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The Poliquin Principles

Charles Poliquin
Charles is one of the most accomplished strength coaches in the world. He has designed workouts for Olympic medalists, world-record holders and pro athletes.
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Preventing Muscle Loss While Cutting

Q: Is there a supplement or food tricks to prevent muscle loss while cutting?

A: Not only can you retain muscle while losing fat, but you can gain muscle. In fact, you should gain muscle if you know how to train and eat properly!

One concept to remember: If you’re on a fat-loss diet, you have to eat plenty of good fats. A lot of guys who don’t retain muscle when dieting are basically eating too lean – egg whites and chicken breasts all day long. You need quality fats, and I’m not talking about a burger from McDonald’s.

Dr. Mauro DiPasquale taught me a long time ago that when you go low carb to lose body fat, you still need to take in a lot of dietary fat or you won’t have any success. We’re talking about smart fats here like omega-3s, which can battle inflammation. You have to realize that our DNA has evolved only about .02 percent in the past 40,000 years, and the meat our caveman ancestors consumed had much more omega-3s than the meat we eat now.

I realize how anabolic food is every time I teach in the Dominican Republic. Last time I taught a course there, the students measured my body fat on a Monday morning. I was at 8 percent, and I weighed 198 pounds. Now, there’s no such thing as grain-fed in the Dominican Republic; they can’t afford it, so cows eat grass. If you eat a mango over there, you have to eat it over a sink because it’s so juicy. The eggs are also far more anabolic. They’re orange and full of omega-3s. A Dominican Republic avocado tastes like butter, it’s so rich in nutrients. Eating avocados here is like eating fiberglass once you’ve had an avocado from the Dominican Republic.

Getting back to my story, five days later I weighed 209 at 6 percent body fat. My business partner came to finish the seminar, took one look at me and said, “What happened to you?!”

When I work in the UK or Ireland, I lose muscle mass and put on fat almost inevitably, even though I try to eat as cleanly as possible. The quality of the food is just poor. One of the most important supplements to take when on a calorie-restricted diet is BCAAs. You need about 50 grams a day. Take them between meals. Another important thing is to consume greens-type drinks.

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