Certainly diet, training and experience play a part in their ability to recover from dietary excess, but as many other athletes discover, discipline and willpower are not sufficient to account for the dramatic changes seen in the pros.
This month’s Fat Attack addresses 10 of the more common and most effective means of achieving ultra-low body fat content used by the pros and high-caliber amateurs. While these methods are effective, many are illegal and most carry some element of risk. A fair question would be: Why they are used at all? The answer is simple; it’s the same drive that causes shareholders to participate in insider trading, some college students and professors to plagiarize and cheat, and politicians to lie. It’s a desire to be the best, regardless of cost, risk or ethics. Thus, while the techniques may be unique to bodybuilding, or even sports in general, the phenomenon is not.
Do not view the following information as an endorsement of these techniques. Rather, use it to approach the decision to use any of the methods described with greater foresight.
Stimulants are most easily understood as drugs or supplements that increase fat loss by providing a signal to the body that it’s in an excited state and needs to be ready for action. Stimulants act either by stimulating the release of the “fight or flight neurotransmitter,” norepinephrine (NE), prolonging its signal, or directly substituting for NE. There are two classic examples of stimulants used for fat loss by bodybuilders.
1. Clenbuterol. This drug is a direct beta-agonist, meaning it reacts with the exact same receptors NE uses to stimulate fat loss.1,2 Its main benefit over NE is that it’s more specific, attaching only to the beta-2 type receptors. This is important because there are two classes of NE receptors in the fat cell membrane – alpha and beta. The alpha-2 receptors cause the opposite response of the beta receptors in regard to fat loss from the fat cell; alpha-2 stimulation blocks fat release3 while beta stimulation promotes fat release.4 So, clenbuterol is actually a more powerful fat release signal than epinephrine, which stimulates both alpha and beta receptors.
Clenbuterol, which is used outside the U.S. to treat asthma, has been discovered to also be anabolic when used in extremely high doses in animals.5,6 However, the levels needed to achieve this effect would be toxic, likely deadly to humans, so there’s no practical anabolic effect from this drug.2 Clenbuterol is typically dosed in the range of 10 to 40 micrograms (not milligrams) per day, though some users will develop a tolerance to much higher doses.1 The effects of clenbuterol are short lived, as the beta receptors will downregulate, or burn out, within a matter of a few weeks, so many users will either use clenbuterol for only a short period or alternately go on and off the drug every couple of days. Clenbuterol has been associated with serious side effects in bodybuilders.7-9
2. Ephedrine/Caffeine Stacks. These supplements have historically been big sellers, simply because they are effective. Numerous studies have been published demonstrating the combination of ephedrine and caffeine to be effective in accelerating weight loss, often preserving lean mass as opposed to the muscle wasting seen in unassisted fat loss.10,11 An unprecedented amount of controversy has arisen regarding the safety of ephedrine/caffeine supplements due to a number of adverse events reported among users. Ephedrine/caffeine use has been associated with a number of hospitalizations and several deaths.12-14 However, in studies where dosage was controlled and the subjects were monitored, ephedrine/ caffeine has been declared to be safe and free from serious adverse events.10,11,15
The adverse reports led the FDA to ban the sale of synthetic ephedrine/caffeine (over the-counter drugs under the jurisdiction of the FDA), which is unfortunate, as most studies used the more tightly controlled and regulated OTC drugs. However, other studies have shown that some of the herbal supplements are as effective and seemingly as safe as the OTC version.16,17 Bodybuilders use ephedrine/caffeine supplements not only for fat loss, but also because it is a stimulant and can aid in maintaining energy and motivation during training.
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Glycemic Index and Fat Loss
For many years we were told the keys to losing weight and staying healthy are to exercise and eat a low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet. The public evidently heeded this advice as epidemiological studies have shown that dietary practices of Americans have shifted accordingly. Yet, despite this shift, the incidence of obesity and diabetes in America has reached epidemic proportions, particularly in children and adolescents. This phenomenon has been explained as a result of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and consumption of nutrient-dense food.
12 Steps to Peak Your Physique in 2022!
Why do we make such a big deal out of a new year? These are after all abstract constructs that we humans came up with to delineate our lives into blocks of time: seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years. It’s what a new year represents that’s so important. It’s a chance at a fresh start, a chance to make changes for the better. As bodybuilders, time is always of the essence. It takes time to build muscle and to lose fat, and that’s assuming all methods and conditions are optimal. If they aren’t, you’re usually wasting time when you could be improving. I don’t want you to waste 2022, which is why I’ve come up with 12 steps you can start taking today so that the physique you have at the end of 2022 is superior to the one you started it with. Read on!
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Fully Armed With The Big Rock
No, The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) didn't add the word Big to his name. Like in Star Wars lore, there is another. Another Rock, a bigger Rock. France's Morgan Aste, at 6-foot-3 and 315 pounds on stage actually should be renamed the Biggest Rock, right?
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Legendary Physique Photographer
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On a cloudy day, time moves less clearly than it does on a sunny day. Harken back to the summer days of youth, before the responsibilities of a job or family required one to pay attention to the passage of time. It wasn’t until the streetlights went on that one realized the sun had set and night had covered the neighborhood in a cloak of darkness. The activity on the streets settle as children are called in, even the dogs and squirrels sought shelter as they prepare for their nocturnal slumber.
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