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Concerns: Loss of muscle mass

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  • Concerns: Loss of muscle mass

    I understand that on a low carb diet such as the paleo diet the majority of the energy is derived from the fat stores. My concern is whether there is a significant risk of muscle mass being broken down to provide glucose. What steps should be taken to prevent this? Is it to do with the ratio of protein intake to lean body mass? Or is it more to do with the amount of carbs ingested?

    Thanks in advance.

    Martin
    Registry Fixer

  • #2
    You won't lose mass. I've recompositioned about 18 pounds since September (measured with calipers). Follow the program and make sure to LHT and SPRINT as recommended in the PB.

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    • #3
      Thanks for your response.

      I am not a fan of sprinting on foot due to the strain on the knee joints, however, I am a keen road cyclist. Will all out sprints on the bike yield similar results?
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      • #4
        Carbs have very little to do with it, and your body does not need to break down muscle for glucose. Eating a truckload of protein is the key.

        And to the best of my knowledge bike sprints aren't quite up to scratch, as they are less 'full body' than sprints (not to mention that sprinting will actually strengthen your knees). They're better than nothing though.
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        • #5
          No, No and No. Ketosis is a biologically appropriate state for humans. It just doesn't make sense that in an evolutionary environment, we'd have been constantly loosing muscle mass due to eating a diet *which we evolved to eat*. Evolution would select against it.



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          • #6
            Looks like I'll have to man up and start sprinting. I'm blessed with grassy hills in my local area that should increase the intensity and support my knees better than asphalt etc.
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            • #7
              Hill sprints are without doubt the best.
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              • #8
                While I love barefoot hill sprints, cycling is a good substitute. If you love it and don't like sprints, do what you know you will stick to - go all out then coast till ya catch your breath and repeat - seems the natural state of cycling is HIIT. As the weather warms up you might want to toss your shoes and hit a hill - I always loved cycling and hated running, but its sprinting not running and after a few goes I found that I really love it. If you don't want to lose muscle mass then do resistance exercise (lift heavy things). This will promote protein sparing - I gained muscle while losing 60 pounds - If you don't know what your losing get your body fat tested or learn to use calipers and test yourself (you can also find programs online that will allow you to enter your metrics and get a reasonable estimation) Even if your not spot on you will easily be able to tell if your losing fat or muscle.
                "First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do" - Epictetus

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jonesy View Post
                  Looks like I'll have to man up and start sprinting. I'm blessed with grassy hills in my local area that should increase the intensity and support my knees better than asphalt etc.
                  Grass is good. Go without shoes, it will take the heat off your knees.

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                  • #10
                    Sisson mentioned in a podcast that he uses a stationary bike to "sprint" if he's nursing an injury that prevents him from running.

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                    • #11
                      I thought the same thing when i lost 40lbs, man I'm too thin, am I losing muscle? But maybe this is the present muscle mass I've been using to move this fat around. I figured that if I start exercising, sprints up stairwells and eat more good fat, since that's what I'm burning now instead of carbs I'd be ok. Consuming a low carb Protein powder with sprints to build muscle.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Primal Fist View Post
                        Carbs have very little to do with it, and your body does not need to break down muscle for glucose. Eating a truckload of protein is the key..
                        eating a truckload of protein is key BECAUSE the body needs, and will try to break down muscle for glucose in the absence of carbohydrates via a process called gluceogenesis. if this is occurring then you are eating insufficient dietary fats to present the body with an alternative fuel source, and are wasting a hell of a lot of money buying protein foods - they're just being burned up for energy.

                        this is why a lot of people feel bad on very low carb diets, their body is used to a carbohydrate fuel and is breaking down protein (inefficiently) to get glucose. this can occur in the early stages of a low carb/keto diet as the body adapts or it can be a longer term thing if you continue to eat insufficient fat and staying somewhere between a carb burning and a fat burning metabolism and being very inefficient at both (hence feeling bad).

                        furthermore if you are in ketosis longterm this means you are excreting ketones - i.e. you're not burning them up. therefore you're not adapted to using fats optimally for energy and are still burning a mixture of ketones and proteins. long term ketosis is not advisable and can be quite catabolic to muscle mass.

                        Martin - if you are going to use a paleo/primal approach as a longterm nutritional strategy then you will adapt over time and will be fine. if you're trying to use a high fat diet as a short term diet strategy to lose weight though, you will likely lose some muscle because you won't give yourself time to adapt to the diet fully.

                        Another question to ask is how much muscle you already have - if you've gained 10-15lbs of actual contractile protein muscle (myofibrillar hypertrophy) and have carried it a reasonable amount of time then muscle loss is even less of a possibility. now if you've gained 50-60lbs of muscle and are currently maintaining it, some loss is likely because the body will see it as a readily available an abundant fuel source - especially if your bodyfat is low.

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                        • #13
                          Thanks for your in depth replies.

                          Just to clarify, I aim to implement the primal approach as a lifestyle and not a quick fad. I, however, also have the goal of gaining 10-15lbs of muscle and losing body fat (together or in two different periods).

                          I understand that in order to prevent muscle being broken down to produce glucose I must ensure a number of criteria are met:

                          - Low carb intake to induce a switch to fat as the primary fuel source
                          - Do not stray into Ketosis for extended periods of time
                          - Ensure sufficient amounts of fat are incorporated into the diet to provide fuel

                          Any other points to consider?

                          One other question I have is as follows. I am in the military and am somewhat limited in my food choices and find myself eating smaller portions to avoid non primal foods and then snacking on shop bought primal foods to ensure I am getting sufficient calories. Do you have any recommendations on high fat foods that would be easy for someone in my situation to buy/prepare?

                          Thanks in advance.

                          Martin
                          Last edited by Jonesy; 01-23-2011, 12:35 PM.
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                          • #14
                            I'd say mixed nuts would be your best friend as far as shop-bought primal foods are concerned. Try to avoid the higher carb ones like cashews and peanuts (which are actually legumes anyway).

                            So almonds, walnuts, pecans, brazils, macadamias.. things like that.

                            I'd expect you to be able to lose bodyfat and gain the muscle you desire over 6-12 months on this approach. Calories will be key though - they must be kept high and don't be afraid of fat ESPECIALLY meat fat..

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Jonesy View Post
                              I understand that on a low carb diet such as the paleo diet the majority of the energy is derived from the fat stores. My concern is whether there is a significant risk of muscle mass being broken down to provide glucose. What steps should be taken to prevent this? Is it to do with the ratio of protein intake to lean body mass? Or is it more to do with the amount of carbs ingested?

                              Thanks in advance.

                              Martin
                              If youre losing mass on a protein fat diet you have got one of three issues.......hormone issues, a persistent leaky gut, or a very low vitamin D level. Get them checked out. The easiest way is to get a HS CRP for the gut issue........vit D level and free and total testosterone level with DHT and E2 levels. To fix the leaky gut if you have that you must avoid all dairy including eggs and all nuts and cheese even butter........but clarified butter is fine.......and you need to eat a ton of coconut oil or coconut manna and fermented carbs like sauerkraut, kimche, and natto, and dill pickles. A good doc can help you. This is something I see routinely in my office.
                              Last edited by DigitalSurgeon; 01-23-2011, 07:14 PM.

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