Miss the intro to this series? Yeah, it's been awhile. Go here for a refresher.
The story of a phoenix rising from the ashes is iconic and timeless. It's an archetype that transcends time and place and speaks to the indomitability of the human spirit. Be it humanity's seeming inborn tendency to root for the underdog, or the dominant American/Western appreciation for the rags-to-riches, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, polar-opposite-of-Donald-Trump mofos who spit in the face of adversity and dominate the opposition because they simply refuse to lose, these stories dominate the modern zeitgeist. This is the reason the Rocky series seem to be endless in spite of the fact that Clubber Lang or Ivan Drago would have quite literally killed that little man in the ring and worn his skin to their birthday parties, why the films of the 1980's were so obsessed with horrible rags-to-riches stories like Brewster's Millions and that cinematic nightmare Arthur were popular in spite of their crappy plots and Dudley Moore, and why tales of redemption and rebirth are some of the oldest and most beloved stories ever recorded.
Did any non-Italians root for Rocky in this goddamned flick?
Rising from the ashes, digging yourself out of the rubble and emerging from the previous conflagration like V in V for Vendetta is as intrinsically motivational thing as one can accomplish, and the inspiration it provides serves to drive you to even greater heights. Too often, we become complacent, trapped in a mindset that the status quo is good enough, convinced we have chosen the most prudent, effective, and correct path, adopting a mindset that disallows consideration of alternatives. Stagnation and plateaus then plague our training and stymie our physique and strength goals, yet we tinker and tweak when what we really need is a firestorm to purify our minds and bodies. To scorch the fat off our soul. A cataclysm from which we can be born anew, and from which we can regain our predatory glow.
Rebirth after destruction is the natural order of things- maggots grow into flies eating rotting flesh, new growth forms in the ashes of forest fires, and new nations are formed from the rubble of the old. Hell, the French even refer to orgasms as "the little death," bring new life, ostensibly, from each load dropped. Just as Taiwan grew out of the ashes of China's post-monarchic socio-political disaster, the United States Constitution was penned after the dissolution of the Articles of Confederation and a near civil war, Robert Downey Jr's rebirthed career after passing out in his neighbor's kid's bed, and Five Finger Death Punch grew out of the death of a couple (and in the case of Motograter, far better bands), lifters can also destroy and rebuild themselves anew.
Bruce Randall bulked hard as hell, cut even harder, and then rebuilt his physique into a solid 1950's bodybuilder look with enough strength to move serious weights.
What I am proposing isn't as dramatic as self-immolation, though it might seem that way at first. Nor is it intended as a long-term scheme, though it could be used as one if one so chooses. Instead, this is a diet that is intended to be used periodically to shock the system, shake things up, and knock the rust off doing the same thing month in and month out. If you're a goddamned machine who is continually making progress with the same 'ol nonsense and rocking abs that local Amish women use as a laundry washboard, you can just stick this in your back pocket in case you need something different down the road, because if experience has taught me one thing, it's that nothing works forever in the strength game.
Strength sports legend Hermann Goerner was one of these poor bastards not once but twice in his hyper-illustrious career. Losing weight is hardly the end of the world, and you're no special snowflake, no matter what you say- the weight will pile right back on.
With all of that said, it's time to get into the details of the Feast or Famine Diet. The diet begins with a brutal introductory period of a protein-sparing modified fast (PSMF) designed to strip both bodyfat and muscle glycogen from your body (in addition to burning the proverbial fat off your soul) followed by alternating bouts of overeating and extremely heavy lifting and PSMF and high volume repetition work, respectively. In this way, we compress the cyclical eating utilized by our historical forbearers into shorter "seasons" that will net overall muscle gain and fat loss, profound changes in the look of your physique, and concurrent gains in both your maximum effort and repetition strength. Yeah, with this diet you can literally have your cake and eat it too.
You just must starve for it a bit.
Remember this transformation? Christian Bale went from a lean and muscular 6' 184lbs to damn near dead in the Machinist (dropped to 124lbs), then bulked hard as hell for Batman, getting to a thick 215 and then cutting to 190 so he'd fit into the Bat suit in five months. Bear in mind he was so goddamned malnourished after the Machinist it took a couple of weeks of stuffing himself before he could even go jogging or lift.
The first three weeks are gonna be rough- you'll be hungry, angry, lonely, and tired, but to hell that HALT nonsense stimulants are going to become your best friend. When I PSMF, I always use stimulants, because stuff like Red Sky or Cannibal Inferno make dieting a far less miserable and lengthy experience and provide ample energy for training. I recommend using those three times a day for energy (which you will seriously need) and vastly increased fat metabolism, or do one of those two twice a day and then Cannibal Ferox or Cannibal Riot the third. Should you try to do a PSMF without some form of stimulants, you will likely feel like death during your training sessions, so get acquainted with them and learn to love them if you don't already.
I've basically been reading naught but Warhammer novels for three months, so buckle up for some 40k references.
The Famine (2-4 weeks)
- 4-6 protein shakes per day, evenly spaced, in water, totaling 1 gram/lb. of bodyweight a day
- 2 weeks if lean/leanish, 4 weeks if chubby/fat
- Stimulant-based thermogenic (containing caffeine and yohimbine HCL if possible, like Cannibal Inferno).
- A thyroid-based fat burner will obviously help as well. To avoid the internet stigma of "eat clen, tren hard," you can grab some Cannibal Claw, which is about 75% as effective as the aforementioned stack. The thyroid stuff is less important than the stimulants, though, because you need the energy, so if it is a one-or-the-other proposition, go with stims.
- Nutrition repartitioning agents / blood sugar management supplements. I've tried everything from Cannibal Carnage to Predator to handfuls of cinnamon caps, and they seem to help speed fat loss, but they're not 100% essential like the stims are.
The amount of protein is based on your bodyweight- you're going to consume one gram of protein per pound of your weight. Thus, you should be getting roughly eight or nine calories per pound of bodyweight due to the trace carbs and fat in your protein shakes. These shakes are not intended to fuel your workouts or daily life- you're essentially fasting. Instead, they're to ensure you lose as little muscle as possible while undergoing a fortnight-long fast.
If you're Russian or a communist and reading this, stop short of your natural inclination when fasting... and try to avoid a Cannibal Island type situation. There's nothing wrong with cannibalism, but if it's starvation induced, you've taken the diet a bit too far.
The idea of starting with a famine period is simple- if you're considering a re-composition diet, you're likely not seeing much in the way of definition or abs. And if you're both small and chubby, stripping off some fat will mean your will put on less fat in your bulking period, because studies have shown that the less bodyfat you hold, the less you will gain while bulking. And ladies, therefore you put on more fat during a dirty bulk than your boyfriend/husband/training partner/coach/bang buddy/etc.- it's one of the many ways the gods have issued your gender a hearty "screw you,"
"Overfeeding: In experiments of at least 3-weeks' duration, the weight gain of thin people comprises 60-70% lean tissues, whereas in the obese it is 30-40%. Underfeeding: In humans, there is an inverse curvilinear relationship between initial body fat content and the proportion of weight loss consisting of lean tissue" (Forbes).
As chicks hold higher bodyfat percentages naturally, the probability they'll gain a greater amount of fat while bulking than a guy is high. So again, dropping some fat before starting the bulk makes sense. The second sentence in that study is also important, because it essentially states that people carrying more body fat will lose less fat when dieting than leaner people. As Metallica said, it's sad but true,
so, if you're a bit on the fatter side, you might want to extend the initial famine period to a month to put you on a better footing when you start bulking. It'll suck harder than an amateur porn star trying to pay her kid's private college tuition for a month, but it'll be worth it from a metabolic and an aesthetic standpoint.
This bad little mofo trained his ass off in a British military prison after slapping the crap out of a British officer while in the RAF and survived the Bengali famine before winning Mr. Universe in 1951. A bit of privation does a body good.
Forbes GB. Body fat content influences the body composition response to nutrition and exercise. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2000 May; 904:359-65.
Konopka AR, Harber MP. Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy after Aerobic Exercise Training. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2014 Apr; 42(2): 53–61.
Longland TM, Oikawa SY, Mitchell CJ, Devries MC, Phillips SM. Higher compared with lower dietary protein during an energy deficit combined with intense exercise promotes greater lean mass gain and fat mass loss: a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Mar;103(3):738-46.