T Nation

Low-carbs and maximal weights

Hey all! A couple of questions. In a previous interview Charles Poliquin said that 50% of his athletes are on low carbs year round w. a cheat day every 5 days. I have been doing a cyclic keto diet w. GBC for 8 weeks and I have actually found that I function better w. lower carbs. My lifts have all gone up from start to finish and I have lost NO muscle. I should point out that I take all the recommended supps (flax/Udo’s, fish oil, glutamine, antiox, etc) Anyway I’m starting mass phase on Friday and I’m going to do Maximal Weights for 3 weeks followed by GVT2K for 3 weeks. Normally I eat everything in sight on mass phases and gain a ton of muscle (and fat). I want to minimize fat gain and maximize performance. I know a lot of people didn’t do to well on the Anabolic Diet bulk phase but I’m utilizing Poliquin’s diet recommendations (under 50 g. day carbs w. a cheat day every five). Could I actually be better off using this approach for mass? Note: when I do GVT2K I’m going to do a zone approach but on Max. Weights I’ve read the calorie requirements are lower. I plan on taking carbs post-w (MRP w. grape juice). Anyone else find they gain mass better w. an approach like this?

I forgot something: On a carb-up for mass, how would you modify the amt. of carbs? I use Lyle McDonald’s approach for carbing on keto dieting for fat loss, which is approx. 700 g. carbs for the 24 hr. period (bodyweight of 150 @5 percent right now.) I know Poliquin has a method but I’m not going to ask for it because of the controversy over seminar info.

I found that I respond to low carbs the same way. I did not lose any muscle, in fact, gained some. The only drawback was decreased energy. I think you can gain using the less than 50g of carbs/day with one cheat day every five. Go with one cheat day every four, if you are concerned about fat gain. On the cheat days eat everything in sight, except anything with too much sugar. No sweets.

Your leaving out your protien intake. This winter I did an anabolic bulk and had almost 400g of protein a day, went from 185-212, and actually lost .6% bf to 7%.

I eat in moderation, I know that its bad to binge at wrong hours, and how fats will come into being. I didn’t monitor my carbs, just my cals and fats, and kept to about 5000 cals a day. Equated into about 5-6 meals/shakes a day.

In the end gain how you like, its easy to shed the weight with a no/low carb diet with carb blockers in place when you need them.


teddy…sounds like you kicked some major ace on the diet! Congrats, bro. Anway, I’ve never gone ketogenic so this post isn’t going to answer any questions for ya (my bad). But I was considering an Anabolic Diet approach for gaining mass (just to try something different) and I’d be very interested to see what you decide to do and how you progress. So keep me posted T-buddy! Good luck.

I did sort of my own version of Poliquin's first 3-week phase of Maximal Weights. I basically paired Chest/Biceps and Back/Shoulder/Triceps (I was doing Ian's limping workouts for legs). I would do 5 sets of an exercise for 4-6 reps on a 401 tempo with 100-120 sec rest between supersets (bench, 100 sec, barbell curls, 100 sec, bench...). I generally did 4 exercises per session. I liked it a lot because of the amount of focus and intensity required. I only did it for about two weeks but was able to increase weight or reps each subsequent workout.

Oops, I did leave that out. Actually I was planning on 2g/lb. bodyweight as per Poliquin’s recommendations in a previous Question of Strength column (was recommended for 1/6/1 training so I figure it would work for Maximal Weights too). As an FYI, I’m doing 1/6/1 after 3 weeks of Max. Weights 5*5 and GVT2K, then I’m gonna finish off w. another 3 weeks of German Body Comp except this time I’m gonna try the four days/week routine. Timbo, you and I have “chewed up a lot of the same battlegrounds.” Hope to meet ya someday as well as the rest of you T-Men. I’m trying to start a fitness center in the town where I live so when it goes through you all will have to come in and catch a workout if you’re ever in north central Nebraska. I promise it will be a Testosterone-friendly gym w. power racks, thick bars, good tunes, proper gym etiquette by all members (don’t you hate when this is an issue?), and my two personal faves-a reverse hyper machine and an assisted dip/chin machine. As you can see I’m not going to cater to the general public as I’m not interested in making a million dollars.

Is this anti-carb movement ever going to go away? Teddy, I like you alot even though I don’t know you, so I’ll put on my Tim Patterson hat and let him ding you. At a buck-fifty and 5% bf, you have NO reason to be low-carbing IF you want mass. Set a goal to increase your bodyweight, maybe 10 pounds over a given time period. Once you reach your 10 pound increase, stay there for two or three months and then set another goal for an additional 10 pounds. Your ultimate goal should be between 180 and 200 depending upon your height. I’ve read all your diatribes about your 5000-7000 calorie binges and can absolutely relate. I’ve done the same, maybe as high as 10,000 calories in one day, and it’s always been when my body’s at a point of starvation when I’ve caved. All this was done for competition only, so now that I’ve “retired” I find it a helluva lot easier to coast at 9% bf and just live life.

Here's my $.02 to anyone who says they function better with low carbs. I'll be blasted for saying this, but so what. Bull fu*?^ing sh&t!!! Whoever says this is probably carbophobic and is unwilling or unable to admit the truth.

I appreciate your feedback, but I need to fill you in on a couple things. My 150 weight is in a carb-depleted state, so after a strict carb-up you can put me at 160. Now this isn’t going to make me the next Mr. Olympia by any means but I’m not exactly a runt. And you don’t believe I function better on low carbs? I’m not going to “blast” you, but I have the workout journals to prove it. A couple of years ago I never would’ve been able to say that, but what I found is that I was screwing myself on the previous keto diets, e.g. inadequate sodium/potassium, excessive cardio, etc. I truly DO function better with a lower carb intake, but I am also anal about supplementation/diet. I take a good multi w. the following antioxidants added: C, E, grape seed, green tea. I use glutamine, EC, whey protein, MRP’s, and my diet is textbook: tons of green veggies, 2 salads, protein sources include eye of round, lean gr. beef, eggs (w. added Omega-3), chicken, flax/Udo’s, fish oil, etc. I’ve dieted for 18 weeks and have EXACTLY the same lean mass that I started with w/o all the fat I gained post-surgery. Also as an FYI, I’ve done the standard bulking approach and it worked well. I did a progressive 5*5 a la Bill Starr and set personal bests on all lifts as well as bodyweight. I started at 164 @8% and within 11 weeks got up to 187 @ 14%. I was on a good 4,000-4,500 daily cal intake. Nutrient ratios were around Zone-ish ratios w. higher carbs. If functioning better w/o high carbs wasn’t possible then why does Coach Poliquin put half his pro athletes on this type of diet? I’m not a total Poliquin lover either so you know, I think he’s an arrogant prick and will never pay any money to attend a seminar of his for this very reason. I’ll take Ian King over him any day. So I really do appreciate your feedback and I like the discussion, but with all due respect, I disagree with your reply that people can’t function better on lower carb intakes. I’ll meet you halfway though and say that this approach is definitely NOT for everyone. My best friend is a perfect example. He thrives on high complex carb intakes (50-60%), but put him on even a moderately low level and he suffers tremendously. Good talking with ya, and feel free to respond.

Ok, I take back the black & white approach to low carbs. Things are never that clear cut. My wife’s diabetic, and after seeing what she goes through day in & day out I’d have to say a healthy pancreas is just as important as my own penis. Maybe the low carb lovers have something unusual going on with their pancreas which makes their body dislike carbs. What do you think? Also, I love your question, “If functioning better w/o high carbs wasn’t possible then why does Coach Poliquin put half his pro athletes on this type of diet?” I had the exact same question and I’d like an honest answer. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he’s inflating the numbers.

teddykgb, not to get off subject, but where exactly do you live? North-central Nebraska??? Nothing there but O-Neil and Valentine. Anywhere close to those?

Your first guess was correct, SCBA. I live in O’Neill. Are you a Husker as well? We’ll have to hook up if you’re nearby. Phil, I have to agree that I have my doubts about some of Poliquin’s stuff. It’s funny watching him go from mag to mag and all of a sudden there are different recommendations. In Manly Weight Loss, he’s a SportPharma lover (even recommends such garbage as pyruvate). Then he’s in Muscle Media defending HMB. Now he’s actually recommending Octacosanol as a potential useful tool. What next? Nonetheless, you have to give him props as he is a highly knowledgable person, and like someone said earlier, the juicy tidbits are usually found only via consultation/seminars. It has been estimated that as many as 75% of Americans have some degree of insulin resistance, so I think there is a broad category that do better with LOWER carb intakes, but the key is to replace the carbs w. good fats such as flax, fish, etc. and quality protein. A lot of it depends on how you structure it. It took me about six tries to truly master the keto diet for myself, such as fat/protein ratios, what supplements to add and how much (potassium was a kicker for me). Truthfully I can get cut on virtually any diet. I worked my way down to keto on my recent diet phase. Initially I started off Zone-ish, then more of a ratio similar to what you find in most MRP’s, then the final phase was keto. Mass wise Zone-ish works well for me and I can gain weight on anything, even by looking at food practically puts on an extra lb. (LOL) but I find I gain fat too quickly with higher carb intakes, and I always get sluggish as hell around early afternoon, even sticking w. low-glycemic carb choices. This is where I’m coming from w. trying the keto variation for Maximal Weights only I’ll be having a pretty large carb-up each week and taking quite a bit post-workout too. What the heck, can’t hurt?

Teddy…we’ll catch up some day, my man. And let me tell ya, when we do we’re going to do some damage in the iron cage, bro. It’s interesting that we’re about the same in terms of bodyweight and fat (I’m 157 @ 5-6%). But I’m six-foot, and from the sounds of it and pure logic, I’d imagine you’re packing quite a bit more muscle and strength than my weak, lanky butt. Fear not, bud, I’m movin’ on up!

Anyway, good luck on your up-coming bulking phase. I’m planning on packing on some mass too. I’m going to start-up next week though, as I heeded your advice and took this week off–so far anyway! It’s been tough but I know my bod appreciates. Of course I have to throw in some warrior training and some stuff like that. I was wondering where you got all your Poliquin diet info–was it just stuff you picked up off the site and through his books? I have access to all those goodies. Yeah, he does just drop hints here and there and likes to talk about himself and his work…but I like the guy and he’s one helluva intelligent guy. An aspiring strength coach myself, I think I can learn and utilize much of the info that he has to dispose.

Teddy, so you're going to shoot for about 4000 cal/day at about 2g/lb of protein, right? Sounds like a plan, my man. I laugh to myself when I read about how anal (don't take this the wrong way) you are about nutrition and supplementation cause I'm the same damn way! It's crazy, buddy. After this bulking phase, hopefully all things go according to plan, I might try a keto diet (just for the hell of it) and would like some input from you since you're so experienced and have so much knowledge to drop on me...not to mention the similar body comp characteristics. Good luck, bud, and I'll keep you posted as I hope you'll do the same.

Hope your week off is treating you well Timbo-you made a wise decision. All of Poliquin’s info I have just picked up from various columns/interviews. I’ve never been to a seminar of his nor have I done a consultation. I will agree that he is awesome, but I’m just not into people that are so full of themselves. People have just as much if not more respect for Ian King and he is one of the nicest guys around from what I hear. On my bulk phase I doubt I’ll go up to 4,000 on the keto/Max weights phase. This is just what I did on my last bulkup. I’ll be closer to 20x bodyweight which will be around 3200 initially, and on the carbup I’ll be hitting the 4000 or above barrier. Now that’s gonna be fun. When I get to GVT2K I’ll up the cals to 4,000 and go w. a Zone approach. Anything I can do to help on your keto phase should you go that route, just drop me a note. Done properly it’s not all that bad, but it requires some solid supplementation if you’re following Coach P’s diet/training recommendations. Good luck!

Sounds good, buddy. Actually it’s been about 5 days off with no weights…I’m going to go in today with a drastically reduced volume and just do some damage. I feel real well, relaxed and focus and desire seem to be kickin’ in!

I think for my first 3 weeks of my mass phase I’m going to do something similar to GVT2K (I did Poliquin’s GVT about two months ago) in terms of volume and rest intervals. But I’m going to vary the exercises and loads a little bit. I’m actually going to try to stick in the 8-10 rep range, use three different exercises or so, and try to increase the volume with each subsequent workout. I haven’t decided how I’ll split yet, though, any thoughts? Are you going at as TC described in his article or have you made some modifications? After that three week phase I’ll definitely kick up the intensity and shift to a Max Weights type protocol. For the higher volume though, I know I’ll be needing about 4000 cals. I’m very sure I underate during my GVT phase. Make sure you get your carbs in after your workout, buddy. It’s hell but it’s fun, let me tell ya.

When I do GVT it’ll be to the letter as per TC’s plan w. one exception: the shoulder workout. In the Poliquin Principles there is a heavy/light workout based on GVT w. 3 different rep ranges/tempos (4-6, 6-8, 15-20). I’m going to use this one, especially since there is no direct shoulder work in the Maximal Weights method. I really like TC’s idea of using different angles. This seems to make so much more sense. Well done, TC!

Teddy…sounds like you’ve got things pretty well in order and seem very confident in your methods. How much are you going to try and gain during this phase? I’ll probably be shooting for 1-2 lb/week. That would be great considering my weight log has seen me go from around 165 this summer to a paltry 158 at the moment–all the while trying to gain weight. Have you ever used Androsol or Nandrosol, teddy? I’m planning on giving Androsol a try during this bulking phase of mine–man, I hate calling it a “bulking” phase…just sounds too chunky. Teddy, keep me posted on your GVT2K progress. Oh yeah, I checked out that shoulder routine you were talking about…looks pretty much how I was training a few weeks back (5x4-6; 4x8-10; 3x10-12). It’s a very effective approach for an accumulation phase–you might even want to give it a shot for all muscle groups. So, do you plan on training four days/week or more? I usually follow one of Poliquin’s splits from his book, getting in 5 workouts/week, each bodypart once every 6 days (have used every 5 days in the past). Good luck, bro.

I’m not sure how much I’ll gain during the Maximal Weights part since this is the first time I’m going to use a cyclic keto approach to mass. Normally most don’t gain a ton w. lower reps but I am predominantly fast twitch and generally gain better w. a 5/5 based plan. Differences: protein will be really high (2g. per lb), lots of carbs post-workout, and I am going to carb like a mofo for 24 hrs and load up on the lipoic acid. This will actually be fun, and despite what others think, this is tailored exactly to my body’s needs. The keto phase will keep my appetite reasonably low-if I were to do standard carbs during this time I know I’d be getting 4500+ daily and overdoing it. At the same time, when carb time comes, it’s 24 hrs. of GUILT-FREE fun. Did I mention GUILT-FREE? I’ve already got my cupboards and fridge stocked full-on w. Corn Flakes, pasta, whole-grain bread for my PB and J (nat. peanut butter and sugar-free preserves, of course), apples and oranges, and whatever else I can scrounge up. I need to get my favorite natural apple cinnamon granola too. I don’t give a rat’s patoot about ketosis, I just want to keep insulin low during the low carb phase except for post-w. I’ve never looked forward to a diet more than the way I have this one structured and I know it’s going to work well. I’ve got plenty of flax, Udo’s and fish oil caps to keep me going too. So for those of you that are prepared to blast me for using a cyclic keto approach to mass, don’t bother. I know this is not for everyone, but I know my body and how it responds to various approaches. GVT2000 is a different story. I will definitely be using a Zone approach and getting a boatload of cals, mostly post-workout. If I can gain 10-12 lbs. of LBM in the next 12 weeks while keeping bf respectable, I’ll be very happy. I will definitely keep everyone posted and you be sure to do the same, Timbo.

teddy, buddy, sorry I keep coming back to ya, man, but you’re enthusiasm and spice are addictive, bro! I’m planning on heading back to the gym tomorrow–I’m pumped as a mofo and ready to pack on the mass. (As I wipe the drool from my mouth) Damn, buddy, carb-up time sounds like a blast for ya. I am basically shooting for the Zone or IsoCal during my mass attack (35/35/30 pro/carb/fat) most likely. Though my high cal requirements–probably about 4000 with training similar to GVT–I’ll probably be getting at least 2g/lb of my favorite food: protein. Can’t get enough of it. Teddy, I do have a question for ya…in the midst of all this post-workout nutrition discussion, what route are you planning on going? I don’t plan on dishing out the dinero just yet and trying to be a mad scientist…I eagerly anticipate Biotest’s release of the post-workout drink (as well as some of the other goodies). I think I may have asked you earlier, but have you ever used Androsol or Nandrosol? I’m ready train balls-to-the-wall, eat huge and GROW!!! Let’s do this dance.

Well as exciting as all this post-workout concoction goes, I’m gonna sit on the sidelines for this for now. I’d rather wait until Biotest comes out with the finished product than tinker around w. different ratios and have to buy six different things. For me, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I do just fine with a good whey protein (something that tastes better than all that hydrolyzed mumbo jumbo), plenty of carbs via grape juice and corn flakes, creatine, glutamine, and antioxidants. My antioxidant stack consists of grape seed, bilberry and lutein (I have bad eyes too so this serves a dual purpose), Vit. C crystals, MSM powder, Vit. E and green tea. That being said, I am anxiously awaiting the “finished product” from Biotest. I have never taken Androsol/Nandrosol nor do I plan to. Personal reasons, but I’m not criticizing those who do use it. Actually the main reason I haven’t used it is that I feel I am capable of plenty more gains before I plateau and need that “extra edge.” I’ve always been very cautious about the hormone enhancers. I once bought 3 strips of DBol back in the day but couldn’t bring myself to actually use it so I sold it to someone else.

Timbo - it’s “My BAG” not “my BAD”. Just trying to help you white boys