The Low Carb Diet to End All Diets: Muscle Building, Fat Loss, and Easy Living Without the Calculator or Scale , Best Weight Loss Program


Stop counting calories.

Really, just stop.

I don’t care if you want fat loss.

Or muscle gain.

Throw the calculator away.

And carb cycling?

Easy. Beyond easy.

So easy that it makes me want to write easy six more times so you realize just how easy carb cycling is.

Easy. Easy. Easy. Easy. Easy.

What follows is a simple nutrition plan that’s adjustable for any goal and can even be optimized for an awesome lifestyle.

And I’m not even going to tease you about oatmeal volcanoes. That’s what pictures are for.

Keep your eyeballs in their sockets, please.

Current flavor of fasting

Lately, I’ve fielded a lot of questions about my “diet.” (I hate that word.) It’s a tough thing to tackle because, all things considered, it’s ever-changing.

My latest fiasco was the Warrior Diet — or whatever freakish mutation I made of it.

It was great.

Except for when it was bad.

And bad it was at times.

That’s why I’m going back to old reliable — the plan that’s gotten me the most results with the least hassle. It borrows from Martin Berkhan’s Leangains, so it’s a mutation of intermittent fasting.

So before I slop that on you, here’s why I succumbed to what society sees as short-lived starvation.

Benefits of intermittent fasting

I’m a big believer in starting with why.

It’s been over a year since I converted to intermittent fasting. But the question remains: why intentionally not eat and live in hunger?

Few ask this question before picking up the glass of Kool-Aid. The answer surely isn’t because intermittent fasting is the onlypathway to results. People use methods in stark contrast to intermittent fasting and still get big, strong, and ripped. Precision Nutrition is a prime example of using methods opposite of intermittent fasting.

And from a broad perspective, intermittent fasting is rather logical.

Martin Berkhan’s Leangains condenses a day’s worth of calories into three bigger meals. Ori Hofmekler’s Warrior Diet combines a day’s worth of calories into one big meal. Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat (in the name of honesty, this is an affiliate link, but it’s a damn worthy one as it’s a fantastic resource) cuts out calories from a few meals that would otherwise be consumed. John Romaniello’s Feast Fast cuts out an entire day’s worth of calories.

It seems thermodynamics – calories in versus calories out – is winning.

…Or is it?

Intermittent fasting and body composition

Now, I’m far from a diet expert. There are plenty of websites dedicated to fasting. My two favorite are run by Martin Berkhan and Brad Pilon. So if you want specifics, go to them. This is just an overview.

Considering the forefathers of intermittent fasting are jacked and ripped, it sure is compelling for body recomposition.

But there may be more than thermodynamics to thank for this, likefasting boosting growth hormone, as explained by Brad Pilon. AndMartin Berkhan surely isn’t lacking client testimonials.

Then there are anecdotes from the majority of fitness folk. Since writing about IF, many people have told me fasting was a key ingredient in getting them the leanest they’ve ever been.

There are a few hiccups here though. For instance, Martin Berkhan also recommends carbohydrate cycling. This undoubtedly has an effect on body composition. (I can personally attest to this.) And people may simply be eating less after switching to intermittent fasting since cramming six meals worth of calories into three is challenging at first.

But we can at least say intermittent fasting isn’t a negative in the body composition column.

Intermittent fasting and lifestyle

Psychologically, it’s reassuring to know that hunger isn’t going to melt our muscles like the Wicked Witch of the West under a bucket of water.

This is reason enough to give fasting a go as a beeping watch alarm every three hours in reminder of “meal time” isn’t a fun way of living.

It’s also nice knowing some food in the stomach and feeling “good” isn’t going to be “bad.”

Intermittent fasting and cognittion

There’s a group of people that theorize creativity skyrockets during times of hunger.

Hell, even Scott Adams – illustrator of famed comic, Dilbert – has his own takeon breakfast and creativity. Starving may not be such a bad thing for the artist.

The rationale for this is that primitive manneeded to be creative in times of hunger to find food.

So when you open your fridge and find nothing but scraps, you’re more apt to concoct a conglomeration of ingredients that don’t really make sense. A banana, celery, and bleu cheese omelette? Whatever.

So…what should I choose?

Great. Fasting is pretty cool. And good for us. But most fasting data is non-specific to the methods used. A fast is simply a prolonged period of time without food. What separates 16 from 20 from 24 from 40 hour fasts?

I’m not sure anyone knows. One or two weekly 24 hours fasts may be “enough,” as Brad Pilon suggests. Try many fasting lengths. You’ll understand and appreciate your body a lot more.

The plans below are mutations of Leangains (16/8 scheme) and Eat Stop Eat (24 hour fasts) because, from my experience, they are the easiest and “healthiest” from a mental perspective. Obsessing about eating every three hours is just as askew as dragging through hunger in countdown to the next meal.

Disclaimer of experience

Before I get to the meat, I want to remind you of just how much work went into this. This article is more than three days worth of writing and editing 3,000 words. This is years of experimentation.

Below is the progression of my diet.

  • 6 meals per day – Summer 2006
  • 4 meals per day – Summer 2010
  • 4 meals, 2 snacks per day – Fall 2010
  • 2 meals per day – Winter 2011 (broken foot)
  • 2 meals per day, Leangains with Feast Fast Method – Fall 2011
  • 2 meals per day, Leangains with Eat Stop Eat – Winter 2012
  • 1 meal per day, Warrior Diet experiments – Spring 2012

So this has been curating for years. And that’s how most of my knowledge blossoms: through years of trials, tribulations, and failures.

Here’s the story from the most relevant starting point.

Broken foot, can’t cookK

In 2011, I began intermittent fasting. My diet was simple and based on advice passed down from a bodybuilder friend: center your diet around eating one pound of meat, six eggs, and three protein shakes every day. So, I did.

Because of my foot, and being unable to cook, I got used to eating two meals per day. And after healing, I kept this pattern. The first meal was at noon. The second, at dinner time or later in the day.

In late 2011, I started carb cycling. Carb cycling, for whatever reason, seemed like one of those uber complex things that wasn’t worth the effort. But that’s not true at all. And it’s well worth the effort.

Pictured above: Three chicken breasts, peppers, six eggs with cheese, 1500 calories worth of oatmeal volcano, three scoops worth of protein lava pudding (all volcanoes have lava, duh), cottage cheese (not pictured) was also down the hatch. And if you look in the top right hand corner, you can see part of my gamorrean guard mug. Awesome. (By the way, this was a Warrior Diet escapade.)

My greatest gains

The greatest gains of my life came from intermittent fasting, eating two meals per day, using “complicated” carb cycling, training on an empty stomach, and with a 12PM-8PM feeding window. The “complicated” carb cycling technique shakes out like this: On hardcore training days, down more starchy and simple carbs. On off days, down more vegetables and fats. That’s about it.

And this template, that’s been curating for over a year, is easily adjustable for muscle gain, fat loss, maintenance, and lifestyle. So there’s a template below for each. All are simple, but the key is being able to eat enough. Again, I have a deeper stomach than most so I can take down 1,000 – 2,000 calories in one sitting.

If two meals are overwhelming, break things down into three or four meals. Just center each meal around protein.

Start with the cruise control template. All variations stem from it, and it’s the method I use most frequently.

1) Cruise control template

No matter the goal, start with the cruise control template. This is my “money” template that just “works” for living life and slow cooking progress.

This is the ideal template for a “clean bulk,” or what I like to call “living life and training without obsession.”

The basic tenant of the cruise control template is getting at least one pound of meat, six eggs, and three protein shakes down every day. If you eat chicken, this shakes out to damn near 200 grams of protein and 1,200 calories. Fattier cuts of meat will obviously yield more calories, but chicken — being one of the leanest meats — represents the minimum caloric yield.

But that’s all of the calculations needed. Eat those three things, and you know you’re probably getting “enough” protein, which is most important. Everything else falls under the experimental umbrella.

Adjust the quantities based on how your body responds. It might take a few months to hone in on things, but everyone’s metabolic rate is different. That’s just the reality. I’m not about quick fixes either. You’re going to have to experiment.

From here we can add the complicated carb cycling principles: more starchy and simple carbs on hardcore training days, more leafy, cruciferous, exotic vegetables, and fats on off days.

Examples of starchy and simple carbs: oats, rice, potatoes, fruits

Examples of vegetables and fats: cheeses, nuts, broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, carrots, spinach, kale, lettuce, peppers, eggplant, etc…

Examples of lean meat: chicken, turkey

Examples of fattier meat: red meat, pork

Good editions on either day: cottage cheese

Personally, I almost always stick with oats because they are cheap. And I’m a little bit in love with my oatmeal volcanoes. I usually down cottage cheese on a daily basis too, even though it isn’t one of the three staples.

Neutrals, exclusives, and tweeners

I like thinking in terms of three categories: neutrals, tweeners, and exclusives. Neutral foods are lean meats, wholesome vegetables, plain protein powder — essentially pure protein and fiber. Neutral foods are good any time, any place, and with any meal.

Exclusives are foods that, when carb cycling, need to stay on their designated days. So nuts, being mostly fat, should be secluded to low carb days. Potatoes and oats, being mostly carbs, should be secluded to high carb days.

Tweeners are foods that teeter on neutral. Eggs are a great example of a tweener. There’s some fat, but not a whole lot. Cottage cheese is another example. So tweeners have a home, but they can float neutral as no day completely excludes one specific macro-nutrient.

High carbohydrate days (2-4 days per week)

High carbohydrate days have two distinct meals, with the first being post-workout. The post workout meal is flooded with complex and simple carbohydrates. Fat is kept to a minimum.

I like eating 0.5 – 0.25 pounds of the meat (usually chicken or lean turkey) and all three protein scoops at this meal (works well in the volcano). The simple and complex carbs add up to 1,000 – 1,500 calories.

The second meal is kept low carbohydrate and consists of the eggs, some vegetables, the rest of the meat, and any other neutral food.

12-2PM – Post Workout Meal

Lean Meats, complex and simple carbs, protein powder

6-8PM – Second Meal

Lean meats, cottage cheese, eggs, vegetables

If you work out later in the day, flip the meals.

All carbohydrates are shuttled to the immediate post workout window. With carb back loading gaining popularity, this is soon to be “outdated,” but it’s worked well  for me for months — and years prior for a lot of folk.

If you train more than four days per week, think about picking the 2-4 days that you want to optimize — from a growth and recovery standpoint —  and keep them high carb. Other training days will fall under a low carb days.

Low carbohydrate days (3-4 days per week)

Low carbohydrate days are rather simple.

Just be careful  that you’re not overdoing it on the calories.

As crazy as it sounds, it’s easier to go overboard because nuts, avocado, and all of the fats add quick calories.

12PM-2PM – First Meal

Fattier meat, eggs, vegetables, cheeses, protein powder, nuts, etc…

6-8PM – Second Meal

Fattier meat, eggs, vegetables, cheeses, protein powder, nuts, etc…

Low carbohydrate days are for days you don’t train to build muscle. So if you just have a light retainer workout or are completely “off,” it’s a low carb day.

2) The muscle gain template

Remember, everything branches from the cruise control template. The muscle gaining template has one major swap, and that’s making the second meal on the high carbohydrate day mirror of the first.

On the cruise control template, carbohydrates are condensed to post workout. Not anymore. The muscle gaining template can be summed up with this: keep everything on their respective days. No tweeners allowed.

High carbohydrate days (2-4 days per week)

Fat, as a whole, is kept as a minimum, even to the point of dropping eggs.

12-2PM – Post Workout Meal

Lean Meats, complex and simple carbs, protein powder, any neutral food

6-8PM – Second Meal

Lean Meats, complex and simple carbs, protein powder, any neutral food

Low carbohydrate days (3-4 days per week)

For those that truly are looking to pack on the mass, go with 12 eggs on the low carbohydrate days.

12PM – First Meal

Fattier meat, eggs, vegetables, cheeses, protein powder, nuts, etc…

6-8PM – Second Meal

Fattier meat, eggs, vegetables, cheeses, protein powder, nuts, etc…

3) The fat loss template

Some people save money pennies at a time. They avoid morning coffee, thinking the $2.00 is a worthy savings.

Meanwhile, they bend over and take late fees and high interest rates — that exceed thousands of dollars — willingly.

Same goes for fat loss. Some stop eating the extra slice of toast, cutting out 100 calories every day — saving a whopping (sarcasm) 700 calories every week.

I prefer going for the juggular, Eat Stop Eat style. The basis behind Eat Stop Eat is fasting for 24 hours once or twice per week, which means cutting out one meal on each of the 24 hour fasting days. And since we only eat twice per day, cutting one meal means saving 1,000+ calories. Do that twice in one week, and you’re looking at +2,000.

But don’t screw it up by doubling the one meal you will eat.

On two of your low carbohydrate days, eat one normal sized meal. I recommend going with anything in the neutral category, as that cuts calories down further.

Don’t worry too much about the 24 hour part. Just eat one meal. The most convenient time is 3-4PM as anything earlier makes hunger late at night discomforting, and anything later makes the day miserable.

On this plan, high carbohydrate days stay the same per the cruise control template, as the post workout carbohydrates help maintain — and perhaps build — muscle.

High carbohydrate days (2-4 days per week)

See Cruise Control template for details.

12-2PM – Post Workout Meal

Lean Meats, complex and simple carbs, protein powder

6-8PM – Second Meal

Lean meats, cottage cheese, eggs, vegetables

Low carbohydrate days (1-2 days per week)

See Cruise Control template for details.

12-2PM – First Meal

Fattier meat, eggs, vegetables, cheeses, protein powder, nuts, etc…

6-8PM – Second Meal

Fattier meat, eggs, vegetables, cheeses, protein powder, nuts, etc…

One meal days (2 days per week)

3-5PM – Only Meal

Lean protein, protein powder, eggs, vegetables, anything neutral

4) The lifestyle template

While experimenting with the Warrior Diet, I got used a certain lifestyle freedom — kind of a lack of obsession. On previous diets, the tone for the day was “set” after the first meal.

On the Cruise Control template, for example, you down 1,500 calories. Psychologically, this locks me in on my second meal. So if friends call and want to cook out, I’m hand cuffed. Stay high carb? Or go ace on some ribs and burgers?

And that’s the biggest hang up with carb cycling, and “strict” dieting in general — it limits your lifestyle and lends itself to mild obsession.

I wanted to get away from this. And we can by making the first meal “neutral,” meaning the second meal can go any direction.

For instance, the other day I worked, lifted, trained my cousin, had two softball games. Normally, this screams high carbohydrate. But on the lifestyle template, I was afforded freedom.

I got home late and I didn’t want to destroy myself with a huge meal, so I poured a glass of wine, cooked some eggs, and coasted into the night. (I never drink wine during the week.)

So this is ideal for people that are prone to have less control over dinner or simply want more selection. Find out your parents are cooking an awesome dinner? Sweet, crash the party and eat everything. Want to eat a food that’s a little less “clean?” You’re likely fine as long as you know how to control portions. (I don’t.)

You can keep all of the carbohydrate cycling principles too if you wanted. Just make the meal later at night reflect the direction you want to go.

Lifestyle days

12PM – First Meal

Neutral foods – lean meat, vegetables, protein powder, etc…

6-8PM – Second Meal

Wherever your heart takes you


Ultimately, diet is just like training. The best plans are the one that fit  both your lifestyle and psychology.

This is just another one thrown out into the world, and the one that works for me.

Dare I say, two meals per day for twice the gains?


But the first step is one pound of meat, six eggs, and three scoops of protein. That takes precedence over the fasting and “specifics.” (Part of me wonders about the validity of the specifics anyway.)

But, stick to the base, and you will find your way.



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