Anabolics and body composition: Case study
It’s no secret that many people turn to anabolic steroids to improve their body composition, either to increase muscle mass or reduce body fat
In today’s article, we will see the case published by JF Hickson 1 in which the changes suffered a bodybuilder for 30 days facing competition was studied.
The subject (27, 173cm and 89,8Kg) follow a training protocol based on a combination of weight training + cardio 6 days a week, with the following routine:
- Monday, Wednesday and Friday: Legs (squats, press, extension machine, bicep curls and leg twins)
- Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday: Remo, declined and inclined bench press, bicep curls. Tricep exercises roping and other accessories.
Each training session should last between 1-2 hours, adding the cardio bike 45-60min (6 days a week) and 3 km jog 5 days a week.
As for nutrition, diet 2000kcal follow a macronutrient distribution of 26% protein, 56% carbohydrate and 18% fat. Essential nutrients exceed 80% of the RDA for calcium and zinc exception.
On day 22 carbohydrate diet to restrict to 11%, reducing your caloric intake to 1770-1780Kcal. This modification would last two days, where day 24 to 26 increase their caloric intake until 3285Kcal (carbohydrate loading). Before the event (day 27), the subject consumed 5,500 calories from pizza, ice cream, cheesecake and 3,1L soft drinks and water.
Along with this training and diet, the subject is administered 6 different anabolic, both oral and injected. To treat water retention caused by the use of anabolic, it would be administered spironolactone 100-150mg once daily. Finally was 3000 USP units administered human gonadotropin (HCG) due to the belief that promotes the production of endogenous testosterone, reducing the suppressive effect of external anabolic (a fact of doubtful credibility).
Food intake and calorie would be recorded based on a computerized database. Blood samples would be taken on days 2, 6, 20, 26 and 30, providing over 40 parameters. Finally, it takes body weight daily in the gym or in the hospital.
Weight loss was 7,1Kg in 26 days, where calculations indicate that 4.8kg was body fat, which gives us a loss of LBM (Lean Body Mass) of 2.3kg. If we divide the weight loss between study days, we get a loss of 1.9kg of weight per week, being higher than expected (1kg a week). Therefore, the researchers argue that it takes at least 50 days of preparation to prevent loss of muscle mass in the last month of competition.
On the other hand, the second nutritional strategy (carbohydrate loading) was not successful because the subject could only reach 57% of total calories as carbohydrates (away from 75% originally proposed). Something that if I found curious is that in this case the dehydration protocol was also used (restrict water 3 days before the competition). What researchers found is that this manipulation of water and sodium was not effective in improving the physical, a fact that I explained over 2 years ago.
Handling of water and electrolytes
Even with the use of anabolics, severe caloric restrictions may result in a significant loss of LBM, however, and based on my opinion, I think that a large part of the loss observed in this study is due to glycogen and water, not muscle tissue as such. Alongside this, we can state that practices dehydration and electrolyte handling pre-competition lacks evidence and in many cases can even become a risky practice.
In short, we can see how fat loss in people with a low percentage of fat should be a long process, becoming the 0,1-0,2g in men with 7-8% fat. 0,7-1,0kg losses a week in this population, tells us that we are losing fat-free tissue. We must keep in mind that this recommendation may fluctuate in two cases:
- In the first week cutting where restricting carbs lose 02.01 kg of water and glycogen.
- Cortisol, as those with high-calorie psychological stress, can retain water by the effect of cortisol on mineralocorticoid receptors.
Both factors can alter body weight and as a result, get altered measuring apparatus values bioimpedance, so we must take this into account when assessing our progress.