Dan Duchaine’s Bodyopus diet

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Known as the Steroid Guru during the 1990s, Dan Duchaine was one of bodybuilding’s most outspoken commentators during the birth of mass monster. Controversial to the highest degree, Duchaine’s career spanned prison sentences, coaching and television appearances with an impressive regularity.

While much has been written about Duchaine, not all of it true mind you, two things are clear. He was sincere about bodybuilding and he knew an awful lot.

Today’s post highlights the general diet advice given in Duchaine’s seminal 1996 book Underground Bodyopus: Militant Weight Loss & Recomposition.

Most famous for its cyclical Keto approach, the book included a beginner and intermediate diet. All of which will be covered today. 

Who was the Bodyopus Diet for?

Straight to the point, Duchaine’s opening pages made clear that his book was not for a general audience seeking to lose weight. It was, in Duchaine’s words, a book for those individuals who were ‘normal’ but sought incredibly low levels of bodyweight.

A weightloss manual for those people seeking the extraordinary. Dedicated to those seeking visible abs, striated glutes and boulder deltoids. In short, a bodybuilder’s guide to weight loss.

Though geared primarily for those seeking exceedingly low bodyfat levels, Duchaine’s book came with some sound advice for general weightloss. Beginning with his beginners’ diet.

Bodyopus Beginners’ Diet

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While Duchaine acknowledged the unpleasantness of calorie counting, the first step of his beginners’ diet or ‘pre-diet diet’ involved establishing one’s maintenance calories over a 24 hour period. That is to say, Duchaine wanted dieters to roughly know how many calories were needed each day to maintain their current level of bodyweight. That was step one.

Step two involved dividing said maintenance calories into a rigid ratio of 30% protein, 60 % carbs and 10% fats.

The final step involved dividing the frequency and intake of the calories over several meals (Duchaine himself recommended 6 meals over the course of a day).

While not a weightloss diet per say, the beginners’ diet was geared towards instilling discipline, awareness and routine into the lives of his readers…a set of training wheels before the real work began.

The Isocaloric Diet

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Somewhere as a middle-ground between the beginners’ diet and the bodyopus diet came Duchaine’s Isocaloric diet. Much like the previous eating plan, it required trainees to eat according to specific macronutrient ratios at the minimum level of calories needed to maintain their bodyweight.

Real fat loss (as distinct from weight loss which could include muscle) came in Duchaine’s eyes from lowering carbohydrate intake and increasing fat intake. As we learned in the site’s previous post on the Anabolic diet, books recommending increased fat consumption during the height of the fat scare in the 1990s were often vilified.

This was something that Duchaine himself acknowledged. Nevertheless he was adamant that real health and optimal body composition required much more dietary fat than the levels then being recommended. Interestingly, contemporary exercise science largely validates this assertion.

The Isocaloric diet could, in Duchaine’s mind, allow someone to reach low bodyfat levels provided they had the patience (a quantity in exceedingly short supply amongst bodybuilders). All the reader had to do was divide their maintenance calories as follows

1/3 Protein

1/3 Carbohydrates

1/3 Fats

Simple….

The BodyOpus Diet

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For those seeking radical fat loss while maintaining muscle mass, Duchaine presented them with the BodyOpus diet, a strict cyclical keto approach that was as effective as it was gruelling.

Once more dieters could keep calories at a maintenance level while stripping bodyfat (if they were in no rush), or lower their caloric intake to about 10% below maintenance and watch their abs emerge.

Unlike the previous two diets however, Duchaine’s macronutrient distribution for the BodyOpus diet was particularly confusing, as it switched around after five days.

For the first 5 days (usually Monday to Friday for sake of convenience), Dieters would follow a strict Ketogenic Diet, followed by a two day carb frenzy at the weekend. Duchaine described it as follows

The BodyOPus Diet is a 7-day cycle. The first 5 days of carbohydrate depletion rapidly establish ketosis. The final 2 carb-up days encourage glycogen supercompensation…

The Broad Outline of the diet was as follows

Sunday: Begin at 6pm. Eliminate all carbohydrate foods.

Monday: Today’s menu consists of no carbohydrates, moderate protein and high fat. This is a weight-lifting workout day (full body)

Tuesday: Nutritionally, Tuesday is exactly the same as Monday. Finish the other half of the body during the weight workout.

Wednesday: Nutritionally, Wednesday is a repetition of Monday and Tuesday. This is a non-weight training day, but any reasonable amount of aerobics is fine.

Thursday: Thursday is another boring day, with the same diet as Monday

Friday: This is the pain pleasure day. In the morning you will still follow the no-carbohydrate regimen. By mid-afternoon, you can eat 100 to 200 calories of carbohydrates, just enough to raise blood sugar out of ketosis. In late afternoon or early evening, do the grand depletion workout. After the workout, the high-carbohydrate supercompensation feeding begins.

Saturday: Continue Glycogen loading. Don’t work out at all.

Sunday: Continue glycogen loading. The last carbohydrate meal is between 4pm and 6pm. Eliminate carbohydrates from 6pm on. Again don’t work out today.

Monday Workout: Abs, Chest, Shoulders, Traps, Triceps

Tuesday Workout: Back, Biceps, Legs, Calves

Friday Workout: Whole body (!) in one workout

Recommended Foods

On the Keto days, Duchaine recommended a hearty intake of eggs, meat, free, oils, seeds, cheese and the occasional bag of pork rinds. Fibre drinks with no sugar were recommended also. As were electrolyte supplements

As you moved further into ketosis, Duchaine allowed some carbohydrates to creep into the diet but only to a maximum of 50 grams per day and usually just from leafy greens.

Nutrient Ratios


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On Ketogenic Days the ratios were roughly as follows:

Fats 70%

Protein – 25/30%

Carbohydrates – 0/5%

On the carbohydrate days, dieters would eat about 5-10% more calories than their maintenance level with 60% coming from carbs, 25% from protein and 15% from fat. This is simplification of the process however, as Duchaine’s work set out strict guidelines for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Wrapping Up…

This brief overview of the BodyOpus diet pales in comparison to the highly detailed work laid out by Duchaine himself. The book, which is available here, is both an excellent weightloss work and a piece of bodybuilding history.

It details new ideas about nutritional science and covers both illegal and legal supplements for gym goers. And while the diet itself has been heralded as both a work of genius and a method of torture, it worked.

Though largely forgotten, Duchaine’s work stands alongside the Anabolic Diet as a forerunner of the popular keto and carbohydrate cycling approaches of today.

Have you tried the BodyOpus Diet? If so let us know how you got on in the comments section!

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