Why Can't I Build Muscle?
I know, I know…everyone has got something to say about how to exercise and eat right. I get it…this is why I want to offer a simple consideration particularly if you are someone who finds it difficult to build muscle and/or lose weight.
When most people work out it is with the intention of doing something good for them selves, taking a stance on health, and it feels good right? Unfortunately, if you go to the gym and experience fatigue, inability to recover, difficulty building muscle mass, bloating, etc. you may very well be experiencing the symptoms of hypometabolism.
Getting healthy, more specifically weight loss often involves reducing caloric consumption while increasing energy expenditure. It makes sense in theory and given optimal metabolic conditions could be an effective approach.
Here is what freaks me out about this approach; we are living in a society that is already running on empty. People are stressed out of their minds which I feel in turn is pushing them further and further away from themselves and the ability to be present in their body.
I say this because the body is constantly sending messages. In my experience I have found, due to the craziness in life, most people are completely out of relationship with the very vessel they exist in! Additionally, with the advent of Google most are “out of their minds” confused about what proper nutrition is.
So what is happening here?
Lets begin by saying we are all surrounded by stress. What differentiates our individual resilience to stress is based entirely on personal development and life experiences.
When it comes to exercise, no matter how you dice it, it not only places an added demand on a potentially already overloaded system, exercise is a stress and highly catabolic.
Efficient cellular respiration allows the body to cope with stress. Unfortunately these days it takes a lot to stay healthy in our given environment and as I stated above the effects are going to be different for every one, as is the way you approach the healing process.
In a hypometabolic state the body is unable to store adequate glycogen in the liver where T4 is converted to T3. When the body is deficient in its energy storages due to ongoing and mismanaged stress it begins to heavily rely on back up energy production systems through a process called gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is the conversion of non-carbohydrates substances (protein/fat) into glucose. This is a normal process, the problem, these days is for most this has become the primary system of energy production over glycolysis. A chronic deficiency in energy is highly catabolic and leads to chronic inflammation and the rapid degradation of muscle tissue.
Working out it this state perpetuates the vicious cycle, further weakening the level of resilience in the body while exacerbating the deficiencies generated by stress.
What else is occurring in the body when energy supply and storage are deficient and the body is in a hypometabolic state?
· Digestive function is compromised.
· Glucocorticoids are elevated.
· Suppression of the thyroid.
· Inability to store glycogen.
· Decreased CO2 production.
· Suppressed steroidal hormones conversion.
· Increased breakdown of protein tissue.
· Suppression of the immune system.
· Suppression of the detoxification system.
As stated by Ray Peat, “Fat has a low rate of metabolism. People who lose muscle by fasting are going to have an increasingly difficult time losing weight due to less active tissue to consume fat. Building up muscle and lymph tissue for optimal health, even if it initially causes a slight weight gain will make reducing easier by increasing the mass of metabolically active tissue. In resting states the muscles consume mainly fat, so maintaining relatively large muscle mass is important for preventing the accumulation of fats.”
How can you get the most out of your hard work?
A great way to identify how your body is meeting not only the demand of exercise but in life is through basal body temperature and pulse. Readings throughout the day allow you to begin to identify your different hormonal patterns and exactly how your health is being impacted by how you are doing life.
Note: If you notice you are consistently running below 97.8 in body temperature and have a pulse between 50-70bpm (note: there are many variables when assessing pulse- not so black in white) you may want to reconsider your workout variables. (ie. type of exercise, intensity, frequency, recovery time, length, etc.). Something as simple as a brisk walk provides so many life-improving opportunities and sometimes, is all your body can really handle.
To assist in restoring your body to optimal metabolism the primary goal…and I am going to make this real easy
GIVE YOUR BODY WHAT IT NEEDS!
When it has what it needs, it can sustain and meet the demands of life.
- Establish rhythms for your daily routine. The more prepared you are the easier you move through your day. Taking 10-15 minutes in evening to organize your head around the next days schedule helps you plan. You can eat all you want but if you are running, running, running, you’re really loosing!
- Eat frequently balanced meals of quality, non-inflammatory and digestible animal proteins, roots and fruits.
- Support the body with the appropriate energy (nutrients) during workouts. Pulp free oj, gelatin, fat and salt are very effective in down regulating adrenaline.
- Replenish energy stores with an appropriate post workout meal.
- Regulate blood glucose by following the above recommendations. According to John Ivy, Sugars are more effective then protein in the prevention of protein tissue degradation. If nutrition throughout the day is adequate the post workout protein shakes is unnecessary because you are indirectly down regulating the catabolic effects on muscle tissue by regulating blood sugar.
- Avoid unsaturated fats (ie. vegetable and seed oils)
- Avoid wasting countless minutes on breathless exercise, which further increases the bodies demand for glucose and oxygen. Both of which are deficient if body temperature/pulse are low.
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Josh and Jeanne Rubin