If you’ve been struggling to put on muscle, lose weight and bust through training plateaus this anabolic diet guide and meal plan is for you.
Many people have a similar goal; Lose weight and build muscle, yet we all struggle. With a new diet coming out every week it can be even more difficult to find what works.
Chances are if you are reading this you’ve tried all the other diets; high carb, high protein, IIFYM diet and not found what works for you.
High carbohydrate diets have long been used to increase the strength of power athletes but in some cases, this promotes unwanted weight gain.
High protein diets have been used to promote strength adaptations but are highly taxing on the internal systems in the body.
To find the best balance between weight loss, muscle strength and overall health Dr. Mauro DiPasquale created the Anabolic Diet – the best diet for optimal performance and body composition.
What is the Anabolic Fasting Diet
If your goal is to put on muscle and lose weight, chances are you’ve looked into anabolic supplements, maybe even steroids. Dr. DiPasquale created the anabolic diet because of the steroid-like effects he observed while users followed this meal plan.
The anabolic diet promotes changes in strength, weight loss, and total testosterone. The anabolic diet works on 5+2 day cycles. The diet is five days of low-carbohydrates, high fat and high protein, followed by 2 days of high carbohydrate, moderate protein, and very low fat.
The recommended allowance for carbohydrates during low carbohydrate days (weekdays) is less than 30g a day. This 30g correlates to about the amount you would obtain from one banana.
How does this Diet Produce Anabolic Effects?
How could it be possible that a diet low in carbohydrates can produce massive advancements in strength, fat loss and overall improvement of body composition?
The answer lies in the diets regulation of various macronutrients.
Variation in Macronutrients
Carbohydrates are a source of glycogen to fuel muscle. Low amounts of carbohydrates during the week will lead to greater fat oxidation and improvements in body composition. Increasing the amount for 1-2 days will replenish glycogen stores for the harder early-week workouts.
Notice that protein intake remains fairly consistent throughout. This regulation of protein will ensure that you have a consistent amount of protein, and their respective amino acid stores in the body to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
Don’t forget carbohydrates have also been shown to increase the rate of protein absorption. This could be the reason Dr. DiPasquale recommends eating a high carb, moderate protein, and low-fat diet 1-2 days a week. This cycle will enable glycogen resynthesis, muscle-protein synthesis and overall recovery for the next cycle.
Cycles in the Anabolic Diet
The anabolic diet works in three cycles; the induction phase, bulking phase and cutting phase. Each phase of the program is built to move you toward your goal of optimal body composition.
The anabolic diet is very different than anything you may have tried before. It is crucially important for you to stay consistent on the anabolic diet for one month. This initial phase is used to orient your body to the type of stress, recovery, and performance the diet will provide.
Think of this phase as a trial run. You may not see massive increases in strength or body composition in this phase as your body will need to adhere to the diet. Stay focused and trust that the diet will work. The induction phase follows the same 5+2 day format for around 4-6 weeks. The provides your body with adequate time to condition to the stress of the diet.
The second phase of the anabolic diet is a bulk. Traditional to many strength programs a bulking phase is used to put on as much clean weight as possible prior to a cut. This phase should not be skipped, even if your goal is weight loss it is important to set your body into a highly anabolic state so that you do not lose muscle mass (common in cutting phases).
Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale, the created of the anabolic diet recommends eating 20-25 calories per pound of bodyweight. If you weigh 150 pounds (≈68kg), this means you would eat about 3000-3300 calories daily, following your macronutrient split for each respective day.
The bulking phase should be done for an excess of 3-4 weeks, or until you have achieved the level of muscle tissue you desire. If you have no interest in putting on muscle you can enter the cutting phase directly from the induction phase, but be mindful that you may lose muscle density.
This is when the real results will start to show. During the bulking phase, you would start to experience a surplus of energy, and you may have it new personal bests in lifting. During the cutting phase is when you will lose weight, effectively burn fat and improve overall body competition.
It is recommended that you maintain a strict deficit of 30-35% while maintaining your traditional macronutrient split on your 5+2 schedule. Assuming you put on 20 lbs (≈9kg) during the bulking phase you would now weigh in at 170 pounds (≈77kg), increasing your caloric requirements to around 3800. In order to maintain a caloric deficit and achieve optimal cutting through this phase, we want to take about 30% off this. This would bring your daily calories to 2650/day.
It is important to note that a safe amount of weight to cut each week is around 1-1.5 pounds/week.
If you are losing more than this you should increase your calories.
If you are not losing 1 pound per week then you should decrease the amount of calories you ingest.
Finding the balance will take time, but once it is achieved you can utilize the cutting phase for weeks, as needed.
How to Start the Anabolic Diet
Now that we have a good understanding of the diet and its respective benefits, how do you get started?
Getting started on the anabolic diet requires a few simple steps:
1. Weigh in and determine goals
Before you start any training you need to weigh in and determine your goals. Depending on your goals of weight loss, fat loss and adaptations in strength you should have a variation on overall caloric consumption. Having a basic overview of your overall body composition can also be a very effective way to get a baseline measurement of your overall fitness.
For an easy and reliable body composition measurement, we recommend using the hip/waist ratio calculator. For more information on the hip-waist ratio, read here.
2. Alter your training program
Working out without carbohydrates will be extremely difficult for the first 1-2 weeks. You will lack energy and force production. Your body will need to adapt to the different levels of glycogen in the muscle, and better utilize the amount you provide on the 1-2 days you consume carbohydrates.
Take care to structure your workout program so that the most difficult workouts of the week fall 24-48 hours after you consume your 1-2 days of high carb/low fat split. In this way, your body will get used to training hard on days only when it has more glycogen available, and will slowly become efficient at utilizing the amount provided.
3. Go shopping
The anabolic diet requires a highly specific and somewhat strict diet regime. Below you will see a sample meal plan for the anabolic diet.
Anabolic Diet Meal Plan
Sample Weekday Meal Plan – High Fat, Moderate Protein, Low Carbohydrate
- 5 slices turkey bacon
- 4 whole eggs, scrambled
- 1 handful of walnuts
- 300g Ground Beef with Shredded Cheese
- 50g Cabbage Leaves
- 1 handful of Almonds
- 2 chicken breasts (about 8 oz.)
- 100g Bacon Bits
- 1 handful of Pistachios
- 100g Greek Style Salad with cheese
- 1 Zero Carb Protein Bar (150g)
- 1 Whole Milk, Protein shake (500ml)
- 1 handful of Beef Jerky
Weekend Sample Meal Plan – Low Fat, Moderate Protein, High Carbohydrate
|Oatmeal with Protein Powder
|1.5 cup (cooked)
|2 cups (cooked)
|2 breasts (about 8 oz.)
|Whole Grain Pasta
|Lean Ground Beef/Chicken
|Pasta Sauce with Vegetables
|Sweet Potato Home Fries
|Sprouted Grain Bread with Hummus
|2 slices, 50g hummus
Now that you have all the ingredients necessary for success the last thing to do is get started. Before you jump into the anabolic diet let’s take a quick glance at the potential benefits and downfalls of this type of diet.
Perceived Benefits of The Anabolic Diet
- Increase Fat Loss
Research shows that a high-fat diet is capable of pushing your body through a fat oxidation phase enables you to effectively utilize fat as fuel, burning it as energy.
- Easy Weight Gain
A High-Fat diet is the easiest type of diet to put on weight. You will not lose weight on this diet unless you are in the cutting phase, fats just have too many calories per gram. If you’re entering the anabolic diet with the goal of putting on weight during the bulk, especially dense muscle tissue this diet is for you.
- More Testosterone and Growth Hormone
The main reason Dr. DiPasquale created the anabolic diet was due to its steroid-like effects. The higher intake of saturated fats has been shown to increase testosterone, growth hormone and IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor – 1).
- Count Macros over Calories
Counting calories can be ever taxing. On the anabolic diet, you are more concerned with overall macronutrient ratios; once you find the happy balance you can just roll with it and not stress about the calories.
Potential Downfalls of the Anabolic Diet
- Increased Cholesterol Levels
Looking over your meal plan it’s easy to see that this diet will induce greater cholesterol levels. There is a significant amount of research to show that a diet high in saturated fats promotes high cholesterol, heart disease, and even cancer.
- Low Fibre Intake
Any diet that restricts carbohydrates will lack fiber. Fibre is an indigestible source of carbohydrates that keep you regular and promotes health and wellness. Lack of fiber can result in high blood pressure, lack of weight loss and more.
- Lack of Energy
Without a constant supply of carbohydrates, your body will struggle to thrive in the gym or cognitively. It will take weeks for your body to adapt to the low levels of carbohydrates. Move into the process slowly and consult a physician before attempting this.
- Acid Indigestion and Bloating
Very common among diets with high intakes of meat and protein in general. Animal-based proteins and fats are very difficult to digest. Our body produces hydrochloric acid to break down the nutrients into digestible forms, this can lead to indigestion and bloating.
Should You try the Anabolic Diet?
The most important aspect to consider for the anabolic diet is commitment. Although you are not completely concerned with counting calories you will need to measure each meal, coming as close as possible to the needed macronutrient count.
This is not a diet where you can go out with friends, grab a drink and kick back with some junk food. This diet works because it is structured. Your body received the same calories from specific nutrients week in and week out, powering strong workouts and effective fat loss strategies.
With this in mind, this may not be the best diet regime for the introductory user. If you have been training for a couple of years, understand the commitment needed to adhere to this style of diet and have weighed the pros and cons then enjoy the anabolic effects this diet will provide.
CSEP – CPT, Expert in Exercise Physiology
Gabriello is a writer and strength expert best known for his science-based and practical approach to Exercise Physiology, Nutrition and Strength. After serving in a directors position for The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology Gabriello moved towards writing to help more people understand the importance of living a healthy life. Gabriello’s writings have been published in several languages on some of the largest health and fitness websites helping people learn, grow and understand the complex components of optimizing human performance in a simplistic way.
Gabriello also takes on specialized, high-performance athletes who are in need of strength, mobility and conditioning programming to optimize their fitness through his Earned Fitness program.