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Thread: Gaining muscle mass without going into caloric surplus

  1. #1
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    Gaining muscle mass without going into caloric surplus

    Hey guys,

    I've been doing quite a bit of reading these last few weeks... and have found some very interesting stuff that makes sense.

    I used to think you had to be in caloric surplus on a daily basis to gain muscle, and in deficit to lose fat. After all, that's what everybody's taught on this site. At least, it provides one with very simple guidelines for bulking/cutting.
    But our body just ain't that simple! It's a very complex, dynamic system and counting your calories at the end of everyday won't determine whether you gain or lose muscle mass.

    Anyhow... those aren't my ideas so here are a couple of quotes:

    "A number of people have asked how they can add muscle mass. They often think they have to eat a lot more to put on mass. Not so, you can put on muscle mass even if you are in caloric balance. You do this by redirecting nutrients and energy over the right metabolic pathways. This requires a reduction in cortisol (so don't over train and get plenty of play and rest) and an increase in growth hormone (GH). " from http://www.arthurdevany.com/archives...ml#000098#more

    and

    "Remember, caloric deficit is a steady state concept. Humans are almost never in caloric balance at one point in time, it is only through integrating moments of positive and negative balance over a longer time period that any kind of caloric balance is achieved. So, caloric balance is an averaging concept that doesn't apply to short periods of time. It happens that when you fast and engage in intense activity of very short duration you signal the body to conserve protein. The signal is a high level of GH, which can promote a redirection of the body's resources to retain and develop its protein tools. Remember, protein circulates through the body, in and out, and the pool goes up and down. It is possible to take in less food and still deposit enough protein in the muscle if you lower the rate of protein wastage. This is the role of GH: it is a strong signal to conserve protein and to mobilize fat for use as an energy source. Evolutionary times would require just this mechanism. Fasting triggers a maintenance function : fat is burned for energy and protein is strictly preserved unless it is required to produce glucose to fuel the brain. "

    from "The Performance Menu", Crossfit North's journal.

    Those are both quotes from Art de Vany... you can visit his blog too at
    www.arthurdevany.com
    The guy is 6'1'' and 205lbs at age 67 so he must be doing something right?!

    I've also seen way too many friends achieve what he just described to doubt it one second.

    So yeah, that's what I wanted to say here: being everyday in caloric surplus and eating your BWx1,5 in grams of protein might definitely help someone gain muscle, but it isn't the only way...
    It also seems that gaining muscle and burning fat at the same time is possible.

    I'd be interested to see the reactions on this forum...
    Last edited by Mikael; 06-13-2005 at 02:17 PM.

  2. #2
    Banned spencerjrus's Avatar
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    The laws of thermodynamics says he is wrong. Plus he provides almost no real scientific evidence towards his claims, he just says that it works.

  3. #3
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    Of course it's not the only way to grow but it's certainly the most foolproof. Also please remember that the very act of eating is anabolic (ie, reduces cortisol). So spread your meals often and throughout the day. Calorie surplus is the only way you can GUARANTEE that your body is taking in enough energy and raw materials to grow.

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    Yes, total energy in and out must be the same over the long run, but there are many short term differences.

    You also won't be able to add more muscle mass than the energy equivalent of the fat you posses, this process will be necessarily slow, and you might as well eat a reasonable amount of extra calories to speed the process. I think the only question that is relevent for most people is how many extra calories they should eat to gain muscle mass, i.e. bulk clean or dirty?

    I think he makes this clear in the statement: "They often think they have to eat a lot more to put on mass." You don't obviously, especially if you're fat to begin with.

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  5. #5
    Go Heels! MixmasterNash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spencerjrus
    The laws of thermodynamics says he is wrong. Plus he provides almost no real scientific evidence towards his claims, he just says that it works.
    No. He is right. It's just not relevent in most cases.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rex
    Calorie surplus is the only way you can GUARANTEE that your body is taking in enough energy and raw materials to grow.
    Absolutely!

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    Where's all the 45s ?!?! Wierz's Avatar
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    I'm sort of new to terminology, but isn't that a clean bulk? (which I think I've seen endorsed on this site before).

    Anyway I agree with some of the things you've said. But (and this part is total opinion and strictly about gaining muscle, I've never had any problem with being overweight) I think the reason people bulk with a caloric surplus is because I, and maybe they, feel strongly that your body "wants" to maintain a weight at which it is comfortable - or a weight which you've maintained for a while. If I keep my caloric intake the same my body will not gain mass because it is not getting "extra" supplies to build size with. I can gain strength while keeping my caloric intake in balance, because alot of strength gain is tied in with CNS changes, I think.

    My goal is to get bigger. Larger bodies with greater amounts of lean muscle mass require more calories to function, very generally speaking. There is no golden rule to gaining weight in the form of muscle mass other than hard work and figuring out what works for you individually. The ideas you brought up are interesting and may work for some, but might not for others.
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    In the past 8 weeks I gained 8lbs of muscle while loosing about 25lbs of fat, My maintance cals are about 2800, I did 2k for the first 6 weeks, the last 2 weeks I did 800-1000 calories a day and then a refeed over the weekend. Total deficit for two months. Its definatly possible.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wierz
    I'm sort of new to terminology, but isn't that a clean bulk? (which I think I've seen endorsed on this site before).
    No. A clean bulk still entails a caloric surplus; you're just not eating junk food.

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    I don't think he's talking about a "clean bulk"... the thinking around the whole "bulking" concept on this forum is very linear: eat A LOT over maintenance and you're in a dirty bulk; eat A LITTLE over maintenance and you're doing a clean bulk; eat at maintenance and you're not going anywhere; eat below and you're cutting.

    What Art says challenges that line of thought.

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    Banned spencerjrus's Avatar
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    In a perfect system you could have an exchange of energy with 0 loss. The human body is not a perfect system, this means that any time you have an exchange of energy (eating), some of it is going to be lost. Because of this loss, a surplus is required, how else can your body find enough energy to grow? His school of thought might be correct, but anyone who is willing to claim that they can get a system to grow without putting in an excess of energy is simply flat out wrong.

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    It's all about optimizing the energy and protein you put into your system, limiting wastage... I don't know Art's theories 100% but I think he says intermittent fasting maximizes protein use or something to that effect. There's more to it than just intermittent fasting though, I'm sure.

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    Banned spencerjrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikael
    It's all about optimizing the energy and protein you put into your system, limiting wastage... I don't know Art's theories 100% but I think he says intermittent fasting maximizes protein use or something to that effect. There's more to it than just intermittent fasting though, I'm sure.

    Thats awesome, making more efficient use of your calories is definetley a way to gain weight faster, however this doesnt change the fact that you still need a surplus of energy to get something to grow.

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    Senior Member Doobs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by XxH0LyWaRsxX
    In the past 8 weeks I gained 8lbs of muscle while loosing about 25lbs of fat, My maintance cals are about 2800, I did 2k for the first 6 weeks, the last 2 weeks I did 800-1000 calories a day and then a refeed over the weekend. Total deficit for two months. Its definatly possible.
    A lot easier if you're a newb and/or fat. The leaner you get, the less likely your fat will be used as energy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikael
    I don't think he's talking about a "clean bulk"... the thinking around the whole "bulking" concept on this forum is very linear: eat A LOT over maintenance and you're in a dirty bulk; eat A LITTLE over maintenance and you're doing a clean bulk; eat at maintenance and you're not going anywhere; eat below and you're cutting.
    Like I said above, clean vs. dirty has more to do with the quality of the calories you're consuming that the amount. Granted for the same volume of food the dirty bulk will be higher calorie, but no one said volume was constant under both options.

    Quote Originally Posted by spencerjrus
    In a perfect system you could have an exchange of energy with 0 loss. The human body is not a perfect system, this means that any time you have an exchange of energy (eating), some of it is going to be lost. Because of this loss, a surplus is required, how else can your body find enough energy to grow? His school of thought might be correct, but anyone who is willing to claim that they can get a system to grow without putting in an excess of energy is simply flat out wrong.
    The calories burned via eating (the thermic effect of food) are already included in your calculation of how much to eat to maintain/bulk/cut/whatever. Thus, eating enough to cover these burned calories is not really a "surplus".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doobs
    A lot easier if you're a newb and/or fat.
    bingo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drai's
    bingo
    Im not aguiing buts its definatly doable.
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  17. #17
    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    Sure, it is possible.

    The body has incredible complexity and most "rules" are not set in stone.

    That said, if you really want to get big and are natural you need a caloric surplus because there is just no way to know and/or control for all of the variables necessary for growth without it and do it over a prolonged period.


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    Senior Member smalls's Avatar
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    If someone is really really worried about gaining fat and want's to put on small amounts of muscle over long periods of time then this could be a possible way of doing it.

    If you actually want to change the way you look in less than 5 years, constantly eat more than you burn and lift progressively.
    Diet is key, the calorie is king

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    Also I have to add in the fact that trying to manipulate your GH levels in an attempt to have an actual effect on your physique borders on ******ation. Seeing as injecting GH alone barely has any effect on the average person.
    Diet is key, the calorie is king

    "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
    --Abraham Lincoln

    "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
    Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination
    alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
    Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)
    30th U.S. President

    "If you want to look abnormal you have to eat abnormal,lol."--ST

  20. #20
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    The terms "clean bulk" and "slow bulk" are getting mixed up.
    Clean bulk= good foods.
    Slow bulks= minimal (~+250) caloric surplus each day to minimize fat.

    A Slow, Clean bulk = ... u figure it out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by smalls
    Also I have to add in the fact that trying to manipulate your GH levels in an attempt to have an actual effect on your physique borders on ******ation. Seeing as injecting GH alone barely has any effect on the average person.
    This is a very good point, you need to either inject like 15iu/day for short periods or use low dose (2-4iu/day) for long periods, like 8-12 months to really see effects from GH. Trying to mimic this naturally in your own system would be next to impossible IMO.
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    Quote Originally Posted by smalls
    If you actually want to change the way you look in less than 5 years, constantly eat more than you burn and lift progressively.
    While I agree that a caloric surplus and progressive overload is usually the most optimal recipe for mass gain, I think the point needs to be brought up why this guy's theory fails in practice. Quite simply what he's saying is all valid, but it requires a level of dedication possessed by almost none.

    Quote Originally Posted by smalls
    Also I have to add in the fact that trying to manipulate your GH levels in an attempt to have an actual effect on your physique borders on ******ation. Seeing as injecting GH alone barely has any effect on the average person.
    Very true. The same goes for the school of though I sometimes hear that you shouldn't eat before bed because it promotes greater GH release. To this I always respond that I guarantee that the anabolic effect of the food greatly outweighs any negligible change in GH levels.

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