I'm about to start new health experiments to test the efficacy of supplementation on lean mass retention during weight loss and would love some feedback. So first off a quick background...
Over the last 1.5 years I've been doing experiments on myself with unique, extreme diets. I'm not very fond of most of the health research on diet as I don't believe our modern health studies properly isolate variables that are impacting the reliability and accuracy of the results. Because of this I started health experiments with 4 week single food source diets.
I did 4 weeks of the following: 6.75 lbs of potatoes a day, 36 eggs a day, 5.2 lbs of bananas a day, and ~4.5 lbs of raw beef a day. I moved on to mixing foods, including dairy, and did some experiments focused on cholesterol and BMR.
Whenever I go on a vegan diet I lose considerable lean mass. I've seen this reliably on a variety of vegan diets, but I've used bananas as a base diet 3 times and have observed this in all instances. The first time I did a banana diet I lost about 2.5 lbs of lean mass and 3.5 lbs of fat (measured by DXA). The second and third time I was on banana diets I saw similar rates of weight loss but did not have body composition measured.
Whenever I lose a considerable amount of lean mass I can regain it quickly. After the first 12 weeks of my experiments I dropped 13 lbs of lean mass, but after 4 weeks of eating ~4.5 lbs of raw beef a day I gained 13.5 lbs of lean mass back. Now most people would accredit large fluctuations of lean mass to water and glycogen retention, but with beef there's no carbohydrates and with no salt there's not anything to cause excessive water retention. An alternative theory I've been presented is creatine, but I think something else is going on completely.
During my cholesterol experiments I used bananas as my stabilization diet. I ended up eating bananas for 9 weeks and fasting for one week. At the end I had gone from 172 lbs down to 143 lbs. After refeeding I was at 162 lbs after 2 weeks and at 187 lbs after 10 weeks. At the 10 week mark I had a DXA scan and was at 15.8% body fat, so it's not like I was just packing on the fat.
Since new muscle is hard to gain and therefore prone to measurement error I decided to see if I could determine the efficacy of protein supplementation during a weight loss period. I'm going see if I can minimize my lean mass loss during an all banana diet by supplementing the following: 5g glutamine, 5g BCAA, 5g beta-alanine, 5g creatine, and 1g salt.
I'm going to refeed for 4 weeks again and measure the results via DXA scan. The supplementation of creatine and salt will determine if large gains in lean mass are from replenishment of creatine and sodium or something different. I'm fairly confident I will see lean mass gains during the refeed these periods have historically produced dramatic lean mass gains.
I'm going to then go on another 4 week period of a banana diet and supplement beef and or raw milk instead of the supplements. I want to assess the efficacy of supplementation compared to just eating more.
Thoughts? Questions? Insults?
P.S. I'd be happy to provide links to all my data and analysis if anyone is interested. I've seen some really interesting stuff. Find out what happened during the egg diet and see once and for all if eggs really contribute to high cholesterol (spoiler alert they do).
UPDATE 10/22/2013: Phase 1 of the experiment complete. Supplementing beta-alanine, creatine, L-Glutamine, BCAAs, and salt did nothing to inhibit lean mass losses during my first phase. I'm starting a refeeding period then I'm going to do the banana diet again and supplement small portions of natural animal proteins via raw beef, raw milk, and/or raw egg with a 20g protein per day amount. BMR tests showed that on the 2,000 calorie banana diet 100% of my at rest calories burned were from carbohydrates and it was measured at 1,540 calories. The last 2 days I did a water fast + the supplements and went into ketosis within 24 hours showing glycogen stores were depleted.