More studies is pointing to the anabolic key for lifters, especially naturals….and the key is…caloric intake.
There is a tendency in the bodybuilding realm to walk on the side of clean, calorie restricted diets that are close to maintenance. But as revealed in the studies, and as I have stated before, the fastest way to gain muscle mass is to eat like a king.
Note that there is muscle mass gain without resistance training. I was all but laughed off several boards when I stated this reality in the past.
An interesting find in the Forbes’ study was that the benefits of overeating stop at 14 days. So it appears that cycling calorie intake is the way to go.
Here are some quotes…
Test subjects having a fixed protein intake of 1.25 g/kg/day but with different total-energy intakes, showed that an increase in calories of 15% enhanced nitrogen retention from 7.2 mg/kg/day to 23.8. When energy intake was increased to 30% above requirement, nitrogen balance rose to 33.3 mg/kg/day.1 Basically, adding calories to the diet is anabolic, and I don’t just mean it raises insulin levels–by adding just one anabolic hormone, you’ll never get optimal gains in muscle. You need the whole array of anabolic hormones, and they have to be in the correct ratio to each other. This is what happens during puberty.
(In a) study by Forbes, et al., entitled the “Hormonal Response to Overfeeding,”2 it was demonstrated that when test subjects started with a maintenance-calorie-intake diet and then went on a nutrition program that provided 1,200 to 1,600 extra calories a day, their blood tests showed a progressive increase in IGF-1, testosterone, and insulin [which doubled in 14 days!], all in concert with an increase in lean body mass. However, the hormone levels peaked and began to decline on day 14 of the high-calorie diet! This is a very important observation.
By day 21, the test subjects in this study gained 3-6 lbs of lean body mass and gained a few pounds of bodyfat as well. However, these test subjects did not perform any resistance exercise, and the excess food provided only six percent of energy from protein, and the test subjects were women–we don’t know yet, but the testosterone boost could be even greater in men, leading to more muscle accumulation.
In a 12-day study conducted by Jebb, et al., reported very recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,7 entitled “Changes in Macronutrient Balance During Over- and Underfeeding Assessed by 12-Day Continuous Whole-Body Calorimetry,” it was shown that when male test subjects went from a maintenance-calorie-intake diet to an overfeeding diet [approximately 3,600 total calories a day], within 12 days, they gained 4.38 lbs of lean mass and put on just 2 lbs of fat. The same study showed that when test subjects went on a pretty drastic [around 1,000 calories a day] diet for 12 days, they lost, on average, 4.6 lbs of bodyfat and only 2.4 lbs of lean mass.