May 21, 2015 | John Paul Catanzaro
Do you want to get lean but don’t have much time? Here’s a strategy that’s useful before a wedding, anniversary, birthday, vacation, speaking engagement, photo shoot, competition, reunion, hot date… you name it. It takes a week of some serious discipline though. Can you do it? If you’ve got the will, I’ve got the way.
It’s not that radical really, just remove all sources of carbohydrates and fats for one week. That’s right, absolutely none. Don’t worry, you’ll survive. So what’s left to eat then? Well, there’s protein, protein, and more protein, and you can drink water as well. You see, it’s not that bad!
Tip #1: Drink large amounts of water on this plan, at least 8-10 glasses a day (to calculate the exact number of ounces a day that you should consume divide your body weight in half). This will saturate your muscle cells and help to shed that layer of water beneath your skin. In fact, if you don’t drink enough water, it upsets your sodium balance and you actually end up retaining water under the skin making you look bloated and fat. Being even slightly dehydrated can contribute to that puffy look under the skin so drink plenty of water.
Now, you just can’t consume any type of protein. It must be the lean, dry, white stuff like tuna, chicken, turkey, or pork. That means no red meat, dairy, eggs, or even protein shakes. Remember, no fat so make sure to consume only water-packed tuna, chicken or turkey breast (not the leg), and trim all excess pork fat.
The fact that you’re eating lean meats with no extra fat or carbohydrate does a few neat things to your body. First, the simple act of chewing food is an important aspect to consider. It can increase your metabolism significantly. That’s why I want you to eat your protein and not drink it. Also, protein has the greatest thermic effect of all the macronutrients (see note below) which is another plus. Think about it, less energy in and more energy out equates to weight loss. That can be good, but it can also be bad as you’ll soon discover.
Note: A high amount of energy is required to digest, transport, metabolize, and store protein. You’ll burn as much as 30% of the calories that you consume from proteins just to process them. Carbohydrates and fats are much lower at a maximum of 10% and 3%, respectively.
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
Your system will start to tap into your body fat stores for energy. That’s good. Through the process of gluconeogenesis, your body will also catabolize muscle tissue for energy. That’s bad. However, you can curtail this process somewhat by keeping your protein stores elevated, but without any carbs or fats, most people will feel terrible! That’s the ugly part. I have a solution though.
They’re called stimulants and boy will you need them! Our old friends of ephedrine and caffeine (commonly known as the EC stack) come in very useful, but I don’t recommend this stuff loosely. You must qualify to take them. These supplements are not meant for cardiac or adrenal patients. The greater the risk, the greater the reward, and the EC stack does come with a definite risk. For that reason, ephedrine HCL is banned in many countries, but it’s legal in Canada. Of course, there are far more adverse events from the use of over-the-counter drugs like aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen, but that’s another story for another time. Assuming that you’re a healthy individual with no contraindications for the use of ephedrine and caffeine, one week at a low dose should pose very little risk. Make sure to check with your health-care provider beforehand.
Three other supplements that help on this plan include a quality multivitamin, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), and glutamine. The multivitamin is good way to get essential nutrients when fruits and vegetables are non-existent in your diet, and the BCAAs and glutamine are extremely beneficial when carb intake is low. You can take BCAAs and glutamine all day long (i.e., upon awakening, between meals, and before going to bed), but they’re particularly useful before, during, and after your workouts.
Tip #2: If you plan to travel to a third-world country, start taking probiotics (i.e., “friendly” bacteria) a week before your journey. This is a good preventative measure to help repel parasites that you may encounter while you’re away.
Sail The Protein Ship, But Don’t Go Overboard
Quantity of intake must be relatively low. That means you’ll consume a small amount of protein, like one can of tuna or a small piece of chicken or pork, but you’ll do so frequently, around six times a day (every 2.5 to 3 hours). Grill the meat in advance so that you can quickly reheat it when it’s time to eat. Grazing all day long will keep that metabolic flame stoked.
Make sure to drink cold spring water throughout the day. Plenty of water is required to flush out the byproducts of protein metabolism. And keep in mind that each gram of carbohydrate that you consume carries about three grams of water with it so if you’re getting no carbs, then you’re getting no additional water. As far as hot drinks go, black coffee is fine, but green tea is better.
Also, consider establishing a base tan. “Fake bake” if you must, just remember to build it up gradually over a few days. Get your hair cut midway through the week so that it grows in a bit and looks more natural come “show” time. Visit your dentist for that six-month cleaning. And take care of all that hygiene stuff like trimming your nails and maybe shaving or waxing that ape-like body of yours.
Tip #3: Don’t tan too fast. Burning even slightly will cause edema (the swelling of tissue that promotes healing) and can leave you looking puffy. Build up that tan gradually to show off your muscularity. A good tan looks healthy; a bad one does not!
The strategy above will shrink-wrap your body in two ways. First, by removing all that subcutaneous water beneath your skin during the week-long protein-only fast, and then by superhydrating your muscle cells when you go carb crazy the following week (I’ll explain in Part 2). The first week you’ll look like a smaller, leaner version of your self, while the second week your muscles will fill out and you’ll look like a pumped up, muscular God!
Tomorrow we’ll examine how to train during this grueling week and I’ll give you a sample routine to follow.