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Summary of the High-Fat (or Anabolic) Diet

Written by PD

The following is a nutshell summary of "The Anabolic Diet" by Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale, together with some additional info on low carb foods, as the list in the book is rather skimpy. To get full details and references, or find out about the finer points of the diet (e.g. competition diet procedures), I urge you to get the book - see at the end of this document.

Feel free to send me feedback, additional info, your experience with the diet, warnings etc. I will update this document accordingly. Please note that I am not Dr. DiPasquale, and cannot answer detailed questions or give medical advice (I'm an engineer).

Before you start on this diet

  • Get a complete physical, including blood work. Among other things, this will give you a baseline Cholesterol level.
  • This diet is not recommended for children or pregnant women.
  • This diet is controversial, use at your own risk!

Additional information on potential problems


Problems with low-fat diets

  • Low fat -> body goes into starvation mode, tries to hold on to fat, burn muscle instead.
  • When carbohydrate stores are exhausted, will burn protein first before switching to fat.
  • Carbohydrates can increase serotonin levels, cause sleepiness. (Based on other references - see below - serotonin may not be such a bad thing after all)
  • Insulin swings can provoke mood swings.
  • High insulin levels increase fat storage.
  • Can cause bloating, water retention.
  • Often, protein supplements are needed for the bodybuilder.
  • Low-fat foods are often much more expensive than the conventional version, and contain more "chemistry" / are highly processed.

How the high-fat diet works

(This is grossly simplified, for more details follow the links from this page and read the book ).

During the week (Monday - Friday), you eat (by calories) about 55..60% fat, 30..35% protein, and no more than 30g of carbohydrates.

The plentiful supply of fat causes a metabolic shift from primarily burning carbs to primarily burning fats. Insulin levels remains low (which increases GH release). Increased dietary fat is also linked to increased testosterone levels.

Despite popular belief, the human body can run pretty well without carbs (otherwise Eskimos wouldn't be doing too well).

During the weekend (Saturday - Sunday, about 24 to 48 hours), you eat a high carb, medium fat (30..40%), low protein (10..15%) diet. This causes an insulin spike. While this can increase fat deposits, it moves more nutrients into your muscles, and has an anabolic effect. The important thing is to switch back to the high fat / low carb mode before you put on too much fat.

What are the benefits ?

  • Increased lean body mass without the use of illegal substances.
  • Maximize the effects of your own hormones.
  • Reduced cortisol levels -> reduced catabolism.
  • Increased energy level compared to low-fat diets.
  • Decrease body fat without increasing lean mass, e.g. lose 90% fat, 10% muscle instead of 60% fat / 40% muscle on most other diets.
  • Burning fat is less efficient -> increased metabolic rate.
  • Plentiful supply of protein.

What about Cholesterol ?

If you keep your fat intake somewhat balanced, i.e. not exclusively saturated fats, you should have no problem. For example, eggs tend to increase your HDL level (good Cholesterol). Your actual mileage may vary - test your Cholesterol level before you start.


Getting started / tips

  • Eat 5 to 6 meals daily.
  • Eat something when you are hungry - don't wait.
  • Keep sodium intake reasonable, some meat products can be pretty high.
  • Drink enough water !
  • This diet doesn't work if your fat intake goes too low (below about 40%).
  • Start at around 3000 calories per day (or 18*bw), then adjust up or down depending on your results and goals.
  • You may need to use a fiber supplement (watch out for hidden carbs). I eat salad with lunch and dinner, and never had any problem.
  • First week can be rough - stick with it.
  • Regularly check bodyfat percentage (for example using calipers).
  • During the weekend, be careful with foods with high glycemic index - they can wreak havoc on your insulin level, and switch you into fat storage mode more quickly.

Low carb foods

RTFL (read the f... labels). Try to get as much natural fiber as possible from salad or vegetables, while staying within the 30g carb target.

The usual suspects:

  • Beef, Chicken etc.
  • Fish
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Any kind of oil

Veggies:

  • Almonds (1oz = 5..6g)
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado (1/2 = 6g)
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Olives
  • Peanuts (1oz = 6g)
  • Red / green peppers (e.g. frozen "Melange a trois" from Trader Joe's)
  • Spinach
  • Sprouts
  • Tofu, soy milk
  • Zucchini

Condiments:

  • Caesar salad dressing (e.g. Newman's own)
  • Oil and vinegar salad dressing
  • Mustard (e.g. Dijon from Trader Joe's)
  • Pickles
  • Sour cream

For the sweet tooth:

  • Dole or Welsh no sugar added fruit pops (6g each)
  • Sugar free Jello + whipped cream (within reason)

Supplements

One of the nice things about this diet is that you won't have to spend much money on supplements. All you need is some vitamins, for example along these lines:

  • 1 Centrum
  • 500 mg Vitamin C
  • 800 i.u. Vitamin E
  • 50 mg Vitamin B formula
  • Some Calcium (at least that's what my teeth tell me).
  • Vitamin Z (that's sleep).

The book also recommends Omega 3 fatty acids, e.g. from fish oil capsules. In general, it is a good idea to have some variety on the types of oils you eat.

Caffeine can help burn fat (but only on a low carb / high fat diet).

If you really want to get fancy and start mixing your own supplements, the book also includes some recommendation, but no quantities / dosages.

MUSCLEHEDZ (tm) on the Anabolic Diet (cartoon, follow the link on that page for more...)

References

The anabolic diet

Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale
Optimum Training Systems
2945 S. Mooney Blvd.
Visalia, CA 93277
(800)582-2083

Advanced Nutrition Systems (cheaper source for the book)
(800)251-1683
www.bodybuild.com/ans

BodyOpus

Dan Duchaine
XIPE Press
ISBN 0-9653107-0-1

BodyOpus is very similar to the Anabolic Diet. BodyOpus gives much more detail on a suitable workout program, and on the recarbing procedure. Also includes info on lots of diet drugs and diuretics. For more info, Lyle McDonald posted lots of information on Usenet. The book doesn't have an index, but Robert Ames created one.

The complete book of food counts

Corinne T. Netzer Dell Publishing ISBN 0-440-21271-5.

More low carbohydrate diet info, recipes
USDA food values database
A table of glycemic indices
A low carb cookbook

Neander-Thin - A Cave Man's Guide to Nutrition

Raymond V. Audette and Troy Gilchrist
Paleolithic Press
ISBN 0-9646345-1-1

This diet is based on only those foods that would be available if you were naked of all technology save that of a convenient sharp stick or stone. The main difference from the anabolic diet is that you can eat fruit, but no dairy products, and there is no weekend carb-up. The book includes a week's sample diet, and recipes. The writing gets a little preachy for my taste...

 


Reader's Comments:

Please leave your comments or suggestions below!
2011-10-03PJ
 Rico:

Yes to creatine, although with the amount of red meat you will be eating you do get a lot of natural creatine.

No to the 30g carbs post workout. You need to eat veges and salad and this is where your carbs should be coming from. This diet is trying to avoid insulin spiking except on weekends however you can spike it if you insist through the use of BCAA's and Glutamine without ingesting post workout carbs.

Cardio is fine. The diet is very anti-catabolic so 20min shouldnt hinder your muscle development. Dont go attempting any marathons when you are cutting though, you will still catabolize your muscle.
2011-05-20rico machado
 I am a life long bodybuilder43 years old.I weigh 181 lbsat 10 % b.f.
I am starting Leo Costa jrs Serious Growth Training Strategy #3 on Sunday.Its 18 week program suggests Anobolic diet.I am starting at 3000 calories,as BW x 18=3258(close enough?).
Can I/should I use creatine?
Can I/should I ingest 30g carbs in liquid form post training?
Can I/should I do cardio(i do 20 min immediately after training)
These are my queries.
2011-05-01mark
 I've been on this diet for a week and my body fat has went up also. I haven't cheated at all and have been following it very strictly. Anyone any ideas why that would be?
2011-04-16Aash
 Ive been on the diet for 2 weeks. Although i have gained weight, its been mostly fat! My diet has been 55 % Fat 40 % Pro and 5 % carbs. No cheating whatsoever and eating 16x bodyweight. How is it that i am gaining fat? Im working my butt of in the gym 4 days a week as well!
2011-04-08Craig
 Hi Steve, at 12% body fat a shorter time on the carb loading phase maybe beneficial. If you study the book the author recommends not to let body fat go over 10% so this maybe where you will need to make an alteration.

Hi Phil, you said you were unclear on whether the results outweigh the health risks? Exactly what health risks are you concerned about?

Good look to both you with the diet and comp!
2011-03-28steve
 I m competing with phil and also on the same diet. But I ve been told to have only carbs on a saturday night before bed for only one hour my body fat is at aorund 12 percent at the moment. Do you belive there is sufficient time within this hour too spike my insulin level. Looking forward to your response. Cheers
2011-03-16Phil
 I am currently on this diet as a means of getting ready for a bodybuilding show. So far so good, i find going back to no carbs after the carb up is always very stressful on the mind, but i cannot beleive how effective this diet is. Its not clear at this point weather the results outweigh the health risks, but i will see. I try to keep the fats 50 50, being the ratio of saturated and good fats. Im getting right diced, will keep updated. Cheers
 Great to hear that it's working for you Phil! If you can report back on your final progress, I'm sure others would like to hear it.
2010-12-16Luigi
 Just stick with the diet, you'll see what I'm talking about
2010-12-01Jon
 I have a concern. I am on day 4 of the diet and I seem to be gaining fat! I had my bf% checked before I started and I was at 13%. It's been four days and I can barely see my abs anymore. What gives? I thought you were supposed to lose water weight the first week. But i am looking smoother than i have in months. I am in Ketosis and my calories are at 3,000. My macros are 65, 30, 5. F/P/C. I've read the book and have been doing a ton of reading on the net. I am not sure if I should stick with it or bail. Any suggestions would really help. Thanks.
2010-07-06Peter
 I am a natural bodybuilder . can I gain mass on this diet ? thanks
2010-07-03Sean
 Just read the Anabolic Solution for Bodybuilders 3rd edition, Dr. Dipasquale has said that it replaces the Anabolic diet. I've used this diet which much success, my anabolic and healthy hormones are going through the roof. Love this diet, remember this is not a simple low carb diet, its a phase shift diet where you maximize the anabolic and decrease the catabolic hormones. This doctor spent 4 decades fine tuning it and there is a picture of him in the anabolic solution for Bodybuilders book where he is 40 years old and RIPPED. The author is highly credential and really walks the walk. Great Fitness book!!
2010-07-03Newbie
 Can you use this diet on a steroid cycle.
2010-06-03ironwheel
 While all these other posts are very old (4 yrs), I would like to throw in my 2 cents for people who may stumble on to this when researching the AD.

Despite the controversy, despite what some assume this diet to do/be, and despite what this site suggests are limitations, the Anabolic Diet is the best diet I have ever followed.

I am a natural non-competitive bodybuilder who has tried various low carb diets, high carb diets, cyclical carb diets, ketogenic diets, etc. and in terms of muscle gained, strength gained, and ability to stay lean, the AD is unbelievable.

This thread has various followers updating regularly and reporting their gains:

http://tnation.tmuscle.com/free_online_forum/diet_performance_nutrition_supplements/my_experience_on_the_anabolic_diet

There is much explanation here, as well as some amazing gains AND losses. Remember, the AD works amazingly for both. My suggestion is to suspend disbelief and put aside everything you thought you knew about human physiology in response to nutrients, and give it your all for six weeks, following the written program to a T.

Good luck!

Ironwheel
 Great comments - thanks for sharing!
2010-05-13Christian
 Hi victor. A good suitable workout suggestion is the "stronglifts 5x5" (google) fullbody-based workout. This includes Squat as the main exercise. The key is to bring paper and pen to the gym, record your sets&reps, and add weight to the bar when i.e. 5x5 is performed with proper form. This type of natural progression work very well for me.
2010-03-04Luigi
 I really like this diet, it's great to getting ripped and huge, I love it!
2010-01-30Gavin
 I did no carbs for almost a year and felt great!

Energy levels were stable so I could concentrate for longer etc.
Never really felt sluggish.

I read Dr Gregory Ellis's "Ultimate Diet Secrets" and would thoroughly recommend it as it explains a lot of the science with independent research.
http://www.targetedbodysystems.com/


The two downsides to this diet for me were:
the cost - you pay more for meat than you do for bread
the social aspect - I gave up because I found myself in too many social situations where my dietary habits were becoming a nuisance.

Back on it now! Loving it :)
 Gavin, thanks for sharing your experience with it.
2010-01-29J
 I tried the diet once before and felt great. I was getting stronger every week. Eating 18x my body weight was too much for me though. I would have to say the joys of eating anything on the weekend can make you gain excessive weight if you dont follow the diet correctly. I used to get sugar coma's on the weekends from all the carbs. I would want to just pass out after a huge carb meal. I didnt count the carbs or pay much attention to the types of carbs either.

I started up the diet again on my 2nd week and looking forward to the weekend carb load. I will be more selective my my carbs and will also count to make sure I dont eat an excessive amount. Weekend carb loads should be fairly clean. I feel good and have dropped about 8 lbs since I started. I also have more energy eating this way then the traditional diet.

BTW, I'm no Dr. but I dont think any Dr. is ever going to approve of this diet even if its been proven to work. Too much controversy and too much $$$$ involved!!! The gov't has us believe that carbs are good for you and that fat is bad for us. Can you tell me why the U.S. is leading the way in obesity and heart disease??

BTW dont forget to eat your greens ( in my case I prefer to drink them ) no matter what diet your on. This way you keep your body alkalized and you stay healthy longer. An acidic body can cause havoc on your health.
 
2010-01-16Horse
 Distinguish between animal fat (saturated and possibly healthy) and vegetable oils (which I avoid) except for coconut oil
2010-01-08Eli
 Hello everyone first of all i would like to say that i am currently on the second week of this diet, and i feel great.

It is tough to get used to at first but it it really will do wonders for your body, unless you have a high Chol. issue

So please stop with the negetivity The man who wrote this not only has a PHD but he has the knowledge of common sense, he is world powerlifting champ in five different weight classes.
He is not just booksmart he has provided us with the functionallity of a real diet winner here so try it out

Also at the back of the book it is Full of his list of sources for all his information. He doesn't claim one thing that has not been backed up by pure science.

I do agree with FHM to a certain extent.. about how the metabolism works on a homeostasis level.. but i do not feel he has the right to bash this diet...

Look up the thousands of positive reviews on this diet before you let one person who probably hasn't even tried it sway your permanent opinion

Well good luck everyone in your future fitness goals
2009-05-22AE
 Eating cholesterol does not lead to high cholesterol, in fact it often has the opposite effect. Also do not be afraid of saturated fats, but only use high quality fats (organic grass fed butter, virgin coconut oil etc) stay away from anything hydrogenated. MCT's (Medium Chain Triglycerides (found in coconut oil among other things) are used immediately by the body for energy and not stored. Eat as close to the original food as possible (avoid processed meats), this is how we survived for thousands of years, why would it kill us now??
Read the books "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon, any of the books or fat research done by Dr. Mary Enig, and check out the Weston Price foundation website for local sources of high quality meat and dairy.
2008-10-31Stella
 please give me simple Anabolic diet tips... to reduce fast and in a safe method

Thanks
Stella
2008-09-06ken
 i have been on the diet several times , usually just to trim up. I have had very good results with the diet with my weight lifting ect. My brother was on the diet for a little over 1 year and had a full physical. The doctor said his cholesterol ect was low and to keep doing whatever he had been doing because he was healthy as a horse.. But my girlfriend has tried the diet now for 5 weeks and being very strict with my guidance and still sees no weightloss . Would you have any sugguestion?
2008-06-14dieter
 just try the diet. it works extremely well for losing fat. try to eat good fats and dont go overboard on calories. you need to remember that ur on a diet. it does work.
2008-06-12gary d
 i have been following a very similar diet for quite a long time with good results -- i am an endurance athlete (runner), and find that i am not getting "skinny" despite plenty of running, and easily maintain muscle mass from just 1-2 short upper body workouts/wk. The concerns about "cholesterol" or "saturated fat" are understandable, but are based on current popular nutrition theory, which you are going to have to get over in order to follow a high-fat diet successfully. either "they" are right, or dr. atkins, etc. are right, i suggest you read some of the low-carb books and what they say about cholesterol and make up your own mind. better yet, follow the diet and see how you feel - you may change your mind about which are the healthy foods and which are not! I started eating this way because it cured my chronic acid reflux - I find it hard to believe an "unhealthy" diet would cure a disease.
2008-05-12J
 Can this insulin spike on the weekends lead to the development of type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance?
2007-11-02Gwar
 Dr. DiPasquale comments in his book that the "Anabolic Diet can even reduce serum cholesterol (pg 29)." How long can / should I remain on the diet before I get re-checked on cholesterol. 6 months? less? Is there a doctor anywhere in this day and time that would give a thumbs up to this?
2007-10-29ve
 i think this diet is effective, and i can eat fried chicken again, b4 i've tried low fat diet,and it didn't work.....i mean i can get my abs muscle...
so i try high fats diet, and i can see my abs muscle now, and i can eat all high fats food that i want...but remember to reduce the risk of heart disease, i prefer to use good fats as my main fat....
2007-10-04FHM
 I wish you to stop promoting this kind of diet, because they are devastating for the body. If you lose fat fast, you really screw up your metabolism.

You got the metabolism/catabolism equation all wrong. It's not a thing that you can turn on and off as you feel like it.

The metabolism works on homeostasis, this means that you can't tipp the scales from one to another. You have to build down the intake in a healthy way. Eat low carb and fiber and drink plenty of water and of course for bodyshaping work out.

There are much better diets around that do exactly that. You get a good nutrient diet with plenty of variety (this makes it much easier to keep on the diet). Eat more vegetables and fruit and no overdoing on the calories like this one.
 Thanks for providing a counter argument to Pascal's description of the high-fat diet. Clearly there are extremely important issues one needs to consider before embarking on such a plan.
2007-08-18Shamar Olivas
 During the period which my body is adjusting, would I see any results as in losing body fat as I'm on this diet?

Am i going to gain weight for a couple weeks and then lose it once the body adjusts? Seems just as counterproductive as the "mainstream" way.

I'm nervous about all the fat in the diet because 3 months ago b4 i started at the gym and changing my diet the doctor told me I had high cholesterol. (BTW Is there a way to test it without going to the doctor?) Thinking about trying this diet makes me very nervous, as i'm worried about the risk of heart disease
 Perhaps others who have given it a try can chime in, but I would suggest that this diet should only be undertaken by those who have run it by their doctor (a high cholesterol issue might make such a diet a less advisable option).
2007-07-26jack
 what about a post workout shake, is that an exception and can there be carbs in this?
2007-06-07bob the builder
 hey i was wonderin i take steroids and i was wondering will this diet work for me?
2007-05-04Cobra
 I've have found some bad qualities when trying this diet.
  • Not much food to choose from.
  • Very tasteless food.
  • You don't eat much.
  • Based on the Atkin's diet. (very bad diet)
  • In the long run risk of getting heart disease.
  • I think there is a chance that the body will get used to this diet and muscle increase will be much slower.
2006-09-21Cobra
 Yeah, I'll give it a try. But a little worried about transfat and saturated fat.
 A diet like this must only be started after checking with your doctor to see if it suits you! There are certainly some negative issues with the diet, but for those who have exhausted other avenues, it's worth looking into.
2006-07-08Gabriel
 Hi... I'm from Venezuela, been reading about the anabolic diet a lot... it's interesting and I'm understanding it... but I'm wondering something... it's recommnended all kinds of cheeses, and tocino, ham, but, what about the high sodium that they contain? will that make me hold too much water? I'm trying to get ripped... and burn all the fat possible... I hope your reply... thank you very much!!!
 I believe that you should be OK with the additional sodium (from a water gain perspective), but when you're nearing your competition time / goals, cut back on your sodium intake and you should be able to quickly drop the excess water.
2006-05-30Mike
 I am currently using M1T. I was told to eat foods that are high in fat. What kind of foods would be the best?
2006-04-12victor
 hello, how are you?
wanted to ask what the proper training protocol would be on the anabolic diet?
would the normal routine of 1 bodypart per week work?
is it important to eat, after the workout, like on a mixed diet?

thank you.

 


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