Excuse me, but would ya' mind kickin' my ass?
Recently, a friend asked me what kind of steroids he should take. Now, he's a cool guy and we've been friends since high school, but ya' know what? I wanted to knock him to the floor and kick his teeth out. And while he was down there, maybe I would give him a wedgie, just for good measure!
Taking too much Tribex again? No, and it's not because I'm some sort of anti-drug zealot. While I am "natural for now," I'm keenly interested in steroids. I'm sure that I'll use them one day, especially now that I'm almost 30. No, I wanted to kick my buddy's ass because a) he seldom even lifts weights and, when he does, he sticks to the "chick section," i.e. machines, b) he's only been "training" for a year, and c) he's a goddamn vegetarian! Now, you tell me – did he really deserve the privilege of chewing his food?
The point is this that there's a time for steroids but, in my opinion, that time only comes when you have truly maximized your potential and reached your natural genetic limits. How do you know if you've reached these limits? That question could spawn a huge debate, but here's my personal opinion. Everyone, regardless of body type, should be able to add a good 20 pounds of lean muscle though proper training, diet, and supplementation. I also believe that a person should be over the age of 25 and hit the weights hard for at least five years before considering some sort of ergonomic substance.
Now, I'm no Duchaine, and I know that the above recommendations are debatable, but I'm simply tired of 17-year-old kids asking me about steroids when they don't even squat or try to eat enough protein first! Hard training is really the easy part. Diet separates the "haves" and the "have nots," and it's the key to reaching those genetic limits. What kind of diet? That's easy, too. Eat like a man!
Although it's been around longer than BodyOpus, you may not know much about Dr. Mauro DiPasquale's Anabolic diet. The general public is really clueless. This is primarily because DiPasquale didn't design it for them. You see, the good doctor is one of us. He's not only a gifted physician, he's a former world champion powerlifter who's set records in five different weight classes. He's held top positions in several bodybuilding, powerlifting and athletic organizations and still squats over 600 pounds. He's written several books on steroids and their uses in sports, but he's written the book on using food to mimic the anabolic effects of steroids. This came about partially because the World Bodybuilding Federation (now disbanded) wanted their athletes to get clean yet maintain their muscle mass and low bodyfat percentages. Dr. DiPasquale refined the Anabolic diet to help them do this. Could the effects of anabolic steroids be reproduced through the manipulation of diet? The answer, DiPasquale decided, was yes.
Be prepared. The Anabolic diet goes against just about every "rule" that you've ever heard about nutrition. Dr. DiPasquale's ideas about putting on muscle and losing fat are the real kick in the teeth when it comes to popular dietary theory. In fact, when some people hear the words "high fat" and "red meat," they just about choke on their carb drinks. Just remember, most of the popular diets today, like the Zone diet or the Atkins diet, aren't designed to fit the specific needs of bodybuilders and athletes. While parts of these diets overlap with the Anabolic diet, they're written primarily for the average couch spud.
Also, since women are the number-one buyers of diet books, I'd guess the dietary guidelines in such books are geared toward them, not a 200-pound male who throws around hundreds of pounds in the gym as a hobby. This is another reason why the general public hasn't heard of the Anabolic diet. The cover of my copy depicts the sweaty torso of a pro bodybuilder. Maybe if it featured a smiling, old fart in a lab coat on the cover eating a carrot and used words like "toned" instead of "ripped" it, too, would top the bestseller list. It's certainly more sensible than most of the crap that's out there.
Let's look at the goals of the Anabolic diet, and then we'll get into the details. According to DiPasquale, the Anabolic diet will:
- naturally maximize production and utilization of the "Big Three" growth producers – testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin
- shift the body's metabolism from that of a sugar-burning, fat-producing machine to that of a fat-burning, muscle-building machine
- decrease catabolic activity in the body
- increase strength and endurance
- help you avoid health problems and stay in shape year round
- increase energy and decrease mood swings
- decrease even "problem area" fat
- scare the living shit out of vegetarians!
Peak your interest? Hell, it gives me a hard-on! What's more, the methods used to reach these goals are a lot like the girl at the front desk of your gym – simple and easy. Here's a quick and dirty summary of the Anabolic diet:
Eat a diet consisting of 60% fat, 35% protein, and only 5% carbs. You'll get the fat and protein mainly from steak, hamburger, eggs, and fish. Turkey, chicken, and tuna are all okay, but the password here is red meat. You'll also eat full-fat cheeses, pepperoni, sausage, and certain nuts. The key is to generally avoid carbohydrates, eating only around 30 grams a day.
As for calories, the Anabolic diet has three phases – maintenance or start-up, mass, and cutting. We'll focus here on the start-up phase, which allows a person to gain some muscle and lose some fat. During this phase, which lasts about three to four weeks, you keep the macronutrient ratios above and eat calories equivalent to 18 times your bodyweight. In other words, a 200-pound male would consume 3,600 calories per day. The next two phases will simply manipulate those numbers while keeping the same 60/35/5 ratios. The start-up phase ends once your body has adjusted – in other words, you can shit without Metamucil and small pieces of plastic explosives – and has gone through the "metabolic shift."
Switch gears. On the weekends, eat 30% fat, 10% protein, and a whopping 60% carbs! Bring on the pizza and beer!
Almost anything goes on the weekend. DiPasquale only cautions against taking this carb-loading period overboard and making yourself sick. The weekend food festival is important for many reasons, but the best thing is that it allows you to go out and be sociable like you normally would on the weekend, instead of sitting back and watching your friends have fun while you scan the pathetic "lite" section of the menu. This has a powerful psychological effect. For one, you know that you'll get to satisfy any craving you have during the week on the weekend, making it much easier to stick with the diet.
If you're a practicing vegetarian like my friend, pick your atrophied ass up off the floor and continue reading. There's some very interesting science and real-world experience to back this eating plan. The theory behind the high-fat weekday eating is simple. According to DiPasquale, theless fat you eat, the more fat your body will want to store. You must eat fat to lose fat! He goes on to say that if you do not give your body any dietary fat, it anticipates famine and stores as much fat as possible to insure your "survival."
Now, before you run into the kitchen and start eating lard by the spoonful, realize that the high-fat diet doesn't allow for a free-for-all binge. The only way to help create this anabolic environment is to limit carb intake to 30 grams per day on weekdays. This doesn't put you into ketosis, nor is this a ketogenic diet. The approach could be best described as a "near-ketosis" diet. Just as Dr. Atkins and Dr. Sears believe, DiPasquale says that the high-carbohydrate intake of most Americans is what's making them fat, not dietary fat itself. When carbs make up the bulk of your diet, you burn glucose as energy. Insulin is secreted to utilize the glucose for energy or store it as glycogen in the liver and muscles. The problem is that the insulin also activates the lipogenic (fat-producing) enzymes and decreases the activity of the lipolytic (fat-burning) enzymes. In other words, you store more fat and use less of the fat that you already have. In simpleton's terms, those fat-free carbs will make you fat!
This isn't just theory – DiPasquale backs it up with several clinical studies in his book. Besides "laying on the fat," excessive carb intake leads to mood swings, drastic drops in energy, and decreases in motivation. Think about it, high-carb meals increase the levels of serotonin in the brain, making you feel lethargic and sleepy. What else effects serotonin levels? Prozac, the drug of choice for today's fat housewife! More than anything else, the Anabolic diet teaches you how food can act as a drug on the body and, what's better, how to manipulate that "drug" to build muscle and lose fat.
The weekend carb party is backed by science, too. The body is "shocked" by the sudden intake of carbs and responds by stuffing the muscles with glycogen and driving amino acids into the muscle cells. You may feel a little tired because of all the carbs but, on Monday, you'll experience the best pump of your life in the gym. Later in the week, you'll switch back to a fat-burning metabolism to maximize your gains. You won't gain much – if any – fat from the weekend splurge once your body goes through the metabolic shift during your first week on the diet.
Dr. DiPasquale says that, when bodybuilders bulk up and then go on a cutting program using the high-carb method, they tend to gain muscle in the mass phase only to lose it while dieting. The result is that, year after year, they tend to have about the same amount of lean muscle tissue. In essence, they're running in place. Using the high-fat approach, he states that he's seen bodybuilders gain 25 pounds in two years with a marked increase in definition. Note, he refers to competing bodybuilders who may go on several cutting programs a year. What's going to happen? You'll lose fat, build muscle, and feel better doing it.
With any revolutionary concept like the Anabolic diet, there's bound to be questions and concerns. Dr. DiPasquale covers these in his book, but we'll hit a few of the more common "buts" here:
But won't a diet high in fat lead to high cholesterol, cancer, and heart disease?
According to DiPasquale, other factors – like smoking, obesity, stress, and lack of exercise – contribute to high cholesterol just as much, or more, than diet. However, just to be safe, the diet recommends using fish oils and other cholesterol-lowering supplements. DiPasquale also notes that he hasn't seen any major problems with people on the Anabolic diet. Some even report that their cholesterol levels have decreased during the cutting phase of the plan. He goes on to cite numerous studies that show no link between dietary fat and cancer. Similarly, an unhealthy lifestyle and obesity, not fat intake, often lead to heart disease.
But won't I feel drained without my usual carb intake?
Once your body goes through a "metabolic shift" during the first week, your body will use free fatty acids, triglycerides, and ketones for energy. The human body has evolved to process meat and use it for energy. However, DiPasquale notes that during the first week, before you shift from a carb- and muscle-burning to a fat-burning machine, you may feel some fatigue and mental fogginess. Once the shift occurs, though, you'll feel stronger and more energetic than ever. Remember, it's the carbs that usually cause that drowsy, weak feeling after a big meal.
What supplements can I take?
DiPasquale recommends a fiber supplement to compensate for what you would normally get by ingesting carbs. Without it, you may experience constipation or swing the other direction and get diarrhea, since fats act as stool softeners. A fiber supplement like Metamucil is best – just don't forget to count the carbs in your Metamucil. The book also recommends multivitamins to make up for any nutritional gaps and fish oils for omega-3s. Using MRPs might be tricky, though. For example, Grow! has 23 carbs per three-scoop serving. That doesn't leave much room for extra carbs during the day. DiPasquale also suggests that you take in your carbs during the evening. That way, any feeling of lethargy caused by the sudden carb intake won't matter much because your day will be winding down. My suggestion? Take a two-scoop serving of Grow! or other MRP after a workout. You're only getting about 15 grams of carbs but still reaping all the benefits of a post-workout shake.
But won't I constantly crave sweets and carbs?
You may experience cravings at first, until the body goes through the readjustment phase. To combat sweet cravings, you can eat a ton of sugar-free Jell-O with whipped cream, which doesn't contain any carbs.
But I'm already using steroids – any point in trying this diet?
Dr. DiPasquale sees the Anabolic diet as an alternative to steroid use but says that, if you "choose to use," you'll see even better results than if you were just taking steroids and eating a traditional diet.
Any hints and tips to make this as painless as possible?
Compared to a traditional diet, the Anabolic diet is almost pain-free, especially after the metabolic shift occurs. The first week is going to be the toughest. Also, remember that I've only outlined the diet here – you really need the book to get the full details. Dr. DiPasquale gives many helpful tips in the book, including several pages of sample daily menus. As for my recommendations, I personally went out and bought one of those countertop grills like George Foreman incessantly advertises. A thick a piece of hamburger takes about seven minutes. I'm also going through a break-in period before I start the diet next week. I started cutting down on my carbs about a week ago. My problem was breakfast. I usually have a Grow! shake as soon as I wake up, then an hour later I have oatmeal and a bagel with peanut butter. Gradually, I nixed the bagel, then the oatmeal. Next week, I'll have a traditional anabolic breakfast – whole eggs and bacon, zero carbs.
The funniest thing about my vegetarian friend is he can't understand why he's fat:
"I don't eat meat! I take in almost no fat! How can I be fat?"
After reading this article, I'm sure that you'll see the humor in those statements. But they only go to show how John Q. Public has been miseducated. The latest stats show that 75% of Americans over the age of 25 are overweight. It's time that we analyze the low-fat, high-carb approach and admit defeat. That diet was a nice idea, but it simply didn't work. This is especially true for those who want to build muscle. As bodybuilders, isn't it time we stopped trying to get huge on diets designed to make us small? Could the Anabolic diet, with its history dating back to early man, be the real solution? We'll see. I start my Anabolic diet next week. If Dr. DiPasquale is right, I'll soon reach my natural limits. Then, maybe I'll look back in Testosterone Issue 18 and read that little ol' Steroids For Health piece by Nelson Montana.
Our copy of the Anabolic diet by Mauro DiPasquale came from Optimum Training Systems, complete with a video featuring DiPasquale giving an overview of the diet and answering questions from an audience. To order a copy of Mauro's book, call OTS at 1-800-582-2083. Additionally, Chris Shugart has agreed to write a follow-up article to describe the mass phase and the cutting phase, provided that there's enough reader interest. Let us know if you want to read more about the Anabolic diet.