Post Cycle Strength Preservation
TL:DR expect to lose some size and strength once discontinuing PEDs. Eat well, often and get enough sleep.
Maintaining mass post-cycle can be hard. Maintaining strength can be even harder. The last thing you want to do is be right back where you started from pre-cycle. You put your liberty and your health at risk, and for what? A fleeting 8 weeks of looking your best?
You may not look as good off-cycle as you do on, but there some things we can share to help you preserve as much muscle as possible. The key is nitrogen balance.
Positive nitrogen balance is necessary to maintaining and building muscle: Positive nitrogen balance is associated with periods of growth, and tissue repair. This means that the intake of nitrogen into the body is greater than the loss of nitrogen from the body, so there is an increase in the total body pool of protein.
Protein is a good source of nitrogen: meat, dairy, eggs, nuts and legumes. When coming off-cycle, increase your protein intake to at least 0.82g/lb (if you’re not already exceeding this) and preferably more if you can manage it. This is an increase on the amount that is strictly necessary for muscle growth for most folk, but high protein meals have been shown to increase anabolismand may help body composition.
Don’t Cut Off-Cycle
In addition to protein, PEDs also increase nitrogen retention and that’s why, imo, you should cut on-cycle and not off. Lack of calories creates a negative nitrogen balance, and not only are you feeling flat from less energy, your body cannot maintain and repair muscle.
Eat at maintenance, or slightly above. The exception to avoiding weight loss would be where you have ran a compound known for ‘water weight’ - dbol comes to mind. Some weight loss off-cycle is inevitable for such compounds, and you will be losing weight post-cycle even eating at maintenance. In that case, you weight loss is OK, and weight will plateau after a week or so.
I personally went off-cycle for 8 weeks after an extensive period on-cycle. Following a recommendation from /u/MezDez and from what I knew from a write-up, I tried MK677 during this period. I still firmly believe we over-use this compound far too much, and dismiss it’s impact on blood sugar levels far too quickly, but after using it off-cycle I’m a believer, born again. On my last cycle, I had a 1RM of ~300lbs on bench, which admittedly wasn’t a focus at the time. However, after 8 weeks off-cycle using MK677, 2 weeks of which I was sick with the plague, my 1RM remained steady at 300lbs. Now back on cycle doing a simple bulk TRT + LGD4033 cycle, it’s back up to 320lbs at 4 weeks in.
Your largest GH spikes during sleep. In men approximately 70% of the GH pulses during sleep coincide with short wave sleep, and the amount of GH secreted during these pulses correlates with the concurrent amount of SWS. Short Wave Sleep aka deep sleep. Basically, get good quality sleep.
GH is important because it improves nitrogen balance. This is why MK677 is so effective too.
If you’re not on TRT, and you did a SARM only cycle, your natural T levels will recover in about 35 days post cycle where you may wish to get bloods to see where you’re at. If your cycle included AAS, engage in a PCT protocol. If you do not, low T states are associated with loss in muscle mass(duh).
As to diet, while high fat diets are linked to higher testosterone levels and lower fat gain, at the expense of cardiovascular health and increased risk of heart disease, I see no evidence at the time of writing that it will help your testosterone levels recover any faster.
Even with doing the right things, you WILL lose muscle post cycle...
There is the occasional exception, where folks seemingly continue to gain size and strength through PCT. In those instances, I suspect that those users must be a ways from their natty limit. But for the majority, you have less protein synthesis going on due to less nitrogen and now cortisol is no longer blocked from the androgen receptor as it was during on-cycle. This in itself decreases protein synthesis. (Cortisol is a whole subject in itself, and we’ll tackle it another time)
The good news is that your non-natty status has resulted in an increase in myonuclei / muscle fibre. Congrats, it’s permanent, probably. That means once your test levels have rebounded, you will recover some strength, and/or it will be easier to get back to your on-cycle 1RM’s and set brand new 1RM’s next cycle.