Anabolic Burst Cycling of Diet and Exercise (ABCDE)

  1. Anabolic Burst Cycling of Diet and Exercise (ABCDE)

    I read about this a long time ago. Wondered what folks think?

    “Torbjorn Akerfeldt interviewed by Bill Phillips – Part I


    Bill Phillips: What exactly is Anabolic Burst Cycling, and how does it work?

    Torbjorn Akerfeldt: It’s primarily a new bodybuilding nutrition theory I’ve developed–it’s quite different from anything bodybuilders are doing right now in America or Europe.
    As a bodybuilder and scientist, I follow the many trends in nutrition with great interest. Sometimes people tell you to eat a high-carbohydrate diet; other times, we’re told to ingest a lot of protein. Lately, we’re reading that a high-fat diet is the way to go. The strange thing is, virtually all of these diets can be backed up by scientific studies.

    BP: How can this be–how can the positive effects of all of these diets be backed by studies?

    TA: Most of these studies are performed during a limited period of time, so what is actually being measured is the metabolic consequences of a change in the diet, and therefore, people misinterpret their results. This was one of the observations that helped me develop my theory–I noticed that scientific studies have reliably shown that when there is a drastic change in the diet, the body responds very swiftly and efficiently.

    BP: Isn’t changing the diet often unphysiological–unnatural?

    TA: No, it’s the opposite. 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. So, that’s what we’re made for!

    BP: How do our bodies adapt to these changes?

    TA: Basically, our genes control the expression of enzymes. These enzymes control every aspect of our metabolisms, including the activation of different pathways and the rate at which chemical reactions take place in our bodies. [Outside biochemical system enzymes are often referred to as catalysts.] Evolution has given our genes the ability to control the production of these enzymes as well as their activity level. Due to this fact, the body will be able to adapt to different food intakes as well as become prepared or “primed” for a future, sudden change in the diet. For example, 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. This is one reason you should never restrict your calorie or dietary-fat intake too much if you want to lose fat–your body will respond the opposite of how you want it to.
    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.”
    However, it is important to remember that the body has a high turnover rate of enzymes; hence, the increased activity/number will disappear in a relatively short period of time—less than two weeks in most cases. Enzymes not only control the metabolism of fats, glucose, and proteins directly but also indirectly via hormones. The reason the endocrine system evolved in multi-cellular organisms could be to make a regulatory system that operated over a longer period of time. For example, persistent excess-calorie intake rapidly increases the release of certain anabolic hormones [to store the excess energy as muscle] with a peak after about two weeks.
    According to the metabolic situation, the body has a preset program under which suitable proteins [enzymes, receptors, binding proteins, and peptide hormones] are being synthesized. This metabolic situation depends on what and how much you have been eating and the type of training during the last few days. Do you get the picture now? You have to make the body believe that an anabolic burst is necessary now and then.
    The bottom line is that if your goal is to not look like an average person, you have to “trick” the body constantly in order to have different enzymatic and endocrine systems primed at different times. The timing is a very crucial factor here. That’s what the ABCDE program is all about.

    BP: Now, let me see if I’ve got this straight–by eating a certain way–by changing your diet often, you can enhance muscle building? Do you follow a high-carb diet for a period of time, then switch to a high-protein diet or a high-fat diet?

    TA: Not exactly. The research indicates that overall energy [calorie] intake has a much greater effect on nitrogen balance [associated with muscle gain] than protein intake does.13 I believe the same is true of carbohydrates and fats.
    A good study, with test subjects having a fixed protein intake of 1.25 g/kg/day but with different total-energy intakes, showed that an increase in calories of 15% enhanced nitrogen retention from 7.2 mg/kg/day to 23.8. When energy intake was increased to 30% above requirement, nitrogen balance rose to 33.3 mg/kg/day.1 Basically, adding calories to the diet is anabolic, and I don’t just mean it raises insulin levels–by adding just one anabolic hormone, you’ll never get optimal gains in muscle. You need the whole array of anabolic hormones, and they have to be in the correct ratio to each other. This is what happens during puberty.
    Few people have access or the financial wherewithal to purchase all of the necessary hormones, and certainly, no person has the knowledge of the optimal dosages in this “stack.” But, your own body creates this “stack” or “hormonal milieu” when you overfeed it. Then you reach an anabolic state. While dieting, there will be a muscle anti-catabolic response that ultimately will fail with time. By combining these two states–by cycling your calorie intake over the correct period of time, your average fat mass will not increase, but your average lean body mass will go up significantly!

    BP: Okay. I think I see what you’re saying. The human body has been programmed to store excess energy very efficiently when you overfeed it, so it can survive periods of famine that our ancestors regularly had to go through. Now, that sounds fine and dandy, but bodybuilders have tried high-calorie diets before, and although they do help you get big, it seems like you gain a lot more fat than muscle, and when you diet to lose the fat, you sacrifice the muscle, too. You just end up going around in circles–I’ve done the same thing myself. Isn’t this what we’re talking about?

    TA: No, not at all. I’m not talking about going on a “bulking diet” where you overeat for an entire season and then take 12 weeks to cut up–that doesn’t work. I’m not talking about one of these ridiculous 10,000-calorie-a-day diets, either. The secret to my system is acute or “whiplash” calorie cycling. You overfeed the body for only two weeks and then diet for two weeks.

    BP: What’s the rationale behind staying on each calorie cycle for just two weeks?

    TA: The two-week calorie cycles are based on scientific evidence and empirical data. In one study by Forbes, et al., entitled the “Hormonal Response to Overfeeding,”2 it was demonstrated that when test subjects started with a maintenance-calorie-intake diet and then went on a nutrition program that provided 1,200 to 1,600 extra calories a day, their blood tests showed a progressive increase in IGF-1, testosterone, and insulin [which doubled in 14 days!], all in concert with an increase in lean body mass. However, the hormone levels peaked and began to decline on day 14 of the high-calorie diet! This is a very important observation.
    By day 21, the test subjects in this study gained 3-6 lbs of lean body mass and gained a few pounds of bodyfat as well. However, these test subjects did not perform any resistance exercise, and the excess food provided only six percent of energy from protein, and the test subjects were women–we don’t know yet, but the testosterone boost could be even greater in men, leading to more muscle accumulation.

    BP: Interesting. Are there any other studies that support your theory?

    TA: Yes, there are. In a 12-day study conducted by Jebb, et al., reported very recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,7 entitled “Changes in Macronutrient Balance During Over- and Underfeeding Assessed by 12-Day Continuous Whole-Body Calorimetry,” it was shown that when male test subjects went from a maintenance-calorie-intake diet to an overfeeding diet [approximately 3,600 total calories a day], within 12 days, they gained 4.38 lbs of lean mass and put on just 2 lbs of fat. The same study showed that when test subjects went on a pretty drastic [around 1,000 calories a day] diet for 12 days, they lost, on average, 4.6 lbs of bodyfat and only 2.4 lbs of lean mass.
    As you can see, during this short overfeeding period, the amount of lean mass to fat gained was in a ratio greater than 2:1, and in the underfeeding phase, the amount of fat versus muscle lost was 2:1.
    Hypothetically, if you were to follow a two-week overfeeding phase with a two-week diet, you would actually gain muscle and lose fat, even if you didn’t exercise. Needless to say, if you train with weights and follow a more precise nutrition program, much less use supplements that can enhance the anabolic and anti-catabolic effects of each phase of this diet, you can continue to gain muscle, without getting fat!
    Experiments I’ve conducted on myself and a number of my bodybuilding colleagues confirm that body composition is enhanced after each cycle.

    BP: I don’t understand how someone can gain muscle without working out–I mean, after you’ve gone through puberty, hasn’t your body pretty much established how much muscle you’re going to have naturally without providing some type of stimulus for new growth–without working out or taking steroids or something?

    TA: When an individual who is consuming a maintenance-calorie diet [eating as much as the body's metabolism requires each day] increases calorie intake substantially, that is a stimulus for muscle growth–even in adults. It’s somewhat of a widely accepted fallacy that when you eat too much, whether it’s hamburgers, donuts, or even healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, etc., your body’s only storage compartment for these excess calories is adipose tissue [fat]. Scientific research shows that people who are overweight have more fat mass and more lean mass than their slender counterparts.3
    The truth is, overfeeding your body is actually more anabolic [causes more muscle growth] than training with weights! Unfortunately, overfeeding also produces an undesirable increase in fat mass, which is contrary to what most bodybuilders seek—they work to build a lean, muscular physique, not simply one that takes up more space.
    The tricky part of developing my new theory, which I’ve been working on for years, was to find a way to harness the body’s natural “calorie-induced” anabolic potential while somehow finding a way to not increase bodyfat stores significantly. The secret is acute calorie cycling or ABCDE.

    BP: If the body rapidly adapts to all of these different diets, won’t it adapt to the ABCDE system also?

    TA: I don’t think it can. As long as you drastically increase calories, then reduce calories during each cycle, the body has to respond the way it’s programmed to. I would recommend that someone keep doing high- and low-calorie cycles, back to back, as long as they continue to gain muscle with each cycle.

    BP: Why do you suppose anabolic hormone levels peaked in Forbes’ study after approximately two weeks?

    TA: This has to be the body’s natural response to such conditions, as it was seen in virtually all the test subjects. Exactly why this happens, no scientist can say for certain, but I have a theory: throughout the evolution of man, there have always been times of plenty followed by periods of famine. When the food supply was abundant, it became very important for the body to start up the right “metabolic program” with the right priorities, since it didn’t know how long the abundance would last. In the short run, let’s say over a few days, the availability of swift energy was always more important for our ancestors than muscle strength. I know some bodybuilders will not agree with me there. Anyway, the energy cost of building muscle tissue is much greater than just storing fat as triglycerides or carbohydrates as glycogen. Therefore, during the first days, the glycogen depots will increase, and now we are coming to the interesting part: the amount of fat inside the muscle cell will increase as well, which is actually a good thing! This is why you are experiencing such a nice muscle pump the day after you have been feasting on fatty food items. Recently, research has concluded that this fat [intracellular triglycerides] has very important regulatory functions. I’m not going into great detail here–I’ll cover that in our next article–but the result will be muscle synthesis, followed by storage of the excess calories in adipose tissue.
    Back to your question. Even though our ancestors had to be strong enough to fight and hunt, if they built too much muscle, their metabolic rates would get too high, and in the “old, old days,” people with very high metabolic rates did not survive famines. Thus, the body adjusts, so after two weeks of overfeeding, the body becomes more efficient at storing excess calories in adipose cells.
    Basically what I’m saying here is that we have a small time window of about 14 days–long enough for muscle hypertrophy to occur, while short enough to keep a substantial amount of fat from being stored in the adipose tissue.
    By the way, Bill, have you noticed that more and more steroid-using bodybuilders are switching over to ultra-short cycles, for one to two weeks, with mega doses? They claim the extra strength and mass they put on after this period is only due to water retention and will subsequently be lost. Maybe the perfect duration of an anabolic boost is around two weeks.
    It’s really quite fascinating when you think about it, and it’s a logical theory. Can I substantiate this with rock-hard scientific data? No, not yet, but the available scientific literature offers evidence this is the way the human body works.

    BP: Wow. That’s powerful stuff! You mentioned that you’ve already tried calorie cycling–how did it work? Torbjorn is not a small guy—he’s 6’1″, 225 lbs, 8% bodyfat, and he’s definitely not on steroids; I guarantee it!

    TA: It flat out works. During the two-week bulking phase, you can eat just about anything you want, which is actually fun–guilt-free ice cream and Swedish meatballs! If you begin an overfeeding program after a diet, within a matter of days, you’ll notice an increase in muscle fullness and strength. It’s absolutely “drug like” the way your body changes so rapidly.
    During my last 2 bulking phases, I gained 7 and 6 lbs, respectively, and during both cycles, the amount of lean mass to fat was 3:1.
    Of course, some of the lean mass is increased cell volume from the extra glycogen; remember, when you start overfeeding, your body stores macronutrients in every available compartment–you store protein as muscle, fat as triglyceride in adipose tissue, and carbohydrate as glycogen, which enhances strength and muscle size.
    The dieting phase is fairly difficult, but restricting calorie intake for just two weeks is nothing compared to what many bodybuilders do–starving themselves for two, three, or even four months to get ready for a photo shoot or contest. Every time I get hungry, I always know it will be only a matter of days before I can eat just about anything I want again. This helps compliance a great deal.
    During my dieting phases, I have been able to lose virtually all of the fat I gained on my bulking cycles while dropping only a couple pounds of lean mass. You might think of the ABCDE as a two-steps-forward, one-step-back program.
    I have a number of “gym buddies” who I’ve had experimenting with the system, and their results have been very similar to mine. On each cycle, you’ll gain between two and five pounds of muscle, which, for someone who has been training for over a decade, like I have, is a phenomenal thing to experience.

    BP: I’ve heard that the type of muscle you gain from consuming a high-calorie diet is structurally not the same as the muscle you gain from weight training–that it’s not quality muscle. Is this true?

    TA: I can’t agree with that. Let me explain. 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. [This topic will be discussed in detail in Part 2 of this article, which will be featured in the next issue of Muscle Media 2000.] 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. [Remember how Arnold used to always say the pump meant you were growing? Maybe he was right!]
    After the cell has loaded up with glycogen, amino acids, creatine, and fluid–when it cannot store any more energy, 2 things will happen as long as the endocrine environment is optimal, which it is after 10-14 days of overfeeding, according to Forbes’ study.2 The cell will start to build up the ultimate storage form of energy, namely actin and myosin, and under the influence of IGF-1, satellite cells will start to split to create new nuclei. Try to follow me closely here–toward the end of the anabolic/bulking phase, when all of the energy stores within the myocyte are completely full, when the cell is hydrated to its maximum, when the myocyte is not inhibited by a lack of space, when the blood has a high concentration of IGF-1, when there is a high mitochondrial activity of the cell, when exercise has induced an acute local [autocrine and/or paracrine] release of growth factors, THEN the potential for satellite cells to fuse with the myocyte is increased, thus adding nuclei to the muscle cell. [Go ahead and take a minute to read that very long, complicated sentence again. I'll wait. Okay, ready to continue? Good.]
    This represents the ultimate quality growth of muscle, since the amount of available DNA [which makes proteins] increases. I have coined this phenomenon neomyobolism. It seems that the cell wants to keep a constant relationship between cell volume and number of myonuclei.10 The myonuclear number also seems to be correlated with mitochondrial content of the cell.15 Therefore, if you increase the number of mitochondria through exercise and elevate hormone levels, as well as increase the volume of the cell through overfeeding and using cell-volumizing supplements, like creatine and glutamine, it is logical that fusion will take place and deliver more nuclei. Voilà–steroid-like gains in quality muscle mass!

  2. BP: All righty then… So what you’re telling me is that the muscle you gain during the bulking phase of the ABCDE system is good muscle, and I assume you’re saying it’s the type of muscle that is functional and lasts—it won’t disappear overnight?

    TA: Exactly, and boy was I happy when, after my early experiments, I discovered that my theory on lasting muscle was confirmed.

    BP: What type of macronutrient profile do you think is optimal during each phase of the diet? Do you recommend a high-protein intake, a high-carb intake, or…?

    TA: 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. In the studies by Forbes and Jebb that I’ve already mentioned, I believe the results would have been more substantial if the subjects had been consuming more protein.8
    The ratio of macronutrients during the anabolic phase is actually not far from the ordinary, habitual diet most people eat and is actually in concert with Dr. Erasmus’ recommendations of 20% protein, 50% carbohydrates, and 30% fat. However, an even higher protein, lower carbohydrate bulking diet may also be effective, but the health aspects concern me a bit here.
    I have numerous theories, which I’m developing, on how to set up “microcycles,” where you consume different macronutrient profiles on different days of the two-week high-calorie and low-calorie phases. But rather than get into all those intricacies at this point, I will simply emphasize that it is very likely a substantial effect will be realized by consuming high quantities of food rich with quality protein [at least one gram per pound of bodyweight per day], carbohydrates, and unsaturated fats.

    BP: What about the low-calorie phase? What type of nutrient profile do you recommend?

    TA: First of all, let’s backtrack a bit and go over why it’s so important to have a low-calorie/dieting phase in this program. This dieting phase actually serves two very important purposes. First, we want to strip off what fat will be gained during the two-week bulking phase. This is very important, as bodybuilders want to gain muscle, not fat.
    A second very important aspect of the dieting phase of this program is to “reprime” your body’s enzymes and anabolic hormones. As I’ve already discussed, testosterone, insulin, and IGF-1 levels start to decline after about two weeks of overfeeding. In order to boost these levels again, you’ve got to trick the body into thinking it’s necessary to store more calories as muscle tissue.
    The great thing about these short, low-calorie, two-week dieting phases is that fat loss is very efficient during this time. As one of your authors, Dan Duchaine, has cited often in previous issues of Muscle Media 2000, after a few weeks of dieting, the body starts to adjust–to adapt. I’m sure you and your readers have experienced this–after a few weeks of dieting, your progress comes to a standstill, and to experience further weight loss, you have to increase calorie expenditure through exercise or further decrease energy intake, both of which may lead to an increased loss of fat and muscle.
    As you know, fat loss is all but impossible in the presence of elevated insulin levels—a high-carbohydrate diet will severely inhibit fat oxidation. Also, 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.
    Nevertheless, carbohydrates also have some very important properties during a hypocaloric diet, such as keeping GH and IGF-1 primed. Therefore, it’s almost necessary to perform “microcycles” for optimal results.

    BP: How many calories should somebody eat on the bulking phase and cutting program?

    TA: Once again, I’ll go into much more specific detail on this topic in future articles, but a rough guideline–a place to start–would be to 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].
    This is just a rough place to start–a person’s activity level [whether they have desk jobs or are construction workers could make a big difference] and a person’s muscle mass and metabolism also come into play. If a bodybuilder is following this recommendation and not gaining weight during a bulking phase, I would recommend increasing calorie intake by 500 calories a day, for a week, and if a substantial weight gain is not realized, I would take it up 500 more calories the next week.
    Likewise, if someone is not losing bodyweight on the low-calorie phase, I would recommend decreasing calorie intake by 300 calories a day, per week.
    Remember that each time you start an anabolic phase, you may need to increase your calorie intake, provided you’re gaining lean body mass. For example, if you go from 190 to 195 lbs during your first anabolic and fat-burning cycle, you should add about 100 more calories to your diet per day for the next cycle.

    BP: What happens if you don’t gain a significant amount of weight on the bulking phase or lose weight during each dieting phase?

    TA: I would highly recommend that all those who try this system keep track of their calories as best they can, simply by writing down what they eat each day, the time they eat it, and do their best to calculate how many calories they’re consuming–this data could be recorded in a notebook or journal. Having a record of what you’ve done will allow you to troubleshoot your program very effectively. If you’re not gaining a significant amount of weight [at least three pounds a week during the bulking phase], then you need to increase your calorie intake. During the cutting phase, if you don’t lose weight, you need to consume less calories. It’s very simple to make adjustments on this program.
    In addition to keeping a journal, it would also be very beneficial to keep track of your body composition and actually maintain an updated line graph [like the one shown below] to gauge your progress.

    BP: What if you fail to gain muscle and lose fat even after making adjustments?

    TA: Well, I would be amazed if that were the case. But if that happens to you, then your body’s got bigger problems than the Anabolic Burst Cycling of Diet and Exercise system can solve.

    BP: What about exercise? Should you perform a different type of training during the bulking phase versus the dieting cycle?

    TA: This is an area that can also get quite complex, but for the time being, I think it would be sufficient to say that during the bulking phase, you should avoid aerobic exercise and conduct heavy, intense weight-training sessions. As energy, strength, and recovery levels will be heightened during this period, you might be able to train with weights five days a week. When I’m on my high-calorie/bulking phase, my strength literally goes up every workout. During intense weight training, your body further stimulates the release of testosterone and growth hormone.
    During the dieting phase, it is very important to include aerobic exercise, and the best time to do this is in a fasted state; i.e., in the morning, before breakfast. Recent studies at my lab strongly support this. I have experienced excellent results doing 40 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise 4 days a week–I keep my pulse around 120 beats per minute. During aerobic exercise, your body is more likely to stimulate the production of fat-burning chemicals like epinephrine.
    During this low-calorie phase, I would expect one to see good results training with weights 3 days a week, doing a more moderate-intensity program—for example, conducting 3 sets of 8-12 reps on standard exercises like dumbbell bench presses, lateral side raises, incline curls, triceps pushdowns, etc. Remember, your training goals during the low-calorie phase are to lose fat while maintaining as much muscle tissue as possible.

    BP: I see–you should go all out during the bulking phase, training heavy and hard, eating a bunch of food, then after two weeks, drop the calorie and carbohydrate intake substantially, perform regular aerobic exercise, and back off a bit on the weight training. That makes sense. What about meal frequency and supplements?

    TA: I’m a proponent of frequent feeding–I think you should eat every three hours or so during the day for optimum results. This would mean you’d consume five or six meals a day.
    In terms of supplements, this is an area where I think you can substantially increase the effects of the ABCDE program. It’s also an area that can get quite complex and one that I’ll go into in greater detail on in the future. In fact, I’m presently writing a book about this system, which will spell out every aspect of this program–all my theories on nutrition, training, and supplementation will be revealed. I think I can have this book completed within the next six to eight months–I would be able to finish it sooner, but my research obligations and time in the ER make it difficult to allocate a significant number of hours to this project, even though it is one I’m quite passionate about.
    As far as supplements go, creatine, HMB, glutamine, Vitamin C, and chromium would all be extremely useful as long as they are used properly.4,11,12,16 I’ll cover this in the next article, as it is quite complicated.

    BP: So whom would you recommend the ABCDE program to?

    TA: This is the type of bodybuilding program I would highly recommend to drug-free weight trainers who are trying to increase muscle mass without gaining fat. On this program, it’s even possible to lose bodyfat while you gain muscle mass, but I would not recommend it for the obese.

    BP: Would this program work for someone who’s using steroids or who has just completed a steroid cycle?

    TA: I’m not sure. I’m concerned that if someone is coming off a steroid cycle, the body’s endocrine system may not function properly and will not respond to the anabolic stimulus of a hypercaloric diet.
    I would have the same concern about someone who is presently using steroids–the body may not respond optimally because of all the interrupted feedback loops.

    BP: What if someone tried to create his own “super-enhanced” bulking and fat-burning cycles by taking insulin, growth hormone, and fast-acting oral steroids for two weeks while consuming a lot of calories and then went on fat-burning drugs, like Cytomel and clenbuterol, and consumed a low-calorie diet for two weeks. Is it likely he would get phenomenal results?

    TA: Hmm. I’ve never thought about that. It’s obvious you know your readers better than I do and are anticipating this is what some radical bodybuilders might try to do. But actually, it’s an interesting question. Whether we take a number of hormones or we overfeed, we create constantly elevated levels of anabolic hormones in the bloodstream. These two states [exogenous vs. endogenous hormones] may look the same, but they are totally different. You see, in the former case, you add hormones to a body in homeostasis, meaning it will do a number of things to counteract the increased level, including blunt its own production of the hormones, increase the breakdown and excretion, decrease receptor sensitivity and number, increase the amount of binding proteins, and so on. While in the latter case, the body has created a hormonal environment aimed for anabolism and will not counteract itself. This way, the cycle will work very well every time you try it. I actually can’t see any advantages to using drugs during the ABCDE program.

    BP: What if people are already on a high-calorie diet, or what if they’re presently on a low-calorie diet and they want to try your ABCDE program?

    TA: If some of your readers are already consuming an excess number of calories, they should start the ABCDE program with the low-calorie phase to “reprime” their anabolic systems, so to speak.
    If they are already on a low-calorie diet, let’s say they’re getting ready for a bodybuilding contest or a photo shoot, following this would be an excellent time to start the Anabolic Burst Cycling program with a high-calorie phase. In fact, many bodybuilders will probably recognize that they have “unintentionally” done an anabolic-burst high-calorie dieting phase already–anyone who’s cut up for a contest and then “pigged out” for a few weeks afterwards will confirm he/she gained size and strength at a phenomenal rate, and not all of the weight gained was fat. Ask them–they’ll confirm this!
    One of the things that’s often discussed in bodybuilding is that those who compete make better gains, year in and year out, than those who don’t because they’re forced to go on calorie cycles, albeit rather traditional, longer ones. My acute, two-week calorie cycles will produce even better results than competitive bodybuilders get from cutting up and bulking up. On this system, you’re literally bulking and cutting every month.

    BP: Are there any down sides to this program?

    TA: Traditionally, high-calorie diets are associated with several undesirable effects, such as increased cholesterol levels and a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, but since the overfeeding phases are only two weeks in length and are followed by a fat-loss phase, I don’t believe there will be any adverse health consequences. I think the ABCDE program is very safe.
    And, the program has numerous advantages over other diets, which make it much easier to follow, henceforth more effective, such as: it offers variation, thus it won’t become tedious to follow; it doesn’t induce a mental state where you can’t function within a social context; it’s based on legitimate scientific findings; the “perfect” ratio of macronutrients in every meal is relatively unimportant; overall, the diet is relatively easy to follow; and the program allows you to make changes within the framework of the diet in regards to your personal ambitions and goals.
    All of these things that I just mentioned are not true of ketogenic diets, the Zone Diet, very high-protein diets, starvation diets, very low-fat diets, high-carbohydrate diets, and high-fat diets.

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    As you can see, you really do have access to some powerful anabolic hormones–the good stuff! You really do have a source for real insulin, IGF-1, and testosterone–a source you can use to pack on pounds of new muscle! And, now you know some things about how to tap into that source and how to use your body’s natural biochemistry to build muscle size and strength faster than you might have ever imagined!
    The ABCDE system just flat out makes sense. It’s backed by a strong scientific theory, and before long, I predict thousands and thousands of bodybuilders will be singing the praises of this system, and we’ll all be smacking ourselves in the forehead and saying, “Damn… why didn’t we think of this sooner… it makes so much sense!”
    Remember, Muscle Media 2000 was the first magazine–the source–to break this exclusive story, one that I think is probably among the most exciting bodybuilding discoveries ever made!
    After this interview with Torbjorn, I was “sold.” I’m going to try this program. You may want to try it, too. But, Torbjorn says the ABCDE system will work even better if you know all the details of this program. So, you may want to wait until after you read Part 2 of this story to give it a try.

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    References Cited

    1 A.N. Chiang, et al., “Excess Energy and Nitrogen Balance at Protein Intakes Above the Requirement Level in Young Men,” Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 48 (1988) : 1015-1022.

    2 G.B. Forbes, et al., “Hormonal Response to Overfeeding,” Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 49.4 (1989) : 608-611.

    3 G.B. Forbes, et al., “Lean Body Mass in Obesity,” Int. J. Obes. 7.2 (1983) : 99-107.

    4 A.L. Green, et al., “Creatine Ingestion Augments Muscle Creatine Uptake and Glycogen Synthesis During Carbohydrate Feeding in Man,” J. of Phys. 491.P (1996) : 63-64.

    5 D. Häussinger, et al., “Cellular Hydration State: An Important Determinant of Protein Catabolism in Health and Disease,” Lancet 341.8856 (1993) : 1330-1332.

    6 D. Häussinger, et al., “Cell Swelling Inhibits Proteolysis in Perfused Rat Liver,” Biochem. J. 272.1 (1990) : 239-242.

    7 Jebb, et al., “Changes in Macronutrient Balance During Over- and Underfeeding Assessed by 12-Day Continuous Whole-Body Calorimetry,” Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 64 (1996) : 259-266.

    8 D.J. Millward, “The Endocrine Response to Dietary Protein: The Anabolic Drive on Growth,” Milk Protein (1989) : 49-61.

    9 D.J. Millward, “A Protein-Stat Mechanism for Regulation of Growth and Maintenance of the Lean Body Mass,” Nutr. Res. Rev. 8 (1995) : 93-120.

    10 F.P. Moss, “The Relationship Between the Dimension of the Fibers and the Number of Nuclei During Normal Growth of Skeletal Muscle in the Domestic Fowl,” Am. J. Anat. 122 (1968) : 555-564.

    11 S.L. Nissen, et al., “Effect of ß-Hydroxy ß-Methylbutyrate (HMB) Supplementation on Strength and Body Composition of Trained and Untrained Males Undergoing Intense Resistance Training,” Experimental Biology ’96 Conference Presentation Abstract (1996).

    12 S.L. Nissen, et al., “The Effect of the Leucine Metabolite ß-Hydroxy ß-Methylbutyrate on Muscle Metabolism During Resistance-Exercise Training,” J. Appl. Physiol. 81.5 (1996) : 2095-2104.

    13 E.B. Oddoye, et al., “Nitrogen Balance Studies in Humans: Long-Term Effect of High Nitrogen Intake on Nitrogen Accretion,” J. Nutr. 109.3 (1979) : 363-377.

    14 E. Ravussin, et al., “Short-Term, Mixed-Diet Overfeeding in Man: No Evidence for ‘Luxuskonsumption,’” Am. J. Physiol. 249.5 (1985) : E470-E477.

    15 B.S. Tseng, et al., “Cytoplasm-to-Myonucleus Ratios and Succinate Dehydrogenase Activities in Adult Rat Slow and Fast Muscle Fiber,” Cell Tissue Res. 275 (1994) : 39-49.

    16 M. Varnier, et al., “Stimulatory Effect of Glutamine on Glycogen Accumulation in Human Skeletal Muscle,” Amer. J. Physiol. 269.2 (1995) : E309-E315.”

  3. Great read brother. Thanks for posting this. I'm pretty interested in hearing everyones thoughts on this.
    Training log:

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