My Definition Of A Low Carb Diet
Low Carb (less than 50 or even 30 grams a day), high protein, high fat diets work. The reason they do is the following: After the initial adaptation period, around 2 weeks, in the absence of carbohydrates, the body has no choice but to go into a state of ketosis (carbohydrate depravation) and start burning fats for fuel (this is assuming that more than 50% of your calories are coming from good essential fatty acids (Good fats like Olive Oil, Fish Oils and Flaxseed Oil).
Basically, what happens is that your body shifts its carbohydrate metabolism into an exclusively fat burning metabolism. Now, like any diet, the same basic principles apply. Even though you will be burning fats exclusively this does not mean that you will be able to eat everything and anything without getting fat. Remember that if you take in more calories than what you burn, then you will get fat.
My Experiences With These Diets
I have tried such diets for as much as a whole year at a time. In my opinion based on the experiences I have had, the following are the drawbacks:
- As you can imagine, if you are only allowed for 30-50 grams of carbohydrates a day, then your life will not be very tasty. You will only be limited to a small selection of foods. (Not that this matters to us hardcore bodybuilders as we eat for functionality not for pleasure).
- Even though at the beginning you lose incredible amounts of weight, it is mostly water weight. I also did not found a big difference between losing fat in a low carb diet and losing fat on a MODERATE carbohydrate diet (there is a huge difference however between trying to lose weight in a low carb diet and a high carb). Both diets provide similar benefits.
- While on a low carbohydrate diet, the muscles feel flat (shrink in size) due to the fact that the glycogen (the carbohydrates that are stored inside the muscle cell and make the muscles look firm) gets depleted. This was probably the biggest drawback for me. On a moderate carbohydrate diet, your muscles always feel firm and tight.
- I experienced joint pains after the 9th month on the diet (this only happened on the third time that I tried it in my ten years of bodybuilding). I was drinking 2 gallons of water a day so lack of fluids was not the problem. I wonder if it the lack of carbs caused the fluid in the joints to diminish but this is mere speculation.
Once I switched back to a moderate carb diet, the joint pains disappeared. I am still dumbfounded about this as this effect never happened to me before the first two times that I tried this diet.
- You have to pay close attention to your cholesterol levels and to nutritional deficiencies caused by the lack of variety in the diet.
- In order to get all the good fats in the diet, I had to take them in liquid form; not very tasty when you are drinking it with protein and water.
Now that I have talked about what I found to be the drawback, I will talk about the good points (I gave you the bad news first. Now I give you the good ones). However, before I go into that, I would like to elaborate on the type of diet that I was following.
The Anabolic Diet
There are many ways to implement a Low Carbohydrate diet but the way that I have always used is the Anabolic Diet from Dr. Mauro DiPasquale that calls for 5 days of Low Carb dieting and a weekend of High Carbs. I believe that if you are a bodybuilder, this is the best way to go as you get that anabolic insulin spike during the weekends that enables you to plug in all those carbs right into the muscle cells.
I tried this diet on my fifth year of bodybuilding. It is important to know that I had not made any good gains for that past year. It was the middle of November and I was due to get married on December 17. I wanted to be in the best shape of my life on my wedding date.
Since I had made no gains during that year, I knew that I had to break the rules and "think out of the box" so to speak. I already had read articles about Dr. Mauro's High Fat Diet (as it was called back then) and had always been intrigued by the idea. So... I decided to give it a try even though it almost gave my family a heart attack. In addition to the dietary change, I decided to do something radical with my training as well.
Being influenced by old MuscleMag articles of the Blonde Bomber. I decided to bomb myself out Golden Era style with a slight modification. Since I still was in College I could not afford 3 hour workouts all at a time. What I did instead is that I divided the sessions in 3 (no typo here folks) sessions of 45 minutes each (Hit each bodypart 3 times a week with 15 sets each).
1 in my home gym in the morning, 1 at noon in school and the evening one at home. Next week I will cover the specifics of the workout just in case there are some Bombers out there that want to try something similar. I will also recommend ways to modify it for Once a day and twice a day training sessions.
Anyway, the reason I decided to go with such protocol was the following:
- If the diet produced the extra testosterone that Dr. Dipasquale claimed, then I would be able to recover and grow. This was a great training protocol to put the diet to the test.
- Such a workout (they were fast paced and included plenty of supersets - click here for the workout) would keep my heart healthy.
- My body was in some dire need of a shock.
Below are the results that I got in 30 days (this is no joke and remember that Dr. DiPasquale is not paying for my testimonial)
Chest: 45 inches (been there for 1.5 years)
Arms: 15 inches
Legs: 24 inches
Calves: 14.5 inches
Waist: 34 inches
Weight: 175 lbs (182 over the weekends when carbs were high)
Chest: 48.5 inches
Arms: 16 inches
Legs: 26 inches
Calves: 15.5 inches
Waist: 32 inches
If it would be someone else writing about this I would say that this could not be true but I have witnesses (ask anyone in my family) or ask the people that had to fix the measurements of my Tuxedo at the last minute.
Unfortunately, I have been unable to replicate such results again the other two times that I have gotten in the diet (even though I do put muscle quicker every time I go in it). It is probably due to the fact that the shock when I change to such diet is not as great anymore as it was when I did it the first time (the body remembers). My body is also pretty used to doing 10 or even 15 sets of the same exercise (that is also one of the reasons I know that my program was successful - this was the first time that I had done that).
In any case, I dropped the diet after 6 months as everyone in my family kept nagging me about me dying of a heart attack, etc, etc, so just to get them off my back I decided to get off and follow a moderate carbohydrate diet.
In my opinion, this diet did indeed provided me with higher testosterone levels and faster recuperation capabilities. The results speak for themselves. I also got increased strength gains, increased energy and focus, and increased fat loss as I was putting enormous amounts of muscle in a very short period of time. I also noticed that I was able to eat more without getting fat.
Therefore, I strongly believe that if you have never tried something like this, you are experiencing a plateau and are ready to try something new, to go ahead and go for it. However, remember to check your cholesterol, keep the good fats handy, take your daily multiples, and drink plenty of water. Also, I would not recommend such schedule for diabetics, or people suffering from heart disease.
I hope that anyone out there that tries this diet gets the same results that I did.