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Christian Thibaudeau

Gaining Mass on The AD Diet:


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 lowcarbs 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. 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.

Carb Ups & Body Fat:


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.

Time to Carb Up:


I always recommend carbing-up with clean food. Normally I will allow SURGE postworkout 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.

His Version of The AD:


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.

Fear of Loosing Muscle:


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.

Pre & Post Workout Supplements:


You don't really need a special meal pre-workout once you are adapted to using fat/ketones for fuel since you will never run out of it, contrary to carbs which have to be ''loaded'' since you cannot store a lot of it. I do, however recommend taking in 10g of BCAA and 10g of glutamine pre-workout (immediately before) and another 10-20g (at least) of BCAAs during the workout (for its anti-catabolic properties.

Post-workout I recommend 2 scoops of whey protein, another 10g of BCAAs and 10-20g of glutamine.

Ketosis & Energy:


You do not have to be in ketosis to burn fat. Heck, you can lose fat by consuming a high carbs diet as long as your energy intake is lower than your expenditure. At 75-100g of carbs you can burn a significant amount of fat without being in ketosis. However some peoples feel like shit on this type of dieting. For these peoples, using a low-carbs diet without being in ketosis leads to cravings and mood swings. Why? Because the brain can only use carbs and ketones for fuel (not fat directly). So at 100g of carbs per day you might not be giving enough for your brain to function optimally (especially if you perform a lot of strength work, which naturally relies on carbs/glycogen for fuel). Since you are not producing a lot of ketones (you are not in a ketogenic state) your brain might feel deprived, at which point you will have problems focusing, you will suffer mood swings, lack energy and drive and will have huge carb cravings. Some people (myself for example) do not have that problem. Why? Because some individuals can actually consume more carbs (up to 100g) and still be in ketosis. This is mostly due to insulin sensitivity, metabolic rate and activity levels. Those who can function well with 100g of carbs per day will have no problem losing fat provided that their energy intake is correct; but those who need to consume less carbs to stay in ketosis will feel like crap.

The Myth of Glycogen Being Needed For Weight Training:


If that were the case (can only use glycogen for anaerobic work) the human race would not have survived past the stone age!!! Especially in regions without much fruits. Don't be fooled; the human body is the ultimate adaptive machine. EVERY tissue in the body in EVERY circumstances can adapt to use more than one source of fuel, otherwise survival of the species would be impossible. For years it was believed in the scientific community that the brain could only function on carbs... turns out that ketones are just as effective for that purpose. While I do agree that carbs are more efficient during intense strength work, ketones and fat CAN be used as a fuel source too. And even if you go low-carbs (50g or less per day) you will not completely deplete muscle glycogen ever. The body will always maintain a ''survival amount'' of glycogen by converting some amino acids into glucose than store it as glycogen. Glycerol, the ''backbone'' of the fat molecule can also be turned into glucose. NOW, it sounds bad to turn amino acids into glucose... and it is; IF those amino acids come from muscle tissue. But that's why I recommend a higher protein intake when doing a ketogenic diet (1.75g per pound instead of 1.25-1.50g), that way you will use the amino acids left in the free amino acid pool to produce glucose instead of breaking down muscle tissue. And as it was mentionned, ketones are glycogen-sparing, so your body can ''stretch'' the glycogen stores it has for a longer period of time. The one carb-up meal a week is not used only by me. Poliquin use the same method with his clients (which includes a lot of high level athletes), Vince Gironda used it with his top

bodybuilders (including Larry Scott and Momo Makkaway) and recently Dave Palumbo uses it with all of his clients. The human body can store around 400g (up to 500g if you are a more muscular individual) of glycogen in his muscles. There is no sense in doing a huge carb-load consisting of 2000g of carbs consumed over 2 days, especially considering that when you are fat adapted you will not fully deplete your glycogen stores anyway. That having been said I will not argue against your diet since it's basically how *I* am eating right now (read my First person article). But I do dispute your claims that your body CANNOT use anything by glycogen for fuel during strength training. Heck, I once ate less than 50g of carbs/day for 4 months while still competing in olympic lifting and training twice a day. And I did not lose strength, my relative strength actually went up since I lost 20lbs.

How Much Glycogen do we Use in a Workout:


It depends on the type of training you use. For example doing a biceps-only session will use less total glycogen than a lower body session. If you do 30 sets per workout you will use more glycogen than if you do 5 sets per workout. If you do sets of 8-15 reps you will use more glycogen than if you do sets of 1-5 reps. But and ''average non-idiotic'' training session will use around 90-150g of glycogen. So in theory you would deplete your glycogen in 4 weekly workouts. BUT this isn't so because of two reasons: A) When you are fat adapted and in a ketogenic state, which is glycogen sparing, you might only use up half as much glycogen. So you could, in theory require 8 workouts to deplete glycogen. But even if that is the case, you will never completely deplete glycogen because... B) Even in the absence of carbs, your body will still replenish the glycogen stores to some extent. It will do so by transforming certain amino acids into glucose(glutamine, alanine, serine, glycine and threonine being the most glucogenic amino acids) which can then be stored as muscle glycogen. Obviously you want to avoid breaking down muscle amino acids to build new glucose, which is why a higher protein intake is important if your carbs intake is low: in that case the body will use the amino acids from the free amino acids pool to produce new glucose. ''Won't this reduce the amount of protein that we can use to build muscle?''. Not really, if you are a natural trainee there is a limited amount of protein that you can use to build muscle tissue. Over 1.0 to 1.25g per pound is about the limit; so if your protein intake is at 1.5 to 1.75g per pound, you will be able to use the excess to form new glucose without interfering with protein synthesis.

Should I Not Carb Load more often Than Once a Week:


Yes... but most cyclical diets go overboard on the carb-up. Since you are never depleting your glycogen stores completely, 200-250g every 7 days is enough, unless you are training twice a day everyday, in which case you will need more frequent loadings. Me personally, when I train twice a day, I have to have a carb containing meal every 4th day. This meal normally provides 200g of carbs. When I train only once a day I have to eat a carb meal every 7th day. BUT I'm extremely lean. Individual who are fatter need to space out their carb meals more. AND it is NOT a carb load. A carb load is ingesting a ton of carbs over a period of 1-2 days. I'm talking about a carb MEAl.

Di Pasquale recommended a mid-week carb spike when and individual is lean and using the Anabolic diet to gain size. It is NOT a second carb load, but rather small spike of 100200g on Thursday, ideally post-workout. Charles, much like I do (and it is exactly what Gironda recommended), recommend a moderate amount of carbs every 4th day IF the individual is lean enough and insulin sensitive enough.

People That do not Respond Well To a Low Carb Diet:


25% of the population will actually do better on a moderate carbs diet (40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fat) than on a low carbs diet. It seems like you are one of these guys, some are just not built to optimally function in a very low carbs environment. YES your body can adapt, but it means that you will be able to function and survive NOT achieve your body comp goals. Adaptation is meant for survival of the species, not looking hawt on the beach.

Post Workout Carbs When Gaining Mass:


Personally, when training to gain I like to add carbs during and post-workout. But even then I rarely exceed 75-100g per day (100-125g if you count veggies, trace carbs and nuts). Some with better insulin sensitivity than me can handle a higher carbs intake than this without adding too much fat, but I find that a this amount of carbs, while ingesting a high protein/moderately-high fat (mostly good fats) diet the rest of the day is what allows me to add muscle without gaining much fat and while feeling great. But it is an individual thing. For example, my ex-girlfriend (a natural competitive bodybuilder) was extremely insulin-sensitive and thus could eat a large amount of carbs without any problems. Heck, in her fat-loss/pre-contest diet she would still consume 300g of carbs per day (she was 135lbs). Put her on a low-carbs diet and she will not be gaining much muscle mass (she is among the 25% of the population who do better on higher carbs).

Importance of Keeping the Body in an Alkaline State:


It is of EXTREME IMPORTANCE to keep your body alkaline. If your body is acid all the metabolic processes (including protein synthesis and fatty acid mobilization) are rendered less effective. That's why green veggies are important. Glutamine can also help keep the body alkaline.

Body Comp Goals & Recommended Carb ups:


The thing is that you are somewhat misinterpreting my recommendations. The one meal carb-up is for body composition only; or in other words to MAXIMIZE fat loss. If you read my article ''refined physique transformation'' you will find that my recommendations change depending on the degree of leanness of the individual. These recommendations are: For men Above 20% body fat: carb-up at around 0.75g of carbs per pound every 14 days

15-20% body fat: carb-up at around 0.75g of carbs per pound every 10 days 12-15% body fat: carb-up at around 1.0g of carbs per pound every 7 days 10-12% body fat: carb-up at around 1.25g of carbs per pound every 7 days Less than 10% body fat: carb-up at around 1.25g of carbs per pound every 4-5 days I also make recommendations regarding the type of food to use for a carb-up: For men Above 20% body fat: carb-up only with clean carbs (yams, non-green veggies, fruits, oatmeal, rice, potatoes, grits, etc.) 15-20% body fat: carb-up only with clean carbs 12-15% body fat: carb-up mostly with clean carbs. One or two ''cheat'' items is acceptable but avoid eating foods that are both high in fat and sugar. 10-12% body fat: Carb-up can include a bit more cheat food, but still stay away from fat/sugar combo foods. Less than 10% body fat: the refeed can be more lenient. While results will be better with cleaner food, when you get down below 10% it's okay to include some dirtier meals (pizza, burgers, pastries, etc.) in your refeed day. Finally the recommended amount of carbs for the ''diet days'' are also dependent on body fat levels: For men Above 20% body fat: no more than 30g of carbs per day 15-20% body fat: 0.25g of carbs per pound of body weight per day 12-15% body fat: 0.35g of carbs per pound of body weight per day 10-12% body fat: 0.45g of carbs per pound of body weight per day Less than 10% body fat: 0.55g of carbs per pound of body weight per day So someone who is relatively lean (10-12% for example) and weighs 200lbs can use 90g per day, preferably around workout time. So you could very well have 40g of carbs pre/during your workout, 40g post-workout and 10g of trace carbs during the day. Even someone who is slightly less lean (12-15%) at the same 200lbs can go up to 70g per day which stills allows some carbs peri-workout. Really, my recommendation to go super low carbs is only for fatter individuals. The point I was making in this thread is that it IS possible to gain size while not ingesting carb. I never said that it was optimal. ******

BTW, just a correction regarding ATP. ATP is the ONLY fuel source that the body can use. When ATP is depleted the body will use different substrates to produce new ATP and replenish the reserves. Creatine phosphate is the first substrate used to produce ATP and it is the fastest (higher power) but the one with the shortest duration (around 12 seconds). Glucose used under anaerobic condition is the second way to replenish ATP, it is the second fastest way to produce ATP but is is also of short duration (around 70-120 seconds) Glucose used under aerobic condition is the third way to replenish ATP. It is not as fast as the previous two systems but can last longer (up to 15 minutes and sometimes more) Fatty acids via fatty acid oxidation is the fourth way and it is the slowest of the energy production pathways, but last a REALLY long time! When doing intense training this system is used mostly to replenish ATP stores during recovery periods. In fact most of the ATP is replenished between sets via the fat oxydation pathway. Now what about ketones you say? Very little literature exists on the subject because basically no research studies the energy substrate used during weight training while in a ketogenic state. My educated guess from the available literature which shows no decrease in performance during a low-carbs diet when performing work in the zone that would normally rely on the third energy system (glucose with oxigen) would suggest that ketones are about the same power (speed of energy production) as using glucose + oxygen to produce ATP and it would also last as long as the fatty acid oxydation system. So this tells us that during ''regular bodybuilding'' training (sets of 6-12 reps lasting 30-60 seconds), glycogen would indeed be the only way to efficiently fuel your workouts. Ketones could also be used, but the lower energy production speed would be too slow to allow the maintenance of the same intensity. HOWEVER if one is performing work that relies more on the phosphagen system (ATP and creatine) ... sets of 1-5 reps lasting 20 seconds or less ... training intensity should not be affected by a ketogenic diet since glucose is not super important during those sets AND that ATP is replenished between sets either by using ketones or fat.