Gaining Muscle on Low Calorie Killing Fat Diet?

How realistic is it to gain muscle on a calorie restricted diet(Dr Darden’s Kill the Fat)?I have read that one needs to gain 10-15# to add an inch to their arms.How much can one expect to gain(if any) on Skinny Arm Cure and other similar specialization routines in a calorie deficit?I have a hard time believing gains would be noticeable if at all.


You are not gaining muscle unless you are a complete beginner or obese.


I think this would be a good article for you to read. Yes, it is possible to gain some muscle while calorie restricted, but it will be so little you wouldn’t know the difference. If you are a newbie, then you can lose fat and build muscle (recomp) for a short period, mostly due to adaptation to the new stressors. Still, this method is impeccably slow.

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Have you actually read the “Killing fat” book?

Dr Darden managed to show some interesting muscle gains on his study population (who also lost fat, which seemed to be as high a priority - hence the name of the book). The numbers and pictures are there for all to see. Many are the great examples.

If I remember correctly, he also show examples on how to bodybuild on this technique, with higher calorie intake. I have followed this method with good progression - But I have never been obese, and really need to keep a high calorie diet to develop.

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Having not read this one, how were those measurements taken?

Caliper readings + bodyweight repeatedly during the study with presentation of before and after. I believe this study was for 12 weeks but Dr Darden also presented measurements after only 4 weeks in some cases. Give or take on my accuracy here.

Dr. Darden has done studies like this for 40 years

Dr Darden has always struck me as a thoughtful and honest researcher.I never doubted the veracity of his research,just had a hard time comprehending muscle gain on less calories and low protein intake(at least lower than what is generally recommended for strength training and hypertrophy.Thanks for your replies.

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The intake of protein is not low by normal standards, i.e. RDA recommendations…Darden indicates to consume high carbs for energy to spare the protein consumed for muscle…therefore the reason muscle growth can happen with calorie deficit

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Gaining muscle is definitely possible in a deficit but it’s very far from ideal circumstances. Often times the subjects in these case studies are detrained individuals who are regaining lost tissue as well as obese people where any level of training above baseline will produce some sort of result. The numbers will always be eye popping on paper, but the same can be said for P-90X. These obese people just need training and reduced calories, there’s no magic here. If you don’t have very much muscle, eating in a surplus is a very good idea.

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I have the book. They were obese and most very untrained. No one is going to dispute that it’s impossible to take a population like that and gain muscle on a fat loss diet. But take someone that’s decently well trained with body fat in the high teens and you’re not going to get them to gain much, if any muscle on a diet. In fact keeping muscle they have will be a big enough struggle.

Yes, as I can recall the study population lost weight, or “shifted” fat against muscle. Not all were obese, some overweight - who got fitter, not bodybuilders.

I am not defending muscle gain on a diet. I tend to agree with you and @davemccright (and the majority of people on this forum).

To knock down an open door: Bigger muscles is not a natural state for our bodies - muscles are consuming more energy to be preserved in their enlarged state - meaning you need excess fuel (not necessarily calories) to grow + stimulus/overload.

I thought so. That’s what was previously used.

I would say untrained or detrained overweight folks should be losing fat and gaining LBM if any protocol is worth its salt.

In fact, there are more tightly controlled studies out there by Jeff Volek and Steve Phinney, where they took a similar study population and put them on keto and weights 4 times a week. The results were all positive. Some outliers had incredible results in terms of fat loss to muscle gain. These findings were based on dexa scans, which I’d argue are more reliable than calipers.

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