Lean Mass Gain: High Protein...Effective or Detrimental (to health)?

by 252 · December 14, 2012 at 7:36 PM

Been asking quite a few questions to my introduction to PH, but here goes one more if any can help; I'm roughly 5'9 or so and 135-140lbs. I truly want to eventually get up to something like 155-160lbs, more so due to athletic purposes. I'm not sure how to go about this, though, as I believe restricting carbs may be beneficial to my migraines (possibly even anxiety according to Nora Gedgaudas). How should I increase my weight then?

In the 4-Hour Body, Tim Ferris recommends an extremely high protein dose, i believe 1.25g/lb of IDEAL bodyweight, and 20cal/lb of bw. I personally have no delved deep enough into the medical literature as of yet (although I plan on it) to know if a very high protein diet would be detrimental to my health. As far as I know, as long as you remain hydrated then it in fact does NOT damage kidneys, but I also believe that increasing protein dramatically does little to affect Nitrogen Balance positively compared to your previous protein intake. I'm currently reading/annotating Ultimate Diet 2.0 by Lyle Mcdonald, and although it's mainly a cutting/recomp diet plan, you can use it to gain mass. The whole sense is carb/calorie restriction/glycogen depletion, then using refeeds for supercomponsation. I feel this would be hard trying to adhere to a gluten free/grain free diet though.

Is it possible to gain MUSCLE through adding FAT CALORIES? If I increase my daily calories through fat, and keep carbs low (right now eat 40-80g/day) would I gain muscle, possibly through the build up and utilization of intra-muscular triglycerides, and that maybe spares protein for purely muscle synthesis/repair?

I was thinking of either: A) adding to my maintenance cals (roughly 2k) through protein, increasing it to 1g/lb of IDEAL bw (starting at 145 lbs), and whatever fat/carbs I received from that would add some calories. Or.. B) Eating at maintenance, then one day pig out (although healthily), and increase cals like 1-1.5k by means of carbs and enough protein to cover 1.2g/current lbs rather than the 1g/lb I typically consume. I would obviously keep fat slightly lower, and maybe lean towards fat from MCT's.

Thank you in advance for any help at all.

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3 Replies

11011 · December 14, 2012 at 1:33 PM

I wouldn't consider 1.25 grams of protein/ lb a high protein diet. If you're looking to gain weight you're probably going to have to introduce more than 40-80 grams of carbs/day though.

175 · December 14, 2012 at 7:36 PM

So here are the cliffnotes of what you'll find in Lyle's writing, and how they echo through the sort of knowledgeable nutrition advice out there (what little of it there is).

Basically the 1.25g/day/gram of bodyweight is a sort of number that "covers your bases". a 100lb individual eating 125g protein a day is likely to build some muscle, given he is eating at a caloric maintenance at the very minimum, and strength training. Most advanced bodybuilders (which Mr. McDonald is not) will suggest you eat something like 1.5g/day/gbw and that's still basically just dotting your i's and crossing your t's in terms of your lean mass goals. In all likelihood, you don't need that much, but our protein requirements kind of go up and down depending on alot of things.

First, how hard you train, and how well your body is adapted to training. If you're taking sets to failure as a complete novice, your body will probably not really need too much protein. if you've been training for over a decade and are still taking sets to failure, you will likely need alot more. Second, is your age and hormone levels. Teenage guys usually put on muscle no matter what they do, as long as they're training hard. As we age, other considerations come into focus.

But as it relates to your goals, lets first sort out your logic. Recomp diets, and things like what Lyle is offering is sort of much more tailored towards losing weight than gaining muscle. So lets assume this kind of advice is not the most efficient way for you.

The hands down best way to do it is this.

your current weight x 9 to 12 = the range at which your maintenance is probably at. If you believe that the number is 2000, split your macros by the following measures:

2000 x .25 = fats 2000 x .30 = protein 2000 - (fats+protein) = carbs

Which means for a 2000kcal diet:

500 fat calories = approx 60g fat 600 protein calories = approx 150g protein (you were close with the 145).
That leaves: 900 carb calories = 225g carbs

That's your MAINTENANCE macro scheme. If you were to work out on this, and you're just starting to work out, you'll probably see some improvement. Whether or not you gain muscle is another thing..and depends on the factors i listed previously. Afterall this is maintenance.

Now. you want to gain muscle. And we need to get you over what's called the homeostasis hurdle (Usually the body does not want to change, unless we force it to). So lets say for you to gain about 1 lb a week (not likely to actually happen), you'll need to eat 500 calories above maintenance.

So now, we're going to apply the math to a 2500 plan which gives you these:

70g Fat 190g Protein 280g carbs

This is the important thing. Do this for 2 weeks. Pig out when you want to , but most days just hit those numbers. Did you gain weight? If not, up carbs by another 25g. Go another week. Did you gain weight? if not up carbs again by 25.

When you see something like a "slight gain" 1lb to maybe 0.5 pounds per week. You're good to go. It's important to remember that this is a pretty advanced way to diet. That it also must be matched by your workout intensity. A luckluster intensity in the gym will likely render you skinny-fat. You need ample stimulus.

Hope this helps.

524 · December 14, 2012 at 3:40 PM

You can gain weight, muscle or fat, through increasing calories period. Fat, protein or carbs... you need to increase calories to gain.

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