I’m a huge proponent of bulking on low carb for strength and muscle gain.
Most of the bodybuilding and fitness community would disagree with me.
NFL Linebacker James Harrison agrees with me.
NFL Player Squats 600lbs on Low Carb
James Morrison is one of the strongest men in NFL history. Not only the strongest, but also one of the oldest players in the NFL.
He benches 225lbs for 44 reps. He also squats a whopping 600lbs.
The crazy part is he’s 41 years old and played as a pro athlete for 15 years, while maintaining this strength level.
When questioned about his health and strength he attributed it to his healthy, natural low carb diet.
People used to come to my house and be upset that there wasn’t any “real” food in the cupboards and fridge for them to eat. They finally realised that if they wanted pizza or pasta or pop or anything like that, they needed to get it before coming to my house.– James Harrison, NFL Linebacker
He stated the only time he used carbs was before a big game, his year round diet was low carb.
How to Get Big and Strong on Low Carb
Now, some people might claim that these athletes are on PED’s, thus there training methods aren’t applicable.
While this might be part of it, there is also a bigger picture here that I think needs to be addressed.
More importantly the difference is eating quality foods, while training for strength and intensity – something that the average gym goer lacks.
To put things in perspective, if a professional NFL player can get strong on low carb, then the average person can as well. In fact, it will be easier for the average person, because an athlete is exerting 10 times more energy through their vigorous, high volume exercise and training regime.
5 Reasons You Should Be Bulking on Low Carb
- You will have more energy on low carb bulking. As long as you have included an adequate amount of healthy fats you will have more stable energy. More carbs often result in more “come downs”, more lethargy and less quality food consumption.
- You will be stronger on low carb in the long run. Have you ever wondered how athletes such as James Harrison get so strong and for so long? Because the quality of foods he is consuming is much higher and because he is not inflamed from a high carb diet. There is a lower chance of injury when you are not constantly inflamed via high carb foods. You are also providing your body with a tonne of micronutrients which aid in recovery and growth.
- Your body will feel better. Carbs cause inflammation. Inflammation leads to stiff joints and back pain, which can also lead to bad form and bad recovery. One of the things you will notice while transitioning to keto is any aches and back pains you previously had tend to go away.
- You’re not on Steroids. You will be surprised at the amount of fitness YouTuber’s and bodybuilders that are on steroids. I assure you the number is higher than you think. This being the case, they don’t need to naturally keep their testosterone levels high because they are artificially injecting it. Often times doctors recommend a keto diet to patients coming off TRT to help naturally get testosterone levels back to base line. The sad part is that these fitness guru’s will push their low fat diets and high volume workouts to the masses, natural athletes like me and you will be chasing our tails following this type of protocol.
- You will see the best gains of your life. I would wager a bet that if you correctly transitioned to a higher fat, lower carb bulking diet, you would see the best gains of your life. It did for me. First of all, your testosterone will increase having a higher fat intake. You will also be less inflamed, your body will be more optimised towards making muscle gains. You will also be increasing your micronutrient intake because foods that are higher in fats naturally have more nutrient density than grains and high carb foods.
Summary on Low Carb Bulking
For a natural athlete, bulking on low carb can optimise your hormones (testosterone) via a higher fat intake. It also allows you to ingest a larger portion of muscle building micronutrients because the quality of foods you are eating will have a higher ratio of vitamins.
In the long run, you will have more stable energy and feel healthier.
Bulking on high carb, in my opinion, is short sighted. Yes, you will be 2-3 reps stronger in the short term when your glycogen levels are full.
But in the long run, your muscles, body, organs and heart will operate better on a low carb diet, the science backs this up.
There is a reason why many people report getting stronger even when cutting on keto. Can you imagine the results bulking on keto?
Thanks for reading. For more info on starting a ketogenic diet check out How to Start Keto (Most Effective Method).