This is a very interesting thread, and a scenario that I have been toying around with a few of you guys (you know who you are) in 1 form or another for a while.
It’s turning out that most of use are believers, but how many of us actually do try this? Few I think. Possibly this is related to Kelly’s point that it CERTAINLY appears to be easier for a newbie to achieve. The body is basically “untrained” in all respects, and will probably respond radically to a sudden improvement in diet and a strength training routine.
But I think we’re right here in concentrating on the ALREADY TRAINED individual, as that’s where most of us sit.
Several good points already. Several of you have mentioned “perfecting” the diet, training, sleep etc. But you need to be more specific- WHAT IS perfection??
I’d like (surprise surprise!) to get more into the science of this. I think the first fallacy we need to get over is the “simultaneous” nature of the task at hand (gain muscle AND lose fat). This is often taken too literally. In order to achieve the goal what I think we REALLY need to think about is certain TIMES of the day/week for gaining muscle, and the REST of the time we want to be in a state where lipolysis and increased energy burning is stimulated, WHILST MAINTAINING muscle mass (reducing muscle breakdown).
Let’s look at the needs for lipolysis/increased energy use. (Reading TP’s recent article about Hot Roxx would help here too!). The main thing is that the body needs to sense that it NEEDS energy. The easiest way to achieve this is a hypocaloric state,- body energy must be mobilised, whether this is from body fat or protein stores. What determines WHICH is used? Seems that most of the evidence shows that if we supply adequate protein during this time we will slow protein breakdown and potentiate the use of body fat instead. I think however the key player here is …Insulin.
Insulin cannot on its own initiate or stimulate protein synthesis. This requires several other insulin-related factors. A few I can mention here include:
- Amino acids IN the cell (transported by Insulin?)
- Various growth factors (e.g.GH->IGF, T3) stimulated by Insulin.
- Increase in cell VOLUME. Partially related to insulin too, in as far as the basic influx of nutrients (driven by insulin) will cause osmotic flow of water.
(NB Glutamine and Creatine are probably important players here too.)
Unfortunately, we can all appreciate that Insulin also STRONGLY inhibits lipolysis. Therefore for optimal lipolysis and energy UTILISATION we would want lower insulin levels, and a need from the body for more energy mobilisation. Studies have shown (e.g.(1)) that Insulin ALONE can inhibit muscle protein breakdown. This particular study also demonstrated that a LOW dose of Insulin is equally effective as a high dose for this purpose- particularly important in what we are talking about here I think. Another interesting finding (from medical hyperthroid cases) is that in this general CATABOLIC state, Insulin and T3 seem to be SYNERGISTIC in SPARING muscle breakdown (2).
But remove Insulin completely, and we will initiate a greater possibility of the concomitant fat AND muscle breakdown we are trying to avoid.
I would summarise, that for an OPTIMAL fat burning environment ALONG WITH the preservation of muscle mass, we would like to keep a small amount of Insulin around for it’s protein sparing effects.
So what would be the BEST diet? We seem to be in agreement that an overall hypocaloric, high protein, low carb, moderate fat diet would suit the best. I think this is why the T-Dawg/T-Dawg 2 and similar are so popular in this respect. -The presence of aa’s within the blood at most times during the day, which itself will produce that nice steady LOW level of Insulin we want as explained above, will also allow for the transport of aa’s into the cell to help reduce protein mobilisation. Meanwhile fat hopefully will still be mobilised, through the overall sensed need for body energy.
But what about the MUSCLE BUILDING part of the equation? As explained above, there is more to that than just some Insulin. We need an Insulin SURGE, and the overall feeling within the muscle cell that it’s time to GROW! A hypocaloric state at this time simply won’t suffice.
Here is where Jason Norcross’s indeas on the importance of the post-workout period make perfect sense. This is the 1 time when the body is primed for muscle vs fat deposition. So at THIS time, we need to flood the muscles with carbs and protein, the best stimulus for Insulin and the initiation of growth.
However, take it too far, and we will start depositing fat again. Hence the need for the OVERALL hypocaloric state taken over the whole week, despite these few periods of relative “overfeeding”. A question I would have here is what the OPTIMAL time for this post-workout overfeeding is. Jason suggests 6-8 hours- anecdotal or scientific evidence, Jason? It certainly seems that there is a fair degree of elasticity in the time frame after Insulin levels start to drop again before we need to withold calories once more. What I mean is that the “secondary” effects of Insulin VIA it’s intermediaries have started to take over to maintain that growth period-e.g. IGF1, acting on muscle satellite cells
Now, how about workout? It seems we are also fairly uniform in agreeing that HIIT or similar is best. We need to stimulate metabolism (GH/Thyroid hormones) as best as possible in the SHORTEST period of time, , whilst preventing the increase of muscle catabolic processes, mainly via Cortisol. The resulting rise in metabolism for the rest of the day, along with the hypocaloric state, should do nicely thank you.
As for the weights part of the workout, I think once again a high intensity approach is best. We will be in no great shape (generally hypocaloric) to perform marathon sessions, and in any case, I think we can get that muscle stress and resulting anabolic hormonal response by performing a routine based on low rep, high intensity, compound movement strength training. Frequency? Probably no more than 3 times per week to allow for adequate recovery (along with the fact we are doing cardio too).
Well, I think I’ve just about run out of gas now:-)
Just a couple of extra thoughts:
Joel, you said: (quote) ***I would recommend it while on an androgen and have actually designed a program to achieve just this, but it’s not an optimal way to go about things otherwise.***
…Sorry, I don’t understand, In what sense? Do you mean that natural people just can’t achieve it (which is refuted by most of the posters here), or that if we took an average (well-trained) Joe, and placed him on a bulking then cutting cycle, (or possibly if necessary a cutting, bulking, cutting cycle?) he would achieve his goals quicker than if he’d gone straight for fat loss/muscle gain in the same cycle? -Do you have evidence to support this, or is it just in your experience. If it’s the latter I’d still be interested in hearing the detailsfrom you.
Another interesting follow on point here IS the use of certain supps (but not AA’s) for maximal effect. It SEEMS, on paper anyway, that Hot-Roxx might prove a good move here. I won’t go into the why’s and wherefore’s- Tim Patterson’s done a far better job (and has far more expertise here) than I ever could have!
Other possible aids? I would say Creatine (for cell volumising and strength during the workout), and Glutamine (cell volumising, and a key aa for “signalling” that muscle growth can occur), along with obviously a quality source of BCAA’s for post-workout (whey protein? Surge?) would help a lot too.
Think I’ll stop now. SRS
Refs: (1) Zhang et al, Insulin but not GH stimulates protein anabolism in skin wounds and muscle Am J Physiol 1999: 276
(2) Gizard et al. Insulin action on skeletal muscle protein metabolism during catabolic states. Reprod. Nutr Dev. 1999, 39: 61
General ref: Milward et al (1990). The amino acid requirements in adult man.