In the post Thinking About Supplements – 2012 Edition, I said this about protein powder.
Pure garbage. The limiting factor in gaining muscle is not protein. It is calories. I only wish I have figured this out years ago. I’ll be doing a separate post on this topic. In the meantime, if you are a young ectomorphic male, don’t waste your money on this crap. Buy ice cream instead. I’m not kidding.
As someone who has wasted over a thousand dollars on protein powders and bars since the mid-1990s, I’m a little upset that it took me so long to figure out I was throwing my money away on useless supplemental protein. Before I dive into this post, I want to define the audience for this post. It is for male ectomorphs that are already lean wishing to gain additional muscle. Younger males and those with less training experience will benefit even more. It is also not for ectomorphs with a gut.
I am not a trainer or a dietitian. I do not train others and my only client is myself. These are my opinions, which may or may not be right for you. I am not a PubMed Warrior. Instead of studying medical journals, I observe patterns of failure. Skinny guys have been choking down protein powder for decades and it isn’t working. Our mesomorphic trainers with perfect genetics accuse of not eating enough, so they prescribe more protein. I think they are wrong.
Protein Is Great For Leaning Out – But That Isn’t The Goal
Many diets advise consuming high levels of protein. The reason is that protein is highly satisfying. From the Leangains post Cheat Day Strategies For A Hedonist:
Protein is superior to carbs and fat intake in both short-term and long-term hunger suppression. This seems to be related to not only a stronger effect on appetite-regulating hormones (i.e. ghrelin, PYY and GLP-1), but also to its high TEF.
Do you see the problem? To gain muscle requires a caloric surplus. The lanky lifter is told to shovel protein down their throat to gain muscle. That very protein is now suppressing their hunger making it harder to go into caloric surplus.
How Much Protein is Required For Muscle Growth?
For my understanding of this topic, I want to give credit to Brad Pilon and Matt Stone. Brad wrote the ebook How Much Protein? which dove into all the research studies on protein. If you are interested in this topic, check out his book. Spoiler alert: one of the conclusions reached in the book is you don’t need that much protein to gain muscle. High protein recommendations are usually motivated by supplement companies that make a killing off of protein powder.
Matt Stone recently posted How Much Protein Do You Need To Build Muscle? From that article:
But I still have one problem with all the high-protein fanaticism when it comes to muscle growth… Protein lowers appetite. It also takes the most calories to digest, so there are many wasted calories on a high-protein diet. Excess protein also seems to have a long-term metabolism-lowering effect (which impairs muscle growth and exercise performance), perhaps due to the previous two factors – perhaps for other reasons (like excesses of tryptophan slowing down metabolic rate).
Read the entire post. It should be noted that neither Brad Pilon nor Matt Stone sell protein powder or protein bars on their websites. Yet many sites that advise high protein for ectomorphs have their own line of protein. Put your credit card away, you’re being punked.
I can already anticipate the criticisms of this post. There will be defenders of certain types of protein or specific makers or whatever the latest buzzwords are. Whey concentrate versus whey isolate versus casein versus whatever type of protein is in fashion this season. For almost 20 years I have watched supplement makers peddle new and improved versions of protein powder. With every iteration, more scientific jargon is thrown at the consumer. The message never changes. Now they have figured out protein, buy our product and you’ll be HUUGE!
Here is a better idea. Eat real food. If you eat meat, eat the whole animal not just skinless cuts of muscle meat. Organ meat, meat on the bone, lean cuts, fatty cuts and make stocks. The book Deep Nutrition explores this topic in more depth. Our ancestors were unknowingly more knowledgeable about protein than today’s supplement companies.
Will the Real Anabolic Nutrients Please Step Forward?
If we need more calories and not as much protein as we think, what should we eat?
Saturated Fat – The book The Perfect Health Diet lists an increase in muscle mass as a benefit of a diet high in saturated fat. From page 79:
Muscle is composed of equal weights of fat and protein. One way to store fat, without making individual cells excessively fatty, is to increase the number of cells. Muscle is the primary body component which grows in order to store excess fat.
Page 80 goes further into explaining why muscle gain is easy when using high-fat diets.
Cholesterol – Anthony Colpo recently wrote Research Update: Eating More Cholesterol Makes Muscles Stronger (FEB 2017: link now under paywall), which covers a recent study. After an explanation of how cholesterol is a critical nutrient involved with neurological function, he summarizes with this sentence:
Intense resistance exercise causes muscle damage which must be repaired if improvements in strength and performance are to be realized…and cholesterol is intimately involved in this repair process.
Carbs – Back when I first started playing with Intermittent Fasting, I would sometimes continue fasting after weight training. This turned out to be a dumb idea and I lost muscle. Much has been written about how carbs post-workout assist with recovery and muscle growth. Dr. John Berardi wrote this a decade ago.
…since protein breakdown predominates during the post-workout period, getting the insulin up allows muscle breakdown to diminish so that synthesis can dominate and we can quickly get back to building muscle!
How do you do that? Eat carbs with some protein.
Is Sugar Evil or Therapeutic?
Sugar is terrible for everyone, right? That is what I assumed and it may be true, but I’m less certain than I used to be. People who consume a lot of sugar tend to have poor health outcomes, but is it sugar or something else? If one consumed a low-inflammatory nutrient-dense diet would sugar still be toxic? Of course, I am not speaking to the general population, but active lean ectomorphs.
A few months ago I read the post Sugar: Pure, White & Awesome by Danny Roddy. It goes into depth on how at a hormonal level having low blood sugar is perceived as a stressor to the body. It goes further to state that running on fat promotes stress because adrenaline is recruited to assist the process. And once glucose stores are depleted the body uses the stress hormone cortisol to provide glucose. The article is based on some of the research of Ray Peat, who is an expert in hormones, and is somewhat controversial.
All my other nutritional mentors are anti-sugar, so why am I entertaining the idea that sugar might be beneficial? Because my research has led me to believe that stress is the limiting factor in gaining muscle for the ectomorph. We train too much, recover too slowly, sleep too little, and can’t sit still. And when we fail to get the results we desire, we do more. This is observational, but I see us ectomorphs as more likely to abuse caffeine, which is a stressor as well. And cortisol is catabolic.
Trainer Keith Norris said in an interview on Episode 35 of The Latest in Paleo that overall stress level is a critical factor in predicting recoverability rate. He has noticed that the “wiry” “twitchy” guys have the slowest recovery rates. He believes that reducing stress levels are very important in improving the body’s ability to recover from a workout.
When Dave Durell interviewed John Little on High Intensity Nation, they discussed how ectomorphs are more likely to get nauseous during an intense workout. Glycogen is stored in the muscles. Ectomorphs have less muscle and therefore fewer glycogen stores. When we exhaust our glycogen stores, our pH levels drop and we feel nausea. John figured out that when someone starts to feel this nausea, placing table sugar under their tongue helps the nausea go away in just 10-20 seconds. Sugar relieves a stressor that is more likely to occur with ectomorphs that train with intensity.
If I’m connecting the dots correctly then it is possible that sugar is beneficial in reducing stress levels and increasing recoverability rates. More sugar, not more protein is what the ectomorph needs to gain muscle. I could be wrong, but I’m willing to experiment. 😉
Bring on the Ice Cream!
I quit consuming protein powder and bars years ago. I didn’t lose any muscle. I directed that money toward buying real food and my health improved. But I still needed to find a food to push me into a caloric surplus that meets all the above requirements. My body wanted ice cream.
Ice cream is calorically dense. It has sugar, protein, saturated fat, and even some cholesterol. Matt Stone has a post comparing ice cream to mother’s milk, which is quite anabolic. And it tastes awesome! When I finish a workout and then have a bowl of ice cream, I can feel my body thanking me. Prior to adding ice cream into the rotation, I was losing weight too fast and my body felt cold. Since adding the ice cream (along with creatine), I’ve gained 4 pounds without increasing my waist size.
My plan is to continue eating ice cream on active days at least through the end of summer. Is anyone else willing to experiment? It’s for science. 🙂
If you are concerned about the ingredients used in grocery store ice cream, you can always make your own. On my other site INeedCoffee, I posted how to make Homemade Coffee Ice Cream.
2015 Update: Yes Ice Cream is Still Better Than Protein Powder
Jul 13, 2012 — 10:19 am
If ice cream catches on as a health food, I’ll just give up and never read another nutrition blog again. 🙂
Mike OD - IF Life
Jul 13, 2012 — 10:46 am
I concur, protein shakes are highly overrated. Only good use is when dieting down and restricting calories to help control hunger, add a little TEF boost (not much though), and as a precaution for muscle loss from AA oxidation.
However, funny enough if you want to gain muscle…your protein can be less, as you mention it’s more @ overall calories. I probably only really aim for 0.6g/lb of BW nowadays for simple maintenance, and I consider that on the high side.
Stress is still a vital component too. All about that darn “hormesis” graph…some intermittent stress is good, chronic is not. I still keep the AM more protein/fat but also do all my carbs at night (usually after an afternoon glycogen depleting workout). Some stress in the AM…and make sure plenty of glycogen for recovery. Lifestyle plays into this as well, and type of training.
I found many years ago that overloading on protein (especially lean and muscle meats) with IF was a complete burnout for me. May work when you are 20…but at 40, not so much.
If you never read this, probably one of the best reads on the history of nutrition and bodybuilding throughout the ages.
PS. Chocolate milk has been my favorite pwo drink for a while now…by the quart!
Jul 13, 2012 — 1:07 pm
i have problems with dairy but i do indulge in ice cream a few times a week. there is a fine line of going over my limit that causes gastric issues. i have a little bit every couple days. weirdly enough, it typically happens on training days when i am still a bit hungry at night. i have always had a tough time putting on good weight no matter how i ate.
Jul 13, 2012 — 3:08 pm
Nice thoughts. In the late 1980’s i started racing mountain bikes and quickly moved up to the elite levels. After two great seasons I decided to really make an effort to take my game to the next level and I thought removing things like my standard ice cream in the evening would really help. I did make an effort to replace those calories with other foods. Thus, I can say the difference in performance and recovery was not due to a lack of calories but something else. Needless to say my performance sucked that season and I reverted to my standard ice cream fest post hard training and my performance improved. For the past 10 years I have eaten a pretty paleo/primal diet with great results but the trusty ice cream has yet to leave my diet.
Jul 13, 2012 — 3:22 pm
@Mike – That is a great find on the WAPF site. I’ll be pouring through that article closely.
@Chuck – I should have given a shout out to coconut milk ice cream. In fact, it may be superior because it is higher in saturated fat.
@Mike – I’m glad to hear from someone with a decade of Paleo + ice cream success. Ice cream may end up being a superfood.
Jul 13, 2012 — 3:59 pm
@Mike – In the WAPF article:
In the mid-1990s, I was a member of a gym in South Tampa owned and operated by that same Harry Smith. I knew he was a former competitor, but not his roots on Muscle Beach. I recall him getting in the face of bulky bodybuilders that didn’t rack their weights. Good times!
Jul 13, 2012 — 4:21 pm
i should experiment with coconut based ice cream.
Jul 13, 2012 — 6:06 pm
Every time you do a “debunk” post it implores me to ask you….
Jul 13, 2012 — 9:05 pm
I had to laugh when I read that part about get a little sugar during a tough workout. One hot day I was doing a (ahem! CrossFit!) workout and I was starting to really fade out. I noticed some tiny little grapes laying about so I had a few. I woke right up! But I had forgotten all about that incident until I read your blog.
Tonight’s last meal: cantaloupe and LaLoo’s Mission Fig Ice Cream!
Jul 13, 2012 — 11:02 pm
Odd. I too have been eating a lot of ice cream lately. Ice cream and kefir. I plan on “bulking” for the next couple of months. Let’s see if it helps.
Jul 14, 2012 — 12:55 am
First of all beautiful article. I came across your website and am highly impressed with the content and your writing style. I am a 5″9 385lb man who has been trying to lose weight for a long time but have been unsuccesful. What kind of diet/exercise program would you recommend? I have been lifting weights for years but have never really gottten into cardio exercise. Not sure how much cardio is necessary to see regular results.
Any advice you can offer would be appreciated.
Jul 14, 2012 — 1:06 am
Great post Michael. I often feel that you and I are on
similar journeys – experiments in paleo, kettle bells, fasting, bodybuilding etc. I am actually on a leangains style diet which includes skipping breakfast but I think the most important thing is not the fast but the nutrient cycling- the high carb days. They bliss me out!
I am a closet Matt Stone fan too. The sugar under the tongue trick is one he also uses.
All the best
Jul 14, 2012 — 8:25 am
@Thomas – I wouldn’t consider this a debunking post, it is more of a questioning post. And that questioning is specific to a muscle gaining goal. If I were leaning out, I might not have the ice cream or if I did it would be far less. So this post is more application specific.
@Scott – Fig ice cream sounds awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it.
@Txomin – One day I want to revisit kefir. I felt awful in January when I had it, but it may have specific to that strand, because I had always felt fine before.
@Ron – Glad you like the site. My short advice is to focus on the diet first. If you introduce too much exercise, you’ll just get more hungry. Climb a few stairs and do dome push-ups (even if they are incline) – once a week. Walk daily. Focus on eating nutrient dense food and avoiding toxins. Learn to cook. I think (I could be wrong) that the reason many dieters fail is because they go about losing weight to get healthy instead of getting healthy to lose weight. Maybe I’ll expand on this in a future post.
@Chris – I agree that carb cycling rocks. It makes staying lean effortless.
Jul 14, 2012 — 8:33 am
Maybe a future post on your experiences with carb cycling? I would assume it would be down on your list, after whole, nutrient dense foods, cooking your own food, IF, reducing stress, etc., but it would nonetheless be an interesting read. Thanks.
Jul 14, 2012 — 8:47 am
@Jim – This 2011 post is very close to my current approach to carb cycling.
I no longer use the BCAA and during the summer I focus more on growth than leanness. And I also no longer consider sugar to be toxic to ectomorphs trying to gain muscle.
Jul 14, 2012 — 1:23 pm
Ron: this may sound like a dumb question, but why do you want to lose weight? How much weight would you like to lose? What kind of weights are you lifting and what program do you follow?
Jul 14, 2012 — 6:43 pm
Thank you much for your feedback, Mister.
Scott, I want to lose weight because I am restricted in many ways by my surplus. Above all I want to be able to be active with my children once they grow up, and be there for my family.
Ultimately I would like to get down to 200lbs. I have almost always been a free weight lifter focusing mainly on compund exercises. I have alot of strength and muscle underneath all of this fat. My priorities now are losing the weight while maintaining strength.
You have advice?
Jul 15, 2012 — 6:26 am
Have you researched protein cycling in addition to carbohydrate cycling?
Jul 15, 2012 — 6:56 am
@Charles – I do IF which is a form of protein cycling, but I never looked deeper into the topic. Thanks for the link. I’m going to skim that information. It looks interesting.
Jul 15, 2012 — 6:58 am
a few more links
Jul 15, 2012 — 11:01 am
Ron: I don’t have any particular knowledge about fitness, so any advice I give would be uninformed. But I would say that the first step is to get to know your own body, and your particular psychological make-up.
Michael has said he doesn’t favor metrics (i.e., measuring food, end goals for workouts aside from exhaustion) and I tend to be that way too. Although being ad advocate of CrossFit I tend to track certain workout results over time. Of course the fact that I participate in CF indicates a lack of rationality in-and-of-itself. Or so I’m told.
One thing I am convinced of is that a proper diet is critical. You have to get enough calories so your body doesn’t shut down. Depending on your type of body you might have to cut out processes foods, carbohydrates from sugar, etc.
One question I would ask is if you are working out lifting weights, how come you’re not losing weight already?
Jul 15, 2012 — 2:34 pm
I just began reading Ready, Set, Go! by trainer Phil Campbell. He talks about the benefits of HIT for secreting growth hormone in our system – which has many benefits.
But, one primary factor determining its release is the consumption of high glycemic foods, grains, sugar, etc. post workout. He recommends avoiding carbs for 2 hours post workout while consuming 25 grams of protein within 30 minutes of completing a workout.
He claims the carbs will shut down the release of GH.
BTW, great post!!
Jul 15, 2012 — 3:55 pm
@Bob – I have done follow up research into Phil Campbell’s HIIT method. I like his “wait 2 hours” for carbs post workout for those that need to lose weight and larger body types. For ectomorphs on their last 10 or so pounds, I think it is better to eat sooner. Yes the carbs will shut down GH, but they also stop the protein breakdown. So a physique that is more efficient at fat burning than muscle gaining would do best to hit the carbs.
Jul 15, 2012 — 4:09 pm
Michael: this post is a LFAO experience for me. The other day the BBC pubished a “BMI” index calculator, so I plugged in my data (takes about 5 seconds) and the thing comes back and says my BMI is 21. Great huh? Well, it also says I’m most similar to a Cambodian. Which I confess — and I know how wrong this will sound — did not make me happy. I was hoping to be compared to an Olympic gymnast or something. I’ll probably be apologizing to the country of Cambodia for the rest of my life. No doubt somebody in Cambodia will read this and think what a knuckle-head I am.
Ectomorph you say? I love your advice, it sounds right, but I would have rather been a Viking or something glamorous.
Ah well. It is what it is. Bring on the ice cream!
Jul 15, 2012 — 4:22 pm
@Scott – I wanted to be Evander Holyfield, but even though we share the same height, all the drugs in the world won’t give me 16″ biceps with a 32″ waist at 215 pounds. Never going to happen.
I’ve been to Cambodia. Highly resilient people. Little kids get stacked on to motorbikes with no helmets and somehow survive childhood.
Jul 15, 2012 — 4:27 pm
Yes, well that’s been my problem too. I’m a vatta pitta type in ayurvedic medicine – a bean pole with some muscle definition – 5’9″ and around 143 pounds!
Since I’ve cut back on carbs, I’ve lost about 8 to 10 pounds but my strength in the gym has remained the same. However, it’s very difficult for me to make strength gains in the gym. A plus though is a reduction in fasting AM glucose levels, which I think is a positive thing.
I think it’s all about balance in the long-run – and what our individual goals are. For me it’s primarily health versus athletic ability or competition.
Jul 16, 2012 — 5:48 am
Thank you for your feedback. I have been lifting weights for years. Exercise has a negligible impact on weight loss, especially the 2 times a week I weighttrain. Problem is I am a foodie. There I said it. I eat to much food and the wrong kinds of food. Although I am probably leading myself to an early grave I don’t have control over myself when it comes to food. I eat too much food and it is hurting my family. Maybe like a drug I would rather keep on with my destructive habit than face the music and find ways to take control of myself. Any suggestions?
Jul 16, 2012 — 12:02 pm
Ron, if you think there is an emotional or grief component to your eating, then some emotional/grief work may be helpful.
Jul 17, 2012 — 7:13 am
More than likely I do have some underlying emotional issues that are inhibiting me from gaining control over my palate. Any suggestions on where I can start to fix these issues?
Jul 17, 2012 — 8:01 am
@Ron – I think you might find value in the book Mindless Eating.
Ann Rosen Korman
Jul 17, 2012 — 11:53 am
MAS- I have been using Raymond Peat’s ideas to heal. I am a nutritionist and I stayed away from sugar for years. I hit a wall and got pretty sick. No sugar and lots of supplements really made me sick and I was really blessed to fall into Ray’s ideas. At first I was pretty nervous about all the sugar. I went pretty slowly and I have news to report. The sugar does not make you gain weight. I am in pretty good shape – but, i have actually been working out less and added sugar AND ICE CREAM to my daily routine. It works. Ray Peat is brilliant and I hope that more people will discover him. I had gotten pretty sick and adding back the sugar has been a miracle for me. I am studying his ideas and starting to use them with the people that I work with and it is working for them as well. Ray’s ideas are complex and one must really find someone that can help guide them. Each person is different and Ray’s ideas need to be tailored to each individual. I do believe that as the metabolic rate increases and a person is healed… they can reduce the sugar. The calories do not count for sure. I am tiny and eat a ton.. and I do not gain weight. I have even been able to work out less and build more muscle. Ray peat is not about loosing weight… he is about healing… and all his writing is about the cell.. We now all know that saturated fat is a good thing for us… well, soon I am guessing the ideas about sugar will reverse as well… until then, enjoy the ice cream and know.. that I too am enjoying it. Just make sure that your ice cream has no additives. It needs to just be the milk, cream, sugar, eggs.. basic. enjoy. I am with you!!!- ARK
Jul 17, 2012 — 1:12 pm
@Ann – Nice to hear a report from a female that is having success with ice cream. How long has it been since you add ice cream to your daily routine? Also how much do you typical consume? Thanks.
Ann Rosen Korman
Jul 17, 2012 — 3:54 pm
MAS- So glad you are new to RAY PEAT- there is a great community of people Peatin’. I have been doing the ice cream every day for about 4/5 months. I normally only consume a small amount at a time since I am not really that hungry and am not really craving sugar at all. I do it right before bed( I know…how backwards is that?) I also do a bit of salted broth before bed…or some salted oj.
I know it all sounds crazy… but, it really works. I had really hit a wall on paleo and with supplements. Ray is all about healing. Also, I have never slept better. Ray is not just about the ice cream though.. there is a lot to read about. RAYPEAT.com
But, I myself was very surprised that adding in the ice cream to my diet did not make me gain weight at all. I am perhaps even leaner? I have lots of energy… and the sugar helped heal my gut. Ray talks a lot about the thyroid and the ice cream has helped with that for me -temps are up. I also have a little ice cream post work out and it seems to help with the stress. – ARK
Jul 17, 2012 — 5:03 pm
Have you monitored your fasting glucose level since introducing sugar back into our diet? Any changes?
Ann Rosen Korman
Jul 17, 2012 — 7:07 pm
I have not(not yet) but, I do know some other people that have after following the Peat protocol and the labs were better.. Most important thing is to get all the PUFA out of the diet.
Aug 12, 2012 — 9:56 pm
This is a solid read, I’d have to agree with you that whey protein in general is abused way too much.
Getting dairy protein from ice cream, cheese & milk is what’s ideal.
Can never go wrong with sugar either.
Danny Roddy is a smart guy, have you checked out his new book “The Peat Whisperer”?
Aug 13, 2012 — 7:42 am
@Jon – I was aware the book was coming out and it is interesting to me, but not $47 interesting at this time.
Sep 17, 2012 — 2:53 pm
@Ann – thank you for the info re: Dr. Peat. I’ve been reading everything I can find by him now and am fascinated by his papers on Thyroid disease and diabetes (both of which I have). Fascinating!
Ann Rosen Korman
Sep 17, 2012 — 3:14 pm
@Cheryl- So glad!!! When you start looking at the cell instead of the waist-line… Your whole life will turn around. I am having great success applying Ray Peat’s ideas (on myself) and my clients. He is a life changer!
Feb 15, 2013 — 11:23 am
I’d skip a meal at first, I’d mix a little sugar ( low amount) into a organic whey protien shake) I’d drink that post workout with a massive amount of eggs, lean meat etc then some fruit and water I’d then go to bed after awhile, if you get hungry eat another shake with some eggs, but if you ALOT of carbs do it in the evening ONLY
Feb 24, 2013 — 11:17 am
Mar 19, 2013 — 2:34 pm
Here is the protein ice cream I just found on the internet, called Jambo Protein Ice Cream. Claim to have 2g of sugar and 28g of whey protein per serving. Looking good. Might want to check it out.
Apr 5, 2013 — 10:20 pm
Although I am both a female AND a mesomorph, I found this article to be very insightful and helped clarify a few things that have been a bit difficult to wrap my head around.
@ Ann- THANK YOU for posting here. I hope you don’t mind but I would love to know more about your experiences with Peating. I have been reading Ray Peat’s website all week, because, similarly, I have hit a wall with my paleo/primal lifestyle. Ever since late childhood I have been drastically affected by depression. I was once an overy-confident, high-achiever, and quite popular as well as the team captain for many different sports teams. Then during my youth I went through many things a child should never have to, and because both of my parents had a mental illness (mom is clinically depressed as well as being bi-polar; dad was severely depressed and his frontal lobe degraded due to “unknown” causes: not Alzheimer’s, not Dementia, not Pixin’s. I have a feeling it was totally hormonal/stress/depression related- gone unchecked, destroyed him), my genetic markers for these conditions became exacerbated and I changed as a person completely following the death of my father and the sexual abuse from my step-father. While I have had serious cognitive and psycho therapy from several highly insightful and helpful individuals (the best having been an incredible woman with her Ph D from Harvard), I still was at a loss. A lifetime of being interested in health and nutrition drove me from very early on to research and experiment (since being around 12 years old), and eventually pushed me towards paleo and primal. I came at it with a desire to become healthy, not lose weight, as I had a decent muscle mass and only a small amount of extra body fat which did not bother me too much. For a time, it worked: but years later I feel exhausted, worn out, I have lost my joi de vivre, lost my drive all over again, things that I had been seeing improvements in just.. disintegrated.
So, still @Ann or any women perusing this comment section with experience on Ray Peat’s protocol, what changed for you? I mean, how were you able to mentally shift to begin to start adding sugar back in? I’m worried about cavities, I was just beginning a ketosis period with weight training but now I am not so sure it’s a terribly good idea. While I don’t consume any PUFAs except for the odd high quality, small-batch olive oil and only use grass-fed ghee, butter, MCT, coconut, and some red palm oil, I am extremely curious as to how the extra sugar affected your moods. You mentioned you had clients… are you a nutritionist of some kind? How have your clients been affected (if applicable)?
For everybody else, I’m curious to hear your thoughts about this: Research on people in a state of ketosis, particularly those with a mental illness or disease, shows that a ketogenic state protects the brain from degeneration (heck, it will stop seizures almost 9 times out of 10 and protect the brain from damage), despite this apparent increase in stress which Ray Peat’s work hints at. I have read reports of people who are badly depressed feel 100% relief from entering ketosis…. anyone have any thoughts on this?
Thanks for any insights, guys.. I know this is bizarre to post in a blog like this, but I am a woman and I was reading here.. so I’m sure others are bound to read here and find all of these comments intriguing as well. All ideas would be welcome in this quest for health and just feeling comfortable, able to deal, and maybe even a little satisfied.
Apr 7, 2013 — 9:40 am
@Christina – If it OK with you, I’d like to move your questions to their own post. I think that will solicit more feedback and ideas.
Reaching out to Ann and her nutritional consulting is probably a very good idea. You sound like her ideal client. However, I think Ann is studying in India right now. I’m not sure when she will be returning.
Let me know if you’d be fine with me moving your questions to a new post.
Apr 23, 2014 — 9:42 am
Hi! I’m new to this site and still exploring. Do you still eat a lot of ice-cream after your experiment?
Keep up the good work!
Apr 23, 2014 — 10:11 am
@Johan – I eat ice cream when I am trying to gain muscle and I abstain when I am trying to lose fat. During periods of maintenance I eat some ice cream , mostly on workout days.
Jun 15, 2014 — 12:14 am
Ice Cream + Milk + Creatine in a blender = Milkshake that will build muscle fast. (milk has saturated fat that you mentioned above… also, the concept you listed there is pertaining to “Intramuscular Fat”; Fat inside of the muscle tissue which is used for energy). Creatine not only increases ATP production, but has also been shown to improve glycogen stores in muscles, as well as increasing fluid within the muscle (most people call this a “water bloat”; I call it a better environment for the muscle to rebuild damaged tissue). The information you provided us with was valuable, and can pertain to all body types except for endomorphs. Thanks for sharing.
Jul 10, 2014 — 12:49 am
Great post! I just have one point of difference on danny’s comment about saturated fat being stressful and sugar relieving stress. The reverse is actually true, one study scientists fed three groups of mice a high fat, high starch and high sugar diet respectively. The sugar fed mice had almost double the level of stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline than the mice fed fat or starch – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9347402?dopt=AbstractPlus6
In another study “14 healthy children tested after being given a sugar dose equivalent to two frosted cupcakes for breakfast, adrenaline levels in the blood rose 10 times higher than they were before the children ate the sweet” however “No such dramatic rise in adrenaline was noted in the nine adults similarly tested” – http://www.nytimes.com/1990/05/10/us/health-new-data-on-sugar-and-child-behavior.html
Jul 10, 2014 — 8:40 am
@Marcus – I don’t believe Danny ever said saturated fat was stressful. He is anti PUFA. As for sugar, there in lies the debate. I’m guessing this is a context issue. In the case of an ectomorph post workout looking to gain a caloric surplus during their recovery period, I think sugar can be beneficial. Ice cream isn’t even high in sugar.
Jul 10, 2014 — 8:53 am
Well you quoted him saying that running on fat is stressful, but he definitely thinks pufas are much worse. I think thats a fair point that sugar is context dependent.
Jul 10, 2014 — 9:14 am
@Marcus – Thanks for clarifying. In that case Danny meant that free fatty acids that enter the bloodstream when glucose levels are low are stressful. He recommends dietary saturated fat but in the context of a higher carb diet. I believe Danny likes 50% carb, 25% protein, 25% fat (mostly saturated).
Jul 10, 2014 — 8:28 pm
That makes more sense, though if his concern is lowering stress hormones i think it makes more sense to get most carbs from starch and just use sugar for exercise.
Jul 23, 2014 — 9:03 am
Very insightful article. I can testify to a similar experience from starting to eat ice cream in pretty large amounts sometimes even instead of a meal after not eating it for 4 years. I have dealt with anorexia for 5 years and have been hospitalized three times. I just left inpatient treatment a month ago and immediately my weight started to slide down. My dietitian warned me that I needed to regain the weight and lay off on the exercise. At the same time, a friend brought cookies n’ cream ice cream to the house. I discovered that it is my favorite food and has been invaluable to preventing a relapse. Although I have been eating it very frequently and in large amounts and have gained back a little of the lost weight, I have lost an inch and a half on my waist and the bumps that I always have on the back of my arms have vanished. Although I know this way of eating isn’t healthy long term, I believe ice cream isn’t the demon health experts paint it to be. The stigma surrounding it, like the stigma surrounding many food items (eggs, whole milk, coconuts, etc) is undeserved.
Sep 7, 2014 — 8:25 am
Hello, great blog!
Ice cream was never appealing to me during the winter…
So I find a great way to enjoy it anytime of the year : dump chunks of vanilla ice cream in hot coffee or chicory, and eat them as they melt with a bit of the coffee. I keep adding and eating, until the coffee becomes very milky. The desert then turns into a great semi-hot drink (well, maybe not for coffee-experts)…
It’s half-desert, half drink.
Anyway, it’s how I enjoy both ice-cream and coffee best.
My 2 cents recipe.
Oct 1, 2014 — 2:49 pm
Thanks for the info on protein powder supplements. I have always disliked having to pay so much for this stuff. I have only been using it (Whey of course since it’s special!) for several months so far. I am discontinuing it and instead just using eggs, milk and gelatin in my shakes. Ice cream for desert? Hmm……I like it! (but I’m an endomorph trying to become a mesomorph so I better be careful with it)
Jan 25, 2015 — 5:53 pm
Hey, I know this article is from a few years ago but I wanted to share my experience with ice-cream and exercise. When I think about my usual diet I tend to have a high protein and high fat diet with a healthy amount of carbs and very little processed sugar. I get stressed easily and my metabolism often revs up such that I may have a huge dinner but still wake up hungry in the middle of the night (in which case I opt for fruit to boost melatonin production). I am constantly suffering from sugar crashes and am always on guard when eating. I cannot even drink a glass of fresh juice without crashing. I also have always had an obsessive relationship with ice-cream to the point I don’t keep it in the house (because even if I do it doesn’t stick around). I noticed that when I get relaxed on my ice-cream eating habits around exam times / high stress periods I felt more functional.
I decided last summer to opt for what I called my “psychological diet” which was: I get to as much ice-cream as I want whenever I want it. I ate it almost everyday for 4 months. Occasionally I would sport an icecream bar to meetings as a second breakfast or go for a walk just to grab a cone somewhere. When every I had high intensity training nights (was focusing on Krav Maga at the time) I would usually get a fix on the walk home before I put together dinner. I had more haagen daz that summer than I had previously consumed in my entire life. I don’t have a huge sweet tooth so majority of the time it wasn’t a ridiculously sweet selection and made from real cream (not skimmed milk or something) but I usually got a medium to large amount. One container of haagen daz = 1-2 servings of icecream for me.
My blood sugar had never been better
I was sleeping better than usual
Energy levels increased
Lower levels of anxiety as it removed all the guilt I felt about treating myself
I lost 8 pounds and was toning up quickly
A neck injury took me down this fall but I guarantee I will be doing it again when I get back into the swing of things.
Jan 26, 2015 — 8:13 am
@Rhiannon – Thank you for sharing your story. Ice Cream wins again!
Mar 29, 2015 — 7:18 am
I’m afraid I’m intolerant to dairy. Every time I have ice cream it gives me cramps. What about driking carbs (sugar) for weight gain? Would maltodextrin be a good replacement?
Mar 29, 2015 — 8:27 am
@Arthur – Coconut milk ice cream. It will be harder to find, so getting your own ice cream maker is an option.
May 7, 2015 — 11:25 am
@Arthur You might to try lactase drops.
Aug 21, 2015 — 7:31 am
I can remember some of the old timers writing about drinking milkshakes, way back, and when I would think about it would think they just didn’t know much about diet back then, now I wonder.
Aug 21, 2015 — 8:48 am
@Frank – It is amazing how much those old timers got right in the pre-internet days.