The BioRhythm Diet

The BioRhythm diet comes from Borge Fagerli, who was interviewed on the Mountain Dog Website.  The author did a extensive research on studies to see if there were times of the day when you body was better able to handle certain macro-nutrients over other times.

The past knowledge was that people are more “insulin sensitive” (meaning carbs get absorbed better) in the morning after 8 hours of sleep. This is technically true, but for both muscle and FAT.  This means that when you eat carbs in the morning carbs and fat are getting a split amount.  It also means that fat can also be “insulin sensitive”, not good.  The ideal situation is to make muscles very insulin sensitive and fat very insulin resistant. This is what this diet attempts to do, so that muscles suck up carbs to build muscle and fat gets nothing.

Recall De Novo Lipogenesis (carbs turning to fat) is inefficient in humans, but if carbs are eaten in high amounts then the dietary fat you eat isn’t allowed to perform its function and is sucked into fat storage.  The problem is people need a lot of dietary fat for health, muscle and fat burning purposes.  By eating carbs in the morning, it puts a lock on fat burning and shuttles fat into storage UNTIL the body processes the carbs, but this process takes a while.

One major study the author used looked at diets that contained the exact same macro-nutrient split and calories.  One group ate 70% of their carbs in the morning and the other ate 70% carbs at night.  The group that ate most carbs in the morning lost more weight, but 30% of it was muscle.  The night eating group lost less weight, but only 7% was muscle.  Very interesting considering it was the EXACT same diet, just eaten at different times.

I like keeping things as simple as possible, so without going too much into specifics, here are the main points of the diet:

  • Spread your protein evenly through the day.
  • Eat most of your dietary fat in the morning with trace carbs from veggies, high fiber fruit and incidentals from other sources.  (keep carbs under 10-30g per meal and make sure protein is always balanced or slightly higher than carbs)
  • Eat Omega 3’s throughout the day, with each meal. When these fats get stored, the basically tell the cell to burn more fat and store less.
  • Eat the majority of carbs at the end of the day with trace amounts of fat.
  • If you resistance train earlier in the day, drink a shake with 20-40 carbs and 10-30 grams of protein.  This will help reduce cortisol and set you up for muscle building.

Pretty simple template, but below I’ll tell you the reasoning behind it:

  • By eating higher fat in the morning you set up the metabolism for higher fat metabolism during the day.  LPL enzyme is higher in the morning (LPL burns fat), so fat is more likely to be burned when eaten earlier then when eaten at night.
  • By eating high fat at night especially with carbs you increase fat storage and elevated insulin levels reduce insulin sensitivity.
  • By eating carbs in the morning, your body switches from burning fat to burning glucose.  This increases fat storage, especially high fat meals for the rest of the day. (More fat you eat gets stored rather used for energy)
  • By eating carbs at night you increase leptin (very important fat burning hormone).  This increases fat burning through the night and the following day.  Carbs also release feel good neurotransmitters that induce sleep, especially when eaten in high amounts. (Since most people sleep at night, the timing seems to be correct)
  • Insulin sensitivity is highest in the morning (both in muscle and fat) and become more insulin resistant at night.  Insulin resistance in fat is a good thing.  In muscle its bad.  How to keep fat insulin resistant, while muscle insulin sensitive? – Exercise and more specifically resistance train at some point in the day.  (closer to night would be more optimal, but its not necessary to get results)

Sample Meal Plan (Updated):

  • Maintenance stats – Weight 180 lbs; Calories 2600; Protein 180 grams; Fat 75 grams; Carbs 300 grams
  • Fat Loss stats – Weight 180 lbs; Calories 2000; Protein 180 grams; Fat 75 grams; Carbs 150 grams
  • Muscle Gain stats – Weight 180lbs; Calories 2800; Protein 180 grams; Fat 75 grams; Carbs 350 grams
  • Recomp Stats – Weight 180lbs; Calories 2450; Protein 180 grams; Fat 75 grams; Carbs 265 grams

For Fat Loss or Muscle Gain the structure stays exactly the same, the only meal that changes is the dinner meal

  • (7pm) Coffee with half and half and splenda
  • Meal 1 (9:30am) – 2 Scoops of Elite XT Protein Powder with nut butter and berries / Fish Oil (3)
  • Workout (1 pm)  (have an apple if I feel like I need it, I usually don’t)
  • Meal 2 (2pm)- 6-8 ounces of meat, 3 hard boiled eggs, cheese, some vegetables and 30-50 grams of carbs
  • Meal 3 (4pm)- Quest Bar and 1 scoop of protein powder with berries and almond milk
  • Meal 4 (7:30pm) – 6-8oz lean meat, vegetables and the rest of my carbs in either White rice or Sweet Potatoes

Quick Notes:

  • I usually have around 30grams of incidental carbs that add up in the low carb meals and 40 grams of carbs at lunch, so make sure to subtract that from your totals before eating your final meal.
  • Also be careful with white potatoes in the evening meal, as they are very filling and sometimes its hard to finish your meal.
  • If you dont mind gluten, bread and pasta are pretty good sources of carbs in the evening meal and dont fill up your stomach to bad (Although I eat white rice most often)
  • This is by far one of the best diets I have done from an energy standpoint. Even when calories were the same, moving them around in this fashion gave me way better energy, no cravings during the day and really good results.
  • The recomp numbers listed above is something I have been doing recently. Its essentially muscle gain calories and fat loss calories averaged out to achieve both at the same time. Another way to think about it, is total maintenance calories with 15% deficit. Its just enough of a calorie deficit to burn fat, but enough calories and protein to build muscle.
  • Here recently I’ve doubled the post-workout carbs from 40 to 80 grams and have noticed improved energy and strength in the gym.
  • Oatmeal and bananas are rich in melatonin, which is perfect for a restful night sleep. Having a big bowl of oats with banana may sound like a good breakfast, but eating it a night is highly recommended.

As you can see the morning has trace carbs, but isn’t at zero.  Dinner contains lean meat, but the fat intake isn’t zero either.  By eating the large amount of starch at night and it sets you up for some incredible sleep quality.

Bottom Line– By eating in this fashion, you can maximize nutrient partitioning by sending food straight to your muscles and avoiding fat gain. The carbs at night set you up for sleep and the dietary fat during the day keeps energy levels rolling along and fat burning going strong.  This is still a balanced diet it just places macronutrients in the most advantageous points in the day.

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15 comments

  1. OK, little bit confused. I work out just before lunchtime, fasted (BCAA prior), and eat at 1pm. If my daily fat macros are around 40-50g, should I aim to get nearly ALL of this post workout, along with 30-40g carbs and 10-30g protein as you say??

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    1. No, I would definitely consume the post-workout shake to get in enough carbs postworkout, but then switch back to protein/fat meals until night time (5pm) when you would consume all of your carbs. Since dietary fat has a negligible blood sugar response the timing isn’t nearly as important as carbs are. So basically just eat a balanced amount of fat with each of your meals, no need to eat it all post workout.

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      1. Thanks. Just carbs and protein as usual in PWO shake then, or is it worth adding some fat in there? Also, as I eat again about 30-45mins after my PWO shake, I should not have any carbs with that meal, just protein and some fat? Maybe 20g fat or so? Just wondering what you by mean by ‘balanced’ exactly.

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      2. Yeah the fat grams can come into any meal as long as your daily totals are in your goal range of 40-50 grams. So if you eat 3 meals you can do 15grams of fat in each meal or if you want to eat 30 grams postworkout thats fine to as long as your daily balance is the same.

        As for carbs consume the 30-40grams recommended in the PWO shake and then right around 5pm start consuming the rest of your daily totals. If you train in the evening around 5pm then basically just have a massive carb feast.

        A lot of people that do this diet eat really light during the day such as low fat/low carb protein shakes and lean meats and vegetables and then pack in the carbs and fat at the end of the day (after 5pm).

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  2. I am going to give this a try. I have had some success on LeanGains but am looking for other options. When would be the best time to cheat with some ice cream, cake, or cookies?

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    1. Brent,

      Always postworkout. Any time blood sugar gets too high, then carbs and fat are being stored and almost nothing being burned. Since carbs are depleted at that point you can get away with higher glycemic carbs. The timing of that diet is more optimal if you can lift at night or evening, so you can basically just eat until bedtime. If you worked out in the morning or noon then eating those foods at night, probably wont work as well.

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  3. I’ve been pretty successful with the following…I am <7% BF Professional Competitor. usually on my lifting days I get up and have an omelet with 40 pro and 15to20 fat in my 1st meal,
    second meal the same,
    third meal is 40 pro with 10 carbs worth of non starchy veggies (broccoli etc.)
    4th meal same macros as 2nd meal (40 pro and 15 to 20 fat)
    5th meal is same as 3rd meal (40 pro with 10 carbs worth of non starchy veggies (broccoli etc.))
    Workout about 1.5 hours after meal 5 ( take pre workout sup and during workout supp)
    post workout – right at gym, I take a mix of 10g leucine with 15-20g waxy maize and 5-10g bcaa
    when home after workout , I eat 60-90g carbs (depending on workout) with 40g protein (brown rice with steak)
    then 1.5 to 2 hours later I go to bed….

    Also, on 4-5 days , I do cardio before breakfast. On days when I am not lifting weights , but do cardio, I usually have the first 3 meals protein with fats and the rest is protein with vegetables.

    How does this look like?

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    1. Alex,

      Looks really good man. Although 10g of leucine is overkill considering going over 3g per meal has been shown to have no benefit. Also on your cardio only days I would always eat a fat source with your protein especially if its late at night. Fat will spare the protein, boost testosterone and help you sleep better. Your cardio timing is pretty irrelevant as well. Low carb diets make it easier to burn fat, so you don’t really have to worry about doing it first thing in the morning, unless you enjoy it at this time.

      If your trying to build muscle though, your plan is perfect, but I would probably increase the size of each meal slightly. Eat more fat in the early meals and eat a few more carbs on your lifting days. Fat is pretty anabolic for “nattys” and I would definitely keep it pretty high in your diet. Usually .4-.5 grams per pound (minimum) in your diet.

      Another option would be to go 3 days of high fat and low carb with a slight calorie deficit and have a high carb meal with an additional 200grams of carbs every 4th day after you lift, with a calorie surplus. This will act as a carb refeed and help you burn fat and build muscle at the same time. Although this more recomp style.

      Hope that helped. Good luck man.

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      1. Thank you for your response and your input. I do cardio in the mornings when I am not working in the hospital. I do 3x 12 hour shifts per week in ICU. So on a day that I work but not lift, then I usually go and do cardio after work. So, yes cardio timing is not an issue and don’t matter to me. This what I usually tell me clients too as I am also a personal trainer… As long as they get it done… Lol…
        I have been studying nutrition and experimenting for many years and had a very similar diet as the biorhythm… I don’t believe in carbs as need for fuel unless it is during and after workout… The only time I actually like fruits is in the morning to restore liver glycogen as this get lowered overnight to keep our body alive…. I go 7 to 10 days very strict……while focusing only on carbs during and after workout… Then I refeed but in my own way… I start the day with cardio and stick to my diet all day and then I workout in the early evening. This is when I start my high carbs…100+ grams during workout mainly waxy maize and then after workout, I continue to hammer carbs over the next 4 to 5 hours until bedtime.. I also throw in some stuff that I crave.. Pizza, ice cream etc…. This can only be good, especially only being done every 7 to10 days.

        I will take your advise into consideration and take it easier on the leucine and perhaps increase my fat intake… Check out my instagram to see some pictures @germanator.wbff_pro

        Happy Thanksgiving

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      2. Alex,

        Yeah man your looking good. I agree on the carbs though, carbs need to be viewed as fuel only and honestly most lifting routines dont even burn that many unless its very high volume. Also most natural competitors know that when it comes to staying lean year round carbs cant be high all the time. Dietary fat is so much healthier to eat in high amounts and also has much more benefit when it comes to hormones and vitamin and micronutrient uptake. Also the energy levels are amazing when carbs are low. But yeah I do think keeping enough carbs to keep liver glycogen full is a good idea (120 grams a day) and maybe up to your bodyweight on days you lift, but higher than that is kind of overkill when you actually add up how much your burning each day.

        When you get a chance check out Bayesian bodybuilding and poliquin group. They have a lot of good content on their sites.

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  4. Hi Michael. One more thought of yours is appreciated. As I mentioned already that I take about 40g of protein + 15 – 20g of fat after my fasted cardio session in the morning, would you agree with my approach here?

    Could I also make a shake with the same macros and perhaps add 5-10g carbs from fruits to that?

    I am not sure if you can still see my diet layout in one of the posts above, but I mentioned basically No fats in my veggie +protein meal… Would you add fats to those meals too?

    Would you suggest for me to have protein +fats in all my meals of the day before I hit the gym for lifting at night…while perhaps having the 3rd and 4th meal of those 5 meals with about 5 to 10 g of veggies?

    Or would you rather suggest to have those meals that I want to eat veggies, just make them 15 – 20g may from veggies + 40g protein but no Fats? Or would you rather suggest to keep them all protein + Fat with low amount from veggies carbs in 2 meals or so?

    I am sorry and I hope it was not too confusing but if you could answer a few of those questions, I souks apreciate it.

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  5. Alex,

    Yes fat in the morning instead of carbs is always a good idea.

    Yes from what I’ve seen you just want to stay under 30 grams per meal earlier in the day. This can increase later in the day when cortisol isn’t as high.

    It probably depends on your goals, but since your carbs aren’t very high, you could include fats in every meal. To cover total glucose needs you need roughly 1200-1300 calories from glucose a day. This can be 200g of protein and 100g of carbs or 175g of protein and 175g of carbs. Once those needs are met, feel free to increase fat as high as you need to hit your goals. If you want to lose body fat, then you could do 1-2 of your meals fat free just to keep calories down.

    Hoped that helped. Thanks

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    1. Thank you again. I got my first pretty much down. To add to all this debate. I am not natural and on trt but for those that wish to bash now, I guarantee that one has to work hard consistent for decades and have a super strict diet in order to reach high level looking physiques.
      Anyways, Michael, I airways try to research and try everything out. I don’t mind learning new things. I will keep my fats down and split them into 2 meals on working days and have my 2 fat meals right after cardio and then the 2nd one. All others will have little less fat but high fiber veggies and then during workout and after I will have carbs. On my non working days I will have the same protocol when I am still lifting in the gym. If I am off from lifting or only do cardio on the morning or off completely from everything, then I will have the first 3 to 4 meals with fats and the rest just pro with veggies. And also once every 7 to 10 days, I will have a high carb refeed syst my workout in the evening and throw 2 to 3 items in there that I crave… That will not hinder my fat burning but rather increase it…. Die to metabolism shock… Thoughts?

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  6. Alex,

    Yeah a really good article just came out on that topic:
    http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-nutrition-tactician-whats-the-difference-between-a-refeed-and-a-cheat-day

    Basically the high calorie, refeed day (not necessarily cheat day) will boost metabolism slightly over 24-48 hours. After that leptin goes back down again. There good to mix in when you plateau, but to keep on the regular is probably not needed. Unless you really enjoy them, then by all means do them. Especially if it keeps you on point the rest of the time.

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