Body Recomp Nihilism


(PJ) #1

This is an old blog post, but I found it very inspirational, with both reason and references. I kind of saw his point about the growing movement toward “nothing matters” in some areas. I have observed that even in lowcarb, and if it might be true in some cases, it’s definitely not in all cases, and tends to result in people not bothering with many details because “it varies / it doesn’t matter” and then not succeeding.

Since the article is old I’m just attaching it but the URL is in it if you want to visit the source.

mennohenselmans.com-Can you gain muscle and lose fat at the same time_.pdf (453.1 KB)


(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #2

The First Law of Thermodynamics

You’ve probably heard someone argue that achieving muscle growth and fat loss in the sameday is physically impossible because of thermodynamics. The argument goes as follows.

  1. To build muscle, you must store energy. To lose fat, you must burn energy.
  2. When you are in energy surplus, your body stores energy. When you are in a deficit,your body loses energy.
  3. Therefore, you must be in energy surplus to gain muscle and in a deficit to lose fat.

The first two points, the premises, are true. They refer to the first law of thermodynamics (‘movement of energy’), also called the law of the conversion of energy. This law means energy cannot just disappear. It has to go somewhere. Building new fat or muscle cells requires energy and breaking them down releases energy. However, point three, the conclusion, is false…

He makes a very good argument here and many folks would benefit reading and understanding it.


#3

I tried for years to do both, and wasted a lot of time. Very short lived and not worth the attempt. Much faster to burn off the fat then add muscle. I used to think that the traditional bulk/cut cycle was a waste, then it hit me that that’s exactly how we grow in real life when we’re little. Store it up and get fat… burn it off and grow bigger. Seems bro-science is unintentionally based on our bodies real life preferences.

To further push that, I’m not against chemical “enhancement” so I can bend the rules more than most can, and it’s STILL not worth trying!


(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #4

There are several potential take-aways from the article. For me, the most important is that thermodynamics works, of course, but in a more complex manner than many realize. Folks who make arguments based on thermodyamics, overall energy in must equal overall energy out, need to understand that (over)-simplication doesn’t always help. In human metabolism determining exactly where and how much energy ended up and what happened to it during the process(es) is not simple.


(Bacon by any other name would taste just as great.) #5

The mechanism for putting on muscle and adding bone density is simple: (1) eat more protein, and (2) get enough energy to fuel the growth, whether that energy comes from stored fat or from dietary fat. If you eat a ketogenic diet to satiety, your body will set your appetite at a level that will permit both. Since the body sets a limit to how much energy can be derived from stored fat in a day, the appetite will be set at a level that will permit energy to come from both stored and dietary fat.

The mechanism for shedding excess stored fat is also simple: (1) lower insulin by ceasing to eat too much glucose (i.e., carbohydrate), and (2) get enough energy to avoid putting your body into famine mode. If you eat a ketogenic diet to satiety, your body will set your appetite at a level that will permit the shedding of any excess stored fat you may happen to have. Since the body sets a limit to how much energy can be derived from stored fat in a day, the appetite will be set at a level that will permit energy to come from both stored and dietary fat.

Figuring out how to do both simultaneously is left as an exercise for the student. And we know it can be done, because it’s been observed during a number of studies and reported anecdotally on these forums.


(Anthony) #6

That is an excellent article.

Editing to add due credit to @RightNOW who posted the article originally.


(Doug) #7

Great thread title, PJ. :slightly_smiling_face:

And that’s an excellent article - one of the best I’ve ever read. I think that often “lean mass” or “nonfat mass” is assumed to be muscle, which it most certainly isn’t, necessarily. Heck, some people have even been recorded as gaining lean mass while outright fasting.

There are all sorts of reasons for people not succeeding. For a given individual, something will matter or not, and definitely - the overall picture won’t be the same for all individuals. To a considerable extent, the burden is on the individual to identify their desires, and to find out how to satisfy them.