Hey again! Originally I had planned on putting out a week 2 recap for my carnivore muscle building program, but I didn’t have much to update so, going forward I will be writing one up and the end of each 4-week cycle.
With that said let’s get into the recap, overall I still feel great. My body is becoming lean and I can tell that my muscle are starting to build. I can see more definition in my abs and my arms have grown. I can tell this by how well the arms of my shirts feel. During all of this my weight has been pretty stable, even while I increase my food intake.
This point actually brings up an interesting question I was asked on instagram. A gentleman asked about my protein and fat intake, and how that plays into my muscle building. Let me take you through how I calculate this.
My protein is between 1.1-1.2 of protein per pound of LBM. Which keeps me at 115-126g, with my high fat ratio, it keeps me in ketosis which is a 1:1-1:1.2 ratio of protein to fat. As I progress I will increase the fat in the ratio to help with mass gain. I don’t care if I grow, my main goal is to become stronger, regardless of what happens to my appearance. Of course I say that now when I am getting more defined, we shall see if I can keep this up when I am gaining fat. The thing is, that even as I eat more that I ever have, I d not seem to be gaining much weight, I feel stronger, but I do not seem bigger yet. However, this is only the start of week 5.
Enough about macros, let’s talk about food. The food has been amazing! I have noticed, however that heavy cream/cheese may be affecting me, I during this next cycle I will be eliminating it, which REALLY sucks. I really hope that this elimination can clean up the mucus I talked about last time. Then it comes to the type of foods, I have noticed that I feel the best on red meat (beef, deer, wild hog) and I feel less amazing on pig or turkey, and chicken leaves me with a full tummy, but still unsatisfied. Knowing this will inform my food choices and my program goes on.
Now onto the training. So far I have not done much metabolic conditioning. This was by design, like tapering up my fat, I wanted to also taper up my training. My first mesocycle was focused on getting used to the training on a carnivore diet, the next cycle, will include a continuation of what I have been doing with an incorporation of met cons as well. I have not done many endurance based workouts yet, aside from a BJJ rolling session here and there, which you could argue is glycogen and endurance dependant, these types of workouts often cause body to burn sugar. So after this deload week I will be keeping my workouts very similar, but to kick up the intensity I will be doing them in more of a crossfit style, where the point is to do the movements quickly, with minimal rest time. To get this effect I will switch up the variations and maybe add a time component. For example, AMRAP (as many reps as possible) or EMOM (every minute on the minute) or some sure derivative.
Before I go on to the last part of the post, I will explain glycogen for anyone who does not
know what that is. Your body has three forms of energy, glucose (sugar fuel), lipolysis (fat fuel) and ketones (also a type of fat fuel). To function your body needs blood glucose, and glycogen. It is important to note that it does not need to get sugar or glucose from your diet. In fact, “ketosis occurs as a result of the change in the body’s fuel from carbohydrate to fat.” Your body has backup systems in the body to get glucose from proteins and fat[2,3]. This is why I am not worried about taking in little to no carbs. Also if you look at studies like the FASTER Study it looks at keto adapted and high-carb endurance runners to see what metabolic challenges or advantages each had. The key point I want to focus on is how quickly they glycogen stores could be replenished after bouts of exertion. The researchers found that there was no differences in the athletes. Meaning that the study “show[s] for the first time that chronic keto-adaptation in elite ultra-endurance athletes is associated with a robust capacity to increase fat oxidation during exercise while maintaining normal skeletal muscle glycogen concentrations.” In other words, if you are keto adapted, you should not have to worry about not having enough glycogen, because the amount you have in your body will refill itself. One major caveat to what I am doing is that I am utilizing a lower than normal keto diet to make my gains. Specifically a carnivore one, so there will be some differences for me, however this is why I took 4 weeks to carnivore adapt, after being fully keto adapted before I kick up the intensity. So, glucose and glycogen are needed in your body to make it function, however your body can make what is needed.
Now onto the FAQ part of the recap, I did have a few of the same questions I adresses last time for refer to my Week 1 post for the FAQ there. Here are a few new questions I have gotten about my approach.
Is your protocol ketogenic carnivore? Yes, I obviously keep my carbs low, which means I am able to utilize my fat stores for energy. As for my fats and proteins, please refer to what I wrote about to see how I am approaching those. I am not too worried about the extra protein kicking me out of ketosis, because I am insulin sensitive and I do not see the excess protein spiking my glucose readings or ketones readings, in fact I only deal with energy crashes when I sleep poorly the night before. Normally 2 days of of the week I have very minimal sleep because of the job I do, but luckily I counteract that with smart timed naps and of course coffee.
Another question that I have been asked that I teased in my last answer is the
Gluconeogenesis monster we all fear. But is this fear well grounded. The question goes something like this: Are you worried about the excess protein turning into glucose? In short no, because of my previous answer. I have not seem this amount of protein affect my blood ketones or glucose, and I am not dealing with energy crashes and surges. However if I did see spikes that concerned me I would adjust accordingly. Also, from the research I have looked at, gluconeogenesis seems to be a demand driven process[3,5,6]
Another question has been, Don’t you get muscles from carbs? Again from what I have seen, no. When building muscle you need training stress, novel training, and enough protein to rebuild what you have damaged. Do carbs fill out your muscle to look bigger? Yes, but why would you want bulk with no use? My goal is not to get bulky, it is to build muscle that is functional, if I get bulk that’s okay. I will also be explaining what helps up gain muscle in a leter question, carbs not included.
Won’t lifting so much weight get you bulky? I know I just said if I get bulky it’s okay, however I really doubt I will get all that big. For two main reasons: first, I am a woman, meaning it is harder for us to gain a ton of mass. Secondly, I do not lift often enough to make huge mass gains. I only lift one time every other day which is a miniscule amount compared to the body builders out there. This is not to say that I won’t gain muscle I will, just not the kind of muscle some may think I will by even looking at a heavy weight. Since I am a woman I do not have enough testosterone in my body to even get huge. Even if I did have more testosterone it would take hours in the gym daily to even get close. And that would be after years of continuous training. I add the bold because it is hard work to get swole as the kids say. I have helped coach people whose expressed purpose was to gain a lot of muscle, and it was no overnight feat. This brings me onto my next FAQ.
Since you do not gain muscle from carb, then how do you gain muscle? There have been site dedicated to this very topic, and I am sure that even PHD dissertations has covered this topic in better detail that I ever could. If you want a few sites I have included a few in my Resources page of this site. It is still under construction, so as a warning it is quite bare bones right now. If you do not want to click through to the link I will give a very high level explanation on how we gain muscle here. Very simply it takes muscle breakdown so it can rebuild stronger, also you need to rest so you can rebuild the muscle stronger.
Without training stress there will be no growth. Think “No pain, no gain.” Only lifting a 5 pound weight will not make you muscles grow. The next component to building muscle is food, more specifically protein. If you want an animated lesson about this you can check out a TedEd by Jeffrey Siegel that talks about muscle building. However the main takeaways are as follows:
- Eat enough protein, since it is the building block of muscle tissue; also eating enough food in general. Building muscle takes extra energy, so you may need to eat more food (how much and what type is dependant on a few factors). This extra energy can come from excess protein, carbs or fat. In my case my extra energy is coming from fat. This is why I set up my macros the way I did.
- Strength training, the goal is to stimulate the muscle with progressive overload which causes muscle hypertrophy(growth).
- Rest, if you do not rest then the brain cannot allow for proper growth. We do not get stronger from lifting. That is when we damage our tissue and muscles, we get stronger when we sleep because our body has a chance to repair the damage making it stronger than it was before.
- Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Stay consistent.