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Bulletin #162 – The Alternating Diet

Parrillo Performance

A successful approach to losing body fat while keeping your metabolism revved up 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 to-tal) and 75% of that loss is 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 looking at 12 pounds of muscle gained and 12 pounds of fat lost. You’re constantly making progress, and your metabolism never gets the chance to slow down. I believe these goals are quite realistic and very easily attainable for anyone, and particularly if you’re 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 losing 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 year after year. If you’re 20% body fat or more, you may want to devotea 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 more a day, do 20-30 minutes of aerobics a day, and train your top sets with heavy weights in the 3-6 rep range. To lose a pound a week, decrease carbs slightly if you have to, do 45-60 minutes of aerobics a day, and train with increased volume and moderate weight in the 8-12 rep range for your top sets.

There are other ways youweights can maximize this fat-burning mode. For example:

• Continue to eat five, six or more meals a day to keep your metabolism in a constant 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 frequently keeps your internal 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 scientific literature these days and is a matter of debate in bodybuilding circles. (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 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. But: How do you cut down on carbs without decreasing calories? You consume more of something else. Fat is not an option,so your only other choices are protein or CapTri®. Either 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 efficient energy source. Its role is to serve as a building block for repair and maintenance of tissues, not to provide metabolizable fuel. Using protein for energy is kind of like trying to burna 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 MCT oil. This supplement is a good choice because 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 (potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, and so forth) from your last meals of the day. Replace those lost calories from carbs with an equivalent number of calories from CapTri®. It actually has a higher thermogenic effect than carbohydrate, 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 relatively 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 glycogen stores are the lowest they’ll be all day, so you’ll rely more heavily on stored fat. To prevent muscle loss, consume two scoops of a quality protein powder prior to performing your aerobics. For maximizing fat loss, another good time to perform aerobics 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 breathing 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 do more aerobics. 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 having your body measured once a week with an accurate assessment method such as our BodyStat System. With the information you attain, 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.With proper assessment, you 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. Remove the guesswork from your bodybuilding program. Don’t leave anything to chance.


1. Flatt JP. 1987. Dietary fat, carbohydrate balance, and weight maintenance: effects of exercise. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 45: 296-306.

2. Flatt JP. 1995. Use and storage of carbohydrate and fat. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 61: 952s-959s.

3. Swinburn B and Ravussin E. 1993. Energy balance or fat balance? American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 57:766S-771S.

4. Acheson KJ, Flatt JP, and Je-quier E. 1982. Glycogen synthesis versus lipogenesis after a 500 gram carbohydrate meal in man. Metabolism 31: 1234-1240.

5. Baba N, Bracco EF, and Hashim SA. 1982. Enhanced thermogenesis and diminished deposition of fat in response to overfeeding with diet containing medium chain triglyceride. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 35: 678-682.

6. Bach AC and Babayan VK. 1982. Medium chain triglycerides: an up-date. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 35: 678-682.6. Bach AC and Babayan VK. 1982. Medium chain triglycerides: an update. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 36: 950-962.

2018-03-13T11:10:23-04:00 August 13th, 2009|Technical Supplement Bulletins|

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