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High Cal Off Days, and Low Cal Training Days?

Just sitting here in a hotel, watching American Idol, and reading some debunking of the CBL book, a thought came to my head…

Why does pretty much every diet out there recommend high calories on training days, and low calories on off days, assuming you’re after body recomp.

I obviously get the theory behind fueling your workout days, and promoting muscle growth/recovery through increased food intake, but based on a day on/day off schedule, wouldn’t the following day be the one where your body is recovering and needing the extra calories, and your workout day be the one where you’re ready to break things down again, and recovery is winding down? I understand peri workout nutrition is important to make the most out of your workout, but that doesn’t take a lot of calories, nor would you want to be overly full any ways.

So, does that make sense to anyone? Has anyone tried a diet structure similar to this below?

Monday - Training - Low Calorie
Tuesday - Off - High Calorie
Wednesday - Training - Low Calorie
Thursday - Off - High Calorie
Friday - Training - Low Calorie
Saturday - Off - High Calorie
Sunday - Off - Can be low, maintenance, or high depending on bodyfat levels/goals

Thoughts?

[quote]bandsaw wrote:
Just sitting here in a hotel, watching American Idol, and reading some debunking of the CBL book, a thought came to my head…

Why does pretty much every diet out there recommend high calories on training days, and low calories on off days, assuming you’re after body recomp.

I obviously get the theory behind fueling your workout days, and promoting muscle growth/recovery through increased food intake, but based on a day on/day off schedule, wouldn’t the following day be the one where your body is recovering and needing the extra calories, and your workout day be the one where you’re ready to break things down again, and recovery is winding down? I understand peri workout nutrition is important to make the most out of your workout, but that doesn’t take a lot of calories, nor would you want to be overly full any ways.

So, does that make sense to anyone? Has anyone tried a diet structure similar to this below?

Monday - Training - Low Calorie
Tuesday - Off - High Calorie
Wednesday - Training - Low Calorie
Thursday - Off - High Calorie
Friday - Training - Low Calorie
Saturday - Off - High Calorie
Sunday - Off - Can be low, maintenance, or high depending on bodyfat levels/goals

Thoughts?[/quote]

If you train heavy for low reps, and cut calories, then its not really important to get the extra cals in around training, just over the next 24 hours or so. So if you recomp RIGHT, by using low rep strength training, and calorie reduction, then its fine.

If you recomp by doing high reps and wasting muscle glycogen then your finished. High reps on reduced calories are not “recomp” they are a muscle wasting protocol. People who do a lot of work on few calories end up glycogen depleted, which is the signal for PROTEIN use for fuel rather than fat use which occurs constantly. High glycogen depleting work plus low cals equals muscle loss and fat retention.

So your suggestion is OK as long as you do it right and stick to sets of 2-5 with long rest and no cardio.

Added cals, especially carbs and some protein do directly stimulate protein synthesis, so you want to have them available around the period after a training stimulus has occurred, but again, since there is little glycogen depletion, the IMMEDIATE need is lower, and protein synth is higher for 24-48 hours.

Now keep in mind that even heavy, low rep training will cause glucose and amino acids to actively move into muscles as they contract. This is one of the big benefits to cutting on low reps. You can actively move nutrients into a muscle while you use fatty acids for fuel, but you use minimal glycogen, so the body does not significantly activate the use of protein for energy.

Don’t the sets count too? wouldn’t 5x5 deplete glycogen just as much as 3x8?
What’s better for cutting, doing 3 work sets of 5 with the same weight or a top set of 8? Please answer the question with one of the provided options: 3x5 Straight sets, or 1x8 Top Set

[quote]Mina293 wrote:
Don’t the sets count too? wouldn’t 5x5 deplete glycogen just as much as 3x8?
What’s better for cutting, doing 3 work sets of 5 with the same weight or a top set of 8? Please answer the question with one of the provided options: 3x5 Straight sets, or 1x8 Top Set[/quote]

That depends on a lot of variables. How many warm-up sets you’re doing, rest periods, intensity, etc…

Generally you would want slightly higher reps, and shorter rest periods, because that is more metabolically taxing from a glycogen/calorie burning standpoint (think crossfit here). But, if you’re dieting down, and want to keep as much mass as possible, I wouldn’t recommend this. Usually lower reps, with a higher intensity is recommended for cutting while retaining strength/muscle.

[quote]mertdawg wrote:

[quote]bandsaw wrote:
Just sitting here in a hotel, watching American Idol, and reading some debunking of the CBL book, a thought came to my head…

Why does pretty much every diet out there recommend high calories on training days, and low calories on off days, assuming you’re after body recomp.

I obviously get the theory behind fueling your workout days, and promoting muscle growth/recovery through increased food intake, but based on a day on/day off schedule, wouldn’t the following day be the one where your body is recovering and needing the extra calories, and your workout day be the one where you’re ready to break things down again, and recovery is winding down? I understand peri workout nutrition is important to make the most out of your workout, but that doesn’t take a lot of calories, nor would you want to be overly full any ways.

So, does that make sense to anyone? Has anyone tried a diet structure similar to this below?

Monday - Training - Low Calorie
Tuesday - Off - High Calorie
Wednesday - Training - Low Calorie
Thursday - Off - High Calorie
Friday - Training - Low Calorie
Saturday - Off - High Calorie
Sunday - Off - Can be low, maintenance, or high depending on bodyfat levels/goals

Thoughts?[/quote]

If you train heavy for low reps, and cut calories, then its not really important to get the extra cals in around training, just over the next 24 hours or so. So if you recomp RIGHT, by using low rep strength training, and calorie reduction, then its fine.

If you recomp by doing high reps and wasting muscle glycogen then your finished. High reps on reduced calories are not “recomp” they are a muscle wasting protocol. People who do a lot of work on few calories end up glycogen depleted, which is the signal for PROTEIN use for fuel rather than fat use which occurs constantly. High glycogen depleting work plus low cals equals muscle loss and fat retention.

So your suggestion is OK as long as you do it right and stick to sets of 2-5 with long rest and no cardio.

Added cals, especially carbs and some protein do directly stimulate protein synthesis, so you want to have them available around the period after a training stimulus has occurred, but again, since there is little glycogen depletion, the IMMEDIATE need is lower, and protein synth is higher for 24-48 hours.

Now keep in mind that even heavy, low rep training will cause glucose and amino acids to actively move into muscles as they contract. This is one of the big benefits to cutting on low reps. You can actively move nutrients into a muscle while you use fatty acids for fuel, but you use minimal glycogen, so the body does not significantly activate the use of protein for energy. [/quote]

I understand what you mean, but I don’t think it’s quite as extreme as you put it. I’m not talking glycogen depleting high intensity, conditioning workouts here, but rather heavy strength training, with some higher rep assistance exercises.

Even with a “crossfit” style of workout though, I don’t believe your breakfast, and lunch that day (assuming training is done in the evening), will really affect your workout much, and put you into a catabolic state… As long as proper peri workout nutrition is in place to fuel said workout. So, technically, I think you could still do a workout like that on a lower calorie day, as long as most of your calories for that day are shunted towards the end of the day. Your glycogen levels would still be topped up from the previous days higher calories, and add to that proper pre-workout nutrition, you would be fine.

[quote]bandsaw wrote:

[quote]Mina293 wrote:
Don’t the sets count too? wouldn’t 5x5 deplete glycogen just as much as 3x8?
What’s better for cutting, doing 3 work sets of 5 with the same weight or a top set of 8? Please answer the question with one of the provided options: 3x5 Straight sets, or 1x8 Top Set[/quote]

That depends on a lot of variables. How many warm-up sets you’re doing, rest periods, intensity, etc…

Generally you would want slightly higher reps, and shorter rest periods, because that is more metabolically taxing from a glycogen/calorie burning standpoint (think crossfit here). But, if you’re dieting down, and want to keep as much mass as possible, I wouldn’t recommend this. Usually lower reps, with a higher intensity is recommended for cutting while retaining strength/muscle.[/quote]

You said lower reps, but then you said higher intensity. I take it that you mean % of max by intensity, so 3x5 and 1x8 would have the same intensity, which is 80%. You can’t do 3 sets of 5 with 85%. However, doing a maximal set of 8 is harder neurally than any single set of 5, if doing 3x5. The question still stands to whoever wants to chime in. 3x5 starting strength style with same weight each set, increase weight when you get 3x5. Or, work up to a set of 8. Warm up with minimal reps, the only work set is the set of 8. Increase weight when you get 8. Which is better to build strength when cutting?

What is the advantage in doing glycogen depleting training, and then delaying 12 hours to eat carbs, rather than to do it sooner? Your body is not going to burn more fat because you used up some glycogen. The body uses 95% fatty acids anyway. The only thing that lower glycogen will do is create a need to manufacture glucose from protein. Low blood sugar actually REDUCES insulin sensitivity because the body spares glucose for the brain.

Just explain what is the advantage in keeping cals low. I have done it, by the way, because it feels right for some reason, but with lower reps and lots of BCAAs.

[quote]Mina293 wrote:

[quote]bandsaw wrote:

[quote]Mina293 wrote:
Don’t the sets count too? wouldn’t 5x5 deplete glycogen just as much as 3x8?
What’s better for cutting, doing 3 work sets of 5 with the same weight or a top set of 8? Please answer the question with one of the provided options: 3x5 Straight sets, or 1x8 Top Set[/quote]

That depends on a lot of variables. How many warm-up sets you’re doing, rest periods, intensity, etc…

Generally you would want slightly higher reps, and shorter rest periods, because that is more metabolically taxing from a glycogen/calorie burning standpoint (think crossfit here). But, if you’re dieting down, and want to keep as much mass as possible, I wouldn’t recommend this. Usually lower reps, with a higher intensity is recommended for cutting while retaining strength/muscle.[/quote]

You said lower reps, but then you said higher intensity. I take it that you mean % of max by intensity, so 3x5 and 1x8 would have the same intensity, which is 80%. You can’t do 3 sets of 5 with 85%. However, doing a maximal set of 8 is harder neurally than any single set of 5, if doing 3x5. The question still stands to whoever wants to chime in. 3x5 starting strength style with same weight each set, increase weight when you get 3x5. Or, work up to a set of 8. Warm up with minimal reps, the only work set is the set of 8. Increase weight when you get 8. Which is better to build strength when cutting?[/quote]

So the thing is that your body has enough CP and ATP to work for maybe 10-15 seconds lifting heavy weights. Its not the same power output as sprinting, which tends to require glycogen as a back up supply of energy within 3-4 seconds.

In fact the point at which power output drops significantly is the point where, by definition, you are significantly turning to glycogen to continue.

If you do 3 x 5 at say 80%, or 1 x 8 at 80%, then what happens during the 3 x 5 is that you use almost all CP and ATP ,and then when you rest, you restore them by oxidizing FATTY ACIDS (beta oxidation). When you do 1 x 8 at the same weight, and you have 2 long grinding reps at the end, you are working past the point of CP/ATP but too fast to restore them with fatty acids while in action, so you turn to carbs.

But 1 x 8 for one muscle group is not going to kill muscle glycogen. 1 x 8, 3 x 5, 6 x 3 for one movement for each bodypart are all going to preserve most glycogen.

[quote]mertdawg wrote:

[quote]Mina293 wrote:

[quote]bandsaw wrote:

[quote]Mina293 wrote:
Don’t the sets count too? wouldn’t 5x5 deplete glycogen just as much as 3x8?
What’s better for cutting, doing 3 work sets of 5 with the same weight or a top set of 8? Please answer the question with one of the provided options: 3x5 Straight sets, or 1x8 Top Set[/quote]

That depends on a lot of variables. How many warm-up sets you’re doing, rest periods, intensity, etc…

Generally you would want slightly higher reps, and shorter rest periods, because that is more metabolically taxing from a glycogen/calorie burning standpoint (think crossfit here). But, if you’re dieting down, and want to keep as much mass as possible, I wouldn’t recommend this. Usually lower reps, with a higher intensity is recommended for cutting while retaining strength/muscle.[/quote]

You said lower reps, but then you said higher intensity. I take it that you mean % of max by intensity, so 3x5 and 1x8 would have the same intensity, which is 80%. You can’t do 3 sets of 5 with 85%. However, doing a maximal set of 8 is harder neurally than any single set of 5, if doing 3x5. The question still stands to whoever wants to chime in. 3x5 starting strength style with same weight each set, increase weight when you get 3x5. Or, work up to a set of 8. Warm up with minimal reps, the only work set is the set of 8. Increase weight when you get 8. Which is better to build strength when cutting?[/quote]

So the thing is that your body has enough CP and ATP to work for maybe 10-15 seconds lifting heavy weights. Its not the same power output as sprinting, which tends to require glycogen as a back up supply of energy within 3-4 seconds.

In fact the point at which power output drops significantly is the point where, by definition, you are significantly turning to glycogen to continue.

If you do 3 x 5 at say 80%, or 1 x 8 at 80%, then what happens during the 3 x 5 is that you use almost all CP and ATP ,and then when you rest, you restore them by oxidizing FATTY ACIDS (beta oxidation). When you do 1 x 8 at the same weight, and you have 2 long grinding reps at the end, you are working past the point of CP/ATP but too fast to restore them with fatty acids while in action, so you turn to carbs.

But 1 x 8 for one muscle group is not going to kill muscle glycogen. 1 x 8, 3 x 5, 6 x 3 for one movement for each bodypart are all going to preserve most glycogen.
[/quote]

Exactly what I was looking for. Thank you very much for the information. I will adjust my training accordingly. I’m a bit skinny-fat, with a pot belly, so I’ll cut most of the fat first, then build muscle slowly.

[quote]Mina293 wrote:

Exactly what I was looking for. Thank you very much for the information. I will adjust my training accordingly. I’m a bit skinny-fat, with a pot belly, so I’ll cut most of the fat first, then build muscle slowly. [/quote]

That’s a good plan. You really have to eat maintenance PLUS to add muscle “volume”, but you can get stronger and add protein while you lose fat. Also your hormones tend to be better set up to add muscle rather than fat if you get to a high performance level of bodyfat first.

Though if you are “skinny” long limbed and 15%+ bodyfat it is a real challenge. Your food quality is critical.

[quote]mertdawg wrote:

[quote]Mina293 wrote:

Exactly what I was looking for. Thank you very much for the information. I will adjust my training accordingly. I’m a bit skinny-fat, with a pot belly, so I’ll cut most of the fat first, then build muscle slowly. [/quote]

That’s a good plan. You really have to eat maintenance PLUS to add muscle “volume”, but you can get stronger and add protein while you lose fat. Also your hormones tend to be better set up to add muscle rather than fat if you get to a high performance level of bodyfat first.

Though if you are “skinny” long limbed and 15%+ bodyfat it is a real challenge. Your food quality is critical.[/quote]

I find your approach very interesting but it does conflict somewhat with my experience with fat loss. I too keep my carbs relatively high and cut down on my fat intake but I do seem to get better results when I add glycolytic workouts into my program rather than staying with low reps. From what I’ve understood about your theories, this seems to be a logical approach, since keeping carbs high replenishes glycogen stores, which fuel glycolytic workouts and prevent protein breakdown. The low reps, glycogen sparing approach seems logical to me when carbs are low and glycogen stores must be spared. Following this logic, combining high carbs and low reps wouldn’t be necessary since low reps use ATP/CP for fuel and fatty acid oxidation replenishes this fuel source so glycogen wouldn’t be depleted so it wouldn’t be necessary to replenish it to a great extent.

Is my thinking right or is there something I’m missing? Thanks!

Well, 150 grams or so of carbs is still pretty low, but it would rebuild glycogen, especially if it is put close to the workout. So here’s my basic reasoning.

Glycolytic training to try to build muscle is a waste on a fat cutting diet. You won’t build muscle from glycogen depletion and replenishment (volumnization).

But glycolytic work to burn extra fat, or increase metabolism is a different question. Also glycolytic work tends to boost HGH. Also by definition, if you have lactic acid burn, you are in glycolysis.

So the question is would it be better to take calories out of the muscle, with glycolysis, and then put calories back in that may go elswhere (in part), or is it better to remove the calories from your diet in the first place? My feeling is that you should generally take cals from diet first, and that if fat loss stalls, cycle in glycolytic work, but not because you will end up with a lower calorie net, but because of what it will do for boosting metabolism and the repartitioning effect on hormones of some glycolytic work.

So start with pure strength training while reducing cals, and then use just enough fast paced glycolytic work to keep things moving. But if I did this, I would still not use higher rep weight training, I would use a restorative method like sled pushing, or uphill sprints that have little eccentric loading. So the glycolytic HIIT is your secret weapon in your toolbox, and you want to use just enough to keep things progressing. The other weapon is to throw in a higher carb day or two, and it makes sense to me to do this around the HIIT workout. The third secret weapon is that you CAN throw in a short period of very low carbs.

I will say this, I’ve always gone higher reps on my cuts, and honestly I end up getting ‘cut’ but I also lost a shit ton of muscle every time. This past cut I decided I wanted to keep that “higher-end” strength, and stuck with 1-3 rep sets on most of my work. Not only did I keep almost all the muscle I built during the previous bulk, I ended up at the lowest bf % of my life. And that’s with still going high carb a few days per week. Very excited for what this cut is going to bring.

It’s supposed to be invizibul barbelz

Interesting discussion gentlemen.

Mertdawg; a little off topic but how you would advise an athlete, such as a football player to eat and lift, if the athlete wanted to maintain strength but lose some weight(preferably in the form of fat)??

The athlete is trying to lose/maintain weight to help with agility and endurance on his feet. I believe this situation is different to the above as the athlete is training for his sport 3-4 times a week, plus a a game a week, plus 2-3 lifting sessions.

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