Shredding Strategies

6 pro-caliber dieting secrets to help you cut up and lean out


When you cut

carbs, be it for two or four days, or remain on a low-carb diet for an extended period of time, you may notice that your muscles take on a flat appearance. Unless you're about to step onstage, there's really nothing too wrong with flat muscles, generally - flatter muscles are actually an indication that muscle glycogen stores aren't jacked, and lower glycogen stores encourage fat burning. Flattening out, though, has the potential to interfere with maintaining your muscle during a prolonged diet. Many things can influence whether you will hold or lose muscle mass while getting leaner, one of which is the water level within your muscles. Glycogen has the effect of pulling water into your muscles, which encourages muscle retention; in other words, water allows you to hold onto mass.

When glycogen levels drop during a diet, the water levels inside your muscles also drop, jeopardizing that all-important muscle retention. How can you keep water inside your muscles while keeping a tight check on carbs? By adding salt to your diet. Sodium helps keep water in the body. Most believe it traps water under the skin, which is true, but it also drives a special internal pump that allows the glucose from carbohydrates, amino acids and creatine to make their way into muscles. All three drag water with them, influencing fluid receptors in muscles that encourage muscle retention. Holding onto muscle, which unlike fat stores is a calorie-burning powerhouse, helps keep your metabolic rate elevated.

It may seem counterintuitive, but salt can help get you ripped. When cutting carbs, take in 20 milligrams of sodium per pound of bodyweight per day. That's 4,000 milligrams for a 200-pound bodybuilder.

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