Question: The way you overcome the calorie deficit/surplus issue is with something you call Nutritional Periodization and cyclical dieting. What do these terms mean?
Answer: Cyclical dieting is already well-known in the bodybuilding world and there are all kinds of variations on it. With cyclical dieting we are intentionally manipulating energy balance to zig zag back and forth between anabolic surplus periods and fat burning deficit periods and to take advantage of windows of opportunity created around training. The ideal way to cycle calories is to manipulate the carbs, hence the popularity of “carb cycling.” That gives you an anabolic response and you also boost weight regulating hormones like thyroid and leptin which helps keep the fat loss coming.
Periodization has been used for years as a way to organize your training in blocks or phases but not many people have given much thought to applying this concept to nutrition. The way I describe nutritional periodization, the macrocycles are multi-week or multi-month periods and you break it down into a block with a primary focus of either muscle gain or fat loss. Mesocycles are the within-week changes – this is the carb cycling we spoke of earlier – and what makes the holy grail system unique is that I use short cycles – days long, not weeks long. Microcycles are the within-day changes in nutrition and this specifically, refers to post-workout nutrition and pre-workout nutrition.
Using periodization in your nutrition AND your training is EXTREMELY effective, and it also helps you stay focused, organized and understand exactly what you’re doing on an intellectual level.
Question: Does the Holy Grail Body Transformation require any special workouts or exercises?
Answer: The training is fairly traditional as hypertrophy training goes, but you do have a lot of choices for the schedule. I recommend weight training on either a 2 day upper / lower split or any bodybuilding-style split routine. The training is periodized and has distinct hypertrophy and strength phases. There is also very strategic use of cardio. It surprises a lot of people when they hear that when cardio is prescribed properly, it can actually increase muscle growth, but it’s true – the research on concurrent endurance and strength training backs it up. When muscle gain goals come into the picture, a lot of people are quick to drop the cardio completely, but that’s a mistake. With a “Holy Grail” type of goal, the right mix of strength and cardio training is a must!
Question: Who would you say this program is for and who is it not for?
Answer: That’s a very good and important question. The Holy Grail program will work best for people who are already lean or at least semi-lean. It’s not ideal for people who are very overweight. Those people would be better off on a focused fat loss program, like my burn the fat, feed the muscle. They should get the body fat down and then think about gaining muscle later. I’d recommend that men get their body fat under 20% and women get their body fat under 25% before going after body re-composition (gaining muscle while losing more fat).
Also, this program is for healthy people who want to improve their body composition, it’s not designed to address any specific health or medical issues. In fact, because there is carb cycling involved, it might not be appropriate for people who have problems with blood sugar regulation.
Question: What kind of results can a person expect to achieve with Holy Grail Body Transformation?
Answer: This is a very tough question to answer. Because of all the x factors that influence the rate of muscle gain, a person’s rate of progress can vary widely. That’s why I don’t like to make specific claims because any one number I quote won’t apply to everyone. When I post success stories and testimonials and they are actual results from real people, but I can’t guarantee everyone else will get the same results. What I can say is that almost everyone who follows my program will get slow and steady results, but a better kind of results – the muscle gain will be slow, but fat will come off at the same time, so you will look remarkably different in fairly short order.
Another type of typical result would be a fairly large increase in muscle along with a small drop in body fat. Or you might see a large decrease in body fat with a small increase in muscle at the same time. Realistically and honestly, what you are unlikely to see is a huge increase in muscle and a huge decrease in fat at the same time. That doesn’t usually happen except in the genetic freaks on steroids.
Question: You’ve been a best selling author for a long time, were you surprised at the enthusiastic response the Holy Grail got?
Answer: Totally. In the beginning I had no plans to make this a full length book or a complete program – I simply wrote an article on the subject. The comments on that one article just kept pouring in, so I knew this was a subject people were very interested in. So I expanded that article into a report, published the report and again, people went nuts over it. I mean, who doesn’t want to achieve BOTH – fat loss and muscle gain at the same time if it’s actually possible. It’s a very appealing proposition so everyone wanted to know more about how it’s done. That’s when I figured that this absolutely had to be turned into a full length book and program, and that’s why I’m here today talking about this.
Question: What is one success story that you can share with us?
Answer: We had been discussing muscle gain with concurrent fat loss in our members-only inner circle forums after I published that original article, so everyone in our community was talking about. Then we ran our first body transformation contest – that was back in 2009 over the holidays.
Most contestants wanted to lose fat. But to my surprise, a lot of them were posting muscle gains with fat loss at the same time because they were experimenting with this stuff already. One of them was the men’s winner, John Ketter. He stood out to us because he did a total body recomposition: His weight stayed exactly the same, but he dropped 7 pounds of fat while gaining 7 pounds of muscle in only 49 days.
If you went by scale weight alone, you’d say he went nowhere. But this was a body composition transformation contest and a before and after photo contest. The pictures don’t lie – you could really see that he had packed on muscle while getting more defined at the same time.
That was one of the early success stories and now we have them pouring in and they’re coming from women as well as men, and some of the most dramatic transformations this year have come from men and women in their 40’s. It’s pretty exciting!
Question: Thank you for this interview, Tom, and good luck with the Holy Grail. I’ve read this program and I recommend it warmly to anyone who wishes to lose fat and gain lean muscle tissue.