The Pulse Feast
Build muscle. Stay lean. Eat what you want. Finally.
by Christian Thibaudeau – 1/13/2011
Christian Thibaudeau has stumbled upon the Holy Grail of physique transformation: an eating strategy that allows him to gain muscle, remain abs-on-display lean, and do it all without having to worry about food.
But it’s not what you think. Like the old story of the blind men in the room with the elephant, we’ve discovered parts of this strategy before. But now someone has finally put them together into a simple plan that works shockingly well.
Oh, and you get to pig out at night. Bonus.
It’s the Next Big Thing in muscle-building nutritional science:
The Pulse Feast.
– Chris Shugart
The Problem: If There’s Food Around, I Eat It!
Being a former fat guy, I’ve been fascinated with dieting all my life. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with food, and I’m always looking for ways to get lean and stay happy at the same time. And that last bit is important.
You see, when I was training for bodybuilding purposes, I used the six-meals-a-day, low-carb approach, and it really did get me super lean. But I had two problems eating that way. Even though it got me lean, I felt like crap all the time. I wanted to kill everybody, and I had no social life. All the pleasure of life was robbed from me.
The second problem was that after the bodybuilding contest I’d rebound and balloon way up. Even though I knew better, I was a yo-yo dieter.
The problem I had eating the traditional bodybuilding way – six to eight small meals per day – is that my psychological profile leans toward binge eating. I can force myself not to eat for two or three days, no problem. As long as I don’t start eating, I don’t have the psychological need to eat.
Once food enters my mouth, however – whether it’s because of a neurological reaction or a hormonal one (because I produce too much insulin) – I simply can’t stop eating. If there’s food around, I’ll definitely eat it.
Eating six small meals a day was like being teased by a beautiful woman, six times a day, and not being able to touch her. I was always suffering. It made me angry about food and angry about life.
It got so bad, to avoid falling off the wagon I’d literally keep no food in my house. I’d actually go to the grocery store six times per day and shop for each meal individually! What else could I do? If I had kept six meals in my house, all at one time, I would’ve gobbled up all of those groceries in one sitting.
As you can see, it was impossible for me to eat six small meals a day and stay sane. I’d lose body fat, but feel miserable. So I started to look for ways to remain lean while still enjoying life.
Let’s face it, it’s one thing to get super lean for one week out of the year and it’s another to stay reasonably lean all year around. Personally, I’d much rather be at 8% body fat all year and be happy than to be miserable getting to 4% for one month only to rebound to 14% for the rest of the year. I had to find a solution!
Experiment 1: Ripped, But Losing Muscle
The first eating strategy that appealed to me was Ori Hofmekler’s Warrior Diet, which I first read about here at T NATION. The basic idea was to fast all day (eat no food), then eat a lot in the evening.
It appealed to me because it seemed like the ultimate solution: I could eat whatever I wanted and still stay lean. The diet just fit my psychological profile. I didn’t need to eat for 18 hours, so it was actually pretty easy for me to do.
I started that diet right after a bodybuilding contest. I wanted to stay in contest shape and yet binge all I wanted. That diet allowed me to do that, to an extent. I stayed very lean, had a lot of energy, but I did lose some muscle mass.
The plan fit my needs at the time, but I knew that slowly losing muscle wasn’t what I wanted to do for long.
Experiment 2: Lean With Muscle Retention
I tried several different strategies to improve the basic fast-then-feast idea. I used BCAAs throughout the day to avoid being catabolic. I still didn’t gain muscle mass, but the addition of BCAAs seemed to prevent muscle loss, plus my strength stayed up.
This new strategy was better than the original plan, it worked, but it had its limitations. Muscle retention was great, but that still wasn’t good enough. I wanted to gain muscle.
Experiment 3: Shredded With Muscle Gains!
Not long after, I read about casein hydrolysate. This, I thought, could be the way to build muscle mass while staying lean. All I’d have to do is use casein hydrolysate pulses throughout the day.
The problem? At that time there wasn’t a casein hydrolysate product available. Great theory, I thought, but I couldn’t try it.
Fast forward… Tim Patterson sends me an experimental formula that contained an advanced version of casein hydrolysate that hadn’t been released yet to the public – a formula that eventually became known as Anaconda. I started pulsing it in during the day, then feasting at night. Using Anaconda that way gave me a tremendous amount of creatine, more than I needed, but it was giving me the casein hydrolysate I’d been wanting.
That was the first time I was able to eat what I wanted, stay lean, and actually gain strength and gain muscle.
MAG-10 was the precise component of the Anaconda formula that I really wanted for this eating strategy. I mentioned this to Tim Patterson and he quickly produced MAG-10 as a standalone formula, specifically for the purpose of pulsing throughout the day.
With the specialized formula of MAG-10 now available as a standalone supplement, I was able to finalize the plan, something I started thinking of as the Pulse Feast.
In the last year, I’ve been using various MAG-10 pulsing strategies during the day and only eating one big meal at the end of the day. This is how I eat just about every day, and the results are better than I ever expected – and I feel great!
Perfect Metabolic Efficiency
The Pulse Feast strategy – two large MAG-10 pulses during the day, one big meal in the evening – in addition to stimulating anabolic physiology, makes you metabolically efficient. And with continued use, you’ll be able to gain muscle and strength, stay lean, stay sane, and stop having to obsess about food.
Most people don’t really want to step on a bodybuilding stage. But almost everybody wants to look lean and not feel bad trying to get and stay lean. They also want to have the energy and mental focus to go out and play sports or participate in whatever athletic activities they want. And with this plan you can have it all, without revolving your whole schedule around your diet.
No more packing Tupperware containers everywhere you go or freak out if you can’t eat solid food every three hours.
Have a couple of MAG-10 pulses during the day and eat pretty much what you want at night. It’s simple, it’s stress-free, and it’s the most effective strategy I’ve ever used for building muscle and getting lean.
Let’s break it down.
Phase 1: Morning and Afternoon Pulses
From the time you get up in the morning until around 7:00 PM, you’re going to have two large pulses of MAG-10, which equates to one pulse in the morning and one pulse four or five hours later.
Each pulse consists of 3 scoops of MAG-10 in 900 ml (~30 oz) of water. This amounts to a little less fluid than a McDonald’s large drink, so no one should have trouble drinking that amount.
These two pulses are in addition to your peri-workout nutrition protocol. So on workout days, you’re getting a third giant pulse of anabolic ingredients from your workout nutrition. In my case, for my workout drink, I mix together MAG-10, ANACONDA, and SURGE Workout Fuel.
We’ve really given this dosing protocol a lot of consideration. Tim Patterson, Dr. Tim Ziegenfuss, and I collectively have reviewed all the available science literature, discussed this at length with various researchers, and experimented with all the variables.
In conclusion, the science matches my own personal experience – that in addition to peri-workout nutrition, a schedule of two large pulses of MAG-10, separated by four or five hours, works best. Here’s why:
The goal is to flood the bloodstream with massive amounts of the tripeptides and amino acids contained in MAG-10, drive those nutrients out of circulating blood and into muscle and other target tissues, and then return the bloodstream back to its normal baseline state at least an hour before the next pulse.
To keep the body responding maximally to the effects of pulsing, you have to have periods where the bloodstream is “resting” at its amino-acid baseline. And with the large pulses, the two-dose protocol provides just enough time to make it all work.
In other words, pulsing with large doses requires more clearance time, and there’s just enough time to fit in two pulses and still get in another large pulse during a workout.
From my experience, this protocol produces the maximum anabolic benefit while, at the same time, keeping the body highly sensitized to the effects.
Here’s exactly what I do:
I usually workout about 5:00 PM, so I’ll have one pulse of MAG-10 shortly after I get up in the morning, and another pulse early afternoon. At 5:00, when I work out, for my peri-workout protocol, I use two scoops of Anaconda, two scoops of MAG-10, and one scoop of Surge Workout Fuel.
Phase 2: Feast!
After 7:00 PM, the feasting begins. There are, however, a few rules depending on your goals:
Goal: Get Lean or Stay Lean
If your main goal is single-digit body fat, then you’re evening feast is one meal. While you can literally eat all you want, for ultimate leanness your feast will be a little more structured.
Start your feast with a focus on animal-derived foods and veggies. In other words, start with protein (meat, fish, eggs etc.), then add in some vegetables, and if you still want to eat after that, have fruit.
Rule of thumb: The fatter you are, the more restrictive you need to be with the food choices. Have your feast, but watch the carbs.
Goal: “Maintain” Current Condition
I don’t like the term “maintenance.” Even when I’m not specifically trying to get super lean or gain a lot of muscle mass in a hurry, I’m still striving to improve.
Let’s call that “maintenance” for the sake of simplicity. This is actually where you’ll be for most of your year. I use this strategy for about 80% of the year myself.
When maintaining, you basically just eat what you want during a pre-set period of feasting. I prefer 7 PM to 11 PM. Again, start with your protein and veggies and eat your fill, but then have pasta, grains, or even dessert if you want it.
Goal: Muscle Mass
If your main goal is lean weight gain and muscle mass, increase carbs and overall food intake during your evening feasting hours. You still need to begin your feasting with protein, but after that you’ll have more leeway than the guy whose goal is to remain very lean.
The Psychology of Nutrient Partitioning
I believe that the psychological state you’re in when you eat affects nutrient partitioning. If you’re stressed out, or you have a negative opinion about your food, then you may store more of it as fat.
The Pulse Feast is a stress-free method of eating. You don’t have to feel guilty about pigging out because pigging out is part of the plan. It’s required.
This may be related to the thrifty-gene hypothesis. The body is built to work in high-activity, low-food intake followed by low-activity, high-food intake cycles. In other words, fasting and feasting.
When you’re in high-activity mode, you’re not in a state to properly ingest and store nutrients as useable energy – you’re not as efficient. If you’re stressed out – psychologically or physically – you won’t be as efficient with your eating.
On this plan, you’re going to enjoy your meal because you know your body is primed to use the nutrients. You’ve just fasted for 18 hours along with anabolic pulses, so you’re not going to get fat. That lack of stress and worry will contribute to the positive effect of the strategy. You can enjoy your meal, have no stress or guilt, and get better body composition results.
The Pulse Feast Induction Phase
If you’ve been reading bodybuilding and fitness magazines for the last 20 years, then you’ve been trained to eat food every three hours. But this is a psychological need, not a physical need. What I’ve discovered for myself is that this is a bad habit, not a necessity for muscle growth or high-performance training.
To help you break the habit, you could do a traditional Pulse Fast before beginning your Pulse Feast. The Pulse Fast, in short, is a 36-hour fast where you ingest mainly MAG-10 pulses plus some peri-workout nutrition.
The Pulse Fast will set your body up for a powerful metabolic rebound, priming it for muscle gain rather than fat storage. What’s more, it’ll show you that you don’t have to be eating all day to be growing. And you don’t have to panic about “going catabolic” if you don’t have a mouthful of chicken and rice every minute of the day.
I’d recommend at least a few non-consecutive days of Pulse Fasting under your belt before adopting the Pulse Feast strategy.
Pulse Feast Summary
Stimulates and fuels anabolic physiology for maximum lean body-mass gains while, at the same time, preventing fat gain.
Drives nutrients into muscle and shuts down fat storage.
Improves the digestive system, making it more efficient at breaking down food and utilizing the nutrients.
Removes the stress and guilt from eating.
Frees up your mornings and afternoons – no more packing food everywhere you go or panicking when you can’t eat every two or three hours.
Makes eating fun and pleasurable again, and it does so at the time of the day when you have more freedom to relax, prepare good foods, and enjoy them with your family and friends.
Trains your body to become more metabolically efficient so when you do eat “normally,” like while on vacation, you won’t balloon up.
Pulse Feast Dosing Example Schedule
Pulse Feast Schedule
Each pulse consists of three scoops of MAG-10 in 900 ml of cold water (~30 oz). I recommend preparing both doses the night before or first thing in the morning. The easiest thing to do is mix everything in a 2,000 ml Nalgene bottle and keep it in the refrigerator.
Daily Drink Preparation
|Cold water||1,800 ml|
|Pulse (dose)||900 ml|
|Pulses / bottle||2|
It’s Simple and Highly Effective
Pulse with MAG-10 during the day, and eat what you want at night.
Less stress, less body fat, more muscle.
What more could you ask for?