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Is Calorie Surplus really necesary to build muscle/gain weight on AAS?

jeroendebleser

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First lecture in law school, it was civil law, our professor said "First things first, if anyone ever asks you anything about a legal matter, the only answer you can give is "it depends". Turns out that's not just true for law. Human physiology is a fairly complex thing and adding hormones and other things exogenously has a tendency to blur the lines somewhat.

This is very much oversimplified, but broadly speaking, net protein accretion equals protein anabolism minus protein breakdown. We know that anabolic steroids affect both sides of the equation in our favour.

For a natural, there certainly are ways to avoid excessive muscle protein loss during times of hypocaloric dieting, probalby most importantly high tension training and high(er) protein intake. However, don't even begin to think about putting on any lbm during that time. Exceptions exist (beginners with high bodyfat who start working out and dieting at the same time), but I guess you all know what EXCEPTION means. In times of a caloric deficit, you have things like AMPK (an enzyme that sense cellular energy status) that pretty much shuts off protein synthesis in times of acute energy deprevation. On the other way you have mTOR with all it's downstream effect on anabolic hormones and it's primarily activated by movement under high muscular tension via FAK/PA and nutrient intake (esp. leucine). In turn, energy restriction pretty much shuts down mTOR - no protein synthesis for you. Recomp diets like Leangains cycle a short term (1d) caloric surplus with a short term (1-2d) caloric deficit. It works, but past a certain point it's agonizingly slow.

While steroids simply override certain parameters that naturals have to worry about (especially something like muscle protein with lowered protein intake in the context of a hypocaloric diet), I'd take the cop-out answer and say: It probably works up to a certain point, but you're probably not using your full potential for growth on low(er) kcal/protein. Maintaing is a different question.

You really should post more on here. I've seen some great posts by you lately.
 

beverast

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Thank you, I appreciate it.

I forgot a major point in my earlier post. Going to go on a bit of a tangent, so bear with me (or not, if you don't want to). I will admit that most of this post is not exactly pertinent to the question at hand. Let me start by saying I don't have a problem at all with overweight people. Matter of fact, pretty much all my family and relatives are overweight, or even bordering on obese. What annoys me, however, is heavily overweight people who do nothing but run their mouth about how they want to lose weight, but diets don't work, and because no no no, they're special, and they're the ONE exception to 70 years of science.

Everything in the known universe has to follow the laws of thermodynamics. You cannot create matter without energy and vice versa.

Off on a tangent we go: Look at fat people. Being fat has all sorts of negative effects on your body and how it works. As Elvia correctly pointed out, hormones obviously play a huge role in the amount and quality of tissue gained or lost. With more and more bodyfat being piled on, there's a whole cascade of systems breaking down: Lower testosterone, higher estrogen, decreased thyroid output, insulin insensitivity, and resistance to leptin to just name a few. The last one is especially bad, as leptin is a metabolic master regulator with downstream effects on a bunch of other hormones, including nearly all the anabolic hormones, but most noteably Ghrelin, the "hunger hormone"; you just stop getting a satiety signal.

However, the laws of thermodynamics still apply. If somebody knows someone who claims to have gotten fat on 1000kcal a day (there are more than enough reported cases of 350lbs individuals claiming they can't lose weight on 1500kcal a day, so they don't bother anymore and just aim for 450lbs), tell them to message me, I'll gather all these specimen and then get rich of 100% clean energy, because these people must be fusion reactors or something, creating matter (energy) from nothing. Don't believe it? Google "Minnesota Starvation Experiment" or, as one of the writers I follow suggests, "look at pictures of concentration camp inmates, chances are you won't see a single overweight one".

Adaptive thermogenesis, negative effect on NEAT/SPA*, terrible nutrient partitioning (through insulin insensitivity mostly), bad hormonal environment, lowered basal metabolic rate etc. only go so far. There is not one reported case of somebody eating an actual (!!!) deficit in a controlled environment (e.g. metabolic ward or similar) and not losing weight. It is not possible. Did I mention that everybody, including a lot of fit people, absolutely suck at reporting food intake and estimating caloric output?

*non-exercise associated thermogenesis/spontaneous physical activity: all movement that is not specifically exercise, i.e. fidgeting, moving around etc. Some people actually heavily compensate for lowered caloric intake by just sitting around more and moving less. Other people (ectomorphs) can subconsciously ramp up this type of thermogenesis massively, compensating for a higher caloric intake.

What does this have to do with gaining mass on a caloric deficit? Logically speaking, if you have to lose mass in a true caloric deficit, you can't really gain mass in one.

Back to anabolics:

Anabolic steroids create an environment that:

1. In a hypocaloric diet is potentially protein and glycogen sparing, and has a positive effect lipolysis (increasingg it), so technically you should lose more fat and less glycogen and protein
2. In a hypercaloric diet can potentially increase gains in glycogen and protein, and decrease ("block") storage of excess calories as body fat, so technically you should gain more muscle and store more glycogen, while also storing a lower amount of fat in relation to your excess energy intake

In other words, they improve nutrient partitioning, i.e. your body does more "good" things and fewer "bad" things with the nutrients you put in.

So yes, it should absolutely be possible to achieve positive net nitrogen retention in a deficit. However, I would strongly doubt that it's meaningful (past a certain point at the very least), and it doesn't allow you to use your full potential for gaining lbm. Unless you get your bodycomposition measured, there's all sorts of funny things that could potentially be going on. For example, more pronocuned cuts and better definition tend to make you look larger withou actually gaining any muscle. Water balance is a huge thing, also. Just something to keep in mind.
The biggest advantage of AAS for me personally is that they can give you some peace of mind in regards to your diet. Didn't eat so well? Undereating protein? Don't worry, Tren got you. Funnily enough, most people go the exact other way and become super obsessive, which is unhealthy in and of itself. Of course it shouldn't be an excuse to eat like a pig, either.
 

b-boy

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I don't think the calories are as big of a factor as have enough NUTRITIENTS.
If your daily calorie needs at 3000 to maintain 200lbs at 10% bodyfat do you think adding 1000 calories from cake a day is going to build more muscle than adding 1000 calories from beef.??
(Yes I know that's an extreme example)
I agree ^^^^ nutrient density of your diet is very important!! Most people fail to eat this way day in and day out (lack consistency)
Thank you, I appreciate it.

I forgot a major point in my earlier post. Going to go on a bit of a tangent, so bear with me (or not, if you don't want to). I will admit that most of this post is not exactly pertinent to the question at hand. Let me start by saying I don't have a problem at all with overweight people. Matter of fact, pretty much all my family and relatives are overweight, or even bordering on obese. What annoys me, however, is heavily overweight people who do nothing but run their mouth about how they want to lose weight, but diets don't work, and because no no no, they're special, and they're the ONE exception to 70 years of science.

Everything in the known universe has to follow the laws of thermodynamics. You cannot create matter without energy and vice versa.

Off on a tangent we go: Look at fat people. Being fat has all sorts of negative effects on your body and how it works. As Elvia correctly pointed out, hormones obviously play a huge role in the amount and quality of tissue gained or lost. With more and more bodyfat being piled on, there's a whole cascade of systems breaking down: Lower testosterone, higher estrogen, decreased thyroid output, insulin insensitivity, and resistance to leptin to just name a few. The last one is especially bad, as leptin is a metabolic master regulator with downstream effects on a bunch of other hormones, including nearly all the anabolic hormones, but most noteably Ghrelin, the "hunger hormone"; you just stop getting a satiety signal.

However, the laws of thermodynamics still apply. If somebody knows someone who claims to have gotten fat on 1000kcal a day (there are more than enough reported cases of 350lbs individuals claiming they can't lose weight on 1500kcal a day, so they don't bother anymore and just aim for 450lbs), tell them to message me, I'll gather all these specimen and then get rich of 100% clean energy, because these people must be fusion reactors or something, creating matter (energy) from nothing. Don't believe it? Google "Minnesota Starvation Experiment" or, as one of the writers I follow suggests, "look at pictures of concentration camp inmates, chances are you won't see a single overweight one".

Adaptive thermogenesis, negative effect on NEAT/SPA*, terrible nutrient partitioning (through insulin insensitivity mostly), bad hormonal environment, lowered basal metabolic rate etc. only go so far. There is not one reported case of somebody eating an actual (!!!) deficit in a controlled environment (e.g. metabolic ward or similar) and not losing weight. It is not possible. Did I mention that everybody, including a lot of fit people, absolutely suck at reporting food intake and estimating caloric output?

*non-exercise associated thermogenesis/spontaneous physical activity: all movement that is not specifically exercise, i.e. fidgeting, moving around etc. Some people actually heavily compensate for lowered caloric intake by just sitting around more and moving less. Other people (ectomorphs) can subconsciously ramp up this type of thermogenesis massively, compensating for a higher caloric intake.

What does this have to do with gaining mass on a caloric deficit? Logically speaking, if you have to lose mass in a true caloric deficit, you can't really gain mass in one.

Back to anabolics:

Anabolic steroids create an environment that:

1. In a hypocaloric diet is potentially protein and glycogen sparing, and has a positive effect lipolysis (increasingg it), so technically you should lose more fat and less glycogen and protein
2. In a hypercaloric diet can potentially increase gains in glycogen and protein, and decrease ("block") storage of excess calories as body fat, so technically you should gain more muscle and store more glycogen, while also storing a lower amount of fat in relation to your excess energy intake

In other words, they improve nutrient partitioning, i.e. your body does more "good" things and fewer "bad" things with the nutrients you put in.

So yes, it should absolutely be possible to achieve positive net nitrogen retention in a deficit. However, I would strongly doubt that it's meaningful (past a certain point at the very least), and it doesn't allow you to use your full potential for gaining lbm. Unless you get your bodycomposition measured, there's all sorts of funny things that could potentially be going on. For example, more pronocuned cuts and better definition tend to make you look larger withou actually gaining any muscle. Water balance is a huge thing, also. Just something to keep in mind.
The biggest advantage of AAS for me personally is that they can give you some peace of mind in regards to your diet. Didn't eat so well? Undereating protein? Don't worry, Tren got you. Funnily enough, most people go the exact other way and become super obsessive, which is unhealthy in and of itself. Of course it shouldn't be an excuse to eat like a pig, either.

You are speaking from a calorie deficit, the thread is asking do you need to be in a calorie SURPLUS to gain lean muscle tissue, the answer is NO. Eating at maintenance calories (nutrient dense food) and then adding in anabolics you can gain significant lean muscle tissue if you continue to eat at maintenance and account for the increase in maintenance calories as lean tissue is added.
 

Elvia1023

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Thank you, I appreciate it.

I forgot a major point in my earlier post. Going to go on a bit of a tangent, so bear with me (or not, if you don't want to). I will admit that most of this post is not exactly pertinent to the question at hand. Let me start by saying I don't have a problem at all with overweight people. Matter of fact, pretty much all my family and relatives are overweight, or even bordering on obese. What annoys me, however, is heavily overweight people who do nothing but run their mouth about how they want to lose weight, but diets don't work, and because no no no, they're special, and they're the ONE exception to 70 years of science.

Everything in the known universe has to follow the laws of thermodynamics. You cannot create matter without energy and vice versa.

Off on a tangent we go: Look at fat people. Being fat has all sorts of negative effects on your body and how it works. As Elvia correctly pointed out, hormones obviously play a huge role in the amount and quality of tissue gained or lost. With more and more bodyfat being piled on, there's a whole cascade of systems breaking down: Lower testosterone, higher estrogen, decreased thyroid output, insulin insensitivity, and resistance to leptin to just name a few. The last one is especially bad, as leptin is a metabolic master regulator with downstream effects on a bunch of other hormones, including nearly all the anabolic hormones, but most noteably Ghrelin, the "hunger hormone"; you just stop getting a satiety signal.

However, the laws of thermodynamics still apply. If somebody knows someone who claims to have gotten fat on 1000kcal a day (there are more than enough reported cases of 350lbs individuals claiming they can't lose weight on 1500kcal a day, so they don't bother anymore and just aim for 450lbs), tell them to message me, I'll gather all these specimen and then get rich of 100% clean energy, because these people must be fusion reactors or something, creating matter (energy) from nothing. Don't believe it? Google "Minnesota Starvation Experiment" or, as one of the writers I follow suggests, "look at pictures of concentration camp inmates, chances are you won't see a single overweight one".

Adaptive thermogenesis, negative effect on NEAT/SPA*, terrible nutrient partitioning (through insulin insensitivity mostly), bad hormonal environment, lowered basal metabolic rate etc. only go so far. There is not one reported case of somebody eating an actual (!!!) deficit in a controlled environment (e.g. metabolic ward or similar) and not losing weight. It is not possible. Did I mention that everybody, including a lot of fit people, absolutely suck at reporting food intake and estimating caloric output?

*non-exercise associated thermogenesis/spontaneous physical activity: all movement that is not specifically exercise, i.e. fidgeting, moving around etc. Some people actually heavily compensate for lowered caloric intake by just sitting around more and moving less. Other people (ectomorphs) can subconsciously ramp up this type of thermogenesis massively, compensating for a higher caloric intake.

What does this have to do with gaining mass on a caloric deficit? Logically speaking, if you have to lose mass in a true caloric deficit, you can't really gain mass in one.

Back to anabolics:

Anabolic steroids create an environment that:

1. In a hypocaloric diet is potentially protein and glycogen sparing, and has a positive effect lipolysis (increasingg it), so technically you should lose more fat and less glycogen and protein
2. In a hypercaloric diet can potentially increase gains in glycogen and protein, and decrease ("block") storage of excess calories as body fat, so technically you should gain more muscle and store more glycogen, while also storing a lower amount of fat in relation to your excess energy intake

In other words, they improve nutrient partitioning, i.e. your body does more "good" things and fewer "bad" things with the nutrients you put in.

So yes, it should absolutely be possible to achieve positive net nitrogen retention in a deficit. However, I would strongly doubt that it's meaningful (past a certain point at the very least), and it doesn't allow you to use your full potential for gaining lbm. Unless you get your bodycomposition measured, there's all sorts of funny things that could potentially be going on. For example, more pronocuned cuts and better definition tend to make you look larger withou actually gaining any muscle. Water balance is a huge thing, also. Just something to keep in mind.
The biggest advantage of AAS for me personally is that they can give you some peace of mind in regards to your diet. Didn't eat so well? Undereating protein? Don't worry, Tren got you. Funnily enough, most people go the exact other way and become super obsessive, which is unhealthy in and of itself. Of course it shouldn't be an excuse to eat like a pig, either.

Great post and I think we have all come across the same. Obviously the fatter someone becomes the less efficient their bodies will operate in every area. There are many reasons it's much better to grow muscle from a very lean state and you highlight them. We all come across the "I only eat a tiny amount and can't lose weight" people. Fact is whilst many may have various issues going on they are all still eating in a calorie surplus. Many can't understand why they are getting fatter on "healthy" foods whilst others are simply stuffing their faces constantly and have no concept of energy balance. Then you have the opposite end of the spectrum and they can't understand why they aren't growing. It's true some of them are taking in a lot of calories but they metabolize everything at an accelerated rate and they have to simply eat more to gain the size they desire.
 

b-boy

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Cannot edit again ^^^

You are talking from a calorie deficit only, you also have maintenance calories which are neither a deficit or a surplus.
 

Elvia1023

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I agree ^^^^ nutrient density of your diet is very important!! Most people fail to eat this way day in and day out (lack consistency)


You are speaking from a calorie deficit, the thread is asking do you need to be in a calorie SURPLUS to gain lean muscle tissue, the answer is NO. Eating at maintenance calories (nutrient dense food) and then adding in anabolics you can gain significant lean muscle tissue if you continue to eat at maintenance and account for the increase in maintenance calories as lean tissue is added.

All very true. You can gain muscle during "maintenance" and calories are less important to nutrients in a sense. Well calories are everything in regards to putting on or losing weight so I don't want that to be misconstrued. So if we eat great food at a deficit we will still lose weight simply because of energy balance. Studies have shown no real weight will be gained/lost even 200 calories over/below maintenance. There is a little window in that regard (maintenance calories) but throw in anabolics and training and that changes things. If you take in optimal amounts of nutrients with sufficient protein you can still grow. The study highlighted gave natural athletes 600mg test so of course they are going to grow.

Most do lack consistency and if they didn't they would realize if you eat a diet full of nutrient dense food it may be surprising how little they need to maintain or even grow. So the simple answer is a surplus is not needed to gain muscle tissue. However there are so many variables and whilst I agree surely we want to be optimal so if growth is the goal we want to be in a surplus. That doesn't have to mean adding in 1000 cals from a shake but you want to be eating in a surplus to gain optimal muscle. For some other guys I would even recommend really bumping the calories high as they can get away with it. But sure the answer to the OP's question is yes.
 

headtrainer

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No, when you're that lean is when it's by far the easiest to gain muscle.
I do believe you gain muscle better when you are lean due to insulin sensitivity improving. But, you reach a point where you have to gain some weight in order to gain more muscle. I believe a lot of people tend to eat way too many calories in the off-season. And when it comes time to diet down they begin to realize that most of the gains on the scale were just fat and water. weight.
 

Knight9

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This is a pretty preposterous question.

To make consistent gains, you need to be in a caloric surplus. Period. Nutrients and nutrient timing is of utmost importance and can help you gain in a deficit but only for a limited period of time. After that, you are inevitably going to run into a situation where you stall due to lack of nutrients and halt potential growth.

However, if you are always in a fairly significant surplus and consuming the appropriate amount of nutrients, you are in a prime position to not be without key nutrients for growth at any given time. Your growth and potential for growth(doing other things correctly) will be more significant.
 

beverast

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Cannot edit again ^^^

You are talking from a calorie deficit only, you also have maintenance calories which are neither a deficit or a surplus.

True, due to the effect of androgens on fat metabolism and the improved nutrient partitioning, your body composition should improve while eating maintenance. As I said, I was overshooting a little bit with my posts. 😵

Not to be petty, just a side note: It's nigh impossible to eat true maintenance. Most people will usually still be in a +-200kcal window, as it is pretty hard to 1. gauge your exact calorie output on a day to day basis 2. eat accordingly, since there's certain things that are impossible to measure from a practical standpoint (Example: "How much of those 10ml of oil are on my chicken breast when I consume it and how much stays in the pan/on the plate? How much fat sears out of the meat?"). However, since your weight doesn't really move - shifts in water balance notwithstanding - that's maintenance for all intents and purposes. Again, this doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.
 

mpjuice

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this is the study. whats more telling is the low protein intake. 1.5g/kg. nowhere near what yall say u have to eat to grow. 220 pounder eats only 150g a day? bullshit! u say! MUST eat at least 1.5g per pound!
or in this study more like a 190 pounder eating 130 a day. and gaining lean mass.
In my experience higher the protein the better. Yes its more difficult to get your calories in that way. Carbs and fats are manly sources of energy not building blocks for muscle.

What is muscle made of?...
 

mpjuice

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Is it necessary, no.
Is bodybuilding necessary? Definitely not.
This study doesn't take into account HGH and insulin use and doesn't compare high protein intake versus lower.

Don't get me wrong I understand what you're saying I don't consume as much protein as I find optimal (because it's way easier getting the calories in from fats or carbs, and I only do this for myself this is not a money-making endeavor, and my wife thinks I'm too big anyways) and yes I do make good progress with less protein than I recommend for optimal results.
 

KillerStack

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It looks like this was several hundred cals surplus. Secondly, self reported food intakes are almost always wrong, sometimes grossly so, for example 1500 calories worth wrong. Only way to be sure is lock these people up and serve them meals with zero chance of veering off the prescribed diet.
I know a pro who ingested 3x the intended calories from a certain product because he read the label wrong :D
 

aphextwin

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Is bodybuilding necessary? Definitely not.
This study doesn't take into account HGH and insulin use and doesn't compare high protein intake versus lower.

Don't get me wrong I understand what you're saying I don't consume as much protein as I find optimal (because it's way easier getting the calories in from fats or carbs, and I only do this for myself this is not a money-making endeavor, and my wife thinks I'm too big anyways) and yes I do make good progress with less protein than I recommend for optimal results.

Honestly buddy! I didn’t say anything pertaining to you or your workouts. Am I wrong?
 

aphextwin

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I was making a simple statement but it wasn’t directed towards anyone.
 

johnjuanb1

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What BBOY said is spot on. You can grow real well on nutrient dense caloric maintenance number of calories with the addition of AAS and proper training. Caloric surplus just makes me fatter. I grow best while lean.
 

totalrecomp

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this is the study. whats more telling is the low protein intake. 1.5g/kg. nowhere near what yall say u have to eat to grow. 220 pounder eats only 150g a day? bullshit! u say! MUST eat at least 1.5g per pound!
or in this study more like a 190 pounder eating 130 a day. and gaining lean mass.

Unless you know the amount they were eating prior to the study this means nothing. Take a guy eating <100g/day and give him 130-150 with 600mg of test and of course he will grow. This is NO WAY proves lower protein will equal better or even equal results.
 

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