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AkumaZ

A Calories Is Not A Calorie

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Guest ExperimentB76z

There are a couple of reasons. Whatever your maintenance is, you already account for a large amount of protein in your diet in that (assuming you are having a pretty decent athletes diet already). The calorific calculators, Mifflin, et al, were based on lean athlete dudes, so even in those they are swayed in the favour of higher protein consumption before you begin. You are only taking about increasing protein and reducing an other macro nutrient, so you're just swapping out the thermal effect of one macro for another. Protein can be as high as 30%, but is can be as low as 20%. Carbs, which are normally the favourite to go, range between 4% and 6%, and around 2% for fats. Of course, the more protein you eat at the expense of carbs, the greater the effect will be.

A real world example of a guy whose maintenance is 2500 kcal's, who is cutting (because that's when you'd only ever be interested in TEF), so needs to consume 2000 kcals a day. In each scenario we'll give them both 75g of fats and use carbs as the decreasing macro. Probably weighs about 185 lbs / 85k.

Base Line

75g fat - 675 kcals TEF2% - after TEF 662 kcals

185g protein - 740 kcals TEF 5% - after TEF 703 kcals

145g carbs - 580 kcals TEF 30% - after TEF 406 kcals

Total 1995 - after TEF 1771

Now if we drop carbs to 75g a day (health recommendations are 120g minimum) and up protein commensurately...

Best Case

75g fat - 675 kcals TEF2% - after TEF 662 kcals

255g protein - 1020 kcals TEF 30% - after TEF 714 kcals

75g carbs - 300 kcals TEF 5% - after TEF 285kcals

Total 1995 kcals - after TEF 1661

Worst Case

75g fat - 675 kcals TEF2% - after TEF 662 kcals

255g protein - 1020 kcals TEF 20% - after TEF 816 kcals

75g carbs - 300 kcals TEF 5% - after TEF 285 kcals

Total 1995 kcals - after TEF 1763

So with the dude's ordinary diet, after TEF, he is consuming 1771 kcals. At best, by increasing his protein against carbs to levels the medical profession would say is unwise, you get 1661 kcals or 1763 kcals. The actual figure will be somewhere in the middle, about 50 kcals a day better off, maybe. That is 70 days to drop an extra pound in body weight after allowing for the thermic effect of protein.

It's pretty fair to assume that there will be a margin for error in calculating what kcals you've eaten in a day. That may be more or less than 50 kcals, but at 2.5% of the over diet, it's probably higher. Also, the thermic effect of exercise - which could and for most people would be greater with higher levels of carbs - and you will easily eclipse any benefit from the thermic effect of protein, plus you'll be getting healthier / better.

Carb cycling is a bit of a myth, for two reasons. One I've outlined above. Another is that, one of the purported benefits of carb cycling is to spike insulin after a work out an get the best anabolic effect. The problem with that theory is, and it has been tested, is that protein provides a big enough insulin spike on it's own to create a sufficient anabolic effect (that cannot be improved by the consumption of carbs).

The other has to do with the deprivation period and refeeding is glycogen depletion and replenishment. All you are doing when you cycle your carbs is depleting your glycogen reserves and replenishing them, but the probability for the typical recreational or even reasonably hard core lifter is, you are never doing enough to drain your glycogen levels in any event.

The best results I've found on body composition are dudes who fed before their training and had sufficient energy levels to train really hard. Take the Max example above, all those carbs are being oxidised and the energy created is going to waste because he's had them after his training. Imagine what he could have done with all that energy in the gym. Unless he is doing hardcore training again within 24 hours, he has no need to refill glycogen, because they will be full within 24 hours with normal eating in any event.

For your average gym rat some sort of non linear carb construction to meet energy requirements would be helpful to reach lower levels of body fat (so lower carbs on non work out days and higher carbs on work out days), but that's just good sense, because you are matching your body's preferred fuel source to it's energy requirements. Non linear food consumption has been around in body building circles for ages I believe.

I appreciate saying stuff like this flies in the face of what some guys say - or are perceived as saying - and may be unpopular, but it is true. And pre-work out nutrition really is where the clever dude will edge their bets, nor post work out. But if you want post work out nutrition too, by all means do.

I've done a bit of looking into studies where people have burned fat and put on muscle at the same time and where it had been reported, there have been no special dietary requirements. Sadly the demographic is different, but generally, if things like this are possible in people - highly individual - the last thing it has anything to do with is diet. It's really about the amount of effort you put into the gym and how much excess fat your body has to give away (the less the harder or slower progress will be) or the further away from your genetic development you are, the earlier it will be. Conversely, the closer you are the harder it will become. So there are a couple of variables. Also, there is a good chance that sarcoplasmic hypertrophy could be exchanged for myofibrillar hypertrophy in a deficit, leading to greater muscle mass. This is probably particularly true for dudes who are used to more myofibrillar hypertrophy type training.

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Dont carb cycling, low carb (+cheat day) diets rely on this? Or is it that plans that utilize the results of these studies work only on paper, but in practice can't be effective?

No, I totally think carb cycling CAN be effective - I've used it myself with some success. I actually followed a Lyle McDonald plan with low carb days and carb refeeds and realized a lot about what can work for me. That being said, I don't think there is any magic there (neither does Lyle Mcdonald). It's about reducing calories. In this case Carbs, but really the point was to ensure adequate protein (1 gram per lb of bodyweight), and cut carbs and fat calories. The reason for adequate protein wasn't for the thermic effect, but to try to spare lean body mass while cutting. The thermic effect was there - but was a side benefit. The ingested protien was there to try to keep the body from sacrificing muscle mass.

Like most diets that profess that calories don't matter as long as you do "this" whatever "this" is...it's really just masking lower calorie consumption.

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Guest ExperimentB76z

Like most diets that profess that calories don't matter as long as you do "this" whatever "this" is...it's really just masking lower calorie consumption.

Exactly.

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that may play a role, but part of the reason for carb cycling (and calorie cycling as well) is to allow lower calorie levels without the downsides of lower calorie levels: diminished T, hunger, fatigue, etc.

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Guest ExperimentB76z

Testosterone production is related to dietary fat, and given sufficient quantities of fat, test production will be fine. The cycling of carbs of itself neither adds or detracts to test production. Satiety is also part of the broader diet and how deep the cut is, which should work or not independently of carb cycling, though one study I've laid my hands on showed a lower drop out rate in obese women following a 2 day no carb 5 days normal carbs protocol, compared to a Mediterranean diet which was just carb restricted (*there is also evidence the other way). Though, the Mediterranean diet group was not ingesting the amount of protein recreational athletes would be in any event, and that may have helped. Both these assume a cut, however, and not everyone cycles carbs purely on a cut.

Fatigue will not be improved by cycling carbs, on the contrary cycling carbs could make fatigue worse. Your bodies main source of energy is it's glycogen reserves. With carb cycling you run your glycogen reserves down and then top them back up again. With linear, you are just keeping your glycogen reserves fully loaded.

Calorie cycling has been about since the early 80's (and is no doubt the precursor of carb cylcing, which appears to have come about because of the now dated works of Taubes, et al) works by breaking people - generally sedentary types - through plateaus on fat loss, simply by matching levels of energy expenditure to levels of energy consumption. And for that calorie cycling appears to be good.

Any scientific studies cited in support of carb cycling are studies done on nutrient timing and are generally (though not exclusively) done on endurance athletes, whose glycogen demands are considerably more than recreational lifters. Nutrient timing is not the same thing as carb cycling, because nutrient timing is merely the placement of macros in varying quantities around the training event, and does not require an abstinence of carbs at all other times. Indeed, were that the case, if you look at the nature of the work being done by the athletes in the tests, the athletes ability to train would quickly fail.

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Usually with carb cycling the hormone you are manipulating is insulin. That's the energy storage hormone. So dietary fat is related to test levels, huh? No wonder all the guys in the 80s were wusses. :)

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Guest ExperimentB76z

And 70's dudes were strong as bears.

The whole insulin thing should hopefully die a death soon (at least for folks who are not insulin resistant). It comes from back in the day where people did not realise that protein causes an insulin spike that is greater, in many cases, than most carbs. And in a calorie deficit, at least for people who are not insulin resistant, there is nothing for insulin to store as fat.

For obese people who are insulin resistant, carb cycling appears to be a good idea from what I've seen, because it does seem effective for curing that. Though, so would simple carb restriction. I think there it comes down to preference.

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Lyle McDonald has specifically stated that T-levels drop during underfeeding and bounce back when overfeeding. Stored body fat should compensate for some reduction in dietary fat intake, though a minimum level sounds like it applies. The mechanism through which this is controlled apparently involves Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG), which is impacted by carbs (and calories in general). He provides a handy dandy chart of hormonal changes that occur during under and overfeeding, presumably assuming that there are no glaring macro or micro nutrient deficiencies:

http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/muscle-gain/calorie-partitioning-part-2.html

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Guest ExperimentB76z

That is interesting, Spector. I wish he would have referenced his sources. It's not something I've looked into, perhaps unsurprisingly, the effect of SHBG on levels of free testosterone. Though a quick look seems high levels of SHBG are found in people with anorexia nervousa. I'll see what, if anything, I can dig up that may be relevant.

What Lyle is talking about there, however, is a bit more than the traditional version or versions of carb cycling. He's talking about 5 days with low carbs and two days overfeeding.

If correct, it might be that D Aspartic acid would be a possible counter (and have some kind of use) to the negative effects, as that may raise test levels by 30% to 40%.

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Guest ExperimentB76z

I've done some reading into this and dug up some interesting and some not so interesting research, and then I realised I was bored. It seems SHBG increases during very severe caloric restriction and over long periods of caloric restriction, so the effect can be negated simply by moderate caloric restriction and, for people that will take a long time to reach their desired level of fat, periods of fat loss punctuated by periods of maintenance. And that got me to thinking again, what Lyle is recommending there is not carb cycling in the tradition sense - which is abstinence of carbs save after work outs - but periods of caloric deficit followed by shorter periods of calorific excess, or cyclical dieting, as he calls it. Really I think the shorter the periods of excess the less likely you are to trick your body into improving it's hormones into favourable conditions for fat loss, which is why for longer periods necessitated by a bigger belly, periods of maintenance would be more advisable.

Here is what Lyle says about carb cycling, "Now, this isn’t to say that short carb-loads/refeeds aren’t of benefit. They refill glycogen, turn off catabolism and maybe induce an anabolic response to boot. They also let you eat some of the crap you’re really craving which helps psychologically. But I doubt they are sufficient to affect metabolism very much."

Interestingly, amongst other things, I found a study which shows thyroid function is negatively affected where CHO is restricted to less than 120g per day, leading to reduced levels of T3. This points to yet another good reason not to restrict carbs below this threshold, a lá carb cycling.

Edit: I was pondering on this again earlier. One bit I missed out was, the anabolic effect of nutrients taken after a work out is because of heightened test, etc - not that that makes much difference - but mostly the increased blood flood to the muscles. But the point with that is, it's been established (after Lyle wrote that article I believe) that protein of itself will produce a maximum anabolic effect for protein syntheses, so carbs are not merited unless you wish to replace glycogen.

Anyway, for people with excess fat, who need to continue dieting to get down to the levels they want, if metabolic slow down occurs, I reckon it would be most wise to go through a period of caloric excess (maybe just maintenance on non wo days and 20%+ on wo days) for maybe a month, and then go back to deficit. That should build approx 1lb of muscle with out putting on fat - or next to no fat - and reset the bodies hormones effectively, paving the way to leanness and muscleyness.

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Interesting theory. It has me thinking if I should try that for the next month since I've been on a deficit for 5-6 months. I've already spent the past week averaging out to maintenance.

EDIT:

I decided to give this a try since I've been on a deficit for such a long time. Spector has been on me about going too low on my calories also.

I have a week of maintenance levels already and I started at +20% percent today. I'll do three more weeks at 0/+20% and see how that goes. Wow, 20% over feels like a massive binge after running as low as -25%.

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Guest ExperimentB76z

Good stuff. It is just a theory though :) - at least for the moment.

If you are worried about fat - I know how hard you've worked to get where you are - start at +10%, and maybe work up to +20%. Track your waist measurements too at the navel and around where your hips and belly would be, so you know how you are getting along. If you're not that worried, just bat on with +20 on WO days.

I have my own idea about macros for this, but generally I'd be tempted to increase my carb intake to make up the surplus on WO days, because that's the macro which has been most cut back during your cut. And I think you should try and stack your extra eating before your work out (90 mins if it's a meal, or if it's within 60 a shake would be fine) and again after. Try for 50/50 protein and carbs, about 0.25g per lb of BW for each. You don't have to worry too much about that, though. Just hitting your daily allowances is the most important consideration above all.

You will weight slightly more quickly because you'll have more in your gastric tract. Though increased fibre intake may mean not.

The best results in nutrient timing, in terms of lean mass gains and fat loss, happen when the nutrients are mixed with creatine before ​ training. I don't know if you take creatine now, but if you don't you may wish to consider that. You will likely retain an extra 0.6k to 1.7k in water weight (probably towards the lower end given your height and weight) but as the water retention is intracellular your muscles will just look fuller, and that weight will come off when you cycle off it (if you want / need to).

I'll be very interested in following your progress on this, especially when you restart your cut.

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Good stuff. It is just a theory though - at least for the moment.

That's partly why it interests me. Also, I have been on a deficit for a very long time.

If you are worried about fat - I know how hard you've worked to get where you are - start at +10%, and maybe work up to +20%. Track your waist measurements too at the navel and around where your hips and belly would be, so you know how you are getting along. If you're not that worried, just bat on with +20 on WO days.

I cycled at -10%/+10% this past week so I'll jump into 0%/20%.

I follow LeanGains so I've been cycling between fat/carbs depending on the day. Though my carb intake has been very low this year. It's has been around 20-80 grams per day with an occasional venture up to 120 g. Yesterday I had 200 grams.

I typically take a pre-workout drink of creatine, maltodextrin and BCAAs. I also do that before cardio/kickboxing sessions.

I'll start daily tracking of some measurements and create a journal.

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Guest ExperimentB76z

Good stuff, Michael.

I was reading this morning a recent round table discussion with Alan Aragon in it, and he says he normally has people take a week off their diet every four to eight weeks (at maintenance). Perhaps that is more appropriate that my one month.

I will leave it to you to decide. I think, from what I've read, that you need some respite from your diet, so a month may be just the ticket. And you've bridged into it with something near maintenance at +10/-10. There may be a worry that, with metabolic slow down, if you jump from a deficit diet whilst on a lull, straight into a surplus, that the tendency of the body will be to put on fat. This is why a softer transition would be preferable, and certainly a minimal increase of kcals above maintenance.

Your pre-work out drink looks decent.

Are you going to put a journal up on line?

My own goals at the moment are more performance than aesthetic orientated, so I am working at maintenance or marginally above, but when I came off my cut I noticed that I lost a little extra fat and my muscles filled out, which was encouraging.

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Thanks, I'm enjoying the increase so far. I can already tell I have more energy and feel all around a little better. My squats are also starting to go back up while feeling a little easier. I don't get that dizzy, light headed feeling when doing heavy lifts. I'll give some hard though on the time frame.

I should start a journal. It's best I keep all this personal stuff there instead of hijacking the thread. I've already started with a google docs spreadsheet.

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