Gaining Muscle Without the Fat
Oh, it can be done. It’s a long, slow, process, but very worth it in the end. The old ideas of bulking and cutting are kind of counterintuitive (except a month of Decembulk didn’t hurt anyone). You eat a ton of food for 8 months. You get fat. You diet for a few months, you lose your fat and your muscle. This is the method used by all the old guys who work out in your gym wearing those baggy colourful pants and tucked in muscle shirts from the 90’s
Fortunately, there’s a better way to do things. It’s always existed, but thanks to science, it is out there in the open for all to see. Including you. (Dramatic, I know). Before we get started, I need to teach you about how glucose is moved in and out of the muscles and fat cells.
A Quick Primer on Insulin
You already know that insulin is a storage hormone (from my Fast Fat Loss Series). The idea is that when there is sugar present in the blood, insulin is released to store it into the fat and muscles. Knowing this, we want to try to favour the glucose to only be stored in the muscle and not the fat.
A Quick Primer on GLUT4 and GLUT12
These guys are the glucose transporters in the muscle. Think of them as valves that let the glucose enter the muscle cells. Two things allow them to transport glucose to the muscle: insulin or weight training.
I think you see where I’m going here…
Knowing these two things about insulin, GLUT4, and GLUT12, we can do some awesome things. If we eat carbs without working out, then the glucose will be stored as fat and possibly muscle (depending on how full the glycogen stores are). If we workout, then things change.
After lifting weights, the GLUT4 and GLUT12 are both ready to take glucose into the muscle. This means that as soon as you finish your workout, you want to be ingesting quick digesting carbs.
When the carbs are broken down into sugar and present in the blood, there will be a race between the glucose entering the muscle and the glucose telling the pancreas to release insulin. Ideally, you win the race if you can get all the glucose in the blood to be stored in muscle cells before enough insulin is released into the blood stream to store the glucose into the fat cells.
This is a tough battle, but can be won.
How to Win Muscle and Influence GLUT (Carnegie anyone?)
Here are a few tips to make sure that all of your muscle cells suck up the glucose before insulin becomes prominent:
- Always perform a full body warm up before your workout. Try to include some form of pushing, pulling, and leg movements during the warm up (they can all be bodyweight).
- Lift heavy ass weights and don’t dog it in the gym.
- Get adequate sleep at night (8 hours or more; some people can function with as little as 7).
- Drink BCAAs throughout your workout (these are only metabolized in your muscle, so we want a ton of amino acids present to initiate protein synthesis for when your muscles start to suck up glucose).
- As soon as you finish working out, drink 60-120 g of dextrose and 5-10 g of BCAAs in water.
- If your workout was heavy, have a meal with carbs and protein (and minimal fat) within the hour after your workout.
- After this 1-2 hour window, continue to eat as normal (protein, veggies, and healthy fats).
This method works extremely well. In fact, when I last spoke with Paul Valiulus, he was using this method (except he wouldn’t even eat the meal with carbs and protein; he’d only drink the dextrose shake and it would total approximately 1200kcal) and was lean and jacked (see picture below). If you’re already super lean (10% BF and below for guys, 15-16% for the gals), don’t be afraid to try out this method to gain some muscle without the fat before beach season. For everybody else, keep training your ass off, make smart food choices, and you will do awesome. I promise.
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