Muscle-Building Myth #3: High Protein Diets

(Article updated September, 2015) You probably know that protein is a really important macronutrient for building muscle. In fact, my little sister probably knows that protein is important for building muscle. There’s some truth to this—if you don’t eat enough protein your body won’t build muscle. In fact it can’t build muscle, since muscle is build directly out of digested protein. This is a common problem for some absolute beginners, vegetarians and vegans. They eat too little protein and thus struggle to put on muscle.

But what about your regular gym dude? What about the guy that trains 6 times a week? What about a skinny ectomorph trying to pack on muscle? They all probably think they need a helluva lot of protein.

However eating a diet overly high in protein is a great way to limit the amount of muscle you build, especially as an ectomorph.

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately into clinical studies conducted on muscle growth. Most of them are funded by supplement companies who pay their bills by selling protein powders, so these companies have a huge vested interest in proving that more protein = more muscles.

A protein company funding a protein overfeeding study doesn’t mean the results will be fraudulent or anything—the scientific community is pretty good at preventing this—but it’s always wise to keep potential biases in mind when reviewing studies.

Oddly enough, even the protein manufacturers haven’t been able to show that there’s a correlation between more protein and more muscle. 

It seems like once the minimum required amount of protein is met, eating more protein on top of that has very little effect beyond the extra calories that you get from it. Believe it or not, some studies show that you’d gain significantly more muscle by getting those calories from carbs instead (study). This is because when we consume an abundance of carbohydrates (and calories in general) protein oxidation goes down, allowing us to use that protein more efficiently to synthesize muscle. More carbs and more calories means we’re able to build more muscle out of less protein.

Jose Antonio is the director in chief of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (JISSN)—the journal that publishes all the best muscle-building nutrition studies—believes that a very high protein diet is ideal for building muscle, and he has been doing a lot of fascinating research into very high protein diets lately. Some of them show some preliminary promise. However, his studies still aren’t showing that much of a benefit despite the incredibly high protein intakes. For example, the conclusion of one of his more recent studies: “Consuming 5.5 times the recommended daily allowance of protein has no effect on body composition in resistance-trained individuals who otherwise maintain the same training regimen.”

So while we do need to eat enough protein, we don’t need the bodybuilder style 1-2g protein per pound bodyweight when trying to put on muscle.

So what’s the magic amount of protein for building muscle?

That varies, but for a classic ectomorph the minimum amount is around 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day—and that’s already playing it safe. Beyond that amount it hasn’t been proven that more protein results in any more muscle growth whatsoever (studystudystudy, study). Some of Jose Antonio’s work has shown some potential benefit to higher intakes (as high as 1.5 grams of protein per pound bodyweight), but it’s too early to tell if this will pan out into anything meaningful.

0.8g/pound should give you pretty damn near perfect results.

So let’s say you’re a classic ectomorph weighing in at lean 150 pounds and on a muscle-building diet of 3400 calories. If you get even just 20% of your calories from protein you’re eating 170 grams of protein. That’s all you need plus a bit extra—just incase. Keep in mind that there’s no harm to your health in eating loads of protein, just that the muscle-building benefit comes from the extra calories, not the fact that you’re consuming protein (study, study, study).

Even those extra calories aren’t packing quite the caloric punch that another macronutrient would, because digesting protein results in a lot of energy being “wasted” as heat. If you’ve ever heard that high protein diets increase your metabolism then you know what I mean. Your body expends a certain amount of energy digesting and processing nutrients, and this is dubbed the thermic effect of food (TEF). If you eat 800 calories of protein you’ll lose about a quarter of them to heat. (With carbs or fat you’d lose less than a tenth.) This is great under some circumstances, such as weight loss, but when building muscle the high TEF that protein has means that you’d need to eat way more calories. For skinny guys with small appetites this can make bulking up a lot harder.

In addition to this, protein is also the most filling of all the macronutrients. Eating a lot of calories while also eating a lot of protein is miserably difficult, and us ectomorphs already have enough trouble eating enough to gain weight. Bulking diets become far easier when you’re getting more of your calories from carbs or fats.

All of a sudden you have poor ectomorphs trying to force feed themselves way past the point of fullness and still unable to get into a caloric surplus, i.e., unable to gain weight.

As you may be noticing, us ectomorphs often stumble into doing mainstream appetite control tricks for chubby people trying to be lean and muscular. Paleo, low carb diets, etc—these are all diets designed for naturally chubby guys who are trying to get leaner. (Our article on appetite here.)

Where you should be getting the bulk of your calories

What someone should be eating depends on their circumstances and goals. Someone with heart diseases might be best eating a lower fat diet. Someone who’s overweight might be best on a higher protein diet.

As skinny guys, we tend to benefit from eating a ton of carbs. There are a few reasons for this.

First, carbs can be really great for our appetite. They may even create something called the “rebound effect”, where it causes our appetite to come back again shortly after eating. For chubsters this is often the express highway to fatville, but for us ectomorphs this is an incredible tool for loving a calorie-heavy diet that will have us building loads of muscle.

Second, some of the carbohydrates we eat are stored in our muscles in the form of muscle glycogen, and it’s that glycogen that entirely fuels our weightlifting workouts (study, study). Not consuming enough carbohydrates will make us fatigue sooner, reducing our workout performance. Training volume (how heavy you lift for how many reps/sets) is the most important factor in the gym, so anything that gets in the way of this will greatly reduce your results. A crappy workout means less weight lifted, fewer muscle fibres stimulated, less muscle built.

Third, carbs are cheap, accessible and delicious. If you try to bulk on high protein diet you’ll probably be eating tons of meat and tons of dairy (especially whey protein powder). That’s not bad, but it’s expensive!

For most ectomorphs eating enough to gain weight, 20% of your calories coming from protein works out to a little over a gram of protein per pound bodyweight – and that’s more than enough protein while still leaving plenty of room for other nutrients.

If you count grams, something like 1 gram of carbs per pound bodyweight would be the minimum you’d want to consume (and that’s a good minimum when cutting), but optimum performance and muscle-building usually comes at 3 grams per pound, which is more like 50% of your daily calories.

This may sound counterintuitive, considering that muscle can only be synthesized out of protein, and that carbs are currently infamous for being the fat-causing macronutrient… but they actually have a ton of anabolic effects and really don’t have much risk of being converted into fat if you consume them intelligently.

Opening the door to meals that are higher in carbs and just moderate in protein makes bulking a whole helluva lot more realistic. Things like muesli cereal with milk, or peanut butter and banana sandwiches—these are super cheap, super healthy, super easy to prepare, quite high in calories, and the nuts, grains and dairy will still provide the minimum amount of protein per meal that you need to spike great muscle protein synthesis (20g).

B-b-but what about post-workout?

That’s the exception, right? Okay so we do advise getting in some good protein after working out, and studies pretty unanimously support the benefits of that (study, study), but a huge part of the benefit actually comes from the calories/carbohydrates that we recommend having alongside it, and not just the protein (study). In fact, you can build tons of extra muscle just by having carb-filled post-workout shakes without any protein in them at all, especially if they have creatine in them (study).

(If you want our recommendations for ectomorph post-workout nutrition check this post out.)

Why doesn’t everybody know this then?

A lot of the most popular diets these days are higher in fat and lower in carbs. It may unfairly vilify certain foods, but it’s easy to understand and works pretty well for the vast majority of people. So it’s not wrong, per se, just not ideal for guys like us.

Different body types, lifestyles, and goals produce very different nutritional demands:

  1. Naturally chubby guys often respond better to a diet higher in protein and fats, and these guys make up the majority. As ectomorphs we’re thyroid dominant (hormone talk), meaning that we’re better at processing carbohydrates. It’s unlikely that we’ll convert them to fat, and with a proper workout plan in place we’ll use those carb calories to build muscle.
  2. Most guys aren’t trying to gain weight, let alone rapidly gain weight. If you were asking me how to maintain your muscle mass or lose fat my nutrition advice would be different… but we’re trying to build muscle here. In order to do this we need to intelligently stimulate our muscles and increase our calorie intake. Carbs will help.
  3. Sedentary lifestyles reduce the demand that we have for carbohydrates. Our bodies use carbohydrates as an energy source, so if you don’t expend much energy you don’t need many carbohydrates. Most guys drive to work, sit in an office and daydream about weighing less. Those guys don’t need carbs. Since overweight people living that lifestyle are so prevalent, this is great nutrition advice for the masses. Only 3% of the population wants to gain weight, so, for better or worse, we are not the masses. As ectomorphs we have higher metabolisms and naturally expend a lot of energy (often as heat). Add in a weightlifting plan and our energy requirements shoot up even further.
  4. Strength training and carbs are a match made in heaven. There’s a window surrounding our workouts where carbs are extremely beneficial. Even beefy guys will often benefit from consuming plenty of carbs within the two hours following their workouts if they’re looking to maximize muscle gain while minimizing fat gain. As ectomorphs this window doubles. If our goal is rapid muscle gain we should even be eating plenty of carbs up to 48 hours after our last workout (within reason). If you work out three times per week, as we do, well, that’s pretty much always!

Does this mean too much protein is bad for us?

Not at all. It won’t strain your kidneys, stress your liver, make you ugly, lower your sperm count, or any of the other anti-protein myths you may have heard (study). Well except for the gas thing. A very high protein diet will give some people pretty gnarly gas.
Protein is a perfectly fine macronutrient, and you can digest over 100 grams of it in a single meal without a hitch. You just don’t need ludicrous amounts of it when trying to build optimal amounts of lean muscle as an ectomorph. We can do better.


All this doesn’t mean that protein isn’t important, but rather that most of your calories should probably come from carbohydrates. It’s rare to find a skinny guy (or even a skinny-fat guy) that this won’t hold true for. If you’re eating a calorie surplus large enough to build muscle with around 20% of your calories are coming from protein you’ll be just fine. That will give you more than the required amount of protein, and any extra is muscle gravy.

Where should most of your calories come from? Everyone is a little different, which is why it can be really helpful to track your results and adjust accordingly… but likely you’ll want to be getting 50% or so of those calories from dense and healthy carbohydrates—potatoes, yams, fruits, grains, rice, dairy, legumes, etc. And maybe 30% from nutritious fats—olive oil, butter, avocados, fish oil, nuts, coconut oil, eggs, cheese, etc.

As you can imagine, this opens the door to eating a pretty delicious, nutritious and well balanced diet even when trying to bulk up in a hurry. And therein lies your best chance at building muscle as a thin / skinny / skinny-fat / ectomorph guy: eat well, lift heavy, be smart, love life.

Adequate protein is enough:
Bony to Beastly Ectomorph Transformation—Nick

…but don’t give your girlfriend this advice unless she’s also a strength training ectomorph. Carbs might make her phat 😉Bony to Bombshell—the Weight Gain / Muscle-Building Program for Skinny Women


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How to build 20 to 30 pounds of muscle in 30 days. Even if you have failed before


  1. Tony on April 21, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Hey guys…. or is it dude… I don’t how many of you there are. Anyhow, I dig the site. I have one qualm with this post, however and that’s the, excess amounts of protein have no adverse affects on health. The China Study showed the exact opposite, that excess animal protein is the number one cause of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. It’s a no bullshit 27 year-long fo’real study. Check out the book. It’s worth the read.
    …And keep up the stellar work 😉

    • Shane Duquette on April 28, 2013 at 4:25 pm

      Hey Tony,

      Thanks for the kind words man! We’re three guys, although just I (Shane) wrote this post.

      That’s a really really interesting topic and it would take me ages to dig into it with any kind of thoroughness. Thanks for bringing it up though, and this is a great place to at least expand on it a tiny bit. Here are some pieces of food for thought:

      A study on the adverse affects of animal protein (or the lack thereof). (Study)

      The China study’s author, Dr. Campbell, has strong ties to PETA. Is it possible for an animal rights activist to be unbiased when it comes to animals products and health … of course. Should we assume that’s the case? Definitely not. Many think the China Study is a great and information book that isn’t at all biased. Many others think that The China Study is heavily weighted to favor his moral convictions. I haven’t read the entire thing myself, so I can’t really weigh in there.

      There are potentially some factually false statements and misquoted pieces of information though. Many researchers believe that the most, if not all, of the information in the book has been refuted by studies that are conducted in a manner that are far more scientifically reliable (randomized controlled trials > epidemiology and correlation). For example: “eating foods that contain any cholesterol above 0 mg is unhealthy.” That simply isn’t true. Consuming dietary cholesterol hasn’t been known to cause any adverse effects.

      He also left out the information that contradicted his points! He found that “animal protein” was cancer causing … but in the actual China Study that he’s saying showed that correlation … carbohydrates were about 7x more likely to cause cancer (the staple of a no-animal diet). The fact that he didn’t mention that may point to a bias.

      Now, I’m not “pro animal protein” or “anti-vegan” or anything. I actually have a ton of respect for vegans and their moral convictions. I think it’s really noble, and all the vegans I know are really kind and incredible people. We’re pro health, pro research and pro results first and foremost though, so while we respect people’s ethical choices we aren’t biased when it comes to finding health implications there. We’re always on guard for things that indicate that things may or may not be good for us or our goals.

      We love it when you guys link us to interesting books and studies to help expand our perspective 🙂

      Hope you find that interesting / get some value in it!

      My best,

  2. Tree on May 13, 2013 at 2:42 am

    I’ve just got off a 30 day vegan diet trial, and this is what I also discovered. I’m also kinda ectomorph (no one is really one type right?) and whilst I didn’t work out that month, I barely lost any muscle. When I started training again, I was lifting almost the same amount of weight. I definitely lost some weight, most of it was fat because I can see more of my abs now 😀

    In addition my buddy also confirmed that he didn’t need as much protein as he thought even tho he is more endo. But he also trained really hard and that’s where I think training is underrated and eating right is overrated.

    Eating less meat is also better for the planet I think since we wouldn’t have to farm animals so much, necessitating the need for dirty and unethical factory farms. That being said I do love my meat but maybe we all should cut back to a few times a week and preferably from free range animals.

    Ultimately, as you said, it really depends on the individual. Everyone is different so everyone has different needs. Some people smoke and live really long. Not saying smoking’s good but it’s all in DNA expression. The trick is finding what works best but if you are a conscious human being you will wake up and put in the effort.

    Thanks for the article!

    • Shane Duquette on May 13, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks for the kind words Tree!

      Right on man, that’s a really cool experiment! I’ve tried experimenting with vegetarian diets, but I’ve never gone so far as trying to go vegan. How did you find it (muscle aside)?

      • Tree on September 6, 2013 at 10:01 pm

        Whoops forgot to follow up on this! I’ll try to remember what it was like…

        During the first week I was craving the meat a little but eventually substituted it for more starchy carbs but I never neglected veggies. Veggies just never made me full and I got hungry fairly quick if I ate only veggies. Fortunately I’m asian so I cook stir fry pretty well and fried rice + veggies became my staple in week 2.5-4 although I should’ve realised it earlier!! Prior to vegan diet I tried the Paleo diet so my BF% was actually decent already (~15%?) and I didn’t gain any weight, in fact I lost some fat and probably a negligible amount of muscle since I wasn’t training.

        Normally my body doesn’t react to pasta very well (bloated afterwards) but this time it was fine. I’m not gluten intolerant anyways I think (but I am happily lactose intolerant).

        What I definately found about the vegan diet was that tissue recovery was a little slower than a diet with more protein. When I had a small skin tear I would recover faster than when I was on the vegan diet.

        Anyways started training again (which is why I’m lurking here haha) to get in shape for summer (in Australia) for ze ladies….

        P.S Soy yogurt SUCKS!!

        • Shane Duquette on September 9, 2013 at 1:03 pm

          Ahaha soy yogurt sounds pretty sucky!

          Vegan protein’s pretty easy these days though. SunWarrior makes some pretty good stuff, and you can even get vegan creatine, BCAAs, b12 and DHA. All the things you’re missing from meat and dairy are pretty easy to come by 🙂

  3. tehftw on May 22, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Which carbs are the best? I have problems eating anything more than medium amounts unless it’s sugar :\

    • Shane Duquette on May 24, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      Most whole food carbs are pretty good (potatoes, yams, quinoa, fruits, beans, lentils, dairy, whole gains, oats, etc). All of those are packed full of vitamins and minerals and excellent at building up tons of lean muscle.

      The heavily processed stuff, like stuff made out of refined flour (pasta, pastries, etc), isn’t very nutritious, since pretty much all of the vitamins and minerals are processed out of it. The calories can help though, and added into an already very nutritious diet it can certainly do the trick!

      So try to get most of your carbs from the produce aisle.

      Does that help?

  4. Blair on May 27, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    I have a question regarding the post workout shake. I have read contradicting information about the benefits of carbs in a post workout shake in these two articles. The point referring to insulin counteracting growth hormone levels is an interesting one that I thought you might be able to address, as I am quite confused about which method to go with. Thanks

    • Shane Duquette on June 13, 2013 at 3:24 pm

      Hey Blair, that’s really interesting! The main growth hormone spurts you get are elsewhere anyway (such as when sleeping, fasting, etc) so I don’t know why they’re even mentioning post-workout growth hormone spurts. I wouldn’t worry about optimizing your post-workout growth hormone at all. Your growth hormone levels will be stellar overall just from training heavy, eating well and getting plenty of quality rest anyway.

      As for insulin, that DOES have a big effect on how much muscle you can build, and it very is something you’d want to be optimizing surrounding your workout!

      Another thing those articles mention is that they’re tailored for people following low-carb diets … which isn’t at all what we’re doing, or likely should be doing (although this depends on your body type and goals).

      Massive amounts of post-workout carbs certainly aren’t for everyone, but even for most chubby dudes that’s when they’d want to be consuming their carbohydrates. It’s not the end of the world if they don’t though. Nutrient timing and carb cycling are just bits of the puzzle, and not nearly as significant as the quantity and quality of what you eat overall!

      Does that help?

  5. Jason on June 8, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Hey Shane,

    Just stumbled across this site a few days ago and being a tall ecto-mesomorph (or something like that) I find the concept of your site very intriguing. I’m at the point tight now of wanting to add 20 lbs or so of muscle (I’m a soft 185 and I’d like to be a lean 205-210, you know…beastly :). I’ve had some luck in the past with high amounts of protein, but my gains certainly didn’t happen in the time frames or the amounts you guys are talking about which makes this post interesting to me. Here’s my question though:

    I’m a type 1 diabetic, so consuming large amounts of carbohydrates in a single sitting becomes somewhat problematic. Any more than 60 carbs or so at one time not only makes me not feel well, but then makes it take a long time (several hours) before it’s safe/healthy for me to eat carbs again thus further limiting my carb intake for the day.

    Yes, I realize I should talk to my doctor before making changes to my diet, blah blah, but one dude to another, do you have any thoughts on my dilemma, or is this the reason I’ve never gotten truly beastly? I liked to blame my diabetes as the reason for being skinny growing up and since come to believe that wasn’t the case, but perhaps I wasn’t too far off the mark?



    • Shane Duquette on June 13, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      Hey Jason, glad to hear you’re interesting in our program.

      Everyone is a little different and having a medical issue certainly warrants adjusting the diet to suit your particular needs. You’re totally right, in that you should consult your doctor before making changes to your diet. I’m not familiar with diabetes and I’d hate to give you advice that would have the potential of giving you problems.

      The good news is though that you don’t NEED to consume massive amounts of carbohydrates in a single sitting. We’re talking about what’s optimal for your typical ectomorph, but hell that’s not the ONLY way to get results. Given that you aren’t a “totally typical ectomorph” it just means you need to find a diet that’s optimal for you. That’s not a problem though, and there’s nothing bad about eating a higher protein diet either. Eating more protein is a totally valid way to increase the amount of calories you’re eating 🙂

      I think you’d do just fine! I definitely wouldn’t let something like this discourage you from accomplishing your goals.

      My best,

    • Shane Duquette on June 13, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      Oh—and if you do decide to join us we’d love to have you man! We aren’t really equipped to help you deal with being diabetic, but we’re 100% willing to work within the parameters of what your doctor advises and help you figure out a personal approach for you that has you building beastly muscle 🙂

  6. Erin on June 23, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    So would any of this advice change is one is a skinny/ectomorph weight-lifting chick?

    • Shane Duquette on June 24, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      Some think that women respond better to diets with a few fewer carbs and a higher protein intake, so perhaps, yeah. Not by much though. Women and men both respond really favourably to lifting heavy and eating a wholesome balanced diet.

      I’d go by the good old rule of thumb: 1g of protein per pound body weight each day.

      (If you aren’t trying to accomplish a rapid/dramatic change you might be able to get away with less, and you may find that your results improve if you eat a bit more, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.)

      Also, check out our program-in-progress for weight-lifting / strength training women looking to build muscle. We’ll have a blog up soon 🙂

      • Erin on June 24, 2013 at 4:49 pm

        Can’t wait for the female version of your plan then! As a frame of reference, I’ve managed to gain 20# in a year (still in the same clothes size though- go muscle!) by eating and lifting like a dude but lately have kind of stalled and my lifts are starting to plateau. It’s actually all abt carbs for me to gain – when I accidentally drop weight I go back to my logs and have always missed my carb goals.

        • Shane Duquette on June 27, 2013 at 11:07 pm

          20 pounds?! That’s amazing Erin, congrats!
          Yeah, carbs really treat all of us ectomorphs — male or female — rather well. Pretty lucky, as they’re the cheapest macronutrient out there, pretty quick to prepare and they taste pretty great!

          We’ll give you a shout when Bony to Bombshell launches 🙂

  7. thomas on July 10, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    hi Shane,

    I really love all the work of the team. From the web design to the well documented articles, the humor sense,… great.
    Should apply to your programm soon but i have a other one in progress too!
    I am a (french ) ectomorph, i have improved my posture and my strengh during othe last year.

    I would like to have your thoughts on the paleo side of “ectomorphism”. I am really trying to make my diet close to ancetor one.
    How do you thing ectomorph were eating before becoming farmers? Did they eat so much carbs? Where they eating more fats? where they in ketosis?
    What is your point of view regarding ketosis? And about low carb athletes and their diet like developed in “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance from Volek?

    yeah, i know ectomorph are nerds 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on July 26, 2013 at 5:37 pm

      Haha I’m a half-French ectomorph! I’ve got the long French nose and everything.

      Paleo eating doesn’t make all that much sense physiologically—there’s no need to eat like a caveman to be healthy. The Paleo diet, like most other diets, also does some great things though: avoiding processed food, eating plenty of veggies, getting in lots of protein, etc. It’s more restrictive than it needs to be (most people handle grains fantastically well) but it also works, so if you’re a paleo man and respond well to the diet then no worries—just rock it, ectomorph or not. Just eat plenty of paleo-friendly carbs, like potatoes!

      More on that here:

      I wouldn’t worry about how pre-farming ectomorphs ate. They had a lifespan of what, 30? And their bodies probably weren’t all that rockin’. Foragers kind of just ate whatever they could, and malnutrition/starvation were pretty common ways to die. They weren’t eating balanced diets or breaking any athletic records or anything.

      One lesson to be learned though is that they weren’t eating processed foods! That’ll certainly help ya.

      Ketosis is okay … but again not necessary. Losing fat by entering into ketosis is EQUALLY as effective as losing fat by not entering into ketosis, so it’s really a matter of preference. Ketosis is rather tricky though and it can make you smell a little funky. Personally I don’t ever plan to try it. I hear some people have a strong preference for it though, as it’s good at eliminating cravings.

      Some guys respond wonderfully to low carb diets. (Usually naturally chubby guys who gain fat very very easily.) Our body type tends not to place us in that category of people … but you could give it a try!

      Does that help at all? If you have more questions (or arguments/challenges!) I’d love to follow up on some of the stuff I’m saying 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on July 26, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      And props for improving your strength and posture! If you’re getting good results be sure to stick with what you’ve found works for you 🙂

      • thomas on August 13, 2013 at 6:41 pm

        Hi Shane,

        thanks for replying! Moreover you are really funny. Half-french sense of humor? 🙂

        You answer is useful because it is balanced. You know how we can become stubborn when coming to diet!
        I am not sure the lifespan for ancestor was 30 years old but i wasn’t there to check.

        What drives me to consider paleo nutrition is that safe carbs and moderate/ low carbs intake help to prevent and reduce migrain (i was trying to find info to help family) ,. It seems that we can treat epilepsy, depression strokes and other stuff with ketosis. Interesting stuff:

        That’s why i keep my intake of carbs moderate (150 – 200 g day) and try to find what is best suited for us, first as human then as ectomorph. I keep on searching and improving.

        En plein dans le mille, you are right i have to stick to want works to correct my posture. Those correctives excercices are sometimes boring but are effectives!


        (you have to say what rock band you play in according to your picture)

        • Shane Duquette on August 13, 2013 at 8:15 pm

          Right on man 🙂

          Ah I love writing music but I’m still very terrible at it! I’ve only recently started getting into writing music, playing guitar and singing.

 is where you can find out more about what we’re up to musically though 🙂

  8. Jessalyn on August 12, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Hello Shane(and guys),
    I’ve never sought out help on a blog before but it’s worth a shot…I’m a 25 year old 5 foot 90lbs (soaking wet) girl. I am an avid crossfitter 5 times a week. I cannot put on weight. I’m really bothered by the fact I’m referred to as a “string bean” and scrawny. I think I’m pretty toned I just want to gain weight/muscle. My diet is not great I have a hard time eating the amount I should ie. I can’t eat when I’m not hungry or feel full. What should my diet look like? How much protein should I get in one day? Does your article apply to women? Please help! Thank so much 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on August 13, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      Hey Jessalyn, men and women are somewhat different when it comes to strength training and nutrition. Our hormones are different after all, so we digest food and respond to weight training in different ways.

      The differences are relatively minor – we have more in common than not … but this program is totally 100% optimized for men. I would still read it, but we’re going to have a blog specifically for women looking to strength train and build curvaceous muscle soon.

      When it comes to carbs and protein, your estrogen changes the game. Us men have bigger bulkier muscles full of muscle glycogen, aka sugar that we store inside our muscles and use as fuel to lift heavy things. When we train we use up that muscle glycogen and then when we eat plenty of carbs afterwards we load those muscles back up. On higher carb diets our muscles are big and full and we feel great.

      Women are a little different. You have a higher bodyfat percentage, smaller lither muscles, and you use more fat to fuel your lifts. Your muscles don’t load up glycogen the same as ours do, which is one reason why you hardly ever see women with “bulky” muscles, like you often see in men. That also means that you don’t need to eat as many carbohydrates as we do.

      Women usually do really well with more “balanced” diets. Something like 30% protein, 35% carbs, 35% fats. That depends on the woman of course, and ectomorphic women will tend towards more carbs, but it’s common for women to need less of ’em than men.

      If you aren’t gaining weight what you need more of is CALORIES. To keep things simple I would shoot for 1g protein / pound bodyweight / day … and then eat plenty of whole food carbs and fats. Fruits, veggies, potatoes, rice, avocados, olive oil, nuts, etc.

      Also, be careful with Crossfit! Crossfit tends to work best with very athletic, very sturdy and very experienced lifters with great posture and alignment and great coaches. Us ectomorphs often struggle with it, as we have postural issues and longer and more fragile bone structures by default. We often wind up injured or overtrained. Of course that may not apply to you, and Crossfit is great for a great many people – just sayin’ be smart! 😉

      Hope that helps, and feel free to ask follow-up questions!

      My best,

      p.s. check out our sister program-in-progress:

    • Shane Duquette on August 13, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      Oh, as for learning to eat more, here’s a simple tip: try liquid calories.

      Smoothies are great. Homemade eggnog is an amazing weight gainer. Here’s my take on it: Take 3 raw egg yolks, 1 tsp vanilla, a pinch of nutmeg and cloves, a dash of cinnamon, 1.5 cups of whole milk, half a cup of greek yogurt, 2-3 tablespoons of raw honey, and a scoop of plain whey protein.

  9. Ana on September 3, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    As a female ecto, who has been lifting weights for a couple of years, I can tell you that in my case an excessive consumption of carbs leads more to fat gain rather than to muscle gain. I found a solution that works for me: fat and carbs cycling. On a day when I lift heavy, I eat plenty of carbs, low fat, and plenty of protein. On my day off, I eat a lot of healthy fats, low carbs, and plenty of protein. I’ve built a good upper body for a female of my frame, but growing legs is still a challenge. I noticed that you, guys, built bigger upper bodies than legs. Is that a personal preference, or do you find it challenging to grow legs as well?

    • Shane Duquette on September 5, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      Hey Ana,

      What you’re describing is carb cycling, and we actually recommend exactly that in our program! It’s pretty simple and enjoyable once you get into the swing of things, and it yields pretty sweet results.

      As for carbs leading to fat gain … well women and men are physiologically a little different, so that totally makes sense. This article is written with ectomorph men and only ectomorph men in mind. If we were targeting it at women our instructions would be a little different, as you’re right, women (usually) respond best to a diet that’s actually a fair bit different.

      As for building up upper bodies … again that’s sort of a man/woman thing. Men naturally have long strong spines and develop upper body strength well. We tend to have smaller and weaker hips, which take a bit more work. Our program does emphasize more hypertrophy (aka size) up top, as men tend to prefer it (myself included), although we’re all about real world functional strength from head to foot, so a big emphasis is on building a strong physique everywhere.

      Women tend to be the opposite. Women have shorter and less stable spines and upper bodies that are less conducive to muscle growth. Where they really tend to shine is in their hips and lower bodies. One reason is that women have wider and more stable hips with better mobility. They’re structurally better in the hips. Another is that there seems to be huuuge potential for muscle and strength in your glutes. It’s very very common to find wickedly strong women who can out glute bridge / hip thrust a man, and women can usually squat and deadlift much deeper and with much better form than men can.

      You may find our women’s strength training / muscle building program interesting!

      If you’re looking to build up a stronger and more curvaceous lower body … this would be the absolute best way to do it 🙂
      (Check it out and shoot us an email if it interests you. Details at the bottom of the linked page.)

      I hope that helps!

      My best,

  10. Wan on September 4, 2013 at 4:13 am

    I’ve heard about it elsewhere (cannot remember) by anti-protein folks (sort of). I’m pretty sure you had studied seriously about this. Could you list out the articles (of medical journal of course) or books you’ve read about this topic? Besides of the two you had given. I’m collecting evidences. 😀

    (I’m a newbie student of Dietetics, but my college mates and seniors hold to this myth strongly.. And they’re surely not ectomorph.)

    • Shane Duquette on September 5, 2013 at 3:55 pm

      What evidence are you looking for in particular? That protein taken beyond a certain threshold, say 0.8 or 1g protein / pound bodyweight is no longer helpful when it comes to building muscle?


      Tarnopolsky MA, Atkinson SA, MacDougall JD, Chesley A, Phillips S, Schwarcz HP. Evaluation of protein requirements for trained strength athletes. J Appl Physiol. 1992 Nov;73(5):1986-95. [PubMed]

      Lemon PW, Tarnopolsky MA, MacDougall JD, Atkinson SA. Protein requirements and muscle mass/strength changes during intensive training in novice bodybuilders. J Appl Physiol. 1992 Aug;73(2):767-75. [PubMed]

      Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA, Kang J, Falvo MJ, Faigenbaum AD. Effect of protein intake on strength, body composition and endocrine changes in strength/power athletes. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2006 Dec 13;3:12-8. [PubMed]

      Walberg JL, Leidy MK, Sturgill DJ, Hinkle DE, Ritchey SJ, Sebolt DR: Macronutrient content of a hypoenergy diet affects nitrogen retention and muscle function in weight lifters. Int J Sports Med 1988, 09:261,266. [PubMed]

      Rodriguez NR, DiMarco NM, Langley S; American Dietetic Association; Dietitians of Canada; American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Mar;109(3):509-27. [PubMed]

      Campbell B, Kreider RB, Ziegenfuss T, La Bounty P, Roberts M, Burke D, Landis J, Lopez H, Antonio J. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2007 Sep 26;4:8. [PubMed]

      Lemon PW. Protein and amino acid needs of the strength athlete. Int J Sport Nutr. 1991 Jun;1(2):127-45. [PubMed]

      Wilson J, Wilson GJ. Contemporary issues in protein requirements and consumption for resistance trained athletes. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2006 Jun 5;3:7-27. [PubMed]

      Phillips SM, Van Loon LJ. tary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. J Sports Sci. 2011;29 Suppl 1:S29-38. [PubMed]

      Willoughby DS, Stout JR, Wilborn CD. ects of resistance training and protein plus amino acid supplementation on muscle anabolism, mass, and strength. Amino Acids. 2007;32(4):467-77. [PubMed]

      Mettler S, Mitchell N, Tipton KD. Increased protein intake reduces lean body mass loss during weight loss in athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Feb;42(2):326-37. [PubMed]

      Pasiakos SM, Cao JJ, Margolis LM, Sauter ER, Whigham LD, McClung JP, Rood JC, Carbone JW, Combs GF Jr, Young AJ. ffects of high-protein diets on fat-free mass and muscle protein synthesis following weight loss: a randomized controlled trial. FASEB J. 2013 Sep;27(9):3837-47. [PubMed]

      There are studies supporting both sides of the fence there, and it goes to show that given different circumstances there are different ideal intakes of protein. I would say the weight of the evidence supports the conclusion we drew, but you should definitely give ’em a read and see what you think!

      (Big thanks to Alan Aragon, who covered this in-depth in his latest research review.)

      Hope that helps!

  11. Matt UK on September 13, 2013 at 6:43 am

    Hey guys, I just wanted to say thanks for pushing the ‘Endo’ cause!! I am 34yrs old and have always been skinny and tall. I went to the gym for a bit about 6yrs ago and saw some gains but quickly got bored of the routine and protein shakes (plus I am lazy by nature).

    However, I am now 3 months in to the gym again and I have also given up the smokes. I have gone from 160pounds to 178pounds in that period. Looking back at old photos is depressing and satisfying at the same time.

    Anyway I just want to say that your research is really interesting so thanks for taking the time to do it. I will defo try a few things such as increasing carbs rather than protein (my mrs. will thank you for that if you smell my drift…)

    Lastly, for any depressed Endo out there reading this, there is hope!! I have thrown away so many clothes that don’t fit and it’s great. Eating and training is the key but the gains I have seen are literally from 3.5 hours per week at the gym split over 3 days…Easy right!!

    Thanks, Matt from England

    • Shane Duquette on September 14, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      Hey Matt, thanks for the kind words man. We appreciate it.

      We’re pushing the ECTOmorph cause! Endomorphs are cool too ‘n all … but it sounds like you’re all ecto.

      Congrats on giving up smoking and gaining some weight! That’s awesome man! You must be thrilled! 😀

      Stay in touch man! We’ll be posting a bunch of new articles over the next few weeks so be sure to sign up for the newsletter!

  12. Gary on November 22, 2013 at 1:26 am

    Very Good article, It’s nice to know we as ectomorphs dont’ need to much protein, bodybuilding websites always hammer the importance of 1 gram per pound a day. And lots of fish oil. which smells bad.

    I just want to ask if I can train if I have cough and colds or when feeling sick? I’ve been sick for a week but I want to force my body to train. Is it okay or do I need to rest before starting again.

    Also, whats the optimum time frame for training, some say Training should always be less than 1 hour MAX, If been training almost 2 hours 3 times a week, split (Monday – Legs/ Wend – Chest/ Fri – Back and arms) to failure and I can see some results, 12 pounds gained in 10 weeks. The problem is I feel my body can’t recuperate fast and I got some viral respiratory infection (very painful throat and running nose) for 2 weeks. that I cant train.

    Do you think I should change to Full body and reduce my training time.

    Thank You!

    • Shane Duquette on November 23, 2013 at 5:50 pm

      Thanks Gary, glad you liked it!

      Haha nothing wrong with one gram of protein per day. It’s slight overkill, yes, but it gives a nice little buffer, there’s no harm in extra protein, some guys do better with macronutrient breakdowns with more protein in them, and 1 gram of protein per pound bodyweight is just so easy to remember! Plus, it’s not everyone who’s an ectomorph in desperate need of carbs 😉

      Should you switch from a bodybuilder split to full body workouts? Probably. I’d recommend it, certainly.

      Two hour weightlifting sessions are pretty long. Ours are about half that length, and we hit every major muscle group each time. You’re doing a very different program though, and it looks like it’s geared more at isolating muscle groups, which tends to require longer workouts. How long a workout should be really depends on the program you’re following, your experience level, how strong you are, etc.

      If you’re noticing you aren’t recovering though you should definitely cut down on the training. You’ll grow best if you prioritize recovering from your workouts – that’s when your muscles grow! Sounds like you’re experiencing the symptoms of overtraining.

      Should you train when sick? Probably not. If you’ve got mild sniffles, maybe, but it sounds like you’ve got something a little more severe than that. Again, time to emphasize recovery.

      Good luck man!

      • Gary on November 24, 2013 at 1:05 pm

        Thanks man!, I appreciate it.

        I believe in what you said, it’s overkill, but I also have some nudge that bodybuilding “experts” say those things in order to encourage us to buy supplements, I mean the business side of things. I’m thinking 1 gram a day for a 160 lbs dude means almost six scoops of Optimum Nutrition Whey everyday if its 24 grams per scoop, my tub won’t last for a month If I follow the 1 gram advice.

        but if it’s really necessary to consume that huge amount of protein, I’m a bit worried that I’m not getting the daily RDA.
        I’m just a student, an ectomorph aspiring to be big, just lifting at school gym for free. I don’t have a lot of funds to buy supplements. I save some money to buy Optimum Whey, but it’s good for only a month and I don’t think I can maintain the additional monthly expense for a very long time.

        That’s why I overcompensate the lack of supplements by training hard. 2 hours to failure three times a week Split. And I’m glad I saw some “little” gains in 10 weeks. But my immune system suffered, like you have said it could be overtraining. That’s why I might stop for a week or two to give my body some time to heal.

        Do you think it’s good to overcompensate on the training if I can’t fully get all my protein everyday. Or can I just consume a lot of Carbohydrates and Calories but not to much too much Whey Protein?

        Secondly, can I just eat chicken, fish and Eggs if I can’t afford expensive supplements like Optimum Whey?.
        How much do you think is the best requirements or may I say serving.pieces of eggs a day for a guy who is 5″11″/ 163 lbs/ 32 inch waist? 🙂

        • Shane Duquette on November 26, 2013 at 5:44 pm

          If you’re eating in a caloric surplus you’ll probably find that you hit your protein goals pretty easily with whole foods (unless you’re a vegan or some such, in which case powders can be very helpful).

          Even just a couple pb&j sandwiches will often have something like 40 grams of protein in them, between the grains and the peanut butter. A pint of milk will have around 18 grams of protein. A hearty bowl of stew or chili will often rack up 50+ grams of protein.

          It all adds up pretty quickly.

          Of course you can get your protein from chicken, fish and eggs (and dairy, legumes, nuts, grains, etc)! Plus, you’d get bonus points for all the micronutrients in them.

          Whey is probably the cheapest type of protein out there though. It isn’t really an added cost, since it replaces chicken breasts and it’s cheaper than chicken breasts, you know? No need for it though by any means.

          If you’re not getting in enough protein and/or calories you actually might want to tone your workouts back, not up! You’d probably want to go a little easier on yourself in order to make it easier for your body to recover! The whole point of protein is that it allows your body to repair and build muscle after all, so if you’re not getting much protein you’ll probably want to damage your muscles less and take a slower pace with your training so you can properly recover (aka build up bigger and badder muscles between workouts).

          From a muscle-building standpoint I’d say the right number of eggs is the number that gives you the nutrients you need (calories, protein, fats, etc). You’ll probably want to stay away from eating extreme amounts, as a balanced and varied diet is best, but if you’re really looking to push the upper limits – eggs are pretty delicious after all – maybe ask your doctor? Different people respond to these things differently and I’d hate to give ya bad advice!

          Good luck man, I hope that helps!

  13. Gary on November 29, 2013 at 12:09 am

    Nice!..I did not thought about that. Less Protein means less raw materials for repair = Cut back in training volume instead of going to the max. Thank you for that enlightening advice. It really helps man. Keep up the good work and more power, your helping many ectomorphs just like me.:)

  14. Ellen on December 16, 2013 at 4:06 am

    I’ve been reading through the posts every day a little so it might be that you’ve answered this one already but:

    Does microwaving your food really destroys the good stuff? I’ve been googling it quickly but most studies are either not legit, or I doubt them because they’re sponsored by companies that make microwave meals,… There’s this huge lobby of people swearing by biologic food, and that would gladly pick up a pitchfork to not-so-friendly coax you into dropping the microwave. Also, there should be a difference between actually cooking something in the microwave, and just reheating it, no?

  15. Will on January 16, 2014 at 5:30 am

    I have never met someone as skinny as me. I am 19 years old, 6’1, and I weigh 120 lbs with a 28-29″ waist. I don’t want to be “huge” but I’m tired of being so bony and lanky. It’s hard to find clothes that fit and I feel like people stare at me a lot which gets old. Would it be possible for me to look “normal” or am I stuck like this forever? What diet should I maintain in order to get bigger while going to the gym 3-4 times a week in 1 hour intervals? Also, do you suggest free weights over machines for more rapid bulking? I want to be comfortable with my body around April or May, ideally.


    • Shane Duquette on January 16, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      He Will, that doesn’t sound so different from my starting weight of 130 at 6’2, and keep in mind that’s the MOST I’d ever weighed, not the least. I’d sometimes drop down five pounds. (Ironically, that would often be when I’d try to build muscle, since I’d cut out junk food and I’d add in exercise – fewer calories consumed and more burned.)

      I know what you mean about feeling like the very first thing people think when they see you is “oh gosh he’s thin”. That was the first impression that I was worried I gave off as well, and, whether it was true or not, it caused me a lot of grief.

      You can definitely build muscle and gain weight. I like the saying that the better your plan the better your genetics seem. These days people are often surprised to hear that I used to weigh a max of 130 pounds, and often think that I’m just genetically more muscular or whatnot. That’s more than I ever hoped for, and it’s something that you could achieve is well.

      You’ll find that your genetics won’t hold you back, it’ll be having a good plan / sticking to a good plan that decides whether you succeed or not. Even if you’ve got the most appalling genetics out there you’ll still be able to build fearsome amounts of muscle. Maybe not as much as a natural pro-bodybuilder, but hell you’d likely even be able to become “too” muscular if you really wanted ahaha – that point where women are thinking “well he’s cute but he’s a little TOO big”.

      Given that you don’t even want to be huge, I don’t anticipate any kind of genetic muscular potential limitation at all 🙂

      As for how to handle the nutrition side of things … well we pretty much wrote an entire book on it. That’s a bit beyond the scope of what I can answer in a comment. But, there are couple articles that might really help!

      Check these out:
      Ectomorph Appetite and Metabolism
      On what kinds of foods / diets us ectomorphs do best with.

      I hope that helps!

  16. Joel on January 30, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Great site, guys! I have a couple of questions. I would consider myself an ectomorph because I have a very skinny bone structure and narrow shoulders. I lost a lot of weight quickly a few years ago, going from 182 lbs. to 135 in about 5 months by running A LOT and eating LITTLE. Boy was that a mistatke, as I lost a ton of muscle along with the fat. I’ve been weight training for about 6 months and I’m up to 145. My lifts are slowly going up, but it appears that a lot of the weight I’m gaining is going to my chin and my belly! I’m lifting heavy weights for low reps, and I’m not doing any cardio currently. Do you think the weight gain could favor muscle more as opposed to fat if I change my macros, or am I just consuming too many calories in general?? Thanks in advance for any tips.

    • Shane Duquette on February 5, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      Hey Joel, good question.

      Yes. I think you could get a much more favourable ratio of muscle to fat as you gain weight. It’s harder for some people than others, but training and eating cleverly really does work wonders. The cleverer you are, the better your genetics seem 😉

      As for what the cause is, oh boy – I really have no idea.

      A better training program could do it, a smaller caloric surplus could as well, a better macro breakdown. Plenty of strategies out there, but those three would definitely be a good place to look first. (Some people who are more prone to fat gain do better with a bit of cardio, too.) It’s really hard to say with any kind of certainty, since I don’t really know what your plan’s all about.

      I hope that helps!

  17. Joel on February 6, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Thanks for the help! I guess like most things in life that are worth having, it takes a lot of experimentation and dedication . . . .no quick / easy fixes! I’ll explore the three areas you have identified and keep working hard!!

  18. clem on April 6, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Hi Shane,

    Concerning the 0,8g per pound of bodyweight
    (“0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day—and that’s already playing it safe. Beyond that amount it hasn’t been proven that more protein results in any more muscle growth whatsoever. (study)”)

    The abstract of the study you link says it’s 0,8 per KG of weight. Which is quite a difference. Just wanted to point that out 🙂

    Thanks for your site !

    • Shane Duquette on April 6, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      Oh man you scared me. I thought I’d misread the study for a moment, and I wrote that post long ago enough I couldn’t recall the details right off the cuff.

      The 0.8g per kilo would indeed be muuuuch lower, but that was the LOW end tested, not the optimal amount found:

      “Based on laboratory measures, daily protein requirements are increased by perhaps as much as 100% vs. recommendations for sedentary individuals (1.6-1.8 vs. 0.8 g/kg). Yet even these intakes are much less than those reported by most athletes.”

      Just to be sure I went out and dug through all the studies I could find on the topic again, and it paid off! I rounded out the references with a few more sources, and luckily they all seem to indicate similar recommendations – something like 0.7-0.8 grams of protein per pound bodyweight being the optimal amount for building muscle.

      I also went in and updated the post-workout part with some very significant new studies that came out in the past few months 🙂

      Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

      • clem on April 7, 2014 at 5:39 pm

        Sorry for the scare. I get it now.
        I got confused because here in Europe/France the Dietary Reference Value for proteins is 0,83g per kg of bodyweight per day ( / And strangely enough the recommendations for building muscles in your post is 0,8 per pound. So I though there was a confusion somewhere. But there isn’t. It’s just that the 0,8 figure is used as a recommendation for two different thing (yet both protein related).

        Thanks for the clarification !

        • Shane Duquette on April 10, 2014 at 3:18 pm

          Exactly 🙂

          One is a recommendation for a regular person seeking general health, and one is a recommendation for active people seeking improved performance, more muscle mass, lower body fat, etc. (This would still be optimal for health, but it’s more than you would need just from a health perspective.)

  19. JC on April 23, 2014 at 2:36 am

    Actually vegetarians are at 0 disadvantage as dairy protein is a higher quality than chicken, and is around the same quality as pork/tuna. Eggs are also ridiculously high in protein. Please don’t be ignorant.

    • Shane Duquette on April 26, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      Hey JC, thanks for the comment, and that’s a really great point.

      You’re absolutely right – dairy and egg protein is great! Even vegan protein sources are good, provided you consume enough of them. I didn’t mean to say that vegetarians (or vegans) were at any kind of disadvantage.

      Do you mean where I mention that it’s more common for vegans and vegetarians to consume too little protein? That’s not a disadvantage, and I didn’t mean for it to come off that way, protein is just something to be more mindful of if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, since if you aren’t paying attention to it you may find you aren’t consuming enough to accomplish your goals 🙂

      Just like as someone who isn’t a vegetarian, you need to be mindful to consume enough fruits and veggies and such if you’re looking to be as healthy as possible.

  20. Tony on September 20, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Hey Shane, does the 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight apply to women as well?

    • Shane Duquette on September 20, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      Assuming the goals are the same—building muscle at an optimal pace—then yeah, 0.8g protein / pound bodyweight / day is great. Some of these studies were done on just men, but most were done on both men and women 🙂

  21. Jason on October 4, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Hi Shane!

    I didn’t knew where to ask this, but i would like to know if theres cientific evidence or if it is a myth that having sex or masturbating could have any incidence on muscle building. I read the other day that the testosterone would be used to create more sperms instead of building more muscle. Do you know anything about this? Thanks

    • Shane Duquette on October 5, 2014 at 12:21 pm

      I think you may be asking this question backwards. Isn’t the more important question whether muscle-building and fitness affects the health of your sex life, and not vis versa?

      In that case, the relationship between fitness and sex is a positive one. Better fitness means better blood flow which means better sexual performance, because, well, blood flow is a big deal when it comes to sexual performance. You’ll also have more stamina. And your sex drive and hormones will be healthy. You may have better body image too. (Not to mention you may be more physically and psychologically attractive.)

      Plus, depending on how you do it, sex can be pretty good exercise! Sort of like HIIT, perhaps. Combined with heavy weightlifting, that’s a good start to developing a well-rounded fitness routine 😉

      When it comes to sex affecting muscle… that’s sort of a non-issue. Negative effects on hormones would be acute (i.e. not long-lasting enough to negatively or positively affect muscle growth), not chronic. Moreover, I think I remember reading some studies a while back that found that a healthy sex life (sex a few times per week or whatnot) meant chronically higher levels of anabolic hormones like testosterone. And some other weird ones, like studies finding that seeing a naked women pre-workout makes us stronger in the gym.

      Does that help / make sense?

      • jason on October 5, 2014 at 11:39 pm

        haha yeah thanks!

        By the way, i dont believe seeing naked women pre-workout would make me stronger in the gym, cause the blood flow would be redirected to my d**k hahaha thanks shane

  22. Robert on November 22, 2014 at 1:16 am

    Hey guys my name is Robert and I am 31 years old and am fed up of being called skinny. I’ve tried this whey protein shake now for a little over a month now and the results are just breaking me down more and more. I’m honestly at a lost for words cause I just dont know what to do anymore. Anyway you could please HELP ME!!!

    • Shane Duquette on November 22, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      Hey Robert,

      Don’t be too discouraged—we’ve all been there.

      I know whey is super hyped up, but it’s pretty much just a food. Having a whey shake is like eating a chicken breast, both in terms of the muscle-building effects and the health effects. Yes, it’s protein, and protein is needed when building/repairing muscle… but that’s just one very small piece of the puzzle. You also need to eat enough to gain weight, train in a way that will cause your muscles to want to grow, etc.

      Here‘s a good article about eating enough to build muscle.

      Here’s a good article about lifting for muscle.

      Here.’s an article about supplements, their limitations, and which ones work best for us skinny guys. (That’s more of an advanced thing though, so I’d worry about the fundamentals first—lifting and nutrition.)

      And if you want a step-by-step guide outlining the ins and outs of everything (and coaching from us), then you’d love our program!

      I really hope this helps!

  23. Orkle on December 19, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Hi Shane. Great site and top writing. I was wondering whether the difference between complex and simple carbs has any ramifications on muscle gain other than the fact that sugar obviously has certain negative effects external to the muscle building question. Gram for gram, will simple carbs build muscle mass just as well as complex ones? Thanks!

    • Shane Duquette on December 21, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      Gram for gram simple carbs may build more muscle than complex ones, given that they’ll have more bioavailable calories—less energy spent digesting, less fibre passing through undigested, etc. 😛

      You’re right though, for your overall health you do want to be consuming plenty of complex carbohydrates as well.

      Then there’s the question of which will yield leaner gains. My guess would be a balanced diet made up mostly of whole foods (including simpler carbs in bananas and whatnot), and one that contains a good amount of fibre… but that’s just a guess. I haven’t seen any research that answers that particular question.

  24. sanjeev on January 8, 2015 at 12:53 am

    Wat about smoking and working out…

    • Shane Duquette on January 8, 2015 at 3:46 pm

      It’s probably not the best. It isn’t the healthiest activity for a number of reasons and it can restrict appetite. But I doubt it would be a problem. Plus, if you’re a smoker, I suspect that exercising regularly, sleeping well and building muscle would be even more important for maintaining good health 🙂

  25. sanjeev on January 10, 2015 at 10:01 am

    thank u Shane for your great compliment I will try my bestI to leave smoking… am a skinny guy and I started goin gym just before a week…while working I can see my nerves all over my arms…is there any problem with this…

    • Shane Duquette on January 10, 2015 at 12:16 pm

      Do you mean your blood vessels? That’s pretty normal for a lean guy 🙂

  26. tebogo on March 15, 2015 at 2:57 am

    hey Shane.I’m kinda having problem in building my muscles.its been a long time since iI started lifting weights.but there are no results shown.I’m skinny and I don’t have any Information of nutrition.please tell me what to eat and the tips on how to build my muscles

  27. sanjeev on March 20, 2015 at 4:03 am

    wat suppleement do u recomend for us ectomorph.whey or mass gainer? which of them will giv us a good result in short time period

    • Shane Duquette on March 20, 2015 at 11:42 am

      Hey Sanjeev, check this article out. We cover what supplements are best for ectomorphs looking to build muscle 🙂

  28. Amy graham on March 26, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    What about skinny hardgainer ectomorph girls? I’m a figure competitor. 5’8″. Have gone from 112# to 130. I’m 7 weeks out from next competition. Typically when I cut I lose quite a bit of muscle and weight. I am just learning about ectomorph body type. In the off season I take in about 3700 calories. I lift 6 days a week. Do these principles apply to females also? Same macros etc?

    • Shane Duquette on March 28, 2015 at 11:06 am

      Hey Amy, congrats on gaining 18 pounds! That’s amazing!!

      Have you seen our sister site for ectomorph gals, Bony to Bombshell? We’ll be coming out with a bunch of new articles there this year 🙂

      When cutting to very low bodyfat percentages (as you would need to do as a figure competitor) protein requirements get fairly high. To cut to a low bodyfat percentage about 1 gram per pound bodyweight will do the trick. To cut to very low bodyfat percentages, you might need 1.2-1.5 grams per pound in order to maintain your lean mass.

      It would be great if you had enough calories to get 1g per pound of carbs, 1-1.5 g per pound protein, 0.5 g per pound fat… but you’d probably exceed the amount of calories that you need to stay in a deficit, so you’d need to drop the carbs/fats lower.

      I hope that helps, and good luck!!

  29. Courtney on June 25, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Great article – I’m a 24 y/o female that has always struggled to put on some mass. Sitting at 6’1″ and 150lbs, I just started to carb cycle taking in around 3,100 cals/day with the your recommended ratio of carbs/fats.

    I thought I ate a lot before, but WOW! Cant wait until I start to see some real results.

    • Shane Duquette on June 25, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      Hey Courtney, have you heard of our Bony to Bombshell site? I juuust finished writing an article that addresses some of what you’re talking about, although it won’t be published for another couple weeks.

      Unfortunately, a lot of the research into weightlifting uses men as the default subjects. Part of this is because we have stable hormones all through the month and year, meaning there’s one less factor that needs observation/control. Makes it quicker and easier to run studies. It means that the studies only apply to half of the population, so it limits the relevance of them, but they’re far simpler. Another reason is that (at the moment) the majority of the researchers concerned with muscle hypertrophy are men. (Another part of it might be sexism too.) Regardless of exactly why, when reading studies or articles for guys or for general audiences, it doesn’t necessarily apply to women. It often will, but not always. (And even with studies done on women, it doesn’t apply to women at all times of the month, which can make it trickier still.)

      However, this high carb intake / carb cycling stuff just so happens to be something that research shows is significantly affected by male/female hormones.

      Basically, the research I’ve seen shows that men and women respond a little differently to certain things, and carb loading seems to be one of them. With higher testosterone and lower estrogen, more energy is stored in muscles in the form of glycogen. This glycogen makes the muscles bigger and bulkier, and it gives them fuel while lifting heavy things. With lower testosterone and higher estrogen, more energy is stored and used from fat stores. When doing exercise more fat is burned instead of relying on the fuel found inside the muscles themselves. This means that for most men, carb cycling/loading can be very effective. However for most women, a more steady diet and modest consumption of carbs is often best.

      Men also often have higher metabolisms, and higher energy requirements often mean more carbs should be eaten.

      You might find that you see better results eating something like 30% protein, 30% fat, 40% carbs. I don’t think there would be any need to cycle them. I don’t think there are any studies showing any advantage for women. (I could be wrong there. I’m going to double check before publishing this next post on the Bombshell site.) Although you certainly can if you prefer it! I doubt it would take away from your results either, and maybe people find that they prefer it!

      (Intermittent fasting is another muscle-building thing that’s gender specific. Seems to work best on young dudes.)

      Does that help / make sense?

  30. Mark on July 14, 2015 at 8:20 am

    So… 0.8g/pound is the right amount of protein to build the max amount of muscle or 20% of our calories, which is about 1,2g/pound? Because well… That’s a really big difference in my opinion. For me it’s a difference of eating 110 g of protein or eating 155g of protein. And it’s soooo much easier to eat +50 g of carbs instead of +50 g of protein. So what’s the magical amount we really need? (In the program it’s also 20% protein, so now what?)

    • Shane Duquette on July 14, 2015 at 11:35 am

      0.8 grams of protein per pound bodyweight is the minimum amount of protein you’d want to be eating to build a (near) maximum amount of muscle. It’s conceivable that higher amounts would offer a slight benefit, but the benefit would be so small that studies are hardly even able to pick it up.

      With these shorter term weightlifting studies sometimes muscle growth differences don’t reach statistical significance, so it’s hard to say. Let’s say over 8 weeks the 0.4g/lb group gains 2 pounds of muscle, the 0.8g/lb group gains 8 pounds of muscle, and the 1.2g/lb group gains 9 pounds. Yes, the higher protein group gained more muscle, but the difference is small enough that it could just be a coincidence. That’s sort of what all the studies look like.

      Does that help/make sense?

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  33. Erik Jensen on September 29, 2015 at 8:08 am


    Actually, the ketogenic diet is not high in protein. Keto requires a high fat, “adequate” protein, (very) low carb diet. And it does not villify any foods, as you stated. The simple fact is that certain criteria must be met in order to maintain ketosis. It is necessity, not judgment.

    • Shane Duquette on October 1, 2015 at 11:04 am

      That’s a pretty good point. I just sort of lumped it into a list of fad diets without giving it the explanation it deserves. It has indeed shown promise for people who suffer from epileptic seizures.

      You’re right that carbs aren’t bad, you just can’t have very many of them in order to stay in ketosis. And that staying in ketosis, for a very small subset of the population, has been shown to be beneficial. However, many people will hear about ketosis and come out with the impression that carbs are bad.

      I get your point though, and I agree. I’m going to remove the ketogenic diet from that list.

  34. Doye on October 17, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Everyday i find myself drinking the “where skinny went to die smoothie to meet up my daily calories.Is this bad?

    • Shane Duquette on October 17, 2015 at 2:23 pm

      It’s made up of a wide variety of nutritious whole foods: oats, olive oil, eggs, dairy, nuts, etc. I would say this makes it a pretty great thing to add into your diet 🙂

      If it’s helping you hit your daily calorie and protein goals, that also makes it amazing for building muscle.

      Feel free to mix things up too. Nothing says you need to make it exactly the same every time. A little variety is always good.

  35. Suyagya (Sig) on January 21, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Hi Shane,
    Love the site, all the content and the light-hearted, don’t-hate-life-while-you-build-muscle-approach to everything 🙂

    I noticed that you mentioned as a reply to one of the comments that to get to low body fat levels, the recommended protein intake goes up to 1g/p from 0.8g/p.

    Just how low of a body fat are we talking here? Can I aim for a 12% body fat on a daily consumption of 0.8g/p or is that wishful thinking?

    Also, do these protein recommendations necessarily change depending on bulking or cutting?


    • Shane Duquette on January 23, 2016 at 8:09 pm

      Eric Helms did a really good job of figuring this out in his recent meta-analysis of all the recent studies looking into this. When trying to cut to a lower body fat percentage a higher protein intake (one gram per pound bodyweight) is a good idea. When in a calorie deficit, you could say.

      So yes, they change when cutting or bulking. When bulking you can eat less protein, when cutting you need ever so slightly more.

      Keep in mind that the differences are small though. The difference of 0.2 grams per pound won’t make or break your cut.

  36. […] from mentions an interesting study (13) that can explain my results during this […]

  37. […] and honey are all great sources of carbs. For us lean ectomorphs looking to build muscle as much as 50% of our diet can be carbs, so we’ve got plenty of room for nutritious sources of sugar. Just make sure to get some […]

  38. Das on June 21, 2016 at 5:03 am

    Hi Shane, nice to read your blogs and comments.
    A noob can gain an avg 3kg of lbm (which includes water weight too)in 12wk time following a science based program which you practice for sure.Your clients have managed to gain 25lbs some of which is fat and because they were far away from their body set weight, maybe they were hyper responders.Am I right?
    I would love to hear your thoughts on carb cycling .Reasoning like lc diets are good for insulin sensitiveness so carb cycling is good is not valid yet they are cited by Rudy in authority nutrition articles for pleasing carb cyclers.

    • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2016 at 2:14 pm

      Hey Das,

      We don’t censor comments challenging our ideas, but we’d retro-actively censor your post if you were writing something hateful. I don’t think we’ve had to do that yet though—the crowd around here is pretty cool 🙂

      You’re right that being far away from our genetic potential is a muscle-building advantage, and newbie gains are so extreme that they’re steroid-like. So, while that rate of muscle growth is not sustainable, a skinny guy who starts lifting can often build a whole hell-ton of muscle pretty quickly.

      There are lots of studies showing greater gains than that in shorter periods of time, even for the average participant. These studies are usually the ones that combine a good lifting plan with a good nutrition plan, including a deliberate, hearty caloric surplus to drive body weight up.

      If you put guys on a lifting plan without any emphasis on nutrition, you might get the average guy gaining 3kg in 12 weeks with the skinny guy losing weight because the exercise drives him into a calorie deficit.

      Some of the guys in the community do discover that they’re hyper-responders. GK, for example, came in as a skinny guy who had always struggled to build muscle… and wound up discovering that he was a hyper-responder. We have plenty of more average transformations over there in the sidebar as well though 🙂

      The average Bony to Beastly member (who is actually doing the program) will gain 8–12 pounds within the first five weeks, get up to +20 pounds within three months, and then add another few pounds before the end of month five. If this were exaggerated, we would very quickly be called out on it, as many of the commenters on this blog are members in the community and can see how everyone is doing.

      I love those Authority Nutrition articles! Some research has shown that carb cycling can be effective, and it’s a worthy thing for most guys to pursue given how easy it is to implement… but it’s not anything magical. (Our program by default uses some carb cycling, but it isn’t emphasized or mandatory.)

    • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2016 at 2:17 pm

      Oh! And you mention LC diets? You’re talking about low carb diets? Those aren’t very good for building muscle, especially for us ectomorphs. We tend to do especially well bulking on higher carbohydrate diets.

  39. Das on June 21, 2016 at 5:05 am

    Good to know that you do not sensor comments.

  40. Das on June 23, 2016 at 3:15 am

    Hi Shane, can you please share any of these links you were talking about here if that …where a skinny guy gains more muscle than expected.Would love to read them.Thanks.

    • Shane Duquette on June 23, 2016 at 12:28 pm

      Check out Variability in Muscle Size and Strength Gain After Unilateral Resistance Training by Hubal et al 🙂

      As for examples of studies where, on average, guys gain more than than 3kg of lean mass in 12 weeks, here’s a very well-conducted study where the treatment group gained 4kg of lean mass on average in 8 weeks. It’s a pretty cool study, and we brought it to Alan Aragon just to make sure it checked it. He reviewed it (favourably) in his research review, noting that the muscle gains were higher than expected because the lifting program was quite good and the treatments were adding in enough calories to promote solid growth.

  41. Das on June 24, 2016 at 6:04 am

    Thanks Shane, it was a nice chat .

    • Shane Duquette on June 26, 2016 at 9:41 pm

      No prob, Das! 🙂

  42. Mike on July 2, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    When considering weight, I notice I way sometimes as much as 5lbs less first thing in the morning than I do at night. So for weight, should we use our morning weight when we have no food in our system?

    In the morning I way around 187 lbs, so lthat means for me, my .8 grams per pound of body weight comes out to 150. I’m 6’1″ with long limbs, I guess I’m skinnyfat with some muscle. I notice it’s really really easy to go over the fat macro without even trying! Is it a better idea to increase the fat macro and decrease carb since it’s so easy to go over fat and easier to control carbs?

    • Shane Duquette on July 3, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      We recommend weighing yourself first thing in the morning every Sunday after peeing and before consuming anything. You can choose a different set of specific circumstances though so long as you’re consistent.

      Your protein ideal minimal protein intake guesstimate being off by 5 grams isn’t a big deal. We usually recommend that people overshoot it by a little bit anyway, just to play it say. If you’re having one grams per pound bodyweight, for example, you’ll be over that minimum amount whichever weight you use.

      Fat contains more calories per gram and is quite palatable, so almost everyone will run into your issue—of naturally overeating it if they don’t pay attention. Skinny-fat people sometimes do better with a slightly higher fat intake and slightly fewer carbs though, so that’s not a horrible idea in your case 🙂

      • Mike on July 3, 2016 at 1:54 pm

        Makes sense, I’ll just up the protein 10 or 15 more grams to be safe. As far as fat, I’m happy to increase the fat ratio because that allows you to eat more interesting meat besides skinless chicken breasts. I notice the more protein you try to consume from meats, as soon as you get away from chicken or cod, the fat content goes up considerably.

  43. “How Much Protein Do I Need to Build Muscle?” – My Blog on August 29, 2016 at 10:32 am

    […] from mentions an interesting study (15) that can explain my results during this […]

  44. Mike on July 10, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    I need a ton of calories to maintain my bodyweight so by default my carbs are through the roof. Almost 4,000cals @ 5’9″ 160lbs. I’ve been lifting for 9 years and tracking macros for 6 years so I’m pretty lean at this bodyweight. I know bloating is natural but I’ve always felt like my mid-section looks significantly worse at night than it does in the morning. I’ve read your bloating article (and thanks for that) but in addition to things like drinking water and eating pineapples/probiotic yogurt, what type of carbs would you recommend filling the majority of my day with? Currently the bulk of my carbs comes from oats, russet potatoes, bananas, ezekiel bread, and white rice (formerly jasmine rice).

    • Shane Duquette on July 16, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      Do you think the bloating is related to an intolerance or excess gas production? Or could it simply be that you’re eating a ton of food? After all, the digestive process will usually produce some gas, and the food in your stomach will take up space.

      You might be able to reduce the bloating by eating smaller meals more frequently instead of larger meals, especially at night.

  45. Cay on July 21, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Just to be a technical geek in the area of nutrition, I wanted to let you and your readers know that the DRI clearly states it’s 0.8 grams per kilogram, not per pound. One kilogram is about 2.2 pounds, so here is how you would do the calculation to determine how many grams of protein you need per day (as a healthy adult). You would divided your total weight by 2.2 and then multiply that number by 0.8. I am 130 pounds, so 130/2.2 X 0.8 is roughly 47 grams of protein per day.

    • Shane Duquette on July 26, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      Hey Cay, you’re talking about the DRI for general health, which, you’re right, is much lower. However, what I’m talking about here is the optimal amount of protein for guys who are looking to build muscle as quickly as possible. That’s a totally different, far higher requirement.

      Not only are we stressing our muscles, needing a higher protein intake just to repair them, but we’re also stimulating new muscle growth, and we need enough protein to construct the new muscle with. This takes far more protein than is needed just to maintain general health as a moderately active guy.

      The good news is that once somebody builds all of the muscle they want, they can relax their protein intake quite a bit. For guys who are going to continue lifting weights—and most guys do continue lifting weights after gaining the muscle they’re after (as it helps them maintaining their gains / keep progressing)—they’ll still want to eat more protein than the DRI, but while travelling or taking a break from lifting, we can eat far less protein and do just great 🙂

  46. Cay on July 21, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    If you don’t care for doing the math, here’s a quick and easy way to determine your protein needs per day:

    • Dave on April 22, 2018 at 3:29 pm

      Lots of research and reviews on optimum protein intake have been done recently, and the amount you need depends on a hell of a lot of variables.

      The calculator mentioned above is very basic. Check this one out where you can enter body fat percentage, training goals, etc and it provides a range of numbers all the way from 0.4 grams per kg of body weight, up to 3.2 grams per kg of lean body weight, as per the studies cited:

  47. Josh on July 25, 2017 at 9:06 am

    When bulking muscle I need .8-1 gram protein per pound and 3 grams of carbs per pound of body weight and 20 calories per pound of body weight from what I read in you guys articles. My question is when you reach your ideal weight. How many grams of protien, carbs and calories per pound do you need cut and how many to maintaine once you reach your ideal body weight and fat percentage? Did see it in any of your articles.

    • Shane Duquette on July 26, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      Hey Josh, that’s a good question. Okay, so, to gain around a pound of muscle each week you need a calorie surplus of around 500 calories per day. So if you gain 20 pounds over the course of 20 weeks (as we recommend while doing our program), when you finish you can cut out around 500 calories per day to go back to maintaining your new, higher weight.

      However, over the course of bulking up, you might find that your metabolism starts to run away on you a little bit. Maybe you start off eating 20x bodyweight, but by the time you’ve gained 20 pounds, you’re eating 22x bodyweight. At that point, you can cut your calories back even further. Each pound of muscle only burns 6 calories per day, so after gaining 20 pounds, your new maintenance intake should have only gone up by around 120 calories per day.

      So let’s say you’re currently eating 2,200 calories per day and not gaining weight. You’re in maintenance. You start doing the Beastly program and you realize that you need to be eating an estimated 2,700 calories per day in order to gain a pound per week. 20 weeks later you’ve gained 20 pounds, and during that process you’ve gone up to eating 3,200 calories per day. You decide you want to take a break from bulking and just enjoy your new gains. What I would recommend is immediately cutting out 500 calories, bringing you back to 2,700 calories. That should more or less stop your weight gain. You can reduce your intake further, though. Over the next couple weeks, you can bring your intake back down to around 2,320 calories per day (your old diet + the 120 new calories you need to maintain your new muscle). So long as you keep lifting weights while gradually lowering your intake back down, you should be able to keep all of your hard-earned muscle. At that point, you can more or less stop tracking your calorie intake entirely, as it should line up with your appetite. It’s only if you notice your weight drift more than a few pounds in either directions that you need to consciously think about eating a little more or a little less.

      Regarding carbs, that’s up to your personal preference. Guys do fine hardly eating any carbs at all. Other guys do fine getting 50% or more of their calories from carbs. That’s more of a lifestyle preference. You’ll probably find you gravitate more towards certain foods, or feel better after eating certain macronutrients. For me, I do better on a higher carb diet. A higher fat diet makes me feel more sluggish. But that’s highly individual, so I’d just try a few things and see what works for you 🙂

      Regarding protein, the daily recommended intake for general health (DRI), as another commenter mentioned, is 0.4 grams per pound per day. So about half as much protein as you need when bulking. However, you probably want to keep doing some form of resistance training (lifting, calisthenics, rock climbing, wrestling, etc) at least 1–2 times per week to ensure that you maintain your muscle, so you should probably eat a little more protein than that just to make sure your body can repair any muscle damage you’re causing. How much more? Somewhere in the middle is likely fine—around 0.6 grams per pound per day. Nothing wrong with continuing to eat more protein, though.

      I hope that helps!

  48. High Protein Muscle Building - NitroCut Club on October 20, 2017 at 1:18 am

    […] Bony to Beastly—Muscle-Building Myth #3: High Protein … – (Article updated September, 2015) You probably know that protein is a really important macronutrient for building muscle. In fact, my little sister probably knows … […]

  49. Bony to Beastly—The Skinny on "Just Eat More" on November 23, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    […] you need to maximally build muscle in, but get most of your calories from carbs. (More on that here.) Drink water between meals, but not necessarily between bites. (study, study) You don’t […]

  50. […] you need to maximally build muscle in, but get most of your calories from carbs. (More on that here.) Drink water between meals, but not necessarily between bites. (study, study) You don’t […]

  51. Joel on March 30, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    As a scientist, can I please ask you to carefully read the citations before link in them in the hope that they justify your opinions. I do not agree with the idea of super high protein intake being ideal, but the papers you cited do no my say what you claim them to.

    • Shane Duquette on April 3, 2018 at 12:24 pm

      Hey Joel, if a study doesn’t seem to line up with what we’re saying, pointing out that specific would be the most helpful. We can reevaluate it and adjust accordingly. We do try to be careful in the first place, but we’re always trying to update and improve.

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