A successful approach to losing body fat involves alternating one month on a weight gain cycle and one month on a fat loss cycle. The first month you would gain a pound each week (four pounds) and 75% of it is muscle. In the second month you lose a pound a week (four pounds total) and 75% of that loss in fat. At the end of the two-month cycle you will have gained two pounds of muscle and lost two pounds of fat. Extend that to a year and you’re look-ing at 12 pounds of muscle gained and 12 pounds of fat lost. You’re constantly mak-ing progress and your metabolism never gets the chance to slow down.I believe these goals are quite realis-tic and very easily attainable for anyone, and particularly easy for bodybuilders who are giving 100% effort to the training and nutrition program.
The beauty of this idea is that you’re constantly making progress; you’re always either gaining muscle or los-ing fat; and the constant change prevents your metabolism from adapting so you can make continual progress without wasting time being stuck on a plateau and trying to figure out what to do. In principle, you could keep this up for year after year. If you’re 20% body fat or more, you may want to devote a few months to getting in shape first, or if you’re really skinny, you may want to spend a few months just putting on size. But if you’re somewhere in the middle, maybe around 10% to 15% body fat, you might consider giving this program a try. To gain a pound a week increase your calories to 300-500 above your MER, do 20-30 minutes of aerobics a day, and train like a powerlifter with heavy sets in the 5-8 rep range.
To lose a pound a week, decrease calories to your MER, do 60 minutes of aerobics a day, and train like a bodybuilder with increased volume and moderate weight in the 8-20 rep range . There are other ways you can maxi-mize this fat-burning mode. For example:Continue to eat five, six or more meals a day to keep your metabolism in a con-stant state of acceleration. This has several beneficial effects. Every time you eat your metabolic rate increases a little due to the thermic effect of feeding (also known as diet-induced thermogenesis). Eating fre-quently keeps the furnace stoked and keeps your metabolism speeding along. If you go too long without eating your metabolism begins to slow down. Eliminate as much fat as possible from your diet, since fat has a slowing effect on metabolism. Dietary protein and complex carbohydrates have negligible tendency to be converted to fat, whereas dietary fat is very prone to be stored as body fat (1,2,3,4). This is a hot topic in the scien-tific literature these days and is a matter of debate in the bodybuilding magazines. (It is less a matter of debate in the scientific journals, where actual research is reported.)
Very little of your body fat comes from complex carbohydrates or protein being converted into fat; almost all of it comes from fat and sugars you eat. How much fat your body stores seems to be more closely related to how much fat you eat rather than how many calories you eat. Decrease your carbohydrate intake, thereby lowering insulin levels and activating fat-burning mechanisms in the body. Decrease your carbs. How do you cut down on carbs without decreasing calories? Well, you have to eat more of something else . Fat is not an option, so your only other choices are protein or CapTri®. Ei-ther one will work, but a combination of both probably works best. Let’s be brutally honest about this. If you’re used to getting most of your calories from carbs, cutting back significantly on carbs makes you feel bad, at least for a while. People who cut their carbs dramatically have low energy levels, are irritable and grouchy, and get headaches. CapTri® is more effective at relieving some of these symptoms than protein because it’s more readily used as an energy source.
Protein is not a very ef-ficient energy source. It’s role is to serve as building blocks for repair and maintenance of tissues, not to provide metabolizable fuel. Using protein for energy is kind of like trying to burn a wet log. Carbs, on the other hand, are a great energy source . So if you want to reduce carbs in your diet to manipulate hormone levels and promote fat metabolism it makes sense to replace those calories with another fuel source, namely CapTri®. CapTri® is a good choice be-cause it is readily burned as fuel and won?t be stored as body fat, (5, 6). I suggest you ease into this slowly. Start by eliminating starchy carbs from your last meals of the day. Replace those lost calories from carbs with an equivalent number of calories from CapTri®. Cap-Tri® actually has a higher thermogenic ef-fect than carbohydrates, meaning that more of this dietary energy will be lost as body heat with less energy available for storage. This further promotes additional fat loss. Continue in this way until you reduce your daily carbohydrate grams to about half of what you normally consume.
At this point you?ll be eating mostly protein, vegetables, and CapTri®. Do your aerobics when you are rela-tively carb-depleted. This will cause your body to burn more fat for energy during your workout because fewer carbs are available. The best time is first thing in the morning before breakfast. Your gly-cogen stores are low, so you’ll rely more heavily on stored fat. Take two scoops of Hi-Protein Powder™ to prevent muscle loss, then do your aerobics. Another good time is right after weight training, because then you’re relatively glycogen depleted too. You should do moderate to fairly high intensity aerobics, so that you’re breath-ing hard and sweating. While it’s true you burn a higher percentage of calories from fat during low intensity aerobics, you will burn more grams of body fat if you perform high intensity aerobics, because you’ll burn so many more total calories. Also, if you do reasonably intense aerobics you will get the added benefits of increased vascular density and enhanced fat burning capacity. Increase the volume of aerobics progressively as you get leaner. If your fat loss plateaus the first thing to try is to increase the intensity of your aerobics and also increase your calories. If that doesn’t work you should probably back off for a couple weeks, increase your calories, put on some muscle, and get your metabolism going again .
How do you know if you’re losing fat and not muscle? By using the Body Stat Kit once a week. You can determine your pounds of lean mass and pounds of fat every week and make adjustments in your training and diet accordingly to make sure you stay on track. The Body Stat Kit Manual contains detailed instructions on exactly how to change your training and diet to make sure your body composition keeps moving in the right direction. I think one of the reasons the Parrillo Program has been so successful for so many people is that everything is scientifically controlled. How many calories, how much protein, carbs, and fat, how many meals, which foods, how to combine the foods, macronu-trient ratios, Diet Trac Sheets, the Training Log, Body Stat Sheets-it’s all in the manu-als. Every parameter of your bodybuilding program is covered and nothing is left to chance. If you weigh your food and keep track of your diet and body composition like you’re supposed to, and something’s not working right, we can pinpoint exactly what the problem is and make detailed adjustments to fix it.
Otherwise, if you’re just going on what “feels right” or seems to make sense, and you don’t make good progress, you’re not sure what to change. If you want more details than I have been able to squeeze into this article, check out the Parrillo Performance Nutrition Manual and the Body Stat Kit. I go into great detail about which foods to eat, which foods to avoid, and how to structure your meals. The Nutrition Manual contains a three step protocol for reducing body fat levels to contest condition, as well as de-scribing how to manipulate carbs and wa-ter at the end. The Body Stat Kit contains instructions on exactly how to modify your training and nutrition program based on your weekly changes in body composition. The Nutrition Manual comes with its own food scale and Diet Trac Sheets to record your calories and grams of protein, carbs, and fat. It even includes a food composi-tion guide that lists the nutrient breakdown of all the bodybuilding foods. The Body Stat Kit includes high quality calipers and everything you need to chart your body composition. Remove the guesswork from your bodybuilding program. Don’t leave anything to chance .
1. Flatt JP. Dietary fat, carbohydrate balance, and weight maintenance: effects of exercise. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 45: 296-306, 1987 .
2. Flatt JP. Use and storage of car-bohydrate and fat. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 61: 952s-959s, 1995 .
3. Swinburn B and Ravussin E. Energy balance or fat balance? Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 57: 766S-771S, 1993 .
4. Acheson KJ, Flatt JP, and Jequier E. Glycogen synthesis versus lipogenesis after a 500 gram carbohydrate meal in man. Metabolism 31: 1234-1240, 1982.
5. Baba N, Bracco EF, and Hashim SA. Enhanced thermogenesis and diminished deposition of fat in response to overfeed-ing with diet containing medium chain triglyceride. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 35: 678-682, 1982 .
6. Bach AC and Babayan VK. Medium chain triglycerides: an update. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 36: 950-962, 1982.