John Barban and I are just about finished writing “The Inhibition Theory of Muscle Growth” a theory that should turn the entire muscle building industry on it’s head.
The premise of our theory is incredibly simple – The ‘natural’ state for your body is growth, with checks and balances acting as breaks to prevent this growth.
As an analogy, it’s like having a car with the accelerator permanently stuck to the floor, and you regulate the speed of the car with by pushing down or letting up on the brake. Only in your body’s case there are dozens if not hundreds of brakes.
The entire theory would take several emails to fully explain, so for this post we’ll just stick with the idea that your body’s natural state is one of growth. This is very different form the current accepted theory that the body simply stops growing and needs to be prodded or stimulated to grow further.
With our inhibition theory you don’t need to ‘force’ growth, growth is the default setting.
What you need to do is examine the ‘brakes’ that are in place preventing growth if growth is what you desire*.
(*remember, these ‘brakes’ are EXTREMELY important – uncontrolled growth is not something we would ever, ever want.)
The brakes are both intrinsic and extrinsic – Meaning they can be from your own body (like the myostatin gene preventing muscle growth) or external (not working out would be a muscle growth brake so would excessive amounts of inflammation).
The great thing about this theory is that it explains the lack of consistent results or guidelines we see with things like how much protein or calories we need to build muscle.
Under the inhibition theory – a deficiency (too little) can be a break, but once that break is removed and you get enough/adequate amounts of protein or calories then adding more (a surplus) would do nothing to spur more muscle growth.
Once the brake is off it’s off…it can’t be ‘more off’
This is why Muscle growth is possible with Eat Stop Eat. As long as you’re hitting an adequate level of protein and calories to support muscle growth, and allowing for muscle growth with adequate resistance training your muscles WILL grow.
The question is ‘what is adequate?’.
The answer = it’s different for everyone. But to be clear ‘adequate’ for muscle growth doesn’t necessarily mean ‘maintenance’ for body weight.
I have found that with calories, adequacy is related more to the size of the ‘deficit’ and your ‘reserve’ more than it is a hard and fast number.
As an example.
A 5’2″ woman who does very little activity other than her 3-4 workouts per week may be able to lose fat and build muscle by eating between 1,200 and 1,500 Calories per day.
A 6’2″ man who exercises for 2-3 hours a day and expends a great deal of calories at his job may not be able to build muscle at 4,000 or even 5,000 calories per day.
So it will definitely take some trial and error to find the right number.
Similarly, the number will change as your life changes.
In our example above, if our 5’2″ woman suddenly increases her daily activity level perhaps 1,500 calories may not be enough.
If our 6’2′ man suddenly stops exercising for 2-3 hours per day and instead trains for 1 hour a day, then 4,000 or 5,000 calories may be enough to make him seriously overweight in only a couple months.
So the point of this post is two fold –
Firstly, to let you know that building muscle while following Eat Stop Eat is completely possible – As short term deficit does not seem to affect a long term process like muscle growth, nor does ‘adequacy’ for muscle growth necessarily ever have to be ‘maintenance’ for body weight.
And Secondly, to let you know that the exact amount of calories or protein you need will change depending on your life situations, but a giant surplus of calories is simply not the answer.
Obviously, the easiest answer is to tell you to eat MASSIVE amounts of food so that you never risk a true deficiency.
But the honest answer is that adequacy is enough, it’s just a bit trickier to pinpoint that most experts will let on.