Schwarzenegger's trick to gain muscle. Eat sweets at night.


They say that before competitions Arnold Schwarzenegger was full of sweets and that this could help him build more muscle. Apparently it is a relatively well-known practice within the world of bodybuilding called "backcarb loading". To verify its validity, an editor of Tech Crunch magazine, Gregory Berenstein, decided to undergo a training and diet plan for three weeks and see if, indeed, more muscle mass was achieved.

We have seen before other extreme diet experiments such as the man who ate 30 potatoes a day, or the old man who gorged himself on eggs. Of course, these diets are far from recommended, but they do have great value as individual experiments that allow us to question some aspects of nutrition and metabolism. For example, that potatoes are fattening or that eggs raise cholesterol. Be careful, I am not saying that this is not the case, but that in the cases studied these effects did not occur and the interesting thing is to know their causes.

Can you imagine that after a hard workout in the gym with weights, you went to your favorite ice cream parlor and asked for the sweetest ice cream they had? Well, this is just what Berenstein did to verify that the "backcarb loading" diet worked.

Interest of the experiment

This diet calls into question various aspects of nutrition. On the one hand, that to build more muscle mass it is essential to eat more protein, and on the other, and no less important, that to lose weight it is essential to incur a calorie deficit. Spend more calories, than are ingested. Well, the surprising thing about this experiment is that both assumptions did not occur following the protocol. In addition, there is a third nutritional myth that seems to hunt, and that is that eating carbohydrates at night, necessarily makes you fat.

Berenstein took great care to have an accurate methodology for measuring his diet progress. Of course, he wrote down his meals on a spreadsheet, but he also used a biometric device to track his energy expenditure. It is a kind of band that is put on the arm and detects the heat generated. In addition, he measured his body fat index with a bioimpedance device.

The results, after three weeks, were surprising. He had managed to be stronger, have more muscle mass, lose weight, and all this by eating the most appetizing ice cream and sweets you can imagine.

How did you do it and why did it work?

To begin with, the time of day at which they take place seems key, not only the meals, but also the time at which they train. For example, the time for training was always in the afternoon, between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m., and only afterwards was the carbohydrates in the form of sweets eaten. And to bed. The next day breakfast was avoided. According to its author, doing this prevents the generation of cortisol whose presence in the body seems to interfere with the catabolism of fats. That is, as some studies suggest, being stressed doesn't seem to help you burn fat much.

The workouts in the gym were of the high intensity type. That is, with a lot of weight, few repetitions and executing the exercises at a very slow pace. As you can see in the graphs, the method worked.

Improved gym performance

Calories, weight and body fat after 3 weeks

Another interesting aspect is that he ingested about 3500 Calories, of which, sometimes about 1500 corresponded to desserts. Presumably since I was training quite intensely, the excess calories were going to go to muscle mass rather than fat. Possibly another example of the flexibility and adaptability of our metabolism.

How is it possible? For starters, it shows us that our metabolism is extremely flexible. It is actually a great evolutionary advantage of the human species. Faced with a heavy workload, and even if there were not enough proteins, the stimulus received causes the body to manage to build muscle. It seems that in the face of a large workload, the body prefers to pull carbohydrates rather than fats for this anabolic process. In addition, Berenstein supplemented his diet with Leucine, something he was already taking before, so it did not affect the final result.

By the way, the levels of cholesterol, insulin etc ... contrary to what might seem were normal, except for the fact that the so-called "bad cholesterol", LDL, increased. However, this increase, as has been observed in other bodybuilders, is related to building muscle. It appears that LDL is involved in the mechanism of making new muscle fibers. So if you've just started in earnest in the gym and your LDL rises in some tests, this could be the reason. But be careful, discuss it with your doctor before lowering your guard, the reasons could be other.

To carry out

The author himself comments that after 3 weeks, the effects were no longer so pronounced, that is, that it reached a plateau in terms of its progression. This is within the norm. On the other hand, being an experiment of n = 1 it has little scientific value, but it does allow us to plant a hypothesis on which a more ambitious experiment could be designed, with a control group and for a longer time.

Obviously, there are healthier ways to get more muscle mass without feeding the bacteria that cause cavities. Also, it does not seem reasonable to think that this is a diet that can be followed for a long time.

What this experiment does achieve is that it makes us scratch our heads and when they tell us "eat carbohydrates at night makes you fat" or "to get more muscle you have to eat a lot of turkey breast", we can say "Wait a minute, I read once about a guy who was on ice cream and still gained muscle mass. "

Image via | By Hal Goodtree, By Tech Crunch

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