Are you interested in getting fit and building muscle but also have a bit of extra fat? Most diets that help with weight loss cause you to end up losing muscle mass too, so you might feel like you are stuck having to choose between destroying your fat or growing muscle.
The anabolic diet claims to solve this problem by helping you shed fat while also getting ripped.
Keep reading to find out if it’s really as good as it claims to be.
What is anabolic fasting?
You can learn about all the science of the anabolic fast later in this guide, but essentially, an anabolic fast manipulates carbohydrate and fat intake to try to optimise muscle growth and fat loss.
It involves cycling between meals with high fats, high proteins, and low carbs, meals with moderate amounts of carbs, and meals with huge amounts of carbs.
As the name implies, this eating method is a type of intermittent fasting. People fast for 16 hours a day and eat in eight hours.
Who is Cory Gregory?
As soon as you start looking into the anabolic diet, you’ll find lots of people talking about Cory Gregory. Who is this?
Cory Gregory is the man who popularized and fine tuned this innovative and revolutionary diet.
After opening his first gym at the age of 20, Cory discovered the anabolic diet and launched the Musclepharm sports nutrition brand.
He is now a world famous powerlifter, fitness expert, and model. In addition to being a NESTA certified coach and a licensed Cross Fit trainer, Cory has also participated in over 30 powerlifting competitions.
What is the anabolic diet and who invented it?
The anabolic diet was a type of eating protocol developed by Dr. Mauro DiPasquale. The anabolic diet is similar to anabolic fasting, but it does not necessarily involve fasting.
On the weekend, the anabolic diet encourages people to eat carbohydrates. This builds muscle glycogen stores to allow anabolic muscle growth.
Adding the intermittent fasting concept to a basic anabolic diet is what creates the anabolic fast that gives you the full benefits of improved muscle growth and reduced fat.
What can you eat on the anabolic diet?
What can you eat on this diet? Just about anything!
Part of the reason the anabolic diet works so well is because you can enjoy a variety of foods instead of restricting yourself on an unsustainable diet.
You can eat healthy lean meats, whole grains, and veggies, or you can have pizza and a mug of beer.
The key to success is simply knowing when to eat certain meals. You have to take the time to figure out the amount of fats, proteins, and carbs and make sure your meal has the right ratio.
Can you make your body anabolic? What does that mean and how do you do it?
Anabolism is essentially just the process of using energy to construct new bodily tissue while catabolism is breaking down bodily tissue to produce energy.
You yourself cannot become anabolic, but you can increase your anabolic sensitivity. This means your body is more likely to use ingested nutrition to make muscles or other body tissue.
It is possible to trigger anabolism and increase anabolic sensitivity through a variety of means. One of the most common is simply working out.
Eating large doses of protein, getting enough sleep, doing high intensity exercises, and altering hormone levels can all improve anabolic sensitivity (1).
What are the most anabolic foods?
Anabolic foods tend to be items that contain a lot of fat or protein.
Protein encourages anabolism by providing the nutrients needed to build muscles. Fat helps to regulate the production of testosterone, androgen, and other hormones that affect anabolism.
Good options include:
- Full-fat dairy
- Animal meat
Anabolism is also triggered by insulin. Eating fiber-rich carbs, like those found in whole grains, potatoes, legumes, and fruits, can make the body more sensitive to insulin.
How do you do Anabolic Fasting?
Okay, now that you know a bit about it, you’re probably wondering, “how do I actually follow this diet?” Here’s a detailed breakdown of how to do an anabolic fast.
Anabolic Fasting Protocol
Throughout the diet, you are on an intermittent fasting protocol. This means you only eat during an eight hour window that takes place between afternoon to evening.
You should always aim to have a snack with carbs right before bed.
The protocol starts with a few weeks of getting your body used to the diet. You spend 12 days eating zero carbs. Then you continue with two days of intensely high carb eating to reset insulin levels.
After this reset period, you go to alternating between five days in a row of 40 percent protein, 60 percent fat meals with no more than 25 grams of carbs and two days in a row of 15 percent protein, 25 percent fat, 60 percent carbs.
Most people plan their low carb and high carb cycle to correspond to weekdays and weekends.
Anabolic Fasting Food List
Being on this diet requires a good understanding of what counts as high fat, high carb, and high protein meals.
High carb foods are:
High fat foods are:
- Olive oil
- Fatty meats
High protein foods are:
- Lean meat
- Protein supplements
Sample Meal Plan for Anabolic Fasting
When you are in the first 12 days of your diet, it can be hard to find meals with close to zero carbs. Here’s a typical day for the period when you are fasting from all carbs:
- Three eggs, an ounce of cheese, and three strips of bacon for your first meal of the day
- Steak, baked fish, and a spinach salad for dinner
- A few slices of ham and some broccoli for a snack
Low Carb Day Meal Plan
After your two week fast, a normal low carb meal day looks something like this:
- Two turkey sausage links, a scoop of cottage cheese, and three whole eggs cooked in olve oil
- A spoonful of peanut butter
- 2 scoops whey protein after workout
- Grilled vegetables, a pork chop, and an Italian sausage.
- A serving of Greek yogurt
High Carb Day Meal Plan
Here’s a common meal plan for a high carb day:
- Whole wheat pancakes topped with fresh fruit, whipped cream, and maple syrup.
- Two large burritos loaded with beans, rice, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and mojo pork.
- A scoop of ice cream.
- Two glasses of beer.
Is this another cheat day diet?
It is important to emphasize that this diet is not one of those diets where you’re supposed to alternate between starving and binging.
The ability to eat carbs on the weekend has a real, scientific purpose instead of just being a way to give you a break from the diet.
To get the best results, you still have to pay attention to what you eat every day and make sure you eat roughly the right amount of calories.
That being said, there are days on the diet where you are encouraged to eat “non-diet” foods.
This can be a good way to keep you from being deprived of your favorite foods, so you can stay motivated.
What does the science say about the anabolic diet?
There hasn’t been any studies done specifically on the anabolic fasting, but there is plenty of research on carb cycling and intermittent fasting, the two key components of the diet.
Anabolic Fasting Benefits backed by science
Research finds that intermittent fasting can help people lose weight, live longer, reduce heart disease risks, and sleep better (5).
A 2018 study also discovered that higher protein intake could help people lose weight without losing fat (6).
Risks and downsides backed by science
The shifts between high and low carbohydrate meals can cause some blood sugar problems, so it is not recommended for those with diabetes.
Avoiding vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes on weekdays may cause nutritional deficiencies and digestive issues if done for extensive amounts of time.
Chronic high fat consumption can also lead to heart disease, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome, so this diet is not recommended for long term use (4).
It works better as a short diet over the course of a few months.
Anabolic Fasting Results, Before and After
Youtube Case Studies
Check out the impressive results of these YouTubers.
- Andrea Ocejo’s Carb Cycle – Learn a little about how this model cycles off and on carbs for impressive results.
- Anabolic Aliens’ Intermittent Fast – This 6 week body transformation examines the experience behind trying an intermittent fast.
- Sion Monty’s Before and After – This before and after shows how Sion Monty’s looks changed after the first 12 day adaptation phase of the diet.
Article Case Studies
Interested in finding out more? Here are the blogs for some people who have had success with the anabolic diet:
How much weight do people typically lose using anabolic fasting or the anabolic diet?
Your total weight will not change as much on the anabolic fast as on other diets. This happens because you are building new muscle while losing fat.
Most people who follow the diet properly find that they experience a weight loss of about one pound per week.
Some may find their body weight stays the same, but their body fat percentage decreases as muscle takes the place of fat.
Anabolic Fasting Reddit threads
Reddit has a lot of great sources for people interested in fitness. Check out these helpful threads.
- The 16:8 diet thread – This Reddit thread goes over a lot of the science behind fasting for 16 hours and eating in an 8 hour window each day.
- Cheap, healthy, and low-carb meals – Get ideas for your low carb meal plans from this useful thread on a popular dieting subreddit.
- Anabolic fasting experiences – Read a little about people’s experiences following the anabolic fast diet.
Is anabolic fasting safe for women?
Since women have slightly different dietary needs than men, it is worth considering whether the diet will affect them differently
According to 2005 research, intermittent fasting does not affect insulin levels as dramatically for women (2). Therefore, they may not notice as many results.
There is also some 2013 research showing that intermittent fasting can negatively impact a woman’s hormonal and menstrual cycles (3).
Basically, the anabolic diet is generally safe for women. However, it may not be advisable for women trying to get pregnant and might not be quite as effective for women.
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