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Thread: Bulking with low carbs page

  1. #1
    primalist's Avatar
    primalist is offline Junior Member
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    Bulking with low carbs

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    Just want to get peopleís opinions on whether itís possible to bulk whilst on low carbs but enough protein and excess calories.
    I eat clean, eg., eggs, fish, meat, fowl, nuts, fruit & veg; so without going into specifics here is my approx. daily intake:

    60g of carbs (fruit & veg, mainly veg)
    1.5g protein per pound of lean muscle mass
    500 > maintenance calories

    I lift 3x a week (squats, bench, OH press, dips, pull-ups, etc; doing 3-4 sets of 5 reps) and my weights are increasing, so my strength hasnít been affected by the low amount of carbs.
    I sprint/HIIT twice a week.
    After each of these sessions Iíll put 60g dextrose in my protein/creatine shake, so carb intake is therefore 100g a day on average.

    I read an article yesterday, T NATION | The Insulin Advantage: How to Bulk and Cut on the Same Day
    Basically it says that you donít need a long period of bulking followed by a long period of cutting. Your body can shift between the two daily, given the right dietary input.

    So I guess what Iím asking is:
    1) A friend says that Iím slightly in ketosis and therefore will not put on mass, what are peopleís thoughts on this? Even though I have dextrose PWO and excess calories
    2) If I keep my carb and protein intake the same but increase calories (through healthy fats) to 2000 + maintenance calories, would I bust the bulking/cutting myth and put on mass whilst shedding BF?
    3) Has anyone had the same eating plan/goal (to bulk and be lean) and can share their experience?


    I have posted this on a bodybuilding site so itíll be interesting to compare answers.

  2. #2
    federkeil's Avatar
    federkeil is offline Senior Member
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    What you want is this : The Leangains Guide | Intermittent fasting diet for fat loss, muscle gain and health

    I lift heavy 3 days a week and play sports 3 days a week.

    I only eat greater than 50g carbs on lifting days, and on those days i cut fat intake. I take in a minimum of 1g protein per pound of total body weight (works out to about 3g per kg of lean weight).

    In 2 months of heavy lifting - 5 weeks of leangains eating - I have stayed the same weight but dropped about 4% body fat. What that turns into is a 10-15lb gain of lean mass in 2 months.
    I didn't like the rules you gave me, so I made some of my own.

    Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general. - Mark Rippetoe

  3. #3
    Dave_o's Avatar
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    I think it's possible, but tough, and you really have to know how your body responds to training vs nutrition.
    I tried the low carb approach for a while, but it's not for me.
    If I drop below about 70g of carbs per day (thats about 375g of sweet potato according to Fitday), my workouts suffer big time.
    I'm also getting better results going at 85 - 95% of my one rep max on the big movers in a 10 x 3, 12 x 2 or 15 x 1 scheme (plus assistance work) than 5 x 5.

    Low carb is definitely not the traditional approach.

  4. #4
    Cromagnon's Avatar
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    Try it for 6 weeks, keep detailed notes about what happens, and come back and let us know. Anything anyone tells you on a forum will just be their best guess. You'll get little dudes who have never bulked in their lives telling you all kinds of opinions based on crap they've read, and won't be one step closer to knowing what happens when *you* try it. I call that the folly of forums.

    But let us know when you have good data. I'm subscribing to this thread and I'll check back.

  5. #5
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    I have not touched any grain or grain related products, beans, legumes, sugar for more than 2 years. Don't eat any fruit except a handful of blueberries about 3 times a week. No starches of any sort either. Occasional macadamias and cheese in moderate amounts.

    What I do eat is plenty of animals and fish and veggies.

    I started lifting heavy and put on 12kg (26.5 lbs) of muscle within 6 months. I'm pretty sure it's mostly muscle as my waist is still 29" and I can still fit comfortably into my pants during my lightest weight. Shirts are another story. My chest and arms are busting out of my shirts.

    So, my experience has been packing on muscle is mostly a function of lifting heavy, as my diet did not change when I was at my lightest as compared with now.

  6. #6
    nachobrawler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chickenbackside View Post
    I have not touched any grain or grain related products, beans, legumes, sugar for more than 2 years. Don't eat any fruit except a handful of blueberries about 3 times a week. No starches of any sort either. Occasional macadamias and cheese in moderate amounts.

    What I do eat is plenty of animals and fish and veggies.

    I started lifting heavy and put on 12kg (26.5 lbs) of muscle within 6 months. I'm pretty sure it's mostly muscle as my waist is still 29" and I can still fit comfortably into my pants during my lightest weight. Shirts are another story. My chest and arms are busting out of my shirts.

    So, my experience has been packing on muscle is mostly a function of lifting heavy, as my diet did not change when I was at my lightest as compared with now.
    There is a ton of truth in what Cromagnon has said. No one can tell you what works for you...but you. Many will try (including me right now)...but ultimately, you have to learn what works for you. And when you find it...dont listen to people telling you what you can/cant do. THEY AREN"T YOU. DO what you know works for you and stay focused.

    Now, for me, I gained 128lbs (57 Kg) of mass from the time I started working out until the time I started cutting. I weighed 248lbs and am 5'8. To be honest, a lot of it was flab. But quite a bit of it is muscle. And I am currently working on maintaining the lean muscle mass that I have accrued in all of my time of lifting (28 years). I am using a ketogenic diet to cut flab and maintain muscle mass (so far so good, I have dropped 20lbs of flab) and it is working perfectly. I am as strong as I have been in 10 years in the gym...and I work out heavy and with high intensity. For example, my back & arm workout on Monday involved 12 sets of different back exercises with reps in the range of 5-8 and no longer than 30 seconds rest between sets. As well as tricep and bicep work (~8 sets each) to finish off arms. All inside of 60 minutes time. In, out ,done. And I am sore the next day.

    Anyway, the point I want to make is the ketogenic (i.e. low carb) diet has been perfect for me to maintain muscle mass AND I HAVE NOT HAD ANY ILL EFFECTS IN THE GYM FROM IT. Seriously, I normally eat <30 carbs a day...and I get nearly all of my carbs from vegetables and nuts. I do not supplement my diet with ANY carbs post workout or ever, and that is truly contradictory to the "research" out there right now. But it works for me. So I do it.

    As for gaining on a keto diet....never tried it. Im just curious though....your post says you have been gaining mass on your diet (i.e. 12kg). So, what is your question really about? You have gained mass/muscle with what you have been doing. I think it is working for you. My suggestion would be to continue exactly what you are doing, be patient with it (mountains weren't built overnight...either are huge guns!) and stick it out.

    Good luck getting massive!
    If you can just get your....mind together....then come on across to me.....
    James Marshall (Jimi)Hendrix

  7. #7
    yodiewan's Avatar
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    I agree with pretty much everything that was said above, just adding my anecdotal experience. I tried bulking with both high and low carb but I think I was going way overboard on calories, because I gained too much fat. Now I am adding ~100g of carbs from sweet potatoes or white potatoes in addition to my Primal diet and am getting great results. Up 10-15 pounds over the past few months and a lot less of it is fat than my previous attempts. I also increased my lifting from 3 to 4 days a week, so that may have had an impact as well. My workout schedule sounds pretty similar to yours, but I only sprint once a week. I take BCAA pre-workout, but am otherwise fasted and break my fast with a feast post-workout and a smaller meal later if I feel like it.

    If you're getting good resuslts from the dextrose, I guess it's ok to keep using it, but I think you could possibly get as good or better results by getting your glucose from potatoes/sweet potatoes. I don't think such a large bolus of refined sugar could be good for you, but that's just my guess. Keep us posted on your progress!

    To elaborate on nachobrawler's points: I also agree that ketogenic is great for cutting, but in my experience, it's not the best for bulking. And yes, patience is key. Don't try to force your gains by shoving more food in your mouth. For me at least, eating until I'm pleasantly (not uncomfortably) stuffed has produced much leaner gains though the scale weight has been going up more slowly.
    Last edited by yodiewan; 03-02-2011 at 05:46 AM.

  8. #8
    nachobrawler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nachobrawler View Post
    There is a ton of truth in what Cromagnon has said. No one can tell you what works for you...but you. Many will try (including me right now)...but ultimately, you have to learn what works for you. And when you find it...dont listen to people telling you what you can/cant do. THEY AREN"T YOU. DO what you know works for you and stay focused.

    Now, for me, I gained 128lbs (57 Kg) of mass from the time I started working out until the time I started cutting. I weighed 248lbs and am 5'8. To be honest, a lot of it was flab. But quite a bit of it is muscle. And I am currently working on maintaining the lean muscle mass that I have accrued in all of my time of lifting (28 years). I am using a ketogenic diet to cut flab and maintain muscle mass (so far so good, I have dropped 20lbs of flab) and it is working perfectly. I am as strong as I have been in 10 years in the gym...and I work out heavy and with high intensity. For example, my back & arm workout on Monday involved 12 sets of different back exercises with reps in the range of 5-8 and no longer than 30 seconds rest between sets. As well as tricep and bicep work (~8 sets each) to finish off arms. All inside of 60 minutes time. In, out ,done. And I am sore the next day.

    Anyway, the point I want to make is the ketogenic (i.e. low carb) diet has been perfect for me to maintain muscle mass AND I HAVE NOT HAD ANY ILL EFFECTS IN THE GYM FROM IT. Seriously, I normally eat <30 carbs a day...and I get nearly all of my carbs from vegetables and nuts. I do not supplement my diet with ANY carbs post workout or ever, and that is truly contradictory to the "research" out there right now. But it works for me. So I do it.

    As for gaining on a keto diet....never tried it. Im just curious though....your post says you have been gaining mass on your diet (i.e. 12kg). So, what is your question really about? You have gained mass/muscle with what you have been doing. I think it is working for you. My suggestion would be to continue exactly what you are doing, be patient with it (mountains weren't built overnight...either are huge guns!) and stick it out.

    Good luck getting massive!

    One other thing....you are dead on right about the heavy lifting. Make sure you are working with weights that you can push/pull/lift/press in the range of 5-8 reps. Dont be doing 12-15 rep sets. Not to go into the Biochemistry behind it but that sort of lifting works a different type of muscle fiber and it wont make you massive. It will mean the difference between your physique looking like a sprinter and a long distance runner. Both are in shape...but each has a VERY different set of muscles built for doing different work. And they each look very different (as you can tell). You need to focus your muscle fibers on doing heavy lifting with intensity several times a week. And when in doubt, rest. AVOID overworking your muscles! Too many workouts/week will inhibit growth and will just put you in a catabolic (i.e. muscle breakdown) state. You want to be as anabolic (i.e. muscle building) as possible. That means....lift-heavy and intense....rest (get 8 hours or as much sleep a night as possible)...and eat. Your genetics will take care of the rest and they will grow you as big as you are able to be.

    Lastly, ensure you are eating enough protein above and beyond your daily requirements for maintenance. You should target 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight (3.36g/Kg bodyweight) and some powerlifters/bodybuilders target as much as 2.0grams/lb of bodyweight. The point is make sure you are giving your body the materials it needs to build the muscle. Protein is the ONLY macronutrient that will build muscle. So, you need it in abundance if you are going to get big.
    If you can just get your....mind together....then come on across to me.....
    James Marshall (Jimi)Hendrix

  9. #9
    iniQuity's Avatar
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    I've never done a bulk but Idk about hiit or sprints twice a week. Once every two weeks sounds more appropriate for your purposes.

  10. #10
    nachobrawler's Avatar
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    One final comment....and it was my main point to begin with...(sorry, I can and do get sidetracked when talking about this subject.So many variables to remember!!!)

    The evidence or research out there that CONFIRMS being able to cut bodyfat AND gain muscle mass at this point is at best, inconclusive. Sorry, let me correct that statement.....for people trying to gain mass NATURALLY without supplementing HGH (human growth hormone) or anabolic steroids...there is no conclusive evidence that says it can be done.

    Now, primalist, if there is truth to what you have said about your gains so far (i.e. 12Kg=26.8lbs) being primarily muscle and not bodyfat...it sounds as though you are dead on track for YOU. It is working, keep doing it. But just know that it is next to impossible for the human body to grow muscle and not store bodyfat. My personal suspicion is that, as part of its job in regulating blood sugar with carbohydrates, insulin will also initiate the fat storing process for a nutrient excess (i.e. which is what is necessary for the body to be in an anabolic state). And the only way I know of to regulate your insulin via diet is to be ketogenic. So, if you are ketogenic...you are turning "off" insulin and turning "on" glucagon (i.e. glucagon is the opposite hormone from insulin...it regulates fat metabolism and using bodyfat for energy). But you need insulin to promote anabolic muscle building. So....therein lies the "catch 22" of being ketogenic and trying to gain muscle mass. To be honest, this is an area I was wondering about myself recently: would it be possible to gain muscle all the while staying in ketosis.
    As I said, there isnt a ton of honest research in this area and of the existing "research" alot of it was performed to support selling certain supplements and or "nutritional food" to would be mass builders out there (i.e. its a scam). So, truly , no one really knows what the body does in this area and I would imagine it might be different for different people depending on your genetics.

    Good luck with your own experiment and post results! Im curious what you find out...
    If you can just get your....mind together....then come on across to me.....
    James Marshall (Jimi)Hendrix

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