Karim's muscle gain carnivore adventure

(Karim Wassef) #502

I’m going to publish my DEXA and RMR results but I’m exhausted and stressed after looking at them and I’m going to have a choczero bar and some nuts - it’s a carnivore cheat but my head is throbbing and cravings intense. This is emotional, but also very real…

Basically… I’m not gaining muscle or maintaining my RMR based on these results:

Lost 9.3lbs total on carnivore with only 2lbs fat and the rest 7.3lb in lean… that’s with 5 day weightlifting and eating over 1g / lb lean mass most days… unbelievable … this is worse than even my home scale predicts

Lost fat all over but lost lean in my glutes, chest/back and abs/back…

That’s a net zero (almost) change in body fat%.

Visceral fat dropped from 1.66lbs to 1.21lbs.

and RMR is down again


All the muscle loss points directly at cortisol since the loss is in those regions that are targeted by this hormones (small butt, large gut). The reduction in visceral fat contradicts that though…?

at 4:45 in… talks through the glute loss and gut gain.

maybe the heavy lifting is increasing my cortisol ? maybe the work / lift / life stress is just compounding?

I’m going to add L-Tyrosine for adrenal recovery.

If I’m missing something in the data - please share…

(All facts start as dreams dreamt by a wizard) #503

Are you frustrated?

(Doug) #504

Are you experienced?

  • Jimi Hendrix

(Karim Wassef) #505

Yes. Quite frustrated… I have figured out multiple ways to lose fat … I can keto, fast, or carnivore and enjoy all three without cravings.

I feel like I’ve tamed insulin and my fat loss is continuing well.

My frustration is all around my lack of muscle gains. I could explain it while fasting… but to lose the same lean mass while eating carnivore was inconceivable. I’m eating over 100g of protein a day - 3 egg and one steak minimum. And eating enough fat to keep my overall intake in the 2200 to 3200 range from dietary sources.

Here are the things I can change - not saying I should, but it’s food for thought.

  1. OMAD - maybe my insulin is too low for too long a window of time? I can’t seem to keep ketones or GKI under control at 2MAD.

  2. Constant keto - DeLauer recommends using carbs to fill up glycogen to enhance lifting (glucose+fructose+salt combo)

  3. Go on an extended vacation to reduce cortisol - even the thought makes me stress though :laughing: because of the potential financial impact

  4. Make a career move to improve cortisol - also more stressful in the short term with unknown long term effects

  5. I got a testosterone test: TT and cFT (total and free) to see if there are additional hormonal influencers due to aging. My TT was great but cFT was low - not clear on what that means yet.

  6. I’ve started adding tyrosine for adrenal support. Hopefully that will help reduce my cortisol.

  7. Cardio - low intensity is a fat burner but can also be a muscle burner. There’s studies that point to cardio as a direct driver of lost muscle gains. And I hate it. Not including HIIT since that’s a potent user of glucose and that would accelerate my muscle wasting in my current view.

  8. Changing up my lifting - I focus on squats, bench and deadlift… that should target my areas of muscle loss (chest, back, belly and glutes). In fact, I’ve seen solid gains in my bench every week on carnivore. I could push harder in back and glutes with more isolation exercises like hip thrusts and pull downs.

  9. Sleeping more? I sleep 6-8 hours a day except when jet lagged. I’ve been using melatonin to get back in sync and it’s been getting back into the 7hr range.

  10. Do nothing - these three week results were confounded by a very stressful trip and not indicative of what a controlled carnivore exercise regimen can achieve. Stay the course and check back in three weeks.

  11. Go for more insulinogenic foods like dairy derived protein to combat the muscle wasting - like whey protein isolate. I can do the powder or ricotta cheese… I’d rather just eat heavy cream but I need some muscle growth boosting.

I’m open to other ideas… I have no problem losing fat but I feel like my lean mass is wasting away faster than I can control it. My gym performance isn’t lacking and I feel stronger and I think I look much better and more muscular - but overall smaller too.

The facts are that I’m stuck in the 21%-23% bf range, not because I can’t lose fat but because my muscle loss is constantly faster. I lose both “in just the right proportions” to stop me from getting into better shape.

Feeling down …


I’ll get back to HRV when I have the proper time. Short answer: I think it’s a good measure of cardiac (dis)stress for me.

(Karim Wassef) #507

Went to sleep last night with a blood glucose of 109 … that’s after eating less than 20g of carbs.

Woke up this working at 99

To put it in context, I was usually in the 35-55 range fasted, 55-80 eating keto… so being at 100+ is out of my historic norm.

Getting bad news about stress only exacerbates stress… yay!


SO true!

(Karim Wassef) #509

My wife feels that I need to laugh more and I’ve been a grumpy pants ever since I got my results… and ever since my travel… and ever since my work stress bubbled over…

She’s right, but I’m just not in the mood to have fun or laugh … dragging so much failure behind me. I have a competitive personality and not making headway after months of working at something is wearing me down.

We go on vacation in July and I was hoping for some victory before then.


It’s a major victory that you’re doing all this great experimenting and sharing the knowledge with us. :kiss:

(Karim Wassef) #511

Thanks :blush:

(Empress of the Unexpected) #512

That would be discouraging, but try to lessen the stress by coming up with new things to tweak, like you listed above. I found your mention of ricotta cheese interesting. And don’t use the word failure! We so appreciate your sharing the journey with us. I feel sure you will come up with something.

(Karim Wassef) #513


this is how I felt before learning about the science of fat loss… now I’m comfortable with that aspect, but I have a new battle… the science of muscle gain and loss.

I am ok with the word failure because I believe that learning comes through failure. I’ve always believed that so this is in line for me. I sure wish I could learn faster though! LOL

I’ve been researching sarcopenia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarcopenia

and other muscle wasting drivers. I don’t think this is happening with me but it’s about understanding the underlying biochemistry.

(Karim Wassef) #514



Satellite cells are small mononuclear cells that abut the muscle fiber. Satellite cells are normally activated upon injury or exercise. These cells then differentiate and fuse into the muscle fiber, helping to maintain its function. One theory is that sarcopenia is in part caused by a failure in satellite cell activation.[2]

Extreme muscle loss is often a result of both diminishing anabolic signals, such as growth hormone and testosterone, and promotion of catabolic signals, such as pro-inflammatory cytokines.[2]

Oxidized proteins increase in skeletal muscle with age and leads to a buildup of lipofuscin and cross-linked proteins that are normally removed via the proteolysis system. These proteins compile in the skeletal muscle tissue, but are dysfunctional. This leads to an accumulation of non-contractile material in the skeletal muscle. This helps explain why muscle strength decreases severely, as well as muscle mass, in sarcopenia.[3]

One group has suggested that the evolutionary basis for the failure of the body to maintain muscle mass and function with age is that the genes governing these traits were selected in a Late Paleolithic environment in which there was a very high level of obligatory muscular effort, and that these genetic parameters are therefore ill-matched to a modern lifestyle characterized by high levels of lifelong sedentary behavior.[5]

Epidemiological research into the developmental origins of health and disease has shown that early environmental influences on growth and development may have long-term consequences for human health. Low birth weight, a marker of a poor early environment, is associated with reduced muscle mass and strength in adult life.[6][7][8][9][10] One study has shown that lower birth weight is associated with a significant decrease in muscle fibre score, suggesting that developmental influences on muscle morphology may explain the widely reported associations between lower birth weight and sarcopenia.[11]


Lack of exercise is thought to be a significant risk factor for sarcopenia.[15] Even highly trained athletes experience its effects; master-class athletes who continue to train and compete throughout their adult lives exhibit a progressive loss of muscle mass and strength, and records in speed and strength events decline progressively after age 30.[2][16]

Master-class athletes maintain a high level of fitness throughout their lifespan. Even among master athletes, performance of marathon runners and weight lifters declines after approximately 40 years of age, with peak levels of performance decreased by approximately 50% by 80 years of age.[17] However, a gradual loss of muscle fibers begins to occur at around 50 years of age.[17]

Exercise is of interest in treatment of sarcopenia; evidence indicates increased ability and capacity of skeletal muscle to synthesize proteins in response to short-term resistance exercise.[18] A 2009 Cochrane review also found evidence that in older adults progressive resistance training can improve physical performance (gait speed) and muscular strength,[19] which are two key components of sarcopenia.


As of July 2015, there are no approved medications for the treatment of sarcopenia;[1] however, β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate (HMB), a metabolite of leucine which is sold as a dietary supplement, has demonstrated efficacy in preventing the loss of muscle mass in individuals with sarcopenia.[1][20][21] A growing body of evidence supports the efficacy of HMB as a treatment for reducing, or even reversing, the loss of muscle mass, muscle function, and muscle strength in hypercatabolic disease states such as cancer cachexia;[22][23][24] consequently, as of June 2016 it is recommended that both the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia and muscle wasting in general include supplementation with HMB, regular resistance exercise, and consumption of a high-protein diet.[22][23] Based upon a meta-analysis in 2015, HMB supplementation appears to be useful as a treatment for preserving lean muscle mass in older adults.[note 1][21] More research is needed to determine the precise effects of HMB on muscle strength and function in this age group.[21]

DHEA and human growth hormone have been shown to have little to no effect in this setting. Growth hormone increases muscle protein synthesis and increases muscle mass, but does not lead to gains in strength and function in most studies.[25] This, and the similar lack of efficacy of its effector insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), may be due to local resistance to IGF-1 in aging muscle, resulting from inflammation and other age changes.[25]

Testosterone or other anabolic steroids have also been investigated for treatment of sarcopenia, and seem to have some positive effects on muscle strength and mass, but cause several side effects and raise concerns of prostate cancer in men and virilization in women.[25][26] Additionally, recent studies suggest testosterone treatments may induce adverse cardiovascular events.[27][28][29] Other approved medications under investigation as possible treatments for sarcopenia include ghrelin, vitamin D, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, and eicosapentaenoic acid.[25][26]


Protein intake and physical activity are important stimuli for muscle protein synthesis.[30] A number of expert groups have proposed an increase in dietary protein recommendations for older age groups to 1.0-1.2 g/kg body weight per day.[31][32] Key nutrient supplementation in older adults is of interest in the prevention of sarcopenia and frailty, since it is a simple, low-cost treatment approach without major side effects.[33]

(Empress of the Unexpected) #515

Thank you for sharing that. I need to put a bit more muscle on as well

(Karim Wassef) #516

An interesting thought:

Maybe my sensitivity to dietary protein and my rapid muscle loss are related?

if my high stress drives cortisol and that drives gluconeogenesis demand, then all protein is convertible…

if I consume more protein, that turns into glucose — yup, I see a glucose increase and ketone drop
if I consume less protein, my own lean mass turns into glucose — yup, I see that happening too

high cortisol could be the underlying cause of both

thoughts? research?

(Empress of the Unexpected) #517

Kinda random, but have you had homocysteine or CRP tested at all recently?

(Karim Wassef) #518

Not that I remember. My last test did show a reduced red blood cell count but nothing alarming.

(Mario) #519

OMAD will for sure rise your cortisol level IF you already have high cortisol or stress life

(Mame) #520

LOL, yes I bet you could sort this out if you lay on the beach for 6 months. Or simply didn’t work. This actually happened to a friend of mine, lost 80# not working due to a work accident, gained all weight back within 2.5 years back at work. Entirely stress related in her case. :pensive:
Your frustration is coming through loud and clear and is very understandable.

feel free to ignore the rest of this as I am about to get lean on 1.5 decades of listening to my mentors and meditation teachers

Sometimes truly accepting the current reality can help - including lowering the stress response. Your body is doing what it wants to do, your body is amazing and carries you around every day, enables you to love your family and work for sustenance. Maybe nothing is ‘wrong’ - it just isn’t how you would like it to be. It isn’t responding to your efforts how you think it should.

Maybe, our bodies know better than our minds what it needs to focus on. For instance perhaps you are having high levels of mutated cells in your colon and your body is focused on that repair (and preventing cancer). Your body cares naught for gaining muscle mass at the moment.

What we don’t know is so huge. However reaching for trust, gratitude, curiosity and reverence to our bodies instead of frustration and control may be the thing that allows for optimum health and well-being and a long and peaceful life and decreases stress response as well.

I also hasten to acknowledge that none of this is easy to implement and I admit to doing this practice very imperfectly myself. sigh. But I try, especially when I am pissed at reality for not being how I want it. (daily…sometimes hourly)

If I at all came off ‘know it all’ or preachy I apologize and as I said please ignore. This just happens to be something I deal with a lot.

(Karim Wassef) #521

I asked for input, didn’t I ?


I agree that acceptance is important in reducing stress. I’m a stubborn…err… tenacious person. I work hard for what I want and I am frustrated and deflated when it fails.

But falling down is just the first part of getting back up again.

I’ve started tyrosine today and I’ll see what it does to my blood glucose levels… I will say that it does have a side order of depression and that may be hitting me… but I know that and that’s part of getting through it.

thank you all for your love and support. :heart: