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    Dieting down for more efficient bulking

    This podcast addresses the question of whether we should diet down before doing muscle gain:

    The only cliffs I'm going to give you is this: People who have dieted down to very lean states actually have the worst P ratios...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6_NoVIuHKo&t=1202s
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    This is gonna be interesting, thanks!
    Checking in
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    This podcast addresses the question of whether we should diet down before doing muscle gain:

    The only cliffs I'm going to give you is this: People who have dieted down to very lean states actually have the worst P ratios...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6_NoVIuHKo&t=1202s
    Just been listening to some of it but from what I take from it is that there now seems to be evidence to say that bulking from a higher body fat would probably have more of your gains going to muscle rather than fat. Obviously not the best way to approach it health wise but in terms of physique, you could do 1 really big bulk, cut from there and then maintain your physique from then on rather than bulk and cut cycles
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    Originally Posted by safcpaul View Post
    Just been listening to some of it but from what I take from it is that there now seems to be evidence to say that bulking from a higher body fat would probably have more of your gains going to muscle rather than fat. Obviously not the best way to approach it health wise but in terms of physique, you could do 1 really big bulk, cut from there and then maintain your physique from then on rather than bulk and cut cycles
    Yeah, I wouldn't do it deliberately. IIRC they looked at multiple results and many of them showed no relationship and a few showed a positive relationship. I think you simply have more energy on hand which can be used for muscle gain when you are fatter. Which is why overweight novices can recomp. Perhaps some of the studies imposed lower calorie conditions on the subjects than others - and those were the ones showing a positive relationship.
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    This podcast addresses the question of whether we should diet down before doing muscle gain:

    The only cliffs I'm going to give you is this: People who have dieted down to very lean states actually have the worst P ratios...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6_NoVIuHKo&t=1202s
    Very interesting! Also very happy that I can use this to justify my decision to stop cutting for a while and progress on my lifts eating at maintenance even though I am still probably about 20% BF. "Cut to 12% and then bulk" sounds great in theory but if you start out obese it's really hard to consistently sustain a deficit to cut down to 12% in a single cut - I could cut for 10 months straight but then I really needed a mental break.
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    I listened to the same thing and I have to admit that I can't really see any holes in their logic. I REALLY want Mrpb to take a look at this though. I believe he's shared studies before that deal with the actual physiological responses in the muscle tissue that contradict their claims about MPB.
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    Originally Posted by Strawng View Post
    I listened to the same thing and I have to admit that I can't really see any holes in their logic. I REALLY want Mrpb to take a look at this though. I believe he's shared studies before that deal with the actual physiological responses in the muscle tissue that contradict their claims about MPB.
    I just feel happy having the video support my previous suggestions in the forum :-)
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    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    I just feel happy having the video support my previous suggestions in the forum :-)
    Kind of but not exactly (unless it happens after 45 minutes). This isn't really about the cut off point of where bulking becomes less efficient for bodybuilders. It's more about whether it's a good idea to cut down before a muscle gain phase. And as usual they are more talking about strength athletes in general than specifically about bodybuilders, IMO.

    And they also confirm some of the points I made before, I'll explain below.

    Originally Posted by Strawng View Post
    I listened to the same thing and I have to admit that I can't really see any holes in their logic. I REALLY want Mrpb to take a look at this though. I believe he's shared studies before that deal with the actual physiological responses in the muscle tissue that contradict their claims about MPB.
    I tried to listen to it but there's a lot of fluff in it. I only made it through the first 45 minutes.

    First of I'm not saying that someone at higher body fat can't gain LBM in a surplus. They obviously can. The better questions IMO are: is it optimal and is it smart for a bodybuilder to bulk (a.k.a. overfeed) at higher body fat percentage. In my advice I'm generally not focussed at strength athletes that don't mind walking around at or above 20% body fat.

    I totally agree with them not accepting the studies around P ratio. I never use them in my arguments either. I don't consider them relevant.

    Then they say 'bodybuilders who diet down to contests tend to gain a lot of fat afterwards', this should support that dieting down before a bulking stage doesn't work. I find this a really odd claim. Surely they are aware that contest lean bodybuilders diet down much further than anyone would recommend for a bulking stage. Contest bodybuilding tends to be around, what 6-7% and then afterwards they can't help but binge. What is usually recommended for bulking is dieting down to about ~11-12%. That's something entirely different of course. Lyle, who's probably the most known for this recommendation, also recommends to not immediately start bulking once ~11% is reached.

    After finishing your diet, regardless of how lean you get, take 2 weeks to eat at roughly maintenance calorie levels before starting your mass gaining phase. The reason has to do with the physiological adaptations to dieting described briefly above. Although you can’t reverse all of them short of getting fat again (or fixing the problem pharmaceutically), 2 weeks at maintenance, which by definition should be higher calories than you were eating on your diet, will help to normalize some of them. Leptin, thyroid, SNS output should improve a bit, along with other hormones, putting you in a better place to gain mass without super excessive fat gain.
    https://bodyrecomposition.com/muscle...ecommendations

    Then they cite a study with American football players (I haven't read it yet) where some big line backers at higher body fat apparently gained a good amount of LBM while dropping fat at the same time. So they were recomping. This doesn't seem to support bulking at already higher body fat, it supports recomping is very well possible for people who already have high LBM (something that some people on this forum still -sort of- deny).

    I'd also speculate that people who become line backer are probably more likely to be gifted in the muscle gain department. I'm not surprised if they gained more LBM than the smaller guys. (I might be messing up AF terms, I'm not familiar with it)

    Then they admit having higher body fat blunts MPS. That's a biggy. Correlation between MPS and hypertrophy is about 90%(!) as shown by Stu Phillips' study. But then they mention that having higher body fat would be better for muscle protein breakdown and therefor it wouldn't really matter that MPS is blunted. I will need to look at the study that supports it because I haven't seen it yet. But I'm skeptical of this line of reasoning because we know that MPS is about 4-5 times more responsive to training and nutrition than MPB. And MPB tends to stay in quite a narrow range.

    I'll try to look at some of the newer studies they mentioned later.
    Last edited by Mrpb; 01-25-2021 at 05:48 AM.
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    Wouldn't then a better recommendation be "aim at progressing at maintenance calories for as long as you can, use a calorie surplus only when your lifts stall"? Particularly for people who have a history of being fat? Maybe this doesn't apply to people who reach low body fat (about 12%) though. The above statement seems to imply that "mass gaining phase" has to be done in a calorie surplus.
    Last edited by EiFit91; 01-25-2021 at 02:54 AM.
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    Originally Posted by EiFit91 View Post
    Wouldn't then a better recommendation be "aim at progressing at maintenance calories for as long as you can, use a calorie surplus only when your lifts stall"? Particularly for people who have a history of being fat? Maybe this doesn't apply to people who reach low body fat (about 12%) though. The above statement seems to imply that "mass gaining phase" has to be done in a calorie surplus.
    I'm a big proponent of that approach, although I'd like to add "in the medium rep ranges while lifting with sufficient volume".

    The person at 12% would probably stall more quickly and would then need to increase calories.

    Lyle is generally not a fan of recomping or progressing at maintenance afaik, he believes more in the old school approach: bulking for muscle gain, then cutting for fat loss, rinse and repeat.
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    I'm a big proponent of that approach, although I'd like to add "in the medium rep ranges while lifting with sufficient volume".

    The person at 12% would probably stall more quickly and would then need to increase calories.

    Lyle is generally not a fan of recomping or progressing at maintenance afaik, he believes more in the old school approach: bulking for muscle gain, then cutting for fat loss, rinse and repeat.
    Is there a particular reason why you would emphasize "medium rep ranges"?
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    Originally Posted by EiFit91 View Post
    Is there a particular reason why you would emphasize "medium rep ranges"?
    I think there's more leeway when improving an 1RM lift with technical skills. I reckon it's also easier to improve a lift if you work with relatively low volume.

    An extreme example (not necessarily the best) is the Russian girl benching some bizar number for 1 rep while she's making a huge bridge with her back. Let's see how many reps she can do over 3 sets with 100kg and her back more on the bench (so technique plays a role too).

    James Krieger has said (based on his analysis) that the best gauge of muscle gain is actually performance on a single joint exercise in the medium rep ranges over multiple sets. Iirc he's saying that multi joint exercises tend to be more influenced by technical skills than single joint. So a leg extension would be a better gauge for quad growth than a squat, according to him.
    Last edited by Mrpb; 01-25-2021 at 08:45 AM.
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    I had a giant deja vu when I first saw this thread... Suffolk posting a podcast by Greg Nuckols where they argue against being lean to gain muscle.

    I used the search function and I wasn't disappointed.... https://igoodies.000webhostapp.com/?viagra=showt...9226021&page=1

    Almost exactly the same topic. During the podcast I was waiting for them to mention the sumo wrestlers. Don't think it happend in the first 45 minutes.

    Edit: just had a look at the paper they mention.

    However, the muscle of individuals with obesity appears to be resistant to the anabolic action of targeted exercise regimes and protein ingestion when compared to normal-weight adults. This indicates impaired muscle protein remodeling in response to the main anabolic stimuli to human skeletal muscle tissue is contributing to poor muscle health with obesity. Deranged anabolic signaling related to insulin resistance, lipid accumulation, and/or systemic/muscle inflammation are likely at the root of the anabolic resistance of muscle protein synthesis rates with obesity. The purpose of this review is to discuss the impact of protein ingestion and exercise on muscle protein remodeling in people with obesity, and the potential mechanisms underlining anabolic resistance of their muscle.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6584965/
    Last edited by Mrpb; 01-25-2021 at 08:50 AM.
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    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    So where they did regression analyses of multiple studies to see if there was any relationship with BF% to muscle gain, they found neutral to positive relationships (i.e. more overweight people found it easier to gain muscle), are you saying they are wrong in every case?

    Nobody is saying that people with chronic obesity issues will not be healthier by losing fat - just that you don't have to "get down to 12% before" you can effectively gain muscle. This is a cause and effect issue. Obesity is one of the components in the vicious cycle that is metabolic syndrome which has very little to do with being a 240lb American football player trying to gain muscle.
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    So where they did regression analyses of multiple studies to see if there was any relationship with BF% to muscle gain, they found neutral to positive relationships (i.e. more overweight people found it easier to gain muscle), are you saying they are wrong in every case?
    Sounds interesting. Do you have the reference? I only listened to the first 45 minutes, maybe I missed that.

    I didn't see it in the references.

    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    Nobody is saying that people with chronic obesity issues will not be healthier by losing fat - just that you don't have to "get down to 12% before" you can effectively gain muscle.
    Suppressed MPS is a pretty strong argument against bulking at higher body fat imo.
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    I can't remember, this is the problem with podcasts. IIRC they acquired data from the various studies and ran their own analyses - it was probably that.

    I deliberately didn't want to put too many cliff notes - I wanted people to listen and make their own minds up. To me it seems logical that a fit active person with high-ish BF would have better reserves to back up the muscle building processes than someone who is very lean. That is my only real "axe to grind" here.
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    Would like to hear it. If anyone knows at what minute that starts please share.
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    Would like to hear it. If anyone knows at what minute that starts please share.
    Around the 56th minute mark (on Spotify, should be the same on YouTube).
    "Get up, and don't ever give up".
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    Would like to hear it. If anyone knows at what minute that starts please share.
    If you your feeling a little cold this winter and wanna get nice & heated, you can tune into 1:40 where Greg and Eric claim that they wouldn't necessarily hate on "dirty bulking" because they themselves and "basically every other huge guy they know" went on dirty bulks and they thought that anecdotally eating such a massive surplus helped them push through and take their gains to a whole nother level.

    If anything, I'd think that recomping would be far better than dirty or even regular "bulking" in the traditional sense for athletes concerned primarily with strength who are overweight. I don't see any argument for them to eat in a surplus, even if they're JUST concerned with muscle gained health be damned (sumo wrestlers/top PLers).
    Last edited by Strawng; 01-25-2021 at 07:35 PM.
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    So I listened to the part about the regression analysis they did. Super interesting! But for different reason that one might expect.

    So they gathered data from training studies (not overfeeding studies). They made a score for the best lean gains and they found out that guys at higher body fat made the best "lean gains": this was because they gained LBM while they dropped fat. As they mention they were likely in a small deficit. When looking just at the FFM gains they saw that it didn't really matter what body fat they had, they made similar gains regardless. What I didn't hear is whether these guys were trained or untrained.

    So in my opinion this does not support bulking at high body fat at all, it supports recomping at higher body fat works well.

    It does cast some doubt on the MPS being suppressed in people with higher body fat but there could be an explanation: MPS has been shown to take a lot of energy. Guys with higher body fat have extra energy available in their fat tissue. Guys at lower body fat likely have to eat more. This was a training study were people were not overfed, so big chance (I suspect) most of the leaner guys were not in surplus. Recomping is harder when you're lean, and their analysis supports this, from what I heard.

    I asked a few questions to Greg by email.

    Originally Posted by xuerebx View Post
    Around the 56th minute mark (on Spotify, should be the same on YouTube).
    Thanks!
    Last edited by Mrpb; 01-25-2021 at 10:58 PM.
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    Let us know what the reply is! It was the last episode for season 3 so we won't hear from them in a while.
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    Originally Posted by Strawng View Post
    If you your feeling a little cold this winter and wanna get nice & heated, you can tune into 1:40 where Greg and Eric claim that they wouldn't necessarily hate on "dirty bulking" because they themselves and "basically every other huge guy they know" went on dirty bulks and they thought that anecdotally eating such a massive surplus helped them push through and take their gains to a whole nother level.
    lol he went from 183 to 216 in 3 months. Impressive dreamer bulk.

    If anything, I'd think that recomping would be far better than dirty or even regular "bulking" in the traditional sense for athletes concerned primarily with strength who are overweight.
    It's hard to say without data. Maybe it still works to build up more muscle. I highly doubt it will be lean gains though.
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    I do not listen to podcasts but I am curious do they make a distinction between body fat percentage and insulin resistance? I could envision higher body fat levels without insulin resistance not impeding MPS but once a threshold is crossed and you have insulin resistance and increases intramyocellular lipid depositing than MPS may be compromised.
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    Would certainly be interested to hear Greg's response.

    Originally Posted by Heisman2 View Post
    I do not listen to podcasts but I am curious do they make a distinction between body fat percentage and insulin resistance? I could envision higher body fat levels without insulin resistance not impeding MPS but once a threshold is crossed and you have insulin resistance and increases intramyocellular lipid depositing than MPS may be compromised.
    That's what I would expect too.

    My simple advice for most people would be this:
    - if fat and unhealthy - lose weight fairly rapidly at first and start exercising until a more healthy state is reached.
    - everyone else - move nice and steadily towards a (realistic) target weight. Fatties can recomp along the way, skinnies may gain some fat but it can be kept under control.
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    I came across this article; the author argues that the main problem with bulking at higher body fat is that testosterone and HGH tend to be lower. This would impair bulking results. References included. I have not looked at the references yet. Not sure if it pans out.

    Anabolic (muscle building) hormones. Finally. This is where things get interesting for leaner people.

    Body fat percentage is related to hormone levels. Testosterone and growth hormone (Tap) in particular are higher when a man’s body fat gets closer to about 10%. And more testosterone will likely make you store less body fat and gain more lean mass while bulking.

    For example, in identical twins those with higher levels of anabolic hormones (like testosterone) – gained proportionally more muscle and less fat on a daily 840 calorie surplus (Tap).

    Other research shows testosterone levels are clearly related to how much muscle you gain on a bulk (Tap).
    https://bodylogiq.org/en/the-ideal-b...ntage-to-bulk/
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    There's a psychological element which is not being considered too - and that is bulking when you're already at a high BF%. I tried that in my late teens (when I joined the forum in 2008) when I was skinny fat, and I got fatter. Sure, as a novice I also got bigger/stronger to a certain extent, but it's not very motivating. Many people who join the gym want to get leaner, and bulking whilst already being fat doesn't pan out very well unless you don't have any physique goals and you're just lifting for strength gains.

    Having given up on working out and returning back after 6-7 years a few months ago, I went with the dropping BF% to sub-20% approach first and it's far more rewarding IMO. It's easier to lose fat so the progress is visually faster.
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    I came across this article; the author argues that the main problem with bulking at higher body fat is that testosterone and HGH tend to be lower. This would impair bulking results. References included. I have not looked at the references yet. Not sure if it pans out.

    I'm sceptical of the relevance based on it saying the twins didn't do any weight training. I am also not sure how much of a change in test levels are needed to have any meaningful impact, i meal if'ers claim HGH when they fast but that apparently doesn't make any difference in the real world. i don't have any horse in the race just trying to play devils advocate.
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    Doesn't a calorie deficit lower testosterone? in which case its going to take some people months of a deficit to get lean which in the process is lowering their T levels from the deficit, then its going to take some time for T levels to recover back to an optimal state post diet before they might theoretically be in a better position to then bulk. Is it really going to make any real world difference in the long run? Surely all those months spent in a deficit would be better spent recomping or an extremely lean bulk where they improve overall body composition unless we are talking about people who are just obese.

    I can see how theoretically starting from a lower bodyfat % may be the most optimal place to start, but if you are not ALREADY at a low bodyfat is it still optimal in the long run to go into a deficit get lean and then bulk? People who are skinny fat for example, is it better for them to get lean first or is it better for them to lean bulk or recomp?
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    Originally Posted by StayNattyBruh View Post
    Doesn't a calorie deficit lower testosterone?
    Good questions. From what I remember reading I think the effect is minor if you don't cut with too large of a deficit and don't cut to too low body fat.

    Ps. I don't think that everyone at 18-20% should cut down before bulking but if they struggle to progress without a surplus, cutting first may be the best solution, better (IMO) than bulking to 25%, at least for body builders (or people that want to look good naked). For power lifters it could be a different story. Although Menno Henselmans disagrees, he believes powerlifters should not bulk too high either.
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    Good questions. From what I remember reading I think the effect is minor if you don't cut with too large of a deficit and don't cut to too low body fat.

    Ps. I don't think that everyone at 18-20% should cut down before bulking but if they struggle to progress without a surplus, cutting first may be the best solution, better (IMO) than bulking to 25%, at least for body builders (or people that want to look good naked). For power lifters it could be a different story. Although Menno Henselmans disagrees, he believes powerlifters should not bulk too high either.
    https://www.facebook.com/MennoHensel...5652810159211/
    This. Also, if we’re talking about natty lifters, then being overweight or obese doesn’t do wonders for your testosterone levels either. Fat increases the aromatization of free testosterone into estrogen.
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