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Building Muscle while Shedding Body fat: The highest form of the bodybuilding art

By Andre Newcomb

When a fitness devotee decides to get super serious about taking their physique to the next level, they will eventually turn to bodybuilding strategies and principles. What is bodybuilding? It is the blending of progressive resistance training, aerobics and nutrition in order to sculpt and mold the human body. The goal of bodybuilding is to add lean muscle mass and burn off excess bodyfat. 50 years of empirical experience has shown that when it comes to building muscle and melting fat, they are best tackled one at a time: i.e., take a protracted period of time and concentrate all one’s efforts towards one goal (add muscle) or the other goal (lose bodyfat.) While it is possible to do both simultaneously, the degree of control, discipline and monitoring, the 100% adherence required, make this the highest form of the bodybuilding art. The Parrillo approach starts off by “building the metabolism.” As John Parrillo explains, “When serious fitness types are introduced to our system, I like to start them off on a 10 12-week mass-building phase, for a lot of reasons.” It all ties together and makes logical sense. What better way to follow up a successful mass-building, metabolism-building phase than with a 10 12-week lean-out phase? Chisel away any fat from the beef built during the mass-building phase. Once you’ve been through several cycles, i.e. a mass-building phase followed by a lean-out phase, you are ready: time for a “getting more muscular while getting leaner” phase, truly the highest expression of the bodybuilding art.


How to judge results: how does a bodybuilder know if they are adding muscle while stripping away body fat? By the mirror? By the scale? Both can be deceptive. Often, we see what we want to see in the mirror. Too many trainees see no change in bodyweight as related by the bathroom scale and fall for the self-deception of “I must be exchanging fat for muscle.” John Parrillo created the BodyStat Kit to take the guesswork and subjectivity out of bodybuilding. BodyStat allows the trainee to monitor body composition on a weekly basis. BodyStat makes use of a 9-point skinfold pinch test, done with calipers. Each week have the same person administer a BodyStat test. How does this weeks’ BodyStat compare to last week? Log results and make adjustment. BodyStat will reveal it all. Over the last seven days, have you lost body fat or added muscle? The weekly possibilities are numerous…

• Add muscle, add fat

• Add muscle, fat stays the same

• Add muscle, lose fat

• Muscle stays the same, fat stays the same

• Muscle stays the same, add fat

• Muscle stays the same, lose fat

• Lose muscle, fat stays the same

• Lose muscle, add fat

• Lose muscle, lose fat

Course corrections: there are a lot of possible BodyStat outcomes, none of which the bodybuilder would be aware of without weekly BodyStat testing. BodyStat takes the subjectivity out of bodybuilding and replaces it with objective data. Based on the BodyStat feedback, the trainee can make necessary adjustments to training, nutrition or cardio in order to make logical course corrections. If, by way of example, your BodyStat reading revealed that since last week you have added muscle – but also added body fat, one logical course correction would be to extract some starch calories from the diet. Rather than risk losing muscle, replace “lost” starch calories with CapTri® C8 MCT (100-calories per tablespoon) calories and increase the intensity, frequency or duration of the cardio efforts. The trainee could “switch out” eating Parrillo Energy bars™ (240 calories, high carb) with Parrillo Soft Chew High Protein-High Fiber bars™ (22 grams of protein, 17 fiber carbs, 120 calories.) If a BodyStat reading revealed that since the previous week the trainee had lost fat and lost muscle, one solution would be to jack up the lifting intensity, increase lifting session frequency and “underpin” this increase in lifting with a dramatic increase in supplemental protein. Support the increased lifting with two Parrillo Optimized Whey™ shakes and a 50/50 Plus™ shake after every training session. This adds 90-grams of protein to the daily tally. Remedies are only as accurate as the available data.


If you want to add muscle while melting off fat, be prepared to be perfect: how do we attain the most elusive and mythical of metabolic states – add muscle while simultaneously losing body fat? What does it take to enter into that zone of perfection, that sweet spot where exercise, nutrition and lifestyle are all in perfect balance and all perfectly synchronized? The elite bodybuilder establishes this metabolic zone of perfection by using classic Parrillo methodology: clean up the food selections, eat “clean” calories in copious amounts at equidistant intervals throughout the day. Every 2-3 waking hours consume clean calories or potent Parrillo supplements. No cheat days, no off days, seven days each week of complete nutritional adherence. Perfect eating supports the “fasted cardio” sessions done first thing in the morning before breakfast seven days a week. Fasted cardio is a Parrillo innovation that causes bodyfat to be oxidized at an accelerated rate. The elite bodybuilder sweats by the bucketful during these early morning cardio sessions. His metabolism is amped first thing by the sheer intensity of the cardio effort. The clean “Parrillo meals” consumed every three hours also cause the metabolism to accelerate, particularly if every food meal is doused in CapTri® C8 MCT, the Parrillo MCT lipid. Protein, fiber and MCTs, all spike the metabolism. Four to five times a week, the elite bodybuilder engages in 5-6 brutal weight training sessions. Again, the intensity of the exercise effort spikes the metabolism. Once in this zone of perfection, the elite bodybuilder stays there as long as they don’t do anything to break the spell or mess things up. 

Metabolic perfection: John Parrillo recalled a classical example of a raging metabolism he witnessed firsthand when he went to lunch with a famous IFBB professional bodybuilder. “We were in Chicago attending the Mr. Olympia. The famous pro was not competing. He was in terrific shape and getting ready for a European posing tour. We went to a nearby Chinese restaurant with several other bodybuilders and their wives and girlfriends.” John shook his head and laughed while recounting. “The famous pro was weighing 250 with an 8% bodyfat percentile. He ordered and ate three complete meals for himself: beef, broccoli and rice. Still hungry, he started mooching the leftovers off the wives that hadn’t finished their meals.” John related the effect. “Halfway through our leisurely two-hour lunch he started sweating. He had a raging metabolism and the thermic of the Chinese food was causing his metabolism to spike. He began to sweat through the shirt he was wearing. By the time we finished the meal, he was mopping his forehead with a napkin and his shirt had massive sweat stains. He was like, ‘Wow! Is it HOT in here?? Somebody open a window!’ we were wearing sweaters.” Such is the thermogenic effect of clean food on an elevated metabolism: when a metabolism is perfectly tuned, when the metabolism is “built,” each clean food meal is akin to throwing dry logs on a raging bonfire. The trick is to keep the food clean. Clean food, like dry logs, burns hot and burns completely. “Dirty” foods are akin to throwing green, wet logs onto the fire. They burn incompletely and leave a carcass. The elite bodybuilder establishes the metabolic zone of perfection through the skillful blending of exercise, nutrition and supplementation. Once in the zone they stay there for months at a time. The entire process is monitored on a weekly basis to ensure the bodybuilder is on track.


The Parrillo approach, “First, build the metabolism!” the first order of business for those serious about taking their physique and performance to the next level is to “square up the nutrition” to use another famous Parrillo phrase. One core Parrillo precept is that if you train as hard required, ample nutrients are needed to accelerate the healing, recovery and growth process. Too many trainees “under-eat.” Parrillo makes skillful use of clean calories to create a natural anabolic state. If hardcore training is underpinned by copious clean calories, muscle will be built. If the eating is clean and the cardio copious, massive amounts of clean calories can be consumed. Optimally, those under John’s guidance establish a caloric baseline, complete with micronutrient recommendations. Parrillo recommends an absolute minimum of 1.5 gram of protein per pound bodyweight per day. An elite bodybuilder would require 300 grams of protein per day. “Some competitive bodybuilders might require 2 or even 3 grams of protein per day.” Fiber carbs can be eaten in “unlimited amounts.” Lean protein and fiber intake are always kept high, regardless if the athlete is in a mass-building phase or a lean-out phase. Intense training and strict eating combined with long-term adherence is the secret to bodybuilding success. 

The natural ebb and flow: first, strive to build some muscle. Correct under-eating, square up the nutrition, build the metabolism. Every week will bring measurable improvement. BodyStat, the scale and the mirror provide the report card. Adjustments can now be made based on objective feedback. There is a natural ebb and flow between mass-building and lean-out. Classically, the bodybuilder will work with single-mindedness for 10-12 straight weeks, peak, then shift gears and head back in the opposite direction. What better time to try completely new and exciting training and nutritional strategies then after coming off a successful three months heading one way or the other? Contrast is the key to continued bodybuilding progress. Those that become attached to one mode of training and nutrition are doomed to rise only so high and no higher. Once the body neutralizes the effects of the training and nutrition, what was once shocking and gain-inducing is now familiar and fun, maintaining what you already have is all that can be expected. Yes, the optimal metabolic state can be attained and is routinely attained by elite bodybuilders. Only those with the situation, the discipline and the ability to attain and retain a metabolic groove for months on end will succeed: to build muscle while simultaneously melting fat requires nothing less than perfection on an ongoing daily basis.

2020-01-25T23:00:02-05:00 January 25th, 2020|Parrillo Principles, The Press|

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