I’ll be using it to transition from The Rapid Fat Loss Diet to a lifestyle diet.
Here it is, for you Google-challenged, lazy schleps:
The T-Dawg Diet: Version 2.0
by Chris Shugart and TC
A Brief History of Supper Time
In the beginning, there was meat, and meat was good. A hungry man would pick up a sharp stick, sit quietly by a watering hole in the early morn, and wait until breakfast strolled up for a sip of water. Along with four-legged extra value meals, there were tasty sources of protein and healthy fats swimming in the oceans and rivers. When the hunting and fishing weren’t that good, there were things growing in the ground that could sustain a man and his family. Man’s body adapted to this simple diet and this was also good.
Fast forward to the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Things had gone very wrong somewhere down the line. Diet experts railed against fat, questioned the importance of protein, and touted the benefits of highly processed carb sources. Sugar and flour replaced meat and veggies. People became soft and diseased. Grown men wore stretchy pants. This was very bad.
Luckily, a few revolutionaries were able to look out at the gelatinous masses and see that something was very wrong. Man had defied Mother Nature and that old bat had struck back. These brave souls came forth and said that fat wasn’t that bad, heck, some of it was even essential. They said that meat wasn’t evil and that protein was vital. Most importantly, they smite the bagels and rice cakes out of the hands of the chubby, misled carboholics, and reminded them that “fat free” does not always mean healthy.
However, man’s egotism struck again and some of these very same revolutionaries decided that all carbohydrates were bad. Sure enough, they had swung the dietary pendulum too far and their narrow-minded eating plans left us flat and mentally incapacitated. Our waists may have shrunk, but so did our muscles and our ability to perform athletically. Not good.
Then from the smoky, corpse-strewn, dietary battlefield, two warriors emerged, their weapon common sense, their mission to help everyone be healthy and look good naked. They were Chris Shugart and TC, and in their hands was a tablet writ of stone. On it, the T-Dawg Diet.
Of course, we could be exaggerating just a little.
Just Dawg It
Our idea was simple. Take the prototypical low-carb diet and improve it:[list=1]Tweak it so it worked better for bodybuildersMake it healthier. Make it easier ? both physically and psychologically ? to stick with. Modernize it so it included post-workout nutrition and anti-catabolic supplementation.[/list=1]
In the end, we took all the good parts of several different diets and combined them into one ass-kicking fat loss plan: the T-Dawg Diet. We called it that because the diet was kind of a mutt. In the canine world, mutts tend to live longer, healthier lives than purebreds because of their varied gene pool. The T-Dawg proved to be the same. Of all the diets we’ve presented here in T-mag, the ol’ Dawg has remained a favorite and has established a proven track record. The fat comes off pretty easily, workouts remain productive, the mental “blahs” are reduced, and many even report simultaneous muscle gain to go along with the blubber loss.
That being said, the diet is about three years old and much has changed during that time. Not only do we now know more about the science of fat loss, we’ve also had three years worth of feedback on the diet. With all the new scientific and practical info, we thought it was time to update and refine the T-Dawg Diet.
In a nutshell, the original T-Dawg diet suggested you get about 70 grams of carbs on training days and around 30 on non-training days. On training day, most of the carbs came right after your workout in the form of an MRP (meal replacement powder) with added “simple” carbs.
Protein intake was just below a gram per pound of body weight and the rest of the calories came from dietary fat. Supplements like folic acid, fish and flax oil, fiber and a multivitamin were suggested to reduce any possible harmful effects of a high-fat diet.
A high fat intake was suggested because dietary fat fills you up quickly, satiates you longer, ensures an even and subdued insulin release, and optimizes hormone levels such as Testosterone. Low carbs were suggested to keep a rein on insulin, reduce cravings, keep physical and mental energy levels constant and, of course, increase the oxidation of fatty acids. One day per week, usually Saturday, you were allowed a couple of “free meals” of any gosh darn thing you wanted.
Everyone up to speed now? Good. Let’s move on.
So how is Version 2.0 different? There are several refinements and improvements[list=1]More Carbs Allowed
There’s nothing overly scientific about this. People on the diet simply noticed they got great results with more carbs than originally recommended. So instead of 70/30 (70 grams on training day and 30 on other days), we now suggest 100/70. Why? Well, why deprive yourself with fewer carbs if your body can hardly tell the difference anyway and fat loss is not effected?
By upping the carbs, you can plan your diet easier and have a wider variety of food choices, ensure a higher fiber intake (a problem with low carb diets), and perhaps most importantly, have enough carbs allotted for a proper post-workout drink. (More on that below.) A diet too low in carbs also makes for a rough transition to “normal” eating and many people give in to cravings. Allowing for more carbs makes it easier to come off the diet.
So, the T-Dawg isn’t really a low carb diet; it’s a reduced carb diet where carbohydrate intake is smartly timed.
Post-workout Nutrition Refined
When we wrote the original article, we knew what you consumed after your workout was very important. Basically, we knew you needed protein and simple carbs to replenish glycogen stores, lower cortisol levels (the hormone that, in excess, causes muscle breakdown), and increase muscle protein synthesis.
An MRP with added high GI carbs worked okay; it was simply the best option we had back then. Today we know exactly what’s needed in a post-workout drink to achieve all of the things mentioned above: a fast acting protein, a precise ratio of BCAA’s, and the right high GI carb sources.
We don’t have to guess anymore: to turn on anabolism and halt catabolism, use Biotest Surge right after your workouts. (Even cheapskate skeptics now agree this should be a staple of any serious trainee’s program!) Another option is to sip half a serving starting immediately before your workout and continuing throughout the workout, then slam back the other half when you’re finished. Try it both ways and see what works best for you.
Now, every time we tell someone on a low carb diet that they should have a big whollup of carbs after training, they freak out. They shouldn’t. The advantages of a post-workout drink far outweigh the disadvantages of being out of ketosis. In fact, we think ketosis is overrated. In short, don’t sweat whether you’re in ketosis or not!
Through a variety of mechanisms, pre- and post-workout drinks will improve your rate of fat loss! First off, the drink will increase workout intensity (a problem for most low carb dieters), increase muscle pump, and increase reps performed and weight handled. Other benefits: better preservation of muscle mass while dieting, improved metabolic stimulus during training, higher post-exercise metabolic rate, and a higher GH response to exercise, to name a few. T-mag contributor John Berardi has written about all this before so we won’t belabor the point. Just get your post-workout drink and stop worrying!
Modified “Free” Meals
When we first wrote the T-Dawg, we suggested one day of “free” eating. Just have whatever you’ve been craving during the week, even pizza and beer. Throw the food log out the window for one day and have all the carbage you want. The next day, get right back on the Dawg.
We suggested this mainly for psychological and social reasons ? basically it’s just easier to be “good” all week if you know you can get that craving for chimichangas out of the way on Saturday. It also made things like dates, business lunches, and dinner at grandma’s house easier to cope with. We also suspect that an occasional cheat meal may be beneficial for many reasons: increased T3 and T4 output, decreased cortisol levels, increased serum leptin levels, less “flat” feelings in the gym, etc. But really, who cares about that? We still think the main reason a cheat meal helps is psychological.
Anyhow, the results were largely good. Despite TBA (Total Buffet Annihilation), most T-Dawgers lost fat and kept their sanity. However, a few went absolutely insane, using the “free day” to imprison themselves in a bunker built from Eskimo Pies and then eat themselves out.
As such, we needed to modify a couple of things. The “free” eating options now include:
Option #1: Eat one meal of any and all you want, one day per week, usually Saturday.
Option #2: Have a healthy carb-up one day a week.
This last option would involve eating clean, but upping your carb intake. In other words, you’re not gorging on pizza but you are eating more oatmeal, more sweet potatoes, a little pasta and rice, a slice or two of dark, grainy bread per day, a small bowl of high fiber cereal, etc.[/list=1]
Those are the basic changes. Now let’s get into the details.
Yes, calories still count and you’ll need to keep a food log during the week. (See our article here for info on how to set one up.) Determining daily caloric intake can be as complex as you want to make it, or it can be simple. We’re going to keep it simple. No matter how scientific the formula is, how many calories to consume always comes down to the individual and his or her metabolism, activity level and lifestyle.
We suggest you multiply your bodyweight (in pounds) by the number 15 and start from there. So a 200 pound man would eat 3000 calories a day. After a week, he’d drop that by 500 calories. Now, we used to say that the average person should lose about a pound or two per week without losing muscle, but it’s a little more complex than that. See, if you’re really overweight, you’ll be able to lose several pounds per week safely (at least at first). By safely, we mean without losing too much muscle. But if you’re already fairly lean and are just trying to get super-shredded for summer, then the fat won’t come off that quickly and the “pound per week” rule of thumb is about right.
The “pound per week” rule can also be changed if you’re using an anabolic supplement along with the diet. The supplements (legal or otherwise) would allow you to eat fewer calories without the risk of muscle loss. Our sample 200 pound man may be able to drop to as low as 1500 calories a day with the right anabolic support. (More on that later.)
In the end, you, your food log and the mirror are going to have to be the judge when it comes to caloric intake. You should not be starving and your performance in the gym shouldn’t be too hampered by the diet. (Don’t expect to set any new personal records while on any fat loss diet, however.) The only way to figure this out for yourself is through experimentation. Weigh yourself every Saturday morning before you eat. Modify as needed based on your progress or lack thereof. Occasional body fat measurements (using the same method every time) would also be helpful, but the mirror should be your number one guide.
The original T-Dawg diet was a little too low in protein. After all, we not only want to lose fat on this diet but preserve lean mass. Many people exceeded the original protein recommendations in the first diet and lost fat with no problems. Therefore, we’re going to suggest you get about 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight when on this diet.
New Break-in/Break-out Phase
If you’ve never been on a reduced carb/high fat diet before, we suggest you ease into it with a break-in phase. It’s simple. All you do is eat off the food lists we provided below and generally follow the guidelines we’ve talked about, but you don’t have to keep a food log for the first week. That way you can adjust to the diet without being overwhelmed by the details.
This is also a good way to come off the diet. You’ll naturally increase carbs and overall calories a bit, but since you’re sticking to the food and timing suggestions, you won’t go nuts and start stuffing down loaves of white bread and Cheetos. You can think of this break-in/break-out phase as eating “instinctively” while still falling within the T-Dawg guidelines.
Once you become experienced with the diet, you can also use this type of plan to lean up a little when needed without having to log food intake and read labels all day long. However, if you’re just starting, pay your dues ? read those labels and log everything!
Okay, you already know that most of your carbs are going to come after training in the form of a post-workout drink. On training day, about 50 grams of carbs should be taken in after your workout, or half before and half after as mentioned previously. If you’re using Biotest Surge, that simply means taking about one scoop before training and one scoop after. That leaves around 50 more carbs to consume on training day. Where do you put them?
A big chunk of them should come at breakfast. This is because after the eight hour fast we call sleep, your muscles are very receptive to carbohydrate intake. In layman’s terms, the carbs “go where they’re supposed to go” and not to your love handles. The rest of the carbs should come here and there throughout the day. And don’t fret if you overshoot the 100 grams a day guideline by a little. For example, don’t skip that night time scoop of low carb protein powder just because you don’t want to go over by two grams of carbs.
Here’s something else you may want to try: make breakfast your biggest meal. This will reduce your appetite for the rest of the day and squelch any overnight catabolism. (Eating big in the morning and less as the day goes by was also a technique used by Lee Haney, eight time Mr. Olympia. Hey, maybe we can learn something from a pro-bodybuilder!)
Try to eat every three hours or so during the day. Don’t skip meals and don’t fall for that “eating before bed makes you fat” nonsense. Eat a small meal with fat and protein before bed. This bedtime snack should be your smallest meal of the day.
Here’s a short list of suggested food choices for the T-Dawg Diet.
* Whole eggs and egg whites * Beef, chicken, turkey, pork (we'd keep pork intake limited, however), and other land critters * Tuna, salmon and other water critters * Cottage cheese * Cheese * Metabolic Drive! MRP
* Post-workout drink (Surge) * Old-fashioned oatmeal * Most vegetables (Those frozen bags of mixed veggies can be very handy.)
* Fish oil * Flax oil * Udo's choice oil blend * Biotest DHA/EPA supplement (This one isn't out yet as of this writing, but it will blow away all the choices above when it does hit the shelves!) * Mixed nuts and natural peanut butter * Plus the fats found in whole eggs and beef
Note: While some saturated fat is okay on this diet, it’s healthier to keep intake in check. So we suggest using fat free dairy products like cheese and cottage cheese, but don’t sweat the “bad” fat in red meat and eggs. You may want to buy organic and free range animal proteins when possible however.)
Sample Daily Diet
Meal #1 (Big breakfast option)
* Egg and cheese omelet * Oatmeal * Classic Grow!
* Beef jerky, handful of mixed nuts
* Tuna, boiled egg
* Chicken breasts * Mixed veggies
* Pre and post-workout drink
* Steak * Salad
* Cottage cheese * Metabolic Drive!
As noted above, the addition of anabolic supplements when dieting can greatly aid in the retention of lean body mass (LBM) and perhaps even lead to some muscle gain, which is normally pretty hard to accomplish while dieting down.
Besides illegal steroids, those who want to really drop calories have a few choices:
* MAG-10 * 4-AD-EC * Methoxy-7 * The soon-to-come non-ephedrine thermogenic from Biotest
In a nutshell, for a hardcore, short term T-Dawg diet, use MAG-10. For a longer term diet, use 4-AD-EC. For women and those that don’t want to use prohormone supplements, use Methoxy-7.
You don’t have to use any of the above, but if you want to speed things up and ensure LBM retention, choosing one of them would be a good idea. If not, just don’t drop the calories too low.