Archive for the 'linky love' Category



09
Jul
13

Gettin’ Shredded: A brief and subjective review of the Ultimate Diet 2.0

A few months ago I did four weeks of Lyle McDonald’s Ultimate Diet 2.0.  In terms of fat lost per unit time, it’s probably the most effective thing I’ve tried, and if my adventures in carb backloading stall out I’ll probably go back to it.

Overview

UD2.0 is a weekly carb-cycling diet.  You spend roughly four days in a severe caloric deficit, flirting with if not actually bathing in ketosis, and burn fat and glycogen like nobody’s business.  After one last workout to fully deplete your glycogen stores and prepare your muscle tissue for an insulin rush, you carb up like a motherfucker over the next 30 hours.  After your carb-up, you lift heavy for a couple of days, then finish up a high-volume glycogen-depleting workout and start again.

The premise, briefly, is that you’ll burn through a pound or more of fat in the four-day deficit, and when you carb up your liver and muscle tissue will be so thirsty for glycogen that you won’t store any carbs as fat.  The carb-up is intended to normalize your metabolism after a few days of frankly ridiculous dieting, and the subsequent lifting ought to rebuild any muscle you lost during that short diet.  If you want more details, go buy Lyle’s ebook, it’s great.  (And also a lot more comprehensive than anything I’m likely to write.)

A week in the life

Sunday is the last day of relatively free eating over the weekend.  You eat low-carb at more or less maintenance calories, and you lift heavy.  For me, this was “pulls” day — snatches, then cleans, then deadlifts.  You’re still carbed up, either from the previous Friday or from whatever you were doing before starting UD2.0, so this is no harder than usual.  Tell any beer left in your fridge that you love it and switch to whiskey and soda, or maybe just soda.

Monday sucks more than Mondays usually do because you’re at 50% maintenance.  Pull out every trick in the book and tell yourself it’s in a good cause.  Hit the gym after work and rep out on big movements — front squats, RDLs, dips, and rows for many sets of ten.  Gaze longingly at the sushi place across the road as you pull out a protein shake and go home to your can of salmon.  Dull the pain with a glass of bourbon IIFYM.

Tuesday and Wednesday are worse than Monday because you don’t even get to lift.  Well, you can lift Tuesday if you want, but you probably can’t lift much.  Listen to Pantera and tell yourself what a hardcore physical culturist you are.  Have an ounce of the hard stuff IIFYM.

Thursday morning you’ll be slavering over the carb-load to come, but before you get there you need to lift.  This workout’s lower-rep than Monday’s, but if you’re anything like me you’ll be disappointed with the weight on the bar.  Deploy your highest-powered pre-workout and your crunchiest, filthiest metal.  Keep at it until you peel yourself off the gym floor and drag your sorry glycogen-depleted carcass over to the tube of Rockets in your gym bag.  It’s time for…

The carb-load.  At this point, if you’ve done your part in the gym and if you avoid excesses of fructose (and its polymers), you almost certainly cannot eat enough carbs over the next day and a half to gain any fat.  Your job, your solemn duty, is to try.  At this point you’re probably wrecking forty bucks worth of sushi and feeling like a kid at Christmas –

Dear Santa, for carb-load I want a pound of Rockets and two cans of Pringles and enough maki to choke a horse and then some burritos and… and…

– and there’s nothing wrong with that, that attitude is what you need to carry you through the carb-load.  Because when you go to sleep on Thursday night, snug in the swole arms of leptin and anabolism, the magnitude of your chosen task begins to dawn and you realize you’ve barely made a dent in the thousand-odd grams of carbs you need to consume if you want to do this right.

Friday starts early.  You get up, you take a shit, and you put water to boil.  One pot is for breakfast, which is two packets of cheap-ass ramen.  The other pot is for white rice.  While the rice cooks you wolf down noodles and MSG and whip up protein to mix with the rice.  You pack that shit in Tupperware and mix protein powder with improbable amounts of creatine and waxy maize and get out the door to work.  Try to shower in there somewhere.

Your co-workers, who by now are probably used to your ketogenic ways, won’t expect to see you in the kitchen microwaving a bowl of rice with bacon, eggs, and a bunch of Sriracha on top, so they’ll make unfunny jokes which you’ll ignore.  Slam that rice and protein, and then mix up a protein shake with so much waxy maize in it that it tastes like drinking a panel of waterlogged chocolate-flavoured drywall.  It’s ten-thirty and your endocrine system’s yelling at you to stop eating, but you can’t.  Lunch is a sushi run.  As soon as you can manage, finish off that rice and protein and the rest of your protein-carb shakes, and work your way grimly through a bag or three of chips from the vending machine.  Insulin might be making you groggy — no coffee!  Coffee is an appetite suppressant, get your caffeine from tablets.  Leave the Coke and its high-fructose corn syrup in the fridge.

Quitting time and you just want to go home and sleep off the massive insulin rush you’ve inflicted upon yourself, but it’s Friday Night, Man, and for a nerd like me that means gaming.  Hit the liquor store on the way home for eight tall cans of Guinness — twelve if you have to share — and a couple enormous bags of chips.  Your friends aren’t ready for this, they’re expecting a veggie tray or a bag of jerky and maybe a bottle of whiskey.  Everything you’ve suffered since Sunday night pays off when you look them deadpan in their wide, startled eyes, gesture to the starchy feast in front of you, and explain “I’m on a diet.”  Mix some creatine into your beer just to ice that particular cake.  Then roll twenties.

Saturday is maybe a better time for everything to pay off.  You’re five to eight pounds heavier than you were on Thursday morning, and more vascular to boot.  Your muscles are loaded with water, glycogen, and pure burning hatred of weakness and inadequacy.  GO SQUAT.  Squats and presses and chins, oh my, all the pure strength work you love for lots of low-rep sets, and you’re stomping around the gym like Duke Nukem when he’s all out of bubblegum.  Give both your psyche and your digestive tract a break and eat at maintenance, with plenty of veggies, steak, and India Pale Ale.

Then do it all over again.

Verdict

UD2.0 is frighteningly efficient at ripping fat off your body.  What’s more, between the carb-load, the weekend lifting, and the fact that you’re constantly changing something related to your eating patterns, it’s also somewhere between fun and engrossing.  If a safe, effective, dreary targeted ketogenic diet bores you to tears… well, UD2.0 won’t bore you to tears.

One downside is that it’s stressful.  Eating low-cal low-carb Monday through most of Thursday sucks.  Glycogen depletion workouts on Mondays and glycogen-depleted workouts on Thursdays suck.  Even carb loads kind of suck once you get halfway through Friday and realize you still have 500g of fucking carbs to eat before roughly midnight.  If the rest of your life isn’t chugging along on a happy stable path, you’re gonna have a bad time.

Another downside is that it requires some fairly specialized workouts.  Applying the “athlete variations” from the back of the book help this out a little, but UD2.0 needs you to do glycogen-depletion work at the beginning of the week, tension work right before the carb-up, and strength work over the weekend.  Don’t like glycogen depletion workouts?  Join the club, we meet Monday nights.  At the gym.

But the good news is that UD2.0 is sufficiently effective that, if you’re reasonably lean to begin with (and if you’re not Lyle suggests you try something that’s less of a pain in the ass until you are), you probably won’t need to run it for more than about a month or two.

08
Jul
13

Very good sentences

Bryan Caplan:

The rarity of do-nothing policies is no more puzzling than the rarity of keeping your hands off your mosquito bites.

01
Jul
13

Another case of the journalism majors

The attentive reader will recall that I’m not a big fan of the New York Times.  I’ll let Jalopnik provide one more datum:

The New York Times ran a piece this weekend with the foreboding title “THE END OF CAR CULTURE” (and people accuse us of clickbait). Here’s why you should take that claim with a grain of yellow cake uranium.

Zing!

Also, vintage car porn:

That’s Ari Vatanen demolishing Pike’s Peak before they went and paved everything.

24
Jun
13

Gettin’ shredded: Insulin, ketosis, and carb loading

Here we’re getting into some good crunchy sciencey stuff.  Given that human energy metabolism is fiendishly complex, I certainly won’t pretend to know everything about what I’m writing about, but this understanding has been good enough for me so far.  I got most of it from Lyle McDonald, Kiefer, Silverhydra, Prof. Dr. Andro, and Martin Berkhan.  They (and their sources) don’t always agree, and odds are excellent that I’ve made mistakes in trying to understand their writing, too.  Take this with a pillar of salt.

I repeat: I am going to simplify outrageously and not cite my sources (except as I’ve done above).

Insulin

Let’s start here.  In metabolically healthy people (fixing diabetes is not part of the game plan), insulin is a storage hormone.  It encourages cells to take up nutrients from the bloodstream and build stuff with ‘em.  Insulin levels are elevated by three things: Carbohydrate consumption; protein consumption; and high blood sugar.  Eating protein will cause a short, sharp jump in insulin levels; eating carbs will cause a similar jump, and then a longer second jump as the sugar or turns into blood glucose and gets shuttled away to wherever it’s going.

For the purposes of losing fat specifically, which is what we’re after, insulin is not our friend.  It inhibits lipolysis (the breakdown and release of fatty acids from fat tissue) and encourages fat storage.  We want to keep insulin levels chronically low (again, please don’t do this if you’re diabetic) in order to support as much lipolysis as we can possibly manage.  We do that by cutting out carbs and going ketogenic.

Ketosis

Tissue burns glucose preferentially.  Deprive the body of carbs, and the liver will release glycogen (“animal starch”), which gets broken down into glucose.  Muscle cells have their own stores of glycogen.  In general it takes the liver about a day, maybe less, to burn through its glycogen supply if you’re starting from a normal carby diet.  Once it does, provided that blood triglyceride levels are sufficient, it’ll start producing ketones from those trigs, which can be burned in place of glucose by most tissues in the body.  (It’ll also start producing small amounts of glucose from fat, which is good because parts of your brain really need it.)

Ketone uptake and metabolism is sufficiently different from glucose uptake and metabolism that it takes a few days for your body (in particular, your brain) to adapt to burning ketones instead of glucose, so you feel like shit for a little while.  This is the “low-carb flu” you might’ve heard of, although I’ve never found it to be nearly as bad as actually having the flu.  In any case the solution is to embrace the suck.  After a few days your cells will have adapted to uptake and process ketones, and you’ll feel fine again.

Fat metabolism, both directly and through ketone production, is significantly less efficient than glucose metabolism.  Since we’re trying to burn as many kcal worth of fat as possible, that’s a good thing.  But we don’t want to stay in ketosis absolutely forever: Liver glycogen levels act as a metabolic regulator, so if the liver’s out of glycogen (which it has to be in order to produce ketones) your metabolism will slowly drop, which is thoroughly counterproductive.  If you try to ramp up your workouts to compensate, you’ll find that without muscle glycogen you can’t lift for shit.  Also, when you’re in ketosis your pee will probably smell funny; maybe stay away from asparagus.

Carb loading

The solution is to carefully and selectively reintroduce carbs.  We can be clever about this by timing our carb-ups right.  General insulin sensitivity is highest in the morning, when the government and the food lobbies want you to be eating Cap’n Crunch and drinking orange juice, and lowest in the evening.  But muscle is most sensitive to carbs right after a good hard workout, particularly if it’s empty of glycogen.  So by lifting in the afternoon and slamming a bunch of carbs and protein immediately thereafter, we can ensure that the majority of those carbs go right into muscle glycogen, which is right where we want ‘em in order to promote muscle protein synthesis.  The remainder will get turned into glycogen by the liver, giving metabolism, thyroid function, and &c. a bit of a kick and probably getting burned up overnight, so we’ll wake up the next morning in ketosis again.  This is the general approach taken, to various extremes, by Lyle McD’s targeted ketogenic diet, SilverHydra’s Cheat Mode, and Kiefer’s Carb Backloading: A one- to four-hour (…ish) carb load after each workout.

Another option is to drive the body into deep glycogen depletion over the course of several workouts and low-calorie low-carb days, say over the course of a workweek, then after one final workout to raise muscle insulin sensitivity carb-load like a motherfucker for 30-48 hours.  The idea is that any glucose you consume won’t get stored as fat until your liver and muscles are packed full of glycogen, and any small amount of fat you put on from fructose and dietary fats will get dealt with during the next week’s low-cal glycogen depletion hell.  While you’re carb-loading you hit the weights as hard as you goddamn can.  This, in vastly insufficient detail, is the method behind Lyle McD’s Ultimate Diet 2.0.

About the only downside to carb loading is that you probably shouldn’t drink during the carb-up.  The idea is that, if your liver’s processing alcohol, it isn’t doing anything with carbs — it’s not clear to me whether alcohol uptake and conversion to acetaldehyde and acetic acid in the liver actually inhibits glucose uptake; if it doesn’t, it’s plausible that you’ll be burning alcohol (really acetic acid) for energy while you’re storing even more carbs (like the maltose and maltodextrin in your favourite beer) as glycogen.  Alcohol does accelerate ketosis, so separating a few glasses of whiskey from your carb up by an hour or two might be a good plan.  Kiefer has some interesting things to say on the topic; he’s more sanguine than I am.  Clearly this calls for some n=1 experimentation.  Anecdotally, when I was running UD2.0, I timed the end of my carb-load for Friday night, wherein I ate tons of chips and popcorn and drank beer and whiskey, limited more by having to squat the next day than by dietary concerns, and I still managed to lose a good pound or more of fat per week.

21
Jun
13

Better than caffeine

Want a little help waking up this morning?  Or maybe you’re one of the doom-mongers who insist that next year’s turbo-V6 Formula One engines are going to sound like apathetic vacuum cleaners?

Well, click on over to Renault Sport’s website and have a listen to their new compound-turbo mill.  Might want to grab a few tissues before you do, though.

(h/t: Jalopnik)

14
Jun
13

Bulkin’ ain’t easy

The latest post at SuppVersity is relevant to what I was saying about bulking from lean being more efficient (and what I’m probably going to say about macronutrient composition if/when I get around to writing about it).  Lots of good crunchy data; go have a read.

11
Jun
13

Quis custodiet etc.

I don’t have the energy to blog about the NSA’s data-harvesting the way I might once have, but that’s okay, because Mike Masnick, Mike Riggs, and some guy on Reddit have said everything I’d have said (and more).  While the third link is presently lodging itself deep in my midbrain to nourish my sense of nameless, protean dread for the next few months, my frontal lobe would like to point out that Masnick’s post is the most immediately concerning (and Riggs’s post is why we’re fucked).  For the next few decades, at least (although the Germans were probably saying the same thing in 1931), I’m less concerned about secret-police brownshirts rounding up political dissidents* than I am about individual shitbirds using the data for their own nefarious purposes.  (Some say this is already happening.)  Those of you who might protest that the NSA is “only” storing metadata might consider the mischief caused if a true-believer with the courage of s/h/its convictions extracted a list of the phone numbers of people who’d called Planned Parenthood clinics within the past few months.  Other examples might occur to you.

——

* The “police rounding up dissidents” rant is a Drug War topic, and is ably covered elsewhere




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