Can you gain weight on a low-carb diet?

This is my first post in a while and a few things have happened. I have lost a bit of motivation for training and consequently have lost some weight (until recently). I place the blame on stress here. I have changed jobs and also recently moved houses from a large city to a much smaller regional town. The stress levels have gone down and I got some motivation back.

Those who follow my blog, would know that I am not too fond of carbs. It is my belief that blood glucose is the culprit behind most of the afflictions our society faces today. I believed in managing it to low levels and that it would be beneficial to health. I would, however, struggle with trying to put any weight on as it was always easier for me to lose than gain. I know, I know, many people would gladly swap with me, but it was bugging me a bit. For many years I maintained healthy BMI and looked very trim no matter how much I ate. However, I was secretly aspiring to have some more mass. Not fat, but muscle – like I used to be in my early twenties. Weight training would be very discouraging as every time I hit the gym for a few months I had nothing to show for it. Consequently, it was very sporadic – few months in the gym followed by a year or two of staying away. Until now. I have just put on about 7kg in the last 3 months. Little bit of fat but mostly muscle. And all this with a half-assed effort in the gym!

So, the question is: How did this happen? I cut all carbs out of my diet. Well, mostly, as it is sometimes not feasible in social situations. Thanks to Darko Velcek’s blog, I took the plunge. He proposes that while there is still a small supply of glucose from carbs, cells rely on it and will wait for more glucose rather than switch to ketones for energy. This is to do with the fact that glucose is such an explosive fuel that cells shut down some of their mitocondria and will not re-enable them until there is no supply of glucose for some time. This should occur after only a few days. So, if carbs are eliminated from a diet they need to be replaced with fat to maintain the same level of calories as before.

This is exactly what I did. More butter, cheese, coconut oil etc in my diet and less carbs. I was surprised how quickly I bulked up, especially in the shoulders. In the past, I would have worked hard for over an hour each day in the gym but these days I mostly work out with the few kettle bells I have at home and a low hanging branch for chin-ups. I still keep doing sprints (interval training) up my favorite hill. Apparently, there is some evidence that suggests ketones are good for muscles.

My experience, though, seems contrary to what is described in Recovery section of this article as I have quickly gained muscle mass. As far as performance goes, I have noticed that initially I was getting tired somewhat quicker than usual, which was noticeable for a few weeks. My water intake is also in line with the advice in the Warning section so I have not experienced any issues with thicker urine.

Furthermore, this article says that you cannot gain muscle on ketogenic diet. Well then, maybe my diet cannot be called ketogenic – just low in carbs… But apparently, I am not the only one who is getting the results without carbs. Here’s another good guide for those who want to try keto diet.

Oh, one other thing I have to mention, and it is an unexpected bonus. I have had a misfortune of being lactose intolerant for most of my adult life but have noticed over the past few years that with the reduction of wheat products, my tolerance for lactose has increased. Now that I don’t eat any bread or pasta, I can safely consume a 200g block of cheese without the fear of no toilet being nearby 🙂

Not sure why this is so, but I suspect that I may be gluten sensitive to some degree which interfered with absorption of other nutrients. I was tested for Celiac disease in the past and it came back negative, so I did continue to enjoy consuming bread. From purely taste aspect, this was a toss-up for me as I love both bread and cheese. However, looking at it in terms of health benefits, there is no contest, but I will miss the taste of nice fresh sour dough bread, though…

About istayinshape

Passionate about keeping in shape body, mind and spirit. Can help you achieve that dream body.
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