There has been a lot… and I mean A LOT… of talk about metabolic damage and the “REAL” side of the bodybuilding industry recently. It seems like everyone and there grandma is coming out about the fact that the health industry ain’t so healthy. Well I said that from day one 😉 but I’m so glad it’s becoming common knowledge.
I want to weigh in a little bit here. When I prepped for my contest, my calories started at around 1900 12 weeks out and the lowest I dropped was to 1400 2 weeks out (I was lower for peak week, but that doesn’t count because it was like 3 days). I never did more than 50 minutes of cardio at a time and I think I did 2 sessions of cardio twice in my entire prep. Part of that is because I hate cardio, part is because I have a job that rarely stops after 8 hours, but a large part 2 is that I know what marathoners look like and logic told me that long sessions of cardio was probably not the answer.
Over the course of about 12 weeks I went from 142 lbs to 132 lbs and didn’t really feel to restricted until about 3 weeks out. I personally think I looked great and not to mention I retained a lot of my muscle mass. After the show I gained weight immediately, about 8 pounds in the first 2 weeks and then slowly another 12 pounds. I have had a really hard time trying to get that weight off me even though I’m sticking to my diet and eating less than I was before (about 1800 cals per day).
So, do I think I have metabolic damage? Not really, I think I was stupid and gained weight too quickly for my metabolism to keep up. I also think that my metabolism slowed down through the dieting which is normal, that is why we have plateaus, it’s out body adapting. But I don’t think I did any serious damage.
Over the past few days I’ve read up on a lot of Layne Norton’s papers and VLOGs and the like and even though I don’t think I would say my metabolism has been damaged, it’s definitely slowed down. His work shows that you can rebuild and even drastically increase your metabolism over time by slowly and consistently adding carbs and fats to the diet. And he means slow… like 5 g of carb and 2 g of fat per week! That’s like an extra quarter of an apple and 1 tbsp of 10% cream. He also says that you probably won’t gain weight doing that and that after a year that’s 250 grams of carbs or 1000 calories with minimal weight gain.
So I have a plan!!! I love planning as proven in this post.
While I don’t really want to start gaining any weight at the moment since I am not very lean right, I will try to add in more carbs until my show prep starts so that I have more to cut from. Then after my show, which I plan to do on October 26th, I will follow his protocol and basically reverse diet to to increase my metabolism while staying lean. He says that you might gain about 1 pound per 1-2 months, some of that being muscle, but that you might also not gain weight. Sounds good to me! Then when you want to diet for a show or anything again, you have more calories to work from and you won’t have so much fat to trim in the first place!
If you want to check out Layne Norton’s stuff his website is here.