By Matt Porter
Matt Porter is an accomplished NPC National Level Bodybuilding competitor, with various State
Titles under his belt. He also is a contest prep coach for numerous physique competitors active in
Bodybuilding, Figure, Fitness, and Bikini competitions nationwide. He has been involved in the health
and fitness industry for 10 years and has accumulated a wide array of knowledge regarding nutrition,
supplementation and exercise.
Which food item builds more muscle? (shown below)
I am sure most of you are familiar with the common belief that saturated fatty acids are the culprit of obesity and cardiovascular ailments. I am also sure most of you are familiar with the low carbohydrate craze that flooded the media about 10 years ago due to The Atkins Diet. Dr. Atkins ideas were definitely outside of the box, and while not perfect, they were on the right track. The recommended diet for optimal health, according to the original USDA food pyramid from 1992 is a very low-fat, low protein and high carbohydrate based diet. As we know, if this diet was truly nutritionally sound then we wouldn’t be facing such a high obesity epidemic at present. It is pretty clear that the nutritional food pyramid is grossly outdated and the public needs to be properly educated on proper nutrition. In actuality, high carbohydrate consumption is truly the explanation for the growing number of people diagnosed with diabetes, high triglycerides, elevated blood pressure and obesity. People need to understand that carbohydrates are not nutritionally essential for survival. Amino acids and fatty acids are mandatory for proper manufacturing of new tissue repair, immune function, hair, skin, nails, cellular integrity, brain, and heart health.
Back in the day people survived off of protein and fats
For the typical desk job citizen who performs minimal daily activity, getting rid of carbohydrates in place of red meat, eggs and cheese would be in their best interest. As for extreme athletes, like marathon runners, Football players, Swimmers, and Cyclists involved in high levels of activity, strategic carbohydrate consumption would be extremely advantageous for supplying adequate energy reserves for optimal performance. For the weight lifters, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiast’s that want muscular growth and low body fat levels, trading carbohydrates for saturated fats will be extremely conducive to the goal of attaining the ideal physique. Training with weights is not extremely energy demanding and typically only lasts around an hour. Most people train in the low to medium rep range consisting of 6-12 repetitions. This will not require extreme amounts of glucose to effectively and efficiently perform. In fact, once you metabolically shift into relying on protein and fats as your primary energy substrates, you will be able to surprise yourself in the gym and become stronger without carbohydrates. When you are consuming high protein and fats and non-starchy vegetables, you will still be able to accumulate glycogen from trace carbs from protein turnover (gluconeogenesis) and vegetables. By the end of the day, your carb count could add up to 30-70 grams depending on your total
“When you are consuming high protein and fats and non-starchy vegetables, you will still be able to accumulate glycogen from trace carbs from protein turnover (gluconeogenesis) and vegetables.”
caloric intake and food choices. This is why I recommend people following a low carbohydrate diet to perform cardio in the morning to burn the most body fat, however, since glucose will always be low, you could benefit from cardio at any time of the day. I also advise people to weight train in the evening as you will have built up sufficient glycogen from incidental carbohydrates eaten throughout the day. Keep in mind that you can also derive energy from your creatine phosphate stores and ATP reserves. These powerhouse energy sources come into play on your first few reps during exercise. Once these fuel substrates are depleted, then glycogen will come into play. Creatine phosphate levels will be completely restored after 4 minutes of rest.
-ATP – P = ADP and ENERGY – CoAàCPT1àCPT2àMitochondiaàB-oxidation
-ADP + P = ATP
-Creatine = supply of P
The first image is Creatine Phosphate & ATP Production while the second image is Fatty Acid Oxidation.
The coolest attribute to this way of dieting is that you will be a fat burning machine. You will constantly be mobilizing free fatty acids from the mitochondria and from intra-muscular triglycerides. Making the core of your nutrition plan comprised of lean red meat, whole eggs, cheese, and green vegetables will give you the option of selecting two different scenarios depending on your total caloric intake and energy expenditure. The first scenario is a muscle gaining phase. You will need to be in a high caloric surplus to accrue tissue. You will most likely stay leaner while in that surplus due to your favorable hormonal environment. Your serum insulin levels will be regulated and testosterone output will be optimized. The second scenario is entering a cutting or fat-loss phase. This will require a slight to moderate caloric deficit with less cardio then you would need with higher carbohydrate consumption.
Sample muscle gaining phase caloric values: Sample fat loss phase caloric values:
(bodyweight x 20 = total calories) (bodyweight x 13 = total calories)
Given the two scenarios, it is clear to understand that you will yield the best results with a protein and saturated fat based diet. You will stay leaner when gaining size and retain more tissue when reaching very low body fat levels, since ketones have been shown to exhibit a muscle sparing effect. An interesting study investigated the ideology that “A calorie is a calorie” is not accurate and The Laws of Thermodynamics do not apply regarding high fat, low carbohydrate diets. The study involved subjects who followed a low carb, higher fat diet and subjects who followed a low fat, high carbohydrate diet. The low carb group ingested a higher caloric value than subjects on a low-fat diet and lost more weight, in addition to burning more calories throughout the day. The low-carb group ate 54 extra calories a day and lost 5.8 kg while the low-fat group lost only 1.9 kg. Another researcher discovered that people eating 300 extra calories a day on a low-carb diet lost a similar amount of weight. Another study I will mention is one regarding a 6-week very low carbohydrate diet and its effects on total and regional body composition. Results revealed some amazing details. Fat mass was decreased (-3.4 kg) while lean body mass substantially increased (+1.1 kg) at the end of the 6 week trial. Researchers believed that the fat loss can be attributed to decreased serum insulin levels and increased fatty acid oxidation due to elevated beta-hydroxybutyrate concentrations. This proves that a calorie is not always a calorie and different macronutrients influence specific metabolic actions in the body once consumed.
1.)Kennedy AR, Pissios P, Otu H, Roberson R, Xue B, Asakura K, Furukawa N, Marino FE, Liu FF, Kahn BB, Libermann TA, Maratos-Flier E, A high-fat, ketogenic diet induces a unique metabolic state in mice.
Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Jun;292(6):E1724-39. Epub 2007 Feb 13.
2.)Pérez-Guisado J, Ketogenic diets and weight loss: basis and effectiveness. Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2008 Jun;58(2):126-31
3.)Yancy WS Jr, Olsen MK, Guyton JR, Bakst RP, Westman EC, A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2004 May 18;140(10):769-77.
4.)Feinman RD, Fein EJ. “A calorie is a calorie” violates the second law of thermodynamics. Nutr J. 2004;3:9. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-3-9
5.)Volek JS, Sharman MJ, Cómez AL, et al. Comparison of energy-restricted very-low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2004
6.)Mayo Clinic (2003, November 12). High Saturated Fat, Starch Avoidance Weight Loss Diet Offers Good Preliminary Results. ScienceDaily (Nov. 12, 2003).
7.)Denise Gellene | Times Staff Writer, Low-fat diet not tops for weight loss
Subjects on the Atkins and Mediterranean regimens lost more in an Atkins Foundation- aided study. July 17, 2008.
8.)Essen-Gustavsson, B. & Tesch, P. A. 1990. Glycogen and triglyceride
utilization in relation to muscle metabolic characteristics in men performing heavy-resistance exercise. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 61, 5-10.
9.)Anssi H Manninen, Very-low-carbohydrate diets and preservation of muscle mass. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2006; 3: 9. Published online 2006 January 31. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-3-9.
10.)Vazquez JA, Adibi SA. Protein sparing during treatment of obesity: ketogenic versus non-ketogenic very low calorie diet. Metabolism. 1992;41:401–14
11.)Manninen AH. Is a calorie really a calorie? Metabolic advantage of low-carbohydrate diets. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2004;1:21–26