Thursday, February 16, 2012

Adelfo Cerame - Road to Wheelchair Nationals '12: Dismiss Calorie Cutting, Pancakes & English Muffins, Embrace Intermittent Fasting, Fruits and Each Step on the Way!

Image 1: Don't get stressed with doing everything right, just do it ;-)
Sometimes its strange how things get together unplanned. With me being on Carl Lanore's Super Human Radio, today at 1pm EST (click here to listen live!), talking about what happens when science and the real world "collide" and how both scientific paradigms and conventional wisdom are probably the most common causes of questionable conclusions (science) and lack of results (real world) and Adelfo sending me his weekly update on how the "wanna lose fat, got to cut calories"-paradigm is still bothering him...

Five weeks out and putting bees into my own bonnet!

I am counting the days, ... mainly because I don’t know what else to do with myself *lol* - It just feels like I need to do something to manipulate my training and my diet even further, but I really can’t do much at this point, but stay the course… I’m trying not to cut any more calories, because I want to avoid either losing muscle or at least running so flat that another "mini-bulk" would be necessary to get stage ready... I must admit, though: It is tough!

Image 2: That would not have happened if she had been eating to satiety before... when your diet turns into a "hunger diet", you are already lost.
I guess it’s just a habit that I have gotten so used to in the past, that the program in my head keeps telling me: "Hey, contest prep. Another week, another cut in calories" It's always been like that in the past. Wanna get leaner? Drop calories! Well, ... at least that's at least what common wisdom tells you and told me. In reality, however, it can - and at some point will - easily backfire. While it is obviously true, that, in order to get lean, and drop body fat, you must manipulate your macros, and gradually reduce calories, but at one point (calorie, or I should say energy-wise) the returns you get (=fat loss) are no longer worth the investments, which is muscle mass, when your cortisol skyrockets and your testosterone and thyroid levels plummet. The further you are pushing from that point, the less fat and the more muscle you lose.

Where this "point of diminishing returns" actually is, differs from person to person and may even change in the course of your lifetime. From what I gather it has a lot to do with what people like to call your "body-fat set point", something I guess, at least some of you may have heard Dr. Andro talk about on Carl Lanore's Super Human Radio back in the day. The basic assumption is that your body has a certain amount of body fat it does (for whatever stupid reason ;-) defend "with its life", or rather your muscle and organ mass. So, if you are hovering towards the "disgustingly ripped zone", like I am, you are already way past the comfort zone, where your body does not really care about the 1-2% more or less of fat on your ribcage.

Don't fix things that aren't broken, just 'cause you like the "tweaking" ...

The fact, that the usual side-effects like constant cravings, lack of energy & libido still have not hit me yet, must - at least in my humble opinion - have something to do with the satiety effect of intermittent fasting. The fasting-feeding-fasting-feeding... I guess Dr. Andro would say "seesaw" *lol* has really allowed me to eat to satiety over the whole 20+ weeks of this otherwise probably unbearably long contest prep.

I mean, there is a reason that the typical bodybuilding prep (at least the hot phase) lasts no more than 2 months. The constant cravings, the insane amounts of cardio the "chicken and rice"-only menus... nothing of that in my diet, which - I know I've said that before, but it is just so f**** amazing - is by far the easiest and most enjoyable prep in my whole bodybuilding career... with a further reduction in calories, however, things could change very easily and thus, I feel that it is better to check my desire to "just try for a few days" (which would be what I would be telling myself, although I knew that it would be a one-way street), if leaving out another 10g of carbs less here and the coconut oil, there...

...STOP! When you are getting to points like that, it is often best to revisit your plan and, more importantly, the reasonings on which it is based and mostly, you will realize that those streaks of "what if's" are largely irrational. For me this means that I will stick (just as planned till ~2 weeks out) to my caloric zigzagging regimen with 1400-1500kcal on training and 1200kcal on rest days and the planned re-feeds on Sunday. After all, I am still making forward progress in terms of the way I look, although I must admit that my objectivity is hugely compromised by the little voice of common wisdom in my ear that says: "Dr. Andro must be mistaken, when he said he saw improvements in my delts and lats... I mean, I did not cut calories and you do...", you know this antics, don't you?

... don't forget to revisit the effect of the tweaks you have made ...

The well-thought changes I made to the exercise side of the equation last week (you may remember that I felt like being at the verge of overtraining), on the other hands, are really paying off. I feel that my regimen is on point! My body responds great to the weekly alternations between EDT, 5x5 and reverse pyramids. As the video on the right goes to show, I did yet incorporate another "body weight" exercise after realizing how well the weighted chins worked for me: Weighted dips!

Video 1 (click to watch): Weighted wheelchair version of the Gironda Dips... I usually do these at the end of my chest & triceps training; instead of doing 5x5’s I just do 5 sets till absolute failure.
Moreover, I did expand my outside of the last weeks of a prep non-existant ab-training to a few minutes after every training session. As I have mentioned previously I am a firm non-believer in the power of isolated ab-work, but in order to make sure I did not miss the slightest opportunity to improve my physique, I better invest the additional few minutes, now, to avoid asking myself later, whether it was the missing ab-work due to which I missed my pro-card.

A much more important factor, in view of achieving optimal conditioning, which is also a recent addition to my routine, is the HIIT "cardio" training I have been doing on my off-days, last week. That has been working fine and I am going to try doing the same protocol fasted, next week... if you wanna know how that went, I'd suggest you mark Thursday, 23, 2012 in your schedule ;-)

... and never forget to get rid of the junk (-food ;-)!
If you take a closer look at the usual choices of carbohydrate sources I am consuming on my re-feeds every Sunday (image 3), I suppose that at least some of you will be shocked... a lot of processed (partly also junk-)food. And no, nothing I would ever recommend you should eat on a daily basis, if your goal is to stay healthy, let alone if you are trying to lose weight and/or improve your body composition.

Image 3: With this being my previous choices for Sunday carb-re-feeds, I suspect that even the "fructophobics" out there would concede that my novel combination of fresh and dried fruit, is a major improvement ;-)
As you can see from the pictures on the right and from other previous blogs where I talk about re-feeds; that I’m obviously a Fat Boy at heart!  But now I’m actually having a change of heart with my carb sources. This past Sunday I was really craving fruits for some reason. Whether it was fresh or dried fruit, I knew that I wanted to gorge on fruit. So after church, I past by my local Trader Joe’s and bought all the fresh and dried fruits I could possibly get my hands on… from bananas, dried bananas and banana chips to mangoes, strawberries and dates, you name it, I bought it!

With the majority of my carb source coming from fresh and dried fruit while keeping the highly processed junk food such as the pancakes and English muffins to a minimum, I felt a lot more refreshed than after the my previous junk-bindges... 2 cans of coconut water later, and I felt in heaven ;-)

In view of the fact that it common wisdom tells you that "feeling in heaven" is not seemly for someone preparing for a bodybuilding contest, I should not forget to add that the one thing that felt even better than the food, was the way my physique responded to the combination of fresh and dried fruit. I have made a habit of practicing my poses about 1 hour after my 1st re-feed meal of the day to see how my physique looks and judge the progress I have made over the last 7 days... and I’d have to say, I was very pleased with what I saw this past Sunday in the mirror... not to mention the awesome pumps and the tight contractions upon flexing the muscles.
Recipe of the week:  
Tropical Papaya Chicken Salad

  • 12 oz chicken breast - chopped and marinated in fresh pineapple juices, sea salt, pepper & curry powder
  • 1 cup of sliced papayas  - sliced in squares
  • 1 whole cucumber - sliced in circles
  • ¼ cup of real coconut milk  -the one in the can
  • 1 packet of TruviaMacros: 72g protein/ 14g carbs/ 16g fat
How to prepare it: Mix, and toss, then eat and enjoy!
Dr. Andro and I have been talking about reloading glycogen stores before and I remember he mentioned that a 2:1 ratio of glucose to fructose has been shown to do the job just about as well, if not better than your usually overkill of dextrose and/or maltodextrin... I guess, my body must have remembered that and thusly sent me those "fruit cravings" - and what should I say, it certainly felt like it worked. For the future I will thusly be ditching the pancakes and English muffins, to make room for more fresh, ripe and dried fruits and home-made baked potatoes and yams for a more sustained influx of non-fructose carbohydrates to really top those glycogen stores off once in a week.

So, if you want to know more about the short term-effects of fasted HIIT, fruits, potatoes and yams, you better make sure to come back next Thursday, when I will officially reveal not the paleo, but at least one of  the "Adelfo Cerame whole foods re-feed solutions" in the recipe of the week ;-)