What you eat and when you eat it are the keys to getting cut or packing on muscle.
I’VE READ MANY TIMES THAT YOU ARE A PROPONENT OF NUTRIENT “TIMING” TO HELP BRING ABOUT A SPECIFIC PHYSIOLOGICAL EFFECT WITHIN THE BODY.
HOW DO YOU ORGANIZE YOUR MACROS WHEN YOU WANT TO LOOK CUT RATHER THAN ADD LEAN MUSCLE SIZE?
Yes, without a doubt I believe that a calorie is not just a calorie, and that each different food, as well as how you time these foods, will create a specific, predictable, and somewhat controllable hormonal cascade within the body—which is a major factor in manifesting the desired effect from your overall program.
When I am in a phase wherein the main goal is to support lean mass gains, I tend to skip morning cardio upon rising and instead go straight to my first meal, which will contain a significant amount of carbs (along with a lean protein and what little fats naturally occur). This is vital for rapidly pulling the body out of a catabolic state and setting it back into a proper path of anabolism. However, when incinerating body fat is of the highest priority, I will perform fasted cardio (note: Although I will not eat any food, I will consume about 10 grams of BCAAs and glutamine, along with some caffeine in supplemental form) in the morning and follow that up with a meal containing only protein and essential fats. It will not be until about two hours later, at my second meal, that I will ingest carbohydrates. The reasoning here is that it allows cortisol to remain elevated for a longer period since this hormone is even more catabolic to fat cells (than muscle cells) early in the day.
I generally hit the weights in the early afternoon after my third meal, regardless of whether I’m in a building or leaning phase. When adding muscle is what I’m after, I will normally perform a short, moderately paced cardio session immediately after my workout and then devour a good portion of higher-glycemic carbs (via food or a specifically engineered powder) along with a rapid-absorbing protein (i.e., whey isolate) as soon as my heart rate returns to normal. However, when it is shredding season I will ingest 40 to 50 grams of whey protein shortly after completing my last repetition and then wait about 60 to 90 minutes before having a solid protein/carb meal. (Note: As mentioned earlier, cardio is performed fasted in the morning when fat loss is the priority.) I feel that this allows the fat-burning mechanisms ignited by training to remain elevated for a longer period while also keeping natural GH flowing, both of which will help you get ripped more efficiently.