The catalyst for growth takes into consideration a multitude of facets necessary for solving the equation of building muscle. The components for doing so are comprised of the following: the training stimulus, nutrition, rest and then consistency within the measures you have set forth within your plan. All of these parts play a significant role in your ability to build muscle, get stronger, get leaner and ultimately achieve the physique you’ve always wanted. Within your efforts, you will find that there is room for the manipulation of these parts and that manipulation is often times incredibly important for ensuring continued success. While you may be able to sustain a certain type of training style for long periods of time, what you will never be able to do at length is stick with the same nutrition plan. As you grow, so too will your nutritional needs and to ensure you are always on point with your food intake, here are a few advanced nutrition strategies you can include within your plan to reach your desired results.
Strategy #1: Carb Cycling
One of the first mistakes people make when setting up a nutrition plan to follow is thinking that once they’ve landed on what they believe to be the right formula, that they can stick with it for the long haul. This simply just isn’t the case and the body will need different levels of energy at different times throughout the week to achieve the end goal. Building a bigger and leaner physique is typically always the goal. More muscle and less body fat always reign supreme in the goal setting department so with that in mind, one of the best ways to ensure you achieve this from a nutrition standpoint is to utilize the carb cycling method that has proven over and over again to be very advantageous in this regard.
Carb cycling means that you have days throughout the week where you lower your carb intake and then you follow those days up with a higher carb intake. There are lots of different ways to do it, depending upon your training cycle, but typically speaking low days are off days, high days are before harder training days in your program and regular intake occurs during days whereby you might be training a body part that is already strong for you. To find what works, you just have to experiment and have patience with the process.
Strategy #2: Deplete and Load
Speaking from a position of experience, the deplete and load strategy has proven to be the best method for this writer, and it has worked very well for many others too. Energy wise, carb cycling is probably a better strategy for having fuel in the tank to train your hardest all throughout the week, but for some of us, it isn’t always the best course to follow for getting lean. When you deplete and load, essentially what you are doing is putting yourself in a caloric deficit for the majority of the week followed by a day or two whereby you put yourself into a significant caloric surplus.
The idea is that while depleting and, in a deficit, your body will utilize stored body fat and glycogen to fuel your training and as a result of that, your overall body composition will change in your favor. Then, on the day you refeed, it’s like you are stoking the fire again and reviving up your metabolism so that while you begin to deplete again, your body is in overdrive trying to burn off the unexpected calories you consumed on your loading day and that internal process will carry over into the days you are in a deficit and therefore burn additional body fat. This strategy isn’t for everyone and it can sometimes be a long week before you get to your refeed day, but it does seem to work well.
Strategy #3: IIFYM
The final strategy might be better suited for someone who appreciates variety in diets or needs to be able to eat different types of foods to appease cravings, live a more balanced life or just doesn’t see the need to be as strict and calculated as the first two options mentioned. The ‘If it Fits Your Macros’ movement has gained a lot of popularity and for good reason. People are seeing great results with this approach all while being able to eat pretty much whatever they want within reason.
Simply put, if you can find out and figure out how many grams of carbs, proteins and fats you need within a day to achieve your desired results, it doesn’t matter what foods those macro needs are made up of. So, one day you could be eating rice, chicken and avocado and the next you could be eating protein bars and French toast. As long as by the end of the day, you have fulfilled your nutritional needs, macronutrient wise, you should be good. You will find that there are many who disagree with this approach and say that it’s too loose to identify what is working and what isn’t, but for those who follow it and do so with success, say it’s the only way to go.
When all is said and done, nutrition will always be the most difficult part of the entire equation for building muscle. It isn’t easy to always be on point with your food and sometimes it’s even impossible due to unforeseen events that occur during your day which is why supplements have become so important and advantageous for those of us who use them. Products such as Athlete’s Superfood and Warzone Whey are perfect alternatives to support your nutritional needs in times when it’s tough to eat something of the whole food variety, so make sure you stock up on those two items so that you can maintain your nutrition regardless of what is going on in your day.
The best approach for manipulating your nutrition to reach your desired goals is the approach that you can sustain on a consistent basis. If that means you have the time to change things throughout the week with your carbs, then great. If you find it easier not to think about options, suffer a little bit and just wait it out until the weekend to fulfill your cravings, then do that too. If you want to be able to eat whatever you want and just control portion sizes, then awesome. Whatever works for you is what’s best for you and finding that, is about as advanced as it gets.
Author: Dana Bushell
Dana Bushell, a graduate of St. Francis Xavier University (BAHK, B.Ed) is an Educator, Writer, Strength and Conditioning Coach, Nutrition Advisor, Contest Prep/Lifestyle Coach and former competitive bodybuilder, who has been involved in the Fitness Industry for over 25 years. He has worked and written for major fitness publications and many popular bodybuilding sites, is a Gym Star Team member and works hard at teaching and promoting a fitness-based lifestyle in his career as a Physical Education Specialist.