[ Q ] Any new and interesting research on the topic of training or nutrition that could benefit my training? Specifically I'm trying to get ripped.
Firstly I would like to talk about research papers especially when it comes to new or revolutionary results seen. When a paper says it has significant results it usually means that there was a ninety five percent certainty that the results gained were due to the variables tested. Some papers use a higher value than ninety five percent; however the general level is set at ninety five percent.
What this means is that one in twenty papers could have gained there results due to pure chance and uncontrollable factors. As such when a research paper appears that goes against the majority of research already published a fair degree of skepticism should be employed. This is not to say the paper isn't valid, just that the results are only one part of a larger collection of evidence.
After all there are a number of papers out there that state creatine doesn't work, but the majority of scientific evidence (coupled with anecdotal) clearly shows it does. Considering this a careful review of references should be used especially when the evidence claims something which contradicts the vast body of scientific evidence already established.
This is when carefull evaluation of testing protocols and methodology become important rather than just believing what's said because it's in a peer reviewed journal.
Alright now that the lecture is over let me give you a bit of evidence that might aid your training. You said specifically that you want to become more ripped. It's clear of late that insulin plays a role in fat metabolism through its ability to inhibit the other hormones needed to break down fat (specifically LSH). Considering this, a good control of insulin is required (rather than the extreme measure of trying to totally remove its presence through a ketogenic diet).
Work by Lileberg and Bjorck (1998) showed that vinegar could slow the gastric emptying of a starchy meal. What does this mean? Basically by adding a low calorie vinaigrette to your salads with your starchy meals you could reduce the rate at which the carbs enter your system and ensure you don't get any undue insulin spike when you don't want it (basically any other time apart from post workout) but rather a more steady level.
This should aid your approach to getting lean, as more steady insulin and glucose levels will lead to greater satiety, less energy swings and you should be physiologically more set up for liberating fat as energy.
[ Q ] People say that when you're leaning down it's hard to build muscle due to the calorie deficit and lack of energy needed to build new muscle. Considering this should I reduce my protein levels during a dieting phase, as I do not need to lay down new protein (muscle) tissue. This would allow me to use the protein calories else were to fit in more foods I actually enjoy on a diet.
From my point of view I would say that protein requirements are elevated even more during a dieting phase. Whilst you're correct that building new tissue whilst in a hypocaloric state is damn hard, you do not want to reduce your protein levels.
During times when you are over consuming calories in an attempt to add muscular bodyweight the abundance of carbs and calories will act as a protein sparing factor, meaning that the protein consumed will be used for the purposes intended (new cell construction, enzymes etc) rather than deanimated and used for energy.
Walberg et al showed that when energy levels were reduced there was a corresponding increase in protein requirements for the same activity levels. This is logical as when you reduce your overall energy levels your body will try to find energy else where rather than tap into its stores (the bodies a stubborn SOB that doesn't like change). As such it converts protein into energy through gluconeogenosis.
My recommendations usually revolve around 1.75 - 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight of protein per day when you are in a hypercaloric state (i.e mass gaining diet), although even more may increase protein synthesis itself but that amount would be a good starting point. When you cut carbs or energy it's vital that you attempt to maintain nitrogen balance through maintaining protein levels.
If you are noticing significant loses in muscle tissue (not the obligatory couple of pounds initially seen due to fluid lose as glycogen levels go down) I would either increase up your energy through either more carbs (protein sparing) or raise your protein levels to compensate.
[ Q ] Is doing cardio on an empty stomach the best method for burning fat?
cardio on an empty stomach has been taken as a must do for bodybuilders trying to get lean. Is it the best method for burning off fat? Well that depends on how you look at it. When you wake up in the morning or have been fasting for any duration your body will have a lower level of glucose both circulating and stored as glycogen. Being in a hypoglycemic state will mean the body will have to find alternative fuel substrate, namely fat and in extreme cases protein.
Considering this exercising in the morning or on an empty stomach will mean a greater percentage of fat is used as energy because of limited glucose and the lipolitic inhibiting effects of insulin being absent.
However this is only half of the story. As with any physiological state there's pros and cons. Considering that glycogen and circulating glucose are limited there will be several consequences. Firstly you will probably notice a decreased intensity that you will be able to maintain a steady state at (technically termed your lactate turn point where you go from working predominantly aerobic to anaerobic which you will not be able to maintain for long).
Considering this you will be less likely to burn more total calories both through acute effect (energy required to do the activity) and through any increase in post exercise hypermetabolism which is seen when higher workloads are completed. As such even though you are burning a greater amount of energy from fat relatively speaking your overall energy levels are reduced, leading to less of a calorie deficit created.
Added to this would be the catabolic environment you would be putting yourself in through doing aerobic exercise in a glycogen depleted state. As I have mentioned previously in my articles reduced levels of glucose are usually accompanied through an increased level of the enzyme BC Oxoacid dehydrogenase which acts to break down muscle tissue for energy.
Considering this I would advise either two alternatives to exercising on an empty stomach. Firstly would be to have a small carbohydrate feed before hand. Even though you might shift to more glucose use as a fuel substrate you will burn off more total energy and will negate some of the catabolic effects.
Doing a shorter session will also avoid some of the catabolic results and will allow you to maintain a high intensity.
Performing a second short session later on in the day will then allow you to achieve the same overall calorie bun but you will have had a chance to refuel and replenish your glycogen levels.
If you want to be in a fat burning mode for your second session you could try to ensure that your last feed/meal before doing the second session was a combination of healthy fats and protein with minimal carbs which will again shift the metabolism towards carbs as lipid metabolites tend to inhibit glucose use.