Building muscle on the Carnivore DIet

But you need carbs to build muscles! A Zero Carb Diet won't work for strength gains or getting bigger.


It will. Differently for sure, but it will work.

Just to keep it simple let's talk about my experience. 12 weeks into being carnivore I've added 2 pounds of lean muscle. I've lost 7% body fat. At the same time. I went from 200lbs to 185lbs with more muscle than I started.

Some personal records in the last 12 weeks:
- Added 10 pounds to my Split Jerk (195 to 205)
- Did 4, 15' Legless Rope Climbs (only ever done 1 before)
- Did 17 Bar Muscle-ups in a workout with a set of 7 in a row in there (most I've done was 3 in a row)
- Added 10 pounds to my Overhead Squat 3 rep max (185 to 195)
- Added 10 pounds to my Banded Sumo Deadlift 1 rep max (315 to 325)
- Completed 6 out of 8 benchmark workouts faster or with more weight than I've ever done before

I started at about 17% body fat and 92.5 pounds of lean muscle. My goal when I started this was to get to 10% body fat and 95 pounds of lean muscle. I got there in 11 weeks.

My next challenge is to maintain the same amount of fat in pounds but add 5 more pounds of lean muscle. This should lower my body fat %  again but by changing the ratio, not by losing more fat.

What about carbs?
Where does the idea that we need carbs to build muscle come from? How do carbs help build muscle?

I won't get too much into here since I'm not a scientist and there are tons of more detailed explanations out there. Here's a quick summary. There are a ton of links at the end of the blog to get more info.

It's all about the insulin.

Insulin promotes the storage of glycogen in the muscles which facilitatesgrowth. This provides fuel to the muscles to do work and insulin itself promotes the growth and repair of muscle tissue.

Carbs are the fastest way to get glycogen in the system for fuel and raise insulin to promote protein synthesis.

But are they really??

Ketosis and building muscle
In a fat adapted or ketogenic state, the need for carbs to convert to glycogen to fuel muscles is removed and fat becomes the primary fuel source.

Carbs are no longer needed to provide fuel.

That was easy.

Protein is the secret ingredient
Did you know that protein raises insulin levels in the blood almost as much as carbs?

If you eat enough protein you will have a sufficient insulin response to get a similar protein synthesis as if you were eating carbs.

Just eat a little more protein.

Check out these links for more info:

Protein is muscle
A second thing to think about. When you eat protein, you are eating the building blocks for muscle. If you base your diet on getting the protein you need to build muscle, then the need for supplementation goes away completely.

Side note
The biggest drawback for me, using carbs, has always been the up and down of gaining weight and fat when I was trying to gain muscle. That is probably the biggest negative in my opinion. Insulin not only puts glycogen in the muscles for fuel but it also turns it into body fat.

With Carbs, it's very hard to gain muscle without gaining fat.

Here is a great article on the topic with 3 steps on how to approach your diet plan.

General info on insulin and muscle growth


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