Macro-cycling for lean gains

Taking carbohydrates from the diet and opting for a keto or paleo diet is a very quick way to decrease bodyfat levels, and to feel awesome by getting most of one’s energy from dietary fat. However, this can potentially limit muscle hypertrophy, due to the necessity of all three macronutrients in big muscle growth, including carbohydrates.

Plus, many people, myself included, find it really difficult to go on a strict keto diet. I just love foods that happen to contain carbohydrates. This includes cereal, chocolate, crisps, roast potatoes, and the rest. They’re delicious, and I love eating them. But here’s the key: I only eat these kinds of foods in the post-workout window.

I still practice intermittent fasting, and go keto on my rest days, but after my workouts, I go carb crazy. Not only does this macro-cycling keep me sane, but it helps to maintain the cross-sectional size of my muscles, while keeping my bodyfat levels down. In fact, the insulin sensitivity brought on by keto on my rest days and my fasted, high-intensity workouts mean that my body is incredibly insulin-sensitive, and my body is swimming in anabolic hormones, so any muscle growth is accentuated. I’m making strength and power gains while keeping my bodyfat levels low.

If you need a quick key, just remember these two points:

  • On workout days, maximise carbohydrates
  • On rest days, maximise protein

Strictly speaking though, and in spite of all of the above, you might probably choose to aim for one of the two main goals at a time: weight gain or fat loss. Body recomposition is entirely possible, but it takes a long time and is mainly a strategy for the most patient among you. It’s your choice. I know that if I were to take on clients for personal training, I might very well start off by having them choose muscle hypertrophy or fat loss. But, if they’re patient enough, I could put them on a scheme like the one I described above. It just depends on the person’s needs and desires.

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