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Do Low Carb Diets Make Muscles Look Smaller?

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  • Do Low Carb Diets Make Muscles Look Smaller?


    I'm just reading a book and it said something that made me wonder about the primal diet (which I love by the way). The book says...

    "On a low carb diet the muscles feel flat and shrink in size due to the fact that the glycogen (the carbs that are stored inside the muscle cell and make the muscles look firm) gets depleted".

    Would you say the primal diet is low carb? And if so what are peoples experiences with regards to their muscle growth and look? When I ate primal for a few weeks I lose weight but I became concerned because I felt like my chest was starting to lose muscle and my biceps were getting smaller. My concern with the primal way of eating is that eating low carb means I might end up ripped but my muscles won't be very big. Could anyone help me out?


  • #2
    Mark Sisson is low carb, so take it for what you will... Heh.
    "The cling and a clang is the metal in my head when I walk. I hear a sort of, this tinging noise - cling clang. The cling clang. So many things happen while walking. The metal in my head clangs and clings as I walk - freaks my balance out. So the natural thought is just clogged up. Totally clogged up. So we need to unplug these dams, and make the the natural flow... It sort of freaks me out. We need to unplug the dams. You cannot stop the natural flow of thought with a cling and a clang..."


    • #3
      I know "this one fella" on here that keeps spouting that exact same line! He musta read the same book and took it to heart. If we are discussing pure aesthetics my understanding is that body builders perform the keto part of their cycle (cut) and then also dehydrate just before shows. This is to get that "ripped" look.

      Far as it goes....I feel and look bloated on higher carb. But, thats just my personal experience. Water retention is easily manipulated (eat carbs for 1 day and inflate if you like), so I see no reason to walk around in a bloated state. I'd think that if you need to bloat your muscles with water for them to look the way you want, maybe you just need to build more muscle.
      Last edited by Neckhammer; 01-01-2013, 09:12 AM.


      • #4
        Thanks for your responses

        I agree, Mark does look awesome. Was looking at pictures on the facebook group of him earlier dude is a beast for any age let alone 50!

        Thanks Neckhammer. That line is in quite a popular mens fitness product. It just made me concerned that if I ate primal my biceps and chest would look small and have no "pump" so to speak. I spoke to a personal trainer who said carbs help shuttle the protein into muscles which also helps build muscle more. I'm just concerned that you can't build muscle properly on this eating plan. I don't want to be a bodybuilder, but I don't want to look skinny either.


        • #5
          Low carbs will dehydrate the muscles and the body will keep less water. If you are pretty lean, around 15 % of bodyfat and below you will look "flat and fat" when the body drop water. You will also get a higher persentage of bodyfat on an electronic devise due to water normally count as a component of "muscle" and fat not! Yes it's a dieters paradox, you drop 10 lbs of water and look fatter, and also get a higher bodyfat number, but this can easily be restored overnight by eating carbs...
          "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

          - Schopenhauer


          • #6
            They may look smaller because there is less fat laid over them Primal isnt necessarily low carb unless you are working on fat loss or don't handle carbs well like me.

            I'm a female and I don't do any structured working out, although I do a lot of physical labor in my work and I'll do pushups and stuff when I think about it, I do really push myself when I do them but I don't do them often. I'm working on one armed pushups which I can go about halfway down. Anyway, my point was that even being a girl, I have pretty big muscles on low carb.


            • #7
              Well, there is a lot of conflicting info out there. Quite simply to produce muscle simply eat more. Its easy to put on muscle while eating a lot. The difficult thing is when your trying to lose fat and put on muscle at the same time.

              So on days I lift I eat more. On days I don't I eat less. Tell your trainer that protein comes with its own insulin spike to shuttle it into the muscles . That said strategic use of starch post workout (just add a potato to your meal) is generally used by those trying to put on weight/muscle.

              For glycogen just look at how intensely and how long you perform your exercise. I do a high intensity resistance workout that takes 15 minutes with little to no rest between compound lifts with high weights and low reps. That probably burns up about 30g of glycogen max. So one extra potato that day after working out would be enough to replenish. I don't bother with the post work out carbs because I only do this 2x/week giving my body 72+ hours to replenish with my normal eating pattern.
              Last edited by Neckhammer; 01-01-2013, 09:32 AM.


              • #8
                I need more stats. Height, weight, age, activity level, % body fat?

                PRIMAL IS NOT LOW CARB. We only think it's low carb because SAD is so freakin' high carb. The truly low carb people are meatitarians who eat no veggies whatsoever.

                Eat sweet potatoes and your muscles will firm up again. If you start gaining fat, then you're eating more carbs than you need. Cut down on sweet potatoes. The End.
                5'0" female, 45 years old. Started Primal October 31, 2011, at a skinny fat 111.5 lbs. Low weight: 99.5 lb on a fast. Gained back to 115(!) on SAD chocolate, potato chips, and stress. Currently 111.