Ask Lyle McDonald #14

Subject: Big Beyond Belief

Hi Lyle,

What do you think of Tom Platt’s ideas in Big Beyond Belief?

For those who aren’t familiar with it, the Big Beyond Belief system (which is really just a reworked version of Bulgarian Burst by Leo Costa) is purportedly based on Bulgarian training methods.

The Bulgarians are known for training multiple times per day (3+), working the same movements. The BBB system tried to apply this to bodybuilding. Although there are different programs available, the most extreme calls for 2-3 daily workouts, and training each bodypart thrice weekly (at different rep ranges, 12-15, 10-12 and 8-10 if I recall).

On top of that, the first 3 weeks (called a ramp) is spent increasing the volume (number of sets) while decreasing the rest period. Then volume is dropped considerably to allow supercompensation.

While it may look good on paper, unless someone has major genetics (or is anabolically enhanced), I think it will constitute overtraining for most individuals. While it’s an interesting approach to apply Bulgarian methods to bodybuilding, there are a few differences I can think of that keep it from working:

The Bulgarians are typically doing singles in everything. Based on what I’ve read (perhaps Charles Staley can correct this if I’m mistaken), the Bulgarians will determine a day’s maximum and then do 6 singles with that weight. So for any lift, you’re looking at 6 total reps. That’s a far cry from doing 4+ sets of 12-15 (72-90) reps for an exercise and expecting to be able to recover within a day to do it again.

As well, the nature of Olympic movements is that there is no eccentric (lowering) component to training. This means that Olympic lifters are typically doing very little damage to their muscles, which increases recovery time. Following eccentric training, muscle damage may take 4+ days to be gone (note the recent success of bodybuilders training each bodypart twice per week or once every 5 days).

On top of all of that, most Bulgarian lifters do nothing but lift and rest, as well as having structured recovery programs (including sauna, massage, etc)

So all in all, while I can see a rationale for increasing training volume and intensity slightly over 3 weeks and then dropping it to allow supercompensation (what Charles Poliquin has referred to as accumulation and intensification programs), I think the BBB system is a recipe for disaster for most drug-free trainees.

Subject: Can’t lose weight – Therma Pro

I’m considering starting on a thermogenic supplement called Therma Pro to jump start my metabolism and increase my fat loss. I’ve been working out hard, cardio and weights 2 hours a day for the past nine months on a healthy high protein diet with little to no results.

Why am I not surprised. While I’ve said it before, it bears repeating again. For many people (and this seems especially true for women) too much training tends to slow, not help fat loss. With 2 hours/day in the gym, you have most certainly put your body into a starvation mode, where the body is holding onto it’s fat stores. Rather than muck about with thermogenics (not saying they aren’t helpful/useful, just that I don’t think it will correct your current problem), you’d be better served cutting back your training. In my opinion, weights 3-4 days/week maximum (no weight training workout longer than an hour), cardio 3-5 days/week (cardio 40′ or so). That means minimum 2 days off from the gym completely. Also, make sure your calories aren’t too low.

A friend of mine who used to compete in body building said I should try therma pro. I’m wondering if you can give me some information about the product and its ingredients. I’ve heard it’s high in caffeine, does this cause any side effects in people.

Unfortunately, I haven’t really kept up with the ingredients of specific products any more (too many of them out there) but I’ll guess that ThermaPro is some variant on the ECA (ephedrine/caffeine/aspirin stack). The product is a stimulant and can cause a variety of side effects (most are minor, including jitters or insomnia, although many report increases in heart rate or blood pressure). As above, I don’t think adding a thermogenic to your program is going to be the solution, you need to quit training so much.

Subject: How to begins in the Bodybuilding!


My name is Samuel Lopez and I’m reading your news and reports, and I like it very much. I am having a big problem of overweight for many years, taking and leaving pounds. I admire a lot the bodybuilding but I’m not sure if I can or if my body works for that. I want to know if you have some advice for me or any routine that fits my needs I have 26 years old and a height of 5’11″ and a weight of 245 pounds. I want begin in the fitness branch a make me a body building if you have something that you think that could help me in my beginnings, I really appreciate it, Thanks!…

Well, it’s difficult to give much in the way of specifics without more information (i.e. any injuries you have) but I can give some general guidelines. Fat loss can be broken generally into three different portions.

1. Weight training: weight training is important to gain (or, at the very least, prevent the loss) of muscle mass. Muscle is metabolically very active, and the more you have, the more calories you burn. A good beginners workout would be three days per week for as little as 30′. I like to start beginner with less rather than more, so that they can get used to exercising without getting really sore. Pick one exercise for each major bodypart (legs, calves, chest, back, shoulders, lats, biceps, triceps, abs, low-back) and do each one at each workout. I usually start beginners with 1 set of 8-12 reps per exercise. In the first few weeks of your program, you should start with light weights, and focus on perfect form (and feeling the muscle you are working). When you can do 12 reps easily, add a little bit of weight. After 8 weeks or so, you should be working fairly hard and should have doubled or tripled the weight you started at. On top of this, you should have gained a few pounds of muscle. At that point you can start looking into more advanced programs (adding more sets, splitting the routine) which I don’t have time to really discuss here.

2. Cardio (or aerobics): Cardio is important to strength the heart and lungs, and also burns some calories (helps for fat loss although the effects of cardio has been somewhat overstated). Minimum in my opinion is 20′ three times per week, although 30′ would be arguably better. As with the weights, start slow, do whatever you can comfortably handle (speed-wise and time-wise). As you continue to workout, you will be able to do longer workouts and work harder as well. A good goal might be 40′ of cardio 3-5 times per week.

3. Diet: To detail an optimal fat loss diet would take pages and pages (and I’ll be writing an article about it here before too long). For any diet to cause fat loss, you must be consuming less calories than you are burning. As well, you need enough protein to maintain muscle mass. A typical guidelines is 1 gram of protein/lb. of bodyweight. As well, you should aim to get 15-25% of your total calories as fat. The rest of your calories should come from carbohydrates. Don’t forget to drink a lot of water. Ideally, you should be eating 4-6 small meals throughout the day, instead of 2-3 larger meals. This helps combat hunger and makes fat loss easier.

Good luck.

Subject: Odd question about gains

Here’s a question I hope you’ve never seen: My upper body and lower body seem to never improve at the same time. They seem to compete for resources. When I make gains on my upper body, my legs seem to lose muscle tone and size. When I make gains in my legs, my upper body loses too. So, it seems they compete for nutritional/hormonal resources. What do you think is going on here??

This is an interesting question and I can only speculate. I will say that I agree with most authorities out there that the body has limited resources for growth, etc. In that respect, once past the beginner/intermediate stage, I think it becomes more difficult to make progress in all bodyparts (meaning that it’s time to focus on two or three bodyparts per cycle and maintain everything else). But this doesn’t really explain why your bodyparts are *losing* size when you are making gains in other parts. Maintenance I could understand but not a size loss.

Now, without knowing more about the details of how you approach your training, it’s hard for me to say. Some question to ask are: Are you drastically decreasing the amount of training for your lower body when you focus on upper body (while I think it’s necessary to cut back training volume somewhat when you move to maintenance, I also think it’s possible to cut back too much)? Is your caloric intake high enough to support overall muscle growth? Are you getting sufficient protein? Etc, etc.

Beyond that, I’m at a loss.

Subject: Diet or mass first


I’m a 19 year-old college student and am considering starting a ketogenic diet. My problem is that I’m 5’8″ and only 160 lbs. with about 14% bodyfat (I haven’t actually measured yet, so that’s a rough estimate). I can’t decide whether to start out in a mass gaining phase or a fat loss phase. At my size, I cringe at the idea of getting any smaller and I know that during a fat loss phase I’d shrink to 145 or less during the week; I don’t know if I can handle that. What’s your opinion?

Been there, done that. Over three years ago, when I first got interested in the ketogenic diet, I was basically in the same boat as you were, about 160 lbs. and 14% bodyfat. Although I was scrawny as hell, I was more interested in being lean than I was in being big and fat. So I dieted first, to about 8%, and then started massing.

In hindsight, I still think I would have done the same thing. The problem with starting a mass phase at 14% bodyfat is that you will gain some bodyfat as you gain muscle mass. so you may end up your mass phase with 16%+ bodyfat. This means that you’ll have to diet just short of forever to get back to more bodybuilder-ish bodyfat levels (10% or below). I think a better option would be to diet first, and get your bodyfat to 10% or below (shouldn’t take long). Then you can alternate mass phases with shorter diet phases and gain muscle while keeping your bodyfat under control. That is, let’s say you diet to 8% bodyfat over the next 2 months. Then you can mass until you hit say 12% bodyfat. Then diet back down to 8% (over maybe a month), mass back up to 12%, diet back down to 8%, etc, etc.

Doing exactly that, I went from 145@8% bodyfat to ~200@10% bodyfat over the span of 2.5 years. Now I’m into a serious bulking phase and up to 220@14% bodyfat (I broke my own 12% rule since I was making such good progress massing, but I’ll be dieting here before too long).

Subject: More keto questions

Dear Lyle,

I’m about to begin the Body Opus diet and have read through your FAQ, so as not to repeat anything you’ve already answered. After purchasing the book and the supplements I have some questions.

1) As far as fat during the recarb (Fri, sat, sun) the book only mentions it in one sentence:

15% of your calories from the maintenance calories should come from fat. Then it mentioned they should be EFA’s. Could you give me your recommendation as to the amount of fat that should taken in over the recarb? Also you mentioned that 20g of protein per meal in the carb-up is overkill, what would be the correct range of protein in your opinion?

Yeah, Dan seemed to sort of space out on this particular topic. I think 15% is a fine value for fat intake. I actually found some research (in writing my book) that examined fat burning during the carb-up. After full-depletion, and in the face of a high-carb intake the body continues to use fat for fuel during the first 24 hours of the carb-up (this goes away in the 2nd 24 hours) to the tune of somewhere between 50 and 80 grams of fat. So as long as fat intake is below that level, there should be little chance of fat regain. As far as protein intake during the recarb, I suggest 15% of total calories, which usually works out to just under 1 g/lb. during the first 24 hours. Just divide that over the total carb-up fairly evenly and you should be fine.

2) As far as supplements to help me through the diet, I was wondering about creatine or glutamine usage during the recarb (or any time during the diet for that mater)?

Creatine can be used either during the carb-up (when you have lots of insulin present to help with uptake) or right after workouts (when uptake is also increased). Glutamine seems to kick some people out of ketosis when taken during the week (this doesn’t occur to everyone) so I tend to only recommend it’s use during the carb-up.

And the use of mineral supplements (i.e. calcium & potassium) are they a good buy along with the glucose disposal agents, the multivitamin, and the E/C/A stack.

Calcium, potassium (as well as magnesium, and possibly sodium) are also very useful during the lowcarb week, since they tend to be excreted. With the exception of alpha-lipoic acid, most of the glucose disposal agents haven’t really turned out to do that much good. Most of the people I’ve worked with have quit using them. A multivitamin is definitely a good idea (on any calorically restricted diet) and the ECA stack is good as long as the stimulant effects don’t freak you out too much.

And finally, since in Florida it appears that the drug Ephedrine is illegal, I’m forced to buy the herbal equivalent, I read off of “Sandeep’s Power Factory” page that taking 300mg of ma huang is equivalent to the 25mg ephedrine required for the stack… what is your opinion on the use of the herbal equivalent?

Although I don’t know the exact reason why, I’ve generally found that the herbal equivalent doesn’t give the same ‘nasty’ kick as straight ephedrine (pseudoephedrine is even worse). Whether it has the same thermogenic response or not, I have no idea (Bryan Haycock or Elzi Volk could probably give a more authoritative answer). Thing is, it’s ultimately sort of moot. If all you can get is the herbal, than the herbal is what you have to use. I have used Ripped Fuel (Twinlab’s herbal equivalent) while dieting and it does seem to be effective.

Subject: Carnivores, glycogen, and anabolism

Hi Lyle,

I have a few weird questions regarding ketosis and gaining muscle. I am getting ready to give the CKD a second shot, this time armed with a lot more information thanks to you. One of the more worrisome aspects of course is the fear that I will stop making gains and/or lose a great deal of hard-earned muscle. I was having an interesting discussion with a very open-minded physician who is also experimenting with ketogenic diets (my dad) regarding whether or not it was biologically feasible to put on lean muscle mass while in ketosis. I read your recent Mesomorphosis article on training in a CKD and you seem to exclude the possibility based on the low levels of insulin.

I wouldn’t say that I exclude the possibility, just that I think a carb-based diet will give better overall results. That is, I know of individuals who have gained muscle mass on a keto diet, it’s just that they gained faster and easier on a carb-based diet. This is likely tied into a variety of different issues. One of them is of course insulin. However, keto diets also affect levels of IGF-1 (maybe testosterone) and cortisol and glucagon. As well, glycogen depletion (and possibly lowered blood glucose) tends to decrease performance in the weight room. Regardless of diet, crappy workouts are not a good way to make gains.

My father made an interesting point, which was that from an evolutionary standpoint, it would be bad engineering to not provide a biochemical pathway for an organism to respond to increased stresses by getting stronger while in ketosis. Said another way, if ancient humanoids were primarily carnivorous (which they were), there had to be a means by which hypertrophy could take place in response to greater demands while primarily consuming fatty meat. Carbs in any significant dietary quantity only recently became available relative to how old our metabolic system design is.

While I agree in principle, understand that ancient hominids were also not trying to achieve greater than normal levels of muscle mass, they only needed what they needed to survive. This is a far different cry from trying to reach an above-normal (as dictated by the needs of survival) level of muscle mass.

Now I don’t know if anyone has ever looked at this in a study (I couldn’t find one on Medline), but it seemed to make sense. Long-term ketogenic diets have been used on people for years and these people don’t die or waste away into spindly little skeletons.

No, the adaptations to ketosis are ultimately to maintain muscle mass. But this is a far different issue from actually gaining mass. In some of the epilepsy literature, decreased growth (relative to normal) has also been reported. Is this an insulin issue, a ketosis issue, or simply a fact that protein intake is too low (because of how the diet has to be set up)? I can’t say for sure. I’ve read some animal research showing that animals can continue to grow (for a while at least) while consuming submaintenance calories. In this case, the biological drive for growth (and note that there is a different between an animal growing from youth to adulthood and an adult animal trying to grow larger) is stronger than the response to lowered calories.

I wonder if it takes a period of months to shift into an anabolic/ketogenic state? So that cycling carbs weekly may prevent any anabolic non-insulin based mechanism from kicking in.

When you look at it, ultimately ketosis is representative of a catabolic state. You have low insulin, high cortisol, high glucagon, high catecholamines, etc. All of this points ultimately to whole body catabolism. It’s just that with prolonged adaptation (~3 weeks), protein catabolism goes down because of the effect of ketones on reducing gluconeogenesis.

When you think of modern carnivores, where do they get and how do they maintain their muscle mass? I realize a lion or a cheetah’s digestive process may be substantially different than a human’s, but those animals have some serious meat on them and I doubt they eat any carbs at all.

I discussed this with a friend of mine (who raised animals for years). She commented that on top of different digestive tracts, animals overall eating patterns are distinctly different than ours. Many may fast for a day and then at a ton of meat (after a kill). How this affects growth of young animals is anybody’s guess. As well, keep in mind that wild carnivores are eating the meat right after the kill. This means that they are deriving some glycogen (directly out of the muscles) of whatever animal they just killed. So I think it’s incorrect to say that they aren’t consuming any carbs.

And of course horses and cattle, gazelles, etc. can synthesize protein from grass.

They also have the digestive tract to do so, which should be the first clue that it’s unsafe to extrapolate to humans. Also remember that even if grass only contains a tiny amount of protein, many herbivores make up for it with sheer tonnage. I recall reading/hearing/seeing on an educational TV show that gorillas (truly an example of a herbivore that grows big muscles) eats a couple of tons of grass per day.

So are pure carnivores simply gluconeogenic geniuses, or am I missing something fundamental? Are they continually in ketosis or do they synthesize so much glucose from gluconeogenisis that they are producing a lot of insulin? Or do they get glycogen from raw meat?

I should read ahead before answering questions. While I can’t answer the first 2 questions with any certainty (not an animal or comparative physiologist by any stretch), I would say that the answer is yes to the third.

When I look at the nutrient composition of meat, there’s generally no carbs at all. How can a cheetah run at 60 mph with no, or at least low, glycogen levels?

Never seen a muscle biopsy of a cheetah (would *you* want to volunteer to do it) but they have probably adapted their physiology (in the same way humans have adapted their) to the realities of their existence. Either they are getting glycogen from the kill or just the sheer amount of meat they consume at any given time (anybody got a guess for protein content of half a gazelle?) leads to massive gluconeogenesis which refills muscle glycogen.

These are kind of bizarre questions, but now I can’t seem to get this notion out of my head that there should be a way to gain lean mass while staying in ketosis and eating like a cheetah.


1. Run a lot

2. Eat raw meat

3. Eat a LOT of raw meat

That’d be my guess.

Subject: Particular AA’s for endurance

Hi Lyle-

Thanks for your series on individual amino acid needs; I found it to be very interesting and insightful. A couple questions for you…I am an ultra endurance athlete (although at 5’10″ 190 lbs. I don’t look like the “typical” endurance athlete). I have been involved in the Race Across America (a.k.a.: RAAM) transcontinental bicycle race for a number of years now. It’s considered to be the most difficult sporting event in the world (and perhaps the most catabolic!).

The Iditarod folks might argue with you about that. ;)

Averaging 22 hours a day for nine plus days on a bicycle, to complete the nearly 3000 mile race I would definitely consider potentially catabolic!

I think you win the award for understatement of the year.

Anyway, I have been looking into two particular aminos, one being a dipeptide (I think), l-citrulline and l-carnosine, which I think may help fight off premature fatigue. I was thinking of using both these in a sports drink during training and racing and wondered what additional info you might be able to pass on about these nutrients.

I checked some of my sources but didn’t turn up much. Citrulline is involved in the urea cycle, and can become important when excess ammonia (as might occur during long duration activities) becomes high. Carnosine is also a buffer of sorts and is used to synthesize neurotransmitters which are involved in fatigue. In that respect, both might be useful.

Are there any toxicities I should know about? Are there any dosages I should consider when using them on a regular basis (mixing them in and drinking a carb/protein drink every hour while training)? Any thoughts would be most appreciated.

I can’t honestly say much in terms of potential doses or toxicities of either, just haven’t seen data (doubt it’s been studied).

Here is something else to consider: one fatigue theory (as it applies to endurance activities) which has become somewhat popular (and is supported by a good bit of data) is the central fatigue hypothesis. To understand this, we have to delve into a little physiology.

I’m sure you’ve heard of serotonin. It is a neurotransmitter that tends to promote sleepiness. Serotonin in the body is produced from the amino acid tryptophan (many folks used to use supplemental tryptophan before the FDA pulled it after a contaminated batch made a bunch of folks sick).

Now, in the body tryptophan (TRP) and a class of aminos called the large neutral amino acids (LNAA’s, which include the branch chain amino acids) compete for transport into the brain. When levels of the LNAA’s fall (as during exhaustive exercise), the ratio of TRP/LNAA changes towards TRP. Part of this occurs when glycogen stores are gone and branch chain amino acid are used for fuel. This means that more TRP crosses into the brain, more serotonin is produced, and you get fatigued. Studies have shown that this drop can be prevented through one of three approaches:

1. Consuming glucose during a long event (standard advice)

2. Consuming branch chain amino acids during a long event

3. Consuming glucose and branch chain amino acids during a long event

All three help to prevent the shift in the TRP/LNAA ratio during exhaustive exercise and may help to prevent fatigue. While a variety of protocols have been used, one book I have suggests the following:

6-12% glucose solution and 2-10 g/hour of branch chain amino acids during long (>60 minutes) events.

It might be worthwhile to try either or both strategies during long training rides to see:

1. If it has an impact on fatigue

2. If it makes you wanna throw up while you’re on the bike. Better to find this out during training, instead of during the ride.

Instead of using straight branch chain AAs in your glucose drink, you might be better off using a protein powder which is high in branch chain AAs (most of them) instead. That way you get the protein your body needs to keep from going to catabolic during the race.

The other question I have relates to glutamine. I’ve heard from a variety of people that regular old’ glutamine converts to ammonia in the body which is toxic, especially for an endurance athlete currently engaging in exercise. It was suggested that I substitute OKG for glutamine because it is a deaminated (non ammonia) form of glutamine. I wouldn’t mind doing that except for the cost compared to glutamine (in the doses I was thinking of using) and the taste. What are your thoughts?

My friend James Krieger has looked into this for a grad school project he’s doing and he sent me some studies showing that glutamine supplementation (in parenteral formulas) doesn’t increase the ammonia load of the body. So while it’s theoretically possible for glutamine to increase ammonia (by degrading to glutamic acid + ammonia), it doesn’t seem to be a big problem.

Subject: Football exercises

What are the best exercises that I can do in order to get ready for football?

Play football would be my first guess.

All the weight training in the world won’t make you a better football player unless you’re practicing your sport. Beyond that, there is no single exercise I can think of that would prepare you for football. I think you should focus on getting as strong as possible in all your major muscle groups (think: legs, back, chest, shoulders, abs) and practice a lot of football.

Subject: Aerobics and bodybuilding

Hi Lyle,

I’m very impressed of your knowledge about nutrition and other stuff. I’ve just read your article about aerobics and strength training for The Power Store. My question is: I am doing aerobics (bicycle, stepmaster) three times per week for about 40 minutes with a intensity of about 80% VO2 max (high intensity because of EPOC, I want to burn more calories/fat). Do you think this will impede my progress in bodybuilding (training five times per week, one of this is legs, aerobics after training)?

Yes. While it’s possible to get away with low-intensity aerobics and still make decent progress in terms of mass gains, high-intensity stuff tends to make it more difficult. As well, it’s nearly impossible (except for beginners, the genetically blessed, and those returning from a layoff) to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.

Since I’ve started this regimen my legs stagnated in development but this is no problem, because they are genetically very gifted so now my upper body which has improved fits now better to my legs. Do you think my upper body development will suffer with this regimen (will progress even better without aerobics)?

Some of the data on combining weight training and aerobics suggested that the problem (lack of strength gains) was really local overtraining (in some studies, only legs failed to make progress). However, I’d say that anecdotally, most have found that high-intensity aerobics and bodybuilding tend not to mix very well.

And, by the way, is having some simple carbs after bodybuilding before aerobics advisable? I’ve read that the carbs can’t be stored as fat and will go just in muscle glycogen stores when you are doing aerobics (even high intensity).

Well, if your goal is to burn fat during your aerobics, having carbs will harm, not help you (by raising insulin and blood glucose, and lower blood free fatty acid levels). Then again, most studies have shown that what you burn during aerobic (fat vs. carbs) doesn’t really impact fat loss, instead it’s the calories that matter. IF you’re doing your aerobics after weight training, I think it’s relatively more important to provide your muscles with glycogen (and some protein) for recovery than to worry about what you are burning during aerobics. In this regards, you might try doing your aerobics at a different time (perhaps in the morning) than your weight training so that it’s a non-issue.

Subject: Clenbuterol and Body Opus


I’ve just completed 4 weeks of body opus with very nice results. I plan to take a week off the diet to reset my metabolism. When I return to the diet I wanted to use clenbuterol during the week prior to the carb-up. From scanning the archives from other websites I seem to recall that you are against the use of clen. Why? I have used clen before and it worked very well (muscles became toned and the fat shed off very quickly). However, when I stopped the clenbuterol for a while my body seemed to reaccumulate fat quickly. Is this the reason? Also, if I do choose to use it will it interfere with the carb-up since clenbuterol’s half-life is so long that there inevitably will be some left in my system on the weekend.

It’s not so much that I’m against clenbuterol, it’s just that I’m pro-ECA. The problem with clenbuterol is that, although it works very well, it’s effects peter out very quickly (2 weeks in some cases). While this makes it great if you have a contest to get ready for (and need to get ripped quickly in the last couple of weeks), I think it makes it a poor choice for longer term dieting. If someone doesn’t have a bodybuilding contest (or other event) to get ready for, I prefer ECA since it tends to have effects longer term.

As far as clenbuterol and the carb-up, there is some data (reported by Lonnie Lowery in Peak Training Journal) showing that clenbuterol negatively affects insulin sensitivity, which has the potential to interfere with the carb-up. I don’t recall the half-life of clenbuterol (36 hours) but, if you do insist on taking it, you might want to discontinue it the day before the carb-up (i.e. last dose is Thu if you carb Fri evening) to give it time to clear. An unanswered question is whether ECA has the same effect on insulin sensitivity as clenbuterol (since it’s working through similar mechanisms).

Subject: Bodyopus minus the fat

Dear Mr. McDonald-

I have a question concerning the Bodyopus plan, although somewhat with a twist. Would it be possible to achieve ketosis with a ratio of 70% protein and 30% fat instead of vice versa?

Probably not. Excess protein gets converted to glucose with about 58% efficiency. So if you were fulfilling 70% of a high caloric intake as protein (assuming your protein intake at 30% protein is 200 grams, that’d be 500 grams of protein if you were eating 70% protein), you’d be producing a lot of glucose (almost 250 grams/day) which would surely keep you out of ketosis.

Here is my rational – When on a low to zero carb diet, I’m one of the lucky few that has their appetite completely shut off (whether it is from the diet or other aids, I’m unsure).

Seems to be a bit of both. ketogenic diets blunt hunger in and of themselves although it’s probably not the ketones which are the cause (might be the high fat intake). If you are using ECA, chances are your appetite will be history (mine usually is).

If indeed this is the case, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to increase the protein since my hunger is already satiated, and thereby bettering my chances of increasing nitrogen retention? If nitrogen levels remain high from the high protein consumption (>400 grams / day), would less muscle be lost?

Maybe, maybe not. If this much protein kept you out of ketosis (as it probably would), you would lose the protein sparing effect of ketones, which might negatively affect nitrogen balance.

I have tried the 70% fat / 30% protein, but couldn’t shed the pounds. By switching the ratios, you would be ingesting a much higher thermic food source(protein), and having to worry less about burning ingested fat as opposed to stored fat.

While this looks good on paper, the problem is that you won’t be in ketosis. With such a high protein intake, it might not matter and fat loss would likely be higher. Then again, when I’ve tried approaches like this (anybody remember the Twinlab Diet Fuel Diet from a few years ago, basically a protein only, low-carb diet), I always felt like shit.

Also, if adding Metformin to the high protein/low fat meals – approximately 2500mg per day- would this allow your body to make sure it maintains ketosis? Or would it be a situation where it would cause dangerously low sugar levels? Thanks for the advice.

I really can’t say with authority. Having used Metformin (or was it Phenformin) during carb-ups, I wasn’t really impressed with it’s effects (it was about as potent as Citrimax to be honest). Ketosis is ultimately a consequence of liver glycogen. I don’t know if Metformin affects liver glycogen or not. As well, I’d be generally leery of using something that increased insulin sensitivity (and blood glucose disposal) on a lowcarb diet. The potential for hypoglycemic reactions is definitely there and they aren’t fun.

Subject: Re: B-5 On a ketogenic Diet


You mentioned Pantothenic Acid in your Week 6 post, I believe, as a substance that would prevent ketosis. You didn’t seem sure if it was a good thing or bad thing. I did a search in Deja News and didn’t find a follow up post, and you didn’t seem to address it in the many questions to you. So if you get this and have a second I was wondering if you had done any follow-up research or have an answer now as to whether it would be a good, bad, or indifferent to take B-5 on a Cyclic Ketogenic Diet, and why of course.

This was one of those weird-ass papers I came across several years ago. In a journal called Medical Hypotheses (which prints people’s idea, not original research), someone suggested using high dose B-5 on low cal (1000 cal/day if I recall) diets to prevent ketosis. He claimed greater weight loss and less fatigue.

Now, his approach was based on the concept that fatigue on a ketogenic diet is caused by ketosis per se. Based on the studies I looked at, this isn’t the case. More likely it’s cased by insufficient mineral intake (esp. sodium, potassium, and magnesium) coupled with increased excretion of those same minerals. It’s possible that with adequate mineral supplementation, fatigue could have been avoided in these subjects from the get go, and he never really explained why he felt the B-5 prevented ketosis (must be affecting the Krebs cycle somehow).

If you would send me a quick Email I would be obliged. I am curious because I have begun the diet and routinely take a gram and a half to two grams a day. It appears to focus the mind.

Well, if you’re doing that and still losing fat efficiently, I say don’t mess with what ain’t broken.

Subject: Mentzer and HMB


Did you comment on Mike Mentzer’s training philosophy as it relates to Body Opus? I couldn’t find any information on the website.

The ‘problem’ with the Bodyopus diet is that it requires a fairly high volume of training to deplete glycogen between weekend carb-ups. As I argued in my article, assuming sets lasting 45 seconds, you’re looking at 4-6 sets/bodypart. A Mentzerian (or even typical HIT) approach won’t deplete glycogen enough to make the diet work optimally. A couple of possibilities would be to:

1. Use a low-volume Mentzerian approach and follow it with several high-rep (light weight) sets with the goal of just depleting glycogen.

2. Carb-up less frequently.

3. Do a shorter carb-up. The 4-6 sets/bodypart assumes a 36 hour carb-up. With a 12 hour carb-up, you’d only need maybe 2 sets/bodypart to deplete glycogen again. That might be workable with a Heavy-Duty approach, especially if you didn’t carb each weekend.

Next, could HMB be useful in the Ketogenic diet; what is HMB’s effect on Ketosis (if any)?

Don’t know if HMB would affect ketosis (I’d tend to doubt it) but I’m unconvinced that HMB has any real effect for the most part. I know what the study found, but real-world reports don’t seem to back it up. Ketones are protein sparing enough in my mind.

Subject: Anaerobic training for establishing ketosis

I’ve seen a lot of research that indicates anaerobic exercise burns more fat than aerobic exercise (the fat is primarily burned after training – see Forget the Fat-Burn Zone). With this in mind, do you still advise using aerobic training instead of anaerobic to get the body into ketosis?

Yes and no. To bring everybody up to speed, my current recommendations to rapidly establish ketosis is the performance of 30-40′ of low-intensity aerobics the morning after your carb-up ends (typically Sun following a Sat carb-up).

Now, remember that to establish ketosis requires one thing: depletion of liver glycogen, which also affects blood glucose, insulin and glucagon.

Both aerobic and anaerobic (sprint) training will effectively deplete liver glycogen. Arguably sprints will deplete liver glycogen more quickly than aerobics.

However, we also have to consider the impact of the Sunday workout on the next week’s weight training workouts. Sprint training will also deplete muscle glycogen (mainly in the legs) to some degree, which may negatively impact your weight training workout. Then again, you could probably adjust training volume to compensate (i.e. decrease total quad volume to compensate for glycogen depleted with weight training). If sprints on Sunday don’t really screw up your leg workouts in the following week, I think they are the better choice (more effectively deplete liver glycogen, better fat loss effect). If sprints really do screw up your leg workouts the following week, I think regular boring aerobics are the better choice.

Oh yeah, another option (this came up on the HIT digest). If you do very short sprints (under 20 seconds) with fairly long rest intervals (Clarence Bass probably mentions something called the Tabata protocol on his site), you should get some of the glycogen depleting effects of sprints (which are a function of the hormonal response) without severely depleting glycogen (because the sprints are too short). Should also get some of the good fat loss effects to.

Read previous post:
Ask Dave Palumbo #5

Pre-Mixed GH from Genetech; Diabetes and Insulin Manipulation; Anabolics During ‘Cutting Phase’; Fat Loss Solutions for Endomorphs; Preventing Gynecomastia; Growth...