The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Metabolism Talk: Part 4 - The Key to Metabolic Success

I've talked extensively about some of the things that will potentially tank, or manipulate your metabolism to operate at less than optimal.

(See part 1, part 2, and part 3

But, negativity only helps so much...So, I give you guys:

The Key to Metabolic Success

This is one part science, one part bro-science, and one part practicality. Let's examine it, shall we?

1.) Always start your diets/weight loss with highest amount of calories and smallest amount of activity.

When starting to shrink down to a smaller version of yourself, don't go full potato right out of the gate or you will be FUCKED! And by fucked, I mean you will be 5-10lbs away from your goal, starving, and miserable. From my own experience, having done both of these, they both have their miseries. But going to bed feeling like you're starving is one of the worst feelings in the world. This doesn't frequently happen on a slow cut, again, at least in my experience. Metabolism is adaptive, but the degree to which it adapts is arguable and based primarily to the individual variables (as I discussed in part 1). Dipping your calories below 2,000 calories and doing shit tons of cardio to get to 12% sucks BALLS. Don't do it.

2.) Do Heavy compound movements as your primary exercise.

Fuck all of that high intensity cardio/high rep shit. Lift some heavy ass weights. Build up your strength and put on slabs of metabolism increasing muscle. I won't go as far as to say that cardio will take away your metabolic capacity, but enough of it can take away your energy for your lifting and thus contribute to deviations from your linear strength gains. 

When looking for a lifting program, always go for one that has you progressively lifting more and more weight in a periodic fashion, even when dieting. Continuously try to progress in your lifts until your body will not allow you to do so, which, if you're a true beginner, will be quite a long time.

Programs I recommend:

Now, if you're interested in lifting, you will figure out a program you like. Try a bunch of them. Most of them come in the form of 6 to 8 weeks. If you're finding that you're gaining strength and size with one program but are floundering on another, that is normal. Some people respond better to some things better than others. The key is to build muscle and strength and utilize your big muscle movers: bench, deadlift, squat, bent over rows, overhead press, weighted chins and dips.

3.) Maximize your food consumption in terms of volume and caloric value. 

Foods that are high in volume and low caloric value (Meaning: "Whole Foods"), Foods like fibrous veggies and hearty low fat meats are your best friends. Foods like pop tarts, cookies, ice cream, high caloric low volume are delicious as fuck. But, it will leave you hungry in a very short amount of time, plus they don't take as much energy to digest. That's why veggies and animal protein is pushed so aggressively in most diets, because they are high satiating, high volume foods. The basic chemistry alone is usually powerful enough to cause most people to lose weight. This will also allow you to ingest MORE calories because these foods have a high thermic quality, require more energy to digest, and leave you with a little bit more of a "calorie buffer." Don't go full potato with this theory. Calories are still calories, and you can make yourself fat as fuck with bro foods, too, but making these foods a regular part of your diet will help you sneak in those tasty fucking treats and not leave you starving.

4.) After a long diet, use a reverse diet.

Lucky for you guys, I wrote a whole post about this already. But, this isn't just a plug for more views on my page, this is just a smart practice. It doesn't have to be a 12 week long reverse diet, a three week reverse should do the trick, but generally, a longer and slower reverse diet usually yields the least amount of weight/water/fat fluctuations. It just takes a lot of mental stamina. Good luck.

5.) Don't get Too fat

When you're reverse dieting back to a body fat percentage and body shape you either want to build from or maintain, don't allow yourself to get too fat. Other than just not giving a fuck, there is no real reason to be above 15% (25% for women) body fat. Some dudes look halfway decent in 15% (all women look great), but they are usually genetically gifted in the symmetry department. As I've already discussed, fat mass only really makes up about 6.7% whereas lean muscle mass makes up 62.3% of your metabolic rate. Lean mass (muscle) and fat mass are the most "controllable" variables on your body, so you should utilize it to your advantage.

Being heavier for most people usually means more energy, better hormone levels and being able to lift heavier weights. However, there is definitely a law of diminished returns in terms of weight gain and weight on the bar.

"An extra 10 lbs added to your bench isn't impressive if you also gained 10 lbs of body weight. That's a 1:1 ratio of weight to strength, which is strongly indicative of fat gain. However, assume you added 10 lbs to your bench, but only 3 lbs of body weight. That's a 1:3.3 ratio of weight to strength, which is quite good. Odds are most of those 3 lbs came in the form of muscle and not fat." - Martin Berkhan of Leangains

For those of you who don't say that Fat = strength are straight up ignorant. Just ask Mark Bell who lost a great deal of weight. In his words he got "tanned and jacked" after being a heavy heavy power lifter (over 300lbs)

"The big question, however, pertains to whether you’ll get stronger. Let’s say you’re a guy who weighs over 250 pounds. I know that’s probably pretty big for a lot of you, but in powerlifting terms, that’s a fairly normal—even small—size. If you’re 250, and you lose ten pounds, that’s no big deal. It’ll take you 10-14 days, and you likely won’t notice any loss in strength. The same thing happens with the next ten pounds, too. Keep in mind, however, that if you’re the same strength when you’re lighter, you’re actually getting stronger. If you have less overall body mass behind you and beneath you, and you’re still able to lift the same weights, that’s quite an accomplishment...Now, if you go higher than that and get into the 50 pound range like I’ve done, there’s going to be hell to pay. I’ve taken a hit in my strength levels after losing 50 pounds." - Mark Bell

However, the main reason to not get TOO fat is simple: To be able to get into your peak conditioning, or just great shape, without an extremely long dieting process. Dieting sucks. Even the best diets suck a bit. Again, Spare yourself complete and totally misery by not putting yourself into a position to be on a long ass diet. As a dude who has been one long ass diet for what appears like forever, dipping your calories below 2,000 calories and doing shit tons of cardio to get to 12% body fat sucks BIG DONKEY BALLS. Don't. Do. It.
I weighed a mere 249 pounds this morning my strength on Bench and Squat are clearly way off from when I was a Big Fat Fuck. - See more at:
I weighed a mere 249 pounds this morning my strength on Bench and Squat are clearly way off from when I was a Big Fat Fuck. - See more at:
I weighed a mere 249 pounds this morning my strength on Bench and Squat are clearly way off from when I was a Big Fat Fuck. - See more at:


 Resting Body Weight

Almost NOBODY lives in peak stage ready conditions year round (meaning sub 7% body fat) and the majority of individuals don't live in it for longer than a week (peak week), some individuals even just a day. And this isn't even just for body builders. Movie stars, actors and the such tend to get "into shape" (a shape) for a movie or a project and then have that in between bloat. And although I'm not a huge fan of the bulk then cut system (I'll write more on that later), it's your prerogative if you want to get really fat then cut back down to peak conditioning. I don't think anybody should ever completely let themselves go, I'm actually a fan of being lean (ish) year round.


You should live in the body fat percentage that you can maintain the easiest. One that you're willing to deal with the complications and demands of your daily activity, your training style, and most importantly: your social life. If you're having to do buttermilk taste testing as your primary source of income, then you're gonna have trouble maintaining some macros to support your 6 pack. Or even in a non sarcastic example: if you're a person who lives an extremely active social life and you're going out for a lot of meals and you find it hard to limit yourself to one or two drinks or one or two big meals with mystery macros, it's probably best if your set point is higher.

For men, it's generally recommended that you don't stay below 7% (for women around 14%) for extended periods of time. 

"Although it’s probably as related to energy balance as body fat per se, the point is that when folks get beyond a certain point of leanness, hormone levels are disrupted in both men and women...The normal menstrual cycle in women may stop (this is called ammennorrhea), indicating a problem with estrogen production. This tends to cause bone loss which is a very serious problem. In men not using drugs to maintain their hormone levels, testosterone can approach near-castrate levels as they reach the lower limits of body fat...Thyroid, growth hormone, IGF-1, metabolic rate, and the immune system are all severely depressed under situations of extremely low body fat (genetic oddities excepted).

This is all just part of a coordinated set of adaptations that occur with both starvation and dieting (dieting is just starvation on a smaller/slower scale) to try to keep you alive.

A woman dieting to 12% or lower body fat wouldn’t be able to bring a baby to term safely in the first place, so the body prevents it by shutting down the menstrual cycle." - Lyle McDonald from
That being said, that's shredded by almost everyone's standards. Some individuals live much lower than that rather successfully, some natural (not using steroids) or perform a demanding physical activity frequently enough where the amount of food required to maintain anything above that becomes absurd. 


Alberto Nunez

Alberto Nunez is part of the 3DMJ coaching team, well known for their incredible natural body building athletes. He rocks out 7lbs away from stage weight year round, is incredibly strong, and stupid shredded.

Martin Berkhan

Creator of the Lean Gains method. He stays shredded year round with the application of his life style adaptive meal scheduling combined with regular fasting, carb, fat, and calorie cycling. Also, he's incredibly strong. Here's him Deadlifting 600lbs for 4 reps. 

So, basically, it's possible to live in even a completely shredded aesthetic year round, but it requires adaptations of diet, training, and the like. Whether you're willing to come to terms with this stuff is your choice.

I'm currently in pursuit of this kind of lifestyle: being completely shredded, stupid strong (with relative strength goals), and having the metabolism of a monster. The best of all the worlds in my opinion. It's something that will require years of study and practice and patience...fucking patience. BUT, these are goals worth having in my opinion.

There are methods to go about this, BUT, I'm looking for my own way of doing it. Ya know? Call me a fool for doing so, but I like a challenge...

Until next time, stay lean, get stronger, don't run yourself into the ground with exercise and lack of food, and as always...

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Great Doing It.

The Opera Bro

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