Hey there everyone!! I have not posted in a while since I am revamping the site, now I have an official domain name and everything. I feel so special, but no joke the behind the scenes stuff is not fun. Also, I now have a fancy new logo, which I made myself, so if it sucks I am the reason why. Last new thing before getting to the post is that I am working on a pretty landing page to really make my site look less blog like. Once I finish that and it drops I will have a multi-part blog series that I am super excited about, talk about a teaser!!
Now, on to the meat of this post (pun intended, you may get it if you follow me on Instagram.) So I will be doing these every week until the end of my program. I know super vague right? So to add a bit of detail. I was slacking making it to the gym on an anytime basis, and I recently started coaching a few clients which made even less time for the gym. Okay not really, but it allowed me that excuse. As I took on these new clients I only got to the gym once a week or so, and I would do a home workout from time to time. Then a friend at work started talking to me about building muscle, and he was telling me the types of things he was doing. He asked my advice and I gave him the theory I have learned since I had never strictly tried to put on muscle without in the back of my mind worrying about my own weight. After realizing this, I felt a little ashamed that I had never put my money where my mouth was, so to speak, so I came up with a crazy idea and I started to develop the idea. And it as follows.
I want to build muscle and I do not want to care about my weight. Because if I want to gain muscle, I will have to be okay with the chance of putting on weight along with the muscle. So I put together a workout program I am testing to do just that. The one catch is that I am doing this program while on a carnivore diet. Partly because I feel great on a mostly meat diet, and partly because I have been dealing with some phlegm buildup that I wanted to figure out the cause of. So my want to build muscle (no matter if I gain mass) coupled with me trying an elimination diet led to me creating and testing and program I call “Muscle Building Carnivore.” Overall it will be a 12-week program that cycles through a few different phases. So this is why I will be doing these weekly recaps. Each week I will be documenting my progress along with my thoughts and reflections.
I promise each of these recaps will not take this long to get to, but I wanted to give you the thought behind my craziness. Plus I have done a carnivore cut before, so I wanted to do a meat-based building phase. After all, what do I have to lose? If you want to get daily updates of my progress you can follow me on Instagram or you can follow the hashtag I have coined for the program, which is #musclebuildingcarnivore I know super vague right? XD
Now, on to my thoughts reflections. So before I started the strict carnivore I was 80-90% carnivore, with the odd sweet potato fries, french fries, nachos, keto dessert, berries, or keto compliant junk food. I never felt horrible, but I didn’t feel great. To top it off I was also dealing with a few stressful days here and there which caused me to stress eat. I was not being very mindful about my eating habits. This didn’t cause me to fall off the bandwagon luckily, I just wasn’t feeling the keto clarity that I am used to. So then all of what I just mentioned happened. I have been eating carnivore for the past week, save for coffee (my legume vice, since that are beans XD) and I am still doing dairy. If my phlegm does not go away I will be eliminating that too, which will be a sad day indeed.
When you do a carnivore diet it is important that you get in electrolytes since you hold onto less water. You hold onto less water because you are not taking in a lot of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates help you hold on to excess water since you are holding onto very little water weight (even compared to keto/low carb.) To help me recoup my electrolytes, I have been ingesting Ultra Salt as well as putting BHB Salts in my morning coffee. This both helped me with my carnivore adaptation. Not everyone goes through it, but this was as a preemptive measure. When I have gone carnivore before, I have never gone through it, but I have also never done a muscle/weight gain program while on carnivore either so I wanted to cover all my bases.
As for my macros, this week my goal was to find how much meat I needed to eat to both feel full and fuel my workouts. I will tinker as the weeks’ progress to see what allows me to maximize my muscle gain. I feel my best when I am at about a 1:1 ratio protein to fat. When I went high protein I felt bloated, and when I went too low protein I didn’t feel full even though I packed on the fat. This week my protein will be a target and my fat will be a goal that I want to hit within 5 grams.
My workouts are quick but heavy. I am focusing on compound movements to build up my body as holistically as possible. I may add in targeted accessory movements as needed, however, I will not phase those in until after my first or second mesocycle. The main compound movements I have been using are power cleans, deadlifts, squats, snatches, and similar variations. As the program goes on I will be adding metabolic conditioning, probably focusing on kettlebell or bodyweight movements.
Going back to to the food, but this time let’s talking about cravings and variety. I have been fat adapted for a while now, and during my normal keto, or high-fat diet I don’t deal with many cravings. However, it also helps because I do not normally keep my trigger foods in the house, because I know if I get stressed I will most likely gorge myself on them. So they are out of sight out of mind. Keeping that in mind, the difficulty now is that I am limited to meat, dairy, tea/coffee, water and BHB Salts (or other electrolytes.) So, I cannot have the nuts I feed my son or the veggie I cook my wife (I am the main cook of the household.)
Most of the time it doesn’t bother me, but from time to time I love me some macadamia nuts! You may ask, “Why limit yourself then?” My answer is simple because I want to test this out. I want to see if I can make some impactful change on my body composition through the meat. Also as I mentioned above I also want to see what is causing my phlegm buildup. More importantly, this is not a limiting eating style at all. Often times I
eat similar things, that is due to bulk buying on my part. However, if I wanted to I could eat: duck, chicken, turkey, beef, bison, lamb, deer, elk, cod, tilapia, tuna, trout, grouper, shrimp, crab, squid and that is only a few. Carnivore is a limiting as you want it to be, just like with keto or primal. Instead of focusing on what I cannot have I try and look at it in terms of, what can I experiment with today. If you have a limiting mindset it will be difficult to make any long-term dietary shift.
The main thing I love about carnivore is how simple it is. I thaw out my meat for the next day and when I come home from work I cook it up after my workout and I break that up into a meal or two and I’m good until the next day (this is not much different from them I am keto.) I enjoy the freedom I feel. Even if the odd craving hits, but when that does I like to take a second and think. Is this a food-based craving, or a stress-based one, 90% of the time it is a stressed based one. When that is the case, is it better if I address the source of the stress rather than eating away my emotions. Sometimes that is hard, but growth is meant to be hard, look at muscle gain, you cannot obtain growth if you do not push yourself in the gym and the same goes for self-development. It is not always easy, but it is always worth it. Those are what cravings are, they are a chance for you to become stronger, they are a chance for you to be in control. Because our reactions are what we control. We cannot control our thought, we can only control how we react or interact with them.
The last two things I wanted to address are blood sugar and heart disease. To tackle the former, I have not seen a difference in my fasting blood glucose. When I check my glucose, I try to do it at least an hour or 2 after waking, because I do not want the possibility of higher morning cortisol to throw off my numbers. When you wake up melatonin goes down and cortisol goes up. As this hormone goes up some people also see a spike in glucose that seems to be coupled with the higher am cortisol. Because of that, I try to space out my fasting blood glucose readings. With all of that said, I have not noticed an increase yet. They have been about the same. I have not checked every day because I am a total goober and I forgot my meter at home a few days last week. I will continue to check them throughout the program. People are often worried about the excess protein from a meat-based diet would kick up gluconeogenesis. Put simply Gluconeogenesis is making sugar from protein, but from what I have seen and read, it seems like a demand-driven process, meaning if you need the sugar you can make it, however, if you do not then why should your body bother making it. Also, I am not going super high protein, I am keeping a pretty high-fat ratio. It is important to note, high meat does not mean high protein. Especially since I eat the fattier cuts of meat.
As for the latter, if you believe in the diet-heart hypothesis (the thought that eating red meat or saturated fat will cause heart disease) then you may also believe that a carnivorous diet is the worst thing I could do. I believe that the diet-heart hypothesis is quite flawed, I have come to this conclusion from reading many book and articles. I also believe that meat and saturated fat is not harmful, in fact, the things that seem to be at the root of heart disease are: inflammation, oxidation, sugar, and stress. I did not come up with those ideas myself I actually got the core idea from the book The Great Cholesterol Myth. None of those root causes come from meat. This post is not the place to go on a multi-paragraphed rant about how cholesterol is essential for life and has been unnecessarily demonized. If you do want to read more about that, my post on The Big Fat Surprise, which goes into the history and science behind the diet-heart hypothesis. But all in all, I believe that an all meat diet for some people can be useful and it is currently working for me as an elimination diet to help me with what I have been dealing with.
For the last paragraph or two, I will go into a few rapid-fire questions I have gotten. Have you seen physique results so far? Yes and no. Yes, mostly because I have been told I look different. For example, my wife says she has noticed my biceps are popping more. The only change I have noticed is since carnivore my abs are more defined. However, I did not expect to see any noticeable until the second or third month. Do you feel limited? Not really, don’t get me wrong sometimes I want a few nuts and some dark chocolate, because yum, but I do not feel deprived on this eating plan at all. At the end of the day, the meat is good, and a little discomfort never killed anyone. How long am I planning to do this? I am not too sure, at least 12 weeks because that is the length of my muscle building program. However after that, I may plan on reintroducing foods as I want, but I do not have a plan for that yet. Are your workouts hard? They are challenging, but they are nothing I feel uncomfortable doing. After this first cycle, I will be adding in metabolic conditioning components, which will up the intensity which should be fun. Are you planning on selling this program? As of now, no. Since it is still in the testing phase, but as I get the methodology more ironed out, then most likely yes. Are you accepting new clients? If you want a coach that can help you with your goals that yes. I am in the process of figuring out the payment portal since all of my current clients are local I have not yet needed to learn the online payment stuff.