In this article we will discuss how to avoid some dietary mistakes so that you can maintain your muscles and lose fat effectively. First I will talk a little about the negative impact on hormones when doing strict or very low calorie diets …
The thyroid function
The thyroid hormone regulates the body. Specifically, the thyroid helps regulate the amount of calories your body burns each day. It also affects muscle growth, speeding up or slowing down protein synthesis. A very strict diet can be counterproductive as it can cause thyroid hormone levels to drop. The result is that the body burns fewer calories.
When calories are cut too aggressively, testosterone (the hormone that supports muscle growth) declines, resulting in a compromised ability to “hold on” to our hard-earned muscle mass. Maintaining high testosterone levels is crucial so you can maintain muscle mass. It is also important to keep testosterone levels elevated because doing so helps reduce body fat. Testosterone does this through two processes. First, it increases the number of beta receptors (the parts of a fat cell that help break down stored fat) and second, it inhibits the activity of lipoprotein lipase (an enzyme that “sucks” fat out of the blood and stores it) near fat cells. The least we want as bodybuilders is a decrease in our testosterone levels.
To avoid this decrease in testosterone levels, I recommend cutting 300-500 calories a week. For example: if we are doing a 5000 calorie volume diet and from one day to the next we want to define, we cannot cut 3000 calories in one day, the most recommended would be 300-500 a week. So it would take a month or two to reach 2000 calories. With this we will maintain almost all the muscle gains since our testosterone levels will remain at normal levels.
The immune system
Your body’s immune system is like a security patrol that protects you from germs, bacteria, viruses, and anything else that can harm your body. Diets that are too strict, or diets that cut calories too fast or too long, can have a negative effect on the immune system. A weak immune system has a direct impact on your body’s ability to maintain muscles. Impaired immune function can also cause increases in cortisol, a stress hormone that destroys muscle and tends to lower testosterone.
Intelligent strategies for doing a definition diet
1. Eat less carbohydrates on rest days
What about the days off? Normally you should aspire to the recommendation of at least 2 grams of protein per kilo of body weight and even a little more when we are on this type of diet, as long as your carbohydrate consumption is sufficient. After all, you need carbohydrates to train and help support thyroid levels. However, on rest days, you can drastically cut carbohydrates. Consume approximately 50-100 g on your training-free days but increase your protein intake to 3-4 g per kilo of body weight on these days. Temporarily increasing protein while decreasing carbohydrates can improve the muscles’ ability to uptake glucose.
2. Don’t go overboard with cardio
There is no question that cardiovascular exercise is an effective strategy for fat loss. You burn calories and much of what you burn is body fat. But excess cardio, however, can be even more destructive to our muscle mass than the reduction of the important hormones already mentioned.
In other words, if you throw everything away trying to burn calories with cardio, you can lower the levels of hormones that help burn fat and build muscle. The result is that you end up terrible. The recommended thing so that this does not happen are 4 sessions a week of no more than 40 minutes of cardio.
3. Reduce carbohydrates by no more than 20%
If you normally eat 300 grams (g) of carbohydrates every day, don’t drop the amount below 150-200 a day. A 50% drop in carbohydrates is more than enough to encourage fat loss. Jumping straight onto an extremely low-carb diet can backfire. Remember the problem is not carbohydrates, but calories. This means that if we have a diet low in carbohydrates but high in calories, we will never burn fat!
4. Cheating at a meal
Eating fast food or high calorie-carbohydrate-fat foods once a week is not detrimental to our goal of burning fat, but only if we know how to do it. The most important thing is to know how many calories we are eating approximately in that meal and then not eat so much in the next meals … This way you will maintain the maximum calories of the established day.
For example: If every day I eat 2200 calories and I go off the diet by putting a 1500 calorie pizza, in the other meals I make that day I will only put 700 more calories, the problem is when I eat pizza and continue eating as if it were a normal day. This would give me 3500+ calories.
Dieting involves a cascade of metabolic processes and, as bodybuilders, we must adhere to the processes that support the reduction of body fat and discourage those that tend to reduce muscle mass. To do this, a moderate diet for a longer period of time is better than a severe diet for a short period of time.