I would say that the “leaning down” phase of bodybuilding (which is typically limited to several weeks at a time) is actually a healthy regimen involving calorie restriction and energy depletion. However, there are two issues with that phase.
First is the frequent feeding factor. For the adult body frequent feeding may spell overfeeding even if calories are restricted. The reason: frequent feedings do not allow the body to get a real sense of fasting. Consequently, the body fails to fully activate some critical health-extending pathways which can only be triggered in response to fasting.
The second issue is with the limited duration of the leaning down phase, and the fact that it is typically followed by a long lasting anabolic phase involving overfeeding. The anabolic phase negates the benefits of the leaning down phase as it leads to inflammation and increased susceptibility to weight gain and age-related deterioration. Overall, the typical bodybuilding regimen seems to trade off health with muscle size.
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