T Nation

On the nature of nutrient partitioning

First off, A blessed Easter to all.
I wanted to post this theoretical dicussion after finishing my second cut phase and in light of recent dicussions on maintaining acceptable body fat limits while bulking.

Basically, becuase I track my nutritional progress very strictly, I have begun to see some trends, and as such, I try to research what i see and apply it.

What I have come up with is the current following plan that really allows me to put on serious mass (after cutting) at the absolute minimization of body fat.

I have termed it the inversion principle. As most everyone here knows, I used a very strict carb-upLESS keto to cut (CHO <30g/day/FAT~70-80g) and have found this very successful to cut to low levels of bodyfat with minimal LM losses (for example, last cut I lost 10lbs total, 8.8fat mass, 1.2lbs LM at a starting body fat % of around 9.5%–it took me thirty-three days of approx 800-1,000kcal deficit and systematic training to acheive this)…

Following cut, I move into a lean gain phase using the inversion principle mentioned earlier…here, fat intake stays at under 30g/day and carbs are pretty much left uncontrolled (protein is always there around 250/300 day). Now, I do eat a lot of low and high glycemic carbs during this time, esp. rice cakes, kashi, whetena, and the like. In addition, I increase cardio following weight training to further increase insulin sensitivity (but no more than 25 minutes of a solid treadmill run or ellipitical which i do most often as its easier on the knees)

My point is this-while insulin is the primary storage hormone, we also know that de novo lipogenesis does not normally occur in humans under normal conditions, and is less likely to occur in our population (bb’ers) given systematic, regular training which empties muscle & liver glycogen on a regular basis–during the refeed/lean gain it is fat that is stored most easily, esp. in the presence of insulin…so, eating high GI foods does not lead to FAT GAIN per se unless you are A) eating fat with it or B) just sitting on your ass–this is further mitigated if you use supplements such as ALA/Citramax…So basically although the high GI foods preclude fat BURNING, they do not necessarily lead to FAT STORAGE during lean gain, esp. when excess CHO is going to be needed to be used to allow for the synthesis of new muscle tissue. Now during this refeed, the fat i do get is the essential fatty acids, some polyunsaturates from oatmeal etc., and the rest is made up of MCT fat from protein bars etc. (as we know, it is factual that MCT fat does not have the same metabolic fate of LCT and as such, is used much the same as CHO further reducing fat storage)…So I might argue that during a refeed lean gain (if your body fat is pretty low to where you want it) it is more scrupulous from a partitioning effect to eat HIGH GI or LOW GI fat free carbs as opposed to low GI carbs with a decent fat content such as oatmeal…I went out and substituted whetena for oatmeal (further saving on the fat economy) and also eat the fat free rice cakes comprised of long grain brown rice and glucose polymers. A TBSP of honey in my protein shake makes a nice thick texture and I really recommend it too. Laugh at me all you want–but the results speak for themselves. I just thought i would broach this idea/topic/revelation or whatever you want to call it–becuase sometimes I think we lose cite of key information…Indeed, I am not saying my physiological/nutrition knowledge is complete, and if JB or others out there no of other studies/scientific theory that would discount my postulates or thoughts, please critique. I truly believe in this approach, and I would not lie to anyone on this forum.

As a disclaimer, I realize different diets have different effects for different folks, but I speak (I guess) for the average recreational bb’er with a normal metabolism and no “carb sensitivity” issues. I also did not mention that as far as supplements, I simply use high quality protein blends with ALA/Citramax/some form of an ephedra stimulant/and a BCAA stack. I am not using any prohormone/or anabolics which might further alter my thoughts. Hope to get some good responses to this. Keep in mind that staying under 30CHO and then 30FAT is not as easy as it might seem…you have to be disciplined and track it, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
Vain 68 over and out looking for eggs on this Easter weekend.

Hey if it works from you then why not use it. I would only caution on eating lots of high GI carbs at times when you really don’t need them such as before bed, 2 hours prior to your workout etc. What really has me curious is it’s quite obvious that you are able to handle carbs well…this would make a ketogenic diet a total living hell for most people in your situation. I wonder if it’s actually necessary for you to diet ketogenically to achieve the results you obtained. It seems the people who get the best results on a ketogenic diet are very carb intolerant and they actualy feel better on the ketogenic plan whereas good carb burners feel like shit and oftentimes get so/so results on a keto diet. Have you experimented with other diet plans?

Vain: I have a LONG, funky weekend with work, putting some things in storage, workin’ in the yard…was just scanning the post.

I promise to get back with you either near the end of the week or first part of next…!

“we also know that de novo lipogenesis does not normally occur in humans under normal conditions, and is less likely to occur in our population” - I question this, and this is really what your argument relies on. If glycogen is full and you eat carbs, you’re gonna gain some fat. What else could happen to this extra energy? Also, I’m hesistant to ever endorse low-fat for a significant length of time because of the negative impact on testosterone levels. If you’re merely suggesting this as a way to come off a diet though (especially low carb or keto), it could have some merit.

Vain: As always…excellent post! (And it makes me think!)

As you always point out, this approach is very specific for you. However, it still has GREAT value in that it points out VERY clearly the areas that we need to watch closely with our own diets.

The three most important (in my estimation) are:1)The types of carbs and fats used both during our restriction and re-feeding 2)The degree of restriction and subsequest re-feeding and 3) The amount and type of activtity we are engaged in both during restriction and refeeding. These variables will vary GREATLY among individuals, and probably are the greatest determinants of outcomes. Since I have to be as careful as you with my diet, I wanted to point out some variations I’ve seen both in myself and with others:

1)As J.B., Chris Aceto and others have pointed out, re-feeding for many HAS to be a slow, controlled process, and that certainly is the case with me. Both authors tend to recommend “controlled cheat days” even during your most restrictive phases. Chris Aceto, however, recommends that you don’t cheat until you’ve been on a restrictive diet for at least 6 weeks or so (out of a twelve week cycle). Even with this, the key word is CONTROLLED “cheat” days, and VERY limited ones. Some actually recommend just a “cheat meal”.

Now…that being said, some on this site (Jason, Kelly, Pat, others) have brought up a very important point. The DEGREE and how rapidly one re-introduces carbs is really dependant on how long someone have been able to maintain relative leanness. The longer you’ve been realtively lean, the “looser” you can be with carb re-introduction AND in the type of carbs you injest. I can’t get NEAR high glycemic carbs during cutting cycles/refeeds, and even if the carbs are lower GI, I still must introduce them slowly. If I don’t? Bloating, diarrhea, fat gain…and a “lost” cycle.

2)AS CARBS GO DOWN, PROTEIN MUST GO UP, in order to ward off (as much as possible)the utilization of protein for energy instead of muscle building and repair. This is an often- missed principle. Most get the point of decreasing carbs when wanting to cut, but not the need to increase your protein intake during a cutting phase.

3)By the same token (as you pointed out)workout intensity must ALSO stay up. There is STILL a lot of debate, even among the experts, about cardio. J.B. says keep it up (for fat loss, insulin sensitivity, overall increase in metabolic rate, etc.), while Chris Aceto says bag it during a cutting cycle. (Personally…I tend to lean towards J.B.'s recommendations. With proper nutrition (ESPECIALLY pre and post workout), I think that the “anabolic” properties of cardio far outweigh the “catabolic” negatives. (i.e.increased insulin sensitivity, greater overall nutrient uptake, overall elevation of metabolism, etc.). Again…personally, I HAVE to maintain the cardio for the above reasons.

4)As you pointed out, “proper” fats can not be overemphasized. Just one thing to add. I believe in a “cheat” meal/day not so much with carbs, but with a “healthy” source of saturated fat (i.e. a steak). As I’ve pointed out before, this is more than just psychological. I feel much stronger after such a meal.
5)Another important thing you brought out that I’d like to emphasize; there can be a BIG difference between a “high GI” carb, and a “simple” carb. On a re-feed or during a cutting phase, I can’t go hog-wild on doughnuts, candy, cake and the like, but do tend to lean more toward the “higher glycemic, complex carbs” you brought out.

Well…that’s my take. Keep letting us know about your personal observations on your cutting cycles. I can tell 'ya that they make me take a CLOSE look at my own diet!

Very well put. I couldn’t agree with your thoughts more. My experiences seem to parallel your thoughts on this issue.

Mufusa–The fat point you brought out in regards to the refeed (and it being too low–thus reducing T levels) is excellent…the way i combat this is to eat as much MCT fat (of the 30-35g as possible)…Since MCT Fat comes from coconut or palm kernel oil, and is saturated, it has the added benefit of both potentially elevating T as well as not being stored as conventional body fat–Of my daily fat intake during refeed/lean gain–almost 50% of the 30-35g/fat/day comes from the sat fat in the protein bars I choose–however, your point on 30 being too low and it maybe messing with T levels is something I am going to check into–I did notice that during my cut, that although it was self-induced “smart” semi-starvation as I like to call it (about a 900 calorie defecit or so per day), my T levels were up (at least based on personal behavior :).

In regards to the comment made about storing excess CHO as fat, and the energy balance, I too would say that you can not “beat the energy balance” but one way the body does beat such a balance, esp. with carbs, is that it will jack the metabolic furnace to burn off the excess carb…a recent report I found suggested that excess CHO is not readily stored as conventional body fat (even through de novo) and that "indirect calorimetric measurements indicated that exceptionally high intakes of carbohydrate are required before the respiratory quotient exceeds 1.0 [a value of net fat synthesis] (Acheson et al, 1982, 1984; Passmore & Swindalls, 1963; Schutz et al 1985)–they don’t give a gram #, so i can’t run my mouth too much, but i would bet it is up there, esp. in our population (keep in mind i do cardio daily at twenty minutes, and lift 6 times a week). The point being is that how many of us consume DAILY (not per meal) either high levels of fat with no carbs (a la keto) or high carbs with minimal fat (a la the modifiend fat free diet)–not many, and its the presence of trigylceride WITH insulin that lead to FAT gain, albeit insulin shuts off fat oxidation, but without trigylceride (ingested or via de novo–which i suggest is unilkely based on the current reports)fat gain is unlikely to occurr.

For example, my refeed off of a 33 day keto looked like this:
Day 1: Kcal 4982.5 CHO 822.50 FAT 28 SAT 14 PRO 335
Day 2: Kcal 3960 CHO 558.58 FAT 28.75 SAT 13 PRO 310.13
Day 3: Kcal 4157 CHO 593.75 FAT 31.75 SAT 13.50 PRO 307
This was just to restablish muscle glycogen and introduce anabolism

Muf’s—do you do keto at all?..how do you cut up?..if you do keto, I wonder why carbs are so sensitive for you–any ideas?

Vain - just wanted to comment on your thoughts/observations that excess carbs will be burnt off as heat by stoking the metabolic furnace instead of stored as fat. Probably being older than most on the forum (almost 45), I can say for me, that may of been some what true when I was younger. But as I’ve aged and let my BF% get higher than should of a couple times, I now find that excess carbs would rather refill my once full fat cells rather than produce wasted heat. It seems from my experience that if a person has once reached a level of fatness, then given the chance, the body will try to reachieve that same level of fatness again. If I’m not very careful with carb consumption at my age, I put on fat quickly. However, my body didn’t react to carbs in that manner when much younger and before I had initially reached a higher BF%. My point, from experience on both sides of the fence, is that everybody will react differently to excess carbs and also that you may react differently at different times of your life. From what I’ve seen, the older a person gets, the more difficulty one has with carbs and fat storage. It probably has to do with a combination of your body trying to reachieve its maximium BF% along with gradual adult onset insulin resistance and a general lowering of one’s metabolism as you age (along with less optimal hormonal profile as you age). Just trying to point out that my body doesn’t deal with excess carbs near as efficently at 45 as it did at 20 or 25 and some seem to have trouble with carbs their entire life. As you know, I’ve in the process of coming off a low carb diet also. And from previous experience at this point in my life, if I don’t come off gradually and carefully, I’ll quickly regain much of what I lost - and I’ll regain it at a much faster rate than I lost it. However, if I’m careful and gradual, giving my body plenty of time to readjust to gradual caloric increases, I should be able to stay lean a long time.

I had one other thought I wanted to add in regards to the study you quoted on excess carbs not being converted to fat until respiratory quotient exceeds 1. From my personal life long experience, I feel that type of study can be misleading as your body stores extra calories differently under different circumstances. After a diet, my body wants to store extra calories as fat rapidly to try and regain it’s previous composition. But if I haven’t been dieting, and my BF is already a little higher, than fat gain is slower and more gradual. My personal observations are that the rate of fat gain from excess carbs depends on what the body is currently “primed” for. At 12% BF, I don’t have to be near as strict with my diet and won’t gain a lot more fat (at least not rapidly). But at 6-8% BF, if I kick carb calories up, I’ll get back to 12% in a very short time (could be a matter of weeks if I give into cravings and eat lots of carbs). Anyway, the point I’m trying to make - IMO the rate of fat gain due to excess carbs is not linear but depends on many factors including the starting BF% as a % of normal BF% when extra carbs are introduced. And that is why many people say diets don’t work - because they diet to lose fat, then come off the diet and upon resuming “normal” eating, regain all the lost fat and often end up gaining more fat than they lost. It is fairly common with people that don’t understand how to come off a diet and then end up fat again - therefore diets don’t work. However, if you do a study on excess carb consumption by people who have NOT actively been dieting, and are at their “normal” weight while consuming the excess carbs, then I agree that extra fat gain will be slow - unlike when coming off a diet and the body is deprived and eager to regain what it lost. How the body treats extra calories depends on where it’s starting from and from where it’s been prior to that starting point.

The point on the linear relationship between CHO consumption and body fat gain is certainly something that needs to be addressed—I wonder what exactly the genetic component of all this stuff is—Are we truly born with a certain number of fat cells that can either expand or shrink? Is a 4% body fat level year-round abnormal?..I guess from a biological standpoint that wouldn’t be too prudent given that should a famine hit, were screwed. What about those who are ripped all the time—one thing i have noticed is that they are not BIG, they are just ripped–hence a faster metabolism…but then again, is the genetic aspect of metabolsim separate from that of fat? I truly think its Insulin, and learning how to control this bad boy of a hormone. But you make a point and I am going to watch closely how much fat I regain during my refeed with the inversion principle…I have refeed like this before but the ratios weren’t exactly the same–From my experience, HIGH GI carbs are the key for me…they only lead to fat gain when consummed with other fat (like my undergrad days) and when they are excluded period (given a caloric deficit), I drop weight pretty quickly…The genetic component is the key–anybody got any studies on genetic components?..Even with obese people from what i know, its more neuroendocrine in nature (i.e., neuropeptide Y doesn’t give them feelings of satiety) or there BMR or RMR is just slow as hell…not necessarily becuase of something tweeked in their fat cells per se…or some “set point”.
I’m out=
PS i am going to try and post my 2nd cut phase pics., but I have not a good clue on how to post them on my webpage now through geocities.

Vain-I definately agree that genetics plays a huge role in all this, as I have known a number of what they refer to as skinny bastards through out my life and these skinny bastards could eat and eat and eat…go to fast food every day and get 3 sandwiches and then go eat doughnuts, etc,etc, and still be skinny as a stick. A few of them though, once they reach middle age, do become what’s refered to as a skinny fat while others never do get fat. I do agree with you on insulin. We all know insulin can be a double edged sword, and if not controlled, will lead to adult onset type 2 diabetes. And due to the huge quantities of junk food available, type 2 diabetes has become rampant and now is even starting to show up in kids, with more obese kids than ever before. I do believe I’m some what more insulin resistant now than 20 years ago due to not always following a clean diet when younger. And I believe most of us will eventually develope some degree of insulin insensitivity, if living long enough. Also, wanted to comment on wether born with set number of fat cells. I remember reading some where - don’t remember where - that somebodies research has shown that if you get fat enough where all your fat cells become full, then your body will start to grow additional fat cells and start filling those. Anyway, I’ve been led to believe that it is possible for some to acquire additional fat cells throughout life. I’m sure that must be true of at least some over at the NAAFA site. Keep us updated on your refeed and final BF% after complete refeed and resuming normal training diet.