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Bodybuilding on the Anabolic Diet
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Dirty Tiger
Level 1

Join date: Aug 2004
Location: Colorado, USA
Posts: 1451

I know we have a Anabolic Diet thread on the S&N forum.

Unfortunately that forum has turned into fat-loss cult.

The AD thread is glutted with people who follow the diet for two weeks then jump into thread posting about how awesome it is to eat bacon all day....then they vanish.

I wanna know if any of you bodybuilding types have used the diet long-term to gain mass.( Or if you've tried it and think it sucks!)

I am interested in reading about how you manage your carb levels.

I've read the book and I've browsed the AD thread, it seems like most people (in that thread) are staying under 30 grams of carbs well past the induction phase.

It seems like they are more intrested in dropping or maintaining weight as opposed to mass building.


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Dirty Tiger
Level 1

Join date: Aug 2004
Location: Colorado, USA
Posts: 1451

Curious.

It seems like the S&N posters don't follow the bodybuilding forum and the bodybuilders in this forum don't follow the AD.

I think I have my answer.

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Tiribulus
Level 1

Join date: Aug 2006
Location: Michigan, USA
Posts: 16194

I'm at 20 months solid and will never go back. Here's a tip. If you're thinking about starting the AD because of what you can eat don't waste your time. That's what a lot of guys do. The reason for eating like I do is because of the results it brings not because you think it requires less discipline. I'm talking generally, not to YOU.

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derek
Level 5

Join date: Nov 2002
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Posts: 3637

I'm all for better ways of doing things. I'm also for bucking the tried-and-true methods just because.

That being said, it's my humble opinion that trying to bodybuild with almost zero carbs (save for the weekend) is so tough a walk, that you'd have a difficult time convincing me it's a better way.

According to Tribulus, it IS possible to bodybuild on the AD and I really like his attitude toward the diet and the reasons to NOT start it. Hopefully he can provide more insight for you.

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Dirty Tiger
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Join date: Aug 2004
Location: Colorado, USA
Posts: 1451

Tiribulus wrote:
I'm at 20 months solid and will never go back. Here's a tip. If you're thinking about starting the AD because of what you can eat don't waste your time. That's what a lot of guys do. The reason for eating like I do is because of the results it brings not because you think it requires less discipline. I'm talking generally, not to YOU.


Tiribulus, Thanks for the reply.
Do you keep the weekday carbs at 30 grams?

If not how high do you go?

I tried the AD for a several months last spring.

The body-comp changes were encouraging... then I would start feeling lethargic in the afternoon. My workouts suffered.

I tinkered with my carb levels and ended up drifting into a Paleo type diet. Now I don't count carbs but I limit my carb sources to fruits & veggies.

I'm thinking about doing the AD again with a more mass oriented approach.

Have you gained weight/mass on this diet?

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Christian Thibaudeau
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Join date: Feb 2003
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It IS possible to gain muscle and strength on a low-carbs diet.

My friend Hugo Girard, who used to be top 3 in the world in WSM (World Strongest Man) is training to make a comeback (after tearing his Achilles tendon) and he is eating a low-carbs diet. It is even stricter than the AD since he only has one carb-up day a week and he doesn't consume as much saturated fat as those using the typical AD.

While he is not a bodybuilder, the fact that as of last Friday he is 332lbs at 10.5% bodyfat (trust me, he IS that lean!) on 6'2'' kinda makes me believe that his results are applicable for bodybuilding purposes!

So yes, it is possible to gain on such a diet. But caloric intake must be high enough to fuel muscle growth. A lot of peoples consume too little calories when trying to gain on a low-carbs diet. In fact, it is one of the fat-loss benefits of such a diet: you are not that hungry and it's harder to get a high amount of calories in.

To build muscle you need:

- A sufficient amount of protein. Proteins are the building blocks of muscle; the raw material used to build a house. Without sufficient raw material you cannot build the house.

- A sufficient energy intake. Building muscle is an energy-dependent process. Yes you need protein to build muscle, but the process of using those protein to fabricate new muscle tissue require energy, and lots of it. See energy as the salary you pay the workers who are building your house: if you don't pay them enough they will not work as well and as fast. Furthermore, building muscle is just about the last priority of your body, behind all the other stuff necessary for survival. So only the energy left over from fueling your daily activities and bodily processes can be used to build muscle. Energy is essentially either carbs or fat. Protein can also be used for energy, but we don't want that! So if you cut your carbs, you NEED to have a high fat intake to have enough energy to fuel your daily needs THEN build muscle.

- An adequate amount of the essential nutrients. There are no ''essential carbohydrates''. However there are essential amino acids and essential fatty acids. Amino acid needs will be covered if protein intake is high. Essential fatty acids, especially the DHA/EPA ones are often underestimated yet they are essential for optimal muscle building, especially on a low-carbs diet.

- An insulin spike at the right time. To maximise post-workout recovery and anabolism we need an insulin spike post-workout. Normally we use carbs post-workout to spike insulin, but on a low-carbs diet we can't. However several amino acids do have pro-insulin properties. The BCAAs and especially leucine, glutamine, glycine can all spike insuline. Whey isolate also has a pro-insulin property. So it is very important to consume a large amount of protein, BCAAs (15-30g), glutamine (10-20g and more if your stomach can handle it) and ideally glycine (5-10g or more if your stomach can handle it).

- Glutamine, even though it is a somewhat overrated supplement, especially if you are eating carbs, can be very useful on a low-carbs diet because it can be turned into glucose than stored as glycogen in the muscle. So even though you are not consuming carbs, if your daily glutamine intake is high, your glycogen stores will never be depleted.

- Glutamine can also increase blood pH; in other words it makes the body/blood less acid. A high protein intake has the opposite effect (it makes it more acid). When blood pH is low (more acid) muscle building and fat loss are decreased. So ingesting 5g of glutamine with every protein meal is a very effective way of improving the efficacy of this diet. Note that green veggies have the same acid-lowering property as glutamine.

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Dirty Tiger
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Join date: Aug 2004
Location: Colorado, USA
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Thank you all for the replies.

Now that I look back it's possible I was under eating while on my AD experiment.

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dylan10507
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Join date: Feb 2007
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Thanks for posting CT that it is very interesting and helpful. But I do not understand why you would go on a low carb diet to replenish glycogen and have an insulin spike in other ways I thought the purpose of a low carb diet was to lower insulin It this just because some people feel like crap after eating carbs(I am one of them) and these things do not have that effect or is there another reason? And does the glutamine with protein containing meals go against the no carbs + fat rule I thought the point of that rule was to avoid an insulin spike when eating fat. I don't doubt tha these recomendations work I just don't understand why

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ronaldo7
Level 3

Join date: Feb 2008
Location: New York, USA
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Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
It IS possible to gain muscle and strength on a low-carbs diet.

My friend Hugo Girard, who used to be top 3 in the world in WSM (World Strongest Man) is training to make a comeback (after tearing his Achilles tendon) and he is eating a low-carbs diet. It is even stricter than the AD since he only has one carb-up day a week and he doesn't consume as much saturated fat as those using the typical AD.

While he is not a bodybuilder, the fact that as of last Friday he is 332lbs at 10.5% bodyfat (trust me, he IS that lean!) on 6'2'' kinda makes me believe that his results are applicable for bodybuilding purposes!

So yes, it is possible to gain on such a diet. But caloric intake must be high enough to fuel muscle growth. A lot of peoples consume too little calories when trying to gain on a low-carbs diet. In fact, it is one of the fat-loss benefits of such a diet: you are not that hungry and it's harder to get a high amount of calories in.

To build muscle you need:

- A sufficient amount of protein. Proteins are the building blocks of muscle; the raw material used to build a house. Without sufficient raw material you cannot build the house.

- A sufficient energy intake. Building muscle is an energy-dependent process. Yes you need protein to build muscle, but the process of using those protein to fabricate new muscle tissue require energy, and lots of it. See energy as the salary you pay the workers who are building your house: if you don't pay them enough they will not work as well and as fast. Furthermore, building muscle is just about the last priority of your body, behind all the other stuff necessary for survival. So only the energy left over from fueling your daily activities and bodily processes can be used to build muscle. Energy is essentially either carbs or fat. Protein can also be used for energy, but we don't want that! So if you cut your carbs, you NEED to have a high fat intake to have enough energy to fuel your daily needs THEN build muscle.

- An adequate amount of the essential nutrients. There are no ''essential carbohydrates''. However there are essential amino acids and essential fatty acids. Amino acid needs will be covered if protein intake is high. Essential fatty acids, especially the DHA/EPA ones are often underestimated yet they are essential for optimal muscle building, especially on a low-carbs diet.

- An insulin spike at the right time. To maximise post-workout recovery and anabolism we need an insulin spike post-workout. Normally we use carbs post-workout to spike insulin, but on a low-carbs diet we can't. However several amino acids do have pro-insulin properties. The BCAAs and especially leucine, glutamine, glycine can all spike insuline. Whey isolate also has a pro-insulin property. So it is very important to consume a large amount of protein, BCAAs (15-30g), glutamine (10-20g and more if your stomach can handle it) and ideally glycine (5-10g or more if your stomach can handle it).

- Glutamine, even though it is a somewhat overrated supplement, especially if you are eating carbs, can be very useful on a low-carbs diet because it can be turned into glucose than stored as glycogen in the muscle. So even though you are not consuming carbs, if your daily glutamine intake is high, your glycogen stores will never be depleted.

- Glutamine can also increase blood pH; in other words it makes the body/blood less acid. A high protein intake has the opposite effect (it makes it more acid). When blood pH is low (more acid) muscle building and fat loss are decreased. So ingesting 5g of glutamine with every protein meal is a very effective way of improving the efficacy of this diet. Note that green veggies have the same acid-lowering property as glutamine.


Would one have to eat more calories during a mass phase while on a diet such as the AD or would it be a good idea to eat the same amount as when one is on a high carb diet??

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Christian Thibaudeau
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dylan10507 wrote:
Thanks for posting CT that it is very interesting and helpful. But I do not understand why you would go on a low carb diet to replenish glycogen and have an insulin spike in other ways I thought the purpose of a low carb diet was to lower insulin


Actually the REAL reason why low-carb diets work is not so much because of the low insulin levels (which does play a role mind you) but rather because your body is forced to turned to other fuel sources for fuel.

YES replenishing SOME glycogen via the use of other products still allow you to maintain a decent intra-muscular glycogen level. But this doesn't prevent adaptation to using fat for fuel as long as you are no consuming carbs. It simply means that you will have a bit more ''gas'' for your high-intensity workouts.

You can replenish some glycogen with glutamine, BCAAs and glycine, but not enough to prevent a metabolic shift to using fat for fuel.

Furthermore you WANT an insulin spike post-workout. While insulin can lead to fat storage, when properly timed it is a highly anabolic hormone that is almost mandatory for growth.

BUT the insulin spike from the consumption of glucogenic amino acids will be short lived, after 90 minutes or so insulin levels will be back to baseline. So it doesn't interfere with fat burning.

dylan10507 wrote:
It this just because some people feel like crap after eating carbs(I am one of them) and these things do not have that effect or is there another reason?


That might be an effect; a lot of peoples do much better on a low-carbs/moderate fat diet. But it is really a side benefit. The real reason is that to switch to a ketogenic state, in which fat/ketones become your primary fuel source, you need to drop your carbs below 50g a day.

dylan10507 wrote:
And does the glutamine with protein containing meals go against the no carbs + fat rule I thought the point of that rule was to avoid an insulin spike when eating fat. I don't doubt tha these recomendations work I just don't understand why


1. The no carbs + fat rule is overrated IMHO, even JB is gradually moving away from this one. If someone is consuming low-glycemic carbs along with some fat, there is no problem... that is if you are following a balanced diet.

2. 5g of glutamine will not cause an insulin spike. Ingesting 5g of glutamine is like ingesting 2g of sugar... which is nothing. In other words 5g of glutamine will have the same impact on insulin as chewing 1 piece of sugar-free gum!!!

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Christian Thibaudeau
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ronaldo7 wrote:
Would one have to eat more calories during a mass phase while on a diet such as the AD or would it be a good idea to eat the same amount as when one is on a high carb diet??


Seriously all you guys should stop thinking in terms of calories and start thinking in terms of nutrients. Your body doesn't recognize ''calories'' ... it's just a measuring unit. It only recognizes the amount of type of nutrients ingested.

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alaw4516
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Join date: Dec 2007
Location: Maine, USA
Posts: 152

How long do you have to be below 50g of carbs a day before your body starts using fats/ketones as a primary source of energy/ when can you have a carb up day? After that how long til the next carb up day, for muscle gain.

Also do you need to have large carb up days or can I just have oatmeal in the am, Surge PWO and maybe a nice juicy hamburger and some fries for dinner :)?

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Christian Thibaudeau
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alaw4516 wrote:
How long do you have to be below 50g of carbs a day before your body starts using fats/ketones as a primary source of energy/


7 to 21 days depending on your hormonal balance, training volume and previous dietary practices.

alaw4516 wrote:
when can you have a carb up day?


Never... I do not recommend a full carb-up day unless you are under 10% body fat. When you have a full day of carbing-up (especially if it is excessive) it will take you 2-3 days to get back into ketosis (using primary fat/ketones for fuel)... so that leave you around 3 days for real fat loss. Now, if your main goal is to gain mass this aspect isn't as problematic, but you will have a hard time staying in fat burning mode and that means that you will feel lethargic and lack energy because fat will never stay your primary fuel source.

I recommand anywhere from 1 carb-up meal per week up to half a day (3 meals) depending on the degree of leanness.

BUT when you start this diet you CANNOT have a carb-up until you are clearly fat adapted. That's why my clients cannot have carbs until the end of the second week of dieting. Then they can normally have one carb-up meal every week.



alaw4516 wrote:
Also do you need to have large carb up days or can I just have oatmeal in the am, surge PWO and maybe a nice juicy hamburger and some fries for dinner :)?


I always recommend carbing-up with clean food. Normally I will allow SURGE post-workout and then a clean carb meal of around 150g of carbs at the last meal of the day. I used to recommend having it at breakfast but changed my mind because of:

- Charles Poliquin who showed me that during a low-carbs diet you are actually more insulin sensitive in the evening AND the carbs will help you sleep better.

- Dave Palumbo who does it for a more practical reason: if you have your carbs at your last meal, you will not be as tempted to eat them again during the day. If you have carbs early, you will often crave them for the rest of the day and end up doing an excessive carb-up.

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SSC
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Join date: Mar 2008
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Okay, I'm reading about this Anabolic Diet and am actually fairly intrigued, because I'm still relatively high in BF, but after taking a year to get serious about losing weight I really don't want to sacrifice strength and size gains. That being said, with the anabolic diet requiring very few carbs, does this essentially mean no protein shakes? I assume if there's an abundance of red meat we could get our protein through that means, but I just want to make sure. Also, do things like Superfood or Surge play a large role into the Anabolic Diet?

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Christian Thibaudeau
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SSC wrote:
Okay, I'm reading about this Anabolic Diet and am actually fairly intrigued, because I'm still relatively high in BF, but after taking a year to get serious about losing weight I really don't want to sacrifice strength and size gains. That being said, with the anabolic diet requiring very few carbs, does this essentially mean no protein shakes? I assume if there's an abundance of red meat we could get our protein through that means, but I just want to make sure. Also, do things like Superfood or Surge play a large role into the Anabolic Diet?


OK, first and foremost, I personally do not advocate the Anabolic Diet itself. It has some shortcomings:

- no distinction in the type of fat consumed
- two days of carbing up and no limits to the carb-up
- 60-70% of the calories from fat

I prefer a low-carbs (less than 50g/day like the AD) but with the following differences:

- focus on integrating more ''good fats'' (plenty of fish oil, coconut oil for cooking, olive oil, some nuts and seeds) and less ''bad fats'' (I like to rely mostly on wild red meat like buffalo, bison, venison, deer instead of beef. I also like to use a lot of ostrich, chicken, turkey and fish)

- Amount of carbing-up depending on your degree of leanness. I never recommend more than one day of carb-up, and this is for very lean individuals. Most should stay between 1 and 3 carb-up meals during a day for no more than 200-250g of carbs total

- During the low carbs day protein can be as high as 50-55% and fat around 40-45%. I actually don't count percentages, I go with an amount of nutrients relative to bodyweight.

As a baseline if you main goal is to lose fat:
- Protein: 1.5 to 1.75g per pound
- Fat: 0.5g to 0.75g per pound
- Carbs: less than 50g

So if you are 200lbs that would mean 300-350g of protein, 100-150g of fat, less than 50g of carbs per day.

* Adjust these amounts weekly depending on how your body is reacting.

If you are trying to add size you should start by adding around 10-15% in protein and fats and adjust from there.

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Christian Thibaudeau
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SSC wrote:
That being said, with the anabolic diet requiring very few carbs, does this essentially mean no protein shakes?


You can have regular shakes (e.g. low-carbs Metabolic Drive or Grow! whey) made with a protein powder with 3-4g or less of carbs per serving; but you mix it in water or crystal light.

You can have up to 50g of carbs, so if you get 10g from your shake you are fine. Most of the carbs should come from green veggies and nuts and seeds.

Be careful of hidden carbs. A lot of peoples actually drink juice, milk or soda when trying a low-carbs diet... the problem is that those are very high in carbs, so they are a big no-no. In fact, beside the shakes, the only things you should drink are: water, coffee (no sugar, splenda is ok), tea, crystal light, diet soda in moderation.

SSC wrote:
Also, do things like Superfood or Surge play a large role into the Anabolic Diet?


Superfood is a great addition because you can't eat fruits on this diet and no veggies besides green veggies. So Superfood will provide you with some micronutrients you might be lacking.

Surge should be used since one serving will put you above your daily carbs limit. You could have 1/2 a serving (25g of carbs) though but in that case you would have to really monitor your carbs intake closely to avoid going above 50g.

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SSC
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Okay, thanks, this helps a lot. I still have a decent shelf of fat on me, but again, as a former-HUGE-boy, I want to continue to get stronger and bigger, while trying to get the rest of this fat off of my body. The type of plan you're suggesting sounds ideal, but another question stems from your suggestion.

You mentioned the general baseline for losing fat. If I stuck to this, and began losing fat, would I in turn lose strength or muscle size, or is going to help me maintain? I'm just curious, because when I went on my year-long diet stint I lost a significant amount of strength and some size, too.

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Christian Thibaudeau
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SSC wrote:
Okay, thanks, this helps a lot. I still have a decent shelf of fat on me, but again, as a former-HUGE-boy, I want to continue to get stronger and bigger, while trying to get the rest of this fat off of my body. The type of plan you're suggesting sounds ideal, but another question stems from your suggestion.

You mentioned the general baseline for losing fat. If I stuck to this, and began losing fat, would I in turn lose strength or muscle size, or is going to help me maintain? I'm just curious, because when I went on my year-long diet stint I lost a significant amount of strength and some size, too.


When dieting is done properly, you should never lose strength or muscle mass. YES you will ''feel'' smaller because your muscles will be depleted of glycogen and water, but if you do everything right you will not regress. Heck, I recently broken my record on the incline bench press (405lbs) while being on a fat loss diet.

In fact I always say that when dieting down you should ALWAYS strive to push your strength up. As long as your strength goes up or is at least maintained, you are not losing muscle mass.

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SSC
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Okay, again, thanks for the info. When I was dieting was before I really starting eating up the information at T-Nation, and was only raking in somewhere between 1,500-1,800 calories a day while trying to gain muscle mass... how little I knew. On top of that, I also probably only brought in somewhere between 100-150 grams of protein, so I definitely had no idea of what I was doing. Thankfully, I found T-Nation before it was too late.

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alaw4516
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Join date: Dec 2007
Location: Maine, USA
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So with my bodyweight being 165lbs, I should only consume 2680 calories to gain mass? My goal is to gain mass with little fat gain, it seems really hard when I only get 2680 calories a day. Do these numbers seem right

1.75xBW + 10%= 316g protein
.75xBW + 10%= 135g fat
50g carbs

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SSC
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I do also apologize to the OP for the thread hijack.

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Dirty Tiger
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SSC wrote:
I do also apologize to the OP for the thread hijack.


No need to apologize dude. I'm glad this thread is getting some action.

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ronaldo7
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CT from your personal experience and clients, what would you say is better to gain mass while not becoming a fat-ass??...would you go low carb?? or would you go high fat??.

I been on the AD for a while and trying to lose some fat at the moment but tend to go overboard on the carb-ups. This upcoming weekend I will try your method however if I make my last 3 meals mostly carbs then what would I do with the first 3 meals of the day??..Should I make them high in protein with some veggies??

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medevac
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I've been on the AD for about a month now, which isn't long-term by any stretch, but I'm getting familiar with it.

Let me state one thing outright, at 177 lbs I DO NOT need to cut any weight, and that was not my intention when starting it. I stay close to 10%-12% BF pretty much all the time and I am a chronic undereater, so I don't need to get cut or anything silly like that. That wasn't my intension.

My main goal was testing my carb tolerance. What actually caught my attention was my steady increase in caffeine throughout the day. I did get a work promotion but nothing too stress inducing, I'm currently not in classes, and my schedule hasn't changed...yet my reliance on the energy spike continued to grow over the past 6 months and it was affecting my sleeping habits (vicious circle).

So I started looking at my diet because my slumps were usually after eating. I was eating fairly clean but with high protein and carbs.

I started AD just to limit my carbs as an experiment and I kept a very close eye on the scale over the past 4-6 weeks. For the first week there was no change at all (thank god) and I even went up a pound. By the third week, I was noticing a drop to right around 170 to 171 lbs, and then a glycogen/water increase up to 177 or so right after the carb days.

But what I did like was that I gained some muscle and lost a small amount of fat (keep in mind I didn't really care to measure it, I'm going by the mirror so it may have been water as well). Mainly though I started feeling a bit better with lower carbs...this might be because I was increasing my protein or because I am not as tolerant of carbs as I thought I was.

The things I didn't like was feeling almost ill the second day after getting carbs (like I was getting a cold), and as CT stated the disregard of fat or carb types.

I am going out of town next week and when I get back I am probably going to modify it to be a bit more conscious of the fats. I also like CTs thoughts on three carb meals as opposed to a whole weekend, that may help with the "feeling like crap on tuesday".

Oh, and if I start to lose weight all bets are off, and I'm diving into a box of Little Debbies.

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ronaldo7
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MODOK wrote:
ronaldo7 wrote:
CT from your personal experience and clients, what would you say is better to gain mass while not becoming a fat-ass??...would you go low carb?? or would you go high fat??.

I been on the AD for a while and trying to lose some fat at the moment but tend to go overboard on the carb-ups. This upcoming weekend I will try your method however if I make my last 3 meals mostly carbs then what would I do with the first 3 meals of the day??..Should I make them high in protein with some veggies??

If thats you in the picture to the left, you should not be too worried about losing bodyfat at the moment.


That is me indeed but from a few months ago. I had to stop training for sometime and gained a bunch of fat. I'm just trying to get the body fat down in the next 4-8 weeks to start a gaining phase at around 9-10% bf.

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