And Yet Even More Podcasts

So after depressing everybody with the realities of calorie surpluses for muscle gains, I once again revert to linking to current podcasts to avoid having to write any actual content.  Seriously, folks, cut me some slack.   Fifteen years and 500 articles later, I’m running out of topics.  Anyhow.  I’m going to link out to three podcasts today.

The first was on the topic of PCOS with Jason Leenarts of the Revolutionary You podcast. The second was on injury recovery (to talk about the book I just released) with Vicky Merceta and Broderick Chavez of Evil Sports Genius sitting in.   Finally, is my most recent podcast with Danny Lennon of Sigma Nutrition where we talk about the issue of nutrient partitioning.

Jason Leenarts of Revolutionary You Podcast

While I have talked about general women’s issues in many recent podcasts, Jason wanted to focus on Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS.  This is a common endocrine disorder in women which is marked by at least two of the following diagnoses: the presence of multiple cysts on the ovaries, hyperandrogenism (elevated testosterone, etc.) and an irregular menstrual cycle (oligomenorrhea or amenorrhea).  Since it is such a common condition, we focused only on that in terms of what PCOS is, how it is diagnosed, and what implications it might have for diet, training or supplements.

You can listen to the podcast here:
Jason Leenarts Revolutionary You Podcast on PCOS

Vicky Merceta of Don’t Fear the Weight Podcast

I did a podcast with Vicky a while back on women’s issues (it took two parts) and she asked me to do another one with Evil Genius Broderick Chavez (who I have done multiple podcasts with) on the topic of injury recovery.  I had just released my new book (c’mon, at $9.95 it’s a steal) and I focused on nutrition and supplements while he covered the pharmaceutical angle.


Muscle Gain Math

So there is a fairly short list of topics that I keep meaning to write about and never seem to get around to (I’m running out of stuff to talk about).  Today is one of those since it addresses a question that gets asked fairly frequently.   And having officially released my Nutrition for Injury Recovery e-book, it’s time to finally get around to it.

That question has to do with what kind of calorie surplus is optimal for muscle gain.  That is, people continuously ask what kind of daily, or weekly, or monthly surplus is required to optimize muscle gain and hopefully avoid excessive fat gain.  And, at long last, having run out of podcasts to post links to for a bit, I want to address that question. Now I have mentioned this at least obliquely in earlier articles, primarily the one on the energy balance equation but I want to look at it more comprehensively here.  Basically to examine the factors that determine the actual calorie numbers that we are looking at for gains in muscle mass.

I want to make it clear that these numbers are not perfect.  Actually pinning down good values for them has been a long-standing problem although there are some decent estimates, based on what limited literature is available, along with some rough estimates and practical experience that can give insight.

I will only say as a preview of what I’m going to talk about in detail that the size of the surplus needed to damn near maximize muscle gain while avoiding excessive fat gain is a lot smaller than most people think.  Almost depressingly so.  Let me first briefly re-examine a slightly different question.

Maximal Rates of Muscle Gain

In a previous article, I examined some different models on maximal muscular gains and at least two of those included at least some estimates on what kinds of gains per year or per month might be realistic.  The primary one I want to focus on is the model that, so far as I can tell, was developed by Alan Aragon although I’ve seen it presented in Eric Helm’s excellent and highly recommended Muscle and Strength Pyramid books.  Basically I’m not sure who created it even if I attributed it to Alan originally.  No matter.  I’ve reproduced the model below.


New Book: Optimal Nutrition for Injury Recovery

Last week I mentioned that I had an exciting announcement about a new book that was coming.  And, well, here it is.  No, it’s not the Women’s Book (which is nearing completion, I promise).  Rather, it’s a fairly short (42 page) ebook I put together on the topic of Optimal Nutrition for Injury Recovery.

While this was always a topic I kind of kept semi-up to date upon, the impetus for writing an actual booklet on the topic was driven by two things.

The first was a massive injury I sustained in Februrary of this year where I broke my fibula and tore two ligaments in my lower leg, necessitating major surgery.  I’m only 5 months through what will be a year recovery at this point but, hey, it’s an excuse to skip leg day.

The second was that, I couldn’t find a single book on the topic that had been written since 1994 or so.

Determined to optimize my own recovery, I was driven to delve into the research on the topic and figured I might as well write it up as a quick side project.  Hey, I’ve got hospital bills to pay.

This is the result of that research.  In it I examine the basics of muscle, tendon, ligament and bone along with the types of injuries that can occur to them (injuries to other tissues such as head trauma are not discussed).  This leads into a discussion of various types of injuries and their consequences and I look briefly at the use of PRICES (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Support) and anti-inflammatory drugs along with some of the controversy surrounding them.

Primarily the book focuses on how nutrition integrates with the various stages of the recovery process.  This includes detailed discussions of inflammatory modulating compounds, calorie intake, macro (and briefly, micro nutrient intake).  I also look at supporting supplements that may be useful either in general or for specific types of tissue injuries.  There is also a brief (I mean brief) discussion of drugs that have been studied or may help the recovery processes.  Did I mention that this is brief?


Epic Podcast with Abbey Orr of First Base Fitness

So while I have an exciting announcement (hint: new book, no not THAT book) in a week or two I want to make people aware of yet another podcast I did recently with Abbey Orr of First Base Fitness for her podcast I Am Worth It.  As usual, I talked way too long and I think we went about 2.5 hours in total.  I do love hearing myself talk.

In Part 1, we mainly talked about women’s issues including an overview of the menstrual cycle, birth control, why women often have a harder time losing fat than men, how cravings and food intake changes, etc.

You can listen to Part 1 in Itunes here.

In Part 2, we switched gears a bit and talked about some of the differences between the general population and athletes in terms of training and nutrition.  I think this is something that is often overlooked and it’s come up in a lot of my recent interviews.  We also took a look at IIFYM and other aspects of flexible dieting and what happens when someone breaks the plan and finished up with the importance of sleep.

You can listen to Part 2 in Itunes here.

If you like it, make sure and leave her a review as that helps with Itunes rankings.

Bodyrecomposition Mailbag 4

Having written about what calories are, it’s time to return to the mailbag since this is always an easy way for me to get content.  Today I’ll address questions about heart rate monitors and metabolic rate, agronomist activity levels and calorie levels, NEAT and adaptive thermogenesis,  and then a long answer on the topic of whether to lose fat or gain muscle for a beginner at 20% bodyfat (if I were a different kind of writer I’d that THE ANSWER WILL SHOCK YOU!).

Heart Rate Monitoring and Metabolic Rate

Hey Lyle, Huge fan of your work, it really has changed my life… just wish I’d stumbled upon you a decade ago, I’d be a machine by now! Anyhow, I was just curious about your opinion on heart rate monitors and wether they can be an accurate way of monitoring your metabolism during a cut. I have a Fitbit charge hr which seems to do a pretty solid job. I.e. When I use it to cut I lose weight, bulk I gain weight and my weight is pretty damn stable when I use it to maintain. I’ve noticed that when I cut my resting pulse rate progressively gets lower over the course of the cut and also that I start to burn less and less calories during my workouts.


In at least a general sense, a drop in heart rate is pretty normal with dieting to lower levels.   For example, in a recent study that attempted to mimick the classic Minnesota Semi-Starvation study, men first overfed for one week before were placed on a 50% calorie reduction for three weeks.  In addition to changes in other metabolic parameters, heart rate went up from 65 to 68 Beats Per Minute (BPM) during overfeeding and dropped to 59 BPM during calorie restriction.    In a yet to be unpublished case study of contest dieting in a male bodybuilder, heart rate dropped by 9 BPM over 16 weeks along with metabolic rate and other hormonal factors.  Given that sympathetic nervous system output declines on a diet, and this is certainly part of the control of resting heart rate, this makes a great deal of sense.

So yes, it is at least qualitatively indicative although I’m don’t think you can use it to quantify how much metabolic rate has dropped specifically.