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It’s the common thought that we must put on some fat through a hypercaloric diet in order to put on muscle size, however it’s not true. In order to build muscle one must be in a net protein synthesis state. This means that our body is creating more protein and degrading. The protein degradation rate increases when we resistance train but so does the protein synthesis, this means so must the protein availability to yield a net synthesis.
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So are carbohydrates needed for an increase in muscle size? Not really; research has shown that they do not add any benefit to protein synthesis (Figueiredo et al 2013). This means they don’t help put on size. However if we look at a study (Antonio J et al 2015) that compared the effect of high protein diets of 2.3 and 3.5 g/kg/day in combination with heavy resistance training we see that the high protein diet of 3.5 g/kg/day yielded greater muscle gain and FAT LOSS. This is around 1.6grams per lb of bodyweight. It is important to note that there was no change in blood parameters in neither group.
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This is also shown in a study by (Garthe et al 2015) who compared athletes training with regular diets and ones with 500 cal surplus. They both gained around the same amount of lean mass while the cal surplus gained a significantly greater amount of fat. This also becomes a issue when it is time to cut (lose the fat) because with fat loss we usually lose about 3-1 fat to muscle ratio further reducing the net muscle gain.
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Should you eat more cal (carbs) when trying to put on more size? Yes however not to an extreme amount where you put on fat mass. It would be best to increase carbohydrate intake before and after your training (Haff GG 2003). High carb intake prior to training will allow for a better workout, while post workout will replenish any glycogen. No need to force yourself to over eat and gain unnecessary fat.

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