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Increased risk of muscle loss on a low-carb but nonketogenic diet?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 12, 2013 at 4:47 AM

I'm a newb at all this so please stop me if I'm getting anything wrong here. One thing I'm trying to figure out is how metabolism is expected to work on a diet that's low-carb but not quite ketogenic -- let's say, 40g CHO over the individual's limit for ketosis.

I've been told that the non-ketogenic diet should have many benefits over a higher-carb one (assume that in both diets the carbs are in all respects relatively "good" ones), such as reduced insulin exposure and more controlled blood sugar. However, my understanding is that when the body isn't in ketosis, its first-line alternative to glycogen depletion is gluconeogenesis, using both dietary protein and muscle. And I'm assuming that this diet would lead to frequent glycogen depletion.

Does this mean that a low-carb but non-ketogenic diet substantially raises your risk of muscle loss, relative to either a ketogenic one or a high-carb one? Does it make a difference whether the diet is adequately caloric vs. one intended for weight loss? Or am I confused somewhere?

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on March 13, 2013
at 04:15 AM

Thanks for the explanation! It sounds like my error was in thinking that gluconeogenesis would only be used for immediate glucose needs, and not to also replenish glycogen.

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Fdce058480fb50b092f3ed975c94a2f0

on March 13, 2013
at 01:07 AM

No. As long as you consume adequate protein, no muscle loss will occur. Many, in fact, gain muscle with no added exercise. Gluconeogenesis will supply all the glucose you will ever need. That's why carbs are considered nonessential nutrients. Glycogen depletion does not normally occur on Low carb. Glycogen stores will fill regardless of eating carbs. Eating carbs will fill them faster though (especially fructose). Gluconeogenesis will go after muscle but only after other alternatives are used up. Another side, is that some muscle conversion in gluconeogenesis is not a bad thing as the muscle tissue it uses first is the worst quality tissues. Breaking these down so they can be replaced with newer tissues keeps your muscle mass in better (newer) condition. This makes intermittent fasting make nore sense.

Hope this helps a little.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on March 13, 2013
at 04:15 AM

Thanks for the explanation! It sounds like my error was in thinking that gluconeogenesis would only be used for immediate glucose needs, and not to also replenish glycogen.

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