Some science will tell you that, technically, building muscle while burning body fat is completely impossible. Therefore body recomposition is impossible. Some science can prove that recomposition can be possible… but the experiences from the best coaches and sports nutritionists in the world will tell you that it is absolutely possible.
So today, we bridge the gap from hope to reality – showing you exactly what you need to do and implement in order to dramatically shift your body composition and achieve a true recomposition – lose fat and build muscle.
Let’s be honest here, it’s every gym rat’s dream… be jacked and huge, while staying lean enough to have a fully visible 6 pack even after dinner (not just waking up to it).
But science has been telling us for years that the key to fat loss is a calorie deficit and the key to gaining size is a calorie surplus. Which makes sense, plus science is a hard thing to prove wrong.
But what this science doesn’t take into effect, are the hormones that can be optimized in order to enhance fat loss and see serious muscle growth (naturally). Not to mention the supplements that can improve performance, optimizing an individual’s sleep, tweaking training program design, improving nutrient timing, and plenty more intelligent, science-based, strategies that are only suitable for the truly committed gym-goers.
I’ll reiterate that last line…. The truly committed gym-goers.
The reason I’m going to reiterate that, is because what I’m about to teach you today isn’t for the average Joe or anyone who isn’t ready to truly dedicate themselves to the process and the journey of getting jacked.
Which is fine. You don’t NEED this stuff to see a transformation. Many of the clients we help transform here at BBP do not implement half of the things discussed today. But there are, however, the individuals who achieve their goals… hit a plateau… fall in love with the process… and you guessed it, want more.
If that’s you, this article is for you.
|Rather listen than read? Perfect. I recorded a podcast going over total body recomposition, for you. Listen via the player below or on iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify.|
But the main point here is simple; you can burn fat and build muscle simultaneously. I’ve watched it happen with many clients over the years – and not just with my newbie clients… because yes, it’s true that if you’re in your first 1-2 years of training damn near anything will work to get you jacked. But this article is for the intermediate and advanced lifters who are ready to take things to the next level, finally stimulating some growth while actually getting leaner.
Before getting into the strategies, we need to clarify some expectations. Because if you have no knowledge on how much you should lose, how much you should gain, or that you may technically not gain or lose anything at all… you’ll be confused and wondering what to look for.
There are 3 things that I see happen with bodyweight and composition when people lose fat while building more muscle:
#1 – Losing 2-3lbs of fat and gaining 2-3lbs of muscle, leading to zero weight fluctuation at all. Which is why the scale isn’t always the best way to track progress during this phase/journey. I suggest taking weekly progress photos, measurements every 1-3 weeks, and using a higher rep strength indicator (work to build your 6-8RM throughout the process as this is a great indicator of building muscle mass).
#2 – Staying the exact same body fat, while adding muscle mass onto your body and appearing to be leaner. So technically speaking, this actually isn’t losing fat and building muscle… it’s more like staying lean, while gaining muscle – which is also technically lowering your body fat percentage, since your total weight increases while your total fat mass does not. This is just as good as a recomposition! In fact, for some this is even better because it allows the gains to be a bit faster AND if we’re speaking logically here, it is still considered a recomposition.
*We need to remember that many people simply do not look lean because they have very little muscle mass, NOT because they have a high body fat percentage. So for many guys out there, I wouldn’t even suggest trying to lose fat – we just need to slab some muscle mass on you. This will make your skin actually stretch a bit while your muscles start to poke out a bit more, and because of this you end up actually appearing much leaner.
#3 – Shredding body fat, while maintaining 100% of your muscle mass. So again, technically not seeing both fat loss and muscle gain simultaneously… but the truth is, if you can maintain 100% of your muscle mass, which you will be able to do with what’s inside this article, than you’re still above average compared to 99% of people in the gym and you will look much more jacked.
Most guys cut so aggressively (focusing on weight loss rather than fat loss) and do not take any muscle building strategies into consideration during their cutting phases, so they drop lbs of muscle mass during the process. This just leads to being skinny fat, unhappy, and repeating the process of trying to build muscle (while gaining fat) over again. Obviously this is not ideal or optimal, which is exactly why it’d be better to focus on maintaining your muscle while cutting, even if that means it takes a bit longer.
If you can implement these strategies to maintain 100% of your muscle while even just cutting 2-6lbs of pure body fat, you will look dramatically more jacked than you did before hand. This will absolutely look as if you gained muscle and burned body fat, which is again exactly what we’re shooting for here.
You may have noticed I didn’t list a situation where someone would lose 1-2lbs of fat and gain 3-4lbs or more of muscle… because if you’re a natural lifter, good luck. Not happening, bro. Unless you’re a 19 year old who’s never been in the gym and is getting ready to fully commit to 6 days a week of training and an individualized nutrition plan or someone who is ready to become an enhanced athlete, than it’s highly unlikely that this situation would even be possible.
A strategy that is similar, still slightly far-fetched, but possible… would be losing 5-10lbs of body fat while building 2-4lbs of muscle. Less than half. So, not an equal trade BUT there is still some recomposition happening simultaneously.
I’ve seen this occur and so has my good friend Christopher Barakat, Nutrition and Exercise Researcher. We actually discuss it in a recent podcast and he touches on it in his recent book, The Ultimate Body Recomposition Guide.
My point throwing this out there is that it can happen. Anything is possible and if he’s seen it in the lab, it shows it can be done under tightly controlled and programmed settings.
STRATEGY 1 – TRAINING FREQUENCY
As most of our readers and listeners will know, there are 3 main components to programming for muscle mass. These are Volume, Intensity, and Frequency. When we want to train for fat loss, many think we should just start doing more cardio – which is not the case, at least not at first. We first should be prioritizing training that builds muscle mass (yes, even while cutting).
[For a Training Guide that teaches you the principles while giving you the methods, as well as a full 12+ week training plan, grab a copy of Built For You HERE]
Why? Simple. It promotes a faster metabolism, higher energy production (aka burn calories), improves insulin sensitivity, is less adaptable than cardio, and primes both the nervous system and the hormonal system for future fat loss.
But out of those 3 components, there is 1 that is commonly undervalued and utilized, and that is Training Frequency. Training Frequency, for those who may not know, is the amount of times you train a muscle per week.
Studies have shown us that a Training Frequency of 2-3 times per week is the most optimal way to build muscle. Because of this, and because our goal right now is to build muscle while burning body fat, we’re going to maximize that frequency and possibly even take it a step further. During this phase, you’re going to target each muscle group 3-4 times per week.
The reason for this is simple; we want to constantly send an anabolic signal to each and every muscle in your body. This is going to promote more growth, more activation, and less degradation or catabolism. More simply put, if you’re not growing you’re shrinking.
When we train a muscle 1x a week, we have to do a lot of volume in that given session. This means that towards the end of the session, our intensity is falling short and slowing down. And that means that our volume will actually be lower, even though your metabolic fatigue (the burn) feels so high at the end of those brutal Monday Chest Day Sessions….
Training a muscle 3-4x a week is going to allow the intensity in that session to be higher, volume to stay at its highest point, and for us to provide our body with the signal to grow more frequently throughout the week. Given all of that, this also means we’re going to burn more calories per session WHICH is going to lead us to the result of shredding body fat quicker.
We need to remember that the bigger the muscle and the more muscles worked in a session, the more taxing it will be and when I say taxing I’m referring to energy draining (energy = calories, calories burned = fat lost).
In fact, in research studying full body training vs. split training, here’s what we find:
“Heke (2010) compared a 3x per week full-body program with a body part split where each muscle was trained only once per week. The full-body group saw a 0.8% increase in fat-free mass and a 3.8% decrease in body fat percentage, whereas the body part split group saw only a 0.4% increase in fat free mass and a 2.2% decrease in BF%.”
Not a massive difference or what they would call in science, “a statistically significant difference”, but it was also done in advanced individuals in a 4 week setting. So in only 4 weeks, I’d say that’s a lot – especially since these are advanced trainee’s.
“Crewther et al. (2016) performed a study on rugby players doing 3 workouts per week, as either full-body or upper/lower fashion, so the weekly training frequency was 3x vs. 1.5x. The full-body group lost more fat and gained a small amount more of muscle mass (1.1% vs. 0.4% FFM).”
Again, not crazy – but it’s there and that’s what matters. Because what happens when we compound this effect over the course of 8+ weeks? Or even better, along with the individualized nature of being able to increase training frequency of 4x per week, to increase volume even more? I’m sure we’d see a significant difference at that point.
Because of this caloric expenditure increase, it may be advantageous to choose a full body training program [like our program, F.I.T. or those in The Elite]. This is especially the case if during your body recomposition, you’re on the side of needing more fat loss than muscle growth.
You’d set up your training week as such:
Sunday – Rest
Monday – Full Body Strength
Tuesday – Full Body Strength
Wednesday – Cardio/Conditioning
Thursday – Full Body Hypertrophy
Friday – Cardio/Conditioning
Saturday – Full Body Hypertrophy
(And yes, as you can see, I still believe you should be doing some form of conditioning. Whether that’s HIIT or LISS depends on the person’s recovery ability, but more on this later.)
Now, maybe you’re someone who doesn’t need to burn as much fat as they need to build muscle while maintaining fat percentage or just slightly reducing it.
Or maybe you consider yourself a “hard gainer” (debatably true term – most just aren’t optimizing) and you just want to focus on pure muscle growth.
If you’re in the max muscle camp, here’s your training split:
Sunday – Rest
Monday – Upper
Tuesday – Lower
Wednesday – Upper
Thursday – Lower
Friday – Upper
Saturday – Lower
In this split, we’re much more focused on maximizing volume for muscle growth while still accomplishing a 3x per week frequency for the total body.
Regardless of the split you choose, you’re going to set up your week so you’re hitting everything 2-4x a week. 4x a week for your priority muscle groups or weak points and 2-3x a week for your stronger and more dominant muscle groups. Even though you may be targeting it only twice, there is crossover and it will get worked more than enough to maintain. But your weak points or the muscles you need to grow most, should be using the absolute highest frequency you can handle while still fully recovering.
You’ll split these sessions up into strength and hypertrophy, at either an even 50/50 split or a slightly biased 70/30 split, favoring hypertrophy (higher volume/lower intensity).
We need the higher intensity strength work to maintain muscle at an optimal rate while at the very least keeping strength and performance steady. We’ll also need the higher volume hypertrophy work to grow at an optimal rate. But it’s a mix of both that helps ensure we’re optimizing our hormones, nervous system, recovery demands, adaptations, progressive overload, and novelty within the program.
The 2 best ways to do this are to either just split up the sessions as strength days and hypertrophy days or to simply hit your compound lift towards the beginning for your training, possibly using an intensification technique like 1-6 contrast or ramp up scheme towards a 2-4 max effort lift, prior to your hypertrophy training.
Both have benefits. Committing a day allows you to focus and progress on ONE key thing. Whereas hitting a low rep compound first, then following it with higher rep accessory/isolation work can be a driver for muscle growth because you prime your CNS to recruit more muscle fibers and motor units, by being explosive and training the strength range, at the beginning. If we prime our CNS to recruit more, then express that in high volume training… it’s a highly anabolic environment.
To conclude training:
→ You should be following a structured training program.
→ Maximize volume, by maximizing frequency within your recovery ability.
→ Choose the split that favors your main goal, within the body recomposition focus.
→ Stick to a plan that allows you to enjoy, stay motivated, and progressively overload week to week.
STRATEGY 2 – SLEEP REQUIREMENTS
We’ll keep this short and sweet; because it’s the least sexy topic we’ll talk about today. Sleep – we all know we need more of it, yet we all ignore that and keep putting our sleep on the back burner.
[Highly suggest you listen to this podcast on the science of sleep, with sleep researcher Greg Potter]
The truth is, much of our results happen during our sleep. Think about it…
We replenish muscle glycogen, our nervous system goes into parasympathetic mode for recovery, our growth hormones are amplified, metabolism kicks up a notch, our digestive tracts get a break, the joints on our body get some rest to reduce inflammation…. Literally every system in our body goes into repair mode during sleep.
And if we look at what muscle growth actually is, it’s a balance between stress and adaptation. Training the muscle during our workouts is the stress, which is absolutely necessary in order to elicit any type of change. The recovery is our sleep (amongst other things we’ll touch on), which is the time where our body can actually stop to rebuild the tissue we broke down in training (recover from the stress).
So it’s obvious now, I hope, that you need to prioritize sleep if you plan to burn fat and/or build muscle. Without it, you will not recover muscularly, neurologically, and hormonally.
But how much is enough? What does good sleep even mean or look like?
Both of these are relative questions because everyone has a different stress load in their life, meaning that everyone’s body will have different recovery demands. But one thing we know for sure is that 7 is the minimum and upwards of 9 is optimal. So if you stay within the 7-9 hours per night, range, you should be golden.
When it comes to what great sleep actually is… it’s what will allow you to wake up fresh, hormonally charged (guys, you know what I mean here – this is a necessary measurement for hormonal balance), with energy and motivation. This is a great reason to track biofeedback, which is something I have every single one of my clients do every week.
On a Scale of 1-5, Rank The Following:
All of these things should be a 4 or 5 regularly, that’s the goal. How do you even gage? You just start! Once you start you’ll know what a 1 feels like compared to a 5, in any of these. But the goal is to consistently work them up and as you become more aware, you’ll notice that they’re all linked and as one raises… they all rise.
As for strategies to increase the quality of your sleep, there are SO many we could go on for days. But I’ll start with a few simple hacks for you:
→ Cool temperature room (60-65 degrees)
→ Completely blacked out dark, media/lights off 2 hours prior
→ Contrast shower and a meditation session prior.
Do these things and I guarantee you’ll be sleeping twice as well as you were before.
So taking it back to the actual strategy now; sleep is absolutely crucial for results. The best way to get better sleep is to adjust your schedule so you can guarantee 7-9 hours, track your biofeedback daily or weekly, and adjust your room to promote a better and more restful sleep.
STRATEGY 3 – NUTRITION
There’s a lot involved with this one when it comes to burning fat and building muscle simultaneously, because nutrition is one of the most individualized aspects of body composition change that there is.
So before I dive in… I want to recommend 2 things that will make this easier, more effective, and longer lasting.
#1 – Apply for Coaching. I know, blunt call to action. But nothing can replace a coach. So if you really want to level your results up, click here now.
#2 – Read the Nutrition Hierarchy. It’s completely free and teaches you everything from A-Z about understanding and mastering your diet.
Now, back to business. The first thing we need to look at is calories, which are actually a pretty simple topic to cover.
1.) You cannot be in a major deficit. If you are, you won’t build muscle and your hormones will slowly tap out. So although this may be necessary for a major fat loss phase, that’s not what this phase is about. This phase is about shredding up WHILE building or at the very least maintaining as much muscle as possible.
2.) You cannot be in a major surplus. If you are, you won’t burn any body fat because you’re eating too much! So again, even though this may be ideal to bulk up or gain as much muscle as fast as possible… it’s only ideal if you plan to add some body fat along with that new muscle mass.
3.) This leaves us with one option left, which is the right option here… around maintenance level calories. I say around because some people will be genetic freaks that can push that up and others will be unfortunate metabolically speaking and will need to be very careful with where they lie. Either way, we’re close if not at the maintenance mark.
And the coolest part about this right here… is that the original version of this article was written 18 months ago. You’re reading 2.0, the revamped version. But since then, research has actually shown muscle growth to occur during maintenance caloric intake (1). Which means my experience and anecdote was correct, despite many others saying “you must be in a surplus to gain muscle mass”.
We’ve even seen some studies showing recomp in a slight surplus when using protein overfeeding as a nutritional strategy (2,3). Problem with this is that nobody wants to eat that much protein (4.4g/kg/day or 2g/lb/day). But it gives us reason to justify a higher than normal protein diet, which will get into soon.
When we’re at a maintenance level of calories, we’re ensuring enough for progress with performance, which is one of the most important aspects here because if we perform better we will likely build more muscle tissue as well.
But another great thing about being at a maintenance level is that we can still strive for a slow pace of fat loss – which is the exact type of fat loss we want here. At maintenance level calories our recovery, hormones, metabolism, and muscle tissue can still be optimal, which is extremely helpful during a slow fat loss phase (again, the exact type of fat loss we want during a recomposition).
While at maintenance, we do not achieve fat loss by a direct caloric deficit. That’s the simple way to fat loss and yes, it obviously works. Create a deficit, you’ll have more going out than in, and fat loss will happen. But during maintenance, you can fuel your body the right way and achieve fat loss through better exercise expenditure, a faster metabolic rate, higher levels of NEAT, and the nitty gritty part, tweaking your nutrient timing to be very specific (more on this shortly).
So how do you find your maintenance calories? There are 3 ways and they work in very general to very specific:
#1 – Body Weight Multiplied by 14, 15, or 16.
#2 – Mifflin St. Joer Formula
#3 – Track Body Weight and Intake for 7-14 Days, Extract Averages.
Finding Your Maintenance Calories
The most accurate way is to take your weight daily and track it consistently alongside your average caloric intake. After at least a week, you’ll have a 7 day average that will show you exactly how many calories you need in order to maintain your current bodyweight (that is, assuming you’re maintaining during this time). If you notice you’re gaining slightly after 1-2 weeks of recording this data, you know you’re just above maintenance. If you’re losing, you know you’re just below maintenance.
After you have this number, you’re going to use a calculation to determine where your true maintenance should be, hypothetically. The honest truth is that you already found your true maintenance – but having an accurate calculation of where optimal may be for you, gives you some insight as to whether or not your metabolic rate is in good shape or not. Here’s the formula:
BMR (MALE) = 10 x weight(kg) + 6.25 x height(cm) – 5 x age(years) + 5
BMR (FEMALE) = 10 x weight(kg) + 6.25 x height(cm) – 5 x age(years) – 161
This is the Mifflin St. Joer Formula and although there are MANY others that you can use and maybe a handful that are worth while, this is the one I’ve chosen for this article based on experience and research.
Once you get your BMR, you’ll need to use an activity calculator in order to determine what your actual maintenance is (taking your personal activity/lifestyle into account):
|Lifestyle + Training||Activity Multiplier|
|Sedentary + Training 3-6x Per Week||1.2 – 1.5|
|Lightly Active + Training 3-6x Per Week||1.5 – 1.8|
|Moderately Active + Training 3-6x Per Week||1.8 – 2.0|
|Highly Active + Training 3-6x Per Week||2.0 – 2.2|
*Note: You’re probably not as active as you think AND if you’re not absolutely sure, error on the side of caution and start a bit lower.
Now you will have 2 different set points. Your average from tracking your own intake and bodyweight, as well as what the formula provided. If you’re near the formula, just shift over. If you’re far off, you have some work to do (likely reverse dieting or actually creating a slight deficit depending on where you’re at on the spectrum).
Regardless, your goal here is to find maintenance. No extremes – just homeostasis!
Determining Daily Protein Intake
For protein intake, we’re going to calculate it based on lean body mass rather than total bodyweight. Reason being is because the more fat you have, the more skewed the protein calculations become. Fat tissue does not need protein, just lean tissue does. Therefore there’s no real reason to base it off total weight unless you’re a lean individual and want to save yourself time from confusion math (which is absolutely fine). But if you can determine an exact or relatively close estimate of your current body fat levels, that will ultimately be best for your protein intake.
This is done by subtracting your total BF% from your total weight/mass. Example would be a 200lb male at 12% BF. 12% of 200lbs is 24lbs – which means he has 24lbs of fat tissue and 176lbs of fat free mass.
We’re then going to multiply the lean body mass (176lbs) by 1.2-1.6 to get the total protein intake needed by this individual.
The lower end of the spectrum is designed for a.) people with more fat to lose, b.) who have an extremely high carbohydrate intake, or c.) who have digestive issues with too much protein (bloat, gas, discomfort, etc.).
The higher end of the spectrum is designed for a.) extremely lean individuals as it takes more protein to maintain muscle, b.) who are in a slight deficit, or c.) who need the extra protein to stay satiated.
For this 200lbs male with 176lbs of lean mass, this ends up being 210g to 280g of protein per day. For some, this seems normal. For others, this seems very high. So let’s get into the science behind why you’re going to be better off in this range that’s above the typical 1g per pound of bodyweight:
→ Many studies have come out proving that there is no long-term damage to the liver, kidney, or any other primary organ/system in the body from consuming a high protein diet (as long as kidney dysfunction or disease isn’t already present)(4).
→ Knowing the above, we need to take advantage of other studies that have shown a.) a higher satiety (hunger) rate throughout the day/week in dieters eating a high protein diet and b.) that eating a little more protein than what is “necessary” during a dieting phase will lead to more muscle preservation while losing fat/weight.
→ This allows you to optimize MPS (Muscle Protein Synthesis) to the highest degree. When we have a high rate of MPS, we recover better and build more. Plain and simple. How do we create this anabolic signal in the body? The first way is through resistance training, which we covered. The second way is through consuming protein throughout the day. Studies have shown that what’s most optimal lies somewhere between 25-50g per feeding, depending on bodyweight. Your job, take your daily intake and divide it by your number of meals.
→ Increase your TEF (thermic effect of food). Studies that document individuals consuming 2 times their body weight for long periods of time have proven to us that we can consume ultra high protein levels (inherently going into a surplus) without gaining body fat, because protein is so unlikely to be stored as fat. Because of this, it’s safe to say we can consume more without risk to our aesthetic goals. Knowing that, it’s a smart decision to consume more for the extra caloric burn (protein burns more calories via digestion than other nutrients), on top of the other benefits discussed.
Daily Fat Intake
Fat is very important, without it we will all die. Actually, quite literally… it’s an essential nutrient we need in order to survive. Which is why we check it off the list first, making sure we get enough but not too much.
Fat is going to be the lowest portion of your caloric intake, at roughly 20-25% of total calories, and here’s why:
→ Carbs and Protein are more metabolic stimulating AND we need them in high amounts in order to perform and build.
→ Fat has the lowest thermic effect of food, meaning we burn the least amount digesting it of all the macronutrients.
→ Once you get enough to hormonally and neurologically stimulate yourself… more is not better, it’s worse (in this case). Because we’re NOT in a deficit, so even a low % of fat is still plenty to thrive and any extra nutrients that are not being burned, will be stored as body fat.
→ A study that followed 51 competitive natural bodybuilders for 22+ weeks during their contest prep concluded that a.) the most successful bodybuilders to hit the stage follow a higher carbohydrate diet and b.) a higher carbohydrate diet is likely a strategy to use in order to preserve the most amount of muscle possible while in a deficit (5, 6).
Daily Carb Intake
Whatever you have left in your calories, which will be the majority, should be left to carbohydrates. Carbs are the body’s preferred fuel source and are a muscle-sparing nutrient, meaning when there is not enough amino acids flowing through the bloodstream to rebuild tissue – the body can use carbs.
Adding to this, carbs are the best nutrient to manage cortisol levels (stress hormones). This is a huge benefit when training hard and living a normal life in today’s society. In our experience, a slightly higher proportion given to carbs can make a big difference in building a physique while under typical levels of stress.
For these reasons, we need to promote a higher carb diet. Here’s why:
→ You will perform at a higher level when following a higher carbohydrate diet.
→ You will be much more likely to preserve, or even build, muscle mass when following a higher carbohydrate diet.
→ This allows an abundance of higher fiber and nutrient dense foods. I’m talking about high quality fruits, vegetables, and starchy root vegetables. These foods are VERY important for gut and overall health, which needs to be considered during any physique endeavour.
→ Carbs help blunt cortisol which can be a catabolic stress-hormone. When we can manage cortisol better via carbohydrate timing and consumption, we will build more muscle tissue (7).
Putting It All Together
I will use the same 200lb male as an example here (we’re going to say his name is Matt, he works a desk job while following Built For You 6x per week, he’s 6 feet tall, and he’s 35 years old).
BMR (MALE) = 10 x 90.71kg + 6.25 x 182.88cm – 5 x 35 years + 5 = 1,880.1
1,880 x 1.5 = 2,820 Calories
176lbs (lean body mass) x 1.4 = 246 / Round to 245g
2,820 x 0.20 (20%) = 564 cal ÷ 9 = 62.6666 / Round to 65g
1,255 (calories left) ÷ 4 = 313.75 / Round to 315g
Matt’s Daily Intake:
Calories – 2,825
Protein – 245g
Carbs – 315g
Fats – 65g
The last thing I’ll say on nutrition, is that this does NOT include adjustments, diet breaks, calorie cycling, or refeeds – all which can play big roles in the journey to recomposition.
STRATEGY 4 – SUPPLEMENTATION
The very last strategy we need to implement is supplementation. Something that normally, when I have a lifestyle client, I’m not a huge proponent of. Because truthfully, you should be able to get everything you need from food.
But this isn’t a normal setting; this is above average and somewhat extreme.
You’re attempting to build muscle mass, while shredding body fat. It takes more than what the normal individual is willing to do. And in this case, that means supplementing with anything that will enhance our results – legally of course…
Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin
This is a powder carbohydrate that’s rapidly absorbed and utilized for recovery, promoted by some of the smartest, and most jacked guys, in the industry. I do not believe that is correlation anymore – yes calories in vs. calories out matters, but why do the top guys keep promoting this supplement? Because it works. Same reason why over the last couple years I’ve had clients using it and back when I hit the physique stage I used it throughout the entire process.
If you’re the person who really struggles to put mass on, I’m going to recommend sipping it throughout the training session and possibly another small serving post training as well. This is going to help breakdown replenish that much faster, while optimizing your insulin sensitivity during training to build more muscle mass (8).
But for those who struggle more with fat loss, live a higher stress lifestyle, and/or train in the evening, within 3-5 hours of going to bed, I want you taking 1 scoop of this alongside some fast digesting whey protein or EAA’s immediately post workout.
No, not because of the anabolic window. This is because when you train, cortisol is through the roof – which is good, for training. When you stop training and need to start recovering, let alone go to sleep soon, you need to shut off that high cortisol response by giving your body carbs and amino acids right away. This is going to help get you into parasympathetic mode, blunt the cortisol response now that training is over, digest your food later on better, and get a real night’s rest.
Essentially, we want this easy-to-digest carbohydrate taken either during or immediately after your workout. Somewhere between 15-40g of carbs via HBCD seems to be the optimal range. The longer the workout, the higher the dose.
Vitamin-D is a hormonal precursor… actually; most scientists will argue that it is a hormone itself. Knowing that and the fact that at least 50% of the USA is deficient in it, we’re going to be supplementing it.
The dosage that has been shown to truly have benefits is around 4-5,000 IU’s, which can be reached per dose with THIS BRAND.
It’s the superfood of vitamins and we’re not going to skip it, because much like vitamin-d most of the country is deficient in it. So unless you’re eating salmon and sashimi on a daily basis, I want you supplementing this – from a reliable source.
The dosage that has been shown to have the highest benefits for joint health, insulin sensitivity, metabolism, heart health, and more is 2-3g of combined EPA/DHA daily. Making sure you find a high quality fish oil is key; for that, we recommend THIS BRAND.
Another one we’re almost all deficient in, that holds so many benefits when it comes to higher levels of performance and muscle growth. The issue is that there are about 17 kinds of magnesium on the shelves and almost all of them just give you diarrhea.
The type and dosage for neurological and muscular benefits, is going to be around 300-500mg daily of glycinate, aspartate, malate, and/or citrate. THIS BRAND outperforms most!
This is NOT a magic bullet… there are a few, less than a handful, ingredients that are in some pre workouts that truly do impact the results you see. One being caffeine, the most obvious. It increases energy and heart rate, leading to improved performance and an increased metabolic rate. Citrulline Malate is another and finally, Beta Alanine. These 3 DO show some benefit and when you consume them pre workout, you’ll see a difference.
Is this required or mandatory? By no means at all! But if you need a pick me up in order to get amped for the gym and to push yourself harder, I’d suggest it and HERE is our favorite one.
This is simply to cover your bases! Many athletes simply do not get enough nutrient diversity within their diets because of the way food preparation tends to be (for ease of planning, it just makes sense to repeat meals – which limits diversity). Also, studies show many athletes to be more deficient in some nutrients due to sweating more and urinating more frequently than the average person, likely due to a higher water intake. Lastly, athletes tend to have lower body fat levels – which is where many vitamins are stored. Because of these, we recommend a high quality multivitamin – Legion Triumph is our go-to.
Last but definitely not least, we have creatine. If you want to build muscle, improve strength, and enhance your cognitive ability… you should be supplementing with this powerful product. We wrote an entire article on it HERE, so we’ll save you the words and just suggest you read that. We recommend Muscle Feast Creatine for you to take!
All right… now that you’re taking more pills than your grandma at breakfast, we’re ready to wrap up.
The truth is, building muscle while burning fat is hard. It takes some grinding gym sessions, a lot of consistent efforts, and some dedication to the finer details. But to say it’s impossible is simply false and anyone who will tell you that has probably not dialed in all of the above like you’re about to do.My final piece of advice to you…
Measure everything. Metrics are so important and if you’re not taking weekly photos, notes in the gym, tracking macros, and looking at biofeedback constantly, you will never really know if you’re moving towards the end result properly.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cody McBroom is owner and head coach of Boom Boom Performance. He’s a Strength and Nutrition Coach located in Seattle WA, but coaches people and other coaches internationally. His passion is helping individuals change their lives through body composition transformation, as well as creating content across all platforms to help individuals and other coaches learn more about how to apply the science of training and nutrition. Click Here Now to Apply For Coaching with Cody.