Do I Need to Diet?

Fitness, Lifestyle

 

KEYWORD ‘NEED’ mere desire or requirement? All too often do I observe people’s rationale for last minute dieting, cleansing, juicing and seemingly tactial starvation. 

Holidays and works parties aren’t logical justifications of the above. If you really cared about your body or general appearance enough to do something about it, you wouldn’t be far off in the run up to such a time months before. It’s only the beckoning realisation of the things you cannot have alongside a good body that breaks the EMERGENCY F’ IT GLASS to which the contents inside are fat burners and quick fixes.

Fast dieting so late in the game is a nightmare for hardgainers and those with a fast metabolism, considering how hard it is to preserve any progress on even less food and a much higher output. In addition, quick fixes and the like only have bearing on satisfying the short term, they might reduce bloating and water weight, improving body composition somewhat, but they are still compromising ideals which require consistent factors purely to maintain. A 4 plate squat fuelled by 4000+ calories does not equate to 5 plates when eating a 1000 more, nor does acquiring a leaner state warrant overindulgence just because you’re further ahead than before. Do you need to diet? Or stick to that which brought you results previously. For weight loss and body composition, said approaches may bear a different response each time; stress factors, TDEE and lifestyle changes, time being on your feet throughout the day. It’s not necessarily how long you spend in the gym, how many hours of cardio you do a week or how many days you can tick some form of exercise tick off, it’s the rest of the time in-between. I bang on about recovery but just because you’re not working does not mean you’re resting. Drinking on a night out, EVEN IF it’s not a late one, might put you to sleep faster, but you are not really sleeping, you’re merely sedated. The same thing goes for justifying smoking a joint before you go to bed, if you cannot sleep without it, is it serving you a purpose anymore or are you dependant on being sedated to function.

If you don’t need to diet, and you firmly grasp your list of do’s and don’ts well enough not to guilt fast and guilt sweat, it’s easy. It’s failing to acknowledge your downfall and making use of this realisation which is hard.

ALCOHOL>

DRUGS>

STRESS>

PEER PRESSURE>

BOREDOM>

WHEN IN ROME>

How do we act upon these states of influence when it means justifying a guilty pleasure or something entirely regretful afterwards. Is it lack of will power or do we merely fail to acknowledge the above in their forthright bearing over our decisions, as we cannot decide for ourselves half the time.

Mere desire or requirement? No justification needed for a drink after a stressful week, so what if every week was stressful. We are still peer pressured into that which we may not want to partake, is it merely influence or control, do you need someone else to dictate what to eat, where to go, what to wear, what if they told you to diet? Then it would be an insult. It seems we only care when it means harming our image, but the very thing holding our image together is self control, conviction and security in ourselves, Do you need to diet? No, but are all your friends ‘skinnier’, maybe I should diet? ‘fitter’, maybe I should run? ‘funnier’, Maybe I should laugh more? ‘smarter’ Maybe I should read more? Are these justifiers or motives? Does your motivation come from other people or from means so unwaveringly deep rooted that no lapse of competition or stance of trend beside yourself will contest to it.

DIET, EAT LESS? WHY? WHEN? WHAT?

A diet doesn’t just mean eating less, or more restricted, it merely outlines a list of things which are conducive to a said goal or approach, MORE calories being the premise of a predominantly STRENGTH orientated diet. This doesn’t necessarily mean it is a green light on junk food and multiple Dominoes visits, though this may help appreciating your discretion. While strength and weight may be a useful gauge of progress, it should not be a fixed determiner for irrational eating. If strength may be down during a prolonged cut, consider what your end goal will depend more on, strength or body fat %. In an ideal world we would all like to be as strong, as lean and as fit as possible, but these are often three different rings on a venn diagram which are interlinked by exercises that still need independant bearing.

Somehow it’s almost for the sake of making a point of how hardcore people are for their justification of doing so, but realistically, a few weeks of hard dieting won’t do much in the grand scheme of things. Here the WHY has not really been a strong enough WHY, but more of a HOW long it will be until the next bigger WHY comes.

A HOLIDAY? IT GOT CANCELLED

DIET STARTS MONDAY? SEE YOU A WEEK NEXT MONDAY

LOW CARB HIGH PROTEIN? YES BUT WHY?

INTERMITTENT FASTING? WHY?

Be your own devils advocate and question the reasons for going on a diet or changing your eating habits before you have the option to be corrupted by everyone else’s rationale. It might even be worth working out what your DOWNFALL is before you even consider to diet, if it is even necessary, the premise to which the thing/things holding you back may prevent any resolve with eating habits, found above “>…”

So how do I know what my downfall is and how do I fix it? If only it were that simple.

My next blog will discuss what my biggest downfalls have been and how I resolved them.

Jake

 

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Should I Do Cardio?

Lifestyle

This comes at a time to which the topic at hand is becoming much more significant to my routine. In previous posts I have discussed an number of different ‘Should I…”s in the hope of shedding light on things I have tried, their benefits and whether they can have practical application to your lifestyle. Although cardio is something that always finds itself on the back-burner of the to-do list, it is definitely something that simply cannot be overlooked as far as improving general physical fitness capacity and body composition. While it is possible to be reasonably lean without having to buckle over your feet with boredom for an hour everyday, there’s certainly more to cardio than just the monotony we deem it so.

Take a typical high intensity resistance session; physically demanding, prolonged rep ranges and little rest, do we find ourselves exerted in later stages from said components or are we simply not fit enough? Would having a better CV capacity enable us to work beyond the barrier of breathlessness? Recovery and resilience between sets, especially at the upper limits of ones threshold may certainly be a useful feat to muster, notwithstanding everything else that comes with output at 100% or close to it. How much would that extra time award us in hindsight? more time under tension, more, reps, less can’t, more do.

HIIT- The buzzword of all buzzwords, the ‘H’ being ‘High’ and the first ‘I, Intensity’ Not, ‘Slow>maybe a bit harder>back to slow when I get tired>repeat’. This should be at the very top 90-100% of your threshold followed by an intermittent recovery period, the shorter this period, the more difficult and the more conditioned you will become to output at a higher rate with less rest. Despite Joe Wickes and other celebrity trainers milking HIIT, it is challenging and does break up the monotony of continuous cardio training. However, people seem to quantify HIIT work in sweat –I am sweating a lot therefore it must be doing something– rather than applying variations of different intensities in a systematic fashion, monitoring its effect on A. CV fitness and B. Body composition because ultimately, B is the end game for most people.

Another issue with ONLY doing HIIT is that everything else will now feel less responsive and/or not as difficult, and not all exercises are effective when performed in this fashion. General conditioning work and anything that gets you heart racing enough can bode well with everything else that comes with staying fit, but without being able to quantify where you’re at, you will struggle to gauge where you can realistically improve.

Take a 500m row, this should take most active people less than 2 minutes to complete, in and amongst a warmup row or HIIT training, such a test will gauge where you’re currently at. Performing this to time after a cycle of continuous or interval training will further indicate how quickly you are recovering –the closer the base time, recovery must be improving–  This can also be done at 1 and 2,500 metres if you tend to do more continuous cardio, which surprisingly burns into fat stores at a much more greater capacity than HIIT.

So how many hours a week should I do cardio?

Depending on your fitness goals, having an active job may suffice for general fitness albeit the lifestyle and food choices one may surfeit to conflict. I would recommend doing some form of physical activity each day and something that challenges you on three specific days i.e

Monday- 30 mins/ 1 hour continuous bike

Wednesday- 2,500m row for time

Friday- Stepper or Elliptical intervals 10-15 minutes at 50%- 90%

40/20- 40 work/20 rest

or
30/30- 30”/30”

or
20/10- 20”/20”

Rather than me protest the importance of cardio, fully aware of people’s distaste with monotony and/or hard work, getting the amount right will work wonders for your overall body composition, whether that be in conjunction with heavy weight training, yoga or all competitive sports.

Now that I have completed my further studies for level 4 PT I do plan to post at least every week on various topics which may be of use to active individuals and fitness enthusiasts. I will be featuring 30 day challenges and transformation packages to purchase on my new website so keep your eyes peeled and follow @jakedarcyfitness on IG if you haven’t already.

Jake 👊

 

 

 

 

Sacrifice, Structure & Setting up for Success in 2017

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

January is always a perfect time to consider change. Now –clean slate in hand– finding ourselves much more open-minded to the passing opportunity of general self-improvement, we can once again acknowledge both just how quickly a year can pass and how little we have to show for choices productive or otherwise in retrospect. It’s not until we are faced by a tangible indication; +10 lbs on the scale; -£10 on a bank statement, do we then wonder where things went downhill and reassess the collective contribution to such a point in time rather than just one big lapse of judgement. The first ‘S’ in setting up for success would be the realisation of what aspects of your ‘downtime’ can be considered absolutely necessary in order to plough through monotony. The potential ‘Sacrifice’ should concern that which may be reassessed as excessive, weighing no positive bearing on your quality of life and quite possibly making it unnecessarily problematic. While this may sound like a contradiction in the sense of suggesting a lifestyle change, whereby an entity offering enjoyment is potentially reduced or replaced, the key lies within volume, moderation and managing future dependancy. Volume in that a particular planned amount of X or Y is adhered to more rigorously, whilst being able to justify said amounts across a specified time frame i.e hourly alcohol consumption, daily caloric goal or total weekly amount spent gambling. Moderation in that a week of excess should be followed by at least two weeks of rest –and digest– reiterating the value of enjoyment without a habitual downward spiral to ill-health. Finally, managing future dependancy; being aware of that which is conducive to become habitual, watching the football at home every other week to cut out a day of drinking, eating a piece of fruit instead of drinking a coffee, avoiding certain places or groups of people likely to corrupt your good intentions –yeah thats a hard one–<<

These cover an array of potentially addictive aspects of ones particular lifestyle; from a single habit considered immediately harmful; smoking, to that which can arguably bring both happiness and malcontent in excess, chocolate. So lets take an average day of both working and sleeping for 8 hours, the remaining 8 being the void between work and pleasure; what makes the previous and following day bearable? Is said downtime condensed into the 48 hours of the weekend? Does a 2 day binge come with the cost of another two days? Ultimately, we are told that everything is potentially harmful in some way shape or form; pollutants in the air, chemicals in our water and now light of unsavoury hormones in the milk that we pour on our Corn Flakes. One may drink whisky, eat red meat and live till the next century whilst another may exercise everyday, avoid gluten, not see their 40’s and vice versa. So where does this leave us in retrospect? Cut out the things we enjoy just to warrant a comfy bed and 4 walls of a retirement home or excessively indulge on the things we would take for granted in years to come just to say that we had ‘lived’?

SACRIFICE- to give up (something valued) for the sake of other considerations.

As we find ourselves in the middle of ‘Dry Jan’ –using alcohol as an example– one may attribute abstinence positively –money saved, energy and health replenished– or negatively –overwhelming boredom and the chronic ‘fear of staying in’– presenting us all with our own realisation of either an urge or now dissonance to our potential vices, one which has taken the turn of a New Year to illuminate. As we have previously mentioned the collective contribution of choices as opposed to a single lapse of judgement, it can be said that both structure and habit are genetically linked in their nature to either assist or pollute our routine. That being said, would it be better then to systematically structure inevitable vices and habits into our routine if they cannot be completely removed initially? Focusing solely on the point to which downtime becomes excessive and ‘benefit’ becomes hindrance. I myself have came to realise that as long as you can make a sufficient contribution to change and self-improvement overall, a systematic application of that which may not be considered constructive, on the odd day, wont be enough to hinder your new positive direction. An example of this could be an attempt to exercise in advance to an inevitable session, planning to be active and outdoors on a hungover day, rather than channelling the sloth.

Being aware of justifying aforementioned choices, making conscious decisions to reduce or remove excessive vices and habits completely, is something that does take time. If we look back 12 months are we sitting in the same position, with the same goals and same barriers distorting our view? In another year could we be potentially closer? Highlighting the problem and making those sacrifices which may not provide us with a somewhat immediate alleviator of stress or a proponent of enjoyment, but may collectively contribute to a better quality of life beyond situational and temporary satisfaction.

JAKEDARCYFITNESS 👊

 

Bingeing, Sugar Intake and Improving Insulin Sensitivity

Lifestyle

If you ask the majority of people what would be the one thing that they are habitually disposed to and/or often succumb to in excessive amounts, it’s always going to be sugar. Going back to the input/output notion of previous posts concerning fat-loss and weight-gain, overconsumption of sugar even alongside what one may arguably consider ‘regular exercise’ could still disrupt the typical routes to which glucose can be sufficiently absorbed and regulated by the body. These routes being either to the liver or a physically stimulated process which replenishes depleted energy stores in the muscle following sufficient exercise, the stored form of glucose being glycogen. Whether you seem to be blessed with a genetic exemption to snacking on mostly quick energy-releasing sugars as opposed to slow release complex carbohydrates without storing the excess, be aware of how such rationale to certain food choices may often instil an array of problems both short and long term, complimentary to the looming dissonance between energy levels and overall mood. 

For someone that either skips breakfast or has a big hit of sugar early on in the day, such a habit may potentially yield further appetite for the typically ‘bad’ calories, thus cultivating both an irregularity of sound and sustainable energy along with an ever looming malcontent. In terms of justifying said calories following a period of starvation, consider how blood sugar takes a similar route as gravity, in that prolonging a gradual ‘ascension’ phase will only make the latter direction much more of a dive than a gradual decline. If we look at a potential negative of the ‘Juicing Craze’ regardless of whether a smoothie is made up predominantly of nutritionally sound vegetables and greens, most that would happen to incorporate the obvious ‘nicer’ fruits regularly into the equation are oblivious to the averse effect high blood sugar may have on Insulin. Insulin –the hormone secreted by the pancreas–  will attempt to stabilize an excess of glucose in the blood, but alike the receptors which regulate the amount of serotonin in the brain, said pathways become overworked, making their once resounding efficacy redundant over time. Insulin resistance, commonplace for someone diagnosed with medical type I Diabetes, may potentially be a likely prospect for an individual inducing similar symptoms through poor diet and lifestyle, the main precursor to often non-hereditary type II.

‘OK I delve a bit too much on the sugar front now and again but I wouldn’t say its as bad as that!’ Well the amount consumed may not be in the range of pre-diabetes and aforementioned medical illnesses anytime soon, but a slow destructive sequence starting with overconsumption and continuing on to an ultimate guilt fuelled binge is equally important to both identify and thus prevent. In a 24 hour period our moods and energy levels fluctuate in respect of the nature of our environment, they determine the important parameters to which we may work or engage in physical activity, eat and sleep. It is these factors which determine Homeostasis, a physiological equilibrium which can be crucial in stipulating the terms of our body’s susceptibility to lose or conversely gain weight. So apart from the obvious solution of eating less sugar even less frequently throughout the day and considering longer-lasting energy sources, what can be implemented to prevent energy crashes and guilt-fuelled sugar binges?

1. More healthy fats – These will delay a sudden rise in blood glucose when combined with certain carbohydrates. We hear of them all the time; nuts, avocado and Extra Virgin Olive Oil being the staple components of the low carb holy trinity if you like, but there are plenty more that are going to ensure a substantial energy reserve for when fuel/food may be scarce at certain points throughout the day. –going overboard and increasing the number of triglycerides in the bloodstream excessively would make the liver resistant to insulin just like sugar– bringing us on the golden ‘M’ of a healthy and sustainable diet.

2. Less restriction, moderation– Unless a caloric deficit or restriction is necessary to your weight loss program or if sticking to certain foods is the only way to stay on track, don’t stress about the odd lapse of judgement unless you know that it would have a detrimental impact on your progress in toto. Factor in foods that you enjoy when applicable, if you take a mile from the initial inch it may set you back a mile.

3. Less caffeine more water– This is definitely one with great relevance to my typical day. Excessive energy drinks both peaking energy and sapping it completely, increasing the likelihood of headaches and possibly dehydration. Along with suppressing natural appetite to a degree, making a meal or eating window less attractive thus decreasing overall satiety.

4. Eating around and for physical activity– Plan out what parts of the day are going to need more energy and effort than others, whether its an exerting gym session or long shift at work, better caloric distribution will optimise both the energy system and overall mood, making you less temperamental and more productive.

5. Satiety not starvation– As we’ve mentioned those who often justify certain bad food choices with earlier skipping of meals, unsubstantial displacement of calories will only prolong further cravings that end in a food coma or in the fridge at 2am. On the flip side, starvation will only make physical exertion more difficult, increase stress and potentially lower your immune system, so choose your eating habits wisely.

Please follow JAKEDARCYFITNESS if you haven’t already,

I will also be taking on new clients in December for online nutritional coaching and personal training so feel free to contact me at @jakedarcy098@hotmail.co.uk or by direct message. 👊

Grenade Fatburner Vs Dexaprine XR

Review, Supplementation

If we can establish the most generic application of fatburners into one’s diet, it’s going to be that point of desperation during the weeks that precede a summer holiday. Now that this time has passed, this is purely aimed at anyone still considering either of the two fat burners specified in the near future. I have already covered the precarious instance of substantiating good whole foods with supplements in Over supplementing your diet  and Should I take ‘fat-burners?’ making this comparison one that feeds into the argument of significant diet changes –either temporary or permanent– VS overall output. 

First we need to consider the actual potency and further practical application of each product. This is due to the fact of paying for something that requires a somewhat dietary cleansing may be enough to provide results, over a concoction of questionable ingredients in the product itself. Most often that not, the diuretic properties of caffeine in high amounts may easily overshadow the less renowned and less concentrated fat burning compounds, to propel such a simple addition of common black coffee to the forefront of weight loss increments in toto. Such application is more common than those looking for more extreme and most likely more potent supplements to assist fat loss, although recent marketing of said products, factored in alongside somewhat ‘quick-fix’ plans has led to an increase in intrigue and ultimate demand. 

Now depending on ones general caffeine consumption, susceptibility to stimulants and the ability to take capsules on an empty stomach, both products –more so for someone with a physically exerting job– may not exactly culminate an ideal situation for the everyday. This is due to the fact that jittery and sweating sensations  can be expected on the first few occasions of taking them. More often than not, using fatburners in high amounts can burn out your endocrine system to the point of making significant effects redundant after prolonged usage. If the rating of each product below can illustrate this juxtaposition of strength and possible ‘side effects’ any further, I may add that a higher rating/ 👊👊👊👊👊 may not always be indicative of ‘better’;

                                         Grenade                      Dexaprine XR

Jitters                             👊👊👊                      👊👊👊👊👊

Flushes *face*            👊👊                           👊👊👊

Sweating                       👊👊👊                      👊👊👊👊

L-Lasting Energy       👊👊👊                      👊👊👊👊👊

Appetite suppression👊👊👊                     👊👊👊👊

From a contrast of effectiveness in relation to energy and appetite suppression along with somewhat quantifiable side effects, one may expect that Dexaprine XR would seem like the most effective product overall? Well numerous acquaintances that match myself on susceptibility to stimulants and somewhat rigorous application of them in an active lifestyle do also concur with my thoughts of it being simply too intense for the everyday. The overwhelming side effects whilst using Dexaprine XR may likely subside after prolonged use, although I would add that the attraction of implementing such a product into a lower carb diet for example, is one that would bear extremely fast yet consequently reversible results in similar time frames.

Moreover, using a product packing this much of a punch would only bear significant benefits in the short term, as resounding as they are; burning just as many calories walking rather than HIIT could definitely be too big of an opportunity not to try at least once. It all boils down to tolerance, one that may be the deciding factor in whether you can carry 1 bag as opposed to the usual 2, can push through jitters adding up cells on a spreadsheet or simply spend your lunch break with your head in a fridge.

In an attempt to avoid a tedious listing of both product ingredients and numerical values, here they are purely for further reference;

Grenade-

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-11-40-41

Dexaprine XR- *DMAA Free*

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-11-43-21

One aspect of fat burning supplements frequently overlooked despite its importance is their appetite suppressing element.Bitter orange peel or ‘Synephrine’ is the main component of both products, the precursor of the adrenaline-like rush leading to reduced appetite. To compare the 420mg of Synephrine in a serving of Grenade, Dexaprine XR’s proprietary blend of 805mg could mean that any of the listed ingredients may be featured in any amount, to the dismay or preference of someone only having to take one capsule for an equal or surpassing effect to Grenade. The ambiguity across such a list of components may defect potential users, a clear indicator to always check the contents of a product before buying and certainly before trying.

To conclude it seems that most of the attention has been acquired by IForce’s Dexaprine XR, although this is more for insight and warning as opposed to recommendation. Sure this product has considerable potential as a somewhat no holds barred stim’, but should be approached with caution. Grenade’s Thermo Detonator offers a much more sustainable and more applicable alternative to harsh side effects of most other fat burners on the market. These tend to bear infamous banned stimulants such as DMAA, Ephedrine and various nieces and nephews of the amphetamine family. Grenade incorporates a solid base of proven and effective ingredients without those which tend to peg up question marks on not only their application but safety. Grenade seems to do near enough everything that IForce’s product does without as many side effects and without the fear of such strong sensations refusing to subside in the near future.

Please go and follow my IG JAKEDARCYFITNESS  👊

Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

While there are a number of benefits and drawbacks of intermittent fasting, one may consider it a somewhat extreme approach. Due to the duration of a typical ‘fasted’ period, a lot of people may implement I.F into their daily routine without realising, yet it is a term which some namedrop as a means of asserting their knowledge and overwhelming those as though it has been the best kept secret of the last few decades. Ultimately, fasting diets aren’t new to the fitness community, nor should they be packaged and sold to an unsuspecting ‘client’, amongst every other fad and scam, they are just another option for weight loss. For Muslims during this month of Ramadan, fasting will commence at dawn until sunset, making the time in-between a critical period of replenishing the first days energy stores whilst substantially covering the second. The more generic application of intermittent fasting which many athletes and the like endorse with the goal of ‘fasting to utilise fat as energy’ has certainly awarded I.F both intrigue and scrutiny even more so.

The fasted period requires the individual to refrain from consuming anything containing calories. For muslims, water and even chewing-gum must not be touched during said time, yet it is common for the majority of the non-religious to drink water, with an exception of zero calorie drinks –likely containing caffeine– to surpass the initial hunger upon waking or further cravings post-workout. Ultimately, the total calories consumed during the ‘eating’ period total a day like any other, which is often the scepticism of intermittent fasting in toto. Yes, only so much of the nutrients consumed during such a period may be sufficiently absorbed and utilised at once, yet it is often the restriction of intermittent fasting which makes it a valuable tool against the downfall of us all, snacking.

For people that may fast for around nineteen hours and eat for five, the aforementioned restriction will almost certainly delight a smart eater to choose the next foods wisely, one with energy and performance at the mercy of one unfulfilling snack. Consuming foods that are calorically dense will ensure a consistency of energy, as opposed to an incidence of irregular peaks and troughs –see Summer Blues & The ‘Juicing’ Craze— a spike in blood sugar, a crumble to cravings. So what can you expect from a typical day of intermittent fasting? Well it can be said that a lot of people struggle to eat first thing in a morning. Whether this is due to the fact that they can’t stomach food so soon upon waking or preparing breakfast gives them even less time in bed, there must be some relief to missing the ‘most important meal of the day’?

The problem lies with the fact that missing breakfast makes the rest of the day a mere game of catch up. One that may not go down so well for someone that only gets an hour lunch –or even less– whether it’s all day at a desk or one of ‘hard graft’ Blood sugar and cravings aside, the short term reward aspect of food either during a break or at the end of such a day would entice anyone without an ever-looming date requiring them to look their ‘best’ So how could Intermittent fasting solve this problem? Well I myself am not one to eat pre-cooked meals out of tupperware at various inconvenient points in the day, despite the incline to others. I don’t believe this is necessary to satisfy the more generic goal of overall health and weight loss, but alike I.F, it is a systematic approach which reiterates the importance of food choices. The freedom of choice is a concept that most people looking into the lifestyles of those eating to fuel rather than enjoy, burden themselves into the abyss of snack-filled binges. Although it is these times in which we can reassess the value of foods, now that only the initial enjoyment has any bearing, to a diminishing course of habit.

Fasting reinforces the value of foods that may not be deemed necessity, and highlights the inconvenience of foods containing redundant or ‘sabotaging’ macros, yielding only a short term relief in a 24 hour period. Said macros may total one’s overall caloric intake, yet may still be a fraction of the nutrients required to support a demanding workout routine or busy lifestyle in general. All in all, intermittent fasting is a useful tool for those who tend to eat later on in the day, and can appreciate the fact that snacking as opposed to consuming substantial meals is often a familiar occurrence.

For anyone that’s interest here’s an illustration of the typical fast/feed splits of Intermittent fasting, use at your pleasure or at your peril.

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 23.55.05.png

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JAKEDARCYFITNESS

What is Carb-Cycling?

Lifestyle
By now we’ve covered the main dietary practises which contribute to changes in body composition; ‘lean bulking’, which consists of strict caloric control in a surplus –the point that proceeds maintenance– and ‘cutting’, a gradual reduction of carbohydrates, when completely necessary. So just like the need to reinforce a reduction of carbohydrates with healthy fats to ensure sound energy levels, it is equally essential to refuel the now depleted glycogen stores as a result. Carb cycling is one of the many methods used by bodybuilders and professional athletes that need to ‘make weight’ without sacrificing energy and thus performance. It supports meticulous manipulation of macronutrients to such a degree that it acts in similar ways to that of sodium and water manipulation, a progression that may seem extreme to the everyday dieter, yet it is highly effective nonetheless.
Now depending on how much one may aim to lose and whether or not carb cycling is absolutely necessary, it is a process that requires consistency. Most people tend to split a week into days of eating either ‘low’, ‘medium’ or ‘high’ carb. This is an attempt to utilise potential fat stores as energy during ‘low’ days, to then maintain the foundation and preserve as much muscle as possible during the remainder. The extent to how much muscle –as opposed to fat–  is used as fuel is a fear know as going ‘catabolic’ the antithesis of ‘anabolic’ a notion bearing yet another marketing upheaval for ‘post workout’ supplements and the like. Ultimately, and this is assuming that you have a somewhat solid foundation of muscle to begin with, you probably won’t be going ‘catabolic’ you just won’t be looking as full on less carbs and therefore less water. Recognising that this process will do exactly that whilst being able to sustain on less fuel without re-carbing at every opportunity, will provide a visual bearing on potential weight loss in the days that follow. If you can imagine someone that is preparing for a photoshoot or stepping on stage for a competition, one that requires the individual to be in ‘peak’ condition, it would have required a long process of looking nothing like what you see in pictures to obtain the eventual desired outcome. In this regard, if you’re considering carb-cycling in conjunction with physically demanding sports or training programmes, be aware to prioritise the bulk of your macronutrients around days that require optimal effort.
There’s no magic number when it comes to ‘low’ days, and almost every initial carb-cycle is complete trial and error. Depending on the goal and the time frame in which this is to be ascertained, one may implement three, four or even five consecutive low days followed by a ‘re-feed’ –high day– For the most part, ‘re-feed’ days assists specific points in a diet which may have progressed to lower numbers, granting both a physio’ and psychological break from quite simply, systematic malnourishment. This is not the same as a ‘cheat day’ and while the mental implications of purging certain food cravings are beneficial, overindulging could potentially set you back a few days of hard dieting. In terms of energy stores and using carb cycling to the most effective degree, most people tend to put high days or ‘re-feed’ days either the day of or a day before a heavy/demanding split i.e legs or back. This ensures that performance isn’t compromised, though it is equally essential to conserve energy in the form of doing more reps with less weight as opposed to burning out from chasing 1RM’s or PR’s.
‘So do I need to carb cycle to lose weight?’
No. Carb Cycling is certainly a useful tool that one can implement to assist further weight loss, but it is not the only one by any means. As we have previously referred to a gradual reduction of carbs in ‘Should I start ‘Cutting’? it would be just as effective to maintain such a process if it is providing results and ultimately showing on the scale. Carb cycling is more of a system which allows for a prioritisation of energy levels during periods where overall caloric intake is scarce, as carbohydrates are a fundamental source of energy. In situations where there has been a sudden drop in carbohydrates, or a significant increase in overall output, it is vital that said stores are substantially replenished, for them to continue to assist performance.
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Should I start ‘Cutting’?

Lifestyle

So like my last post concerning ‘The Lean Bulk Myth’, it is worth noting a few common misconceptions surrounding ‘cutting’ and the further implications improper practise of such a process can have on the body. While ‘bulking’ and ‘cutting’ are terms that are commonplace within the fitness community, a wider application of these norms on behalf of the everyday person has meant that the true function of each ‘extreme’ has now became somewhat misconstrued. Now I can respect the fact that there are plenty of guys and girls out there whose interests aren’t centred around fitness or competitive sports, but quite frankly, it is the malpractice on behalf of these types of people that is the source of the problem.

First of all you can’t just go and ‘cut’ carbs. Carbs are a fundamental component of any diet, the main source of fuel in fact, and like insisting on driving your car when the petrol light comes on, it’s risky business. Both misconceptions come from the literal ambiguity of ‘cut’ in context; this can either suppose a substantial reduction of carbs or even a complete removal of them from one’s diet entirely. If you’ve ever had personal training or any assistance concerning a particular diet, you’ll know that your trainer/dietician will more than likely incorporate gradual as opposed to abrupt alterations. In this respect, and here we’re focusing on carbs as opposed to overall calories, failing to be aware of the timing of such a reduction is the first mistake. Whether it’s a looming date for a holiday or one particular event where the clothes you’re planning to wear are a fair few inches too small, you want to avoid ‘peaking’ too early.

Now I can accept that everyone is at different levels in this regard, nevertheless, the first few lbs are always the easiest to lose, regardless of whether your approach is somewhat systematic or a straight up panic. People go on last minute holidays, may not have to time to exercise regularly or simply have not been informed on the correct ways to diet, but there’s a fine line between ‘cutting’ and straight up starving. What many won’t be aware of, and something that I have previously failed to apply to a reduction of carbs was the requirement of replacing them with healthy fats; olive oil, avocado, nuts etc. If anything is removed or reduced from your diet, most of the time, a levelling alternative is required. This does not condone spooning out a full jar of peanut butter by any means, but forms a somewhat caloric safety net at the base of summit you just jumped off by suddenly cutting carbs. If such a substantial reduction is absolutely necessary, attempt to work comfortably between the point of being full from clean sources and being able to function on less.

In addition, –and this tends to apply to girls more so than lads– while cutting carbs may seem like an opportunity that provides a somewhat immediate improvement, it only prolongs their effect and ultimate sensitivity, thus making bloating much more likely. Think about how the effects of alcohol are tenfold when you’ve had a significant break from drinking and how only a few may suffice an entire night. The body’s reaction to anything becomes much more averse in absence, and it’s the same with food. Not to mention a complete removal of something you clearly can’t live without isn’t exactly logical, alienating the restrictive nature of dieting by its connotations, the thing that prevented you from eating ‘X’ or ‘Y’. If ‘X’ or ‘Y’ for you was in fact ‘P’ for pizza, realistically there has to be some sacrifice somewhere, unfortunately.

So where does this leave us? Well regardless of whether you count macros, follow a rigorous diet, aim to gradually reduce carbohydrates or simply want to put an end to bad habits, energy is key. For a healthy guy that wants to gradually cut away at the subcutaneous fat covering a solid build of muscle, there may be a very fine line between burning fat or the hard work of winter. This makes a sudden reduction of carbs not only problematic in the preservation of muscular tissue but in the sacrifice of energy levels even more so. What I would suggest, and coming from someone eight months into a ‘bulk’ despite plans to go on holiday in June, don’t necessarily eat less, just do even more. Unless you’re competing for a show and being as lean as possible is a fundamental requirement, a week of looking half decent is definitely not worth the burden of having no energy for six, twelve or eighteen, believe me.

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A ‘Balanced lifestyle’, ‘IIFYM’ and ‘The usual tangent’

Lifestyle

With the overhaul of information in the modern day we live in, it’s extremely difficult to sieve through the useful and practical from the BS. Let’s face it, we’d all take the shortcut to our destination, despite the risk of getting lost in the process. With every cover model that you’re not ever going to look like, comes the expanse of advertising opportunities by magazines and supplement companies. Even though ‘ABS IN 28 DAYS’ or ‘DROP 10% BODY FAT’ might sound promising, these are just marketing ploys to optimise potential sales regardless of how effective the information is.

You won’t have to look very hard to find some sort of interpretation to the ‘balanced diet’ from TV ads and social media to that tatty ‘Now’ magazine stuffed down the chair at your local dentist. Who wouldn’t be intrigued by such a somewhat flexible approach to nutrition? It may not be physically possible to adhere to rigorous meal prep due to your job or maybe you don’t find yourself partial to piri piri cardboard, rice and broccoli . Maybe you’d like to incorporate clean, whole foods into your diet but find it EXPENSIVE and INCONVENIENT compared to fast food? I myself am also guilty of succumbing to such stodgy means whilst on the go, although I’d much rather resist this temptation of convenience in order to stay on track metabolically and actually see a ‘cheat meal’ for what it should be, a TREAT.

Macro counting is essentially adhering to a daily calorie target generated by personal numerical values such as age, height, current weight and goal weight. The extent of this system will depend on how much information you input, but most people tend to work out the calorific value of fats, carbs and protein. When you’re new to macro counting it definitely does seem trivial, along with the fact that MyFitnessPal won’t reflect your potential weight just by logging your calories, as there’s no such parameter that can account for metabolic rate or training intensity- accurately.  It will however, make you more conscious of your eating habits, flagging up a surplus or deficit of maintenance calories- the basepoint inbetween weight loss or gain. If you’re like me and eat pretty much the same week in week out, you’ll quickly pick up the values or ‘macros’ in foods that you regularly eat, so if reading the nutritional values on the back of your rice is like understanding The Matrix, youl only have to endure this once or twice.

Now with every health/fitness trend comes criticism in the light of those abusing such information, especially when a concept based on flexibility is taken to the extreme-  the ‘M’ in IIFYM being ‘MOUTH’ much like the eating habits of people that see the word ‘DIET’ as ‘DO.I.EAT.TODAY?’ to then justify an evening meal rammed with the worst kind of calories imaginable, as a reward for not eating. Some girls like to call the first part of this process ‘BEING GOOD’ and will probably stunt potential weightloss even more so by the extreme of 0 carbs to plenty.

I don’t understand how some people won’t even take the time to educate themselves on the basic fundamentals of what is considered- not by myself, ‘a balanced lifestyle’ ultimately we are all aware of the importance of presenting ourselves to capacity, much like the judgement our personal qualities receive, our bodies reflect just as much about who we are, whether that be extreme to some or otherwise.

I by no means follow what is considered to be an ‘extreme’ regime, but to someone unaware of the process acquiring a well-rounded physique is, understandably whatever you say is going to seem barbaric to them. Eating seven of the same meal throughout the day may be just as extreme to someone that eats heroin rather than steamed tilapia, but each to their own I suppose.

I do think though this may be one of the reasons why the men’s-physique-category-look has grown to be just as popular as that of a classic bodybuilder. Simply because it seems to be more attainable than the somewhat extreme attitudes toward training and nutrition prevalent in professional bodybuilding. Hence why there is definitely some snobbery between the physique-bodybuilding community, of course guys that have trained for decades on every last inch of their body are gonna be pissed off when someone that’s barely scratching the surface in terms of the technicalities that deem ones stature a ‘physique’ rather than just a marketable body.

Going back to a previous point made about the modern information overhaul we live in, I’ve came to recognise how one can effectively utilise such an abundance of knowledge, everything from fitness related YouTube channels or physiological explanations to nutrition and exercise at the click of a button. I believe such access in recent years has catapulted the standard of amateur guys to that of professionals, those once a small minority of applying aspects of bodybuilding to a more attainable look. Yet now, you wouldn’t find any successful physique/fitness figure that hasn’t stepped up at least 15lbs into the next category, so that they aren’t lost in the current of upcoming guys with even MORE POTENTIAL and even MORE KNOWLEDGE.

If you feel the ‘IF IT FITS YOUR MACROS’ approach to weight loss or even weight gain- depending on your goal-  may be beneficial to you, be sure to input all of the relevant information into either the IIFYM calculator or download the latest version of MyFitnessPal on the App Store.

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JAK3D 👊