Perhaps you’ve leaned out as a result of competing in a contest recently or you’ve been maintaining a ripped physique over the summer .Now, ask yourself this question: How can I maintain most of that leanness, so that next time, I don’t have to diet so hard to zap the body fat?While losing body fat is a challenge, keeping it off can be more difficult. One point to remember is: Don’t restrict or cut calories to manage your body fat levels. It simply won’t work. If you fall off that wagon, you’ll regain your weight, plus a lot of extra weight. In fact, nearly 95 percent of those who go on low-calorie diets regain their lost weight, plus some, within five years. Not a resounding endorsement for low-calorie dieting. Why do people put weight back on so easily following a low-calorie diet? There are several possible answers. First, 25 to 50 percent of body weight lost by cutting calories is muscle .
Be-cause muscle is the body’s most metabolically active tissue, losing so much of it slows the me-tabolism down. Also, cutting calories tricks your body into thinking it’s starving. This perceived famine speeds up the activity of a special enzyme that primes your body to store fat. Once you go off your diet and start eating again, the food is converted more easily to fat. In fact, fat stores stand first in line to be replaced after a period of dieting. You return to your original body weight or above, this time with even more body fat than before.Restricting calories affects this relapse in other ways too. Less food energy is given off as body heat and turned into weight in-stead. Low-calorie diets also suppress the activity of certain thyroid hormones, further slowing down the metabolism.One of the major keys to achieving permanent fat loss is “nutrient partitioning” – the assignment of food to either fat stores or muscle stores .To understand how nutrient partition-ing works, it’s helpful to think of the body as being divided into a fat compartment and a lean compartment .
Food goes to either of these compartments or is burned for energy.One of the factors that has a signifi-cant effect on nutrient partitioning is your endocrine system. It’s involved in such processes as metabolism, energy production, and growth. The endocrine system consists of several organs in the body, including the pituitary gland, the thyroid gland, the para-thyroid gland, the pancreas, the testes or ovaries, and the kidneys. This specialized system is like a chemi-cal “messenger service” in the body; it transmits messages in the form of hormones, carried by the blood to specific targets (organs, tissues, or cells) in the body. The messages sent are things like “build muscle proteins,” “store fat,” “burn fat,” or “store carbohydrates.”Once these messages are received by the targets, the commands are carried out by enzymes, special proteins that control chemi-cal reactions inside cells . Through these reactions, enzymes can make or break down proteins or fat.Two of the most im-portant hormones involved in muscle growth and fat loss are insulin and glu-cagon, both produced in the pancreas. They regulate carbohydrate metabolism and fat metabolism by exerting control over the enzymes that carry out these processes .When blood sugar (glucose) levels rise – usually after carbohydrates are eaten – insulin is released. It transports glucose into cells where it is burned for energy or stored as glycogen.
If carbohydrates are released into the bloodstream too fast, an overproduction of insulin occurs. Consequently, some of the carbohydrates are deposited as fat – instead of being stored as glycogen. Simple sugars and refined carbohydrates are rapid-release foods that trigger too much insulin. This channels calories to the fat compartment of the body – not the avenue of nutrient par-titioning you want.Interestingly, insulin is involved in muscular growth because it transports certain amino acids into muscle cells. To make this happen, you need carbohydrates. The key, however, is eating the right kinds of carbs, in the right amounts .Glucagon opposes the effect of insulin. When blood sugar is low, glucagon is re-leased, and this typically occurs several hours after a meal is eaten. Glucagon then activates the conversion of glycogen to glucose in the liver in response to low blood sugar levels. It also signals the body to start burning fat for energy, because the body is running low on carbohydrates, its preferred fuel source.The ratio of insulin to glycogen in your body largely determines whether you will gain fat or lose it. You can control this ratio naturally by adjusting the protein and carbo-hydrate proportions in your diet and combin-ing foods in the proper manner. Here’s how you can partition your food more effectively, so it can be used to burn fat (and keep it off), plus build fat-burning muscle tissue:1.
When trying to gain lean muscu-lar weight, you want a higher ratio of insulin, so you would increase your carbohydrate intake, perhaps as high as 400 to 500 grams or more a day. A carbohydrate supplement such as ProCarb™ or 50/50 Plus™ that is formulated with the complex carbohydrate maltodextrin is a good way to increase carbohydrate con-sumption. At the same time, be sure to meet your lean protein requirement by eating 1.25 to 1.5 or more grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. At least 1 gram should come from chicken, fish, turkey, or egg whites, with at least another .25 or .5 gram of additional protein per pound of body weight from vegetable sources, which contain some protein as well. Consult the Parrillo Nutrition Manual™ for instructions on how to plan protein-rich meals .2. To lose body fat and keep it off, decrease insulin and increase glucagon by eating slightly less carbohydrate and more protein. A good rule of thumb is to adjust your carbohydrate-to-protein ratio to between 1 to 1 or 1.5 to 1. One problem with reduc-ing carbohydrate intake is the potential decline in energy levels.
To compensate, try supplementing your diet with CapTri®, our medium-chain triglyceride supplement . This is a special type of lipid that provides quality calories and, unlike conventional dietary fats, it has very little tendency to be stored as body fat.3. Don’t take nutrient partitioning to extremes by going on a “zero-carb” diet in an attempt to burn more body fat. Under extremely low-carb conditions, muscular growth is impossible. There’s not enough insulin available to transport amino acids into muscle cells . Furthermore, the body begins to break down its own proteins into amino acids for conversion into glucose, needed by the brain for fuel.4. Rate of digestion is important. Your meals (five, six, or more a day) should include the proper combination of lean proteins, starchy carbohydrates, and fibrous carbohydrates. This combination of foods slows your digestion to keep car-bohydrates from being released into the bloodstream too fast, thus preventing an overproduction of insulin.