T Nation

You Can Build Muscle With Low-Carb

For all those, even T-Nation contributors, who constantly espouse the need for CHO in building muscle, here is yet another interesting point:

http://thefitcast.com/?p=45

Mauro DiPasquale is still the expert’s “expert”

Best,
DH

Who has ever written that it was impossible to gain muscle while on low carb diets? There is a slight difference between “gaining some muscle” and “gaining as much muscle as physically possible or optimally”.

Thanks, DH. There’s definitely more than one way to skin a cat, I know.

Do you have another (different?) link to DiPasquale’s interview? Interview 13 is of Cassandra Forsythe.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
Who has ever written that it was impossible to gain muscle while on low carb diets? There is a slight difference between “gaining some muscle” and “gaining as much muscle as physically possible or optimally”. [/quote]

Did you listen to that whole interview and hear how much strength they gained? It was the exact same amount that the people who did high carb gained. No offense, but I take Cassandra’s word over any T-Nation forum poster’s word. Even Charles Poliquin promotes it for god sakes!

Now, she didn’t mention whether they were doing carbups like the AD, and that is where the key lies. With my personal experience on the AD I have never gained muscle like this. That’s all I have to say about the subject.

[quote]Bizmark wrote:
Professor X wrote:
Who has ever written that it was impossible to gain muscle while on low carb diets? There is a slight difference between “gaining some muscle” and “gaining as much muscle as physically possible or optimally”.

Did you listen to that whole interview and hear how much strength they gained? It was the exact same amount that the people who did high carb gained. No offense, but I take Cassandra’s word over any T-Nation forum poster’s word. Even Charles Poliquin promotes it for god sakes!

Now, she didn’t mention whether they were doing carbups like the AD, and that is where the key lies. With my personal experience on the AD I have never gained muscle like this. That’s all I have to say about the subject.[/quote]

I actually did listen to it and the fact that she mentioned the ages (middle aged and older) and the strength changes implied they weren’t regular trainers. That means the primary question is how much of this change can be contributed to “newbie gains”?

Everyone here understands that those new to training can experience changes in body composition including a loss in body fat and a gain in muscle mass. The study also included a “low fat/high carb” group and a “ketogenic” group, both on caloric deficits. Neither were experienced regular trainers before this experiment trying to gain the most muscle mass possible.

This isn’t about taking someone’s word. This is about questioning the specifics of a study before running around screaming what works or doesn’t work.

One more thing, these guys weren’t tracked daily as far as their intake so it is questionable even how much protein they took in daily.

A couple things.

You, Professor X, know by now that I respect your views on the whole training game probably over any other single person here.

To be fair though Disc Hoss is no easily chumped off intellectual pushover either. He also has been training a very long time and is a big strong boy who has been eating AD style for over 10 years. Some of his posted knowledge in the AD thread is downright scholarly on this subject.

I say none of that to necessarily imply that there is any one form of diet that is altogether superior to any others. Only that I believe you haven’t given this topic sufficient attention to warrant the conclusions I’ve seen in other threads as well as here. It just seems you never really had a reason to, given that more conventional eating was serving you well.

There is ample empirical and theoretical evidence to demonstrate that cyclical ketogenic diets consisting of a fully lipid adapted metabolism and regular glycogen loading are in fact optimal for at least some people and maybe more than you might think when it comes to strength/physique pursuits.

This isn’t even mentioning myself. I can’t imagine ever going back to a carb based diet.

Also I can’t see Cassandra and her group being anything less than first rate in their methods. It’s just not how they do things.

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:

There is ample empirical and theoretical evidence to demonstrate that cyclical ketogenic diets consisting of a fully lipid adapted metabolism and regular glycogen loading are in fact optimal for at least some people and maybe more than you might think when it comes to strength/physique pursuits.

This isn’t even mentioning myself. I can’t imagine ever going back to a carb based diet.

Also I can’t see Cassandra and her group being anything less than first rate in their methods. It’s just not how they do things.[/quote]

I didn’t even question her methods. I questioned the individuals who were a part of the study. If these were untrained individuals, any strength gains could be the result of two factors; one, they were experiencing what most of us refer to as newbie gains, and two, if any of them had been athletic in the past (since they were middle aged) this could also be the result of muscle memory. To ignore that likely possibility is ridiculous given the info given in that discussion.

I will give you that some individuals may respond well to a “ketogenic diet”, however, I would question whether the results truly surpass those of well trained weight lifters when the goal is to actually gain more muscle mass at optimal levels.

Just so you understand my personal stance better, my goal from the very beginning to have any true “bulking up” completed by my 30’s. From that point on the approach would shift towards refining what I have. My diet currently is low carb, moderate fat and high protein. I don’t consider my genetics average and my results have included an increase in strength in some exercises and a loss of body fat. Since I don’t take measurements for my body fat percentage aside from measuring my waist, I can’t give specifics on muscle gained, but I would guess (based on strength) that I have probably gained some amount in the process. That simply tells me that this may work long term for me now that I have built a solid base.

It does not mean I would have gained the amount of lean body mass that I have now by eating that way for years from the start.

It is that difference I am focusing on and I don’t see how you could possibly disagree.

I’m not ignoring you. They blocked T-Nation at my work and it’ll be tonight before I actually have some time. Interesting stuff here.

Ok, so they both work the same, but every loves carbs, so why not eat them? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Yeah some fatties can’t tolerate carbs, which just takes a little strategic eating. Still no reason to completely avoid one of natures best food groups.

[quote]King of Vice wrote:
Ok, so they both work the same, but every loves carbs, so why not eat them? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Yeah some fatties can’t tolerate carbs, which just takes a little strategic eating. Still no reason to completely avoid one of natures best food groups. [/quote]

I disagree. Not everyone enjoys carbs.

I personally find myself liking fats and proteins much more than carbs.

I find carbs more of a “necessary evil” when it comes to eating, and rarely do I enjoy them as much as I do eating fat/protein based foods.

AD

[quote]Professor X wrote:
<<< If these were untrained individuals, any strength gains could be the result of two factors; one, they were experiencing what most of us refer to as newbie gains, and two, if any of them had been athletic in the past (since they were middle aged) this could also be the result of muscle memory. To ignore that likely possibility is ridiculous given the info given in that discussion. >>>[/quote]

In the context of that discussion this is fair enough overall

[quote]Professor X wrote:
<<< I will give you that some individuals may respond well to a “ketogenic diet”, however, I would question whether the results truly surpass those of well trained weight lifters when the goal is to actually gain more muscle mass at optimal levels. >>>[/quote]

But see, here we are again. Atkins is ketogenic. The anabolic diet is not. This is where the rub is. I don’t consider any method of nutrition truly “low carb” that doesn’t include full adaptation to a lipid based metabolism, which actually all “ketogenic” diets do. However, cyclical diets like the AD include regular glycogen replenishment as well as tools for PWO insulin spikes which straight "ketogenic diets do not.

Cyclical diets are only “ketogenic” for a short time in the beginning after which fatty acids play a much more direct role in all, but anaerobic energy production which is still handled by glycogen through the cho loads.

Assuming what I’ve just said I wouldn’t consider your diet to be “low carb”. Lower or reduced carb, certainly, but without lipid adaptation glucose remains the primary fuel. This is also why, with all due respect to DH, Cassandra, Shuler etc, I’m still waiting for a study that gives 90 days or better to adaptation before it even begins.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
<<< That simply tells me that this may work long term for me now that I have built a solid base.

It does not mean I would have gained the amount of lean body mass that I have now by eating that way for years from the start.

It is that difference I am focusing on and I don’t see how you could possibly disagree. >>>[/quote]

I don’t know what would’ve happened had you begun and maintained a truly low carb approach or even the reduced version you’re doing now, from the beginning. Frankly, neither do you. You didn’t, those years are gone and nobody will ever know. Only a fool would attempt to argue with the success you’ve had which is definitely not what I’m doing, but gaining muscle where you are now is much harder than it was years ago. If you’re gaining now with your present diet, who’s to say how it would’ve gone had you been doing it all along?

My point in all this is simply that nutritional plans geared toward weight trainers, like the AD, are often lumped in with everything “ketogenic” and summarily pronounced inferior without being truly understood.

You have to know I’m not attacking your powers of reason or knowledge as a whole, but I’d be dishonest if I didn’t say I still believe you have an incomplete grasp of this particular subject.

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
But see, here we are again. Atkins is ketogenic. The anabolic diet is not. This is where the rub is. I don’t consider any method of nutrition truly “low carb” that doesn’t include full adaptation to a lipid based metabolism, which actually all “ketogenic” diets do. However, cyclical diets like the AD include regular glycogen replenishment as well as tools for PWO insulin spikes which straight "ketogenic diets do not.

Cyclical diets are only “ketogenic” for a short time in the beginning after which fatty acids play a much more direct role in all, but anaerobic energy production which is still handled by glycogen through the cho loads.

Assuming what I’ve just said I wouldn’t consider your diet to be “low carb”. Lower or reduced carb, certainly, but without lipid adaptation glucose remains the primary fuel. This is also why, with all due respect to DH, Cassandra, Shuler etc, I’m still waiting for a study that gives 90 days or better to adaptation before it even begins.[/quote]

You can call my diet what you wish, however, low carb has never meant anything but a reduction in carbohydrates often indicated as simply below 50% of total intake. My goal is not to become ketogenic and before you wonder about my grasp of the subject, I have dieted like that in the past with the smallest amount of carbs I could manage beyond that found in lettuce.

I did that to get into the military because I was over the weight requirement and had less than a month to weigh in again to meet a deadline. I lost the weight but a ton of muscle along with it. I felt like crap the entire time also and this was during board exams (something I would never recommend to anyone else). I haven’t even mentioned the anabolic diet in this thread and haven’t referred to it being ketogenic.

Based on my own experience with ketosis, I feel that it isn’t for me. There is simply no need in my life to avoid carbohydrates to that degree and short of those prone to diabetes, I would question whether it is the optimal choice for most SERIOUS trainers.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
<<< You can call my diet what you wish, however, low carb has never meant anything but a reduction in carbohydrates often indicated as simply below 50% of total intake. My goal is not to become ketogenic and before you wonder about my grasp of the subject, I have dieted like that in the past with the smallest amount of carbs I could manage beyond that found in lettuce. >>>
[/quote]

Also fair enough. Semantic differences aren’t the central point. The goal of most low carb practitioners here is not to become ketogenic either. Probably where we may be missing each other is you’re talking about dieting and I’m talking about a long term lifestyle change who’s true effects cannot be seen without at least several months adherance. I’m not saying anybody,s “right” I’m just offering that for consideration.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
<<< I did that to get into the military because I was over the weight requirement and had less than a month to weigh in again to meet a deadline. I lost the weight but a ton of muscle along with it. I felt like crap the entire time also and this was during board exams (something I would never recommend to anyone else). I haven’t even mentioned the anabolic diet in this thread and haven’t referred to it being ketogenic. >>>
[/quote]

I had serious ups and downs until about the 8 week point. I know what you mean. I spent quite a bit of time wondering if this was such a great idea. The vets kept saying to stick it out and all would settle in fine. It did in spades. I have never felt better. No energy issues, great sleep (for me) and it also feels like somebody ran a squeegee over my brain. Very clear mental acuity. I’m making good gains too as well as eating a large amount of food without getting “fat”.

Maybe part of the problem as well is when I say “low carb” I assume “high fat” as in 60 or 65% of total intake. Fat effectively takes the place of carbs as the primary fuel.

[quote]<<< Based on my own experience with ketosis, I feel that it isn’t for me. There is simply no need in my life to avoid carbohydrates to that degree and short of those prone to diabetes, I would question whether it is the optimal choice for most SERIOUS trainers. >>>
[/quote]

Based on my own experience with ketosis it isn’t for me either. If I would’ve had to stay there I would’ve gone back to a carb based way of eating. For overweight housewives it may be fine. At least for me trying to pursue physique goals while in constant ketosis would have been a nightmare. I would never presume to advise you and hope that isn’t how you’re taking what I’m saying. You know exactly what you’re doing and don’t need any help from me.

I do however differ in that I really, really believe that there are advantages to be had by many more than just a few select people by undergoing full adaptation to a lipid based metabolism(the AD thread lists those, I’m not going to bore you here). DiPasquale himself says that there are some folks it just doesn’t work for and some who do flat down horribly. I have also done almost no evangelizing on this as you know. I just want to see it get a fair shake when it comes up.

I have a quick question and no I haven’t listened to the originally posted item.

Does the study refer to strength or to muscle mass? They are not interchangeable concepts.

It’s been stated in so many ways from so many “experts” that I don’t think anyone familiar with general nutritional philosophy will think this statement odd or out of place. It’s a very commmon notion. Just ask your physician, local trainer, or half the writers at T-Nation. Some have altered thier opinions in the last few years to allow for the possibility of “some” anti-catabolic potential, but it’s still considered a fat loss gimick diet by the mainstream. I won’t defend the obvious.

With respect to optimal, looking at CHO/PRO intake in a snap-shot like fashion can lead one to conclude that CHO is necessary to optimize anabolism, but looking at the “slideshow” as a whole, you’ve got a list of experienced notables who’ve shown time and again both academically and experientially that a macro-cycling diet that constitutes periods of very low CHO intake punctuated with precise CHO loads allows for a maximal response with respect to hormonal milieu and subsequent anabolism. From Vince Gironda and Dave Draper to Poliquin, Dr. Jeff Volek and Dr. Mauro DiPasquale, the advocates are numerous and growing in number.

This wasn’t meant to be a banter-fest or a calling out, Prof. I’m sick of hearing how you can’t put on muscle without the beknighted carbs. How everybody “knows” that a CKD (which I hate because expressed ketosis is an intermediary state) will allow you to hold muscle while you cut. Bull.

That’s my point, and that’s the point.

All other inquiries can be directed to Rob Faigin’s fantastic work, Natural Hormonal Enhancement, and DiPasquale’s Metabloic Diet and Anabolic Solution books. The references cited should keep any Jr. scientist happy for a long while. And the results, beginning in the 60’s speak for themselves.

Best,
DH

[quote]Professor X wrote:
Who has ever written that it was impossible to gain muscle while on low carb diets? There is a slight difference between “gaining some muscle” and “gaining as much muscle as physically possible or optimally”. [/quote]

[quote]vroom wrote:
I have a quick question and no I haven’t listened to the originally posted item.

Does the study refer to strength or to muscle mass? They are not interchangeable concepts.[/quote]

It refers to strength which is why I find it hard to believe that people are skipping that HUGE issue and acting like it was such a success. Strength gains in previously untrained individuals and newbies don’t mean much.

[quote]Disc Hoss wrote:
With respect to optimal, looking at CHO/PRO intake in a snap-shot like fashion can lead one to conclude that CHO is necessary to optimize anabolism, but looking at the “slideshow” as a whole, you’ve got a list of experienced notables who’ve shown time and again both academically and experientially that a macro-cycling diet that constitutes periods of very low CHO intake punctuated with precise CHO loads allows for a maximal response with respect to hormonal milieu and subsequent anabolism. From Vince Gironda and Dave Draper to Poliquin, Dr. Jeff Volek and Dr. Mauro DiPasquale, the advocates are numerous and growing in number.
[/quote]

The funny thing is, I don’t base what I believe in simply who can be quoted as saying it is so. Why would I need to reduce my carb intake for long periods of time to get a benefit from them in my training? How could anyone possibly state that this is somehow “better” or even equal to diets that don’t approach it this way? I think this approach (similar to carb cycling) may be fine AFTER YOU HAVE ALREADY BUILT A DECENT BASE OF SIZE AND STRENGTH FOR YEARS. Otherwise, it might even hold back potential progress and nothing has shown me otherwise.

Nice use of the word “milieu”, by the way.

[quote]Disc Hoss wrote:
It’s been stated in so many ways from so many “experts” that I don’t think anyone familiar with general nutritional philosophy will think this statement odd or out of place. It’s a very commmon notion. Just ask your physician, local trainer, or half the writers at T-Nation. Some have altered thier opinions in the last few years to allow for the possibility of “some” anti-catabolic potential, but it’s still considered a fat loss gimick diet by the mainstream. I won’t defend the obvious.

With respect to optimal, looking at CHO/PRO intake in a snap-shot like fashion can lead one to conclude that CHO is necessary to optimize anabolism, but looking at the “slideshow” as a whole, you’ve got a list of experienced notables who’ve shown time and again both academically and experientially that a macro-cycling diet that constitutes periods of very low CHO intake punctuated with precise CHO loads allows for a maximal response with respect to hormonal milieu and subsequent anabolism. From Vince Gironda and Dave Draper to Poliquin, Dr. Jeff Volek and Dr. Mauro DiPasquale, the advocates are numerous and growing in number.

This wasn’t meant to be a banter-fest or a calling out, Prof. I’m sick of hearing how you can’t put on muscle without the beknighted carbs. How everybody “knows” that a CKD (which I hate because expressed ketosis is an intermediary state) will allow you to hold muscle while you cut. Bull.

That’s my point, and that’s the point.

All other inquiries can be directed to Rob Faigin’s fantastic work, Natural Hormonal Enhancement, and DiPasquale’s Metabloic Diet and Anabolic Solution books. The references cited should keep any Jr. scientist happy for a long while. And the results, beginning in the 60’s speak for themselves.

Best,
DH
[/quote]

DH, what are your thoughts on the diet given in Natural Hormonal Enhancement? I’m just wondering because I have seen tons of info on the AD, but nothing really on the NHE eating plan. Have you ever given it a try, and if so how would you compare it to the AD?

[quote]Professor X wrote:
<<< Why would I need to reduce my carb intake for long periods of time to get a benefit from them in my training? >>>[/quote]

But the point isn’t to get the benefit from carbs. The benefit IS the lipid adapted metabolism induced by the relative absence of carbs which, among other things produces ultra stable insulin management as well an increase in anabolic/androgenic hormones.

The main function of dietary cho becomes the maintenance of glycogen stores to fuel anaerobic work like weight training.

All other metabolic activity, including aerobic exercise is fueled directly by lipids whether they be from adipose stores or dietary intake. This is because after adaptation fat is the body,s natural choice and will remain so as long as proper macro cycling continues.

This also allows for a fairly monstrous daily caloric intake before significant bodyfat accumulates because fat is constantly being used to fuel everything that used to be fueled by carbs. All without the insulin yo yo that likes to accompany carb based eating, which even further inhibits undue fat gain. Insulin, with all it’s anabolic goodness is present, only in a much more even state.

This may all sound like a bunch of assumption, but there is at least as much evidence to support it, in the lab and the gym as there is for most other things widely embraced in this game. It just doesn’t get the attention.

I don’t know what percentage of folks should or shouldn’t eat this way, but for those suited for it it can’t be beat. Unfortunately many of them will never find that out because it’s too unconventional and just plain rad for them to get the past the fear and short term trials of adaptation.

I do not mean you or anybody in particular, but I see it all the time in the AD thread.

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
Professor X wrote:
<<< Why would I need to reduce my carb intake for long periods of time to get a benefit from them in my training? >>>

But the point isn’t to get the benefit from carbs. The benefit IS the lipid adapted metabolism induced by the relative absence of carbs which, among other things produces ultra stable insulin management as well an increase in anabolic/androgenic hormones.

The main function of dietary cho becomes the maintenance of glycogen stores to fuel anaerobic work like weight training.

All other metabolic activity, including aerobic exercise is fueled directly by lipids whether they be from adipose stores or dietary intake. This is because after adaptation fat is the body,s natural choice and will remain so as long as proper macro cycling continues.

This also allows for a fairly monstrous daily caloric intake before significant bodyfat accumulates because fat is constantly being used to fuel everything that used to be fueled by carbs. All without the insulin yo yo that likes to accompany carb based eating, which even further inhibits undue fat gain. Insulin, with all it’s anabolic goodness is present, only in a much more even state.

This may all sound like a bunch of assumption, but there is at least as much evidence to support it, in the lab and the gym as there is for most other things widely embraced in this game. It just doesn’t get the attention.

I don’t know what percentage of folks should or shouldn’t eat this way, but for those suited for it it can’t be beat. Unfortunately many of them will never find that out because it’s too unconventional and just plain rad for them to get the past the fear and short term trials of adaptation.

I do not mean you or anybody in particular, but I see it all the time in the AD thread.

[/quote]

That same “horrible insulin spike” is what helps push nutrients into growing muscle tissue. It seems you all downplay just how much that plays a role. This makes more sense as a DIETING tool than one anyone should jump on when trying to gain as much muscle as possible.

And yes, it does sound like a bunch of assumptions that completely leave out GENETICS. My goal was not to gain “a little muscle mass”. When I started, the goal was to gain “a whole lot of muscle mass”. Anyone can eat almost any way possible and gain “a little muscle mass”. That doesn’t mean it should be touted as the answer to all gym goals.