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Physical Benefits of the Metabolic Diet

This is an excerpt from Serious Strength Training-3rd Edition by Tudor Bompa,Mauro Di Pasquale & Lorenzo Cornacchia.

Diet is just one of the factors that go into being a successful bodybuilder. Learn more in
Serious Strength Training, Third Edition.

Physical Benefits of the Metabolic Diet

One of the advantages of the metabolic diet is an increase in lean body mass without the use of anabolic steroids. The diet does many of the same things hormonally that steroids do, only naturally and without the risks. Another advantage of the metabolic diet is the ability to decrease body fat without sacrificing lean mass.

Decrease Body Fat Without Sacrificing Lean Mass Unlike the high-carbohydrate diet, when you gain weight on the metabolic diet much less of it is body fat and much more of it is muscle. We have found that eating fat doesn't lead to becoming fat. In fact, high dietary fat is instrumental in increasing lipolysis, or the breakdown of fat, and the resulting loss of body fat. Furthermore, the bodybuilder will maintain more lean body mass during the cutting phase of a diet.

On a high-carbohydrate diet, if you exercise correctly and do everything else right, you will find that when you lose weight about 60 percent of it is fat and 40 percent is muscle. You may get down to your optimal weight and be ripped, but you are much smaller than you could be. On the metabolic diet, those percentages go way down to 90 percent fat and 10 percent muscle during cutting. With the high-fat diet, you get down to the weight you want but find yourself maintaining a lot more lean body mass. You are bigger and stronger.

Feel Stronger While Losing Body Fat This stands to reason. Strength is proportional to muscle mass. When you are on a high-carbohydrate diet, sacrificing lean mass to get cut, you are obviously going to feel weaker. Because the metabolic diet cycles in a carbohydrate-loading phase every week to stimulate insulin production and trigger growth, you also do not find yourself getting into the psychological doldrums caused by following one diet all the way through each week. There is a variety in your diet, and this will help you be more energetic and committed than you'd be on the high-carbohydrate diet.

Maximize the Effects of Endogenous Anabolic Hormones The metabolic diet maximizes the serum levels of testosterone (even in women) (Goldin et al. 1994), growth hormone, and insulin to promote growth and to help firm up and shape your body as you shed fat. It basically conditions your hormonal system to create an endogenous (natural) anabolic (growth producing) environment. You will be surprised at how quickly you will be able to sculpt the body you want as these hormones work together.

The maximization of the three hormones is one of the most remarkable effects of the metabolic diet. Many hormones are reactive to others. For instance, as insulin goes up, growth hormone may decrease. If insulin decreases, growth hormone will increase. The two hormones generally do not work well together, but they can. During and after a workout, it is important to understand that the body decreases in serum testosterone and growth hormone. The metabolic diet attempts to maximize the effect of the three anabolic hormones for 24 hours because contrary to popular belief, you get stronger and form muscle not only after a workout but, if done correctly, during a workout as well. If you can increase both hormones, you will get a better anabolic effect than with an increase in one hormone alone. At the cellular level, the anabolic hormones must be elevated to drive amino acids into the cells for protein formation. The metabolic diet, the weekly cycling it incorporates (carbohydrate-loading phase) to stimulate insulin production, and the utilization of supplements such as Exersol (see will optimize protein synthesis and maximize growth.

Chapter 8 recommends supplements you can use with the metabolic diet that will help increase insulin sensitivity, testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) as needed. Your approach to supplements and exercise will be largely determined by how far you want to go in remaking your body. Whatever your goals, you will find the metabolic diet an effective tool in taking the weight off, keeping it off, and making your body look its best.

Increase Strength People on the metabolic diet often find their strength increasing as they are losing weight and body fat. Most bodybuilders find this amazing. They know that when they lose weight, they are also losing muscle and strength. But with the metabolic diet they're losing less muscle, and that, in combination with the fact their bodies are working in an anabolic environment, makes them stronger. They cannot believe it as they watch the fat melt away while their strength increases at the same time.

Decrease Catabolic Activity The metabolic diet results in lower levels of cortisol, a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands that breaks down muscle (catabolism) and uses it for energy. Certain supplements can be added to the diet (see chapter 8) to further decrease muscle breakdown during and after a workout while increasing insulin and growth hormone levels at critical times to promote an anabolic effect. Put simply, you will be breaking down less muscle while adding more.

Read more fromSerious Strength Training, Third Edition by Tudor Bompa, Mauro Di Pasquale, and Lorenzo Cornacchia.

More Excerpts From Serious Strength Training 3rd Edition