Eating for Muscle Growth and Avoiding Catabolism

First, a primer on insulin. This is especially important for you low-carb guys who think insulin is bad:
In a nutshell, your insulin will spike from protein or carbohydrate. Insulin suppresses hunger and prevents overeating. Insulin spikes are actually higher from protein, this is why eating protein is way more satiating than eating a meal without it. This is also why those silly protein diets work, because they make you eat less later in the day.

Insulin response. High protein vs high carb

Effect on hunger Effect on fullness

Glucose resonpse. High Protein vs High Carb

Now, we must understand that insulin is necessary for protein synthesis. That is how we grow our muscles! The question is; how do we utilize insulin properly to reach our goals? Here are the key processes that are stimulated or stopped by the release of insulin:

Actions of Insulin

Notice proteolysis. This is what your body does when you don’t eat enough protein and insulin levels are very low. It is the action of breaking down muscle tissue to get the amino acids your body needs. It also occurs during long periods of fasting. Normally, insuluin stops this breakdown process. But, if you consume a high volume of carbohydrates without protein, your glucose response will be very high. When this happens, insulin actually stimulates proteolysis.

“Previous studies from our laboratory have indicated that the effect of insulin on suppressing proteolysis is highly dependent on the availability of plasma amino acids. […] At maximal insulin levels…protein breakdown was suppressed by approximately 90% when amino acids were available compared with 45% when hypoaminoacidemia was allowed to develop. These studies were performed with glucose fixed at euglycemic levels.”

So, with an insulin response, when protein is available, muscle breakdown was decreased by 90%. When protein was not available, breakdown was decreased by only 45%.

The influence of hyperinsulinemic-hyperglycemia on protein and carbohydrate homeostasis was assessed using L-[1-13C]-leucine and [3-3H]glucose combined with open-circuit indirect calorimetry. After a 30-min basal period, healthy human volunteers were subjected to two sequential experimental periods (150 min each) during which insulin was continuously infused at a rate to elicit maximal effects (10.0 x min-1, resulting in 220-fold basal levels) in conjunction with an infusion of L-amino acids to maintain euleucinemia. Plasma glucose was maintained near basal (94 +/- 2 mg/dl) during period I and at twofold basal (191 +/- 4 mg/dl) during period II. The endogenous rate of leucine appearance (index of proteolysis in x h-1) dropped by 80% from basal during period I (P < 0.01) but only by 44% during period II. […] The present study demonstrates that, during hyperinsulinemia, acute elevations of plasma glucose to two times basal levels result in a marked stimulation of whole body proteolysis during hyperinsulinemia

And, with normal blood glucose and maximum insulin response, breakdown was reduced by 80%. With high blood glucose and maximum insulin response, breakdown was only reduced by 44%.

  • Every time you eat carbohydrate and secrete insulin, you must, absolutely MUST, consume a complete protein source.
  • If protein is unavailable in the blood stream, insulin only halfway stops proteolysis.
  • If your blood sugar is elevated from grains or junk food, insulin will stimulate whole body proteolysis, no matter what.
  • Higher blood sugar spikes = Higher catabolism.

So, how do we limit catabolism and maximize anabolism? DON”T SNACK! Eat only a few meals per day. Eat complete protein at every meal. That means free range eggs, grass fed beef, and fish. (Chicken and pork is ok too, but they do not have an optimal omega 3/6 ratio.) You must also limit blood glucose spikes, because this is what causes insulin to stimulate catabolism. That means not eating sugar, grains, or excess starches. You must also avoid eating fruit by itself.

Think about that next time you pick up that mid-afternoon soda, or gaze at that vending machnie, or mindlesly munch on those apple slices while you read, or bite into that hearthealthywholegrain bagel. What are you really doing to your progress as a bodybuilder? You are breaking down that hard earned mass and pissing away your muscles.

Snack foods based in grains and sugar contain little protein, and the protein they do include is incomplete. Corn and wheat are deficient in lysine, an essential amino acid. If your body is short on any essential amino acid, it will have to disassemble your muscles to get it. 

Still want to follow the USDA food pyramid? Sill think you can eat like Homer Simpson, while looking like your favorite models on the cover of “Muscle and Fitness”? Think again, lame-brain. Those “complex carbs” are nothing more than a hyped up sugar rush. No doubt, carbs are good for fueling powerful lifting sessions, but only when they come from healthy tubers, fruit and vegetables. Don’t be fooled by easy carbs in a shiny plastic bottle. That Gator-fade aint doin you no good, boi.

Tonight, I’m fueling my workout with eggs and home-made-spicy-grilled-taters! Tonight, I’m looking for PROGRESS! woot!

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