Low carbohydrate diets were used quite often in the early years of bodybuilding (the fish and water diet). As with general fat loss, the use of low carbohydrate, ketogenic diets by athletes fell into disfavor as the emphasis shifted to carbohydrate based diets.
As ketogenic diets have reentered the diet arena in the 1990’s, modified ketogenic diets have been introduced for athletes, primarily bodybuilders. These include so-called cyclical ketogenic diets (CKD’s) such as “The Anabolic Diet” and “Bodyopus”.
During the 1980’s, Michael Zumpano and Daniel Duchaine introduced two of the earliest CKD’s: ‘The Rebound Diet’ for muscle gain, and then a modified version called ‘The Ultimate Diet’ for fat loss. Neither gained much acceptance in the bodybuilding subculture. This was most likely due to difficulty in implementing the diets and the fact that a diet high in fat went against everything nutritionists advocated.
In the early 1990’s, Dr. Mauro DiPasquale, a renowned expert on drug use in sports, introduced “The Anabolic Diet” (AD). This diet alternated periods of 5-6 days of low carbohydrate, moderate protein, moderate/high fat eating with periods of 1-2 days of unlimited carbohydrate consumption (20). The major premise of the Anabolic Diet was that the low carb week would cause a ‘metabolic shift’ to occur, forcing the body to use fat for fuel. The high carb consumption on the weekends would refill muscle carbohydrate stores and cause growth. The carb-loading phase was necessary as ketogenic diets can not sustain high intensity exercise such as weight training.
DiPasquale argued that his diet was both anti-catabolic (preventing muscle breakdown) as well as overtly anabolic (muscle building). His book suffered from a lack of appropriate references (using animal studies when human studies were available) and drawing incorrect 15 conclusions. As well, his book left bodybuilders with more questions than it provided answers.
A few years later, bodybuilding expert Dan Duchaine released the book “Underground Bodyopus: Militant Weight Loss and Recomposition”. Bodyopus addressed numerous topics related to fat loss, presenting three different diets. This included his approach to the CKD, which he called BODYOPUS. BODYOPUS was far more detailed than the Anabolic Diet, giving specific food recommendations in terms of both quality and quantity. As well, it gave basic workout recommendations and went into more detail regarding the physiology of the diet.
However, “Bodyopus” left many questions unanswered as evidenced by the numerous questions appearing in magazines and on the internet. While Duchaine’s ideas were accepted to a limited degree by the bodybuilding subculture, the lack of scientific references led health professionals, who still thought of ketogenic diets as dangerous and unhealthy, to question the diet’s credibility.
1. “Dr. Atkins’ New diet Revolution” Robert Atkins, MD. New York: Avon Publishers, 1992.
2. “Protein Power” Michael R. Eades, MD and Mary Dan Eades, MD. New York: Bantam Books, 1996.
3. “The Anabolic Diet” Mauro DiPasquale, MD. Optimum Training Systems, 1995. 21. “BODYOPUS: Militant fat loss and body recomposition” Dan Duchaine. Nevada: Xipe Press, 1996.
4 Fearon KC, et. al. Cancer cachexia: influence of systemic ketosis on substrate levels and nitrogen metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr (1988) 47:42-48.