This episode is one of the chapters of the new second edition of my bestselling book for experienced weightlifters, Beyond Bigger Leaner Stronger, which is live now at www.bblsbook.com.
In this book, you’ll learn science-based and time-proven formulas for eating and training that’ll help you shatter muscle and strength plateaus, set new personal records, and build your best body ever.
And better yet, you’ll do it without following restrictive or exotic diets, putting in long hours at the gym, or doing crushing workouts that leave you aching from tip to tail.
Also, to celebrate this momentous occasion, I’m giving away over $6,000 of glorious goodies, including . . .
- 30-minute Zoom call with yours unruly
- Vitamix blender
- WHOOP fitness tracker
- $200 Lululemon gift card
- One month of Legion VIP coaching
- Inzer weightlifting belt
- And much more . . .
All you have to do for a chance to win is…
- Head over to bblsbook.com, and buy a copy of BBLS 2.0 (any format)
- Forward the receipt email to [email protected]
. . . and voila, you’re entered in the giveaway.
You have to act fast, though, because the launch bonanza ends and the winners will be chosen on October 16th.
You can also increase your chances of winning by buying extra copies of the book (any formats). Specifically . . .
- If you buy 3 copies, you’ll get 5 giveaway entries (+400% chance to win).
- If you buy 5 copies, you’ll get 8 giveaway entries (+700% chance to win).
- If you buy 10 copies, you’ll get 15 giveaway entries (+1400% chance to win) plus an autographed copy of the book.
So, for instance, if you buy the paperback, ebook, and audiobook, you’ll get 5 entries to win, and if you buy 3 paperbacks as well as the ebook and audiobook, you’ll get 8 entries, and so forth.
And what are you going to do with extra books, you’re wondering?
You could give them to your workout buddies, donate them to your local library, hurl them at unpleasant children, I don’t know—there are so many options when you think about it.
Anyway, to learn more about the giveaway and get your copy of Beyond Bigger Leaner Stronger 2.0, head over to www.bblsbook.com.
Alright, let’s get to the episode.
13:53 – Meal planning
20:58 – Mini cuts
42:39 – Calorie cycling
29:23 – Intermittent fasting
Mentioned on the show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Hey, Mike Matthews here and welcome to another episode of Muscle For Life. Thank you for joining me today, and what do I have in store for you? Well, this episode is one of the chapters of the new second edition of my best selling book for Experienced Weightlifters Beyond Bigger, Leaner, Stronger, which is.
Right now [email protected] Now in this book, you will learn science based and time proven formulas for eating and training that will help you shatter muscle and strength plateaus, set new personal records, and build your best body ever. And better yet, you will do those things without falling, restrictive, or exotic diets without putting long hours in at the gym and without having to do crushing workouts that leave you aching from tip to tail.
Also, to celebrate this momentous occasion, I’m giving away over $6,000 of glorious goodies, including a 30 minute zoom call with yours unruly. That’s priceless. Of course, A Vitamix blender, a whoop fitness tracker, a $200 Lululemon gift card, one month of Legion vi i p coaching and. More. Now all you have to do for a chance to win all those cool things is head over to www.blsbook.com and buy a copy of BLS 2.0, any format, ebook, paperback, audiobook, whichever one you want, and then forward the receipt email to launch legion supplements.com, L E G I O N supplements.com.
And voila, you are entered in the give. You have to act fast though because the book launch Bonanza ends and the winners will be chosen on October 16th. Now, you can also increase your chances of winning by buying extra copies of the book. Again, any formats, and specifically, if you buy three copies of the book instead of one, you will get five giveaway entries.
So that is a plus 400% chance to win. If you buy five copies, you’ll get eight giveaway entries. That is a plus 700% chance to win. And if you buy 10 copies, you are going to get 15 giveaway entries, which is a plus 1400% chance to win. And if you buy 10 copies, you are going to get an autographed copy of the book as well, that you don’t have to win, you’re just gonna get it.
So for instance, if you buy the paperback ebook and audiobook, that’s three copies, you’ll get five entries to win. And then if you buy. Three paperbacks as well as the ebook and audio book. That is five copies and you’ll get eight entries and so forth. And what are you gonna do with extra books? You’re wondering, Well, you could give them to your workout buddies, you could donate them to your local library.
You could h them at Unpleasant Children. I don’t know. There are many options when you think about it. Anyway, to learn more about the giveaway and to get your copy or copies of Beyond Bigger Leaders, Stronger 2.0, head over to www.blsbook.com, chapter eight. The almost nearly perfect diet, the heights by great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.
Henry Wadsworth, long fellow, the true. Secret to successful long-term dieting for optimizing your health and body composition is summarized by an influential figure in Japanese Zen Buddhism. Hacken I Kaku, who said the following about the path to enlightenment. It’s like chopping down a huge tree of immense go.
You won’t accomplish it with one swing of your ax if you keep chopping away at it though, and do not let up eventually, whether it wants to or not. It will suddenly topple down when that time comes. You could round up everyone you could find and pay them to hold the tree up, but they wouldn’t be able to do it.
It would still come crashing to the ground. But if the wood cutter stopped after one or two strokes of his ax to ask the third son of Mr. Chang, why doesn’t this tree. And after three or four more strokes stopped again to ask the fourth son of Mr. Lee, why doesn’t this tree fall? He would never succeed in filling the tree.
It is no different for someone who is practicing the way, the way to dietary nirvana is much the same. Conscientiousness and consistency are the keys and impatience and impulsivity are the enemies. Here’s a situation. That’s all too. A guy starts lifting weights and is thrilled at how his body responds.
Every week he gets a little stronger and every month a little bigger and more defined like clockwork. Even better, while he understands the fundamentals of proper dieting. Energy, balance, macronutrient, balance and the like. He isn’t following a meal plan or tracking his calories closely. He’s just making sure he eats a fair amount of food and protein, does his workouts, and lets his body take care of the rest.
As time goes on. Progress slows. He’s no longer adding weight to the bar. Every week his workouts are growing more difficult and his progress pictures are losing their luster. He soldiers on soon progress grinds to a halt. He’s lifting the same weights he was a couple of months ago, and more or less looks the same.
He has to accept that what was once working well is no longer producing results off to the internet. Or a guy goes to find out why. And before long he feels like he’s on the floor of the stock exchange. At the closing bell, facing an overwhelming cacophony of contradictory opinions, orders and objections, he wonders what the heck to do next?
So begins this poor fellow’s search for the elusive better way, the silver bullet that’ll get the needle moving. And his dissent into a confusing moras of complexities. A couple of weeks later, he has overhauled his diet and training to conform to the recommendations of one guru or another. Maybe it’s intermittent fasting or reverse pyramid training, or other sophisticated methods of eating and exercising, all promising that he’ll gain like a newbie again in a couple of months.
The air is out of his balloon, nothing has changed, and he doesn’t understand why. What did he do wrong? Is it just his genetics or are more strengthened size not in the cards for him, And then the next shiny object appears in his social media feed a new guru with new methods and new promises. Maybe it’s not too late after all, maybe this is the better way.
Onto another regimen. He goes only to be disappointed again and again. And again, until his ambitions drift away and he either quits or settles for going through the motions. I was once that guy and while it wasn’t agonizing, we are just talking about working out. After all, it wasn’t fun or encouraging. I no longer had a clear vision and plan for my body.
Looked forward to my training or wanted to further optimize my diet. Working out and eating well had become chores. What I and everyone else who has walked in those shoes. Was missing is that the solution wasn’t hiding in esoteric theories or advanced tactics, but waiting in the spotlight of the fundamentals, the 20% of the information and techniques that produce 80% of the results, this is true of any activity.
Mastering the basics produces most of your growth, and only those who’ve summoned that mountain have the wisdom and experience to benefit from more elaborate ideas and methods as far as diet and performance, health and body composition are concerned, the 20% comes down to doing just four things well, one, managing your energy balance.
Two, managing your macronutrient balance. Three, managing your micronutrient balance. For maximizing your compliance. In other words, maintaining positive, negative, or neutral energy balances as desired. Regulating how those calories break down into protein, carbohydrate in fat, emphasizing nutritious foods and remaining consistent.
If your dietary habits revolve only around those targets and nothing else, you can’t go wrong, regardless of how ambitious your fitness goals are. The real trick to intermediate and advanced level dieting is paying attention to the details that many beginners overlook not following. Strange or special eating rituals and routines.
Energy balance will always influence what mode your body is in losing or gaining weight. Macronutrient, balance the quality of the weight gain and lost in terms of muscle and fat. Micronutrient. Balance the quality of your overall health and wellbeing. And compliance, the quantity, pounds and inches of your long term results.
To go back to the tree filling analogy, you can think of energy balance as the strokes you make to cut down the tree. Macronutrient balance as the force you apply to those strokes, micronutrient, balance as the sharpness of the blade, and compliance as your persistence at the task. So long as you keep striking the tree with enough force for enough time with a sharp enough blade, the tree will fall as sure as water’s wet and fire burns.
Similarly, so long as you control your calories, macros, micros, and consistency, your body will respond to your training. In fact, research shows dietary compliance. Consistency alone is one of the single best predictors of long-term weight loss success. A saline example of this comes from a study conducted by scientists at Merck.
The researchers combed through all the research they could find on obese people on low calorie diets who failed to lose as much weight as expected, including papers on just about every weight loss diet You can think of Weight Watchers, the Zone diet, the Ornish diet, the Atkins diet, low carb diets, low fat diets, and others.
The scientists analyzed many reasons why weight loss was impaired, including decreased metabolic rates or activity levels, and increased calorie absorption from food in the. They concluded the culprit was simply poor patient adherence. In other words, the reason these people didn’t lose much weight wasn’t due to metabolic hob, golans, hormonal disruptions, or digestive dysfunctions.
It was because they weren’t sticking to their diets. What’s more, The researchers also found that when they looked at the participants in these studies who lost almost no weight, these people were also the least consistent with their diets and the ones who lost the most weight. You guessed it, the most consistent.
Several other studies have echoed this finding, and almost every case where people said they couldn’t lose. The real problem was they couldn’t stick to their diets. Although there’s no scientific research available on the topic, dietary adherence is a major factor in successful long term muscle gain as well.
Here’s how Dr. Eric Helms a natural bodybuilder coach. Researcher and member of the scientific advisory board of my sports nutrition company, Legion explains it. Adherence is rarely talked about in terms of muscle gain. People don’t struggle with a calorie surplus the same way they do with a deficit, and the barriers of combating hunger, Social pressure, and physiology don’t occur when trying to gain muscle.
However, consistency is still the most important thing for putting on mass just like it is for taking it off. The hard fact is once you are no longer a novice, gaining muscle and strength takes not only effort, but time, meaning you can’t have the same bomb and blast attitude toward training, follow the seafood diet or program, hop from influencer to influencer and expect much to happen.
What’s left? It isn’t sexy, it’s consistency. Gain up to 1% of your body weight per month. Eat enough protein every day. Sleep at least eight hours each night. Make small increases in load or reps. Meso cycle to mesocycle. Remember to take your creatine. Don’t go out drinking on the weekends and get in your fruit, vegetables and water.
Simply put lifestyle changes accumulated over years allow you to achieve your potential. Remember whether you are dieting or gaining consistency is always key. What strategies, techniques, and tools can you add to your bag of tricks to improve your ability to manage your energy macronutrient and micronutrient balances better, and maximize your compliance and consistency?
The foremost popular and effective strategies are one meal planning. Two mini cuts. Three intermittent fasting, four calorie cycling. Let’s learn about each meal planning. If you’ve read bigger, leaner, stronger, you know all about meal planning and have experienced its benefits firsthand. Meal planning is the easiest way to guarantee long-term results because it helps minimize errors.
By planning the food you eat every day, you are less likely to accidentally under or overeat or screw up your macros, which are major pitfalls that become more punishing as time goes on. This is why I’m such an ardent proponent of meal planning for those beginning their fitness journeys. It’s the easiest way to increase their chances of success, regardless of whether they want to lose or gain weight.
Many people tire of it, however, and choose to eat more intuitively, especially after they’ve achieved their first major body composition milestone or two. They don’t want to weigh and measure everything they cook. They don’t want to fiddle with my Fitness pal every day, and they don’t want to bother with trying to count macros on the fly.
Instead, they just want to eat a few balanced, enjoyable meals every day without gaining weight or ruining their body composition. And that’s understandable. No matter how devoted you are to your fitness, it’s nice to put the Tupperware and Food scale away for a while and reclaim your Sunday afternoons that you used to spend meal prepping.
Moreover, as an experienced meal planner, it’s much easier to eat according to your body’s natural appetite because now you have a better awareness of how the foods you like to eat relate to your energy and macronutrient balance. Additionally, studies show that people who are good at eating this way are lean.
Healthier and less likely to gain weight than those who aren’t. They’re also better at sticking to their diets and less stressed and happier with their bodies. That said, this style of dieting also has significant downsides if you’re trying to optimize fat loss or muscle gain. While it’s great for staying lean without having to crunch numbers, it’s not well suited to building your ideal physique.
Meal planning is far better for this to understand why. Let’s talk about intuitive eating because despite what many people think, it’s not eating whatever you want whenever you want. That’s more like anarchic eating, which will result in weight gain and other non optimum health conditions. Intuitive eating is a system of controlling what you eat based on your body’s internal cues rather than meal plans or other external means.
It’s a scientific term and we can summarize it in three precepts. One, eat when you’re hungry. Two, stop eating when you’re full. Three, don’t restrict your food choices except for medical reasons. It sounds simple enough, but it’s also easier said than done for most people. For instance, studies show that many people eat a sizeable portion of their daily calories for reasons other than hunger, Boredom, procrastination, peer pressure, hedonism, and convenience are all common triggers that sway us to eat more than we should, and often food we don’t even want.
As you well know, meal planning and calorie counting are effective countermeasures for dealing with these temptations to overeat. A good example of this is a study that found that intuitive eating helped people lose weight just as fast as calorie counting at first. Eventually though weight loss ground to a halt among the intuitive eaters, but continued at a steady clip in the calorie counters.
There are two primary reasons for this. One, It’s tricky to eat our true calorie needs because it’s easy to think we’re eating only to satisfy our hunger when that’s not the case. We’re highly susceptible to small triggers in our environment that encourage overeating, take portion sizes. For example, a study conducted by scientists at the University of Technology, Sydney found that for every doubling of portion sizes, most people subconsciously ate about 35% more.
That is if someone serves themselves two cups of macaroni instead of one, they’ll likely eat more. Other research shows that eating from bigger packages and plates can result in eating more calories. Our hunger levels are influenced by what we see, even when we know we’ve eaten enough. If someone shows up with a plate of fresh baked cookies, our brain can shift back to hungry.
Another potent trigger for overeating is food variety. Scientists have known for decades that giving people more food choices, especially when those foods are tasty and calorie Ds can encourage overeating. We can only handle so much of the same flavor, texture, smell, et cetera before we get bored with it and stop eating.
So food companies present us with a corn utopia of chow that has been painstakingly engineered to look, smell, and taste delightful. Faced with this abundance, it’s all too easy to turn into Augustus Gloop from Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory gobbling up one goodie after another two. The more weight we lose, the more our body becomes resistant to further weight loss.
This is because of various physiological mechanisms known as metabolic adaptation that work to increase our energy intake and decrease our energy expenditure. The main mechanism at play here is hunger, which rises as you lose weight, making it more difficult to maintain a calorie deficit when eating by feel intuitive.
Eating doesn’t work well for gaining weight either because this requires eating more food than you want to. You don’t have to drink a gallon of milk per day. In fact, don’t do that. But there’s truth in the body building adage that you have to eat big to get big. That’s easy to do for a bit in time.
However, your calorie intake will creep downward without you even realizing it. And so will your progress in the gym. That’s just how the appetite works. Your body doesn’t want to overeat for long periods of time yet. Another drawback to intuitive eating is it makes it hard to get your macros right. You must be a skilled, flexible dieter to wing it and get enough protein every day, let alone optimal amounts of carbs and fats too.
All this is why intuitive eating is best for maintaining your body composition and not transforming it. That is when you are more or less happy with your physique and aren’t striving to get bigger, leaner, or stronger. You can do well with intuitive eating, but if you are looking to lose fat or gain muscle quickly and effectively, a more structured approach to dieting like meal planning will serve you better.
I’ve learned this lesson several times now and eat intuitively when I’m maintaining a comfortable body fat percentage. About 10%, but still create and follow exact meal plans When cutting and lean bulking, I recommend you do the same mini cuts no matter what you do with your training, macros, meal timing, or anything else.
A calorie surplus is a calorie surplus, and your body fat levels will. Rise. Many people struggle with this. They want to gain more muscle and strength, but don’t want to lose their tight waist wash board abs and vascular arms. And I understand there’s a strange satisfaction that comes with being very lean.
You look good and you know it. You love what you see in the mirror. You get more attention from others. You feel special. It’s hard to give all that up for glacial changes in your physique, especially when the trippy devil on your shoulder reminds you of it every chance he gets. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that six pack again?
Is this lean bulking stuff really necessary? There’s gotta be a better way. Unfortunately, there isn’t a better. No amount of natural pills or powders or changes to your dietary and training protocols can stand in for a calorie surplus, lean gains of all muscle, and no fat is a mirage that only leads you deeper into the desert.
Lean ish gains of a bit of muscle and fat is the oasis to set up camp in. That’s where mini cuts enter the picture. They’re an effective tool for reducing fat gain during a lean bulk phase without sacrificing much in the way of muscle gain. This prevents your body fat from ever going too high, which is aesthetically pleasing.
And eliminates the need for longer cutting phases, which can be draining. As you might have guessed, a mini cut is a shorter than usual cut normally between three and four weeks. This is long enough to produce a couple of pounds of fat loss, but not so long that your body lights the afterburners on its weight loss counter measures with mini cuts.
Then you get to spend several months building muscle on a lean bulk phase flip into a deficit to carve off a bit of the fat gained, and then switch back to a surplus before the penalties catch up with you. Now, there are plenty of people who lean bulk successfully without using mini cuts, and I’ve done it before too.
You can just maintain a steady surplus until reaching the body fat ceiling of 15 to 17% and then begin a cutting phase. But, There are two downsides to this approach. One, as you get deeper into your lean bulk, you’ll probably become more uncomfortable with your body fat levels. Two, once it comes time to cut, you’ll have a rather long journey back to lean ahead of you.
This is why many people find that mini cuts make lean bulking more. Enjoy. They help keep your body fat in a more attractive range and minimize the time you have to spend in an ongoing calorie deficit. For instance, let’s say you’re a 190 pound guy at 10% body fat and you are starting a lean bulk phase as a natural, intermediate, or advanced weightlifter, you should look to gain around 0.25 to 0.5% of your body weight per month while lean bulking, and if you have ordinary muscle building genetics, about half of that weight should be lean, mass and half fat.
That means that on average, you should gain 0.5 to one pound per month, consisting of 0.25 to 0.5 pounds of lean, mass and fat per month. Many people gain weight faster than this while lean bulking because they overeat too often, vacations, holidays, accidents, and so forth. But let’s say you execute your gaining phase flawlessly.
In this best case scenario, you’d be able to lean bulk for nearly 20 months before having to call it quits, gaining somewhere around 40 pounds of body weight with a 50 50 split between lean mass and body fat. In reality, you’re more likely to reach the finish line somewhere around the 12 to 16 month mark and sooner if you overeat too much.
But either way, this plan would be a fantastic opportunity to gain a significant amount of muscle and strength. The bad news, however, is you must go without abs for a while as they fade around 13 to 14% body. And then after celebrating your gains, you have to face the music and strip away all the fat you gained along the way.
To get back to 10% body fat, you now have to lose about 20 pounds of fat, which will take anywhere from 18 to 25 weeks to accomplish, depending on how well you stick to your diet and training plans and how many breaks you take. Also, if you don’t properly manage your calorie and protein intake, sleep hygiene and cardio, you’re likely to lose at least some muscle too.
A picture perfect cut back to 10%, then would entail losing about 30 pounds. 20 pounds of fat and around 10 pounds of intramuscular water and glycogen, as well as some food weight, which technically counts as lean mass. So by the end of this castle in the sky case, in just over two years, you’ve gained about 10 pounds of muscle tissue, which is outstanding progress for an intermediate weightlifter.
Let’s now look at how mini cuts can change things. If you were to do one four week mini cut, after every four months of lean, bulking a reasonable strategy, lose two to 3% of your body weight on each mini cut a reasonable target, and maintain flawless discipline and compliance. Throughout a tall order. In two years, your body fat percentage will hover around 11%, and you’ll have gained about 15 pounds of lean mass and just five pounds of body fat.
In other words, you’ll have gained almost as much muscle tissue as you would have continuously lean, bulking, and then cutting. But. You didn’t have to sacrifice your abs along the way. In reality, you’ll probably gain more fat when lean bulking and lose less when cutting, mostly because of compliance. But using mini cuts properly can help you gain almost as much muscle as continuous lean bulking with significantly less fat gain at this point.
You may be wondering why not use mini bulks too? Why not stay in a calorie surplus for four to eight weeks, gain a little body fat and muscle, and then strip away the fat with a mini cut? Unfortunately, this rarely works well. We don’t need to get into the nitty gritty details, but it takes time for your body’s muscle building machinery to warm up and get into high gear when you enter a calorie surplus.
Thus, by entering a calorie deficit to often you prevent this from happening or put differently, muscle building is a slow process that takes time to gain momentum, and you’ll hamstring this by pumping the brakes every month or so with mini bulks. This is why you should aim to lean bulk for at least 12 weeks at a time.
If you are liking this episode, you should know that it is one of the chapters of the new second edition of my best selling book for experienced weightlifters Beyond Bigger Leaders, Stronger, which is live right [email protected] Also, you should know that to celebrate this momentous occasion, I am giving away over $6,000 of glorious goodies, including a 30 minute zoom call with yours unruly, A Vitamix blender, a whoop fitness tracker, a $200.
Lululemon gift card, one month of Legion v i p coaching, inor, weightlifting belt, and much more. And all you have to do for a chance to win is head over to BBLs book.com. Buy a copy of the book any format, and forward the receipt email to [email protected] And voila, you are entered in the giveaway.
You have to act fast though because the book launch Bonanza ends and the winners will be chosen on October 16th. Intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is simple. At bottom, you don’t eat for most of the day. Then you cram all of your calories into an eating window that can last anywhere from four to eight hours, if that sounds stupid, uncomfortable, or even unhealthy.
I understand. I thought the same thing when I first heard about it years ago. Eat nothing for 16, 18, 24 or even 36 hours, and then feast that will help you lose weight, build muscle, improve mental performance, age slower, and prevent sickness. Come on. That’s a diet that sounds like it belongs in the bargain bin.
With the rest of the faddish nonsense that health gus churn out every January. It surprised me to learn, however, that intermittent fasting can be an effective tool for improving dietary compliance. It has good science on its side, and it doesn’t have to be unpleasant. In fact, many people enjoy intermittent fasting more than traditional eating patterns because it allows them to have fewer larger meals.
Scientific research on intermittent fasting has also helped tip some of the biggest daughtering sacred cows of diet and nutrition. Accordingly, intermittent fasting is here to stay. What it isn’t, however, is the quantum leap in dieting that some people would have you believe. It won’t automatically help you reamp burn away belly fat or stave off aging.
It can, however, help you stick to your diet better and improve your long term results. That’s why you should understand what it is. How it works and how to use it to get there. Let’s start at square one. Why is it called intermittent fasting? Well, the term is only a semi perfect description of what it is.
You fast, but depending on the protocol, not necessarily intermittently, sometimes you do the opposite and fast on a regular schedule. And what is fast? Many people assume it means not eating food or having an empty stomach, but it’s more than that. When you eat food, it gets broken down into various molecules that your cells can use, like amino acids, glucose, and fatty acids.
These molecules find their way into your blood and are met by the hormone insulin, which shuttles them into cells. Insulin levels rise in proportion to the size and composition of the meal. The larger the meal and higher in protein and carbohydrated is the larger the insulin response. The size and composition of the meal also determines how long insulin levels remain elevated, anywhere from two to six plus hours.
When your body is digesting and absorbing the food you’ve eaten, and insulin levels are up, you’re in a fed or postprandial state. Prandial means having to do with a meal. Once your body has finished processing the food in nutrients, however, insulin levels drop to a low baseline level, and now you’re in a fasted or post absorptive state as intermittent Fasting is a style of dieting that concerns itself most with when instead of what you eat.
The general goal is to spend more time in a post absorptive low insulin state than postprandial high insulin one. So for instance, with a normal diet, you might eat food every few hours from, let’s say 8:00 AM until 9:00 PM That is every day. You’d eat food intermittently for about 13 hours and eat nothing for about 11 hours because of the time required to process food, and depending on the size and composition of your final meal of the day, most of your body’s time in a post absorptive state occurs when you’re asleep with intermittent fasting.
You flip this around. For instance, with the protocol, you eat food intermittently for eight hours and eat nothing for 16 hours. This way, your body spends more time in a post absorptive state. While all the emphasis on fasting, this is why I was skeptical. One of the easiest ways to invent a fad diet is to isolate some aspect of eating and hang everything else on it.
For example, low carb crusaders hold up carbs as the gateway drug to obesity, disease, racism, keeping up with the Kardashians and everything else wrong in the world. Paleo advocates claim that our dietary habits should follow a flawed understanding of what our ancient ancestors ate. Gluten free muppets bang on about how a protein harmless to the vast majority of the population is destroying our bodies and must be stamped out of existence.
Then there’s intermittent fasting, which puts fasting up on a pedestal. Hence, my early cynicism, and I wasn’t entirely wrong. The health and body composition benefits of intermittent fasting are wildly overblown and many claims reduced acne, increased longevity, and others are essentially made up out of whole cloth.
That said, if you have a hard time sticking to your diet with a traditional eating pattern, intermittent fasting may be able to help. For instance, the single biggest hurdle we face when cutting is controlling calorie intake, and if intermittent fasting makes that even slightly easier, it’s worth considering despite what intermittent fasting fanboy would have you believe.
However, there isn’t much else to be said about this style of eating. For instance, a study conducted by scientists at Texas Tech University split 18 active men with an average age of 22 into two groups. One group, one ate all of their calories in a four hour window, four days per week. They could eat whatever and as much as they wanted, but couldn’t eat outside of those four hours on those days, and on the other days, they could eat whenever they wanted.
Two. Group two followed their normal eating habits and schedules. Both groups lifted weights three days per week and before and after the study. The researchers measured their total body fat and lean mass with dual X-ray absorbed geometry dxa, their barbell bench press and leg press strength and their biceps and quadriceps muscle thickness.
After eight weeks, there were no statistically significant differences between the groups on any measure except calorie intake Group one eight, several hundred calories per day, less than group two, and lost some weight. As a result, though not enough to be statistically significant, perhaps the single best study conducted on intermittent fasting to date was performed by scientists at Kennesaw State University.
In this case, the researchers divided 26 resistance trained men with an average age of 23 and an average weightlifting experience of five years. Into two groups. One group, one consumed all of their calories in an eight hour feeding window, eating their meals from noon to 8:00 PM or 1:00 PM to 9:00 PM two.
Group two consumed their calories whenever they wanted. Throughout the day, a nutritionist created meal plans for the participants that ensured they ate 25% fewer calories than they needed to maintain their weight, and at least 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per. The men also did three full body weightlifting workouts per week that resembled those you’ll do in the beyond bigger, leaner, stronger program.
And the scientists took extensive measurements before and after the study, including body composition, upper arm and thigh thickness, bench press and leg press, one rep max muscular endurance, and many more. And again, no statistically significant differences were found between the groups on any measure.
Yet another study performed by scientists at the University of Padova found almost identical results. In this case, people using intermittent fasting gained the same amount of muscle and strength as people following a normal meal schedule. But lost slightly more body fat. The reason for this though, is they were eating about 200 fewer calories per day than the people following the normal meal schedule, which is enough to explain more or less all of the difference in fat loss.
Another issue with intermittent fasting is research shows that pre-workout carbs, enhanced performance and pre-workout protein may enhance recovery. The better you can perform in your workouts and recover from them, the better your progress. Finally, studies suggest that eating at least 30 grams of protein across at least three to four meals per day is probably better for gaining muscle than having one or two large meals containing most of your daily protein, as many people do when intermittent fasting.
All this is again, why I only recommend intermittent fasting if it helps you better stick to your meal plan. But won’t I lose muscle and slow down my metabolism by going for 12, 14, or 16 hours without food? A good question and longstanding belief among bodybuilders. Thanks to scientific insights into what happens when we fast.
However, we now know that’s not the case. To understand why. Let’s review how fasting relates to muscle tissue breakdown. Glucose or blood sugar is a great source of energy for your cells and organs. The easiest way to provide your body with glucose is to eat carbs, but it can also create glucose out of other substances, such as amino acids found in proteins and glycerol found in body fat.
When you’re fasting, your body must rely on its own energy stores to obtain glucose and survive, and it has two primary sources for this. One glycogen stored in the liver. Glycogen is a form of carbohydrate that can be converted into glucose. Two body fat. When fat cells are mobilized, fatty acids are released into the blood, which many of your cells can burn for energy, along with glycerol, which can be converted into glucose.
So long as the body can turn to these two energy sources to sustain itself. It has no reason to break down muscle tissue when the liver runs out of glycogen, however, The body won’t continue burning body fat alone. It’ll also cannibalize muscle to obtain amino acids for conversion into glucose. For example, a research review conducted by Dr.
George Fk Hill Jr. Found that amino acids produced by the breakdown of muscle tissue were responsible for about 50% of glucose maintenance at the 16 hour mark of fasting, and 100% at the 28 hour mark. For this reason, many intermittent fasting protocols designed for athletes and bodybuilders don’t involve fasting for over 16 hours at a time.
The other fable, intermittent fasting has dispelled is the claim that it can cause your metabolism to face. Most people connect hunger and starvation. I’m starving. They say just a few hours after their last meal. But physiologically, these are very different things. Hunger is a spark while starvation is a for alarm fire, and it takes a lot of hunger to turn into real starvation.
Case in point, a study conducted by scientists at the University of Rochester found that metabolic rate didn’t decline until 60 hours of fasting, and the reduction was a mere 8%. What’s more research shows that the metabolism speeds up after 36 to 48 hours of fasting, which makes sense from an evolutionary perspective.
If we haven’t eaten in some time, what does our body want? Food, of course. And how does it stimulate us to find food? By increasing production of two chemicals that sharpen our minds and urge us to move around adrenaline and neuro adrenaline. Incidentally, these chemicals also increase our metabolic rate.
Studies show that true starvation begins at about three days, 72 hours of not eating, at which point the primary source of energy becomes muscle tissue. This causes muscle loss, but even that tapers off as time goes on because lean mass is vital to preserving health and life. So here’s the bottom line.
Like any popular brand of dieting, intermittent fasting is a victim of unreal hopes and expectations. People will always hunt for shortcuts and hacks, and there will always be astute marketers ready to oblige them. It would be great if manipulating your eating schedule alone could significantly improved muscle gain, fat loss, and health.
But it can’t only a lifestyle that includes regular exercise, nutritious foods, minimal alcohol, and good sleep hygiene can move the needle in a major way. What intermittent fasting can do though is make eating fewer calories easier and more enjoyable. That’s it. Calorie cycling. Calorie cycling is a method of eating that involves planned increases and decreases in calorie intake, usually by eating more or less carbohydrate.
There are many calorie cycling protocols to choose from, but most alternate between high, medium and low calorie days throughout the week. On high calorie days, you typically consume more calories than you burn. On medium calorie days, you typically consume as many calories as you burn. On low calorie days, you typically consume fewer calories than you burn.
The exact mix of your high, medium and low calorie days depends on your goals and preferences. For example, if you want to lose fat, you could maintain a calorie deficit for five days per week and eat at maintenance on the remaining two days to give your body a break as an advanced weightlifter. This can help with muscle retention as you get leaner, especially if you’re dieting to very low levels of body fat.
If you want to gain muscle and strength while minimizing fat gain, you can flip this layout around and maintain a slight calorie surplus five days per week and eat at maintenance or even a deficit on the remaining two days of the week. Proponents of calorie cycling claim its superior to traditional dieting in several meaningful ways, including faster fat loss and muscle gain, and fewer unwanted side effects when cutting and lean bulking.
Unfortunately, it’s not that cut and dried. Calorie cycling is a minor improvement over the norm for some people under some circumstances, but definitely not a breakthrough in diet and nutrition. Let’s start by looking at how calorie cycling affects weight loss, which is its most powerful draw calorie cycling and weight loss.
As you know, any diet that has you maintain a calorie deficit over an extended period will cause weight loss regardless of when and how you consume those calories. According to some people, calorie cycling, augments calorie restriction by boosting your metabolism and fat burning resulting in more fat loss.
This is hog wash. To understand why you first have to understand what happens at a cellular level when you lose. When you restrict your calories for fat loss, several chemical, hormonal and metabolic changes take place in your body. Chief among these fluctuations is a drop in a hormone produced by body fat known as leptin.
This drop in leptin underlies the constellation of side effects associated with dieting, known as metabolic adaptation or more inaccurately metabolic damage. Leptin plays an important role in many bodily functions, but its main job is to keep the brain alert to how much energy is available for survival.
The brain pays close attention to the relationship between the energy burned through basic metabolic function and activity, and the calories available from food and body fat in the short term hours, days. Slept in rises and falls based on your daily calorie intake, especially your carbon intake. It increases after you’ve eaten a meal, and energy is plentiful, signaling your brain to reduce hunger, increase physical activity levels, and maintain a high metabolic rate.
And it decreases as the energy provided by a meal begins to run out and body fat must be tapped, signaling the need for more food in the long term. Weeks, months, years, leptin rises and falls based on your body fat percentage. When body fat levels are high, leptin levels are high. And your brain responds by bolstering fullness after meals, physical activity levels, and metabolic rate when leptin levels are low, and remain so for at least several days as they do when dieting.
This sends a strong signal to the brain that it should take measures to increase food intake and can serve energy. You’ve likely experienced this first hand in the early stages of dieting, the first three to five weeks. For most people, it’s duck soup. The scale keeps ticking downward. Your waist keeps shrinking inward.
You’re rarely hungry and you feel like you’re normal self. Sometime around the two month mark though, you begin to feel it. The body building equivalent of boning your energy levels, motivation to train and dietary compliance start to sag, and your hunger, cravings, and irritability spike as far as your body’s concerned.
You are starving to death and it’s ready to fight. Hammer and tongs to survive and its prime directive has become to eliminate the calorie deficit. Sadly, this is something you can only manage, not cure. So long as you’re dieting, your body is going to resist your efforts to get leaner. Now, for the good news, when you eat more, Leptin levels rise and you feel like someone turned the lights back on.
In a sense that’s what’s happening. Your body is rewarding you for shrinking or erasing the calorie deficit. It perceives as a threat to its survival. Once you’ve stopped dieting altogether, your leptin levels will be lower than they were when your body fat levels were higher, but they can still be high enough for you to feel healthy and vital Again, that’s true of the lower body fat levels people pursue for aesthetics, 10 to 15% for men and 20 to 25% for women at such levels of body fat.
Leptin production stabilizes, creating a new, normal or settling point, as scientists call it, as long as you stay sufficiently active and eat plenty of nutritious foods, you can maintain such a physique with relative ease. What if you want to plum the lowest levels of body fatness, though, what if you want to get shredded, you know, sub 10% body fat for men and sub 20% For women, this is different and more difficult territory.
The stuff of low leptin bug bears. Once your body fat reaches these levels, leptin production becomes vanishingly low. And for many, this means unyielding, hunger, lethargy, and irritability. There’s nothing much they can do about it either, because aside from injecting synthetic leptin, which costs around $1,000 per day, there’s no way to nullify the leptin mediated side effects of low body fat levels besides gaining body fat.
You can stick to your guns, but it’ll take its toll in the form of energy, mood, strength, and hormonal health. Basically, you just have to choose between being peeled and feeling like a normal human. I’ve been there myself several times. It’s fun to look photo shoot ready, but it’s not so fun to deal with the fallout.
Losing about 5% of my strength on the big compound exercises, less drive energy and enthusiasm in my workouts, careful and consistent control of my calorie intake, which meant little in the way of cheating, and especially not with high fat foods, never feeling fully satisfied from meals despite eating enough to maintain my weight.
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t get shredded. In fact, I think most intermediate and advanced weightlifters should experience the process at least once. It’s a game of discipline, perseverance, and delayed gratification, and those are always skills worth honing. But anyone who says you can flaunt a shrink wrapped physique 365 days per year without sacrificing some of your health and wellbeing is lying, and anyone who appears to be doing it effortlessly is posturing or using steroids.
The latter point deserves emphasis because with the right drugs, everything changes. Suddenly you can maintain ridiculously low body fat levels, crush workouts, gain muscle and strength, and eat a good 20 to 30% more calories than you’d be able to otherwise. For instance, it’s not uncommon for enhanced bodybuilders to spend just 10 to 12 weeks getting stage lean, eating upward of 3000 calories per day, just shy of my lean bulking calories and doing little cardio.
We mortals, however, have a much harder time of it, but we get a consolation prize. Our body doesn’t go to pieces. Steroids are a sexy but sinister mistress that reeks physiological and psychological havoc. There is a way for us natural weightlifters to at least ease the pain of low leptin living, though calorie cycling.
Recall that leptin levels rise and fall based on two factors. One, your daily calorie intake in the short term. Two, your body fatness. In the long term, when you’re dieting to get lean, there’s nothing you can do about number two, but you can exploit number one to raise your body’s leptin production temporarily.
Specifically by periodically raising your calorie intake. You can increase your leptin levels for a few hours or even days, and this can ease some negative side effects of calorie restriction. In particular, think of it as coming up for a breather before going heads down for another lap around the pool.
Calorie cycling can help when you’re maintaining low body fat levels as well, but it’s of limited utility because no matter how much food you eat, your body can only produce so much leptin with so little body fat. Either way. To calorie recycle correctly, you need to follow two rules. You need to get most of your extra calories from carbs.
Research shows that eating dietary fat has no effect on leptin levels, whereas significantly increasing carbohydrate intake causes a substantial spike in leptin production that can persist for as long as you maintain your higher carb eating. It’s unclear what effect protein has on leptin levels, but it’s likely insignificant compared to carbs.
That said, some research suggests that high protein dieting may improve leptin sensitivity, so it’s a good idea to keep protein intake high when using carbs to boost your body’s leptin production. Two, You must eat at maintenance calories for 2, 2, 3 days per week. Why not just eat a very high carb diet when cutting or maintaining low body fat levels?
If carbs boost leptin levels, wouldn’t this keep leptin production perpetually elevated? Unfortunately, that won’t do the trick because the leptin enhancing effects of carbs are shortlived. Thus, over time, your average leptin levels will be about the same. Regardless of how much or little carbohydrate you’re eating every day.
A single high carb meal or day won’t make the grade either because it doesn’t raise leptin levels enough to impact your physiology. It takes at least a couple of days and sometimes up to a week or two for your brain to recognize and trust the increase in lectin and respond positive. Therefore by raising your calories to maintenance 2, 2, 3 days per week and staying in a deficit.
Otherwise you can make getting ripped more tolerable. So in summary, calorie cycling can make cutting more enjoyable, especially when you’re lean and working to get very lean. It’s not a game changer, but when leptin levels get low, every bit of help counts. Calorie cycling and muscle building. Calorie cycling isn’t for people new to weight lifting who want to maximize muscle gain, so long as they eat enough calories and protein every day, they’ll make rapid progress and complicating things with calorie cycling will only detract from that.
Even an intermediate lifter is better off. Keeping it simple. When lean bulking, he should eat about 10% more calories every day than he burns, do a lot of heavy weightlifting, and once he’s around 15 to 17% body fat, cut down to around 10% body. SSON repeat until he’s an advanced weightlifter. Someone with at least several years of productive training who has achieved 80% or more of their genetic potential for muscle growth.
Only then does calorie cycling become useful for muscle building. When an advanced lifter wants to make slow, steady muscle and strength gains while staying lean 10 to 12% body fat calorie cycling can help. It works well for advanced weightlifters because once they’ve gained most of the muscle and strength available to them, genetically progress slows to a crawl.
After four or five years of proper dieting and training, you’ll be lucky to gain a pound of muscle every six months. And by the time you’ve been training as long as I have nearly 17 years now, you’d have to sacrifice a kid to the dread Lord Kalu, just to gain a pound of muscle per year. We’ll talk more about this in chapter 11, but basically when you start lifting weights, your body’s muscle building machinery is ready to run it full throttle.
Whereas later in your body building journey, it never gets out of first or second gear. Thus, for your first six to even 12 months of training, you can get great results with a larger daily calorie surplus upward of 500 calories above maintenance because of these substantial muscle building demands being placed on the.
As those demands shrink, however, and they do as you progress, regardless of what you do in the gym, your body doesn’t need as many additional calories to meet them. In other words, it requires a much larger calorie surplus to build 20 pounds of muscle, which many guys can do in their first year than a couple of pounds.
In the latter case, two to 300 calories over maintenance is sufficient. The good news is while muscle growth becomes more elusive, as we get bigger and stronger, the smaller calorie surplus required to keep progressing diminishes fat gain, so much so that you can lean bulk for many months before your body fat levels rise high enough to warrant a cutting phase.
If you use calorie cycling when lean bulking, you can go even longer by placing your body in a calorie surplus four to five days per week and a deficit on the remaining days. You create a maintenance with benefits scenario where you can gain muscle slowly with very little fat storage. Here’s how I like to do it.
First, you want to be in a calorie surplus on the days you train. The surplus doesn’t need to be large. Five to 10% above maintenance is enough. Then you restrict your calories on your rest days to lose the fat gained while in a surplus as roughly half of the weight gained while lean bulking is muscle and your body needs to utilize a portion of the extra calories to build that muscle, you don’t need to offset the entire calorie surplus for the.
But only half of it. For example, my total daily energy expenditure is around 2,900 calories on my lifting days, five per week, and 2,500 on my rest days, two days per week, putting my total weekly calorie expenditure around 19,500. Thus, if I were cycling my calories, I’d eat about 3,200. On my training days, 10% surplus, producing a total surplus of around 1500 calories.
Come my. Rest day, 300 calories, surplus times, five days. As it’s fair to assume about half of those surplus calories went to muscle building and the other half to fat storage. I’d eat 700 to 800 fewer calories than I burn on my rest days. About 2100 calories per day to lose fat gained during the week.
The overall effect of this is slow but steady progress in my workouts with no visible change in body fat levels, which is great, but not without its downsides. For one thing, muscle growth is a process that begins in the gym and completes several days later, not several hours. By restricting your calories, even a couple of days per week, you tap the brakes on muscle growth and sacrifice some potential gains.
Additionally, many people find it difficult to stick to the plan because it takes some enjoyment out of lean bulking, even if you’re not much of a foodie. It’s nice to eat a bit off plan now and then when you’re calorie cycling, however, you must pay closer attention to your day to day calorie intake.
Also as many people train during the week and take the weekends off, eating in a deficit on rest days can make dinner outings, Social events and off days less enjoyable. As with everything fitness, however, you don’t have to be perfect to make calorie cycling worthwhile. If you eat a bit too much on a surplus day or two, you can always eat less on your deficit days to compensate.
And if you eat too much on a deficit day, putting you closer to, or even over maintenance calories. You can always correct it by eating less on your next deficit day or turning your next surplus day into a deficit day. The fewer mistakes you make, the better your results will be in the long term, but so long as you get things mostly right most of the time, you can still benefit from calorie cycling.
If you’re wondering about eating in a slight surplus on training days and maintenance on rest days, this can make sense if you’re only training two or three days per week because it’ll noticeably reduce fat gain if you’re training more than that, however, it’s not going to help much. So I’d recommend either choosing the lean bulk and mini cut approach.
Or eating in a surplus on training days and deficit on rest days. It’s also worth noting that if your primary goal is to stay lean while making gradual progress, you can simplify things and opt for mini cuts and mini bulks. This isn’t optimal for maximizing muscle growth, but if you just want to hover around the same body fat percentage while nudging your numbers up in the gym, it can work well at least for a time.
One reason I like this approach is it makes your day to day routine much simpler. You eat more or less the same amount of food every day, and I’d argue the time spent micromanaging the exact amount of calories you’re eating every day to be over, under, or at maintenance would probably be better spent squeezing a few more sets into your workouts, getting a bit more sleep, or doing basically anything else that’s even halfway pleasurable or productive.
So to maintain body composition with mini bulks and cuts, I like to lean bulk four, four to eight weeks and cut for about four weeks to get rid of the minimal amount of fat I gained if I did it right. In a sense, this approach is a longer term style of calorie cycling that’s spread over months instead of days.
Another option if you don’t want to overthink it, is to simply stay in a slight surplus and deficit a few days per week while keeping an eye on your body weight and strength on your key lifts. If your weight creeps up too quickly or too much, dial back your calories, and if your weight is falling and you’re stagnating in your training, dial them up.
Out of all the advanced dietary methods and tactics out there, including many popular ones we didn’t discuss here, like paleo, ketogenic, alkaline, and carnivore dieting, as well as strategies like reverse dieting, carbohydrate cycling, and back loading, and others, I’ve shared with you the four that matter the most.
One meal planning. Two mini cuts. Three intermittent fasting, four calorie cycling. Unlike the other techniques I mentioned, and many I didn’t, these four can make a positive difference in your body. Composition training and progress are necessary. Of course, you can simply stick with the fundamentals taught in bigger, leaner, stronger, and do fine.
But chances are incorporating at least one of those four methods into your regimen will improve your long term results. And in chapter 20, we’ll talk more about how to do this. Beware experts who say otherwise and insist on the importance or superiority of. Pet diet or restrictive form of eating. In fact, this is often a reliable way to spot a charlatan if they’re promoting one style of dieting, training, or supplementing as optimal for everybody under all circumstances.
Give them the gimlet eye. Personally, I beat the drum for flexible dieting and heavy compound weightlifting, but I also understand that these aren’t the health and fitness master keys. They work well for most people looking to get and stay fit, But there are cases where flexible dieting leads to more overeating than more rigid restrictive dieting.
And where heavy squatting, deadlifting, and pressing doesn’t make as much sense as more moderate forms of resistance training. So my point is this, If you are reading this book, you’ve likely made it farther in your fitness journey than most guys ever will. Don’t lose sight of what got you here.
Consistent application of the fundamentals and fall into one of the many open manhole covers, Strew about the rest of the road. Stay curious but skeptical. Rigorous, but flexible and patient, but vigilant, and you’ll make it all the way. None of that means you can’t further enhance your eating and exercising though.
And in the next chapter we’ll discuss evidence based methods of supercharging, your meal plans for more health, performance, and longevity. Key takeaways. The real trick to intermediate and advanced level dieting is paying attention to the details that many beginners overlook not following. Strange or special eating rituals and routines.
Energy balance will always influence what mode your body is in losing or gaining weight. Macronutrient. Balance the quality of the weight, gain and loss in terms of muscle and fat. Micronutrient. Balance the quality of your overall health and wellbeing and compliance, the quantity, pounds and inches of your long term results.
Consistency is just as important for gaining muscle as it is for losing fat. The four most popular and effective strategies for managing your energy macronutrient and micronutrient balances and maximizing consistency are meal planning. Mini cuts, intermittent fasting and calorie cycling. While intuitive eating, eating according to your body’s natural appetite can be a healthy, sustainable, enjoyable approach to maintaining your body composition.
Meal planning is far better for building your ideal physique lean gains of all muscle. And no fat is a mirage that only leads you deeper into the desert. Lean ish gains of a bit of muscle in fat is the oasis. To set up camp in a mini cut is a shorter than usual cut. Normally between three and four weeks using mini cuts properly can help you gain almost as much muscle as continuous lean bulking with significantly less fat gain.
Intermittent fasting can be an effective tool for improving dietary compliance, but it’s not the quantum leap in dieting that some people would have you believe. If you have a hard time sticking to your diet with a traditional eating pattern, intermittent fasting may be able to help many people who practice intermittent fasting also train fasted.
But research shows that pre-workout carbs enhance performance and pre-workout protein may enhance recovery. Calorie cycling is a method of eating that involves planned increases and decreases in calorie intake, usually by eating more or less carbohydrate. Calorie cycling isn’t for people new to weightlift who want to maximize muscle gain, and even intermediate weightlifters are better off.
Keeping it simple when lean bulking. When an advanced lifter wants to make slow, steady muscle and strength gains while staying lean, 10 to 12% body fat calorie cycling can help to calorie cycle correctly. You need to follow two rules. You must get most of your extra calories from carbs, and you must eat at maintenance calories for 2, 2, 3 days per week to calorie cycle.
When lean bulking, you want to be in a calorie surplus on the days you train, the surplus doesn’t need to be large. Five to 10% above maintenance is enough. Then you restrict your calories on your rest days to lose the fat gained while in a surplus to maintain body composition with mini bulks. And cut. I like to lean bulk for four to eight weeks and cut for about four weeks to get rid of the minimal amount of fat I gained if I did it.
Well, that’s it for this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and in case you didn’t listen to the intro, I understand. It’s okay, . This was one of the bonus chapters of the new second edition of my best selling book for Experienced Weightlifters Beyond Bigger, Leaner, Stronger, which is now live over at www dott BBLs book.com.