Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How to Build Muscle and Strength, Part 3: Nourishing Muscle

I have massively expanded on this post and moved it to my Mayo's Mind blog.


  1. I had an idea. Say you were to not consume enough carbohydrates but still consumed enough protein and fats. Given your performance and metabolism will go down, in which exercise has been known to elevate the metabolism temporarily, but could you retain/gain muscle mass with the lower carb intake, lower metabolism, and decreased performance? After this period, however long, it could be followed by a surplus of carbs for a given amount of time period. Would this be easier to control body composition? Assuming during these periods you properly rest and recovery from exercise.

  2. I think you're talking about carb cycling/re-feeding, where you are low carb (or very low carb) for 6 days and then you get to eat all the carbs you want on the 7th day. Because all of my research has steered me away from low-carbing, as well as convinced me that a healthy brain (fed a clean diet) can properly self-regulate everything (including body weight and body fat), this question is difficult to answer.

    I won't go into all of the reasons that I no longer low-carb (read the Fat Loss Bible by Anthony Colpo if you want to know those reasons), but there are several drawbacks to mixing a low-carb diet and intense exercise. The most obvious is the greater demand for glucose, which the liver can only make so much of everyday (through the process of gluconeogenesis). Once you run out of your stored sugar, your brain will stimulate the production of cortisol to produce more sugar from other sources. These other fuels can be fat or muscle (which is just stored protein). So, if you consume too few carbs for your physical activities, then you will chronically elevate cortisol (carb re-feeding may or may not mitigate this process). Because chronic excess cortisol is linked to metabolic syndrome X, you NEVER want to unnecessary elevate your cortisol levels.

    I think that for low-carbing athletes, carb-cycling is necessary to help them sustain their high-intensity training/work outs. But, if a person eats a clean diet (that lacks the 7 Deadly Foods), carb-cycling is unnecessary. If your body is healthy (that is, unstressed), and you are active, then it can make use of hundreds of grams of starches without causing disease, eliminating the need to low-carb or carb-cycle.

    Having said that, I think that if you want to continue to low-carb then you should do a test to see what works best for you.

    1) First, train for 30 days using carb-cycling. Measure everything (overall carb consumption, body weight, body fat %, how much energy you feel you have when exercising, how much energy you feel you have after your work outs, etc.).

    2) Then train the next 30 days eating the same amount of carbs every day, except this time you eat your carbs with each meal and you only get your carbs from safe starches (e.g., white rice, potatoes [of all colors], root vegetables).

    I bet that you will prefer the higher-safe-carb diet because you will feel and perform better, spend less time worrying about what you are eating, and start effortlessly dropping some of your extra weight (if you don’t have extra weight, then it will be effortless for you to maintain your healthy weight).

    Good luck!

  3. This is a very intretsing artcile. You just mentioned verything what an begginer need to know in order to build muscle.

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