I’ve been doing a version of the ABCDE diet for 2 weeks now and will be checking in with regular weekly updates as the March show approaches.
The ABCDE diet as it was originally conceived by Torbjorn Akerfeldt required trainees to alternate mini 2 week periods of overfeeding with 2 week blocks of caloric restriction. Think, mini-bulks alternated with mini-cuts.
The rationale behind such a (at the time) revolutionary approach was that during bulking periods the body responds by elevating anabolic hormones such as IGF-1, testosterone, T3 and insulin. The gains within this 14-21 day period of overfeeding was supposedly responsible for greater lean-gains of muscle and minimal fat gain.
The dieting phase would allow any fat that was gained during the bulk to be lost along with any associated hormonal benefits associated with calorie restriction such as improved insulin sensitivity.
The theory was great and Akerfeldt had (some irrelevant) studies to back up what he was saying. The problem was, the ABCDE Diet didn’t work. People gained inordinate amounts of bodyfat during the bulk phase and lost muscle and strength during the calorically restrictive phase.
Enter TC Luoma’s amended Delta 1250 version which shortened the bulk-diet cycles to 5 days each respectively. The cutting phase wasn’t as severe as Akerfeldt’s version and required only a 500 calorie deficit below maintenance and a modest 750 calories above for the bulk.
A trainee could still supposedly reap the above benefits with these subtle adjustments without the dangers of losing muscle and gaining excessive fat during each 2 week block.
After weeks of prolonged dieting, coming off my initial 1900 calorie day-to-day and ramping up to 3000 calories was a recipe for happiness. I figured at the least this break was justified, because even Lyle McDonald advocates dietary breaks as a way of hitting the reset button before recommencing a period of fat loss.
When you’re dieting and shaving off calories week after week, you’re like the proverbial frog in the pot of boiling water. You don’t realise how much deprivation you’re incurring until you return to a semblance of dietary normalcy again.
With the extra carbohydrate and calories back flooding back in, my mood and energy levels, not surprisingly, improved dramatically.
Interestingly, despite the extra food, my gym performance started to suffer and my strength suddenly took a major dip during the overfeeding phase. I felt sluggish during workouts reminiscent of my previous post-contest experience when my training went to absolute shit once I started eating like crazy again.
Stranger still was at the end of my first 5 day “bulk” phase, when I stepped on the scale, I was down 1kg (2.2lb) despite a rampage of very high carbs, moderate protein and low fat.
Heading into the second mini-diet phase it was very difficult to back-shift down to 1700 cals again. Four shakes and one nightly meal was starting to send me crazy, so on some days I added in egg whites and vegetables for a 250 calorie lunch to keep the hunger demons at bay. It was a massive psychological boost compared to the liquid loneliness of a lunch-time shake.
Due to the previous week of lacklustre workouts I took 3 days off to refresh. It’s difficult to say what was affecting my training – This time of the year sees me insanely busy with work, stress levels are somewhat high and doing everyday full body workouts was beginning to feel mentally stale.
I decided to back off the volume and frequency and shift to a polar opposite style of training for a while to help break me out of the mental rut. I planned to use a DoggCrap style of training for a month in order to give my body more rest time and hit the lifts with heavy intensity and low volume. The excited buzz I felt from writing out a new program told me I was doing the right thing.
I realise that this move fucks with the variables of what I’m trying to test here – the efficacy of the DELTA 1250 (ABCDEFGHI-whatever DIET), but my body and intuition were telling me loud and clear to switch my training up.
I only got one DC workout in on my 5 day low calorie block, but with the added rest and switch of programs I hit some new PR’s right from the get-go. I kept the same lifts I was using on HST but went for single, all out sets rest pause style. Just to mention a few:
My previous max Hammer Incline was 125kg x 10 HST and now I was pushing 130kg (286lb) x 10 + 6 + 6 rest pause.
Scrape Rack Presses went from 70kg x 10 to 75kg (165lb) x 10 + 5 + 5
Dips went from Body Weight + 50kg x 10 to BW + 55kg (121lb) x 10 + 5 + 3
When my second bulk phase hit it was very hard to control my hunger and stay within the 3000 calorie limit and I had to use huge amounts of willpower to control the constant urge to gorge. 3000 calories might sound a fair deal, but once you start eating carbs it’s hard to stop.
This time around my lifts didn’t suffer and I had a very productive round of training despite getting my first flu bug in a long time and coughing my lungs up all night long. At the end of this second bulk phase I had gone up 2kg to 78.3kg (171lb)
So here’s the comparison pics over the last few weeks. I took these upon waking and without pumping up first. It’s hard to get to lighting the same each week because of variances in the weather.
So far the results after two weeks are
Day 1 – 167.5lb
Day 15 – 173lb
First Bulk/Cut Cycle
I dropped and broke the cam on my phone so the pics aren’t as clear and have some funky smudges on them, but it gives a general idea of how I’m progressing.
Included some leg shots this week. Vascularity is definitely increasing.
So that’s how things stand 15 weeks out from the show. I figured there’s no sense in trying to diet for that protracted period of time – nor would it be wise to all out bulk and try to “grow into the show”. I’m hoping that a 6-8 week run of ABCDE cycles will gain me a couple more pounds, enable me to stay full, energetic and strong for my workouts and still keep within striking distance of presenting a physique with top notch conditioning for the IFBB Classic Division in March, 2016.