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1. Go to bed
Exhaustion can give you a gut. “Sleep deprivation disrupts your metabolism, seriously sabotaging efforts to maintain an ideal weight,” says Jana Klauer, M.D., an obesity researcher at NYC’s St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital. Here’s how it works: Fat cells produce a hormone called leptin, which tells the body how much potential energy it has stored. Since leptin production peaks at night, when you’re asleep, sleep deprivation can throw levels of the hormone out of whack. The end result? Your body has no idea how much energy it has banked, so you end up storing fat instead of burning it.
Consider a full night’s rest an integral part of any weight-loss regimen. Getting sufficient sleep will prevent lags in energy and help reduce carb cravings, adds Klauer. It’ll also help build gut-busting muscle. “Sleep deprivation causes a drop in the production of human growth hormone,” says Klauer. (This ensures the fat your body stores will make a beeline for your waistline.) “After a good workout, you get more deep, slow-wave sleep; and it’s this cell-repairing stage of sleep where up to 70% of daily growth-hormone secretion takes place in young men.” Meaning, even if you’re getting in your time at the gym, you still need to hit the sack to complete the biological process that makes muscles pop.
Get seven hours a night.
2. Power up with protein
Protein is the main component of muscle tissue, so it should be the primary focus of your muscle-building diet. Aim for 1.5g per pound of your targeted bodyweight during an emergency shred like this. Always have a form of protein in every meal to ensure muscles are being fueled with amino acids throughout the day and blood sugar levels are stabilized. Under normal conditions, you should eat about 1g per pound of bodyweight. Always consume protein post-workout.
3. Have a carb strategy
We’ve heard it all before: “Carbs are the enemy.” Well, not really. Completely slashing your carb intake will certainly help with dropping the pounds (and fast) but you’ll also be left feeling cranky, tired, and lethargic. “Carbs are essential for life as our brain and central nervous system require them to work properly. Forgoing carbs can force your body to metabolize muscle for energy,” says Tim McComsey, R.D., P.T. It all comes down to using carbs correctly, not cutting them completely. “To get lean, a balance of the right amount of carbs in the morning and post-workout is ideal,” he says.
4. Lift for nine days
Most people believe cardio paves the way for six-pack abs, but lifting is really the crucial element. For the next week and a half, you’re going to lift for nine days.
Perform your lifting workouts at night, as interval training will be a part of your morning routine.
Here are your splits:
5. Do seven days of intervals
If your goal is to burn fat, intervals better be part of your program. Besides being a quick method to get in a great workout, intervals are extremely effective for transforming your physique. By incorporating intense periods of work with short recovery segments, intervals allow you to keep the workout intensity high while still maintaining form. The magic of high-intensity interval training lies in its ability to keep you burning fat even after you leave the gym. In short, your body isn’t able to bring in enough oxygen during periods of hard work. Therefore, you accumulate a “debt” of oxygen that must be repaid post-workout in order to get back to normal. The result: Your metabolism is revved for hours after you leave the gym.
Perform interval workouts in the morning on an empty stomach. Here are 8 of our favorite fat-burning intervals.
Day 1: On
Day 2: On
Day 3: Off
Day 4: On
Day 5: On
Day 6: Off—perform a paced run at 60 minutes
Day 7: On
Day 8: On
Day 9: Off
Day 10: On
6. Get laid
Testosterone, perhaps the most widely known hormone, is responsible for helping lifters put on more muscle and recover faster from workouts. Other hormones such as growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), and hCG also play a huge role in recovery and seeing jumps in size and strength (not to mention your mood and sex life). Increasing your hormone levels to the optimal numbers involves balancing your lifestyle, perfecting your nutrition, and training at the right intensity. Too much stress in day-to-day activities can release more catabolic hormones (like cortisol), which break down muscle and make it tough to build the physique you want. “Our best evidence identifies regular exercise, a good night’s sleep, and plenty of sex as our best bets at increasing our muscle-building hormone king (aka testosterone),” says Yoni Freedhoff, M.D., family physician and assistant professor at the University of Ottawa.
7. Use a supplement stack
There’s no secret elixir or magic pill, just the basics.
Supplement with caffeine (200mg pre-workout) and beta-alanine (2g in the a.m., 2g post-workout).
A 2008 study at the College of New Jersey examined collegiate football players on a 30-day schedule of beta-alanine supplementation. The players were randomly divided into a supplement or placebo group three weeks before preseason football training camp. Performance was measured on the first day of camp by a 60-second anaerobic power test and three line drills. Throughout the duration of camp, logs recorded resistance training volumes, and subjects completed questionnaires on feelings of soreness, fatigue, and practice intensity. The group that took the beta-alanine supplements had a lower fatigue rate and a higher training volume throughout the exercises.
Researchers in the UK found athletes who ingested caffeine had a rate of perceived exertion that was 5.6% lower than athletes who were given placebos. The researchers also found that caffeine improved overall exercise performance by 11.2%. Imagine getting 11% more out of every workout, just because you had a shot of caffeine before you hit the gym.
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