound anabolic effect
    which will greatly help you in the early
    stage of post-cycle recovery. After the
    4th day, decrease your caloric intake
    (but it should still be kept relatively
    high) while maintaining protein intake.
    Stay on this regimen for 7-14 days (so
    the super high caloric intake lasts 14-21
    depending on how your body responds).
    Expect to gain 2-3lbs of fat during that
    period. But if that 2-3lbs can help you
    avoid loosing 10lbs of muscle it’s worth
    it! And as I mentioned, it will be easy to
    loose the excess flab a bit later on.
    After those initial 14-21 days slowly
    decrease caloric intake to your baseline
    level.
    During the first 3 weeks of your postcycle
    recovery program you should train
    at a frequency of 3 times per week with
    minimal volume at each session. I would
    recommend sticking to compound
    movements such as the bench press,
    squat, deadlift, leg press, chins, barbell
    rowing, etc. Perform 2-4 exercises per
    session. A push/pull/legs routine is good
    at this point. Something like the
    following is an appropriate approach:
    Monday
    Exercise Sets Reps Load
    Bench press 4 5 85%
    Military press 4 5 85%
    Dips 4 5 85%
    Wednesday
    Barbell row 4 5 85%
    Barbell shrugs 4 5 85%
    Lat pulldown 4 5 85%
    Friday
    Back squat 4 5 85%
    Romanian dead. 4 5 85%
    I recommend using 4-6 reps with 85-
    90% of your maximum for 4-5 sets per
    exercise. Try hard to increase the loads
    every week. The more strength you
    maintain (or even gain) during that time,
    the more muscle you’ll retain.
    Hope this helps!"

Hope these help,

Phill

Phil,

Thanks a million for posting that!

Crowbar

Hey, no problem man. Just glad I could help.

Let us know how things turn out, and if you have any other ?'s dont hesitate.

Phill