Dialing In Our Macros For Lean Muscle: Hormones & Cravings

by Dr David Minkoff March 24, 2024 7 min read

Dialing In Our Macros For Lean Muscle: Hormones & Cravings

As we enter Week Two, cravings for junk food or processed sugars should be lowering or gone.

And you may not have added much in the way of muscle yet.

That’s fine, you’ve just started and it will come. Right now we’re dialing things in and balancing hormones for muscle building and body fat regulation.

You also may have found it hard to eat all of the natural proteins on the protocol. But this protein is necessary.

Building muscle is about injuring our muscles by putting more pressure on them than they’re used to so they’ll be forced to not only heal, but grow to accommodate the new levels of stress we’ve put on them.

It takes about 90g of pure protein to build a pound of muscle. Most of the rest is fat and water. A pound of muscle is about the size of a tangerine, so even one pound is noticeable if in the right places.

So we need to make sure we’re getting enough protein to not only heal and maintain the muscle we do have, but add to it.

If you’re having trouble getting in all the protein, first, make sure you’re taking your digestive enzymes. Most people’s digestive tracts are not set up to fully digest natural proteins anymore due to our diets. But this prevents us from getting the nutrition we need from this food.

Digestive Enzymes and PerfectAmino help us digest the food we’re eating now, while building up our ability to digest these proteins on our own. And, of course, with PerfectAmino we get a pure source of amino acids to build lean muscle no matter the state of our digestive tract.

Digestive Enzymes also help prevent harmful bacteria, parasites, and fungi from entering our bodies through our food and water.

So make sure you’re taking these.

But also, make sure you’re dialing in your macros, raising or lowering them according to what you can actually consume without stuffing yourself.

If you’re taking your digestive enzymes, then your proteins are being properly digested and if you feel stuffed, then it is too much.

If it’s too much, just take your current macros — how many grams you have for each of protein, fats and carbohydrates — and multiply them by .95. if still too much, then by .9 and if still too much then by .85.

For many people, the starting macros given may be too much, while for others they’re too little.

If too little, just increase multiply them by 1.05, 1.1 or more if they’re way too little.

As we move into Week Two, fat loss will start occurring if it hasn’t already, and we start to build lean muscle.

You should have worked out your exact weights in the first week, for each exercise, and this week we start pushing those hard.

If you started on a rep level of 8-12 reps per set, then this week we lower that to 6-8 reps per set. So if you can do 8 reps in a set while keeping in proper form, raise the weight so that you can only do 6 reps in a set and carry on from there.

Lift as heavy as you can while staying in the 6-8 rep range for each set, and raise the weight as soon as you’re able to do 8 reps per set while keeping proper form.

Keeping in proper form is very important to prevent injury.

This week is also where we start to balance hormones in our body. Muscle building speeds up this process by forcing our body to do it faster than it normally would, and then the balanced hormones in turn help to speed muscle growth and fat loss.

So let’s talk a little about hormones.


Hormones are messenger chemicals. There are about 50 of them and they're key to muscle growth (not to mention bone, ligament, tendon, skin, and nerve growth, sleep, energy, mood, mental ability, reproduction, appetite, and much, much more).

They’re also key to sugar utilization, fat storage, and fat loss.

They’re the regulators.

They deliver instructions to our cells by hitting specific “receptors” on each cell that are able to recognize them for what they are and receive and pass on their message into the cell.

Cells don’t do anything without being told to by hormones, so we need our hormones telling them to do the right things.

If these hormones are out of balance or deficient, then you will find it very hard to gain muscle in quantity, keep high energy levels, or lose fat easily — not just because the body isn't telling itself to lose fat or add muscle, but because it’s telling itself notto.

It works like this: If you’ve just worked out, the body releases growth hormone to tell the muscle cells to increase uptake of amino acids to build new muscle cells and increase tissue.

The growth hormone actually stimulates what are known as satellite cells on the outside of muscle fibers to go to injured portions of the muscle and start replicating to add to the muscle.

These cells then fuse into muscle fibers, growing the muscle tissue, as well as new blood vessels to support this muscle.

If bone needs to be strengthened or healed, your body releases estrogen or testosterone to bring a message to the bone cells telling them to replicate and grow new bone cells.

If this didn’t occur, then you couldn’t build muscle or repair micro-fractures in bone that occur daily just by walking.

Reversely, if you eat higher levels of sugar or processed sugars then you raise levels of the hormone Cortisol. Cortisol tells our body to prioritize fat storage and to break down muscle to convert the proteins in it into energy.

This high level of cortisol also tells your body to lower testosterone and progesterone levels, each needed in both men and women for muscle growth, as well as growth hormone, necessary for recovery and the building of muscle.

This is one reason a higher sugar diet actually slows progress. No matter how much work you do, the foods you’re eating are causing your body to fight against muscle growth, including lowering the levels of the hormones that would make it build muscle and breaking down the muscle you do build.

Hormones are the controllers. But they do what they do based off of the food we eat, not based off of what we want them to do.

High levels of fat and protein cause testosterone and growth hormone to be released and help to lower cortisol levels.

This is so much the case that many people, if they don’t want to “do a diet,” can just start cutting out sugars and heavily raising their proteins levels, or taking PerfectAmino, and their hormones will start to balance and fat loss and muscle gain will occur.

The muscle gain will be minimal without lifting heavy weights, but it will still occur.

There is also the matter of the fat you consume for building muscle. Your cells are made of about 50% protein and 50% fats.

And, of the fats, these are about 25% saturated fats and 25% unsaturated fats.

So if your saturated and unsaturated fats are low, your body will not be able to build as much muscle even if it has the protein to do so. It needs both the protein and the fats to build new muscle cells.

This is why the fat macro is so high on this protocol.

Now, these are very simplified examples, and other hormones also play roles in the above. In fact, it’s a very delicately balanced system. But that’s basically how it works. Hormones deliver messages telling the cells what to do.

You could have all the nutrition in the world sitting in your body, but without hormones telling the cells when and how to use it, good or bad… it would just sit there.

So let’s make them work for us by eating right so they give the directions we want them to give.

Over the next three weeks we’re going to dive into more information on individual hormones and how they affect muscle building in both women and men, as well as digestion and sleep.

But in the meantime, make sure you’re keeping your macros in the correct ratio and dialing them in accordingly.

And if one day you’re not hungry, but the next you find that you are — increase your macros by 1.05. You will build muscle fast on program and your so nutrient needs may raise fast.

And make sure you’re pushing to lift as heavy as you can in your workouts while maintaining proper form.

Body fat may fluctuate this week, but if you follow the macros and dial them in properly, then any excess fat will come right off and any new body fat will come off more easily than before.

And we’ll start building lean muscle.

Alright, take your Week Two measurements and pictures, but don’t compare yet, and let’s get started on Week Two!

And if you’re just seeing this and want to know more about Leaning Bulking, you can find out more here.

And make sure to join our VIP Group where you can ask any question you have and get only the best answers.

I hope this helps.

Index To The Lean Body/Lean Bulk Guide:

Introductory Articles:

  1. Is It Possible To Build Lean Muscle Without Cutting?
  2. The Diet Of The Golden Age Body Builders

Getting Started:

  1. The Lean Body/Lean Bulk Guide & 30-Day Challenge
  2. Hormones: The Third Dimension of Calorie Cutting
  3. The Lean Body/Lean Bulk Diet 

Supplements & Macros By Goal:

  1. Supplements & Macros For Lean Body
  2. Supplements & Macros For Beginner To Moderate Lean Bulking
  3. Supplements & Macros For Advanced Lean Bulking

Workout Regimens & Exercise Videos:

  1. Beginner to Moderate Level Workout Regimen
  2. Advanced Workout Regimen
  3. Lean Body/Lean Bulk Exercise Videos

Week One:

  1. Metrics & Key Data For Week One
  2. How BCAAs Build Body Fat & Lower Health Over Time
  3. The Importance Of Complete Protein Digestion

Week Two:

  1. Dialing In Our Macros For Lean Muscle: Hormones & Cravings 
  2. How Cortisol Breaks Down Muscle & Prevents Protein Synthesis
  3. How To Improve Growth Hormone, Testosterone & Protein Synthesis

Week Three:

  1. Thyroid, Estrogen & Progesterone: Speeding Fat Loss & Lean Muscle Creation
  2. Improving Sleep: Muscle Building, Fat Loss, Mood & Aging

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.