Another Myth DeBunked?

Okay guys. I thought this one had gone away, but some myths die hard. Chris S. states in the “Diet Manifesto” that in order to gain lean body mass, you will gain some fat. Agree 200%.

But isn’t the operative word here “some?” Based on some of my e-mails the habits of some “Upper Level” Body builders, some seriouly believe that you have to become a 250-300 pound lardass OR gain 30-50 pounds above your “baseline” to gain any appreciable lean mass…and many hold fast to this idea! Please…your thoughts, guys?

This is always an interesting topic. I think that total beginners may be able to add muscle and lose fat at the same time. After all, coming from a state of atrophy/sloth the muscle just has to respond to training. With a clean diet, they can lose fat too.

But I think the more experienced we become, the harder that gets. After years of training, one can expect to gain some fat to add muscle. And a experienced person isn’t going to add much muscle on a low carb diet. (That said, I get a lot of feedback on my T-Dawg diet where people say they gained muscle although it’s a fairly low carb fat loss diet. Maybe it’s the increased fat intake that helped them? Maybe they’re just newbies? Maybe they were using drugs? Not sure, but I hear that daily.) You’re right in that the pros probably just take it too far, as they do with everything else.

But all that said, you may want to check out Part II to the Don Alessi interview that will be posted on T-mag Friday. He claims that with the right kind of training, one can lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, drug-free. He makes a pretty convincing argument too. Check it out and see what you think.

BTW, I know a lot of people who talk about gaining a lot of muscle and losing a lot of fat at the same time, but they never take accurate measurements. I suspect that in some of these cases, they are losing fat, exposing muscle underneath and assuming that it’s “new” muscle. I’ve experienced this is the past before. People say, “Man, you’ve gotten big since I’ve seen you last.” And actually, I’d lost 10 pounds. But that made the muscle show up better and they assumed I had gained muscle. It’s a complex topic, no?

You bet it’s complex, Chris! As always…thanks! Looking forward to that Alessi article…(I’m still having the idea come accross from your post, however, that “some” fat gain does NOT mean 50-100 pound fluctuations, correct?)

Oh…one more thing. I don’t just hear this from “Joe Blow” or see it in the “Upper Level” guys…it’s rampant in the Competitive Amateur ranks also. Could there also be a “psychological” component? (i.e. “convincing” ouselves that we’re “Gettin’ Huge?” Just a thought…

Chris, I can confirm that you can gain muscle mass on the t-dawg diet. I started at a fairly chubby 265lbs and finished at a rock hard 260lbs. I’d say that I gained about 20 or so lbs of muscle. I was using some test prop and winny at the time, but I didn’t expect to gain much mass (only to hold what I had) due to the low carb/calorie nature of the diet. It was a very pleasent surprise.


This is something I’ve wanted to ask for a long time. I’d love to take a physiology course that would teach this sorta thing to me, but my program doesn’t allow for many electives yet. Anyways, here goes… Why does everyone say “You cannot gain (lean)mass unless you have a caloric surplus over such and such a time(day, week, etc)”. Calories, kJ etc are energy, we use in our muscles to do work. It comes in chemical bonds, and if we don’t use the energy it gets put into storage. My understanding is energy storage is either glycogen(a carbohydrate polymer found in muscles), for a more immediate source, or fat(long strands of C-H bonds). Fat is the best storage because of the high density(is that the best word?) of HC bonds. Why would the caloric surplus actually cause anabolism(of skeletal muscles)? I don’t know that much, but I know hormones do some of it, GH, T, insulin(I think). If you have the hormones, and the building blocks(amino acids), why do you also need the caloric surplus for general muscle growth? Oh, obviously when in such a huge deficit that your metabolism looks for other sources of energy, ie gluconeogenesis, muscle gain is impeded. This question might be(that is, is probably) to large to answer on a web forum, if so, I guess I just have to wait until I can take a physiology course. Thanks for any info y’all can give!

Trav: Excellent question. Let me see if I can help.

A premise you started off with was only partially correct: “Calories, kJ etc are energy, we use in our muscles to do work.” The energy within chemical bonds are not only utilized by our MUSCLES to do work, but to provide energy for ALL bodily processes.

Now…this is somewhat simplistic, but these bodily processes can either be considered BASAL (or mandatory, or basic) which are those processes used to keep the Human system alive. There are then other processes that can be considered COMPENSATORY (i.e. they occur only in response to certain factors, for example stress/trauma, disease, etc.)

The compensatory processes are even somewhat “hiarchal”. So, as example, the body will more readily (due mostly to evolutionary factors)mobilize it’s energy and immune resources to fight disease than it will to push itself into the very energy snd nutrient “wasting” process of muscle hypertrophy and strength development.These processes, although very energy and nutrient intensive, fall almost dead last (physiologically speaking) in processes needed for the survival of the Human organism.

So…what’s the bottom line? 1) The body has to be 'pushed", and PUSHED STRONGLY in order to begin to utilize valuble resources to build muscle and strength and 2) The most important reason (in relation to your question): IT WILL BUILD MUSCLE AND STRENGTH ONLY IN THE PRESENCE OF MACRONUTRIENTS AND ENERGY ABOVE ALL BASAL AND MOST ALL COMPENSATORY PROCESSES.

So…a statement that you will often read is not COMPLETELY true. It will often be stated the way you stated it: “All energy above what’s utilized by the body is stored as bodyfat”. MOSTLY true, but a more accurate statement is: “The body will store excess energy as bodyfat IF a)all basal requirements have been met b) all compensatory energy and nutrient requirements have been met and c) the body has not been pushed adequately and consistently enough to utilize some of those “excess” resouces for muscular recomposition and strength development”. Hope this helps!

Mufasa, once again one of your intelligent and well worded posts has been a great help to me! Thanks! Concerning your initial question, I think that’s probably true for very advanced body builders. Logic tells me that your body and all its processes can only support so much muscle. I mean, your heart can only pump so much blood. Gains probably slow down exponentially from baseline, that is body composition when you start lifting. Eventually your muscle mass will hit a “soft cap” where gains are so slow that they require a huge amount of excess energy to occur at all. I guess its linked to what you said, hypertrophy being very low on the compensatory “checklist” your body goes through. Your body would rather store energy(than use it to build muscle) so that it has some energy a bit later(when their isnt an immeadiate source) to maintain all that lean body mass you already have(I’m assuming maintenance does come before building more on that ‘checklist’).

Mufasa - It is absolutely a delicate balancing act, just as you guys have pointed out! However, I do not feel that you need to gain the 30-50 lbs of crap that the pros do to ‘bulk up’. We also need to bear in mind that alot of that ‘bulk’ that they add in the off season is water. These cats end up gaining that kind of fat DO NOT eat clean in the off season, and therefore hold a TON of water and fluid due to the HEAVY androgen abuse and poor diet. As Tim Patterson, Chris, Berardi, and yourself for that matter, have pointed out before one REALLY needs to know and understand YOUR body, metabolism, and unique response to diet and training parameters. Berardi, I think, has decisively proven, through his massive eating articles and research that you really can add significant lean mass while maintaining a very lean physique, IF you make it a study and a practice. Tim Patterson had a Behind the Scenes installment some time ago outlining his training protocal for gaining lean mass while maintaining his typical chiseled look…very solid program…I think it’s a pipe dream to think that you won’t gain ANY fat while pursuing big lean mass gains, however, I think it can be kept to a bare minimum of 5-15lbs contingent upon a person’s committment and level of knowledge and discipline.

guys as a helth and fitness proff. i dont believe that you have to gain some fat. if your calorie intake is correct then you can gain up to 2.2lb a month or around 22lb per year of LBM

Hey, sharn, can I be a “helth and fitness proff” too and pass out bad advice on the forum like you do? Or do I have to say “loosing weight” instead of “losing weight” like you did in another post? And can I gain 22 pounds of LBM every year and not gain fat? Wow, I’ll be 400 plus pounds in just a few years! If you are really a prof then I feel very bad for today’s college students.

Hey I think you took Sham’s post the wrong way. Once a person reaches a genetic plateau in terms of muscle mass, gains will not continue in a linear fashion. I believe that it is even true with steroid assistance. I don’t believe that he meant that a person could gain 30 pounds of muscle every year for the rest of their life.

I know, I’m just busting the guy’s chops because he’s obviously a troll, or maybe that hetyey guy in disguise?! :slight_smile: