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  1. #1
    Member zekesoria's Avatar
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    Question - putting on weight/muscle on a (very) low carb diet

    Greetings! First time poster but long time user and admirer of the JEFIT product. I have what I hope is a simple question but fear I am oversimplifying the "problem" to get the answer I want.

    History: My natural appetite and inclination is toward a low carb diet. I have minimal to no desire for pastas, rice, breads, tortillas or any sort of desserts. This is not a discipline or "diet", I simply don't have an appetite for those carbs and if I do eat rice (sushi), sandwich, etc I immediately feel sluggish, bloated and even get headaches. I do enjoy and partake in a lot of vegetables and some fruits. I do not maintain a ketogenic state due to the amount of vegetables I eat but historically can easily get ketogenic and maintain if I need to cut a few pounds.

    I have a naturally lean body, 5'11 with a comfortable weight range of 172 - 176lbs. I have longer lean limbs but broad chest, shoulders and back so traditionally I've been able to build a broad core but have struggled with adding bulk to my limbs.

    How I train: I focus muscle groups as follows - Chest/Triceps, Back, Shoulders, Legs, Arms. My only set day is my Saturday/Sunday Leg day which I go heavy and long. My favorite day of the week .

    Here is an example of my Mon-Fri (lift 3/4 of the 5 days).

    4:45am - banana, 1 GU Energy gel
    5:45am - 7:15am - workout (focus muscle group, 90-120 second rest, 4 sets with last to exhaustion)
    7:30am - protein shake (50grams, minimal ingredients), 2 egg and cheese omelet, 1 sausage from Workplace cafe
    11:30am - small soup or salad - obviously a huge opportunity here to increase calories
    5:00pm - snack of nuts, veggies, fruits.
    7:00pm - high protein dinner, usually high very high fat content and a lot of veggies

    Sat-Sun (lift 1 or both days)

    7am - 4-6 egg and cheese omelet, breakfast meat(s)
    10am - banana, 1 GU Energy gel
    10:30am - X workout (legs and next day usually arms or back)
    after workout - protein shake (50grams, minimal ingredients), low carb fruit smoothie (just because), 2-4 egg + high protein lunch
    7:00pm - high protein dinner, usually high very high fat content and a lot of veggies

    Overall my diet is very protein heavy and high fat similar to the Atkins approach. I have moved to lean proteins a few times but struggle with sustaining energy levels and find myself always hungry. I am willing to modify the types of proteins I eat.

    For supplements I take a pre-workout, protein shakes post-workout and will supplement creatine only leg days. I am willing to modify my supplementation.

    For carbs, I really do not want to force them on myself. I had a suggestion to add grits or oatmeal to breakfast on workout days. The oatmeal was to much, grits settled better so it is possible that I could add but it would be some trial and error.

    Problem Statement: I would really like to get into the 180-185lbs range to start with a lofty goal of 185-190lbs range with minimal body fat (I unfortunately do not have my current body fat metric but can get that if it aids with answering this question!). With my minimal carb preference I struggle to gain weight when I'm lifting regularly. I have been working myself into a 5x week schedule and will be maintaining that in the coming months. Fortunately I do not lose weight, I stay in the low 170's on an active lifting schedule.

    I know I must eat more, but what? Adding a complexity to my situation is I work an office job upwards of 60 hours per week with occasional 24 hour shifts. It is difficult to maintain consistency with my caloric intake during the week but this is an area I can focus on and improve.

    My real question is can I add upwards of 20lbs of lean muscle without adding carbs outside of fruits and veggies to my diet? I want the answer to be supplementation, gainer, etc but on it's own I doubt it is the correct approach. I am a very self-motivated individual, I have the "will", just now searching for the "way". Everything I have read says go 1 to 1 on protein to carbs and even 1 to 2 protein to carbs. I cannot imagine my body acting favorable to that approach. I am hoping others have a similar experience to mine.

    PS: Not normally a forum poster so apologies if I have posted in the wrong section or did not follow protocol in giving the correct information for others to be comprehensive in responses. If I've ommitted something critical let me know and I'll respond back.

    - Zeke

  2. #2
    Experienced Member johnheather43913's Avatar
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    Zeke,
    I would love to tell you that you can put on slabs of muscle without excess carbs. It just isn't the case. The amount of vegetables required would mean that you would never stop eating. Fruit is not ideal. Potatoes and rice could do it but you would probably get pretty sick of it.

    Assuming excess calories, you can get reasonably big and strong on a high fat/protein diet but it takes forever. Even then your body is getting the carbs it needs through gluconeogenesis/lipolysis.

    Adding supplemental carbs before and after your workout is the way to go to get the most from your training. No need to get fancy. Maltodextrin or Waxy Maize Starch is cheap and an easy addition to your protein shake. One big whack about 1hr before your workout and another immediately after will add additional calories. And to add 20lbs you will need a lot of excess calories.

    I know whole food sources would be ideal. Working 60hrs a week and not having a taste for carbs, might make whole food sources insufficient.

    The additional carbs will give you additional energy during your workout and hopefully, allow you to do more work.

    The bad....nobody likes this but, unless you are supplementing pharmaceutically, to put on 20lbs of muscle you will put on some fat. Since you are naturally lean, cycling between bulking (put on as much muscle while minimizing body fat increases) and cutting (Losing fat while minimizing lean tissue loss) phases would be ideal.

  3. #3
    Member zekesoria's Avatar
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    Hey John, thanks for the feedback. I am just now researching gainers (Maltodextrin or Waxy Maize Starch). If it's something I can add to a protein shake, or be a quick shake on it's own, that is a plus. I just need to see how my body reacts.

    I try to be a minimalist with supplementation. I buy mostly online at sites like prosource.net and am currently only on a pre-workout, a protein and creatine on leg days. I have been researching the addition of Glutamine and a BCAA to the mix and an additional protein shake at bed time. This wouldn't add weight but hopefully help me to keep the gains I do see.

    I will keep looking at the gainers and purchase some samples soon.

    Thanks again for the feedback.

  4. #4
    Experienced Member
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    You should try instant oats - 100g before & after mixed with whey protein would be about 140g of carbs; and oats are probably much better nutritionally than maize starch. That's what I used to do; how comes you don't want to eat carbs? Low carb diets of the atkins mold are usually avoided like the plague by weight lifters (unless you're going the whole-hog and trying a ketogenic diet for fat loss). Much easier to put on weight & muscle with carbs.

    Aim for about 3lbs weight gain a month - optimistically you might be able to put on 1.5lbs of muscle, assuming diet & training is in order; though 1lbs a month is a good steady rate - so you'd be putting on 2lbs fat against 1lbs muscle (conservative estimate). That'd be good progression.

  5. #5
    Member zekesoria's Avatar
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    Hey Winston, thanks for the suggestion. I understand that Atkins modeled diets are avoided by weight lifters, for good reason too! Not eating carbs (I do eat a lot of veggies and fruits!) was a personal and health choice I made several years ago that my body has grown accustomed to. I no longer experience carb cravings, it's even become a side show at family holidays when everyone is knee deep in cake and pie and I'm gnawing on a turkey leg for dessert

    Even as a child I did not eat many carbs (candy, sweets, etc) so nearly eliminating all but Fruits and Veggies was easy for me.

    As I attempt to get into bodybuilding I know I will need to adjust my diet to succeed. I'm educating myself on different carb intake approaches and thus far it seems careful supplementation at key times will work best for me instead of simply adding potatoes and rice to the diet.

    Also trying to keep fat gain as low as possible which I know is extremely difficult. I'm sure there will be a lot of trial and error over the coming months but I plan to stick it out and evaluate where I am in December.

    Thanks again for the suggestion!
    Twitter - @babyeze
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  6. #6
    Member zekesoria's Avatar
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    A quick update - I have changed my diet considerably with the goal of getting my weight into the 190s. I'm going to start a post in the Supplement Journals to track progress. Thanks for the suggestions here!
    Twitter - @babyeze
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  7. #7
    Junior Member dave2wn's Avatar
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    In case you'd like feedback from a similar situation, here's the quick on me:
    Lifting seriously for the last 4 years. Started at around 145 lbs. Could never get above about 150. Lots of protein but carb intake was in the 8 - 12% of calories range (yep, that low and some weeks lower!). Only vegetables... no starches, breads, pasta, etc. Light bulb went on about 4 months ago after seeing a trainer. Cut out almost ALL supplements. I only take creatine and a pre-workout drink (MusclePharm Assault). Added oatmeal at every breakfast, eating more nuts and I'm not shy about a turkey sandwich every day and I'm now hovering around 163 lbs with no increase in my waist size. Probably didn't hurt that I finally got serious about leg/lower body with dead lifting! The moral of the story: Whole foods with low glycemic carbs = lean gains. YMMV.

  8. #8
    One of the biggest problems with low carb diets is that people tend to underestimate the amount of fats they need to take in to maintain the energy levels needed while training. Consider taking a look at a ketogenic calculator: [url]http://www.ruled.me/keto-calculator/[/url] and assessing your diet. I personally have to add coconut oil because I found that I was lacking in fats. I'm mid 40's and have no trouble getting stronger while losing fat. Your training program has to support it too. Push yourself to add weight or reps each week. Don't allow yourself to get stuck.
    Good luck!

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