Interview Conducted by Bob Kupniewski
Bob: First and foremost could you tell us a bit about yourself, what you do, your accomplishments and your credentials?
Jason: For anyone that doesn’t know who I am, my name is Jason Loewy. I am a 23 year old competitive natural bodybuilder who qualified to compete in the IFPA at the age of 20. I have been lifting weights since I was 14 and entered my first bodybuilding competition at the age of 17, at which point I was completely hooked. After taking an elongated off season I returned to competition and to my surprised, did quite well. I placed 1st in the Novice and Open heavyweight class at the 2009 Mid-Atlantic classic and then the following week won my pro card and qualified with the IFPA by winning the 2009 OCB Mr. Steel City Championships. I have yet to use my pro card but I recently completed my third series of contest prep with the highlight being competing at the Memorial day classic at historic Muscle Beach in Venice, California where I won the novice overall and the open light heavyweight class.
Alongside my bodybuilding life I graduated from SUNY Binghamton University, Cum Laude with a B.S in computer science and am currently one semester away from obtaining my M.S in computer science from the University of Southern California. Combining my love for bodybuilding, nutrition and computer science I have created a very successful and ground breaking diet tracking app for the iPhone called My Macros+ that aims to rid us physique athletes from being forced to use diet tracking tools that are geared towards the mass market. My Macros+ provides a platform tailored to our niche lifestyle as physique athletes and is how I’ve come to marry all my passions into one project.
Bob: What is your generic guideline for training? Do you feel there should be a major difference between pre-contest and offseason regarding volume, frequency, and intensity? If So explain?
Jason: Although I am only 23 years old I have been training seriously and strictly for almost 10 years now and in that time I like to believe I have started to learn what my body needs to grow both in regards to weight training and nutritional guide lines. I train under the idea that what is good to build muscle during the offseason is good to maintain it during prep. During the majority of contest prep my training does not change. I train every muscle group hard as the focus of my workout once per week and a second time with lesser volume as the secondary muscle group of a workout. With that said as I get closer to show day (<4 weeks out) I do keep in mind that no matter what I do I am most likely not going to be gaining any muscle and tailor my workout accordingly with the mindset of injury prevention. By that I mean dropping the weights on squats and deadlifts and incorporating more machines and cables into my workouts. I do not change the intensity, just the types of exercises I put that intensity to work in.
I lift weights 5 times a week no matter what time of year it is, the only thing that changes depending on offseason vs prep is what I do on those days off from lifting weight. During the offseason I generally will do one HIIT day out of my two off days and take that second day completely off, but during prep its 5 days weights/2 days HIIT, every week.
Bob: What is your general stance on nutrition as far as macro composition in any of your clients diets? Do you differ them much between pre-contest and offseason?
Jason: Well in regards to clients, my career choice is not to be a contest prep coach or trainer, I am a computer scientist and iOS developer. With that said I have had two clients that I have prepped for shows and those are myself and my girlfriend, so I will speak in regards to how I structured our diets. For the most part, macronutrient composition in the offseason is similar to the start of prep for us. In the offseason I usually suggest High carbs, moderate fat, moderate protein at around 1g/lb of bodyweight. When it comes to contest prep protein goes up to about 1.5g/lb of bodyweight and stays static at the quantity for the entirety of the prep. At that point I tapper away carbs and fat generally in 15 and 5 gram increments, respectively, as needed. Generally I have a baseline fat number that I don’t want the diet to go below and once I hit that number its usually strictly carbs that I drop from there on out. For me that number is 40g of fat. Once i hit that number in my prep it never goes below that or else its bad news for my energy levels and morale.
I am a strong believer of nutrient timing as well. Whether it be in the off season or during prep most of my carbs are centralized in breakfast and my pre and post workout meals (about 65% of my daily carbs) and that doesn’t change whether I am in prep or offseason.
With all of that said that is not a set routine, everybody has different bodies and different reactions to macronutrient composition and timing. if I were to ever take on clients what I said here would not necessarily be their plan.
Bob: What different things do you utilize on your clients as far as refeeds and cheat meals go, and what are your thoughts on utilizing those in both (offseason and pre-contest)?
Jason: When it comes to refeeds, depending on the body type I suggest them anywhere from 1-2 times per week. Obviously that is very dependent on the person body type and current level of conditioning but for myself I generally stick to two refeed days a week during prep, having them fall on the days I train my weak points. Again nutrient timing is big for those days since my carb totals increase to close to 1.5x the normal contest prep levels.
When it comes to the offseason I see no reason in having a structured refeed or predetermined cheat day or meal. The way I see it is, we put ourselves through so much strain both mentally and physically during contest prep that the off season should be a time to enjoy life and with that comes enjoying food with friends. For me, cheat meals happen out of necessity. When someone wants to grab lunch or I want to take my girlfriend out to dinner, things that I can’t as easily do during prep, that is when I have my “cheat meal”. It is nothing planned where I say, “ok I am going to have have two free meals a week and thats that”, I take them as they come. Sometimes I go a month without eating out at a restaurant and sometimes whether it be a business lunch, holiday, or anything else I will have a few cheat meals in a given week. In my opinion is planned cheat meals lead to binges which are never a good thing.
Bob: Do you believe in Intermittent Fasting and other non-generic meal patterns? Do you have to eat a certain amount of times per day to eat and why? It seems Meal Frequency is thrown around a lot lately with a ton of different research being published on PUBmed? Your stance?
Jason: I strongly disagree with intermittent fasting. Very strongly. I do not disagree with it from the standpoint that it doesn’t help lose weight, because a lot of people get great results despite of their methods, I just do not believe it is optimal. I have not done my due diligence in regards to the physiological reactions of intermittent fasting so I will not touch upon its optimality in regards to multiple small meals spread throughout the day but I will say that I believe it to be the first step to an eating disorder. As bodybuilders, we are extreme people by nature, and when you structure a diet around controlled binges its just asking for trouble. I read many message board posts about people drinking 10 cans of soda a day until they get to the time they are allowed to eat on their IF diet at which point they binge like crazy. There is no way to justify that as being healthy for your mindset. Calories are energy, fact, and disallowing yourself energy up until a certain time period just isn’t appealing to me.
Bob: What are your generic guidelines of Pre/Post workout nutrition?
Jason: As I said above I am a big believer in nutrient timing. Pre and post workout I have 25% of my daily carbohydrate intake in each of those meals while limiting my fat intake ideally less than 3 grams per each of those meals. For no real reason besides the fact that they meet those guidelines and that I enjoy eating them I usually have sweet potatoes and/or russet potatoes surrounding my workouts along with egg whites or chicken breasts. With regards to protein, protein stays consistent at the same amount for every meal of the day whether it is pre, post, or any other meal.
Bob: What is your stance when in a caloric surplus what do you believe in should be the minimums you should meet regarding protein, carbohydates, and fats and why? Does any macronutrient trump others as far as protein sparing?
Jason: When in a caloric surplus I don’t think protein sparing is really a concern. If you are burning muscle while in a caloric surplus you should probably think about how you structure your diet, or go see a doctor. When in a caloric surplus I tend to drop my protein intake to a little more than 1 gram /lb of bodyweight. I can’t cite the exact research but I don’t believe their to be much of a benefit in increase past that when not in a calorie deficit, not to mention protein is the most expensive macronutrient/oz and I’m still in on a graduate student budget.
Overall, when it comes to macronutrient composition I believe everyones body type dictates what they need to make the best gains and the only way to learn that is through trail and error. For me personally, I have found that I react really well to an offseason of around 550g of carbs/90g of fat/240g of protein, depending on what weight I am sitting at effects those numbers but their ratios to one another generally remain constant.
Bob: What is your general philosophy on food sources regardless if the individuals is in a caloric surplus or deficit, the phrase “Clean Eating” is thrown around a lot. Could you shed some light on research or any information regarding utilizing different sources in the offseason or pre-contest?
Jason: This sort of falls into the category of the new nutrition craze of “If it fits my macros” (IIFMM). The term “clean food” is a very strange way to look at food but we all do it. We associate some foods with being cleaner than others, but what really makes one food “cleaner” than another? When it comes to me personally I generally eat “clean” no matter if I am in the off season or in prep and my rule of thumb when I refer to foods being clean foods is that they have a limited number of ingredients on the label. Eggs, potatoes, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, ezekiel bread, etc. As you can see from the screenshot I included that is my normal off season breakfast. Very dull food selection. I do that not for health benefits per se, but because I honestly prefer those foods over a breakfast of pop tarts which is a staple in more and more peoples diets now a days. When it comes to advising people on their diets I completely acknowledge the need to include more calorie dense foods such a pop tarts, baked chips, etc as they get further in the off season but I will never “suggest” those foods during a prep. If someone wants to include them in their diet and has room for it then by all means, but when it comes to prep if I am putting that much hard work into every aspect of training I want all the micronutrients and satiety I can get from my food sources as well.
Bob: What Supplements do you consider “Staples” or those that should be utilized on a daily basis? Also what supplements do you feel have their benefits in the offseason and pre-contest that should be considered or you utilize for a particular reason?
Jason: When it comes to supplements I am a strong believe in their effectiveness but am also under the mindset that they are in fact supplements and meant to go hand in hand with a good diet and training protocol. No matter what, you will not get insane results from a natural supplement but I do believe they will help give you that extra 5% which we all know could be the difference in getting you 1st instead of 2nd place in your competition. In regards to staples, besides obviously multivitamin and a fish oil, I never go without a plain creatine monohydrate and branch chain amino acids in a PWO shake. Everything else for off season training I don’t see as a necessity but I do usually include a carb uptake supplement like USP Labs Anabolic Pump in my supplement stack along with a pre workout to help give me a bit of energy after a full days work to hit the gym. Pre contest I find a lot more use out of supplements where I use a wider array of types of supplements.
Bob: What is your motivation and inspiration? What first got you interested in bodybuilding or nutrition?
Jason: What first got me into lifting weights was football. I was slated to be a 3 year varsity starter on my high school football team but had season ending injuries both my junior and senior year, breaking my leg and wrist respectively. Those seasons being taken away from me was my driving force and motivation for a really long time. The fact that I couldn’t showcase my talents on the football field drove me to be the biggest and best bodybuilder I could be for a long time. Since I have competed in three separate rounds of contests now and turned pro at the young age of 20 that is not really a motivating factor for me anymore. Bodybuilding has gradually infused itself into my life that I no longer feel I need motivation to hit the gym hard because frankly, it is just what I do.
Bob: What are your future goals? Any specific things you want to accomplish?
Jason: Having just finished my third season of contest prep and being 23 years old and about to graduate with my Masters in Computer science I do not have any plans to compete in the near future. As I said above I have recently release a diet tracking app called My Macros+ that is being received really well by the bodybuilding community. Along with that I have a full time job lined up for after graduation at a great technology startup where I will be developing for the iOS platform all day, and working on My Macros+ all night trying to expand both businesses. Unfortunately as we all know, natural bodybuilding can rarely pay the bills so I will be stepping back from competitions for a few years in order to start my career as best as possible and take My Macros+ to the masses. I will continue to be involved heavily in the bodybuilding community in any facet that i can and continuen attending competitions. My Macros+ is sponsoring its first competition at the IFPA Yorton Cup this year which I am extremely excited to be doing. All the while, I will continue to hit the gym 5-6 days a week and building myself for the next time I decide to compete.
Bob: If there was one thing you could go back and change throughout your career what would it be and why? What impact do you think you could re-write in your past to improve on who you are today?
Jason: I would change absolutely nothing in my life and I honestly mean that. Would I go back and stop myself from breaking my wrist in 3 places, or sit the play out when I broke my leg that needed a 6″ plate and 12 screws to allow it to heal? Absolutely not because if it weren’t for those injuries I never would have found bodybuilding. Everyones lives has ups and downs and there is no way to avoid that, it is taking those challenges life spits at you and making the best of the situation that shapes you. I think that mentality comes from the fact that my father works in the emergency room of a big hospital and the stories I hear from him. Whenever I am down about something, anything at all, I realize that I am alive and in good health and that no matter whats going on with me there is always someone out there that is worse off.