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Old 05-31-2008, 11:38 PM   #1
Donald Lee
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Default Burning Question on Thermogenesis and Muscle Loss

I've read Eat-Stop-Eat, Fast-5, and a bunch of other online resources about intermittent fasting.

Brad Pilon's Eat-Stop-Eat was the first book I read about IF, and one of his most important assertions is that metabolism is hardly affected by eating. He states that our metabolisms are mostly a function of our body weight, and that any effect of eating on our metabolism is minimal. So he states that CR and intermittent fasting doesn't slow metabolism. This assertion and his assertion that muscle loss doesn't come from a reduction in caloric intake but from disuse of muscles when lowering caloric intake are his two of his big arguments.

I frequently read, even from authorities on intermittent fasting, that fasting or lowering caloric intake could slow your metabolism. I also frequently read that muscle loss results from reducing your calories.

Here is an interview of Brad Pilon. (wfs) http://eatstopeat.com/brads-interview.html

And here is a quote from a newsletter:
Quote:
As you can imagine, I receive lots of questions about Eat Stop Eat ,
with the most common question being about following Eat Stop Eat
and losing muscle.

Most people are still very concerned that they will lose muscle if they
don't eat every 3 hours. My answer has always been, don't worry,
research has shown over and over that if you are resistance training
then you won't lose muscle.

The other day, I received a very interesting question that went
something like this - "If calorie restriction doesn't cause muscle loss,
then what does?"

Great question. We all know that people who are bedridden and
on a low calorie diet lose muscle. When I first starting writing Eat Stop Eat,
and was running the idea past several dietitians for input, they all brought up
stories of muscle loss in their patients who were bedridden and on a low
calorie diet.

And since I am constantly saying that caloric restriction doesn't cause
you to lose muscle if you are working out, then that leaves being
'bedridden' (or 'disuse' as they say in research) as the cause of
muscle loss.

In my opinion, the best way to lose muscle it to not use muscle.

Ever break your arm and have to wear a cast, or know someone who did?
Do you remember how skinny that arm was when the cast finally
came off? Put a cast on your arm and your muscles will shrink faster then
an expensive new shirt in the dryer.

There was no change in nutrition, only a change in the amount the
muscles were used, and the muscle wasted away.

In fact, 'casting' is so effective at causing muscle loss that it has
been used in research to study something called 'disuse atrophy' or
muscle loss from lack of use.

In a study conducted at the University of Nottingham, 22 male
and female studies had casts put on their right leg for two weeks.
Their diets didn't change, yet after only two weeks the cross sectional
area of their quadriceps (the big muscles in your thigh) decreased
by 10%.

NO change in diet..but the muscle still decreases in size by 10%.

The Bottom line is as long as you are working out, and meeting some
sort of caloric minimum (studies have gone as low as 80 grams of
protein and 800 Kcals a day), you won't lose muscle. And, you will
definitely not lose muscle following Eat Stop Eat. However, if
you don't use the muscle, then it really doesn't matter what you're
eating, the muscle is going to shrink.
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Old 06-01-2008, 09:49 AM   #2
Steven Low
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The problem may not lie in the calories (overall), but it does lie in the calories.

The body gets more "efficient" with its food as caloric input (and macros) get lower. Someone eating .5g/lbs of protein may find the same results in muscle gain as someone eating 1g/lbs of protein. If there's less the body tends to be more efficient with its sources. I think efficiency of use plays the biggest role namely in that the body can metabolize excess proteins and junk lying around (hence why IF is great for cleaning up the body) that it usually just leaves lying around or excretes as waste.

On the topic of disuse, sometimes on my rest days I get lower than basal metabolic rate (BMR) calories, and even though I have usually a significant supercompensatory effect from training I sometimes "lose" muscle mass. Well, at least I have a negative nitrogen balance that I can gauge from the color of my urine as compared to my protein intake. So I don't think it's absolutely true that disuse is the only cause of muscle loss because a [lack of] calories is going to play a role at least what I've seen in my own body.

Well, basically what I'm getting at I guess is that I do think BMR fluctuates at least some -- maybe not as much as people were thinking. However, the major changes lies in the efficiency of the cals ingested. If there's excess cals in the gut, you can bet that the flora there are going to use a bit more than usual, and the body isn't going to secrete insane amounts of enzymes and bile to absorb every single nutrient there. However, if there's a smaller amount of food, I think the body tends to absorb it better and use it more efficiently.

At least, that's my take on the subject. NO clue if it's correct or not because I haven't read any studies or anything to back it up (except the couple of random facts in there), but it sounds good.
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Old 06-02-2008, 08:34 AM   #3
Mike ODonnell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donald Lee View Post
I frequently read, even from authorities on intermittent fasting, that fasting or lowering caloric intake could slow your metabolism. I also frequently read that muscle loss results from reducing your calories.
LONG TERM CR or fasting can drop metabolism/waste muscle. It just doesn't happen overnight...takes like a couple weeks for the starvation response to kick in. Hence why I like IF weekdays and weekends off (to get a few more calories in and enjoy the weekend). Muscle loss comes from lack of exercise to stimulate growth (use it or lose it), lack of enough daily protein, and too much wasting from chronic cortisol (stress, lack of sleep, excessive "cardio").

Eating too low daily calories whether with IF or normal eating is never a good idea...you want enough to be in a small deficit while still being able to maintain muscle if your goal is fat loss. Any low calorie plan slows your metabolism if done too long. IF may also allow people to maintain on less calories because of better digestion/utilization of the food you eat due to improved digestion and increased sensitivity to the marconutrients through periods of lower intake.
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Last edited by Mike ODonnell : 06-02-2008 at 08:37 AM.
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Old 06-02-2008, 12:53 PM   #4
Donald Lee
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so are you saying that the thermogenesis effect is the cause of slowed metabolism in those who restrict calories? Brad Pilon states in his interview that the metabolism isn't slowed by the restricting of calories but only appears to have slowed b/c the person's bodyweight has gone down.
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Old 06-02-2008, 04:14 PM   #5
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the body goes into starvation response if you restrict calories....hence all those people crash dieting lose weight for 2-3 weeks and then stop....metabolism lowers(lowered thyroid output) and then they continue to lose muscle and further make their situation worse.
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Old 06-02-2008, 11:30 PM   #6
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What about the studies that indicate that muscle mass is preserved even when people are on low calorie diets of as little as 800 calories, as long as they are continuing with resistance training? I know I've read about these studies in the past, but can't recall where they are right now.
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Old 06-03-2008, 12:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donald Lee View Post
What about the studies that indicate that muscle mass is preserved even when people are on low calorie diets of as little as 800 calories, as long as they are continuing with resistance training? I know I've read about these studies in the past, but can't recall where they are right now.
Once they run out of bodyfat to burn I am almost 99.9999999999% sure they are going to start metabolizing muscle.
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Old 06-03-2008, 12:42 AM   #8
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Agree Steven. Part of why Zoners have to up the fat once the BF gets too low. Performance is the first sign to go that your fuel source(s) are compromised... assuming overtraining isn't the culprit.
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Old 06-03-2008, 06:48 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Derek Weaver View Post
Agree Steven. Part of why Zoners have to up the fat once the BF gets too low. Performance is the first sign to go that your fuel source(s) are compromised... assuming overtraining isn't the culprit.
High fat diets also have a "nitrogen sparing" effect....aka less muscle loss
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Old 06-03-2008, 06:51 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donald Lee View Post
What about the studies that indicate that muscle mass is preserved even when people are on low calorie diets of as little as 800 calories, as long as they are continuing with resistance training? I know I've read about these studies in the past, but can't recall where they are right now.
If you can find the link to those studies please shoot it over, I'd be interested in reading in more detail.

My guess....protein has to be extremely high...they don't do any aerobic based activity....and honestly I don't know.....CR long term is a 100% sure way to lose muscle......I can't see it working out.....
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