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What's The Lowest Carbs at Which You've Made Gains?

I’m currently eating ~300g carbs, which I feel help with performance and recovery, as I attempt to put on muscle mass. But I also feel much sharper, mentally, when I eat fewer carbs, so I’m trying to settle on my ideal number to marry physical/mental benefits.

What’s the lowest number of carbs you’ve eaten and still made noticeable gains? I know some people say “you can go keto and make gains,” but I don’t really buy that. I think some are needed for optimal results. I guess you can technically make gains while eating no carbs, but that’s a really long game IMO.

how much protein and fats do you eat? what kind of carbs do you eat?

About 200 protein and 85 fat. My carbs all come from good sources – oats, potatoes, sweet potatoes, fruits, veggies, rice, etc. The craziest I’ll get is some natural granola (like this amazing stuff) with nut butter and fruit mixed in.

As long as you compensate by raising fats and/or protein in exchange, I think you can get down to 200 without issue. I will say, most people I know grow better on significantly more carbs than that. I personally shoot for more than double the carbs you’re currently taking in. But everyone is different, and if your body responds best to lower carbs, then I would just keep dropping them until you either feel bad, or results plateau.

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These past 9 months I’ve been training more for muscle and I gained 4kgs of muscle which is as much as the previous 2 years lol and I was at around 200. But I’ve never been a big carbs guy. They make me fat. In my bulkiest bulk I went up to 350.

Same here, brother. I know technically carbs don’t make you fat, but the way they drive hunger and make you want to eat more seems to lend itself to fat gain. Plus they affect my mental clarity negatively. This is all unfortunate, because carbs are so damn tasty.

Edit: Also, I think carbs are essential for performance. My workouts don’t have the same POP without them.

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I like 200 as well for low, but high enough.


I wish everyone on low carbs diet could at least wrap their minds around this. Even people who do extremely low carb diets should at least fuel their workouts with them.


Yeah man, I was in the keto camp for a year and very low carb for a couple others. I was so dead-set on maintaining that style of eating that I was unwilling to admit my workouts were shit. I look back now and think about all the gains I missed out on because I had no DRIVE in my workouts. SMH.

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Personally I feel better with more carbs and my workouts are infinitely better with them. I agree with @flipcollar here:

I think the real question is what is the lowest carbs you can do this with, because it’s highly, highly individualized. Some people will tell you they made gains on Keto, others will say low, medium, and high carb, so it really depends. I personally do not respond well mentally or physically to low (less than 50g) per day carbs. I was able to get very close to stage weight on 180g carbs per day, at 5’4" weighing 140lbs on stage, and only had to drop below 50g carbs per day the last 4 weeks leading up to the shows.

Carbs are most definitely needed to fuel training. I think it also depends on whether or not you’re chemically assisted, as that will play a role in how effectively you can grow.


It just depends individually.

250g-350g - PERFECT amount for me based on my training.

Each day I eat 5 cups of rice and 3 fruit and 1 tbsp of honey in my tea in the morning. Those are my carbs daily.

I think only eating mainly white basmati rice makes it easier on my stomach. South Asian genes for the win!

A buddy of mine is in really good shape, not crazy strong, but looks like he lifts and ripped and he ONLY eats carbs right after a workout. Otherwise it’s just meat and a ton of veggies.


Don’t need more than 100g for training. Salt and fat give you energy.

In my next off season, I’m gonna try a few months of low carb. But right now, I can’t imagine cutting them out

That’s interesting - why the off-season? I always thought it’d be easier to cut carbs while cutting down for a show (satiety effects of higher fat/protein).

Does salt timing (i.e., preworkout) matter?

Love this approach, sticking with the healthy and trusty staples. Do you track or just eat the same stuff each day and keep it sort of intuitive?

I calorie counted for only 2 weeks of my life to set a baseline and understand how much food I was eating just naturally.

Now I eat intuitively, but I eat 3 square meals a day and a fruit & veggie smoothie. Based on my goals I either eat more at those meals or eat less. Each meal has a carb, protein, fat and veggie. I keep it simple. No need to overthink this stuff.

30 mins before

Tend to agree with you that it can get way too complicated, quickly, and feel like a big burden. That said, even with 2 years of tracking experience, I still find that it’s really hard to make progress and actually know whether I’m moving toward my goals based on intuitive eating. When I return to tracking, I’m always shocked by what I find — either the amount of food, protein, or something else (usually amount of food). It’s such a helpful tool but it can be a pain and it’s too easy to become obsessive and develop an unhealthy relationship with food, robbing it of all its good qualities.

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Ironically Asians are far from being immune to diabetes, just like anyone else if you eat too much and don’t move around more glucose will wreck you. I’ve got one grandma and one grandpa with type 2 diabetes (Vietnamese), my dad’s BMI is fine yet his a1c is 6.3% which freaks me out, mine went up to 6.2% in 2017 at my most jacked and “clean bulking” macros… and went back down to 5.4% on an ultra low fat diet, my idea being that strongly favoring glycolysis would improve glucose tolerance (Randle cycle)

Basmati sits well on most people’s stomachs yet will elevate blood glucose like nothing else as all things starch