Whether you’re a competitive body-builder or just someone trying to get in shape, Parrillo Performance is here to show you how to achieve your best condition ever. We’re the only ones whose program is based on a foundation of solid nutrition from healthy foods and a commitment to consistent training, rather than on some miracle supplement or powder. We show you how to keep producing results month after month, year after year. The truth is, the biggest key to your suc-cess is you. Only you can do what it takes to achieve your dream physique. We can tell you what to do, but we can’t do it for you. The first step is to pick specific goals and to get motivated to do whatever it takes to achieve them. The keys to bodybuilding success and physique transformation are motivation, dedica-tion, consistency, and hard work. Notice that these are all personal qualities that only you can provide-and also notice that supplements and training routines were not mentioned. There are no magic tricks.
There are no shortcuts. There is no easy way. If this was easy, everyone would look great. I’ve found that people who pick specific goals are more likely to get results than people who just have a general idea of what they want to achieve. It’s not enough to say that you want to get in shape this year, or you want to gain some muscle, or that you want to get stronger. You need to be more specific. A good place to start is to take a “personal inventory” using the BodyStat Kit™. Record your weight, percent fat, pounds lean mass, and pounds of fat. Pick a goal body weight and body composition and a target date for when you plan to achieve this result. If you put on some fat over the holidays and want to get in shape, exactly how many pounds of fat do you need to lose, and when do you want to arrive at your goal? For example let’s say right now you weigh 205 pounds at 14 percent bodyfat. That means you’re carry-ing about 29 pounds of fat (205 X 0.14).
And your goal is to be in shape for your vacation in June. Last summer you got down to nine percent bodyfat, and this year you want to show up at the beach ripped at seven percent fat. This will be the best shape you’ve ever been in. To calculate your goal weight first determine your pres-ent lean body mass, which here would be 205 – 29 = 176 (lean mass equals total body weight minus pounds of fat). Next divide your lean body mass by the quantity (1 – percent fat), so if your goal is 7% body fat (7% = 0.07) your target weight would be 176/(1 – 0.07) = 176/0.93 = 189. This means that if your present lean mass stays the same, at a goal body weight of 189 you would be seven percent fat. Next calculate how many pounds you need to lose. Here that would be 205 – 189 = 16 pounds. I recommend that you lose fat at the rate of one pound per week for optimal results, and never greater than two pounds per week. If you lose weight faster than this you will lose a lot of muscle along with the fat. This means you would need to allow 16 weeks to lose 16 pounds, in this example.
Further-more I suggest after about ten weeks of dieting you take a two week break and gain a couple pounds. If you remain in an energy deficit for too long this will decrease your meta-bolic rate and your rate of fat loss. I have found that people start to lose muscle after awhile if they diet for too long. So for every 10 weeks of dieting I think you should take two weeks off and gain two pounds. During this two week period continue to eat clean, and increase calories mainly by eat-ing more complex carbohydrates. Most of the weight you gain should be muscle, and this should also give a boost to your thyroid hormone levels. Prolonged low calorie di-eting, particularly low carbohydrate diets, will decrease thyroid hormone levels and metabolic rate. Finally, give yourself two weeks at the end to fine tune things. After losing the fat you’ll actually look better if you increase calories for a week or two and fill out your glycogen stores. So to lose 16 pounds of fat you should plan on a total of 20 weeks. If you lose two pounds a week the whole thing could be done in 10 weeks, but be careful not to lose lean mass. If you want to lose two pounds a week I would suggest using Muscle Amino Formula™ (our branched chain amino acid formula) to help minimize catabolism of muscle protein . After deciding that you want to lose a pound a week for 10 weeks, you can then take the next step in planning what to do. Since a pound of fat contains 3,500 calories, to lose a pound a week you need to achieve a net energy (calorie) deficit of 500 calories per day.
Probably the most effective way to do this is by combining a modest decrease in calorie intake with an increase in aerobic exercise activity. For example you may want to decrease energy intake by 250 calo-ries a day while performing 250 calories of additional exercise activity. The combined result is an overall energy deficit of 500 calories per day, which will bring about loss of one pound of fat per week. It is best to do your aerobics first thing in the morn-ing before breakfast on an empty stomach. This is the time of day when your glycogen levels are lowest, causing your body to rely more heavily on fat stores as fuel. You can create a similar plan for whatever your goal is – losing fat, gaining muscle, achieving a desired body weight or body fat percentage – the point is just to be specific. Know how many pounds of fat you want to lose, or how many pounds of muscle you have to gain, and what time with which frame you have to work. I picked fat loss as an example here because that’s a popular goal this time of year. Calculate how many pounds of fat you need to lose, and this will tell you how many weeks to plan on to achieve your goal. If you have to be ready for an event on a certain date, such as a con-test or a photo shoot or a trip to the beech, this will allow you to determine when you need to start your program. Of course you need to know your body composition to do this. Probably the most convenient way to do this is with the BodyStat Kit™. This device consists of a set of precision skinfold calipers and an instruction manual telling you how to determine bodyfat percentage.
The manual also includes instructions on how to modify your training and nutrition program to keep making progress in the right direction. Knowing your body compo-sition is one of the most fundamental facts in bodybuilding, and following how this changes in response to different training and nutrition programs is key to making longterm progress. If you keep track of your body composition, pounds of lean mass and pounds of fat, this will help you figure out which training and diet changes work best for you. Another approach that works very well for many people is what we call controlled weight cycling. It works like this: The first month you gain a pound a week. If you’re training hard and eating right you should be able to gain three pounds of muscle and around one pound of fat. The next month you lose a pound a week and try to lose three pounds of fat and only one pound of muscle. (Of course, when we gain weight we would prefer for it all to be muscle, and when we lose weight we want it all to be fat. However, in reality the two usu-ally go together).
The net result after two months is that you’ve gained two pounds of muscle and lost two pounds of fat. Over a year’s time this adds up to 12 pounds of muscle and 12 pounds of fat, which is quite a physique transforma-tion. The beauty of this approach is that you can do it over and over and keep pilling up the gains. We’ve all heard the inspiring stories of people who have lost 30 pounds of fat and gained 12 pounds of muscle in three months, and although these may be true, the problem is that sort of miraculous progress is usually only attainable by people who start off really out of shape, and gener-ally you can only pull off something like that once. After that it gets harder to continue to make progress. Con-trolled weight cycling offers a way for experienced athletes to continue to grow regardless of their level of development. Obviously there are countless variations on this idea. As outlined above, your over-all body weight would remain constant, and you would gain the same amount of muscle as the amount of fat you lose. If you want to increase overall bodyweight or if you don’t have much fat to lose, you could gain a pound a week for six weeks and then lose a pound a week for three weeks. You get the idea. The point is that whenever you gain weight even if you do everything right most people gain some fat along with the muscle. (Actually, if you gain weight simply by overeating and you don’t exercise about 75 percent of the excess weight will be fat and 25 percent will be muscle, but you can reverse this ratio by a strict diet and intense exercise).
Then, by going on a weight loss cycle you can take off any fat you gained. Furthermore, any time you lose weight you will lose some muscle along with the fat (generally). This, along with a decrease in thyroid hormone levels, will decrease metabolic rate. So by following every weight loss cycle with a weight gain cycle we can maintain muscle mass and meta-bolic rate. So this two-pronged approach really does make a lot of metabolic sense. The length of each cycle depends on your specific goals. If your goal is fat loss you could lose a pound a week for 10 weeks and then gain a pound a week for two weeks, then repeat (if you have a lot of fat to lose). If your goal is weight gain you could gain a pound a week for 10 weeks, then lose a pound a week for two weeks, and so on . Well, all of this sounds good, but as with most things it’s easier said than done. Let’s talk a bit about the specifics of how to do this. We will discuss both the fat loss phase and the muscle building phase. For each phase we need to talk about nutrition, training, and supplementation. Of course, in an article this size I can only hit on the basics. For more details you should consult the Parrillo Performance Nutrition Manual and the BodyStat Manual. Proper diet is key to both losing fat and gaining muscle. Remember that food is the foundation of nutrition and the role of supplements is to increase the cellular levels of specific nu-trients beyond what can be achieved from whole foods alone. If someone tries to tell you that their supplement is the key to your bodybuilding success, they’re trying to sell you something.
The fundamentals for bodybuilding success are proper training and proper nutrition from food. So where do we start? There are a few key pieces of information you should have right from the start. First is your present bodyweight and body composi-tion, and then your goal bodyweight and body composition. Set realistic goals and a realistic time frame. It’s perfectly OK to set some long range goals of where you want to be two years from now, but really that’s too far away to be useful for the short term. You will get better results if you break up your long-term goals into a series of smaller steps that are more immediately achievable and easier to obtain and verify. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but usually people get stale on a particular workout routine and the gains start to diminish after four to six weeks. Therefore it works best for most people to make some change in their workout routines every three to six weeks. This could be a change in exercise selection, the amount of weight used, rep ranges, training frequency, workout structure, tempo, etc . The point is, plan on changing something every month or so to keep presenting your body with a new chal-lenge and a new stimulus. So if you plan on switching around your workout every month, then it seems logical to have some goals for that month. A month is a long enough period of time that you can actually see some changes, but not so long that you get stale. So break up your longterm goals into monthlong blocks, and maybe even weeklong blocks. As an example let’s pick a simple goal: to lose 10 pounds of fat.
At a pound a week, this will take 10 weeks. This gives us some kind of benchmark we can go by to monitor our progress. Every week we need to check bodyweight and body composition to confirm things are going as planned. By evaluating things frequently we can make adjustments to keep things moving in the right direction. The second key piece of information is your current caloric intake, because all of our dietary calculations are based upon that . To determine this, simply start weighing your food and calculate how many calories you consume in an average day. The Parrillo Nutrition Manual comes complete with a food scale, a nutrient composition guide, and Diet Trac Sheets, plus directions on how to determine the number of calories and the grams of protein, carbohydrate and fat in all your foods. You will soon determine the num-ber of calories needed to maintain your present body weight, which we call your maintenance energy requirement, or MER. As mentioned above, a pound of bodyfat contains around 3,500 calories, so to lose a pound a week we need to create a net energy deficit of 3,500 calories a week, or 500 calories per day. We have found that the best results are usually (but not always) achieved by a combination of reducing caloric intake plus increasing exercise activity. You might eat 250 calories less than your MER plus perform 250 calories more of aerobic exercise to generate this energy deficit. The notable exceptions are people we think of as “chronic dieters” who have been trying to starve their bodies into submission for a long time. These individu-als often have tried lots of diets and have a hard time losing weight. Their bodies seem to have adapted to low calorie diets and continue to hoard fat in the face of rela-tively low energy intake.
Sometimes these people get better results by paradoxically increasing calories while simultaneously increasing exercise activity. This seems to help them gain muscle tissue, which in turn raises metabolic rate and helps them burn more fat. Presumably this also reverses the hormonal and enzymatic adaptations to prolonged caloric restriction . During the times when the goal is to gain muscle tissue we need to increase calories above the MER. The exact number of calories it takes to build a pound of muscle is not precisely known, but is probably around 2,500. (Note that this is much more than the mere energy content of the muscle tissue.) Although the exact numbers are not known, it seems to work well to strive for an energy surplus of about 300 calories a day when you’re trying to gain a pound of muscle per week. You may find that you need to go higher than this, but this is a good starting place . Some people gain too much fat if they have an energy excess of 500 calories a day, and other people can tolerate it . We suggest you continue to perform aerobic exercise while you gain weight, although not as much as during weight loss. By continuing to do your aerobics you will minimize fat accumula-tion during weight gain as well as maintain your cardiovascular fitness. A good starting place would be to plan for doing 60 min-utes of aerobics a day when you’re losing weight and 30 minutes a day while you’re gaining weight. Then simply adjust calorie intake so that you gain a pound a week, without gaining an unacceptable amount of fat. For most people this works out to be between 300-500 calories a day above MER.
During weight gain or weight loss we generally accept the 75:25 ratio as being good results. In other words if 75 percent of the weight you gain is muscle and 25 percent is fat, that’s good. Conversely, if 75 percent of the weight you lose if fat and only 25 percent is muscle, that’s also acceptable. Sometimes people can achieve better results than this, but these are usually beginners who start off pretty far out of shape. It is possible, in fact, to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, especially for people just starting to lift weights. However, you can see that with more experience your bodyfat percentage will eventually get very low and advanced athletes inevitably resort to some form of weight cycling. The traditional way of doing this was to gain 50 pounds during the “off season” and then lose 40 pounds during the pre-contest diet, and hope to come in ten pounds heavier than last year and still in good shape. Generally, I think it works better to use shorter cycles. The kinds of food to eat are really not much different for weight gain and weight loss. What changes are the overall number of calories and the ratio of protein to carbo-hydrate. Good protein sources include skin-less chicken breast, skinless turkey breast, egg whites, and fish.
Carbohydrates are best divided into two general categories: starchy carbs and fibrous vegetables. Good starches are potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, beans, peas, corn and oatmeal. Good fi-brous vegetables are salad greens, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, spinach, squash, and so on. The Parrillo Performance Nutri-tion Manual contains an extensive list of foods that are appropriate for bodybuilders as well as their nutrient breakdown. To design your diet the first step is to determine the number of calories you need. This depends on if your goal is to gain muscle or lose fat. Next, limit fat to 10 percent of total calories, and fewer if possible. (Refer to recent issues of this magazine for a detailed discussion about nutrient balance and why dietary fat is more prone to be stored as bodyfat than is protein or carbohydrate.) For weight gain you should consume about one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight each day.
This should come from complete protein sources such as those listed above or from a high efficiency protein formula such as Parrillo Optimized Whey Protein™. Dur-ing weight loss I would increase protein to one-and-a-half grams per pound of body weight a day. This extra protein helps pre-vent loss of muscle tissue while dieting. Then the remainder of your calories are derived from complex carbohydrates (and Unlocking the Mystery of Fat Loss and Muscle Gain, Part ICapTri®, if you’re using that). Be sure to have both a source of fiber and starch at each meal. For breakfast oatmeal is a good carbohydrate choice since it is high in fiber, although considered a starchy carbohy-drate. Divide your total daily calories and protein grams roughly into five or six small meals and try to eat every three hours. With this as a background, next bulletin I’ll talk more about how to modify your program to optimize muscle gain and fat loss and also discuss changes in exercise routine and supplementation strategies .