There has been a long tradition and an ancient evolutionary predisposition in the fitness industry that winter is the bulking season. Summer has always been about getting lean and building that beach physique and winter on the other hand, christened as the bulking season allows you bump up the calories and gain a bit of weight. The tradition goes back to the time when bodybuilding competitions were limited to summers and winters was more about enjoying the holidays with your family. You would give your body the off-season rewards it deserved after grueling months of dieting and exhaustive training. This of course is changing with plenty of global federations hosting shows and expos year-round now.
So, I want to take this opportunity to highlight 5 critical pointers that will help you manage
your off-season routine with minimal collateral damage allowing you to “Have your cake and
eat it too’ 😉 let’s go.
1. Carbs are good! No, what? Carbs are evil!!!…………alright, let us break this down- carbs do not help to build muscle. They are simply a source of fuel. Do we need to eat carbs?Short answer, yes and no. Even if you do not feed your body carbohydrates and deprive it of glucose, the brain will find a way to produce glucose just in the right quantity to sustain cognitive activity and life. If you are someone who trains hard, carbs become
essential as a fuel source, however, there is always a way to load them strategically.Now, all carbs are different. You have simple carbs and complex carbs. What you need are the complex carbs and avoid the simple ones as much as possible, e.g. sugar, white
breads, white rice, pastas, processed food( processed foods are additionally high in sodium which makes you retain excessive water). The complex carbs on the other hand (starches and vegetables) E.g. of starch- brown rice, oatmeal, brown bread, etc. are high in fiber and low on the GI scale(the GI is a measure of how fast your blood sugar levels rise after a meal). Complex carbs do not spike your insulin instantly( insulin is the hormone in the presence of which fat loss will not happen. The less insulin you produce and the quicker you can get rid of it, the sooner you start burning fat. Hence complex carbs raise your insulin gradually and in much lesser quantity unlike simple carbs. When you eat complex carbs, insulin comes in and absorbs the glucose quickly and goes away.In case of simple carbs like sugar, it is just the opposite. In the complex category, you
also have vegetables which are probably the best source of carbohydrates in terms of insulin management and calorie density. They should form the largest portion on your plate followed by a fist size starch. Most people time their carbs around their lifting session to optimize results and control spill overs or fat storage.
2. Should you train morning or evening?- Well, the answer is you should look to train at atime when your body temperature is up. It is that simple. Evening sessions allow you to take advantage of the meals you have consumed during the day, especially if you are a seasoned lifter who likes to train heavy with weights. On the other hand, aerobic sessions done in the morning optimize fat burning and produce significant results due to
the body’s fasted state. My suggestion, keep switching between the 2 time and again.
3. Hydration- A sizeable population believes that the less water they drink the less the body will hold. Well, if wishes were horses, pigs would fly! Our body is a very intelligent machine and works in an extraordinary way. When you drink less water, the brain sends a signal that something is wrong and the body starts to pull water from other sources and retains more of it which results in that puffy look. So, you must consume adequate
water to ensure you don’t hold it on your face and other noticeable parts of the body( 2-3 liters and if you’re an active person ,make that a gallon to maybe a 1.5 occasionally). Another reason why people hold a lot of water is due to excessive consumption of carbohydrates. You see, 1 gram of carb holds about 2 to 3 grams of water by weight. So, if you like to eat a lot of cake and make merry, you better schedule your tailor visits more often than usual as your body will start storing excessive glucose over time which will sit on a tub of water within your physical environment. That is why low carb diets with plenty of water consumption, deplete your fluid levels and get you to achieve that dry look. ( there is a strategic way of doing this and we can pick it up again in another article)
4. Training frequency- never go more than 3 days without a workout. You see when you train with weights and break muscle, I assume your move things that are heavy every once in a while, the process of recovery starts around the 36 to 48 hour mark and our body starts crying out loud for another workout. So, give it what it needs and ensure the frequency is consistent. Always train as heavy as you can for as many repetitions as
possible. Do not try to lift as heavy as the biggest guy in the gym. The rule of thumb is- pick a weight that will let you see flashes of light by the time you get to 7 or 8 reps. That is indicative of the heavy load and is a good barometer of optimal strength utilization. When you lift heavy and do it as many times as possible, you recruit type 2 fibers which are essentially responsible for muscle building( hypertrophy). The more lean muscle you
carry in your body, the better your metabolism which will result in more calories being burned at rest. ( I have explained this in plenty of my videos and articles in details)
5. Every time we start a diet program, we tend to recompose our diet by eliminating one or the other food groups completely, mostly fats or carbs. Both macronutrients ladies and gents, are essential and should be consumed adequately to ensure your body works efficiently. Low carb diets tend to deplete you off excessive water(as explained above) which results in losing minerals and electrolytes ( the more you pee and sweat, the more electrolytes you lose). Same with dietary fats. They help in hormone production and provide the body with the right amount of energy required to absorb nutrients and regulate body temperature. Lifestyle and diet changes over the long run can get stressful. So, consider supplementing with omega 3 fats and minerals alongside a nutrient dense diet rich in protein, vegetables, and good quality dietary fats.
So, go along and reset your kitchen shelf this winter folks and make sure to move something heavy as always. Here is wishing you a very Happy and safe Diwali. Burn the maximum calories you can and keep off them crackers!
Until next time, we lift therefore we are!