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Bodybuilding Nutrition and Supplements Program

By John K. Williams

It's time to take an honest look at yourself in the mirror and accept the fact that winter bulking has led to some accumulated fat around the midsection. If you were successful in your goals to gain some mass this winter, then it might be time to shed the chub to more clearly see what lies beneath. This 6-week program is designed to help you achieve this goal, and to make you a healthier person in the process.

Nutrition Program

I consider nutrition to be equally as important as training in any successful cutting program.Unfortunately, there is no magic formula that will work for everyone. There are, however, some variables, which when successfully manipulated, will ensure good results.


Adequate Protein - I'd rather not open the can of worms concerning appropriate protein requirements, but suffice it to say that the current average of 10-15% in the western diet (1) is inadequate for our body composition goals.For some background to protein intake, please take a look at my article Digging-Up our Nutritional Past. I tend to eat a lot of protein, at least by the standards of the majority.I average at least 1.5 grams per lb. of LBM. That equates to about 250-300 grams of protein per day. More details on calculating your protein intake are presented below.

Adequate Whole Vegetables and Fruits - Vegetables and fruit are incorporated into every meal (except the PWO shake). Their micronutrients are essential for overall health and disease prevention (2, 3), and an increased presence of whole veggies and fruits in the diet, at the expense of other less favorable food sources, aids leanness.

Carbohydrate Sources and Timing - Over the past few years, I've subjected myself to various diets, including very low carb, high carb, and carb refeeds.I can now say with confidence that I do not need to restrict carbs to get lean.The good news is that this nutritional plan avoids the mental fogginess and lethargy of low-carb diets, and the insulin crashes of carb-ups, carb refeeds, etc. During this (current) cutting phase, carbohydrates consistently composed around 30% of my total calories (around 230 grams/day).This in part relates to my ectomorph frame and insulin sensitivity, but it seems that carbs are often needlessly restricted.What seems to be more important is overall calories, the source of carbs, the fiber content of meals, and choosing when to eat certain carbs, which brings us to our next variable...

Insulin Management - One of the major goals of this nutrition program is to regulate insulin levels outside of the workout and post-workout period.In other words, reserve high insulin levels for during and shortly after the workout. Performance nutritionist John Berardi is one of the most vociferous proponent of utilizing a drink of simple carbs and protein during the post workout period to maximize gains and recovery. That means sipping on a mixture of protein and simple carbs during the workout and immediately afterwards, and eating a 'real' meal high in CHO's and protein about an hour after the workout. At all other times, carbs are eaten, but only from whole food sources with a low GI and lots of fiber (e.g., legumes, whole veggies, a piece of fruit).

The end result is that simple carbs are restricted to the period within and just after the workout, when they serve to rapidly replenish low glycogen stores, decrease muscle protein breakdown, and increase muscle protein synthesis (4, 5). I have found that while cutting, a during- and post-workout shake composed of 1 gram of simple CHO's per 5 pounds of LBM serves all of these objectives, without risking being shuttled to the adipose tissue. This works out to 35 grams of maltodextrin, together with 20 grams of whey protein, in my PWO shake.An hour after the PWO shake it is recommended to eat a 'real' meal with upwards of 100 grams of carbs from sources like split peas (high fiber, low GI), mixed veggies, and an additional piece of fruit (e.g., apple). The rest of the day, eat a few smaller meals with meat, carbohydrates from veggies and fruit (not grains), and healthy fats.

Favorable Fatty-Acid Quantity and Profile - We not only need fat for favorable hormonal balance (6), but we also need to pay attention to the source of fats that we are consuming to promote insulin sensitivity in the muscles, reduce body fat, decrease DOMS, decrease inflammation, and favorably impact blood lipid levels.

As a general rule when moving from a bulking to a cutting phase, I try to reduce saturated fatty acids (SFA's) to 20%-25% of overall fats, while getting roughly equal amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty-acids (MUFA's and PUFA's). Also, I make a very conscious effort to manipulate my PUFA profile: omega-3's are the preferred source. Our modern western diet is infused with omega-6's. The average ratio of omega-6's to omega-3's in the western diet is 16:1. This is bad news, since large omega-6 to omega-3 ratio leads to unpleasant situations like increased bodyfat, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases (7). I was consistently able to maintain an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 2:1 or lower throughout my cutting phase by making a conscious attempt to avoid omega 6's and include omega-3's in every meal.It is not recommended to entirely avoid omega-6's, nor is it possible to do this, given their ubiquity.Good sources of omega-3's include cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, and tuna), and flax. To get sufficient omega-3's, it may also be necessary to supplement with fish oil caps.

An active male weighing 200 lbs. at 10% bodyfat should be eating between 90-110 grams of dietary fat per day during this cutting cycle. This is about 25-30% of overall calories.

Calculating Daily Nutritional Goals

Like I said at the beginning, there is no magic nutrient calculator that will work for everyone. I have, however, devised a spreadsheet to give you some ranges to shoot for, based on your body composition and activity levels.

There are various means to measure bodyfat.I measure bodyfat with digital calipers using the Jackson-Pollock 3-site formula.I would suggest that those wanting to use the spreadsheet below also use the caliper method, for the sake of consistency.I have heard about huge discrepancies with various bodyfat testing methods, such as Tanita scales, which would lead to misleading results for this program.

This nutrient calculator will work for most people who, outside of their usual workout period, are fairly inactive (e.g., office job).If you are, say, a construction worker working with a jackhammer all day, this calculator will underestimate your calories. To estimate calories burned during workouts, I use the same figures given in databases such as those on don't go overboard with these calculators and start adding random stuff like office copying.Stick to the real workouts.

Also, it is very necessary to coordinate this nutritional plan with a solid training program, such as the one associated with this program, so you don't wither away into a waif.

Obviously, I don't expect people to take the total k/cal goal to be exact.My goal of 3053 k/cals in the figure above is simply a formula (LBM*12+workout calories burned).So instead of shooting for that exact number, my goal is around 3000 k/cals for the day.Within that broader k/cal goal, the spreadsheet calculates ranges for the macronutrients.I also included fiber and saturated fat (SFA) in the spreadsheet; you can figure out the rest on your own (omega-3's, etc.).

It is important to be flexible with these nutrient guidelines.For example, if you are fairly lean to start with, and you start dropping weight rapidly to the point where your LBM is disappearing, then it is time to add a few hundred k/cals to your plan. On the other hand, if you are overestimating your calories burned during workouts, and you start gaining adipose pounds or have stalled with your fat loss, then it is obviously time to make adjustments.


Supplementation during this program is oriented around 2 goals: retaining muscle, and aiding fat loss. To me, the first of these is most important (keeping the muscle), as this is what my ectomorph frame has the most problem with.The number one way to lose muscle during while cutting is to let your testosterone drop while cortisol devours your hard-earned muscles.

Some measures can be taken to decrease the cortisol to testosterone ratio, because any time you reduce calories and increase workout intensity, you run the risk of testosterone reduction and losing muscle to cortisol.I have tried various supplements to achieve a desirable hormonal balance and to aid fat loss while cutting, with some success.

For me, the single most important way to prevent catabolism during long workouts is to sip on a mixture of simple carbs and protein during the workout.I know it is not recommended to stay in the gym longer than 1 hour, but sometimes during a serious cutting cycle, it is necessary to bite the bullet and add that extra 30-45 minutes of workout here and there.Therefore, I typically drink my shake during my workout, beginning about 30 minutes into the workout, and spreading it out until the end.I've seen the best results by doing this, and various studies indicate that consuming liquid CHO's during a workout significantly blunt the cortisol response (8).I really don't consider protein powder and simple CHO's as supplements, but I wanted to include them in this section to reinforce their importance.

The second most important supplement is creatine. No other legal supplement does a better job of keeping those muscles inflated than creatine monohydrate.My personal favorite is Biochem.This is the only brand I have tried that is truly micronized, and will dissolve instantly in a shaker bottle. I'm sure there are other high-quality brands out there that I haven't tried, but I have no complaints with this brand.

Beyond the PWO shake, few to no supplements are proven to work toward our goals.I have personally used ZMA (most brands will do) and tribulus (Tribex), which are both thought to support testosterone levels.You can find studies for and against their effectiveness. While my results have been good, I cannot conclusively say that these supplements played a significant role.I have used ZMA for some time now, and in my mind at least, it has aided during both bulking and cutting phases.Tribulus did seem to help me during my bulking phase, as I saw more gains this year than previously, but its usefulness during cutting is less clear.Conclusion: if ZMA and tribulus do work, it is subtle.

As far as fat burners, ephedra was probably the most effective.The bad news is that is has been banned, but my experience with ephedra last year was that it definitely burns fat and muscle.With my ectomorph frame, it seemed impossible to maintain hypertrophy with ephedra.I didn't use it this year, and I had much better results.

I also tried a mixture of guggulsterones, caffeine, and 7-Keto DHEA (San Tight & Twinlab 7-Keto).I was impressed at the muscle-sparing effect, and fat loss was perhaps aided. A lot of people have complained of a "dirty buzz" with San Tight, which I did not experience.Again, like ZMA and tribulus, if these supplements work, they work subtly.

So, in the end, pills aren't going to get you ripped.Hard work and attention to nutrition are key. Drink your shake during the workout, take your creatine, and if you have the money to spare, the aforementioned supplements could help with fine-tuned sculpting.

Putting the Plan into Action: Sample Daily Menus

The following menus are devised for someone with a daily goal of 3000 k/cals.If your goal is more or less than 3000 k/cals, then simply adjust the portion sizes accordingly.

Sample Day 1

7:00 AM: Breakfast - Smoked Turkey Omelet K/cal - 415 Protein - 63 g Carbs - 8 g (1 fiber) Fat - 13 g (3.4s, 5.9m, 2.9p) 9:00 AM:PWO Shake - 22 grams whey protein, 35 grams maltodextrin K/cal - 266 Protein - 22 g Carbs - 40 g (0 fiber) Fat - 2 g (1s)

10:00 AM: Curried Split Peas and Roasted Chicken, 1 apple, 4 fish oil caps K/cal - 907 Protein - 82 g Carbs - 119 g (37 fiber) Fat - 13 g (3.1s, 3.9m, 4.5p)

2:00 PM: 1 1/2 scoops whey protein (30 grams), 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 1 large carrot, 2 stalks celery K/cal - 308 Protein - 37 g Carbs - 17 g (6 fiber) Fat - 12 g (2.4s, 1.9m, 6.9p)

6:00 PM: Roasted chicken breast 6 oz., 2 cups steamed broccoli w/ 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 pkg (10 oz.) frozen spinach, boiled and drained with garlic and lemon juice, 1 red tomato, 6 fish oil caps K/cal - 594 Protein - 66 g Carbs - 25 g (10 fiber) Fat - 27 g (5.0s, 13.9m, 6.2p) 9:00 PM: Butterscotch shake K/cal - 402 Protein - 44 g Carbs - 19 g (8 fiber; 8 sugar) Fat - 18 g (3.7s, 3.5m, 9.9p)

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