T Nation

Cutting For Ectomorphs


I'm naturally ectomorphic. Each year I do a summer cut and despite employing all kinds of nutritional strategies, I just don't end up 'netting' a whole lot of lean mass when getting to the same BF % goal (around 7-9%) each year.

I was wondering if anyone could suggest a nutritional method for faster metabolisms/ectomorphs where I might be able to look at this longer term and shoot for a more gradual body comp. shift where I could keep more lean mass/stay bigger and reduce cardio (i.e. maybe increase protein % ratio?) Any help much appreciated..


The method is... building muscle. Cutting every year for a true ecto will never result in much in the way of muscle.

Why do you cut every year? You have to decide if low fat or big muscles are your priority.


Brook, did you get my PM?



Use cyclical or zig-zag diets. Take a couple of days and briefly deplete your glycogen and burn some fat (eat lower calories and do cardio, light weightlifting etc). Then take several days and slam your muscles with excess nutrients and direct the excess into muscle rather then fat. Then keep repeating that process over and over. The 2 phases complement each other. The low calories increase sensitivity to he high calories.

Most people can get good results with a weekly or bi-weekly cyclical plan. A 7- day cycle might consist of 5 days high calories with calories at 20 pounds per bodyweight followed by 2 days of low calories at 10-12 calories per pound of bodyweight. A 14-day cycle might consist of 10 days high calories and 4 days low.


Nope. Click on my profile and send it that way.


So you are saying for an Ectomorph who struggles to build much muscle but doesn't struggle to diet down each year - he should restrict his carbs and cycle them with weekly/fortnightly re-feeds?

I don't think that is going to be the best course of action. Sounds liek you just read it and wanted to tell someone that you knew about it.

That IMO would be best used when someone has built an appreciable amount of size and needs to diet down preserving as much muscle as possible, while also remaining full.



It doesn't matter that he struggles to build muscle with this approach because it is not intended for someone who just wants to 'cut' and who already has a decent amount of muscle mass. This method is intended for and allows you to build muscle whilst substantially minimising and in most cases even losing body fat.

Obviously, a true ectomorph who doesn't add fat no matter what he eats doesn't need to use this approach, but there are plenty of ectos out there who struggle to build muscle AND who put on fat easily in certain places (skinny-fat basically).

This is why I suggested this approach because IMO if he was a true ecto he wouldn't of thought about 'cutting' and so he probably adds a little more fat than normal when 'bulking'.

The traditional bodybuilding approach of 'bulking' for say 9 months then trying to lean out for the remaining 3 doesn't really work for those with below and even average muscle-building genetics. After a 'cutting' phase they usually end up losing any size they gained and go back to square one.

A more modern idea is to alternate short phases of mass gain, followed by short phases of fat burning. This keeps you from getting excessively fat, while still allowing you to put on muscle. Although he doesn't sound â??skinny-fatâ?? this approach WILL work for him, but itâ??s obviously not his only option for reaching his desired body comp.

Many people have had success with cyclical dieting/training including Body-for-Life Champion and former skinny guy Joel Marion and also Bill Phillips, just to name a few.


While I have read a bunch of Brook's posts and he clearly sounds (and looks) like he knows what he's doing, I feel the zig-zag method is a plausible approach and i appreciate the suggestion. I believe fat loss guru Tom Venuto also espouses this approach. It probably just requires some experimentation regarding the # of days in each "mode". Further, I feel it probably allows the enzymes required for optimal fat loss to 're-prime' durig the regular/surplus calorie days. Thanks to both for opinions.


Good for you.. i like it when people intelligently weigh up their options :wink:

Good luck.

(CK - i was just working on the basis that if one wants to gain weight and has no appreciable fat issue/insulin tolerance, etc. then concentrating purely on that would net the greatest results in muscle - which then could be dieted off.
You are correct in that it is more than possible to build muscle while controlling fat i might add with a more cyclic approach. It is just the sort of thing i employ for those who generally need body comp results in both areas.. not just the one. No offence intended :wink: )