There was a time when the photo next to this heading didn’t quite represent me… [Sigh] Okay, that’s a bit of an understatement. I was fat. Go ahead, say it – I know ya’ wanna: “HOW FAT WERE YOU?” I was so fat, when I sat around the house, I sat around the house! [Badum-bum-CHING!] Okay, maybe I wasn’t quite that fat. But I still remember running for the bus and noticing my BACK jiggled. See, boobs are supposed to jiggle. Booty is allowed a little action. With apologies to Sir Mix-a-Lot, what I had going on back there put a whole new spin on the phrase “Baby Got Back”!
Daredevils are Shredded
There was a time when the photo next to this heading didn’tquite represent me…
Okay, that’s a bit of an understatement. I was fat.
Go ahead, say it – I know ya’ wanna: “HOW – FAT– WERE YOU?”
I was so fat, when I sataround the house, I sat around the house!<Badum-bum-CHING!>
Okay, maybe I wasn’t quitethat fat. But I still remember running for the bus and noticing my BACKjiggled. See, boobs are supposed to jiggle. Booty is allowed a littleaction. With apologies to Sir Mix-a-Lot, what I had going on back thereput a whole new spin on the phrase “Baby GotBack”!
<Shudders from the memory>
Stubborn Fat SUCKS!
Proper diet and training got me from a size 14 to a size 4, but oh,the heartbreak of STUBBORN FAT!!! Despite Herculean efforts to improvemy condition, I continue to battle these determined little pockets.
My fellow former-fatties know this jiggly pudge all too well –it’s the kind of fat that settles in and clings with the tenacityof a horny dog humping your leg. Try as you might, this lumpy reminderof bygone dietary abandon simply will NOT leave.
It is BEYOND frustrating.
But wait! What if there was a way to ANNIHILATE stubborn pockets offat? Would it matter that the method would make you feel like you wantedto DIE… or perhaps fear that you were dying?
I thought not!
It turns out the solution to stubborn fat may exist in jumping off acliff… or something only slightly less undesirable: cardio.
But not just ANY cardio will do.
Oh, come on, I’m sure you have. You know the type, don’tyou? The fat, flabby doughboys jumping Harleys over rows of freighttrains… the soft, squishy souls doing cliff-dives off the GrandCanyon…
What’s that you say? You’ve never seen a fat daredevil?
HAH! NEITHER HAVE I!
While they may exist, I’ve sure as heck never seen one! NowI’m speculating here – but it seems to me that maybe, justmaybe, the massive amount of adrenaline upon which these junkies thrivehelps keep ‘em shredded.
Don’t hate – it’s possible!
Fat and Adrenaline
In “How to do cardio if you MUSTI wrote about variousintensities of cardiovascular training and their relative pros and cons.The most… well… intense among these is High IntensityInterval Training (HIIT) – and our shredded daredevil friends maybe proof of yet another “pro” for this type of training.You’ll recall that HIIT doesn’t “work” byburning off fat – it works by producing catecholamines (yanno,stuff like adrenaline, the “Oh crap – her husband just camehome” hormone), which, in turn stimulate the breakdown of fat andthe release of fatty acids. Follow up your HIIT intervals with a littlesteady-state cardio to burn ‘em off and those pesky fatty acidsdon’t turn back into saddlebags/love handles. 1
(All this stuff has its basis in research developed by Romijn andcolleagues,2 if you care to read it.)
<… crickets chirp…>
Anywhoooo… There may be a way to squeeze even more out of thisphenomenon – at least in theory – read on to find outnow.
But I don’t cliff dive!
So how does this affect YOU, my plump little post-bulk wallflowers?Well, if you’re too much of a pussy to jump out of airplanes or setland-speed records riding shotgun on a rocket-launcher, there’s hope;there are OTHER ways to stimulate catecholamine release!
We’re going to take advantage of the two steps described byRomijn and colleagues: 2
- You stimulate remote energy stores (i.e. notnear the working muscle) to give up the goodies (stored fatty acids) andrelease them into the blood stream,
- You burn off said goodies so they don’t just get storedagain.
What starts this whole process? Why, the “I’m freakedright out” hormones; the catecholamines!
The more catecholamine, the more fat is released and the bigger thekick start! It’s literally as if you’re scaring the fatright off your ass!
But, as with all good things, there’s a catch; you have to gohard as hell to mobilize these stubborn pockets of fat – so hard,you go past something called your lactate threshold – and the badnews is it would appear that something about going beyond the lactatethreshold may keep the released goodies from getting to where they canbe burned off, at least until a few minutes into recovery.2So what does one do?
Following the bouncing ball through my little mind:
- Catecholamine is a substance that helps make daredevils the Mastersof Shred
- The harder you go, the more catecholamine you’ll produce.
- The more catecholamine, the more fatty acids are released from lipidstores. But they don’t go anywhere right away ‘causethey’re TRAPPED!
- Lactate builds up and has to be cleared before you can burn off thefatty acids.
- So what is the solution? The magic of mitochondria, right there inyour muscle cells! Turns out these hungry little buggers clear bothlactate and fatty acids.
Fatty Acids, Lactate, Mitochondria and<sigh> cardio:
“Regular”, steady-state cardio builds capillary densityand mitochondrial density. These are both helpful for clearing lactateand burning off free fatty acids (FFAs) for the following reasons:
- If you can build better capillary density, you’ll solve thedelivery problem of getting mobilized fat away from the remote stores– which means more fuel gets to the muscles for those hungrylittle mitochondria to chew through.
- The more mouths to feed, the better: if you can build bettermitochondrial density in your muscles, you’ll have more of thesehungry little buggers to chew through that assload of fuel<giggle, I said “ass”…> once it arrives.
HIIT => Steady State => Success!
In short, increasing your mitochondrial density builds your abilityto clear lactate and free fatty acids, helping you look like acliff-diver that much faster. Building up your endurance base in theweeks and months before you try this is a Good Thingä, because ofthe above points.
Finally, we have a type of cardio that threatens to work better andbetter the fitter you get!!
Except… (there’s ALWAYS a catch)… the moreaccustomed you get to the stimulus, the less catecholamine you’llrelease. So you vary the modalities and the sprint intervals (and add ina few strategic supplements…) to help counter this effect.
Allwe need now are a few choice words on lactate threshold andcatecholamine production, and we’re off to the races (so tospeak).
Plasma fatty acid concentrations increase dramatically immediatelyafter intense exercise, while fatty-acid oxidation decreases (at leastuntil shortly after the intense stimulation ends). Great –you release fuel but can’t burn it. But wait: during low-intensityexercise (25% of VO2max), fatty-acid oxidation increases andre-esterification decreases. 3
Did you read that part?
- High-intensity exercise releases fat, but keeps it from being burnedoff, at least until after it ends.
- Low-intensity exercise burns fat and keeps it from re-depositing.(Low-intensity releases fat too, but not by very much – two tofive times higher than resting lipolysis 3 still ain’tall that grand),
- And the better your endurance base (i.e. improved mitochondrial andcapillary density), the better you’ll be at burning FFAs.
SO “intense activity before steady-state cardio” is amarriage made in Heaven!
Okay, maybe not Heaven; It IS, after all, still cardio.
<Gags at the word>
Nervous Little Rats
Catecholamines and exercise selection
My smarty-pants friendCindy Scott4 reviewed Catecholamines, Stress, and Disease: APsychobiological Perspective 5 for me and offered me someinsight into catecholamine release and stress. The study examinedsomething called nonassociative learning theory, contrasting thephysiological response to a familiar or a novel stressor. The subjects(in this case, rats) were divided into several different stressconditions. Some were just kept in a constantly stressed condition– one in which the stress remained, but did not vary. Others wereexposed to a stressor, then re-exposed to the same condition at a latertime. Still others were exposed to one stressor, then later exposed to adifferent type of stressor. And the forth group were chronicallystressed under one condition, but eventually subjected to a novelstressor.
Okay, we’re all feeling sorry for the little rats now. That isbecause we are CRAZY! (With apologies to Ikea’s advertising team).
So what was the bottom line? I’ll give you what Cindy gave me:4
“The greatest catecholamine response is not in“untrained” or “unstressed” animals that areexposed to a new stressor., nor is it from the group that is chronicallyexposed to high intensity stress or what we would think of as“high intensity accustomed individuals”. The greatestrelease of catecholamines occurs in those “high intensityaccustomed individuals” who are exposed to a NEW stressor.
In short, the introduction of a novel form of high-intensitystress generates an even greater response than commensurate but familiarstress.”
Scott’s bottom line here is the part I’m interested in– to get the greatest catecholamine response, become VERY fit, andthen do HIIT using an unfamiliar modality.
Or while terrified.
(Oh, and being rat-like helps!).
So, while HIIT followed by steady state cardio will help us reach ourshredded best, research shows that variety is not only the spice oflife, but also the key to even more effective fat burning!
And sometimes, it sucks to be a girl.
During endurance exercise, most of the fatty acids that skeletalmuscle is exposed to are derived from upper body subcutaneous adiposetissue 3 – which bites the big one if you have thearchetypal (“I like big BUTTS and I can notlie…”6) female fat-pattern.
As if this weren’t already bad enough, the proportion of plasmaFFAs made available from lower-body fat stores is even lower in womenthan it is in men 7. Further compounding (or perhapscausing?) this problem is the fact that women tend to have a greaternumber of alpha-2 receptors in the hip and thigh regions 8,(Alpha-2 receptors inhibit lipolysis 9).
And sadly, the proportion of energy derived from fat during exerciseis higher in women than in men – so we may very well derive morebenefit from cardio than men, but we have to work harder to get at thatfat. 8
Since areas of so-called “stubborn” body fat have poorercirculation and more alpha-receptors, you can see the benefit ofimproving capillary density and inhibiting these receptors.
What to do: Enter Stubborn Fat LossProtocol
Lyle McDonald 10, 11 suggests a “stubborn fat lossprotocol” that enhances the two-step approach described above. Theprotocol is designed to overcome some of the above-mentioned problemssurrounding mobilizing and burning off the last of the fluffy stuff.
<Geek Alert. Ignore unless you’ve studied OpLog>
Ha! – Finally an area I’ve actually studied in gradschool: JIT (Just-In-Time) lipolysis coupled with the logistic problemof getting this stuff to the engines that will burn it. Yep, that wascertainly worth five years of my life and a thesis no one will everread… but I’m not bitter. Who knew I’d be able to useManagement Science to help drop body fat!
<End geek alert>
As we did for regularHIIT, the protocol applies intense sprint intervals to create asmuch catecholamine as possible, which will in turn stimulate the releaseof FFAs inside those pesky fat cells. But we have a small problem: theintensity of the intervals performed for this protocol must be well overthe lactate threshold in order to stimulate the levels of catecholaminerequired.
Why is this a problem? Because lactate appears to inhibit FFA releasefrom fat cells. McDonald’s interpretation of Romijn and colleaguesis that stored triglycerides are broken down, but trapped in the fatcell by lactate and everything else associated with high intensity work.Once the high intensity stimulus due to sprinting is removed, there is arush of available FFAs in the bloodstream – and this happens about5 minutes into recovery from that stimulus.
So the FFAs are only released when lactate clears. No problem: yousprint the intervals, then stop and wait for the FFAs to becomeavailable. Following this pause with a moderate-intensity cardio-sessionoxidizes the now-liberated fatty acids so that they don’t justre-esterify (for those of you just tuning in now, that’s thetechnical term for “redeposit on your ass”).
Putting this all together
Insulin is your enemy here, and all foods stimulate some level ofinsulin-response. For this reason, McDonald recommends doing this fastedor no sooner than three hours after your last meal.
(see below for more detail on how these work)
McDonald suggests consuming the following optional supplements 30-60minutes before you begin: 12, 13
- Oral Yohimbine HCL (0.2mg/kg) 14, 15 (That’s about10mg per hundred pounds bodyweight. The first time you use it, take halfthe recommended dose to assess tolerance)
- 200mg caffeine
- 1-3g L-Tyrosine
I started writing this article late in 2006, as a follow-up to“
Lyle’s Protocol 1: Low Carb Diet plusLow-Intensity Aerobic Activity
If your carbohydrate intake is 20% or less of your cutting calories,this protocol is for you. Why? Well, about four days into your low-carbdiet, those dreaded alpha-2 adrenoreceptors are inhibited – whileat the same time, adipose tissue blood flow is increased! (Be happy,this is good news!)
Here’s how you can take advantage of your boring diet, my juicylittle opportunists!
Perform 45-60 minutes of low to moderate-intensity cardio (McDonaldsuggests a heart-rate of around 130-140 beats per minute). Since this isa low-intensity workout, you may choose to do it fasted if you like.
Supplementation: 100-200mg of caffeine and 1-3 grams L-tyrosine canbe taken 30-60 minutes prior to enhance catecholamine response, asabove.
Lyle’s Protocol 2: Oral Yohimbine plusLow-Intensity Aerobic Activity
If you just can’t bring yourself to do a low-carb diet (or ifyou’re cycling carbohydrate consumption and today isn’t your“low” day), you can fake Protocol 1 by taking yohimbine toinhibit alpha-2 receptors instead of letting low-carb dieting do it foryou.
In a fasted state, or 3-4 hours after a (preferably low-carb) meal,consume oral yohimbine (0.2mg/kg) – alone or better yet, withcaffeine and L-tyrosine 30-60 minutes before performing 45-60 minutes oflow-to-moderate-intensity, steady-state cardio as above. Note thatsince yohimbine can artificially raise heart rate, use perceivedexertion rather than heart-rate to judge intensity for this one.
Lyle’s Protocol 3: New and ImprovedStubborn Fat Protocol (SFP 1.0)
This was the original SFP Lyle posted about in his forum, with a fewkey additions.
Noteworthy is the addition of a pre-protocol warm-up, to preventinsulin from blunting catecholamine-induced lipolysis.
Also, although the interval “fat-mobilizing” portionshould be a bit of a stranger, a refinement on this protocol is that thelow-to-moderate intensity steady-state “fat-burning” portionshould be a close, personal friend : thanks to exercise specificity,you’ll have better work capacity on a trained modality.
This should make intuitive sense, when you give it a moment. As Inoted in the Fatty Acids, Lactate, Mitochondria blah blah blahsection, regular, steady-state cardio builds capillary and mitochondrialdensity, both of which help burn off FFAs.
Put simply, if you and I weigh the same but in the same hour that Ican jog six kilometres you can run ten kilometres, you will burnmore calories simply because you will have done more work – evenif our perceived exertion is the same.
Here’s the sequence:
Warm up – 5-10 minute brisk walk, ideally includingdynamic warm-up and stretches.This serves two functions one, to prevent injury and two, to lower lipolysis-reducingblood-insulin levels.
High intensity portion – up to 10 minutes of sprint intervals, or up to 20minutes of “metabolic” high rep/short rest weight training,such as circuit-style training and/or complexes.
When thiswas first posted as a discussion on his forum 12,McDonald’s recommendation was for 30s:60s sprint:recoveryintervals. You may choose (as others often do) to vary thesprint:recovery intervals in an effort to keep the stimulus fresh– particularly if you do this protocol more than once a week.
Some examples, courtesy of Cressey and Skwiat 16 (whoalso suggest varying the intensities):
These need to be FLATOUT sprints, with an exertion-level that is appropriate to the durationof the sprint. For example, you’ll push at a higher intensity fora 15-second sprint than you will be able to maintain for a minute– but in either case, go as hard as you can during the hardpart.
McDonald suggests using an unfamiliar form of cardiofor the interval portion if possible, since catecholamine response dropswith adaptation to a cardio modality, but is higher with an unfamiliarstressor (see Cindy Scott’s “nervous rat” discussion,above). Note that outdoor sprinting is not recommended unless you are atrained sprinter.
Scott had this suggestion to add: 4
In case this part isn’t clear and you’re thinking“it’s really only a suggestion… I love my elliptical too much,I’ll just do it all on that and it will be good enough”,I’ll say it louder: USE A DIFFERENT MACHINE, you idiot! If you usea treadmill all the time, do the damn sprints on the stair machine!
· Passive rest: 5 minutes(after you do the intervals) – Romijn et al2 showedthat a few minutes into recovery from high intensity cardio there’s atransient increase in blood FFA (free fatty acid) levels. McDonaldsuggests this is probably from a removal of the inhibition of release,and suggests sitting on your ass after the intervals while you try notto puke.
MariAnne’s note on the passive rest:
You may be different,but personally, I feel like crap if I come to a dead stop aftersprinting – I always walk it out for at least five minutes whenI’m done. Hell, for all I know this may clear lactic acid a littlemore quickly – besides, it’s almost certainly safer.
- Steady state cardio: Now, we don’t want to do all that workjust to have nomadic fatty acids find their way back to your saddle-bagsor love-handles, do you? To prevent this, follow your intervals with30-40 minutes of moderate-intensity steady-state cardio.
Lyle’s Protocol 4: The Stubborn FatProtocol 2.0
(AKA SFP on crack!)
This gruelling sequence is basically two back-to-back Protocol 3sessions, performed as follows:
As before, perform fasted or at least three hours after your lastmeal, optionally consume the suggested supplements 30-60 minutes beforethe session, then perform 5-10 minutes of warm-up.
Part I: Short intervals
For the first interval session, perform five (and possibly up to ten,if you’re a real masochist) minutes of short, near-maximalintensity sprints, such as 15:45 work:rest intervals.
Rest for five minutes, then do 20-40 minutes of steady-state cardio,as in protocol 3.
Part II: Long intervals
For the second interval session, perform five (and possibly up toten, if you’re clinically insane) minutes of LONGER intervals– say 30 seconds work, 30 seconds recovery to a maximum of fiveone-minute work, one-minute rest intervals.
Don’t hesitate to cutvolume or duration if your legs are fried – there is no fat-lossbenefit in getting injured, okay?
Unlike the first set, this second set of intervals can be donewhichever way you can bring yourself to do them – by this point,you are probably ready to fall over. Familiarity is your friend.Finish with a few minutes of easy cool-down so your heart doesn’tstop, and you’re done.
Metabolic weight-training instead of sprinting
For both SFP 3 and 4, metabolic weight-training can be subbed foreither (or both) of the interval portions of the workout.
For the “short” intervals in the first part, keep thework-sets short (and intense) with relatively short rests. Somethinglike the Tabata protocol (8 sets of 20:10 work:recovery intervals) couldbe used. For the “long” intervals at the end, keep thework-sets longer (30-60 seconds) with relatively longer rest-periods(30-60 seconds between sets).
McDonald urges that you incorporate these smartly into your workouts,making sure to reduce leg-training dramatically if you do more than atwo days of the interval-based protocols 3 and 4 per week.
Steady-state protocols 1 and 2 could be performed daily, or on dayswhen neither of the interval-based protocols are performed.
When can I eat?
Eat a protein-based meal right after these protocols are performed.If you can’t bring yourself to eat, at least have a protein shaketo assist recovery.
Now – doesn’t that sound fun?
<kindly ignore the sarcasm dripping from that lastphrase>
Before submitting this article to my editors, I ran it past my friendand physician Dr. Blake Wright. 17 He had this to say:
“In a healthy individual with no pre-existing cardiac disease Ido not see any harm in this regimen as long as it is a part of a wellrounded programme. It is well to the edge of my knowledge base so I donot consider myself an expert in this field.”
Well that’s reassuring – my doctor thinks the protocolitself is safe enough, at least for healthy folks. However, I was alittle concerned about the passive-rest portion of McDonald’sprotocol. Anyone who has done these sprints will confirm that feelingnauseous and overwhelmed after sprinting intervals is part of the fun,and that coming to a dead stop… well, feels like it might becomepermanent condition – after all, legend has it that Pheidippidesdied after running the first marathon ever.
<Hmmm… Come to think of it, it’s a littlesurprising there was ever a SECOND marathon…>
Now, I’m looking to lean out the leggies here folks, not die– so I posed my concern to both Dr. Wright and to my friend andnursing student Cindy Scott of nervous-rat fame, above.
From Dr. Wright: 17
“The large muscles of the legs are referred to as “theperipheral heart”. Allowing them to contract and relax as in walkingfollowing vigorous exercise increases venous blood to return to thecentral circulation more quickly and removes used metabolites likelactic acid. “Warming Down” is a wise practice.”
From Cindy Scott: 4
“Abrupt stops with all that massive peripheral vasodilationfrom exercise leads to large amounts of blood pooling in theextremities. Baroreceptors detect it as a blood pressure drop, so thesympathetic nervous system increases production of epinephrine andnorepinephrine to increase heart rate. This is referred to aspostexercise peril, and can lead to death quite easily.”
Glad I asked.
Turns out I’m not the only worrywart: others have beensufficiently concerned to study this phenomenon in depth.
Blood pressure plummets when exercise ends suddenly. Standing (orpresumably, sitting) means not using the “peripheral heart”to increase blood pressure and milk pooled blood back toward the heartfrom the extremities. In response to this sudden drop in blood pressure,the body cranks out even MORE norepinephrine in an effort to quicklyraise it to what had become “normal” during the intenseactivity. Gradually reducing exercise helps return blood pressure moreslowly to baseline levels. Since catecholamines increase reflexively inresponse to reduced blood pressure, it might be wise to do what we havelong been told: cool down gradually rather than just coming to ascreeching halt and collapsing.18
In short, the plus side of coming to a screeching halt is a dramaticincrease of yummy lipolytic catecholamines. The down side is that itmight kill you. It’s a crap shoot. You’ve got to ask yourself onequestion: “Do I feel lucky?”
Well, do ya, PUNK?
There – I’ve spelled it all out in excruciating detail. Ididn’t say it was gonna be pleasant, and I’m not personallylooking forward to it either. But until I suck it up and finalize thatpact with Santa (I’m dyslexic), well, I have this.
Now go on – get to it!
Listen to your body, and when in doubt, consult yourphysician for advice mmmmkay?
Lactic acid is a by-product of the anaerobic metabolism of glucose.(When you read anaerobic, think “fast twitch”. You’llsee why in a minute.)
Exercise is fuelled by glucose, which breaks down through a number ofsteps into something called pyruvic acid. During anaerobic exercise,such as short sprints or heavy lifting, pyruvic acid is converted intolactate and a hydrogen ion. This is lactic acid, and the hydrogen ion isresponsible for the “burn” you feel. Lactic acid diffusesout of muscle tissue and into the blood stream.
Note that had sufficient oxygen been present, pyruvate, rather thanconverting to lactic acid, would have been consumed (aerobically) bymitochondria within the muscle cells, producing still more ATP throughthe Krebs cycle 19
For me, beyond this point there be dragons – but this littlesummary gives me the pieces I required to develop this next bit.
Slow twitch fibres produce less lactate at a given workload than fasttwitch fibres. This is because lactate is essentially the carbonmonoxide of the metabolic world – it is the result of theincomplete combustion of glucose, which occurs during anaerobictraining. (See? That’s why I said to think “fasttwitch”! )
The onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA) 20 occurswhen the rate at which the body produces lactate exceeds thebody’s ability to clear it. This is referred to as the lactatethreshold (LT). Since mitochondria chew through lactate oxidatively asfuel 21 lactate threshold improves with increasedmitochondrial density (d’uh!).
This means that as you become more muscular, those nice, juicyfast-twitch muscles will be able to generate more lactate. But wait! Asyour aerobic fitness improves, you’ll be able to clear thatlactate more effectively thanks to the enhanced mitochondrial andcapillary density and improved clearance by the liver and kidneys. Notethat lactate clearance is specific to the type of cardio you do. Thismeans that for a given heart-rate, lactate clearance may be considerablylower for an untrained modality – something to consider if yourely upon a heart-rate monitor to tell you how hard you are working!20
Building your endurance base involves improving something called yourVO2 max – which is basically the maximum volume of oxygen yourbody can possibly use in a minute (the units here don’t matter,but VO2 max is measured in millilitres per kilogram). It should bepretty obvious that as capillary and mitochondrial density improve, moreoxygen can get to the muscle cells and more mitochondria are present tooxidize pyruvate. Thus, as your aerobic fitness improves, so to doesyour VO2 max.
The downside of regular, prolonged endurance training is increasedefficiency – which means better fuel economy (ie reducedcalorie-burning) if this is all you do for exercise. The upside ofendurance training is increased mitochondrial and capillary density.Performing hill repeats 22 is a way to bypass the efficiencyproblem – allowing you to improve your VO2 max in less time, withless work, less boredom, less chance of adapting to the stimulus, andbecause you don’t have to do a whole lot of it to achieve thebenefits, less risk of losing mass.
What this all boils down to is as follows:
- The more muscular you are, the more lactate you will generate.
- The better your cardiovascular base, the faster you’ll be ableto clear lactate.
Okay, so that’s the lactate part. Now onto catecholamines!
Exercise and catecholamineproduction
Exercise stimulates an increase in catecholamines (of note,epinephrine and norepinephrine) 1, and these “fight orflight” hormones ROCK at mobilizing mammalian fat stores. 9,23
Since the level of catecholamine stimulation is limited bylactate threshold (you know what that is now! See how smart you’regetting?), it’s easy to see that improving VO2 max meansyou’ll increase the capacity for catecholamine production.
(On a side note, I’m thinking the increased ability to clearlactate afforded by your “new and improved” VO2 max shouldonly speed the delivery of newly released free fatty acids (FFAs) toyour bloodstream during the post-exertion recovery – but sometimesI just like to see myself type.)
Yohimbine: an alpha-2-adrenoceptor antagonist; administered prior toexercise, it boosts lipolysis and serum FFA levels both during]andfollowing exercise. 24
With this protocol, we are looking to increase catecholamineproduction, and there is unfortunately a problem with circulatingnorepinephrine – it binds to both beta and alpha receptors. Iwon’t pretend to understand the details of how this all works, andwill instead direct you to further reading 16, but myunderstanding of this situation is as follows: binding to beta receptorsincreases thermogenesis, but binding to alpha-2 receptors leads to theinhibition of further norepinephrine release. The really cool thingabout Yohimbine is that because it is a selective alpha-2 receptorantagonist, it prevents this negative feedback from inhibitingnorepinephrine production. As an added perk, Yohimbine increasesperipheral blood flow 25, 26 – so the fatty pocketsenjoy increased blood supply, helping deliver released FFAs to wherethey can be burned off.
McDonald suggests avoiding Yohimbine within 3-4 hours of takingEphedrine12. He also suggests sticking topharmaceutical-grade (vs. herbal), and starting with half-doses toassess tolerance (MariAnne’s note – not a bad idea. I getreally nasty headaches from Yohimbine and I started with a very lowdose).
Cressey and Skwiat 16 suggest dosing Yohimbine HCl at0.2mg/kg14, 15, noting that lower doses don’t work aswell.
A potential problem with Yohimbine: even a very small increase ininsulin inhibits lipolysis. 3 Insulin potentiates FFAre-esterification and inhibits lipolysis. 27 Since Yohimbinecan potentiate postprandial (that means after a meal, folks) insulinsecretion 24, and carbohydrates (and even milk proteins!) areinsulinemic. 28 You do NOT want cookies and milk near thisworkout! That being said, although protein can convert partially (58%)to glucose 29, a 10-15g serving of protein may be prudent– the tiny amount of insulin stimulated from six to eight grams ofglucose likely won’t be enough to outweigh the potential to sparemuscle protein.
Caffeine: Research shows that caffeine boosts fat-burning fromexercise. Although Caffeine increases both lipolysis and resting energyexpenditure, the increase in metabolism by itself isn’t enough toburn off the mobilized fat – but it does enhance the fat-burningdue to exercise, working synergistically with lipolytic hormones tofurther promote lipolysis 30. Interestingly, this effect maybe stronger in lean individuals than in the obese 31 –good news for already-lean bodybuilders!
It can be a beneficial ergogenic aid for brief (i.e. intense)exercise, and it appears to be glycogen-sparing during enduranceactivity, promoting instead the burning of fat as fuel 32,33. If I’m reading this right, this means it may help you goharder for the HIIT, and then help you burn fat and avoid burning muscleduring the steady state cardio that follows HIIT.
Caffeine induces insulin resistance 34, which, on lowercarbs/calories, is glycogen-sparing, and hence, muscle-sparing: bylimiting the muscle’s use of glucose (in favour of using fatty acidsinstead), what little glucose that’s available is spared for thebrain 35. Furthermore, unlike ephedrine 36,caffeine does not lower catecholamine release prior to intense activity.37 And seeing as most of us will do the stubborn-fat protocolin the AM, caffeine provides a welcome kick in the pants!
L-Tyrosine: this catecholamine precursor 38 induces ashort-lasting (about 30-minutes) but significant increase in NE, EPI andDA 39. (NE = norepinephrine, EPI = epinephrine, DA =dopamine. That’s right – catecholamines!)
The N-Acetylform appears to have better bioavailability. McDougal offers thatTyrosine, which is very well documented for efficacy, not only enhancesneurotransmitter output, but will enhance mental focus and help increasemuscle fibre recruitment, meaning you’ll notice an immediateincrease in strength. He suggests dosing with the N-Acetyl form at25%-50% the dosing of regular L-Tyrosine. 40
(MariAnne’s note: just watch the dosing, depending on the typeyou use.)
AVOID Ephedrine HCL: because it may reduce catecholamine release whentaken prior to intense activity, avoid this one for the Stubborn FatLoss protocol! 37 If you’re taking Ephedrine for yourcut, resume its consumption 3-4 hours after consuming the (optional)pre-protocol Yohimbine.
A Word on Diet:
McDonald notes that a low-carb diet will impair alpha-2 adrenoceptorsa few days into it. This makes a compelling argument for lowering carbsfor this portion of your cut. If you’re not a low-carb kindadieter, he suggests you do the protocol first thing in the AM, fasted,and eat your carbs later in the day. 12
* This article is exclusive to IronMagazine.com, reproduction in any form without prior consent is strictly prohibited.
Copyright MariAnne Anderson 2009 – Got Built? Blog
I would like to express my deep gratitude to René Alvarez and Laura Kostur for the expert editing they so generously contributed to this project.
Photo credit: Greg Ehlers
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