22 September 2010

Simple as A, B, Bloody C, D, E!

I mentioned in a previous blog that I was a bit of a fan of a guy of whom you've likely never heard, Torbjorn Akerfeldt.  Akerfeldt is a former bodybuilder and doctor who pioneered a pretty innovative diet in the 1990s called the ABCDE diet, which Bill Phillips jocked like it was the second coming of Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Why?  Because based on Akerfeldt's theories, you can diet hard for two weeks, then blow your diet completely for two weeks, and still get bigger and lose fat.
Did this douche actually get something right?

For obvious reasons, this diet's been hit with a massive amount of scrutiny, and no longer really gets any press.  The science behind it, however, is compelling, and I'm of the opinion that it can be incorporated into one's diet, however sparingly.  How sparingly?  I'm of the opinion that if you diet your ass off for a couple of months, this might just be the way to get your body anabolic again, throw on some muscle in a hurry, and get your head right after weeks of deprivation.  

Ideally, you end up as lean as Andreas Munzer, though hopefully less dead.

How it works:

This diet's about as simple as they come- overeat for 2 weeks, then undereat for two weeks, then repeat ad nauseum.  According to Akerfeldt, you should end up with a net lean muscle gain and overall fat loss, no matter how shitty your diet during the two weeks.  Protein intake is not an issue on this diet, as the only thing you're tracking on this diet is caloric intake- you want 1000 surplus calories during the overfeeding period and a caloric deficit of the same in the underfeeding period, with no restrictions or recommendations on macronutrients.

I wouldn't be surprised to find that Lyle McDonald is at least a mild fan of this diet, as it seems to have similar aims to McDonald's Guide To Flexible Dieting- i.e. manipulation of thyroid, testosterone, and leptin.  A word to the wise, however- I've linked the studies associate with this diet, and I've yet to read a writeup on the web that's got the details recounted faithfully, accurately, or in some cases, even remotely correctly.  Science seems to support it as well, as one study shows that a 3 week period of overfeeding in a bunch of chicks resulted in an average weight gain of 9.5 lbs, of which about 4 was lean mass.  All of the subjects experienced increased testosterone, IGF-1, and insulin, which meant that they were highly anabolic.  Unfortunately, they also gained 5 lbs of fat in three weeks.  I highly doubt they were particularly psyched about this, but given that most females gain muscle at a far slower rate than men, it's definitely something for guys to consider.  In any event, the next study associated with the ABCDE diet shows that in small samples of men over 12 days, guys who ate more calories gained more muscle than fat, and guys who underate lost more fat than muscle.  I frankly found the most interesting finding in this tiny study was that fat oxidation is inversely proportional to carbohydrate intake- i.e., the less carbs you eat, the more fat you burn.  As such, it seems Akerfeldt might be making mountains out of molehills.  The final study associated with this diet investigated the effect of a caloric and nitrogen surplus on nitrogen retention, though this positive nitrogen balance was not maintained after the diet ended.  Thus, my take is that your body adapts to high protein diets by enabling itself to utilize more protein, but to reap the benefits, you've got to keep the protein high.

Lacking sufficient protein, House could only squat 315.  Tragic.

Why, then, tell you about this diet?  Because it's fucking interesting, for one, and because it could benefit you, for another.  Some excerpts from a Bill Phillips interview with Akerfeldt seem to echo my sentiments:
  • "scientific studies have reliably shown that when there is a drastic change in the diet, the body responds very swiftly and efficiently"
  • "Our genes have not evolved much during the last 100,000 years; thus, they are still developed for our hunter/gatherer and, more recently, pastoral ancestors, who, whenever they succeeded in killing an animal, lived on meat for a week or two. At other times, when they had bad luck hunting and a crop failed, they lived on a low-calorie diet. This selective pressure gave man adipose tissue with almost unlimited storage capacity and a very adaptive metabolism to cope with periods of different diets."

  • during a calorie [or any macronutrient] restricted period, the number and activity of enzymes which govern storage will increase, while the degrading enzymes and those which promote the efficiency or utilization will decrease in activity....  On the other hand, after a period of restriction, the body is now optimized for a forthcoming period of “excess” intake of calories. When this period takes place, the body will store excess calories at a tremendous rate. This applies to carbohydrates [glycogen] and is the basis for “carb loading.” It also applies to fats [triglycerides] and amino acids [proteins]. Sometimes this mechanism is called “super-compensation.”
  • "During the bulking phase of the ABCDE program, several things happen. First of all, fluid, glycogen, and amino acids are loaded into the myocyte [muscle cell]. According to Häussinger’s theory of cellular hydration5,6 and Millward’s “full-bag” theory,9 the cell will actually stretch. This stretching, or as Millward calls it, “bag filling,” occurs rapidly during the bulking phase of this system. Bag enlargement is remodeling of the connective tissue.  Remodeling is stimulated during the stretching or eccentric components of exercise and is further enhanced by the incredible pump you’ll get while training during this phase of the diet."
  • "The macronutrient profile of the diet is not nearly as important as the total-energy intake, but one could logically surmise that consuming a higher protein diet during the bulking phase may stimulate anabolic drive and produce even greater nitrogen retention. If you followed a high-carbohydrate diet during the low-calorie phase, the accompanying increase in fat oxidation would make you put on a lot of fat during the next bulking phase."
He seems to have surpassed the 2 week mark.

His recommendations for calories in the two phases:
"take your bodyweight times 12 [to approximate maintenance-calorie intake for an individual who's not extremely active] and add 1,500 calories to this number. For example, a person who weighs 200 lbs, like yourself, would consume about 4,000 calories a day during the bulking phase [200 x 12 = 2,400 + 1,500]. On the low-calorie phase, I would recommend consuming a number of calories equal to your bodyweight times eight. That would be about 1,600 calories for you [200 x 8 = 1,600]."
Periods of feast and famine work well for this fucker.

Seems fairly simple, right?  Though I might not agree with every bit of his premise, the theory is certainly enticing, especially if you know, for instance, that you'll be eating your ass off on vacation for two weeks.  Should you have such a plan, it might behoove you to undereat for two solid weeks prior to that caloric bonanza to get the most out of it (and look your best while you embark upon a Kobiyashi-style gastronomic catastrophe).  The best bit to take away from this diet- experimentation is fucking key.  Every bit of information you can pick up will be useful at some point, no matter whether you agree with the author's premise or not... but fuck you if you disagree with me.

Mary Kate Olson hates Armenian babies, too.


  1. Very interesting, might try it after a couple more keto runs

  2. Jamie, I notice you like a lot of Lyle McDonald's diet stuff; however, given your training style, what do think about his big-ass 9-part series on overtraining?

    I'm not trying to stir up shit; I'm genuinely interested as I'm sure you've read it.

  3. I don't know about much of this, but I just wanted to say that the pictures of glens weapons won me over.

  4. Wow, I didn't know that people still competed to be the first one to post something in threads. Way to go, champ.

    How many people will complain about the Armenian genocide quip at the end of this post?

  5. Have you ever read Kelly Bagget´s No Bull Muscle Building Plan? It´s also about alternating bulking-fatburning


    There you go ;)

  6. Liked the last picture. hahaha

  7. I've tried kelly's plan. Did not like.

    I think the idea behind calorie cycling is definitely valid though. But it requires a bit of experimentation by the user in order to determine the correct frequency.

    Jamie, have you done a post about recovery issues? I know you've talked about sleep and supplements, but have you done a specific post on recovery?

  8. Manveet- One on that and injury prevention/treatment are in the works.

    Damien- Thanks. I'll check it out.

    Anon- Never read them. I agree with Lyle on certain things, and not at all on others.

  9. googled munzer, holy shit i thought crack heads were addicts this guy is a fiend.

    Also, this is ceteris paribus with daily training i take it? ie; "on vacation" one is still continually training?

    Or were the results from a deviation away from training when in deficit and then when cycling in calories to facilitate training?

  10. Actually, i can't believe nobody has said anything else about the Armenian genoside. I think it's funny as fuck!! In fact the only thing that would have made it funnier would have been if they'd all been black. Or Mexican, the muthafucking muthafuckers!! Who's with me on that one, eh? KKK forever!!!

  11. Nice try, homeslice.
    I like Mexicans too much to wish that upon them.
    Way to fail.

  12. I like the idea of the overfeeding thing.

    Not so sure about the famine aspect of it though, hahaha.

  13. Conveniently enough, I've actually been trying this kind of eating plan for a month now. I've been really pleased with the results. My weight fluctuates way too much to be a good indicator of anything, but I've visibly leaned out a little, while making big gains on my lifts.
    I haven't really isolated the variables well enough to claim that the abcde thing was the primary or only contributing factor, but at least I know it can't be hurting.

  14. Yeah, my weight stays pretty much the same while I do keto, but the effects are showing more each week in the mirror. I think I'm doing it right. My strength seems to rise steadily. This diet though, I don't think I could do it.

  15. @ Simon Adebisi - You said you like Mexicans but I notice you never said you were ok with black people Simon!!! Mind you I wouldn't trust them.

  16. Me neither Christine, fuck 'em. They're ten percent of the population, yet ninety percent of the fuckers in jail are black - but what's the answer? That's why if i'm out after dark i always have my mom or dad with me.

  17. ^What's the point of all that?^ I'm sure having a conversation with yourself is entertaining to you but was it supposed to entertain us as well?

  18. How the hell are you supposed to have a decent workout while in a caloric deficit for two weeks? I can hardly wait for my cheat windows by the time Friday comes, much less go for two weeks starving myself.

  19. Good to see the blog started, Glenn. looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Please post up the link.

  20. You ever do T-bars, Jamie?

  21. Yay, my first imitator. I love you too, anonymous fake me.

    For the record I lived in New Mexico for a while so naturally, I love anyone or anything that is not Mexican.

    More than I do Mexicans anyways.

  22. I made an account for a couple of different reasons but I have no intention of ever actually posting anything to a blog. There's no point. I don't give out free training information anymore because, quite frankly, most of the people looking for it are ungrateful know-it-all kids who don't deserve it. And I don't have to expertise or the language skills to talk about anything else, so what does that leave? Blathering on about my job and my family? I don't think so.

  23. Then why did you make an account, dumbass? What the fuck IS wrong with you? It's Glenn's party and he'll cry if he wants to - cry if he wants to CRYYYY IFFF HEEE WAANNTTS TOO . . . you would (listen now everyone) cry too if it happened to you - {wiggle wiggle that red-headed muff).

  24. Glen MacCharles said...
    ^What's the point of all that?^ I'm sure having a conversation with yourself is entertaining to you but was it supposed to entertain us as well?
    September 24, 2010 5:54 AM

    Was this directed at me?
    I didn't post the whole KKK rant.
    Cry about it.

  25. You sure put a lot of effort into trying to rule the Internet. You're more of a loser than I thought.

  26. This Anonymous sure is a nuisance.

  27. Jesus Christ.
    What is going on in here?

  28. Can someone notify me when Glen's blog is up? Thanks.

  29. Glen, I apologize for calling you a dumbass. I was drunk and kind of joking. You're not a dumbass. I like your input. Anyway, there it is for what it's worth.

  30. Fuck you all, you can all go to hell. If it wasn't for the fact we've now got onto my REAL favorite subject, ridding our great country of all the damned coloreds, i wouldn't wouldn't fucking waste my time here.

  31. I'm Canadian, dipshit. You spelled coloured wrong. We spell it with a U in Canada just like they do in most English speaking countries outside of the US. You're about as good at trolling as you are at lifting weights.

    I wrist curl more than you can strict press over your head. Is that because I'm inherently better than you are? Born with superior genetics, raised with a better work ethic, grown up with a better athletic background and far more knowledgeable in the science of getting stronger? Or is it because you suck?
    Think about that for a while.

  32. This comment has been removed by the author.

  33. My name is Earl Gerlach. Glen MacCharles, I challenge you to a duel.

  34. Seriously? Someone is trolling me now?

  35. The impressionist clown wouldn't have enough balls to ever challenge anyone to a duel in real life. Aside from getting picked on in school he's never actually been in a fight. Probably knows all the best techniques and strategies though from reading about them on the Internet.

  36. Holy shit googles blog system is retarded. Isn't there a way to get rid of the trolls and name stealing shit

  37. No.. Only thing we can't steal is your pic

  38. You can't get laid either, or add any weight to your basic lifts beyond the beginners stage of development which you wasted on a low volume program that you found online. In other words, your a geek.

  39. New anonymous...
    Question/discussion for Jamie et al.
    As someone touched on above...
    Thoughts modifying training to coincide with the feast/famine stages.
    Actually might take this question to your forum...