Thursday, November 10, 2011

Adelfo Cerame - Road to The Wheelchair Nationals '12: Cheating Allowed! Another Beauty of Intermittent Fasting.

Image 1: Just graduated - Adelfo Cerame Jr. holds the lecture on "cheating"
When I just received Adelfo's email with his weekly progress update, I thought "Damn. He is just giving away things you had in stall for one of the next installments of the Intermittent Thoughts". In view of the fact that re-feeds, the particular value of the occasional high-carb meals on an otherwise low-carb diet and the widespread misconception that a single occasional binge could actually make you fat are so near and dear to my heart, that I think we (meanwhile I feel like Adelfo has become part of the SuppVersity staff ;-) cannot address these issues often enough. "Go ahead then, Prof. Cerame! Let the student's know about your dietary escapades!" And you, dear students, always remember: At the SuppVersity you learn everything it takes to succeed - even cheating ;-)

The four commandments of faithful cheating

I know I mentioned in last week's installment of my weekly contest prep blog that I would refrain from cheating on my meal plan or even re-feeding for the next couple of weeks, until either Christmas is almost their or my body was signalling me that it was about to time to refuel. Now, this past weekend, the occasion, or I should say, social obligations, called for it and ... I complied, realizing that the ability to cheat is another if not one of the most outstanding beauties of being on an intermittent fasting protocol!
Image 2: On Saturday night I had a medium rare double Angus burger with crisp cut seasoned fries which I washed down with seasonal pumpkin spiced ale! I finished off with a dessert: A triple chocolate pizookie. And to make sure I was really satisfied, I broke my fast on Sunday with 6 slices of pizza ;-)
As I mentioned, I had no idea that this was going to be a cheat day, when I woke up on Saturday morning, so I went about it like it was any other day: I trained fasted (this is something I only do on Saturdays, because I train in the morning, then), broke my fast at the regular time, which is around 3pm, and then went to go watch a football game. A couple hours later, I got a phone call from my family asking me if I wanted to meet with them at a restaurant for dinner... and guess what: I gladly accept - without hesitation! Now, you are probably even more surprised than my relatives, asking yourselves:

"Aren’t you preparing for a bodybuilding competition!? Why would you do such a thing!?""

To be honest, when I come to think about it, there is not just one, but rather a whole host of reasons for something so outrageous as being flexible with my diet ;-)
  • For one, I started my prep early and gave myself, 20+ weeks rather than the usual 12 weeks that had to suffice in the past. So the first reason is just a time issue: Taking your time to prep for a show does not only allow you to drop body flat at a lower and much more natural pace, is also gives you the dietary flexibility you need in scenarios like these.
  • Secondly, being on an intermittent fasting protocol, I was - despite a cheat - still within my caloric macronutrient range - after all, I had not had the typical 3-4 high protein, high carb meals your usual bodybuilder would already have gulped down, when I received the invitation. And though I may eventually have gone a little over my projected caloric inttake, that was not half as bad as it would have been, when I had eaten 2/3 of my daily allotment before I even arrived at the restaurant.
  • Thirdly, and on a related note, intermittent fasting, that is something I have come to realize allows, no IF almost forces you to "EAT BIG!", anyway. When it's about time to eat, you eat, you do not peck like a bird, you eat until you're full... and no, not just that "somewhat satisfied" or "just enough" type of being full you are persuading yourself into, when your brain is telling you that you are hitting your planned caloric intake. No, you'll think you had overeaten, feeling guilty with your two huge meals inside your slightly protruding tummy.... and yet, you are most likely still on slight caloric deficit. Personally, I've even had to re-check or re-count the calories and macros on days where I felt I might have eaten too much, only to realize that at the end of the day, my stomach was bulging, but I had barely hit my macros for the day.
  • Fourthly, I trained. When you train (heavy and intense, no sissy 30min walk on the treadmill), you have a little leeway (don't get me wrong and try to make up for binges by hitting the gym for hours - that won't work!), not because you burned so much calories (a hilarious concept, anyway), but because you have primed your body to make good use of the nutrients (remember you eat nutrients, not calories) you are consuming... but I guess you have learned all that already in the course of the past installments of the Intermittent Thoughts Series (esp. the article on the "Anabolic Barn Door"). And if I understood Dr. Andro correctly, he will have some very concrete examples of how you can make the most of this nutrient partitioning effect in the future installments on how to program dietary and athletic success.
  • And fifth- and lastly, this was a cheat/re-feed day. Although many of you probably would like to eat out with family every day, this is something you can do on special occasions, it is yet something you cannot do everyday! Used sparingly, re-feeds can kick-start your metabolism, fill glycogen stores and most importantly (!) maintain your psychological health and keep your friends and family happy ;-)
"What do you say?" No! One or two days of controlled cheating will not make you fat. You might put on some extra water weight, but that will be lost as soon as you get back on track, which - and I cannot stress that enough - is what distinguishes controlled binging as in re-feeding from the disordered binge-eating you may see in some hopeless dieters who are at the verge of developing a full blown eating disorder. 
Image 3: Me on Monday morning. As you can see, I did not put on any body fat. If anything, my muscles had more pop and felt fuller and my energy and strength in the gym were through the roof that Monday.
And if you still ain't convinced, think about it this way: If you eat like shit for 14 days straight, and then decide to eat healthy on the 15th day; will that make a difference? Probably not. So the same goes with cheat days, if you eat healthy the majority of the time and decide to have cheat days from time to time, it’s fine.  

You think you could use some advice on your own training, diet and supplementation regimen and want it from someone who obviously knows what it takes to build muscle and lose fat? You can reach out to Adelfo via Facebook.
Real men (and women) ain't scared of food.
                                     It’s all about balance and moderation.

Back in my previous preps, when I used to follow a more conventional bodybuilding-type eat-every-two-hours diet, my re-feeds would last the whole day, but ever since I began to fast intermittently, my cheat meals are within my feeding hours. In my humble opinion, this really maximizes the benefits you can reap from your re-feeds. Not only does the limited feeding-window prevent you from going totally overboard, it's actually also more enjoyable, because you do not have to stuff your face the whole day! Believe me, try having a cheat day, where you eat from morning to night - sounds fun? Well, I guess you have not tried that, yet! The first meal is always great, but by the third meal of the day, lethargy, sleepiness and that uncomfortable comatose feeling start to hit you like Thor's hammer (remember image 1 from last week ;-). You don't want to do anything but lie in bed (even sitting on the couch feels like a workout) and the rest of your pre-scheduled meals become a challenging task, in the course of which you forcefully stuff yourself with carbs!

A pros pos carbs. I mentioned before that the caloric overload on intermittent fasting re-feeds is obviously limited by the amount of food you can eat within the relatively short feeding-window. Thusly, you will consume more energy than usual, yet by far not in similarly excessive amounts as on a "regular" re-feed. That being said, with the focus of my re-feeds being on carbohydrates, there is a major shift in the macronutrient composition, which is intended to top off the glycogen stores of my muscles (and liver, which is the organ that will supply your brain with glucose, whenever there is a transient shortage of energy) and to take advantage of the anti-catabolic and IGF-1 promoting effects insulin - and it is in the vicinity of a workout (as last Saturday, for example), with your muscles ready and willing to suck up every mole of glucose they can possibly get, when you get the most "anabolic bang" for your "sugary bucks" ;-)

To summarize - here is a rough outline of my cheat day / re-feed protocol:
  1. I keep protein intake the same.After all, I do not want the anabolic machinery to run out of amino acid fuel ;-)
  2. My carb intake is high (remember if carbs are low in your regular diet, it is only logical to put a focus on carbs when you refeed), since I am only given a small window (max. 8 hours) to carb load, I prefer fast digesting or high glycemic index carbs, so that it transports straight to the muscles and do not digest until the "anabolic barn doors" are already half closed.I do nevertheless try to avoid real junk food and stick to my pineapple coconut pancaces (see recipe of the week), white potatoes, rice, pasta and high sugar fruits to get straight to the point and not waste anytime!
  3. Image 4: It always baffles me, how many people still believe that "low fat" equals "healthy"
  4. I keep my fat intake low. This allows me to potentially eat more carbohydrates (fats take up a lot of calories and on re-feed days, when I'd rather have the calories from carbohydrates). Fats also slow the digestion of carbs, and, as mentioned before, that's not what I want on a glycogen repleting re-feed day. I realize that it is sometimes hard to keep fats low during a cheat day - after all, your usual "cheats" (i.e. the junk many people eat everyday ;-) are about as high in fat as they are in carbs, so I take advantage of the nutritional stupidity of "low fat eating" and go to Trader Joe's and similar places, where I avail myself of some low-fat junk,... ah I mean USDA myPlate-type foods like the "low fat Twinies" in image 4 *rofl*
  5. I eat until I am full! And, I even dare to say, until I have to unbutton my pants... so just that you know what kind of "full" we are talking about, here ;-)
Well… that’s all I got for this week. What? Oh, yes. No, I did not forget it. The promised weekly recipe from my ever-growing cookbook.
Image 5: Pancakes are one of my favorite cheat- / re-feed meals
Recipe of the Week: Pineapple coconut pancakes

  • 12 oz of pineapple & coconut pancake flour mix
  • chocolate syrup
  • coconut syrup
  • 1 bowl of cocoa puffs
  • 40g whey protein (pour over cereal as milk)
Quick tip: When I re-feed, I don’t count calories - this is why you do not see specific serving sizes or macros, like you usually have with my other recipes. Just remember the four golden rules: Keep protein high, focus on carbohydrates, while keeping fats low and - never forget - eat until you're full, full as in "unbuttoning- your-pants full" ;-)
Let me just give you this advise to take along: This is a cheat meal recipe though, so I would not recommend making this a staple in your nutritional regimen… Well, now that I think of it I guess it would be possible, if you cater it to your daily macronutrient intake. Yet, not everything that is possible is also also advisable, after all the "Twinkies Diet" was a great example that you can lose weight while eating junk food, but this is neither healthy, nor will it help you to achieve a stage ready physique. So, I guess your best bet is to cheat today and to come back for next week's installment of this series for healthier alternatives!