Q&A: December 2021

by on December 29, 2021

Mountaindog, on an earlier post and thread you said you use virgin coconut oil, and grass-fed butter, whole eggs, grass fed hamburger or steak during the off season…Do you cut all of this out and use more carbs and leaner sources of protein when preparing yourself or others for a reduction in B’F percentage?

Andrew Berry
So it always depends on the individual and what we are seeing week in and out. Having a client in the offseason gives us a pretty good idea on what that clients needs are to perform best and get results whether its putting on muscle or losing bodyfat in prep for a contest or diet phase. These fats serve a lot of purposes ranging from hormone production, cell structure integrity, lowering the risk of heart attack and strokes along with other benefits. Keep in mind fats taste good and add a lot of flavor to our foods as well. So, to answer the question, no I wouldn’t cut all these healthy fat sources out right off the bat. I typically start with pulling carbs away from the training window. Depending on how lean one needs to get, it does end up being a calories in vs out equation on some level so towards the end of a diet, these fats might be reduced.

Doing 28 days later.. currently on day 4. Intra workout nutrition taken care off, but doing a slight deficit for body comp purposes. Recipe for disaster or do-able?

Cris Edmonds
This program was built to see who could take the absolute most punishment. I would never dream of doing this in a deficit. When I completed it, I actually found it was almost impossible for me to eat enough food to keep recovery high and my weight from dropping. In my opinion this program needs to be taken very serious in terms of eating in a surplus, maximizing recovery and sleep. For reference I was drinking 2 shakes of 15g EAA between meals, getting weekly massage and chiropractic work done on top of a ton of calories. I started with my base day at 5250 calories per day and by the end was having 6830 to keep up with the program.

Just wondering what your take is on refeeds or carb up periods if following a lower carb pre-comp diet, much like one would if eating only grass-fed beef, whole eggs, coconut oil, salmon steaks, veggies, and 40-50g fructose (from fruit per day to regulate thyroid output.)

Andrew Berry
Good question. So refeeds are important and can be used for a number of reasons. When training for a contest of extreme diet, we need to be in a calorie deficit overall. Over time, our body adapts and since it doesn’t like to veer from homeostasis we can see a reduction in rate of fat loss due to the effects of leptin and thyroid hormone in particular. When we do a higher carb based refeed, we can get leptin signaling back on line which plays a role in increasing thyroid output so the diet can continue successfully. Another reason to include a refeed is because much of the muscle tissue itself is made of glycogen (water + glucose). This is what gives the tissue a fuller look. When in a hard deficit we tend to live in a state of “flatness” and need to incorporate refeeds to fill the tissue back out. This is really important when peaking for a contest or event. When we have most of the fat stores gone, we need the muscle belly as full as it can be to present the level of muscularity attained properly so refeeding or carbing up is used.

Also, I love incorporating fruits. It adds tons of nutrients and most importantly, it tastes great.

Any tips for not looking really watery during a cutting phase? I’m removing carbs slowly according to John’s recommendations on the base diet but just wondering if any other guys have the same kind of issue.

Cris Edmonds
You just have to keep dieting and getting leaner. I have yet to see someone with low bodyfat be “really watery.” I know that isn’t a sexy answer or a magic pill, but it’s the right answer. As you get leaner, your skin will naturally thin out, you will have more vascularity and most people are very dry once all the fat is off. Now this will take some will power and dedication, but if your goal is serious enough you will have the patience to achieve it.

I am a 17 year old natural body builder. First off, thanks for all this great info, I am learning a ton. Would you change anything for someone with my circumstances? Alot of the people I talk to say I should do a diet that’s low fat, high protein, high carb due to my age and body time. I’m 6’1, 180 pounds, 8% body fat.

Andrew Berry
So, I wouldn’t listen to “people.” Everyone has an opinion based on what usually works best for them. I would continue following along with the diets we have in the In the Trenches section and articles we have on nutrition in the member section. But I tell everyone that’s starting in bodybuilding that these are some great years to pack on some quality mass. I would start with something- anything. For example, lets say you are eating a diet of 5 meals a day that’s 40 grams protein, 50 grams of carbs and 15 grams of fat per meal. From there monitor and then when progress stalls, make a change, any change.. maybe add a 6th meal. Maybe bump carbs 15 grams per meal. Maybe throw in an intraworkout shake. The point is, you add a variable and monitor. If you are getting positive results, do more of that. If not, reverse direction and then make a different change and start the process over again. I remember when I was your age my diet looked like this:

  • Breakfast 1- 3 eggs, a bowl of oats, bacon or turkey bacon (thanks mom)
  • Breakfast 2 at school- bagel with 2 eggs, juice, protein shake
  • Lunch- huge turkey sandwhich, bag of chips
  • Second lunch- chicken bbq sandwhich and a powerade
  • After school before practice- protein shake, piece of fruit
  • Dinner- huge family dinner, chicken or steak, rice or potato, cooked in olive oil etc
  • >Before bed- protein shake with ice cream, pb, and fruit.

When weight loss stalled I would add more to one of the meals.

What is a good Program for Power and Strength?

Cris Edmonds
The 2 programs from the site that will best suit you are: Program X and Unity. Both are a hybrid of powerlifting and bodybuilding that focus on the Big 3 (Squat, Bench, Deadlifts) and have elements of West Side (Max Effort and Dynamic Method) built into them.

I was wondering what your thoughts are on Leptin and its role when trying to build muscle, cut up, and retain muscle when dieting. And what supplements/diet strategies do you use to control or manipulate leptin for body composition purposes?

Andrew Berry
So, you might have heard of leptin in regards to losing fat. The longer we are in a calorie deficit the lower leptin levels drop. Leptin plays a role in regulating the thyroid so it would be beneficial to increase leptin levels periodically. Research I have done shows that increasing leptin best comes from higher carbohydrate feedings so this is where refeeds come in handy. Usually, it takes more than one higher carb meals to do this so for example, I might have someone bump their carbs 1.5-3x their normal intake for 2-3 days at a time. Additionally, leptin plays a role in building muscle particularly in proliferation and myogenic differentiation of primary myoblasts and can positively be correlated with recovery rates and muscle mass.

I don’t get it – won’t eating more fat make you more fat?

Andrew Berry
Well, really, its eating too many calories and not being able to burn stored fat is what makes you fat. If you are in energy balance now, and want to incorporate more fats, simply pull some carbs out. Remember that carbs will have 4 calories per gram and fats have 9 so you would need to remove about

If I’m training 6 days per week on a PPL split, when is the best time to do Cardio?

Cris Edmonds
To me the best days to program cardio with that training split, is Fasted on the 4 upper body days. Then if you needed a 5th session, do it on your off day. My thought process there is to keep your legs fresh for quads/hams then hit it the day after to speed recovery.

If I was to add deadlifts from the ground, when should I program them in the workout?

Cris Edmonds
John used to love to program deads at the end of your back sessions then immediately follow that up with 4-5 sets of hanging leg raises. I also like to program them last, after all your heavy rowing and pulldowns. But here is a fun additive for you all……..after the deads, before the abs, do 1 set of weighted hangs to stretch your lats and to decompress your spine. This is a great way to finish off a hard back day.

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