Team Gorman Experiment- Finding a Way For Endomorphic or Carb Sensitive Individuals to Eat High Carbs With Minimal Fat Gain
By John Gorman, BS, MA, CPT, Owner of Team Gorman
Those that know me know I am always sitting around coming up with different ways to approach nutrition, supplementation, training, or basically anything that involves human performance. I get the nickname “Supa-Geek” for a reason as I am constantly trying to find new ways to do things that haven’t been done before or finding a new twist on a protocol, etc etc. I truly believe that if I wasn’t a coach to athletes I would love being a scientist in a lab somewhere coming up with new studies to run to help optimize our quest to be bigger, faster and stronger.
With that being said I am not a scientist and not pretending to be one, and understand this was not a formal study it was an experiment and an idea I had while sitting around thinking about better ways to do things for myself and my endomorphic clients. While writing some notes down one day on some ideas I wanted to try on myself and with a particular client I came to realize there are a lot of “endomorphic” clients out there who think they cant eat very many carbs. Hell I used to think I was the same way, and I was actually in that boat up until the Summer of 2014 thinking eating 280 carbs a day was high for me and if I ate more than that I would add fat easily…..
So my question was what would it take to get a true endo male eating high carbs such 400-500 a day with minimal fat gain, and eating that many carbs without sacrificing eating enough protein and fats as well? What about a women, to get a truly carb sensitive female to eat over 300 carbs all the time without gaining much fat, or maybe not any fat at all? Not only did this happen, it happened in a big big way and opened my eyes to a lot of things I will be explaining in this article.
My plan was a two pronged approach. First, macros would need to be right. A lot of people who think they cant eat many carbs tend to be low or moderate carb levels and moderate to higher fats to try and make up for it. I cant tell you how many guys I know eating very high protein and only 150 carbs a day thinking they will get fat if they eat more carbs, and eating 100-120 g of fat a day yet they ARE getting fatter. My goal was to make sure 1. Protein was in a good place, at least 1 g per lb of bw, or slightly higher was fine. For example, a 220 lb male I had eating 240 g of protein a day. A 170 lb female I had eating 180 g protein a day. 2. Fat levels couldn’t be high if carbs where going to get high. For most fats would be between 40-60 a day, enough to support hormone levels, growth, etc etc definitely nothing “low” by any means. 3. To set their carb levels at a higher starting point after setting their protein and fats at a good level for each one of them. Their remaining cals would be carbs. These where the intial steps.
The training would consist of 6 days a week training, Push/Pull/Legs one day was heavy (4-6 rep ranges) one day was hypertrophy training (8-12 and 15-20 rep ranges) with 1 day off a week. That was set in stone and not changed. For example here was a common split:
Mon: Pull (hypertrophy) (REFEED)
Tues: Legs (heavy)
Wed: Push (hypertrophy)
Thur: Pull (heavy)
Fri: Legs (hypertrophy)
Sat: Push (heavy)
This is where the big key to adding carbs came in- I told each participant that I wanted them to do 3 HIIT cardio intervals after every workout for 1 week, then the next week zero HIIT cardio. So essentially a HIIT session would take place for 3 intervals after their weight training such as on Push day, they would do battle ropes as hard as they could for 30 secs, then rest for 30 secs and that was one interval. They would complete 3 intervals in 3 minutes and that was it, DONE. On leg day it was a bike for 3 intervals afterwards, short sweet and easy. This would last all week, but then the next week none would be performed. One week 3 HIIT after the workouts, one week none at all. Here are two examples of the HIIT they would do:
On the weeks I had them doing the 3 short intervals, I would add 10-20 carbs to their diet this week depending on how they responded as time went on. Most got a 10 carb increase though a few got 20-25 carbs a week if they responded very very well and lost weight, more on that in a few. My initial thinking was that adding 10-20 carbs on the weeks they did the HIIT would help with not gaining any fat. HIIT is very very effective at speeding up the metabolism, so adding 10 carbs to the daily total on the days HIIT was done wouldn’t hurt bodycomposition and I was right.
For the weeks off HIIT I held their diet steady. This accomplished two things- they had the new calories from the week prior with HIIT being done, then the week off allowed them to stay on the new diet numbers but also take a break from the HIIT to prepare for the next week when it would be introduced. By giving the body a week off the cardio, it responded very well the next time it was added and worked to speed the metab up very quickly. The body adapts to anything thrown at it unbroken periods of time, by taking a 1 week on 1 off approach to the HIIT, each week they introduced it they responded to it like it was new again. Most reported increased hunger, and with the addition of carbs on the HIIT weeks that tells me metabolism was on fire.
As the weeks went on what I started to see was that almost everyone was losing scale weight, but getting stronger in a hurry. While I wasn’t too worried about scale weight dropping, I wasn’t going to alter the plan I had to let it play out for 20 weeks. The numbers I will share at the end will astonish you.
After 20 weeks I had most of the 30 participants finish their plans, if they didn’t finish I didn’t count their numbers into the totals as there is no way to know if they stuck to it or not. Here is some of the data:
57% of the participants were male, 43 % female.
All were selected based on being endo or “carb sensitive” and eating lower than desired carbs.
Average weight lost during the 20 weeks- 5.7 lbs.
Average carbs added during the 20 weeks- 80 carbs. (protein and fat remained unchanged from the beginning to the end)
There were some extremes on the side of losing weight- a couple of guys ended up losing 18 lbs in 20 weeks, such as Dan Duncan who went from 235 lbs to 217, yet his carbs went from 300 to 400 a day and a total calorie increase of 400 calories a day (pro/fats remained unchanged). Doug Wenger started at 190 lbs and got to 172 and VERY lean, his carbs went from 250 to a very high 390 (140 carbs added while dropping 18 lbs in 20 weeks). There were also the folks who didn’t lose any weight, but the majority of the participants did lose some. There were also some who did gain some weight, I had a lady who gained 8 lbs in 20 weeks but her carbs also went up 60 a day. Most of the ladies in the study weight stayed the same or they lost a couple lbs but carbs got up anywhere from 40-60 carbs a day. (Note- it seemed that the women who did gain weight had a history of dieting a lot in the past, which depending on the severity and length the past dieting may be a contributing factor to some of the weight gain. The weight gain was still minimal with the amount of carbs added) The average weight showed a loss and averaged right at 4 lbs in 20 weeks, and the average carbs for the ladies across the board went up on average 57 carbs a day at the end of the 20 weeks.
Refeeds where done each week, and remained unchanged. I simply told clients to add 100 carbs to their daily totals and that would be a higher carb day once a week. Example, if someone was eating 350 carbs a day, their refeed day would be 450 carbs. Pro/fats remained unchanged on refeed days.
Another few interesting things to note- all clients just got pro/carb/fat totals given to them for their daily diets, they could eat them however they liked. The also could eat any food they wanted as long as they hit their calorie/macro totals by the end of the day so flexible dieting and IIFYM was present. They could also eat as many or as few meals as they wanted, 3, 4, 5, 8, didn’t matter it was up to them.
So what can we take away from this? Here are the take home points, and also some situations this may work very well:
– Carbs can get higher with pro/fats set at moderate levels for endo/carb sensitive individuals.
– Adding 10-20 carbs a week can be done when some small short amounts of HIIT cardio are done that week. 3 HIIT intervals after training for 1 week followed by 1 week off HIIT works very well at offsetting the added calories, getting metabolism fired up, and seems to show that a lot of fat loss can happen while adding calories. Win-Win.
– This may be a way to add muscle (strength gains were reported by almost every participant) and lose fat at the same time while getting calories as high as possible.
– This may be a superior way to reverse diet after shows when metabolism is slow and fat gain is easy. I also did this plan with a lot of people in the Fall of 2014 and it worked very well with reverse dieting.
– This might be a good way to set up your contest prep diet by getting carbs as high as possible and staying lean. I did start some of my clients prep after doing this plan, and it has worked well as I simply told them not to do cardio at all for 3 weeks and then started their preps so they weren’t used to any HIIT at all. They have all be responding very well so far after using the new protocol to finish their offseasons.
– The addition of the carbs AND the 3 short HIIT intervals could both be working to speed up the metabolism and help with fat burning.
If you are someone wanting to eat more carbs, you might want to give this set up a try. I know what I learned from it is enough to use this as another tool in the tool box for my endomorphic and carb sensitive clients.