20 April 2012

Apex Predator Diet For Athletes and Italians (APD + Carbs)

When I first posted about my concept for the Apex Predator Diet, I received a spate of emails asking me about pre-, peri-, and post-workout carbohydrates.  As I've stated more than once before, I think that the current infatuation with those three facets of one's nutrition are perhaps the most absurdly overblown distraction from critical points of training and nutrition one could have.  It's like a leper colony appealing to the UN for condoms and zit cream.  People obsessed with peri-workout nutrition come in exactly one form- people who have no fucking clue what a real workout is, clad in whatever the trendy workout gear of the moment is, making a fucking production of making a shake midworkout and getting in my fucking way when I'm trying to get water in between sets.  That's right- if you're focused with laser-like intensity on your mid-workout nutrition, you're a fucking bitch.  When you're lifting, you should be concerned with weights, not Biotest supplements and waxy maize.
Jon Cole, beast of all beasts.  First man to squat 900, and an unreal 1200 total (430 press, 340 snatch, and a 430 push jerk) at the same weight in weightlifting, a sport for which he really didn't train and rarely competed.  This man was wildly unconcerned with his peri-workout nutrition.

As for the pre- and post-workout nutrition guys, they're certainly a lesser form of evil, probably duped into thinking that shit is of critical importance through the constant barrage of marketing that pervades every corner of life.  For every person who states that pre- and post-workout nutrition is of critical importance if you want to gain mass and strength, I've got 100 people to name who did it without either, and a cock to slap across your lips.  That's not to say, however, that there's no benefit to be gained from either, but rather that their combined importance is still far less than that of the workout itself.  Given the fact that you're reading this, it's highly likely that you know this, so I'll be happy to impart a bit of knowledge on the subject of pre- and post- workout carbohydrate meals and their utility in the Apex Predator Diet.

That stated, I'll address the athletes who've expressed their concerns about consuming a ketogenic diet while participating in a sport that involved more than simply grunting and picking up heavy shit.  I personally have followed a ketogenic diet while wrestling and found I had no problem with energy provided that I kept my calories relatively high.  At that time, I was wrestling at 134 pounds and my diet consisted, as I recall, of pork sausage patties for breakfast and about a dozen hamburger patties throughout the rest of the day, in addition to the very occasional protein shake.  At the time, I hadn't really jumped onto the supplementation bandwagon, so I really didn't consume much in the way of supplements outside of my favorite ephedrine-filled supplements ever- Metaform Heat and Ultimate Orange.  For those of you too young to know about either of these supplements, they had so much caffeine and ephedrine in them that meth addicts were scared to take them.  Both of them tasted like fruit flavored cat shit, but they got you fucking going.  As such, I'll reassert my support for the consumption of stimulants, especially for those of you who need extra energy for running around and the like.  Once more, they're not necessary, but they're helpful, just as the inclusion of carbohydrates might be if you're not as genetically well-suited to ketogenic dieting as I am.
Oh, how I long for thee, Metaform Heat.

Tinkering with the Apex Predator Diet
I've stated time and time again that it's imperative that you experiment with anything and everything you try in order to maximize your personal benefit.  Doing so would generally necessitate a fair amount of research, but give my penchant for research, I've tried to do a fair amount of the legwork for you.  One concern some people have had with the Apex Predator Diet is that they experience a tremendous amount of lethargy a couple of days into the low carbohydrate phase of the APD.  Given the amazing array of biochemical makeups one could have, this should come as no surprise- I've never suggested that anything I do is "one size fits all."  In my still unfinished Metabolic Typing series, I outlined various metabolic typing methodologies, but the current trend is to divide people into Protein, Carb, or Mixed types.  It's possible to transition from one to the other, according to some authors, so making that attempt might be worthwhile.  

As I mentioned in the ATA about the diet, Lyle McDonald and Dan Duchaine both suggested the use of an Isocaloric diet if one is shifting from a traditional high carb, low fat diet into a ketogenic diet.  An interesting study by Stephen Phinney examined the initial investigations into ketogenic diets for endurance energy, and his study uncovered exactly what Duchaine and McDonald alluded to- the body often requires at least a two week acclimation period to wean athletes off their carbohydrate diet.(Phinney)  Thus, your "carb crash" might be mitigated by the gradual transition.  Something like the Zone Diet might help people who would be considered Carb-Types according to a Metabolic Typing test transition to a Protein Type.  A month of Zone Dieting, however, might not be enough to complete the transition, and you might experience the crash Phinney noted.  The Inuit, according to Phinney, dealt with energy lags by greatly increasing their consumption of fat and decreasing their protein intake accordingly, while other authors have suggested taht fat could be decreased and carbs could be increased accordingly.  The key, then, is to determine what works best for you.  That is, of course, the entire purpose of the Apex Predator Diet- to allow one to shed fat while gaining muscle and strength.  Luckily for me, I'm well-suited to ketogenic dieting.  For those of you who aren't, or feel as though you need more quick energy to facilitate sporting competition or just to fuel your workouts, there is hope for you yet.
Efferding rocks a fairly unique diet of 50% fat, 23% carbs, and 27% protein, for instance.  It's all about finding your person sweet spot, which he's clearly done.

A Historical Aside
Before you delve into the following bits about the utilization of carbohydrates to spur greater athletic performance, I'll go ahead and make a quick aside- a quick study of the entirety of human history will lead to one inevitable conclusion.  Humans do not require carbohydrates to perform at a high level.  The history of agriculture is essentially the history of human collectives in areas of high population densities- carbohydrates provide a cheap, easy way to feed a large population in a small area.  Put another way, carbohydrates are the fare of plebians and slaves, as crops were grown to feed the menial workers cheaply and to keep them alive while they built absurd buildings like ziggurats and pyramids.  As I've shown before, humans were larger and more muscular in the paleolithic era than the neolithic, and those peoples credited with being the strongest and most muscular in recorded history were all nearly entirely carnivorous.  The peoples considered to be the scourges of Europe were always nomads, championing animal husbandry and looking down upon agrarian societies as prey- the Huns, Goths, Mongols, Scythians and Sarmatians all ate similar diets that consisted of little more than meat and milk.  Of the Goths, Tacitus noted that "Feasts and entertainments, which, though inelegant, are plentifully furnished, are their only pay. The means of this bounty come from war and rapine. Nor are they as easily persuaded to plough the earth and to wait for the year's produce as to challenge an enemy and earn the honour of wounds. Nay, they actually think it tame and stupid to acquire by the sweat of toil what they might win by their blood."(Tacitus)  Though the latter two tribes eventually adopted agriculture, their agricultural products were the fare of those who remained behind with the villages, rather than those who rode into battle.  The Huns and the Mongols took this even further, eating little more than horse and game meat, and drank mare's milk and horse blood to supplement their nutrition.  This diet hardly hamstrung them- it enabled them to conquer vast territories while constantly outnumbered, and fueled legends of their incredible ferocity.(Turnbull 30)
“looming on horseback 8 ft above the ground, screaming maniacally, capable of unleashing repetitive and deadly fights of triple-edged arrows, they must have seemed the very embodiment of horror to those who had to stand and fight them. Nor were such fears unwarranted, for Scythian warriors regularly beheaded their enemies and sometimes even skinned them whole. If an enemy were known personally, his skull might receive a special treatment: sawn through below the eyes, it would be cleaned and painstakingly fashioned into richly appointed drinking vessel. Not surprisingly, Scythian ceremonies especially royal funerals, were drenched in blood: sometimes these drinking vessels were filled with enemy blood, mixed wine and after arrowheads were dipped into it, the concoction was imbibed by the Scythian chieftain."(Mann 4)
Contrast these diets of these lean, mean killing machines with that of the gladiators.  Gladiators in the Roman era were generally captives obtained from battles with neighboring tribes, all of whom generally subsisted on meat.  As such, they were generally described in accounts by ancient authors as huge framed, broad shouldered, muscular, and wild eyed,(Tacitus, Jordanes, Turnbull) and were chosen to be warriors for their stature and ferocity.  Once placed into the arena, however, their diet was changed to a nearly vegetarian diet, and not because the gladiators needed the extra energy.
"The vegetarian diet had nothing to do with poverty or animal rights. Gladiators, it seems, were fat. Consuming a lot of simple carbohydrates, such as barley, and legumes, like beans, was designed for survival in the arena. Packing in the carbs also packed on the pounds. 'Gladiators needed subcutaneous fat," Grossschmidt explains. "A fat cushion protects you from cut wounds and shields nerves and blood vessels in a fight.' Not only would a lean gladiator have been dead meat, he would have made for a bad show. Surface wounds "look more spectacular," says Grossschmidt. 'If I get wounded but just in the fatty layer, I can fight on," he adds. "It doesn't hurt much, and it looks great for the spectators.'"(Curry)

So, high carbohydrate diets are awesome for getting fat, and but are they necessary for maintaining cardiovascular endurance?  Fucking nope.  The aforementioned study by Phinney cited two still-unrefuted studies in which endurance athletes were switched to a ketogenic diet.  In both studies, their performance improved considerably after their acclimatization period. Neither group consumed supplementary calories, but rather increased their fat intake to accommodate their increased energy needs.  Thus, you might consider altering your macronutrient profile simply by adjusting your fat intake prior to attempting the inclusion of carbs.  Were I to do so, I'd consider adding heavy cream to my protein shakes and possibly rubbing my ribs with olive oil.
Oil makes delicious things deliciouser.

Upping Your Carbs Pre- and Post Workout
If you're not interested n increasing your fat intake or have already tried it and found it didn't do what you'd wanted, there's always upping your carbs.  In the Anabolic Diet, Mauro Di Pasquale mentions that certain people will have a tremendous amount of difficulty maintaining progress on a ketogenic diet consisting of 30 grams of carbohydrate a day.  As such, he recommends that  one complete at least the initial 10-14 day keto run and then begin experimenting with increases in their carbohydrate levels until an optimal balance between performance and body recomposition is struck.  Following this line of thought, he tailored a diet for Gozilla's second cousin on the black side of the family, Bob Sapp, so that it lowered the fats somewhat and increased the carbohydrates.(Di Pasquale, Bob Sapp 11)  He did mention, however, in the Anabolic Solution for Powerlifters, that people who are excellent fat oxidizers (like myself) can easily train on 20 grams of carbohydrates a day, so experimentation is absolutely critical- don't just decide what you need at the outset.(ADFP 21)  Ol' Mauro claims that the timing of one's carbohydrates is fairly insignificant, but does note that eating pre-workout carbohydrates will decrease IGF-1 and GH.(ASBB 70)  Thus, he recommends eating 50-100 grams of carbohydrates postworkout, for a total carbohydrate intake of .5-1gram of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight a day.  This, of course, would necessitate a concordant drop in fat intake.

On the flip side of the coin, Lyle McDonald's Targeted Ketogenic Diet is actually based on the utilization of mostly pre-workout carbohydrates, which he feels are necessary to fuel high intensity exercise.  He recommends 25-50 grams of carbohydrate pre-workout, and claims that the type of carbohydrate and the glycemic index thereof is insignificant.  This would, of course, still preclude the use of fructose, as the goal is to replenish muscular glycogen stores rather than the glycogen stores of the liver.  According o McDonald, pre-workout carbohydrates will likely not affect either your insulin levels nor your ketosis (though they might throw you out of ketosis for the duration of your workout), and are thus fair game for just about everyone.  Conversely, post workout carbohydrates may negatively affect ketosis, so he encourages experimentation with those.(Ketogenic Diet 125)

As for the type of carbohydrates, I have a suggestion from novelist and paleo internet guru J. Stanton, who told me that he's been using a modified version of the APD for a while with great success.  If you're unfamiliar with his stuff, Stanton does a bunch of wacky shit outdoors that I'm inclined to call cardio, but he insists it's just "doing epic shit outdoors", like climbing mountains while fasted and all sorts of other shit that doesn't involve picking things up and putting them down.  He did, however, recently start lifting and noted the APD is the shit, with a couple of his own variations: 
"Here's an advanced-level Predator Diet variant: you may get more mileage out of your protein shake if you eat several grams of dextrose with it.  Reasoning: the protein causes some insulin release, which (if the protein is eaten solo) requires some glucose to be released from the liver in order to maintain blood sugar levels.  Then your liver will signal "NEED MORE GLUCOSE" and there will be a cortisol spike, whereupon your liver will suck up some of the protein and convert it via gluconeogenesis.  Also cortisol is catabolic.  So the additional dextrose basically gives the inevitable insulin something to chew on, and as a bonus, causes a bit of extra insulin release which will help drive protein into muscles.
(Note that "weight gainer" shakes have an assload of sugar because it's cheaper than protein.  Too much, no good.  I'm working on about a 4:1 protein/glucose ratio, but that's a guess and open to refinement. And it includes whatever sugar's already in your protein powder.)
You can buy a big bag of dextrose at the brewery supply store...but the easier way is to just eat a few Bottle Caps or Sweet Tarts candies.  Believe it or not, they're basically 100% dextrose: no sucrose or HFCS.  So my routine during protein loading days is: glass of unflavored whey isolate + 4-5 Bottle Caps, every few hours.  Note: add Runts and Spree to the list of "glucose with impurities": like Bottle Caps and Sweet Tarts, they're just dextrose, maltodextrin, and flavoring."(Stanton)

The Gist
As you can see, there's a bit of debate on the optimal timing of one's carbs if you're adding them to the Apex Predator Diet, but if you feel you need them, there are methods to try.  Experimentation is the name of the game, so get out your chemistry set and make something fucking awesome happen.  Just remember, however- the baddest motheruckers ever to walk the Earth didn't need bread to help them stomp the piss out of a bunch of bagel-chomping motherfuckers, and it's likely you don't either.
     Bodybuilding.com.  Stan Efferding 6500 calories diet.  http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=138848513&page=1
     Curry, Andrew.  The gladiator diet.  Archaeology.  http://www.archaeology.org/0811/abstracts/gladiator.html
     Di Pasquale, Mauro.  Anabolic Diet.
     Di Pasquale, Mauro.  Anabolic Solution for Bodybuilders.  Mauro Di Pasquale: 2002.
     Di Pasquale, Mauro.  Anabolic Solution for Powerlifters.  Mauro Di Pasquale: 2002.
     Di Pasquale, Mauro.  Bob Sapp (The Beast) Training and Nutrition Secrets.  Published as pdf.
     Jordanes.  An account of the person of Attila.
     Mann, Nirmil.  The Life and Times of Pakher Singh Gill.  Pittsburgh: Dorrance Publishing, 2005.
     McDonald, Lyle.  Ketogenic Diet.  1998
     Phinney, Stephen D.   Ketogenic diets and physical performance.  Nut Metab 2004, 1:2.  http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/1/1/2
     Tacitus.  Germania.
     Turnbull, Stephen and Wayne Reynolds.  Mongol Warrior 1200-1350.  Oxford:  Osprey Publishing, 2003. 


  1. It seems that for me it's like:

    100 g of carbs a day = optimal performance


    6 days keto, 1 day rather large carb refeed = optimal fat loss but non-optimal performance for half the week

    I'm still taking the latter one over the first one right now (fat loss).

  2. Fat is the shit, particularly animal fat. Its the deliciousest.

  3. one thing you mentioned a while ago that stuck by me has been that each group of people had a particular nomadic ancestry and that diet would be more suitable...far as I'm concerned... that means fermented milk products and a bunch of meat..I am always thankful i belong to the group of northern indians who came down milenia ago brandishing swords and shedding blood, making life hell for the indigenous southern indians.

  4. From J. Stanton (who couldn't get this to post for some reason):

    My latest APD variant involves staying completely carbless for as long as I can stand it after my heaviest workouts. Usually it's about 24 hours until I can light my sweat on fire from the acetone.

    I've been thinking for a while that decreasing the time between refeeds is better than continually smashing on carbs. Results so far have been good.

    Raw Finn: you might try refeeding every four days instead of seven, or alternating 3/4 if you want to stay on a consistent weekly schedule. Don't make the midweek one a full Rampage, though...just a solid carb-up.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion. I will try that. Alternatively I am also going to try 2 medium carb-ups a week (with no Rampage) since my metabolism does not seem to get any kind of boost from eating a lot. I also seem to gain fat after the Rampage if I eat fat along with carbs. My problem might be that my Rampage is mostly pizza which is high in fat. I'm switching to rice and pasta to see if that helps.

    2. I wrote about my opinion on how you should structure a cheat meal awhile back- always start with protein, then work to the pizza. I just started going to the movies every Friday again, and movie popcorn, for whatever reason, seems to be the perfect end to a Rampage. Also, avoiding alcohol seems to help lean you out, no matter how much you'd like it to be otherwise.

    3. I get full very easily but I can try to eat more protein first and then the carbs.

      I wouldn't want to stuff myself with trans fat from popcorn, though.

      I dont' drink much alcohol.

      Thank you.

    4. Apparently, the same people who forced the movie theaters to start using transfats are now forcing them to switch back to coconut oil.

    5. Fucking vegetarians ruin everything they touch.

    6. Hey man. First of all thanx a lot for this wonderful blog. Incredible! BYW i ordered your book 'destroy the opposition" with order number 486 but can't download it(i am not that knowledable in e-commerce applications) can you please help? Thanx in advance.


  5. Great article. I'm trying to make low carb work myself and your blog is a inspiration that it can be done. FYI Dr. Mauro does seem to have more recently stepped away from post workout carbs, saying they shutdown the insulin sensitivity you would otherwise get for 24 hours from excercise. I don't know what his new protocol is. http://superhumanradio.com/501-best-of-the-interview-that-started-it-all-dr-dipasquale-discusses-carbohydrates.html

  6. When is your ebook on this diet coming out? I can't wait to purchase it, beats googling the site the whole time.

    1. Unlike the training one, I'm doing a full rewrite, pretty much. I don't have an eta, since that's slow going. I'll let you guys know when I'm close. I'm thinking mid to late May.

  7. This is a brilliant article and it's great to hear someone putting an end to all the pre-peri-post nutritional minutiae continuously bantered around the internet.

    I tried the Predator Diet strictly eating 20-30grams a day and found that during the three week trial my strength was suffering and felt physically as flat as a pancake. (I kept protein and fats very high and was consuming 4500 calories a day) As I'm knocking on the door of 40, my endocrine system is acutely responsive when I make drastic changes to my diet. On low carb diets, my sex drive seems to hit the floor and goodbye morning wood. I find this strange because I feel incredibly healthy and generally more energetic on very low carb diets!

    Now after my workouts I immediately drink 5 gallons of raw milk and things are chugging along nicely again. The raw milk also seems to be doing wonders for my training niggles.

    1. 5 gallons? That seems... excessive.

      As for the low carbs affecting your sex drive, it should work completely the opposite. Are you eating enough fat?

    2. Shit. Sorry. 0.5 gallons of milk. (2 litres) Fucking metric system.

      Yeah, the dip in sex drive every time I low carb it is weird because of everything I've read to the contrary.

      Definitely get enough fat when low carbing. My nightly meal is usually 1kg (2.2lbs) meat and a ten egg omelette with a bag of spinach. I take fish oil and cook with a large dollop of coconut oil.

  8. Whats your take on Beer during Rampage? and Red wine during Keto.

    I understand that liquor is the way to go on keto, but the diet mixers are for the birds.

    I miss the beer.

    1. I would not consume wine during keto under any circumstance. If you're going to drink beer, do it on the Rampage days, unless you're drinking Bud Platinum or something.

    2. Hey Jaime, why would red wine be off limits during keto? There is minimal residual sugar in a dry red such as Cabernet Sauvignon.

  9. I'm leaning out very well on this diet and strength is going up. Was tired of doing IF for about a year so this is a nice change to try out and 3 weeks in i've lost 4 pounds down to about 8-9% bf and gained strength on most exercise while working out everyday.

    I do:

    4 shakes spread through-out the day and 1 smaller meal at lunch, usually eggs and bacon because i love that shit, and then a big ass bone in meat meal at the end of the day. Sometimes i skip the meal at lunch and make the evening one low fat but only 1 every to every other week.

    I have 1 rampage and sometimes i have 1 more day with a small carb up.

    The low carb doesn't bother me as i can workout on an empty stomach and still kick ass so low carb is a plus for me.

    Works great, no ECA stack though but thanks anyway Jamie!

    1. I wonder what people's opinion is of the UD 2.0
      Far as I can tell, McDonald sees it as the pinnacle of the cyclical diets.
      I have done apex and UD2.0
      UD2 training is horrible. 2 days of Endless reps with tiny weights to failure.
      1 workout HIT style after 3.5 days of very low calories/carbs...dying...
      A huge carb up. 2 days of thousands of calories. Should be low fat and not too much sucrose/fructose so its still not great fun but its not bad. Bagels, cereal, skim milk...
      An awesome power workout, low reps on a full skinfull of carbs.
      A fairly relaxed weekend of a ''normal diet''.
      It works.

      Not much to think about (good) Meat, bacon eggs, cheese and fish and a lot of protein powder. Keto is important so no real carbs apart from the traces in the above. I usually had an apple pre training.
      One day a week - although the rampage was recommended as a few hours, I did an all day carb up, not at all clean, ate what I fancied, tried to stay away from sweets but pizza and ice cream are regulars.

      Training - Frequent and heavy, no real integration with the diet, its just hard work all the time.

      It works.

      Apex - less to worry about.
      UD 2 - maybe has the edge for bodybuilders looking to get really ripped.

      Me - a powerlifter not looking for extreme definition so APEX will do.

      Could see a case for doing periods of both.