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Q&A: Carb Cycling & Anabolic Diet

One of my larger and more powerful personal training clients emailed me some questions on fat loss with carbohydrate cycling / the Anabolic Diet last week and I thought it might be interesting to put one or two of the responses up here.

Just to set the scene, my personal training client Mark is living away from London now so one-to-one personal training sessions are very few and far between. Instead I coach him remotely – he is 18st, 6ft 3″, 17-20% BF (far too high but his excuse is 3 kids and running his own business that employs over 100 people), and can bench press strictly over 400lbs, and pull a 600lb plus deadlift. He has been toying with the idea if going on a bit of a diet and wanted to know what I thought of Christain Thibaudeau’s modified approach to the famous Anabolic Diet. Thibaudeau is a trainer who is well known via the internet and is just about the ONLY one who has made his name via that medium whom I believe talks sense and has credibility. Whereas lots of his peers strike me as being good internet marketers / journalists, Thibaudeau is a man who would appear to be incredibly passionate about what he does (lives for by all accounts – which is the only way to truly master this business) and practice what he preaches. A truly welcome break from internet experts who could never cut it on a real gym floor.

The original Thibaudeau piece sent to me by my personal training client is below:


Okay, I’m reading about this Anabolic Diet and am actually fairly intrigued, because I’m still relatively high in BF, but after taking a year to get serious about losing weight I really don’t want to sacrifice strength and size gains. That being said, with the anabolic diet requiring very few carbs, does this essentially mean no protein shakes? I assume if there’s an abundance of red meat we could get our protein through that means, but I just want to make sure. Also, do things like Superfood or Surge play a large role into the Anabolic Diet?


OK, first and foremost, I personally do not advocate the Anabolic Diet itself. It has some shortcomings:

– no distinction in the type of fat consumed
– two days of carbing up and no limits to the carb-up
– 60-70% of the calories from fat

I prefer a low-carbs (less than 50g/day like the AD) but with the following differences:

– focus on integrating more ”good fats” (plenty of fish oil, coconut oil for cooking, olive oil, some nuts and seeds) and less ”bad fats” (I like to rely mostly on wild red meat like buffalo, bison, venison, deer instead of beef. I also like to use a lot of ostrich, chicken, turkey and fish)

– Amount of carbing-up depending on your degree of leanness. I never recommend more than one day of carb-up, and this is for very lean individuals. Most should stay between 1 and 3 carb-up meals during a day for no more than 200-250g of carbs total

– During the low carbs day protein can be as high as 50-55% and fat around 40-45%. I actually don’t count percentages, I go with an amount of nutrients relative to bodyweight.

As a baseline if you main goal is to lose fat:
– Protein: 1.5 to 1.75g per pound
– Fat: 0.5g to 0.75g per pound
– Carbs: less than 50g

So if you are 200lbs that would mean 300-350g of protein, 100-150g of fat, less than 50g of carbs per day.

* Adjust these amounts weekly depending on how your body is reacting.

If you are trying to add size you should start by adding around 10-15% in protein and fats and adjust from there.

Nick – Do you agree with Thibaudea on this?

Yes and no. He writes sense (as usual), but what he is saying applies to some people and less to others. Remember that its not just marketing pitch when we tell all our personal training clients that everyone is unique and different.

For a smaller guy (Thibaudeau has muscle, but isn’t exactly of huge stature) I’d say yes I do agree with his modified approach, but if YOU (assuming you are your usual 17-18st) deplete over the course of a week and then only have 1 day of loading you will definitely not replenish all your glycogen stores. It takes me 2-3 days minimum, and sometimes I can continue to swell up intr musculalry for up to 5 days. Now you might need a day or 2 less than me (because I am leaner and also carry more overall muscle tissue – 18st 4 presently), but look in the mirror at your massive thighs and arms – there is no way you could restore all the glycogen back into just one of your forearms in less than 2 days!

Now you are not prioritising glycogen replenishment here, but I do feel that 2 days of carbs will not cause any spillover, and will leave you fuller, stronger and more energetic for the training and lower calories week ahead.

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