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ARE YOUR GAINS IN REVERSE GEAR?

November 23, 2023
Gary

How the waters have been muddied over post-show phase

MANY of us have finished our competitive seasons and two words are already circling social media like sharks ready to eat your gains: reverse dieting.

The theory is that you ease food back into your system so as not to add unwanted body fat to the physique you have carved, instead of eating everything in sight. Sounds fair enough.

This method undoubtedly has its place – but that is normally when an athlete requires a period of time to get their health back in check; perhaps they have bounced from one competition to another and need to allow their body to recover.

But many people are using reverse dieting simply to avoid getting fat – and end up wasting the chance to make the most of your body being at its most anabolic.

Consider this from American nutrition expert and coach Justin Harris, who says that a typical male bodybuilder is most anabolic between body-fat range of about five and 12 per cent.

And that about 75 per cent of your total gains for the entire year can be made in the first six weeks post competition.

Now imagine how much muscle tissue you might be missing out on by reverse dieting when you don’t need to, effectively tip-toeing your way into your off-season instead of starting it at a point very possibly heavier and in better condition than when you finished the last one.

When you are within a body-fat range of five and 12 per cent, you are more likely to store carbs as muscle glycogen and use protein to build muscle tissue than at any other point.

Rise above 12 per cent and the scale weight you see creeping up each week is more likely to be fat. Insulin sensitivity decreases and so does testosterone production.

I too was once concerned with ‘losing the abs’ and so on post contest. I wanted to add size, one thing I had been lacking, but I really did not know how far to push the food post show.

Speaking to me in late November last year, Harris (above left) said: “You have to eat. This is the one period of time where you have the appetite to eat incredible amounts of clean food and the one time of year where you have some leeway with body-fat addition before you get sloppy.”

Let’s explore that a little further. In a recent podcast with Team Troponin colleagues David and Dani LaMartina, Harris said: “I’m pretty adamant with my post-contest approach, which is a calorie burst for up to a week immediately after the show, sticking to clean food as much as possible, with some cheats thrown in to allow you to stick to the diet at the times when we need to knowing that there’s that freedom at the end of the day.

“That’s what I have found to be the quickest way for most people to get back on a structured eating plan, where we can control the calories and can control the macros.

“It just so happens that it’s the best way to add size very quickly, providing you stay on anabolics.”

In a video from his old website Muscle Mentor, Harris explains further his philosophy for an ideal post-show rebound, from the perspective of setting up what he sees as the ideal off-season.

He said: “Post show, you step off stage, go eat anything you want. Sunday, what do you do, eat anything you want – all day. The next five days after that are going to be high-carb days with a cheat meal as the last meal of the day, because if you cheat at any other meal, the rest of the day is going to turn into a cheat day.

“For your first five days after the show, if you are using fat burners, they are kept in at the normal dose. Over the next five days you are going to cut your doses in half. The next five days you are going to cut those doses in half, so effectively you’re at 25 per cent. Then 15 days after the contest all fat burners are gone, so we taper down while you go through that bloat phase.

“We keep light cardio in and after that week we are on a very strict off-season diet. If you have two days of pigging out and five high days with a cheat meal, if you’re not ready to get back into the plan after that, then it’s probably not the sport for you.”

Sound good to you? Or do you disagree. Let us know in the comments.

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