T Nation

Physiology and Weight Gain

I have been trying to get bigger and have been pretty careful about timing my meals (following Craig Hight’s suggestion on maxing out carbs immediately post workout to get an insulin boost, but minimizing them otherwise).

This* has been working extremely well. I am gaining roughly 3.5 lbs./month and about 22% - 25% is fat. (I am having this monitored by someone who is very accurate at skinfold caliper testing). This has been holding pretty steady for the last 18 or so lbs. (5 months), so this seems like a workable, steady solution. I have been trying not to gain a lot of fat while doing this. By biggest concern for years with doing serious bulking was getting pudgy. Not so this time.

I read some place that fat gain must always accompany lean tissue gain as a side effect of testosterone and other hormonal increase.

Question: Must this be so and if so why?

The relatively constant gain is really striking, so needless to say, I am now extremely curious. I really do not know much about the physiology of weight gain in this way and would like to learn more.

Thanks in Advance!

– jj

  • Along with a heck of a lot of heavy squats, deads, benching and rowing, I might add. :o)

Might want to put this in the supplement and nutrition forum, and in particular ask MODOK.

No lean tissue gain doesn’t have to have accompanying fat gain though. Will it most likely? Yes for the fact that to have otherwise would mean you’ve gotten the timing, exact caloric needs, etc. all perfect. Do what you can to minimize the fat and keep building muscle.

LM is pretty much spot on. I’m sure you COULD gain almost entirely lean muscle, but excess calories virtually guarantee fat gain, and excess calories would be hard to adjust so perfectly as to not cause it.

[quote]HeavyTriple wrote:
LM is pretty much spot on. I’m sure you COULD gain almost entirely lean muscle, but excess calories virtually guarantee fat gain, and excess calories would be hard to adjust so perfectly as to not cause it.[/quote]

Here is the thing though – has anybody ever managed to just gain muscle, no fat? My question, perhaps not clearly phrased is this: Does muscle gain require fat gain as a side effect of (possibly) hormonal changes?

If so, what is the minimum amount of fat one can gain?

I’d also be fine with just knowing fat gain is not mandatory, just really hard to avoid practically. Cites or sources anyone?

– jj

[quote]jj-dude wrote:

[quote]HeavyTriple wrote:
LM is pretty much spot on. I’m sure you COULD gain almost entirely lean muscle, but excess calories virtually guarantee fat gain, and excess calories would be hard to adjust so perfectly as to not cause it.[/quote]

Here is the thing though – has anybody ever managed to just gain muscle, no fat? My question, perhaps not clearly phrased is this: Does muscle gain require fat gain as a side effect of (possibly) hormonal changes?

If so, what is the minimum amount of fat one can gain?

I’d also be fine with just knowing fat gain is not mandatory, just really hard to avoid practically. Cites or sources anyone?

– jj[/quote]

In the real world, yes you will and need to gain fat to gain lean muscle. The storing mechanism for fat cells and skeletal muscle is exactly the same. The reason eating carbs is good right after training is because your muscles have contraction dependant transport proteins that are signalled after intense exercise. Which means, skeletal muscle will take priority over fat cells for storing blood sugar right after INTENSE exercise. This helps bypass the same transport protein (all of the GLUT family) on fat cells but, they still open whenever insulin is spiked. So, some fat cells will get bigger.

Most studies will say nutrient timing doesn’t matter and a calorie is a calorie. This may work in an 8 week study but I only care about a lifetime of metabolic causes and effects. Most studies will tell you to jog as well. More real world application: jogging makes you fatter.

Anyway, if you really want to get bigger, you have to get a little fatter. Anyone who says different either weighs 90lbs soaking wet or is trying to sell you something.

The best dieting advice I can give is go buy and exercise metabolism textbook and stop giving a shit about what you look like with your shirt off.

[quote]jj-dude wrote:

[quote]HeavyTriple wrote:
LM is pretty much spot on. I’m sure you COULD gain almost entirely lean muscle, but excess calories virtually guarantee fat gain, and excess calories would be hard to adjust so perfectly as to not cause it.[/quote]

Here is the thing though – has anybody ever managed to just gain muscle, no fat? My question, perhaps not clearly phrased is this: Does muscle gain require fat gain as a side effect of (possibly) hormonal changes?

If so, what is the minimum amount of fat one can gain?

I’d also be fine with just knowing fat gain is not mandatory, just really hard to avoid practically. Cites or sources anyone?

– jj[/quote]

Here’s the thing…

In trained individuals you’ll be able to do it with either the assistance of AAS, or exact calorie requirements/timing. Is it possible? Yes, from a scientific aspect. Is it realistic? No, because without proper equipment, and even then, it’s near impossible to track exact caloric requirements at exact moments.

The minimum amount of fat one can or will gain is dependent upon so many variables that it’s impossible to pinpoint. Theoretically as I mentioned i could be 0 or even lose fat (in non-trained individuals). In trained individuals it’ll be a bit different and depends upon training, recovery, and nutrition and how the individual responds to each variable. I know for me personally certain things will affect me positively or negatively where for someone else they may have a different reaction.

So to answer your question - no it does not require fat gain. Fat gain and building muscle are two different metabolic processes independent of one another from a physiological standpoint. However, from a realistic approach, one can only hope to minimize fat gain, and maximize muscle gain. Further more, you have to consider at which do you want to prioritize. If you want to guarantee that you do not miss out on muscle gain/strength gain, then you’d sure as hell better be at the max level of caloric intake that will guarantee that to happen.

For example:

Let’s say maximally you need 5k calories to guarantee no missed muscle gains due to lack of nutrients. In the process - due to various variables you put on 1 lb of fat for every lb of muscle. (Stereotypical powerlifter)

Now you could also reduce the intake, at times missing out on muscle/strength gains by ingesting 4500 calories but your fat:muscle ratio build would now be lets say .5 lbs fat/1 lb muscle.

These are just arbitrary numbers of course and the ratios could be immensely better then what I stated, I was just using that for simplicity sake.

A good rule of thumb I try to follow is only 1 lb of fat gain for every 4 lbs of muscle. Fat can always be burned off easier than muscle can be built and as you learn to control the variables better and how they affect you, you’ll be able to improve the ratio of fat:muscle gain.

[quote]StormTheBeach wrote:

Anyway, if you really want to get bigger, you have to get a little fatter. Anyone who says different either weighs 90lbs soaking wet or is trying to sell you something.

The best dieting advice I can give is go buy and exercise metabolism textbook and stop giving a shit about what you look like with your shirt off.[/quote]

Thanks for the good info. That does make a lot of sense.

As for my weight, I come from a family of morbidly obese people (as in 60% bf is not uncommon – I lost 140 lbs at one point and will never look great with my shirt off) and understanding how people gain weight is important in my overall strategy of avoiding metabolic syndrome. Not everyone who poses a serious question about the relationship between muscular hypertrophy and weight gain has a strictly cosmetic motivation, 'k?

– jj

[quote]LiquidMercury wrote:

[quote]jj-dude wrote:

[quote]HeavyTriple wrote:
LM is pretty much spot on. I’m sure you COULD gain almost entirely lean muscle, but excess calories virtually guarantee fat gain, and excess calories would be hard to adjust so perfectly as to not cause it.[/quote]

Here is the thing though – has anybody ever managed to just gain muscle, no fat? My question, perhaps not clearly phrased is this: Does muscle gain require fat gain as a side effect of (possibly) hormonal changes?

If so, what is the minimum amount of fat one can gain?

I’d also be fine with just knowing fat gain is not mandatory, just really hard to avoid practically. Cites or sources anyone?

– jj[/quote]

Here’s the thing…

In trained individuals you’ll be able to do it with either the assistance of AAS, or exact calorie requirements/timing. Is it possible? Yes, from a scientific aspect. Is it realistic? No, because without proper equipment, and even then, it’s near impossible to track exact caloric requirements at exact moments.

The minimum amount of fat one can or will gain is dependent upon so many variables that it’s impossible to pinpoint. Theoretically as I mentioned i could be 0 or even lose fat (in non-trained individuals). In trained individuals it’ll be a bit different and depends upon training, recovery, and nutrition and how the individual responds to each variable. I know for me personally certain things will affect me positively or negatively where for someone else they may have a different reaction.

So to answer your question - no it does not require fat gain. Fat gain and building muscle are two different metabolic processes independent of one another from a physiological standpoint. However, from a realistic approach, one can only hope to minimize fat gain, and maximize muscle gain. Further more, you have to consider at which do you want to prioritize. If you want to guarantee that you do not miss out on muscle gain/strength gain, then you’d sure as hell better be at the max level of caloric intake that will guarantee that to happen.

For example:

Let’s say maximally you need 5k calories to guarantee no missed muscle gains due to lack of nutrients. In the process - due to various variables you put on 1 lb of fat for every lb of muscle. (Stereotypical powerlifter)

Now you could also reduce the intake, at times missing out on muscle/strength gains by ingesting 4500 calories but your fat:muscle ratio build would now be lets say .5 lbs fat/1 lb muscle.

These are just arbitrary numbers of course and the ratios could be immensely better then what I stated, I was just using that for simplicity sake.

A good rule of thumb I try to follow is only 1 lb of fat gain for every 4 lbs of muscle. Fat can always be burned off easier than muscle can be built and as you learn to control the variables better and how they affect you, you’ll be able to improve the ratio of fat:muscle gain.[/quote]

Sensible, and practical advice too. Thanks!

– jj

[quote]jj-dude wrote:

[quote]StormTheBeach wrote:

Anyway, if you really want to get bigger, you have to get a little fatter. Anyone who says different either weighs 90lbs soaking wet or is trying to sell you something.

The best dieting advice I can give is go buy and exercise metabolism textbook and stop giving a shit about what you look like with your shirt off.[/quote]

Thanks for the good info. That does make a lot of sense.

As for my weight, I come from a family of morbidly obese people (as in 60% bf is not uncommon – I lost 140 lbs at one point and will never look great with my shirt off) and understanding how people gain weight is important in my overall strategy of avoiding metabolic syndrome. Not everyone who poses a serious question about the relationship between muscular hypertrophy and weight gain has a strictly cosmetic motivation, 'k?

– jj[/quote]

Fair enough, sorry for the generalization. You, sir, are a badass for losing that much weight.

Still though, my advice about learning about metabolism is extremely important, especially for you. Learning how to control your insulin… like how to really do it and how it really works is vital for your long term health, especially with your family history.

Good luck buddy. Sorry again for being a dick.

Yah STB, you’re such a dick.

JJ - read up on John Kiefer’s stuff. He has some good research out on insulin control and all the various ways it affects things. EFS has a few of his articles up and then his own forums at dangerouslyhardcore.com