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Gains while Leaning = Better Diet?

I have a bit of a curious question that could use some confirmation. ok, here’s the deal. my diet is a strict low fat diet with EFA supplementation (55%carb, 35%pro, 10%fat). for the past month i have been doing the standard leaning maneuver eating about 1600cal/day with moderate cardio. i am usually a 2200cal/day machine so this is a good 600cal daily deficit. but of course, in reality your body never really is in a deficit because it makes up for the dietary restriction by chomping away at the fat (or muscle) stores. correct? so as far as my body is concerned i essentially am “eating” a 2200cal/day diet that is much higher in fat because the 600cal deficit is being supplemented by my fat stores (40%carb, 25%pro, 35%fat). during this leaning phase my rate of strength increase has kicked up substantially. this is curious to me because convential wisdom tells me that this should not be happening. getting stronger and having more energy while leaning? hmmm? what i think is going on here is this: i am the type of person who operates and grows better on a higher fat diet and when i am in a leaning phase my body actually gets a diet that is closer to what it wants and needs to get stronger (a diet closer to a 40%carb, 25%pro, 35%fat ratio). am i making any sense? once i widdle the fat back down should i adopt a higher fat diet that appears to be a superior mix of dietary fuel for my body type? this makes a cracked amount of sense, but am curious what the T-experts think. thanks.

Sounds like that could be the case although I have never had the same experience. Give the new diet a try and you can always go back if it doesn’t work.

interesting theory…of course it’s impossible to speculate that the defecit of calories (600 in your case) are exclusively coming from fat, and that there is the creation of the new “diet” ratio. this is a very unique theory about nutrition…i had never even thought about thinking about calorie ratios like you have suggested. i do think that it is a little too easy to adopt that strategy and rely on those exact ratios…but who knows? if it works, then roll with it, and good luck. give us an update with your progress!


I’m not an expert. But your idea is interesting to me so I’d like to add my surmising.

Elzi Volk has written that people who lose more weight (primarily fat weight) on higher carb diets are “preferential carb burners,” that is they burn carbs before fat. If this happens in the bloodstream, when the fatty acids are mixed with glucose in the blood, then this might bolster your theory. On maintanance calories, setting a macronutrient ratio that simultaneously puts a particular ratio of carbs and fatty acids in the blood might actually lead to better gains.

Berardi says that carbs and fat in the bloodstream will lead to fat deposition. That's got to be correct, but perhaps being specific about the ratio in the bloodstream allows the carbs to be burned off first while insulin levels are going down. Maybe how much carbs can be burned off first differs for each person (with how much they are or are not a "preferential carb burner"). Then, when insulin levels from the meal are down enough to stop inhibiting lypolisis, the body burns bodyfat stores along with the fatty acids in the bloodstream. This maybe a reason why Beverly-Serrano-type diets work, since Berardi has shown us that fat doesn't always do anything to dampen insulin response of carbs.

Let's keep this on the board. I know it's mental masturbation but you never know, it might lead to something. Brian

I would guess this has more to do with your mental intensity and dedication to your training and diet then it does anything else. A lot of times we need something to motivate us and getting in shape can be a really good motivator. So even though you’re in a negative calorie balance you must be doing a lot of things right in your training and recovery to be making strength gains like this

Kelly, with regard to training, that should be true. If your doing half-assed workouts, lifting with crappy form, or overtraining, it would seem unlikely that you could gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.

Continuing with the nutrition theorizing, I think Kevo's idea is interesting. Beverly INT prescribes clean carbs and gets really particular for individuals about what kind of carbohydrates they should be consuming. Maybe they've learned just from trial and error. But the underlying principle might be that since carbs and protein are digested faster than fat, then, IN GENERAL, clean carbs enter the bloodstream at a faster rate than junk food (which the digestive system has to sift through more), allowing the body to burn glucose before fatty acids.

I'd like Berardi's input on this, but he's not on the board so much lately.-


thanks for the analysis…here is some more background info for you guys to chew on. while leaning and experiencing this rather weird phenomenon, every fourth week i will increase my calories by a factor of two (from 1600cals/day to 3200 cals/day) just to prevent the metabolic downshift. i maintain the exact same (55%carb, 35%pro, 10%fat) nutrient ratio as the 1600 cal diet. my metabolic furnace kicks into overdrive, i get as horny as hell, my body temp runs very hot for the first 5 days, and i sweat my ass off at night. during this week i feel very lethargic and my strength gains come to a halt. it’s harder to get up in the mornings to workout and all my body wants to do is sleep it off. i don’t gain much if any fat during this time although i do seem to retain quite a bit of water. after day 7 i cut back to 1600 cals/day and i become more alert and energetic. after a couple of days the hunger pangs go away, i could care less about sex, the excess water is burnt off, i begin to tighten back up and the fat starts to come off again. this is quite perplexing to me and i wouldn’t even bring it up, but it’s just like clockwork. this has happend several times over the years by complete accident when i would lose control and binge during a leaning phase and would take a week to get myself back under control. it is only recently i have started doing this on purpose. i know this sounds a bit like the anabolic burst cycling system, but it’s different in that the timings are not the same and the gains don’t come until i get my calories back into the negatives. it would be nice to know why this is happening, but as long as it is i will take advantage of it.


You do seem like preferential carb-burner.

But going with your original idea, you should try to bulk by adding 400-500 calories of FAT in your diet, and keeping carbs constant.

Protein, though, I think should be at the high level of 1.5 grams per pound bodyweight since that’s often required to gain/lose at the same time.

Dr. Serrano often suggesting adding fat cals to maintainance intake in order to gain muscle (or gain muscle and lose fat at the same time). I think though that if some of the 400-500 extra calories are protein (to get the 1.5) it shouldn’t hurt. Serrano usually suggests adding flax and fish oils, sometimes olive oil for those with more gifted metabolism, including youngsters.

Try it, it’s not as fun as adding carbs, but you could gain a lot of muscle. It’s consistent with your original post. Brian