Well, the past few months have not been fun; I have never really been through a serious cutting cycle so I really did not know what to expect or even do for that matter. However, I feel that all of the experimenting I did will pay off in the end, since I know now exactly how I'm going to approach a weight loss program in the future. But anyways, I'd just like to review/reflect on what I did this time around.
Probably the most important aspect of any cutting-up system, nutrition, is something that took me a very long time to master. After cycling off of creatine, I originally started out too slow with the fear that I would end up going overboard and crash dieting. Unfortunately, when the opposite occurred and I really did not see too many results, I actually did crash diet to overcompensate. While I saw a decrease in bodyweight from 230-222, I think that this was mostly all water from the creatine. The crash dieting, which subsequently followed, saw my bodyweight decrease to 217 over the course of three weeks. It was about this time that all my strength dropped; thus, I have the suspicion that this was where my body ate all of its muscle for fuel.
After this, I started getting smart about things. Despite the overall decrease of 13 pounds in bodyweight, I was seeing very little change in my appearance. I then started a new and very successful approach; carb variation/smart restriction.
With this strategy, I would consume a 'high carb' day followed by a 'medium carb' day, and ending with a 'low carb' day. I would then start the cycle over, working down to up and down again. But this is, of course, oversimplifying it; I try to have 'high carb' days fall on an off day where I can replenish glycogen stores for the next round of training days, but sometimes that just wasn't possible. Anyways, here is a breakdown of what each type of 'carb' day entailed.
Typically around 3,800 calories for a regular training day, 3500 for an off day, and 4,200 if I was working out twice. I would consume nutrients in a 35/48/17 carbs/proteins/fats ratio.
This was supposed to be just barely below maintenance level, so that would have meant 3,300 calories for a training day, 3,000 for an off day, and 3,500 if it was one of the dreaded double-workout days. The nutrient ratio was around 30/50/20 carbs/proteins/fats.
The dreaded day of hell, this was around 2,700 for a training day, 2,300 for an off day, and 2,900 for a double-training day. The nutrient ratio was 25/55/20 carbs/proteins/fats.
Types of foods
Well, a big mistake I made at first was eliminate all sugars completely. While my intentions were good (carbs have a lower effect on insulin levels prioritized over those that spike your blood sugars through the roof), I really was not very informed about this. While it's true that sugary products do tend to have a higher Glycemic Index (GI) rating (meaning they raise insulin levels thereby increasing the potential for nutrients to be stored as fat), that is not always the case. Foods like skim milk, fat-free yogurt, cottage cheese, and some fruits, while generally considered sugary, really have a surprisingly low GI index rating. Conversely, things like Rice Chex, white rice, and white bread are incredibly high.
Now this is not to say that all high GI foods should always be avoided; right after you workout is an opportune time to load up on these fast-acting carbs and jump-start your body's recovery. Be careful not to go overboard though; it's surprisingly easy to eat 8,000 calories at one sitting, especially if it's right after you get back form a brutal workout. Generally, I strive for around .5g/lb. of carbs for my post-nutrition meal; but if you absolutely have to cheat, now is the time to do it.
While general nutrition should be the backbone of any part of bodybuilding (cutting, especially), a few supplements can be used as well. I have profiled a few that I have had success with.
I have used Xenadrine, Hydroxycut, Ripped Fuel, Ripped Fuel Extreme, and Charge over time. While they all have different names, varying degrees of potency, and separate minor ingredients, they all are based on the ever-famous Caffeine/Ephedrine/Aspirin compound, often complemented with Chromium, L-Carnitine, etc.
All of these products are stimulants, meaning that they jumpstart your nervous system, producing a thermogenic effect; your blood pressure rises, heart rate increases, and body temperature jumps a little bit. This will give your metabolism a big kick into high gear, causing you to burn more calories throughout the day. Be warned though; these products are rather controversial, so please pay careful attention to the warning labels before using them. I may sound like a hypocrite when I say this, but they really aren't recommended for children under 18.
If you looked at the ratios for my diet, I'm sure you noticed that protein comprises about 50 percent of my calories. For a standard 3,500 calorie day this means 437.5 g protein. Now I've heard a million times that this is too much, and maybe it is; however, I'm just writing down what I've done and what I have had success with. My belief is that if you take all of this protein and divide it into eight or nine meals, you really are not ingesting that much in one sitting (40-50g a meal).
Regardless, I'm sure protein is a large staple in your diet; subsequently most people would opt for a powder of some sort. There are several types of powders that are generally available; Soy, Whey, and Casein or a blend of some/all of them. The optimal blend is a combination of Whey and Casein so that there is a quick influx of protein into your system from the Whey, and a more gradual release from the casein. Some products I've used are Pro-Fusion by Musclelink, Grow by Biotest, Nitrotech by Muscletech, and Methoxy-Pro by Cytodyne; I would recommend any one of these.
A great supplement in general is L-Glutamine. An amino acid, it is very useful to bodybuilders, especially when they are restricting their caloric intake. I used around 20g a day.
Another supplement which almost goes without saying is a multi-vitamin. Especially important when you're not eating as many foods and therefore not getting as many nutrients, this should be the most prioritized supplement in your arsenal.
Well, that was my method of approach to my brief weight-loss cycle. I think that much of this information you have either read or heard about in bits and pieces. My goal here was not to provide a theoretical approach, but rather a confirmed method tested and tried by myself. I do not claim to be an expert in sports nutrition and bodybuilding, nor do I profess to completely understand the intricate and complex system that is the human body; I'll admit, my range of knowledge is limited and certainly more so than others. Despite this, I feel that I may have some tidbits of information that may be useful to others.