There are many subjects in the fitness world which, if brought up in casual conversation, will spark a heated debate faster than Taylor Swift changes boyfriends. At the center of one such heated debate sits the following question:
Can you burn fat AND build muscle at the same time?
Some Brosephs at your gym may insist that it's completely impossible. They'll scream "IT'S ALL ABOUT CALORIES IN, CALORIES OUT!!!" at you until the Niacin flush from their pre-workout formula makes them red in the face. In their world, the human body cannot make muscle out of thin air; it has to take in more calories than it burns per day in order to build new muscle.
Other bodybuilders and fitness experts take a slightly different approach. They understand things like facts, and that human biology is infinitely more complex than the "AS" in PEMDAS. They believe (and some even have the research to back it up) that if your body needs to build muscle while in a calorie deficit, it is more than capable of pulling from its own fat stores in order to get those necessary calories.
Some describe this process as "The Glucose Economy". The theory is simple: your body prefers to use glucose for energy, and will do almost anything to get it. By altering your macronutrient profile, you can exploit your body's junkie-like desperation for glucose in order to maximize both your fat-burning and muscle-building potential simultaneously.
If you're eating with your glucose economy in mind, a hypothetical 210-pound brick wall of human muscle must consume a little over 250g of protein per day (or 1.2g/lb of body weight). That's 41 eggs, or 5 whole chicken breasts, or 83 slices of bacon... you get the idea. It's a lot. But there's an important reason for it. According to a 1999 study, when the human body doesn't have all the glucose it needs for energy, it takes some pretty creative steps in order to get more:
Scientists are a little iffy on that last step, but they're pretty confident about the other 3. There are several studies out there that show test subjects on the same exercise program with an adequate protein diet burned less fat than those eating closer to the 1.2g/lb mark.
If you're eating for your glucose economy, then you can't skimp on the carbs, either. Carbohydrate-restricted diets can lead to something completely disastrous for your bodybuilding ambitions: Muscle Deflation Syndrome. And, yes, it is exactly as terrifying as it sounds. When your body doesn't get enough carbs, it gets its revenge like a vindictive ex-girlfriend by going after what you love the most. And in this case, it's your gains.
MDS is when your body squeezes all the water and glycogen out of your muscles in order to get more glucose. While you may not necessarily lose strength, you will lose size and endurance. Unfortunately, this is one of those rare situations in life where you actually do have to negotiate with terrorists. But the good news is you only have to feed your body enough carbs - about 2-2.5g/lb of body weight - to keep it pacified. The rest of your calories can be dedicated to protein, just like the Gym Gods intended.
The role of fat in the Glucose Economy is a lot like the role of the middle child in any family: mom and dad are so busy worried about the other two that nobody cares.
In all seriousness, though, newer studies on the role of dietary fat might poke some holes in the glucose economy logic (but we'll talk more about that in a future article).
If there's one thing the Glucose Economy theory proves, it's that your body needs amino acids in order to build muscle. Conveniently enough, Growth Factor has lots of them, and it has the specific ones you need to make the most out of your gym time, too. It can help stave off the dreaded Muscle Deflation Syndrome by increasing blood flow to your muscles. Protect your muscle-children: give them Growth Factor so they can grow up big and strong!