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Hypertrophy on a very low carb, calorie restricted diet.

by (55)
Updated about 11 hours ago
Created February 07, 2012 at 12:49 PM

After reading this post on Robb Wolf's site I'm a little curious.

What Matt Lalonde seems to be describing is a calorie restricted, low carb diet. Yet as he progressed, he reports muscle development along with fat loss.

The fat loss part is straightforward. I'm curious though as to whether or not the body would create muscle in a calorie deficit. The only explanation I can think of is that with insulin kept at bay, the body had access to high energy reserves through stored fat (so no calorie deficit).

Could anybody explain if/how this is possible?

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2890 · February 07, 2012 at 10:20 PM

Without insulin how did that energy get into muscles? Or have you considered insulin is not regulatory it is more permissive? Or have you considered insulin is anabolic?

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18635 · February 07, 2012 at 9:02 PM

Only if your doing hours of moderate intensity stuff, have poor sleep, high stress, anxiety, and a multitude of other factors going on. Long as its a short intense exercise period with sufficient recovery your good to go.

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55 · February 07, 2012 at 6:37 PM

Hi Austin - I understand that reduced cals = higher cortisol. I'm not sure why it would lead to adrenal fatigue though? Can you elaborate please?

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55 · February 07, 2012 at 6:36 PM

@jjtitus - I think it was this episode: http://www.robbwolf.com/2011/08/09/the-paleo-solution-episode-92/ I remember it. I've had the same effect as he describes ("eyes rolling back in my head") on VLC which is why I upped my carbs.Trying to find the right balance though as I've started to carry more body weight while lifting *heavy* at least 5 days per week

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839 · February 07, 2012 at 4:53 PM

Bodacious, I agree with PrimalDanny... it doesn't seem like Mat was calorie restricting at all. In fact, he states "I probably ate more then a diet such as ‘The Zone’ would have prescribed".

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5188 · February 07, 2012 at 3:05 PM

I'm guessing he built most of the muscle before this diet period. The actual calorie requirements to squat 400lbs a few times aren't all that big...

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55 · February 07, 2012 at 1:21 PM

I understand the point in this post was about PWO carbs. Looking at Matt's diet though, it doesn't look like a lot of calories for someone who's squatting +400lbs. The calorie restriction is an assumption but, in any case, I'm still curious about the question posed, regardless of Matt's calorie intake.

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7 Answers

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839 · February 07, 2012 at 2:56 PM

It should be noted that this article is from 2009, back when Mat was experimenting with lower carb paleo... I don't have the link right now, but I believe in a podcast with Robb, Mat described how one day he "hit a wall" and almost passed out from low blood sugar while exercising... I think he currently recommends eating moderate carb (150 g/day) along the lines of PHD.

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55 · February 07, 2012 at 6:36 PM

@jjtitus - I think it was this episode: http://www.robbwolf.com/2011/08/09/the-paleo-solution-episode-92/ I remember it. I've had the same effect as he describes ("eyes rolling back in my head") on VLC which is why I upped my carbs.Trying to find the right balance though as I've started to carry more body weight while lifting *heavy* at least 5 days per week

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839 · February 07, 2012 at 4:53 PM

Bodacious, I agree with PrimalDanny... it doesn't seem like Mat was calorie restricting at all. In fact, he states "I probably ate more then a diet such as ‘The Zone’ would have prescribed".

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7970 · February 07, 2012 at 2:40 PM

You should check out http://leangains.com - he doesn't recommend keeping low carb on training days, quite the opposite. But the recommendation is to cycle carbs and calories, and train heavy 3x/week. Have a caloric surplus on training days, a caloric deficit on rest days, which amounts to 3 surplus days and 4 deficit days per week.

But he's got dozens of client testimonials where they lose fat and gain (or at least maintain) muscle/strength.

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21405 · February 07, 2012 at 10:13 PM

I had similar experiences on a PSMF diet where my calories were very low, carbs non-existant, and the bulk of my calories were coming from protein.

And I felt like crap.

The gains weren't as fast as they would have been if I had been following a GOMAD protocol, or the "Eat Everything in Sight" protocol, but gains to strength did come... albeit to more "technical" lifts, so my reduced weight could have simply improved my flexibility and ability to do them.

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3180 · February 07, 2012 at 9:52 PM

Did you look at his sample menus? He was eating like 1000-1200 cals a day!

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722 · February 07, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Low carb/low kcal diets aren't perfect for building muscles. Neither is a vegan or near vegan diet. It's however possible and if one is far from one's genetic peac regarding muscle tissue, it's not that difficult either.

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1070 · February 07, 2012 at 3:15 PM

This is a great way to develop adrenal fatigue. BAD IDEA.

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18635 · February 07, 2012 at 9:02 PM

Only if your doing hours of moderate intensity stuff, have poor sleep, high stress, anxiety, and a multitude of other factors going on. Long as its a short intense exercise period with sufficient recovery your good to go.

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55 · February 07, 2012 at 6:37 PM

Hi Austin - I understand that reduced cals = higher cortisol. I'm not sure why it would lead to adrenal fatigue though? Can you elaborate please?

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5188 · February 07, 2012 at 1:12 PM

I don't see anything there suggesting he was calorie restricted. And the whole point of losing bodyfat is that you are burning "enough" calories every day in any case. If everything else you're doing is creating an environment for building muscle, then the necessary calories will be factored in to what your body wants to burn.

The point he's looking at is whether you need to desperately refill muscle glycogen after exercise in order to recover. And the results are that it's inconclusive. My take on that is that it depends on your regular diet. If you eat low carb then when you eat is not really an issue.

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55 · February 07, 2012 at 1:21 PM

I understand the point in this post was about PWO carbs. Looking at Matt's diet though, it doesn't look like a lot of calories for someone who's squatting +400lbs. The calorie restriction is an assumption but, in any case, I'm still curious about the question posed, regardless of Matt's calorie intake.

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5188 · February 07, 2012 at 3:05 PM

I'm guessing he built most of the muscle before this diet period. The actual calorie requirements to squat 400lbs a few times aren't all that big...

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