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Default The Hulk Factor. - 08-08-2012, 04:32 PM

http://articles.elitefts.com/nutrition/the-hulk-factor/

By
John Kiefer
Published: September 6, 2011Posted in: NutritionTags: hulk, kiefer, low carb, Nutrition
The Hulk Factor

A miasma of fear rolls over you, the stank, noxious fumes carried by one of the most dreaded phrases in the strength training world: low carb. Once you ditch the carbs, you know whatís lurking around the corner, stalking you, breathing a cold chill at your neck.
Shit!

Weakness just bit you in the ass.

The last 15 years has seen an interesting array of dieting strategies for everything from shredding down, to clean bulking and even tweaks for staying strong on the road, to getting ripped. In the hail storm of options, low-carb falls with the shredding ilk and pretty much defines the category, and who the hell would ever suggest low-carb for strength?

I wonít lie ó lethargy is no stranger during the first two weeks or so of an ultra-low carb diet, like my own offering, Carb Niteģ, but if youíve learned from my work, itís that I like to make ass-backwards suggestions. At least I donít just pull this stuff out of my assÖ

A few years ago, after a software job, lack of training and ad libitum eating debilitated my body, I jumped in feet first and decided to fix everything at once. This was before I had formulated Carb Back-Loadingô and, being partial to what I know, I started Carb Nite along with a 6-day-a-week training split. I didnít care about maximum strength, only aesthetics. The training together, with a modified version of Carb Nite, leaned me down from a chubby 240 to a chiseled 204. Having the extra fat and muscle memory allowed me to regain some mass and lose the fat at the same time.

Something more interesting happened, something I didnít expect. My strength started going through the roof ó in the gym. Of course in the gym, right? I emphasized ďgym,Ē because I almost felt weak during my normal daily activities in comparison. Once I slipped under the bench bar, pinched my shoulder blades and pressed the weight from the rack, a change occurred. When I stood up from the set, I was shaking like Iíd just taken a couple grams of caffeine. The unknown welled-up inside andÖI was strong as fuck for the rest of the workout.

My numbers on bench ó and everything else ó kept going up. For a few weeks I had trouble with 225 pounds, then I was at 275, 315, 365, 385Öthere seemed to be no limit. Then, on a training-by-invitation trip to Team Samsonís gym in Florida, I hit 405 at a measly body weight of 202. I felt bad ass ó in the gym. Outside of the gym, I still felt like I was all-show, no-go. Some crazy bio molecular process imparted a Hulk-like effect every time I wrapped my hands around steel with the intent of smashing it.

Physicist, observation, no explanation: I could not leave this alone. Like always, I started digging, starting with what I knew, either confirming or denying ideas along the way. The explanation I found hit me as rather straight-forward, even if a few pieces were unexpected.

I should also bring a little specificity to the conversation because low-carb, these days, can mean anything. Everyone seems to have their own personal flavor of low-carb, many of which arenít low-carb at all. So when Iím talking low-carb I mean, specifically, 30 grams or less of usable carbohydrates per day. Thatís about 4 saltine crackers worth of carbs. Usable, by my definition, does not include fiber since fiber can only provide energy once it ferments into short-chain fatty acids in the colon1, 2. Fiber, a carbohydrate, provides energy as a fat.

Some people may argue with my definition of low-carb, but the research shows that all the effects attributed to a ketogenic diet occur at 30 grams or less for just about everyone; once carbs comprise a greater amount of daily calories than that, the results become fuzzy at best3-18. Thirty grams, thatís it.

Before I go into why The Hulk Factor exists and how it works, not only is defining low-carb necessary, but so is dispelling a bit of fitness-industry folklore. Glycogen levels ó the carbs stored in the muscle ó do not affect strength19-22. Trust me, on 30 grams or less of carbs per day, youíre going to exhaust glucose reserves in a day or two. Once that happens, you obviously cannot escape training with depleted glycogen stores.

For the energy requirements needed for strength (but perhaps not to cover your normal training volume), fat can take up the slack on a low-carb diet. Realize, this may not correlate to your maximum lifting weight, as depleted glycogen stores can and will change the mechanics of your lifts. Empty glycogen stores also seem to have no bearing on resistance trainingís ability to stimulate muscle growth23, and might be advantageous for accelerated fat loss24, 25. Glycogen levels can affect recovery rates, however, but thatís a topic for another day.

Glycogen depletion wonít hold us back during our low-carb training, so what is it that propels us forward, that gives us The Hulk Factor? A combination of enhancements to the central nervous system and sympathetic nervous system create The Hulk Factor, enhancements that may be more of a result of the absence of carbs rather than the addition of added fat and protein for fuel.

First, the central nervous system appears to function with greater efficiency when we strip carbs from the diet. Motor-signals increase in amplitude26, allowing an increase in single-rep power production, and fine-motor control27. The literature refers to the latter as psychomotor performance. Going sans carbs augments your ability to coordinate movement, such as holding form while lowering 800 pounds perfectly into the groove of your bench shirt.

These two didnít surprise me much. When you eat carbs through the day, youíre trying to maintain blood sugar levels by external means, giving the body a load all at once, one it must disperse and deal with in order to regain homeostasis. As neurons contain massive amounts of GLUT3 transporters which can suck up glucose at will28, cell function and efficiency is sensitive to swings in blood sugar level.

If we let the body manage its own production and management of blood sugar, the nervous system can stay fine-tuned and ready to perform. You might think it impossible for the body to maintain blood sugar levels without eating carbs, but blood sugar content at any one time is only four grams29. Not a difficult amount to maintain and an amount that the body can supplement with ketones, another high-efficiency fuel for nerve tissue30.

As nice as these two advantages of a low-carb diet are ó power and coordination ó they still donít explain the transformation I experienced at the beginning of each workout when I performed my first set. These CNS effects donít strike like lightening. The reaction seemed more like someone flipped a switch. Thatís because the sympathetic nervous system produces the drastic change. The sympathetic nervous system controls catecholamine response, and the most well known catecholamine is adrenaline.

Whenever you train, your body releases catecholamines, which increases fatty acid release, energy production and strength. The response of your muscular system depends on how much adrenaline is present, how fast itís released and how sensitive cells are to adrenaline. Going low-carb does something to intensify each of these components31-36.

For starters, the adrenal glands release catecholamines with less stimulus or stress than normal when going low-carb. Thatís why after a moderate warm up set ó and sometimes a light one ó adrenaline flowed through my veins as if a bangle tiger lept from behind the dumbbell rack and scared the shit out of me. All I had to do was get down under the bar, do a few reps and the superchargers fired.

Responding sooner, awesome; responding with a larger volume of adrenaline, bad ass! This is another side-effect of a nearly carb-free diet. The flow of adrenaline starts sooner and the body dumps larger quantities: thatís not too far from someone plunging a six-inch needle into your chest and injecting a bolus of adrenaline into your heart, a la Pulp Fiction.

All this adrenaline slammed into the system and ó hereís the bonus ó your cells are sensitive as hell to it. Driving the body into ketogenesis increases cellular response to catecholamines. When you put all this together you get fight-or-flight times 10. Power, strength, irritability and maybe even a bit of rage mixed together for the baddest-ass workout of your lifeÖand if you adopt a low-carb lifestyle, this is your normal response every time you train. You can summon the Hulk whenever you want: just start throwing iron around.

Iím sure you donít want to live low-carb if youíre a strength athlete. Itís not fun and you will end up modifying your training to compensate for the lack of endurance, but damn if you donít want to bring out the green demon for a steel-stomping session. Just the feeling of rage-tainted power might be worth it. What Iíve found ó and no, I actually have no research for this one yet ó is that the effect lasts up to a month after transitioning from a low-carb diet back to normal. I have also found, if you use Carb Back-Loading appropriately, you can summon The Hulk Factor for months.

So shed the carbs and go smash shit.

1. Behall KM, Howe JC. Contribution of fiber and resistant starch to metabolizable energy. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Nov;62(5 Suppl):1158S-1160S. Review.

2. Topping DL, Clifton PM. Short-chain fatty acids and human colonic function: roles of resistant starch and nonstarch polysaccharides. Physiol Rev. 2001 Jul;81(3):1031-64. Review.

3. Foster GD, Wyatt HR, Hill JO, McGuckin BG, Brill C, Mohammed BS, Szapary PO, Rader DJ, Edman JS, Klein S. A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity. N Engl J Med. 2003 May 22;348(21):2082-90.

4. Elliot B, Roeser HP, Warrell A, Linton I, Owens P, Gaffney T. Effect of a high energy, low carbohydrate diet on serum levels of lipids and lipoproteins. Med J Aust. 1981 Mar 7;1(5):237-40.

5. Smith SR, de Jonge L, Zachwieja JJ, Roy H, Nguyen T, Rood JC, Windhauser MM, Bray GA. Fat and carbohydrate balances during adaptation to a high-fat. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Feb;71(2):450-7.

6. Golay A, Eigenheer C, Morel Y, Kujawski P, Lehmann T, de Tonnac N. Weight-loss with low or high carbohydrate diet? Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1996 Dec;20(12):1067-72.

7. Meckling KA, Gauthier M, Grubb R, Sanford J. Effects of a hypocaloric, low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss, blood lipids, blood pressure, glucose tolerance, and body composition in free-living overweight women. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2002 Nov;80(11):1095-105.

8. Roy HJ, Lovejoy JC, Keenan MJ, Bray GA, Windhauser MM, Wilson JK. Substrate oxidation and energy expenditure in athletes and nonathletes consuming isoenergetic high- and low-fat diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Mar;67(3):405-11.

9. Schutz Y, Flatt JP, Jequier E. Failure of dietary fat intake to promote fat oxidation: a factor favoring the development of obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Aug;50(2):307-14.

10. Astrup A, Buemann B, Christensen NJ, Toubro S. Failure to increase lipid oxidation in response to increasing dietary fat content in formerly obese women. Am J Physiol. 1994 Apr;266(4 Pt 1):E592-9.

11. Yerboeket-van de Venne WP, Westerterp KR. Effects of dietary fat and carbohydrate exchange on human energy metabolism. Appetite. 1996 Jun;26(3):287-300.

12. Buemann B, Toubro S, Astrup A. Substrate oxidation and thyroid hormone response to the introduction of a high fat diet in formerly obese women. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1998 Sep;22(9):869-77.

13. Golay A, Allaz AF, Morel Y, de Tonnac N, Tankova S, Reaven G. Similar weight loss with low- or high-carbohydrate diets. Am J Clin Nutr 1996, 63:174-8.

14. Layman DK, Boileau RA, Erickson DJ, Painter JE, Shiue H, Sather C, Christou DD. A reduced ratio of dietary carbohydrate to protein improves body composition and blood lipid profiles during weight loss in adult women. J Nutr 2003, 133:411-7.

15. Baba NH, Sawaya S, Torbay N, Habbal Z, Azar S, Hashim SA. High protein vs high carbohydrate hypoenergetic diet for the treatment of obese hyperinsulinemic subjects. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1999, 23:1202-6.

16. Young CM, Scanlan SS, Im HS, Lutwak L. Effect of body composition and other parameters in obese young men of carbohydrate level of reduction diet. Am J Clin Nutr 1971, 24:290-6.

17. Greene P, Willett W, Devecis J, Skaf A. Pilot 12-Week Feeding Weight-Loss Comparison: Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate (Ketogenic) Diets. Obesity Research 2003, 11:A23.

18. Riggs AJ, White BD, Gropper SS. Changes in energy expenditure associated with ingestion of high protein, high fat versus high protein, low fat meals among underweight, normal weight, and overweight females. Nutr J. 2007 Nov 12;6:40.

19. Langfort J, Pilis W, Zarzeczny R, Nazar K, Kaciuba-Uściłko H. Effect of low-carbohydrate-ketogenic diet on metabolic and hormonal responses to graded exercise in men. J Physiol Pharmacol. 1996 Jun;47(2):361-71.

20. Weltan SM, Bosch AN, Dennis SC, Noakes TD. Influence of muscle glycogen content on metabolic regulation. Am J Physiol. 1998 Jan;274(1 Pt 1):E72-82.

21. Zderic TW, Schenk S, Davidson CJ, Byerley LO, Coyle EF. Manipulation of dietary carbohydrate and muscle glycogen affects glucose uptake during exercise when fat oxidation is impaired by beta-adrenergic blockade. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Dec;287(6):E1195-201.

22. Symons JD, Jacobs I. High-intensity exercise performance is not impaired by low intramuscular glycogen. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1989 Oct;21(5):550-7.

23. Churchley EG, Coffey VG, Pedersen DJ, Shield A, Carey KA, Cameron-Smith D, Hawley JA. Influence of preexercise muscle glycogen content on transcriptional activity of metabolic and myogenic genes in well-trained humans. J Appl Physiol. 2007 Apr;102(4):1604-11.

24. Yeo WK, Carey AL, Burke L, Spriet LL, Hawley JA. Fat adaptation in well-trained athletes: effects on cell metabolism. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2011 Feb;36(1):12-22. Review.

25. Pilegaard H, Keller C, Steensberg A, Helge JW, Pedersen BK, Saltin B, Neufer PD. Influence of pre-exercise muscle glycogen content on exercise-induced transcriptional regulation of metabolic genes. J Physiol. 2002 May 15;541(Pt 1):261-71.

26. Grisdale RK, Jacobs I, Cafarelli E. Relative effects of glycogen depletion and previous exercise on muscle force and endurance capacity. J Appl Physiol. 1990 Oct;69(4):1276-82.

27. Chmura J, Krysztofiak H, Ziemba AW, Nazar K, Kaciuba-Uścilko H. Psychomotor performance during prolonged exercise above and below the blood lactate threshold. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1998;77(1-2):77-80.

28. Uldry M, Thorens B. The SLC2 family of facilitated hexose and polyol transporters. Pflugers Arch. 2004 Feb;447(5):480-9. Epub 2003 May 16. Review.

29. Wasserman DH. Four grams of glucose. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Jan;296(1):E11-21. Epub 2008 Oct 7. Review.

30. Mitchell GA, Kassovska-Bratinova S, Boukaftane Y, Robert MF, Wang SP, Ashmarina L, Lambert M, Lapierre P, Potier E. Medical aspects of ketone body metabolism. Clin Invest Med. 1995 Jun;18(3):193-216. Review.

31. Langfort J, Zarzeczny R, Pilis W, Nazar K, Kaciuba-Uścitko H. The effect of a low-carbohydrate diet on performance, hormonal and metabolic responses to a 30-s bout of supramaximal exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1997;76(2):128-33.

32. Jansson E, Hjemdahl P, Kaijser L. Diet induced changes in sympatho-adrenal activity during submaximal exercise in relation to substrate utilization in man. Acta Physiol Scand. 1982 Feb;114(2):171-8.

33. Langfort JL, Zarzeczny R, Nazar K, Kaciuba-Uscilko H. The effect of low-carbohydrate diet on the pattern of hormonal changes during incremental, graded exercise in young men. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2001 Jun;11(2):248-57.

34. Langfort J, Czarnowski D, Zendzian-Piotrowska M, Zarzeczny R, Gůrski J. Short-term low-carbohydrate diet dissociates lactate and ammonia thresholds in men. J Strength Cond Res. 2004 May;18(2):260-5.

35. Langfort J, Pilis W, Zarzeczny R, Nazar K, Kaciuba-Uściłko H. Effect of low-carbohydrate-ketogenic diet on metabolic and hormonal responses to graded exercise in men. J Physiol Pharmacol. 1996 Jun;47(2):361-71.

36. Sasaki H, Hotta N, Ishiko T. Comparison of sympatho-adrenal activity during endurance exercise performed under high- and low-carbohydrate diet conditions. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1991 Sep;31(3):407-12.


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Default 08-08-2012, 04:52 PM

Neat read. I wish doing stuff with carbs worked for me like that. Still might try it, gonna be hard to pull in the calories though...4k cals with minimal carbs...might have to drink bottles of olive oil a day lol.

Or I could pin test and run winny and clen and get the same results (yes I'm feeling like a smart ass today)


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Default 08-08-2012, 04:59 PM

I forget where it was, but I was reading that some guys don't do the eat a bit throughout the day routine. Instead they house 1, 2, maybe 3k cals in the evening for dinner. And we're talking lean ass fitness model types.

For me, less than 200 cals daily I feel like poop. 3 hours without carbs and I get shaky, cranky, and weak. Gotta figure out what works for you I spose.


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Default 08-08-2012, 05:05 PM

even on the carb back loading they are keeping there protein to fat ratio level throughout the day then carb back loading at night.

I'm doing the the carb nite and run a carb re-feed every 10 days or at least the first 10 days.

You asked on my fitness pal what was the reasoning in the 10 days and it is to Reorient you to getting away from carbs to totally deplete your body of the them so when the carb nite comes it is almost bliss to eat all the carbs. I'm still reading on the book and I'm hooked I tell ya.

You don't have anything to loose really even if you try it for a couple of weeks.


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Default 08-08-2012, 05:08 PM

one hell of a coincidence.a kid at the gym was talking about this today,he said he just started to do this.ill keep ya posted from wwhat he tells me.


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Default 08-08-2012, 07:53 PM

I am going to give this a run as I already use a version of this just at night because of my work hours I have to train in the morning. My first month I dropped 16lbs with carb intake at 400+ grams some days. The hulk factor makes sense as I do not know how I got through complexes last year of benching squatting and deads with 25-30 grams of carbs with one refeed day!

My big mistake was not eating enough fat and protein as I lost a lot of muscle close to the end of it!


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Default 08-13-2012, 02:11 PM

Very nice


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