Dear Mark: Muscle Building and Carbs

Dear Mark,

I am a loyal Daily Apple reader who’s just begun a full-scale primal + IF + HIIT lifestyle. My only worry is that of muscle loss or impeded muscle growth. As a friend of multiple muscle builders, I’ve been told that carbohydrates are necessary for that muscle growth. While I’m not about to go back to my high-carb ways, I am willing to make an exception for post-lifting meals (within an hour window). I’ve heard this is the optimal time for carb-intake as your muscles are depleted of glycogen stores. I am wondering if you could shed light on this. Is this method actually effective for muscle growth? If so, how many carbs should I consume, and of what kind? And finally, will making this one compromise induce inflammation or impede fat loss?

Thanks to Joshua for the question. It’s a common belief that substantial carbs are required for muscle development. As you say, a post-workout carb boost is often seen as a given. The thinking behind this concept is primarily two-fold. First, as you mention, carbs are touted as essential to refill your glycogen stores – pronto – post-workout so you can be ready to work out again tomorrow. I imagine you’ve also been told that your body will begin to break down muscle if you don’t refuel the glycogen reserves right away. The second element involves the role of insulin. The belief here is that raising insulin levels (as a result of carb intake) will enhance protein synthesis.

I’m here to debunk both of those “truths,” but let me lay out the context for that dispute. First off, let’s be clear that in the Primal Blueprint we are not just trying to build unbalanced, swollen body-builder muscles; we are looking to maximize strength and our power-to-weight ratio while burning off excess body fat. One of the effects of over-filling muscle glycogen beyond what is necessary is that swollen look, since we store three grams of water for every gram of glycogen. And once glycogen stores are topped off, excess glucose (carbohydrate) is readily converted to fat. Here’s the key: as long as you keep your hard resistance workout at or under an hour (and usually under 35 minutes in the PB model), your body won’t need a lot of glycogen to get through it. I’ve said in the past (and another study published this month shows) that our bodies can and will restock their glucose/glycogen stores through the gluconeogenesis process using lactate and amino acids. All you really need is a protein-rich snack post-workout for glycogen refueling. Your body can use it to begin refilling its stores, and your normal Primal eating plan during the rest of the day will finish the job. Meanwhile, you’ll cruise through the day nicely relying on your stored fats for fuel.

And that leads us to the other issue of protein synthesis. It’s true that the time immediately after a weight workout is a prime opportunity for protein synthesis. I usually recommend protein in the 30-60 minutes following a workout. (I fast after a workout once in a while to maximize growth hormone – more on that in a later post). For elder apples, protein-rich food may be more effective than a supplement (e.g. shake). (By the way, I’ll throw out the reminder that a dose of omega-3s post-workout enhances the body’s ability to convert food protein to muscle protein. It’s a good time to pop that fish oil pill!)

As for the common belief that carbs play an integral role in protein synthesis, I hope I can lay that one to rest as well. Researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands compared subjects’ blood and muscle samples during recovery when participants ingested a protein supplement to when they were given a protein plus “various amounts” of carbohydrate supplement. The results? The carbohydrate intake did “not further stimulate post-exercise muscle protein synthesis.” As long as “ample” protein was ingested, the study found, the presence of carbs made no effective difference in protein synthesis.

On the other side of the coin, carb intake can, indeed, negatively impede fat burning by giving the body glucose to use instead of making it work to burn fat. High carb meals that are not consumed directly after workouts will generate lots of insulin. That insulin will promote fat storage once glycogen stores are full, and it will serve to lock fat inside the fat cells. The extra carbs will also contribute to low-level inflammation. Though your metabolism will remain elevated for a while post-workout, you’re essentially done working and burning the same high level of calories. Adding carbs after the fact isn’t necessary, and they come with a price when the body will just end up storing their energy. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, glucose in the bloodstream has toxic implications unless it’s being stored or burned right away as fuel.

In short, you’re much better off wrapping up your strength workout at an hour or less and staying on the primal track. As long as you go for the protein-rich snack afterward, your muscle growth won’t suffer for it. Of course, any PB-style low level aerobic work can be done for much longer, since you’ll be burning primarily fats anyway.

It’s great to hear from people beginning their experience with the Primal Blueprint. Good luck to you! As always, to everyone, thanks for the great questions and comments. Keep ‘em coming!

Further Reading:

The Definitive Guide to the Primal Eating Plan

What Happens to Your Body When… You CARB BINGE?

The Context of Calories – 200 Calories is 200 Calories. Right?

Dear Mark: Did Our Bodies Evolve to Run on Ketones?

The Entire Definitive Guide Series

TAGS:  Aging, dear mark

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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59 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Muscle Building and Carbs”

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  1. I would like to address the question near the end asking if eating carbs post-workout will induce inflammation.

    I don’t know about everyone else, but I’ve discovered that my own body only reacts negatively to grains. I can eat huge quantities of fruit post-workout, and it makes me feel great and full of energy for the rest of the day without poofing me up. On the other hand, anything grain-related gives a soft, spongy feel to my muscles.

    1. Very interesting to hear that, as Fructose really doesn’t get stored in the muscles as glycogen. Fructose mainly goes to the liver.

  2. Thanks for this post Mark. I am currently following an IF (a “loose” approach,)WOE.

    I tend to train early, (approx. 40 minutes,) somewhere between 5:30 and 7:00 a.m. but eat late. (Somewhere between 1-6, 2-7, or 3-8 p.m. as a “window”.)

    Is NOT having protein replenishment until later in the day potentially problematic/counterproductive?

    Thank you !


  3. Hey Mark,

    I’m glad that you mentioned workout duration and amino acids together. Since I do my strength training right after my HIIT, I tend to use BCAA (branch chain amino acids) supplements in order to stay primal with the after-workout meal. Otherwise, I feel as though my body is super weak and therefore I’m inclined to eat recklessly, which as you have shown in this article is not a good idea.

    Thanks for the post!

    All the Best,

    Andrew R

  4. great article. You didn’t end up getting into the post-workout fast and why it would induce HGH.

  5. great post as usual mark!

    i was wondering if you’ve heard of sean burch and his “hyperfitness” program and if so, what you think of it. his program mostly trains the fast twitch fibers through lots of plyometrics and anerobic workload, but on certain days requires some pretty intense prolonged running, (40 min or less) and i’m trying to discern whether its possible to go completely primal if i do his program.
    thanks for the great site!

  6. Interesing! You and Robb Wolff (Crossfit guy) answered the same question today, with slightly different results.

    The idea of a PWO meal containing carbs (and protein) is to take advantage of a period of time in which the muscles are particularly insulin sensitiveve. We can fly nutrients into the muscle “under the radar” via a mechanism called “non insulin mediated glucose transport”. Amino acids are also taken in during this time and may play a synergistic role in both glycogen repletion but also decreasing inflammation that accompanies hard training. Said another way, you recover from exertion faster. So, what should ya eat? We actually want a starchy carb as our primary carb. Yams and sweet potatoes are great options as they are also highly nutritious. Fruit should be used sparingly in this meal if one is focused on optimized glycogen repletion as fructose refills liver glycogen first, and once liver glycogen is full we up-regulate the lipogenic activity of the liver and start down the road towards fat gain and insulin resistance.

  7. After a workout i eat protein 5-10 minutes after with a glass of water.
    I’ll eat a handful of nuts, or a hard boiled egg, or a piece of chicken. I love albacore tuna, but, i only eat it once or twice a week.

    Mark, i’m looking forward to reading your upcoming post on occasional fasting after a
    workout, i’m interested on learning more on that.

  8. In addition to sub-cutaneous fat (under the skin) people also store considerable amounts of fat in interstitial muscular spaces and visceral fat around the vital organs. Eating carbohydrates after working out probably does lead to build-up of the interstitial muscular stores as those areas are perfused with blood and hence have the highest nutrient flow.

    Hence eating carbs after a workout will increase your ‘bulk’ at the expense of ‘cut’ and of course will do nothing for strength and power.

    1. BS. Go ahead and skip your post workout meal and watch your strength and power slip.

  9. Great Mark, as always. This post should be required reading for anyone seeking access to a gym — or departure from their gym for that matter. A career gym rat, under 45 minutes strength training and some reasonable proteins (and fats) after a workout, and I feel great and with no sluggishness that the killer carbs give me. Thanks!

  10. I actually have a question about carb counting (sort of off topic). You’ve mentioned before that if one is trying to lose fat, keeping carbs under 80 grams a day is helpful. Assuming one is getting their carbs from veggies, do you count the fiber in the vegetables or not? i.e. Is it total carbs, or net carbs that one counts?

  11. Mark I may be missing something here but that Omega-3 study you referenced is saying that the fish oil works by improving insulin sensitivity. I’m reading that as improving the ability of insulin to shuttle nutrients into the muscle.

  12. Jonny, that’s correct. O3s improve insulin sensitivity, which means that aminos can get into cells without needing a huge amount of insulin to drive them in.

    Charles, Robb’s answer is also correct, but applies to the guy who wants and needs more glycogen all the time because he or she is working hard all the time. I say let’s accomplish the same thing on less time, less overall output and without requiring a lot of glycogen/carbs.

    Casey, one day a week of 40 minutes of running is totaly within the Primal philosophy. (many days a week is/are not).

  13. The reference to Omega-3 and protein synthesis pertains to bovines and not humans.

  14. that photo of the muscle guy is insane! imo if you’re going to eat some carbs anyway pwo is the best time for sure, personally i’ll have some yogurt & honey or similar without sweating it too much, the omega 3 pwo is new info for me, conventional body building says not to consume fat pwo as it delays protein uptake during the crucial pwo window & can force fat into muscle or storage (rather than protein which is what you want for atrophy)

  15. Mark;
    More questions 😉
    Does fruit(fructose) hit liver first for the PWO?
    Is it not a good idea to eat the fruit? I usually eat protein and fruit apprx 60-80 min. after workout.
    Can you talk more about GH stimulation in regards to PWO.
    JC’s question; can you share some insight. Does fat delay protein uptake pwo?
    Thank you Mark!!


  16. I eat only protein after a workout with a fresh squeezed lemon in a glass of water. I have fruit later on with a salad, i like my fruit and vegetables together.

  17. I didn’t see you clarify this or maybe I missed it, but a post-workout shake doesn’t need to consist of 200 gram of carbs or anything like that. A good post-workout shake should have around 30-60 grams of carbs. This number is well within the 100’s of studies that show it is beneficial and you aren’t likely to store these carbs as fat because they are being utilized for glycogen replacement. There won’t be any extra carbs leftover.

  18. Mark, thanks for responding to my comment.

    I agree it says it improves insulin sensitivity which means you need less to drive protein into muscles. But surely that means that insulin still has to play the role and is needed to drive protein into muscle. In other words you’ll still need a small amount as Jayson said to raise insulin and shuttle protein into muscle.

  19. Jonny, yes, but unless you are Type 1 Diabetic, you will almost always produce some amount of insulin after consuming a meal with carbs OR protein. Even PWO.

  20. Lots of good info, thanks. But what I really want to know is: Is that photo real!!?!!? Somebody should tell him that he does NOT look good! :0

  21. Here is a link to an article that agree’s with this line of thinking, it is basically saying that carbs post workout replenish glycogen but may well blunt GH, insulin sensitivity & fat burning, from an evolutionary viewpoint protein only or a small amount of natural carbs should suffice pwo.

    @Marc – another article by John Berardi of the more conventional stand on pwo nutrition,
    the paragraph below relates to my comment about pwo fat slowing digestion & therfore release of amino acids into the blood stream for repair.

    While your post-workout feeding should be rich protein and carbohydrate, this meal should be fat free. The consumption of essential fats is one of the most overlooked areas of daily nutritional intake but during the post workout period, eating fat can actually decrease the effectiveness of your post-workout beverage. Since fat slows down transit through the stomach, eating fat during the post workout period may slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and proteins.

    As your post workout feeding should be designed to promote the most rapid delivery of carbohydrates and protein to your depleted muscles, fats should be avoided during this time.

  22. Didn’t Mark design and advertise the post workout shake for the p90x program. This is a shake of mainly carbs in the form of Fructose I believe.

  23. Joe, I did design the P90X post-workout shake. My main “business” is actually designing supplements, which I have done for several companies including my own. In the case of the P90X shake, I was contacted to design a product line to meet their particular demographic and price specs. At the time of design, the main challenge was to refill muscle glycogen immediately after a relatively longer and harder workout such that you could be ready to go again the very next day, so the main exercise premise deviated from PB. Also, the diet being espoused by P90 staff dietions was a higher carb diet, so I had to create something that would give the carb-burners a continuous source of muscle glycogen. The prevailing technology at the time was to combine 80% carb and 20% protein, wich I did using mainly fructose. I added antioxidants and creatine along with a few other recovery assists and made it the best tasting drink on the market. I appeared in their advertising at first as part of the deal, but I am no longer affiliated with the P90X program. Apparently, my interviews are still being used by P90 and there’s nothing I can do about that. Obviously, technology has changed in the years since that product was designed and I personally don’t follow a PWO carb-loading strategy.

  24. soooooo no carbs?
    I eat a lot of potato:|..haha..and pasta.. is it bad? I wanna gain muscle and look cut but i dont really want to lose weight because i would look anorexic if i did (seriously:| haha) so do i still need to cut back on carbs? even if theyre good carbs? do they delay muscle growth?

  25. Lil:
    No grains means no pasta. Potatoes do you no good either.
    Eat more fish and veggies and you will do fine.

  26. When we say post workout carb loading, does that include PB carbs such as vegetables?

  27. For me it’s not the weights that get me, it’s surfing. If I do a hard surf in the one hour+ range, I have to eat non-primal, simple carbs right after or I lose muscle. 30-45 minutes of lifting doesn’t really create a need to deviate from the PB plan.

  28. Mark, I did a search on your website for glycogen in hopes to find out whether I have to consume primal carbs. pre/post work out (muscle building for me) and came across two article, this one and (Dear Mark: Primal Compromises for Athletes). And now I’m confused. This article says that carbs. post work out are not necessary while the other article talks about eating honey and sweet potato an hour after work hour. So which one is it? I’m a person is lifting heavy for 40 min at the gym and my goal is muscle gain, do I eat carbs. post or not? Thanks.

  29. Very interesting article Mark. I have always shoved massive amounts of cards down my pipe post workout, but have recently switched to. A protein shake with a spoonful of coconut oil and seen nothing but positives.

  30. From the article you cite: “However, as muscle glycogen content can be reduced by 30–40% following a single session of resistance-type exercise (17), carbohydrate coingestion would be preferred when trying to accelerate muscle glycogen repletion.”

    Why do you misrepresent their conclusions?

  31. Mark you made a fortune off creating P90Xs post workout shake which is loaded with carbs. You even did an interview marketing your product as the ideal post workout food. Now you tell us only protein after a meal. In your product per 2 scoops servings it contains 10 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbs of maltodextrin and dextrose. I think we are owed an explanation.

  32. @Jeremu, be careful with your assumptions. Not only did I not make “a fortune” on the P90X deal, I made close to nothing on it. They basically plead poverty and asked me to end my relationship with them about five years ago – after I had designed many of their supplements. They still run my interview and there’s not much I can do about it. I certainly don’t get paid for it. I designed that Recovery Drink nearly nine years ago to their specific workout requirements, which meant having a product that tasted great and allowed you to recover enough to go hard every day. I just don’t believe in training that hard every day, but if you do, you probably need to replenish glycogen every day, hence the formula. It’s a great formula to get you through that faulty chronic workout logic, but I don’t do that or recommend that for anyone anymore. Replenishing carbs isn’t a big deal when you don’t train heard every day. Fat and protein are what drive my recovery now.

  33. Hey Mark,

    sorry if this question has been answered numerous times, but I can’t seem to find the answer on your blog and would like to know your opinion on whether carbs(complex or simple grains) would benefit those who have 2 intense workout sessions a day? e.g. strength-training and kickboxing Or if as you stated in the article that protein will be enough to provide energy for the following workout

    love the book by the way

  34. Mark,
    I really appreciate that answer. I meant no disrespect, and this was much needed info. Sorry if I came across as confrontational. This subject, is very confusing I think for everyone, and it can’t be ultra frustrating in knowing what to do exactly PWO. There is no doubt after pounding weights for even 30 minutes, you want to replenish yourself and you want to do it fast. What to grab when we get home from the gym is tough. Am I understanding correctly that not only was your P90X PWO shake for a demographic working a lot harder than you recommend on PB, but at that time, you also assumed more carbs than protein PWO was the correct choice?
    This subject should be further explored. What to eat exactly PWO for maximum benefit and how much is still not clear

    Thanks Mark!

  35. Hey question for anyone (though this topics old) but what do you do when your sport / workout cant be done in under an hour? I boulder abouts 3 x a week and climbing is very mental as well as physical. My hands and grip would never become strong enough working out for 3 hours a week. What should my plan of attack should I have? It seems that all of this is geared towards the weight room, understandably so.

  36. I think it would make sense to apply a HG analogy to this. My idea is that our ancestors probably ate a lot of fruit before they went hunting to have energy for sprinting and wrestling sabertooth tigers. Then after the hunt they would ofcourse eat the poor sod, getting a big load of healthy grass-fed fat and lots of protein post-workout. Makes sense, no?

  37. Mark, I have read that when bodybuilders are trying to get bigger, that it is important to avoid ketosis, this right out of Schwarzenegger’s encyclopedia of modern bodybuilding. They say that ketosis will cause the body to cannibalize muscle tissue. Arnie was one of the best at the sport and I respect just advice, but I like the PB too, so is this something that is true and do I need to worry about going into ketosis. My Carb intake is already under 70-80, should I up this?

    1. Jake, arnie was juiced to the max. Normal rules simply don’t apply when using anabolic steroids. Plus, imagine his daily calorie requirements – 000s above average.

  38. Hey Mark,

    Big fan of the PB and the Paleo movement.

    I am a competitive rock climber and have competed at World Cups internationally for some time now.

    I have been using the PB strategies for just over 4 years with great results, but I have always wanted to pick your brain regarding my sport. The training that I engage in is very similar to gymnastics training (and many times I am incorporating ring, weights, etc). Our sport is mostly anaerobic with a huge power component combined with low intensity rests – a route will have hard climbing movements with some easier movements in between where one can recover for the next hard section.

    Training sessions can go anywhere from 1.5 -5 hours depending on the micro and macro cycle that I am in. Those hours are not spent continuously climbing but the longest rest period even in a long session would be 5 minutes or so. While I understand that longer training session can be detrimental but my sport really requires short and long session alike.

    I am wondering your recommendation for fueling for this type of training. In past I have used some a post workout shake (endurox, ultragen, etc) to help replenish muscle glycogen and encourage muscle protein synthesis, however some of the information above makes me think twice about the carbs postWO.

    Let me know your thoughts and considerations as I value your advice.

    Feel free to email me with additional questions regarding this all.

    Thanks so much


    PS: what would be your recommendations and considerations for creatine supplementation. We are a strength to weight ratio sport, similar to that of gymnastics. Some of our efforts are only 5 seconds long while others are longer (mainly hard or moderate efforts of 10-15 secs broken up with much lower intensity moves).

  39. Hi Mark! I first have to say that I absolutely love this site, and by the end of the week will be ordering the new line of books you’ve just released…and I can’t wait! This is one of those gray areas for me though, and I find myself in constant search between these types of other posters questions and the “chronic Cardio” questions because I’m still confused on what actually is classified as chronic cardio and what it does do against your weight training sessions. For instance for me, I’ll train with weights at the gym and usually finish my weight training session with an hour of cardio, usually broken up between 2 or 3 pieces of equiptment like stair mills, and various eliptical machines, and yes usually when I’m finished I’m pretty damp and gross in sweat, then off to the showers and home to eat. I follow low carb, high fat and my carb sources are what ever I get in my veggies like brocolli or mixed sallad greens etc. I train like this 6days a week and take a full day off completely per week. Is this training going against me then? Would I do better to split my cardio from my weight training say first thing in the morning and only use the treadmill and walk moderately on an incline, then do my weight training in the afternoon?
    I don’t eat any grains and hardly have any starchy veggies or carbs. So I don’t do any carb loading or add any extra carbs post workout either. I don’t think I’m classified as endurance athelete by any means, although I’ve had many people comment at the gym that my endurance with cardio is impressive, I guess I go quite quickly compared to them and they seem to take notice while I’m there for what ever reason.. Are these all signs this is too much? Is an hour of any kind of cardio moderate, high or low to much for 6 days a week? I don’t play sports and aside from house cleaning or playing with my kids, I’m sitting the rest of the day. I’ve been tossing the over training or chronic cardio around because I’d like to have a more figure I guess, like the one’s who do chose to compete in bodybuilding or fitness competitions, I just don’t want to do their diet recommendations and not sure I could follow something that percise..any suggestions or comments? I can and will handle all the truth and hard answers you may throw my way, I’d rather get the truth then fluff and fat around my waist line if you catch what i’m getting at. Thanks so much and i can’t wait to get your books and continue on this wonderful path! Thanks in advance for your respone

  40. OK, there’s some annoying misinformation here. First of all, not EVERYONE is the same… in fact we’re ALL different in terms of our carb tolerances. Some people can’t so much as look at carbs without putting on weight, whereas others can pound down hundreds of grams post workout and not put on an ounce of fat. Carbs more than any other macro see MASSIVE variation in this regard. Fact is, some people WILL need them PWO… the science backs this up, and having them PWO has proven to have beneficial effect for many people. To issue a blanket statement, “don’t have carbs PWO” is simply wrong. It’s individualistic and ultimately comes down to how hard you work out.

    Furthermore, do you know what Grok looked like? Of course not, but he was probably quite skinny, albeit with good muscle tone and strength. Fact is, he probably didn’t look like most people want to look today. He sure as hell didn’t go to the stone gym or bench press a sabre tooth tiger! The desired look in modern society is for a more athletic muscular physique, whether you like that or not, that’s just how it is. Which leads me on to the most ANNOYING aspect of this article, the fact that when most people here the word ‘bodybuilding’ they think that if they so much as look at the free weights in the gym they will end up looking like that obviously Photoshopped picture at the top of this article! I know that wasn’t serious, but please stop perpetuating such absurdities! Do you have any idea how hard it is for the average male (nevermind woman) to put on a 1lb of pure natural muscle?!

    A 30 minute session by the way isn’t really going to help in that regard, and again doesn’t fit in with how MOST people work out nowadays anyway. A good quality chest/arms routine will take around 60 minutes, or a bit longer. If you’re working out for 30 mins 2-3 times a week, yeah by all means skip the carbs because you’re simply NOT working hard enough!

    Carbs (the right ones of course) can be tremendously useful to the modern gym goer and aid in them putting on lean mass, if they’re working hard. There is a wealth of research that backs this up, but as I mention, every individual is different, so you must find out what works best for you.

  41. so if i understang good i don’t need to eat extra carbs after my workout?
    i train generaly around 45-50 minutes of bodyweight training 2-3 times a week
    and do stationnary bike 2 time for 30-45 minutes.
    i usually train at 1610-1620 and go dinner at 1700-1720 and i eat generaly 6 oz of meat 2 cup or the half of my plate of vegetables ,1 apple ,15 almond and 5 tsp of olive oil on my veggis so is enough?

  42. Great post Mark. I was wondering if you or anyone here could post their thoughts on Carb consumption as it relates to working out twice a day. I do Crossfit to supplement my Jiu Jitsu training. As such I am constantly on the prowl for a few bananas or pieces of fruit right after. Im thinking this wouldnt have such a huge impact on my insulin response as I am constantly working out twice a day or have intense 1 day Jiu Jitsu sessions. Thanks in advance

  43. Hi Mark,
    You mention testosterone in this article as it obviously serves as the foundation upon which consistent muscle gains can be made. However, several peer-reviewed studies have shown how a low-CHO diet suppresses testosterone production.
    Christopher Walker, of, managed to raise his T level from 11 ng/dl to 1192 ng/dl over 18 months, and he attributes much of his endocrine optimisation to a balanced macronutrient intake.
    I think most health-conscious men would attest to this from a anecdotal point of view too, when performing heavy resistance training ~3 times a week.

    I agree with you on everything but such a low CHO recommendation Mark, so please don’t see this as an undermining of your expertise. I am just confused as to why you believe minimising starchy carbs is conducive to testosterone production. I would greatly appreciate if you could shed some light on your stance.


  44. “I am a loyal Daily Apple reader who’s just begun a full-scale primal + IF + HIIT lifestyle.” –Guess my age?
    “It’s a common belief that substantial carbs are required for muscle development.” –That’s a common belief I haven’t heard of. What IS required are carbs for the workout itself. Protein is the usual macro given credit for the muscle growth. Right, Mark?
    “Here’s the key: as long as you keep your hard resistance workout at or under an hour (and usually under 35 minutes in the PB model), your body won’t need a lot of glycogen to get through it.”–I think this (like all things diet) is really subjective because it’s just not true, for me. So all I have to do is fuel POST workout and I’ll have enough energy a full 24-hr. later. With protein only? Uh, no, it wont. Wait, you also mentioned fueling with carbs post-workout. OK. How much carbs are ya talkin? Just a normal, balanced meal is never going to push me through the next workout. Why do you keep harping on carbs taking credit as muscle builders? Carbs = Energy. That’s what you need to fuel those weight-bearing exercises. And carbs will fill out the muscles with water, making them look fuller. Why don’t you tell the truth? To deny that biology really is being naive, Mark. Now maybe if I did the 35 min. PB workout, that might be another matter. And a much different look to my body…smaller.

    1. I totally agree. I tried doing his suggestion of around 80 carbs a day to lose body fat slow after being in ketosis and my fat lose stalled, even after carb refeeds, along with a whole host of other problems like fatigue, ed, and stress feeling of high cortisol. I upped my carbs to 150-200 a day, plus cheat meals, and my body composition is better. I only work out 4 days a week, 1hr lifting, 20-30min cardio. So I don’t think I’m over training.

  45. Simply desire to say your article is as astonishing.

    The clearness in your post is just excellent and i could assume you are an expert on this
    subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your feed to
    keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please carry on the enjoyable work.

  46. Hi Mark, do I subtract net carbs or count the whole carb amount?