Carbs/Protein/Glycogen

Question for someone with real knowledge and preferably a degree in nutrition or something similar.

I consider myself to have a little above average knowledge when it comes to the body and how different macro-nutrients are used.

Here is my question though:

Say you're in a cutting phase, or doing a recomp.. anything other than bulking really - If excess protein can be converted to glycogen and used as energy for the body, then what is the point in being on anything other than a low carb diet (if this is an approach that works for the individual)?

Carbs give energy, but do not build muscle. So why not just eat a very high protein diet and stay low carb? Your body is going to convert excess protein and store it as glycogen anyways?

YES, I realize excessive protein is hard on some organs. Speaking for ONLY ME though - I drop weight extremely quick when I am low carb, don't have any digestive issues, and with 250g of protein per day at 190 pounds I have no trouble with hunger, energy levels, and am still able to increase my lifts in the gym while loosing excess weight and/or maintaining below average body fat. So if you're not looking to gain pure mass, but want to stay lean year round and are okay slowly gaining lean muscle mass, why bother with carbs at all?

Before anyone responds, I am fully aware that this approach would not work for a lot of people, and I'm fully aware of what too much protein can do to the body. This is more of a "in theory" question".
«13

Replies

  • jjpptt2
    jjpptt2 Posts: 5,610 Member
    edited April 2018
    From an "in theory" standpoint...

    You need minimum fat intake for certain body functions, hormones, etc. Beyond that, I don't see a reason specifically AGAINST high protein/moderate fat/low carb.

    In practice there are a number of reasons someone might not want to... but that's what you're trying to avoid in this discussion, right?
  • ahilton1992
    ahilton1992 Posts: 49 Member
    @jjpptt2 Correct. I realize for most people this would be impractical. More so of in theory for how the body works and gaining lean muscle mass while on a low carb diet. I know someone will probably say I'm talking about Keto, but that's typically a high fat diet and not so much what I'm talking about.
  • JMcGee2018
    JMcGee2018 Posts: 273 Member
    Assuming that your "no carb" diet doesn't eliminate things like vegetables, there isn't anything wrong with a high protein, extremely low carb diet if your body responds well to it. Foods like fruits and vegetables, which contain carbs, also contain the necessary vitamins, minerals, and fiber that our body needs to be healthy, but once you've provided your body with those nutrients, there's really no reason to eat more carbs unless you want to.
  • SariC3
    SariC3 Posts: 69 Member

  • jjpptt2
    jjpptt2 Posts: 5,610 Member
    @jjpptt2 Correct. I realize for most people this would be impractical. More so of in theory for how the body works and gaining lean muscle mass while on a low carb diet. I know someone will probably say I'm talking about Keto, but that's typically a high fat diet and not so much what I'm talking about.

    A couple of things worth noting, just to be clear and avoid any misunderstanding/miscommunication.

    Muscle is muscle. It's lean by nature. There's no such thing as fat muscle. You can gain lean weight, but saying you gain lean muscle is, at best, redundant.

    The question in my mind is whether or not a person's energy levels will be impacted enough on a low carb diet to affect their workouts, which could certainly impact body composition. I'm not sure how you have that conversation in theory though... that's more of a "your mileage may vary" thing, IMO.
  • ahilton1992
    ahilton1992 Posts: 49 Member
    @JMcGee2018 Thank you for that answer. I see people talking about splitting up their macros 40/40/20 or something of that nature, and from a scientific standpoint, I really just don't see the point in that many carbs.
  • jjpptt2
    jjpptt2 Posts: 5,610 Member
    @JMcGee2018 Thank you for that answer. I see people talking about splitting up their macros 40/40/20 or something of that nature, and from a scientific standpoint, I really just don't see the point in that many carbs.

    I assume one of the 40s in that breakdown is carbs?

    And McGee brings up a good point - are we including health/nutrition in this conversation, or just muscle building/retention?
  • ahilton1992
    ahilton1992 Posts: 49 Member
    Just muscle building / retention. And for me, when I wrote the question, it's really with getting bigger/stronger without having to go through a serious cutting phase every Summer. That type of situation.
  • jjpptt2
    jjpptt2 Posts: 5,610 Member
    Basically, that if you're eating enough protein, then carbs serve no point for your body when it comes to building muscle and muscle retention

    I don't think it's that black and white... but I'll let others better versed on the science to jump in.
  • ahilton1992
    ahilton1992 Posts: 49 Member
    It would just make sense to me that since excess carbs AND protein can be both be converted to glycogen and stored as energy in the body, why eat carbs when only protein builds muscle. Obviously, TOO much protein will still cause weight gain.
  • jjpptt2
    jjpptt2 Posts: 5,610 Member
    I don't think muscle building is exclusively protein-based. Primarily, yes. Exclusively, I don't think so.

    Interesting conversation though... I'm following along.
  • JMcGee2018
    JMcGee2018 Posts: 273 Member
    It would just make sense to me that since excess carbs AND protein can be both be converted to glycogen and stored as energy in the body, why eat carbs when only protein builds muscle. Obviously, TOO much protein will still cause weight gain.

    There's the flip side that your body does more than just build muscle, so calories from carbs aren't useless, even if they are unnecessary for muscle growth.
  • ahilton1992
    ahilton1992 Posts: 49 Member
    Good point @JMcGee2018

    Like @jjpptt2 said, I think it's just a really interesting conversation/debate/whatever you want to call it.
  • ahilton1992
    ahilton1992 Posts: 49 Member
    Someone correct me if I'm wrong -

    I know simple carbs can be good for spiking insulin levels after a workout, which helps drive amino acids to the muscles, but whey protein is also known for spiking insulin levels. So again, carbs seem obsolete in the muscle building process.
  • RuNaRoUnDaFiEld
    RuNaRoUnDaFiEld Posts: 5,864 Member
    What about the other functions in your body?

    How would you plan on getting your micros?

    Carbs may be unnecessary to the body but your micros aren't.

    The only way to get them with protein sources would be to consume a fair amount of offal each day.
  • ahilton1992
    ahilton1992 Posts: 49 Member
    Yes, absolutely - there are other functions that have to go on in your body to be healthy that require micro nutrients and are probably neecssary for optimal muscle growth.

    Couple of things - obviously, I’m not talking about eliminating EVERY carb. Sill eat your vegetables, you’re still gonna yet probably 50 carbs a day or so justthrough protein shakes and such. You can a multi vitamin to help pick up the slack.

    I’m really just talking about the role that carbs play in muscle building specifically.
  • ahilton1992
    ahilton1992 Posts: 49 Member
    I really think the main argument for carbs in muscle building is having energy (glycogen) to get through intense weight lifting sessions, and replenishing those glycogen stores post workout. But because protein can be converted to glycogen I’m failing to see a a reason (backed by science) that a significant amount of carbs are need in the process.
  • ahilton1992
    ahilton1992 Posts: 49 Member
    @AnvilHead thank you! This is the type of info I was looking for. Real science! Much appreciated