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Don't Starve The Beast!

Don't Starve The Beast!

Key Supplemental Strategies
For Maintaining Muscle Gains
During Your Cutting Phase

Ah, Memorial Day! The end of spring and the official kick-off of summer. For most people, it’s a time to take the cover off the backyard grill, pop open a beverage, and salute the troops who defend our freedoms. For workout warriors, however, Memorial Day has an added import. It’s also the day the shirt comes off.

If you’ve been applying due diligence in your workout regimen (and eating to grow) since New Year’s Day, you should be seeing the fruits of all that labor today. If you’ve been following the detailed day-to-day regimen provided by ProSource bodybuilding experts Dwayne Jackson and Noah Bryant in Gain 15 Lbs Of Muscle in 90 Days (posted back in February) you should be encountering A LOT of new muscle mass in the mirror.

Because life is not perfect, you may also be seeing a little extra padding as well. When growth is Priority #1, some stored body fat is going to come along for the ride as you eat big, day after day. The new muscle is there; it’s just obscured a bit. Welcome to the cutting phase!

This is where you make or break your summer physique. Try to cut fat by haphazardly cutting back on calories and you’re likely to watch your hard-acquired brawn melt away in the summer sun. Approach leaning out strategically and intelligently via targeted supplementation (and unstinting discipline in the gym) and that muscle mass will emerge in all its ripped and shredded glory.

If you want to achieve the latter outcomes your mantra is simple: Don’t Starve The Beast.

Let’s start cutting!

Calorie Restrictions and Fat Loss

Like it or not, no magical approach exists to losing fat, it takes a solid nutritional plan and a committed effort. Without either of those, your results will likely be ho-hum.

What we do know is that caloric restriction is an element in the fat loss equation. In this respect, many research studies will restrict calorie intake by 10% to 30%, a value that translates for many people to 200 to 500 calories per day. A recent scientific review by Weinheimer indicates this approach can stimulate a weight loss of 5% to 10% from one’s initial body mass; 10 to 20 pounds for a 200-pound individual. The key phrase here is "body mass."

Unfortunately, 25% of the weight that is lost is your fat-free mass (Weinheimer, Sands et al. 2010), the metabolically active tissue largely comprised of your hard-earned skeletal muscle and that tissue which helps to sustain your metabolic furnace. This is a catastrophic outcome for bodybuilders.

What Kind Of Calories Should You Cut?

It should go without saying that you’re not loading up on junk food and empty calories with your ultimate physique goal so close at hand. But as you ease back on your eight-meal-a-day 4,000 or 5,000-calorie-per-day growth consumption, it’s important to keep protein intake front-and-center in your daily meal plan.

That means protein from whole food sources (chicken breasts, lean beef, eggs or egg whites, and fish), plus protein as found in superior supplemental sources such as ProSource’s NytroWhey® Ultra Elite and ProSource's Vectron®, both of which are excellent considerations for getting a healthy dose of high-quality protein at opportune times throughout the day. NytroWhey Ultra Elite contains just the kind of highest-quality whey isolate and hydrolysate proteins you’re looking for when it comes to supporting muscle mass.

NytroWhey® Ultra Elite also contains an advanced Leuvon Leucine Peptides technology that provides up to 4 times the bioactive leucine found in typical protein formulas. This is particularly important given leucine’s capacity as a trigger of protein synthesis and anabolism in muscle tissue, as we’ll see later in this article. As for Vectron, its Prolibra®-based fat-loss, muscle-supporting protein matrix has also generated some fascinating results in clinical study. That’s another subject we’ll be getting back to. For now, suffice to say, when combined with an appropriate balance of carbohydrates and fats in your other meals, added protein helps the body to hold onto muscle when caloric intake is restricted.

As an example, research by Don Layman’s group at the University of Illinois has nicely illustrated the impact of consuming increased amounts of protein along with the impact of adding an exercise program on weight loss and fat-free mass changes. This first study, published in 2003 in the Journal of Nutrition, had overweight women consume a diet consisting of approximately 1,700 kcals/day with one diet group consuming more carbohydrate and less protein (0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass per day) while another group consumed less carbohydrate and more protein (1.6 grams/kg/day). Both groups consumed the same amount of fat at 50 grams per day. No exercise program was involved and both groups successfully lost weight, approximately 15 to 16 pounds, but the group that consumed a carbohydrate-protein-ratio of 1.4 (125 grams of protein per day or 1.6 grams/kg/day) lost significantly more weight from fat. In fact, nearly 84% of the weight loss in the higher protein group came from fat (16% from fat-free mass) while the higher carbohydrate/lower protein group lost 55% of their weight from fat, but 45% of their weight loss came from fat-free mass (Layman, Boileau et al. 2003). The take-home message here is quite simple: when restricting your caloric intake to lose weight, a higher intake of protein (approximately 1.6 grams/kg/day) helps to maximize fat loss and spare loss of fat-free mass.

Another study by Layman’s research group in 2005 upped the ante and added a simple exercise program consisting of three days of walking/cardio-style exercise and two days of resistance training to the same dietary programs. Again, a higher protein diet (without exercise) facilitated greater loss of fat mass when compared to a diet higher in carbohydrate but of similar caloric content. Additionally, adding exercise to either diet group facilitated greater loss of fat when compared to the fat loss without exercise, but when exercise was added the maximization of fat loss and sparing of fat-free mass was even greater! See the results below (Layman, Evans et al. 2005):

  • Higher Protein, No Exercise: ~3% reduction in % body fat
  • Higher Protein, With Exercise: ~5.7% reduction in % body fat
  • Higher Carbohydrate, No Exercise: ~2% reduction in % body fat
  • Higher Carbohydrate, With Exercise: ~3.7% reduction in % body fat

Several key trends are apparent at this point:

#1 - Higher protein intakes while dieting continue to show excellent ability to lose fat and spare fat-free mass
#2 – Adding a very basic exercise program consisting of walking and resistance training can stimulate even more fat loss
#3 – Even a very simple exercise program completed on a consistent basis can help promote greater loss of fat mass and maintain fat-free mass resulting in impressive improvements in one’s body fat percentage.

Whey Protein, Leucine, and Vitamin D:
Triple Threat for Enhanced Fat Loss

In addition to high quality protein, other ingredients can be considered to help your body hold on to muscle while consuming a limited amount of calories. A combination of whey protein, vitamin D and leucine was recently put to the test in a recently published study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study required older men who were trying to lose weight to restrict their caloric intake, follow a modest weekly resistance training program and either supplement with the nutrient combination or a placebo to examine the impact of supplementation on weight loss and body composition (Verreijen, Verlaan et al. 2015).

All study participants were aggressively prescribed to cut 600 calories from their daily diet and supplement with either a placebo or a combination of 21 grams of whey protein, 2.8 grams of leucine and additional Vitamin D. A single dose was consumed every day with breakfast and another dose was consumed each of the three days after completing the prescribed exercise program. Again, a simple and straightforward resistance training program that targeted all major muscle groups was followed for 3 days each week.

Both the placebo and supplementation groups lost similar amounts of body weight (~7 pounds) and fat mass (~6.2 pounds). When changes in muscle mass were calculated, however, the supplementation group actually gained a slight bit of muscle (~1 pound) while the placebo group lost muscle (~1 pound). The take-home message from this study tells us that when following a strict dietary regimen, regular completion of a resistance training program along with supplementation of Whey Protein, Vitamin D and Leucine can help to minimize loss of muscle mass (Verreijen, Verlaan et al. 2015). In addition to the leucine content you'll consume as part of your NytroWhey Ultra Elite supplementation, it should be noted that ProSource also carries ultra-high-quality L-Leucine and Vitamin D supplements, as well.

Other Key Factors to Consider When
Targeting Fat Loss Through Supplementation

In light of these results, NytroWhey Ultra Elite and ProSource Vitamin D are all sound considerations to add to your daily diet, particularly if you plan to restrict your caloric intake and ramp up your exercise program. In particular, ProSource's Vectron® contains Prolibra®, an ingredient developed by industry protein leader, Glanbia Nutritionals to specifically help with maintaining fat-free mass while dieting. A 12-week study was completed using Prolibra that found after 12 weeks of supplementing with Prolibra, study participants lost more fat and retained more fat-free mass when compared to participants who supplemented with placebo (Frestedt, Zenk et al. 2008).

Beyond these ingredients, Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLA) continue to have support for their ability to favorably modulate body composition while following various types of exercise programs. In 2006, Pinkoski and colleagues had 76 study participants resistance train 5 days per week for 7 weeks while supplementing with either CLA or a placebo. After 7 weeks, the CLA group reported greater increases in lean tissue and greater losses of fat mass when compared to the placebo group (Pinkoski, Chilibeck et al. 2006). Later in 2009, Cornish and investigators had 69 men and women supplement with varying combinations of whey protein, creatine, and CLA. When all three were consumed together, significantly greater increases in upper and lower-body strength were found. In addition, enhancement of lean tissue mass was found in this group when compared to the other groups. The authors of this study concluded that combining whey protein, creatine and CLA was beneficial for increasing strength and lean-tissue (Cornish, Candow et al. 2009).

When shopping for a creatine or a CLA supplement, keep in mind that there’s really only one gold standard for each. In creatine’s case, Creapure® creatine monohydrate from Germany, with its advanced micro-cystallization and unparalleled bioavailability, is what you’re looking for. For CLA, the Tonalin® brand is the standard bearer. In both cases, ProSource supplements (ProSource Creatine Monohydrate and ProSource Tonalin CLA) are 100% sourced from this industry leaders.


Now is the time to make that last push and start shedding some body fat. To do so, caloric restriction to some degree is required and the more severe the caloric restriction, the more severe your loss of fat-free mass will be. A two-pronged approach of effective supplementation consisting first of a high quality hydrolyzed whey protein isolate like what is found in NytroWhey Ultra Elite along with Vitamin D, creatine, and potentially some CLA along with a sound resistance training program is the most scientifically validated strategy to limit muscle loss and maximize fat loss.

Read more about NytroWhey Ultra Elite here.

Read more about Vectron here.

Read more about ProSource Tonalin CLA here.

Read more about ProSource Creatine Monohydrate here.


Cornish, S. M., D. G. Candow, N. T. Jantz, P. D. Chilibeck, J. P. Little, S. Forbes, S. Abeysekara and G. A. Zello (2009). "Conjugated linoleic acid combined with creatine monohydrate and whey protein supplementation during strength training." Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 19(1): 79-96.

Frestedt, J. L., J. L. Zenk, M. A. Kuskowski, L. S. Ward and E. D. Bastian (2008). "A whey-protein supplement increases fat loss and spares lean muscle in obese subjects: a randomized human clinical study." Nutr Metab (Lond) 5: 8.

Layman, D. K., R. A. Boileau, D. J. Erickson, J. E. Painter, H. Shiue, C. Sather and D. D. Christou (2003). "A reduced ratio of dietary carbohydrate to protein improves body composition and blood lipid profiles during weight loss in adult women." J Nutr 133(2): 411-417.

Layman, D. K., E. Evans, J. I. Baum, J. Seyler, D. J. Erickson and R. A. Boileau (2005). "Dietary protein and exercise have additive effects on body composition during weight loss in adult women." J Nutr 135(8): 1903-1910.

Pinkoski, C., P. D. Chilibeck, D. G. Candow, D. Esliger, J. B. Ewaschuk, M. Facci, J. P. Farthing and G. A. Zello (2006). "The effects of conjugated linoleic acid supplementation during resistance training." Med Sci Sports Exerc 38(2): 339-348.

Verreijen, A. M., S. Verlaan, M. F. Engberink, S. Swinkels, J. de Vogel-van den Bosch and P. J. Weijs (2015). "A high whey protein-, leucine-, and vitamin D-enriched supplement preserves muscle mass during intentional weight loss in obese older adults: a double-blind randomized controlled trial." Am J Clin Nutr 101(2): 279-286.

Weinheimer, E. M., L. P. Sands and W. W. Campbell (2010). "A systematic review of the separate and combined effects of energy restriction and exercise on fat-free mass in middle-aged and older adults: implications for sarcopenic obesity." Nutr Rev 68(7): 375-388.

Use as directed with a sensible diet and exercise program that includes reduced caloric intake and increased physical activity. Consult a health care professional before beginning any weight loss program. Read and follow all product label instructions and warnings thoroughly before use. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease