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Modified V-Diet (Liquid Psmf)

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I wanted to post up some thoughts and reflections on the liquid Protein-sparing modified fast (PSMF) known as the "V-diet". It's promoted on T-nation and, like many things on T-nation, there is a fair amount of good info wrapped in a huge push to buy BioTest's overpriced supplements.

A PSMF is a legitimate means of fat-loss in some situations. If you are psycholgocially prone to things like anorexia (manorexia?) and have not established good, long-term eating and lifestyle habits, then I don't think you should do a PSMF. If you generally have things under wraps and you're looking to psychologically "reset" yourself a little bit, lose a few pounds quickly while retaining muscle, and really focus on strict dieting for a few weeks, then I say have at it.

The V-diet offers a liquid PSMF in contrast to a solid-food PSMF which Lyle McDonald promotes in his book "The rapid fat loss handbook". Personally, I find the thought of trying to do a PSMF with portion-control solid food absolutely horrible. If I'm going to do a short-term diet as strict as a PSMF, I'd prefer to not consume solid foods. One is not better than the other -- it is entirely a matter of preference. I will repeat again, that these are short-term plans and one should not use the fat loss provided a PSMF as a substitute for healthy eating habits the rest of the time.

All of that being said, I think that the original V-diet as posted on T-nation could use a few tweaks to make it better. I've done a couple runs of the V-diet myself, just to try it. The first time was back in 09 for 4 weeks and the other was in 2010 for about 2 weeks. The general plan and my comments follow.

First, use the V-diet calculator here to figure out your macros. Let's assume we have a 200lb dude looking to shed a few pounds, and we get the following macros and cals:

Off days:

Calories: 1,590

Protein: 240g

Fat: 43g

CHO: 66g

Fiber: 28g

Workout days

Calories: 1,920

Protein: 266g

Fat: 43g

Carb: 117g

Fiber: 28g

Now, T-nation wants you to get these cals exclusively from their metabolic drive protein (which is decent protein, except that it's grossly overpriced). They also want you to purchase a ton of their other supplements to support the v-diet, including various stimulants and such. You can easily make your own protein blend, using casein/egg/whey proteins, but I would add that you must use a blend of proteins. Whey alone will not suffice for this; you will be hungry all the time. You must add a casein, egg, or beef protein to your whey, in at least a 1:1 ratio of not-whey:whey (shoot for more not-whey and less whey).

T-nation also advocates using peanut butter and flax seed to provide fat and fiber and drinking 6 small shakes a day. I disagree with both of these. First, peanut butter concerns me on the basis of allergens and inflammation (high lectin content). I believe that almond butter is a better alternative. To add a third item to the mix, I also used coconut in my plan. Coconut has a tremendously high fiber:carb ratio, contains saturated fat (something lacking on the v-diet as written), and is very filling. Saturated fat is important, because you don't want to be screwing with your hormones any more than necessary on a calorie-restricted diet.

On the subject of meal frequency: eating fewer calories isn't easy. Doing 6 shakes a day is a good way to ensure that you will always be hungry on this plan and therefore a bad way to do this successfully. I highly recommend doing Intermittent Fasting for 16 hours a day and consume 2-4 larger shakes within 8 hours. This way, you can stay full for the entire afternoon/evening and only experience brief hunger in the morning, which is much more manageable. Also, one of the benefits of V-dieting is that you drastically reduce the time you spend cooking/eating throughout the day. Doing 6 shakes a day significantly negates that effect. You'll spend more time cleaning your blender than you want. When consuming larger shakes, you'll often find yourself struggling to finish the shake because you're so full -- not a bad thing on a diet!

I also deviate from the as-written v-diet in that I included, sparingly, fruit to get my PWO carbs. My PWO carb of choice was trader joes dried banana and I occasionally blended up a banana into my PWO smoothie as well. But I did add bananas rather than just consume added dextrose to my shakes. Again--we're at a calorie deficit, so whatever you can do to keep calories equal and increase satiety is important. Thickening a smoothie with banana or chewing on some dried banana with a few smoothies per week goes a long way towards keeping hunger at bay.

So, I basically recommend doing the V-diet as written except:

-Don't buy every single biotest supplement. Get your own protein (casein and whey, at least 50%), a multi-vitamin, and some fish oil. Everything else is optional

-Consume 2-4 shakes in an 8 hour window instead of 6 shakes throughout the day. I did 3 big shakes that were ~80g protein each.

-Use almond butter instead of peanut butter and add coconut to the rotation of fat/fiber items. Coconut with Banana or strawberry flavored protein is delicious.

-Consume bananas or a fast-carb of your choice to get your PWO carbs. Yummy Earth makes candy made from rice syrup that would be ideal (and tasty!) for this purpose. Trader Joe's dried banana is also great.

Interestingly, when I did my modified version of the v-diet in 09, I had better results than were advertised. I wrote about my modifications and my experience on the T-nation forum and immediately received several nasty responses (including one from Chris Shugart, the V-diet creator/promoter) who told me that I "wasn't doing the V-diet" and I was all wrong, etc, etc. I don't know if they were offended that I didn't accomplish my goals with $1,000 of Biotest supplements (though I did use several tubs of Metabolic Drive protein) or that I found something that works better, but I found their lack of openness to constructive criticism without reason quite disturbing. It's not as though they levied any valid criticism towards my changes -- they pretty much just bitched about it.

If anyone is aiming to try a short-term, rapid fat-loss diet, and is up for trying a liquid PSMF, give the V-diet a try with these modifications (and maybe some of your own!) and post about your experience.

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Interesting write up. The PSMF from Lyle is far more restrictive than this, cutting a 200lb male back to the bare bones of calorie consumption - only protein with as little tagalong carbs and fat as possible (outside of fish oil). There's no difference between training and rest days.

Depending on existing body fat levels, the 200lb guy could be eating up to 300g of protein per day. With lean meat being ~25% protein, this gives you about 900-1200g of meat per day (up to 42oz!) and up to 1200 cals (give or take here - just counting the protein cals). Chuck in fibrous vegetables on top and you should have a negligible amount of carbs and no fat. You really won't be hungry on this plan at all - because 1.2kgs of meat is pretty filling.

I think this style is better for people who are currently not good at eating proper whole foods, whereas (conversely) those who are already pretty good at sticking to a healthy diet can tolerate just drinking their calories in shakes for a few weeks.

I completely agree that intermittent fasting on this approach is a good idea too -> eating the amount of meat and veg required a lot of effort on my part with only 8 hours of the day to feed in.

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Interesting read.

How did this diet affect your lifts? Did your training suffer much while you were on it?

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Hmm I really like how this is structured. I've been wanting to try a temporary diet but hadn't found one that would fit my life style. As a college student with no access to a kitchen and not the healthiest (or tastiest) options

available on campus, I think this could work really pretty good. And the money I save by not drinking

for a few weeks easily covers the cost of more protein.

I do have some questions about the program though. I have wanted to try IF for a while, but with lifting in the morning I am not sure if this is possible. I am thinking of trying a mix of IF and also spreading the drinks throughout the day. Non lifting days would be IF and lifting days would be throughout the day. Do you think this would work, or would it just not ever let my body adjust to either part of the diet?

I have some other questions, but its time to go lift things up and put them down.

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^If you give yourself time to adapt, lifting fasted shouldn't be a problem. Every PR I've ever set has been fasted (OK, with the help of a cup of coffee). Just remember that when lifting fasted, it's the food you eat the evening before that'll provide the energy you need to lift.

Also, I too found the calories on the V-diet surprisingly high. I personally would lose weight with little-to-no velocity on that level of food. I suspect it's because the calculation is based on total weight, not lean mass.

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Well I lift fasted all the time. I don't have anything besides water between waking up and dragging my ass to bed. I was talking about having my post workout shake interfering with the IF.

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Nice write-up spector. Did your training change at all during the diet? I Imagine you wouldn't really have to go easy if you implement the IF so that you're training in the 8 hours that you're eating.

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Did slim-fast come before or after PSMF? It seems eerily similar.

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Guest ExperimentB76z

I am doing the V Diet in February (maybe a modified version depending on cost) but, yeah I will do it and do a diary!

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Thanks for the post. I'll add it to my 'weird shit to do to my body' list.

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Wow, lots of questions/comments while I've been travelling. Let's see...

@DonkeyKong: Yes, Lyle's is more proscriptive. I can't imagine NOT varying cals on workout days. Cycling carb cals on workout days makes tons of sense, especially in the context of strict dieting. The V-diet figures I used were for a 200lb guy, though I believe that is TARGET weight, not current weight. I was already farily lean when I did it (<12%) so I kept my cals at 1600 and 1900 because I was trying to lose weight slowly. Certainly if you are much smaller, or female, you'll have to cut that back quite a bit. I would recommend keeping protein over 180-200 no matter what, though. No reason to go below 1,400 cals under any circumstances.

I eat a "clean" paleo-esque diet ALL the time, and I still prefer to do a liquid diet when doing a strict diet. Even though my long-term habits are extremely healthy, it's just my preference. I think the key is just to remember that this is a SHORT TERM plan, and not a replacement for long-term healthy habits.

@Jimbo & mpetry: My lifts went up during my v-diet runs. But this was back in 09 when I was only deadlifting in the high 200's and low 300's and wasn't doing double reverse pyramids yet. When I did it again in '10, it wasn't long enough to have an impact. I did my usual 10-11am workouts, with some PreWO whey/casein or BCAA (Depending on the workout type) and then did my usual 1-9pm feeding window following. I didn't change a thing in terms of intermittent fasting or workouts.

@MathiaM: PSMFs have been around for a very long time, and SLimFast has nothing to do with it. SlimFast is more like a juice fast: a crappy "diet" of fructose and chemicals rather than actual food (ie: PROTEIN). There is absolutely no comparison between a slim-fast diet and a liquid PSMF or between a juice fast/cleanse diet and a PSMF. They have nothing in common other than lack of solid food.

@Froto: Something like 1,400 for rest days and 1,650 for WO days would probably suffice for you, depending on your maintenance cals. Do you know what those are right now?

@Randy, I always do IF and always lift in the morning. Martin has a guideline for how to do that on the leangains site. Basically you consume preWO whey/casein or BCAAs to holdyou over until you eat. There's no need for food PreWO, especially if you're somewhat lean already. The more BF you have, the harder it will be to workout fasted.

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I wanted to post up some thoughts and reflections on the liquid Protein-sparing modified fast (PSMF) known as the "V-diet". It's promoted on T-nation and, like many things on T-nation, there is a fair amount of good info wrapped in a huge push to buy BioTest's overpriced supplements.

A PSMF is a legitimate means of fat-loss in some situations. If you are psycholgocially prone to things like anorexia (manorexia?) and have not established good, long-term eating and lifestyle habits, then I don't think you should do a PSMF. If you generally have things under wraps and you're looking to psychologically "reset" yourself a little bit, lose a few pounds quickly while retaining muscle, and really focus on strict dieting for a few weeks, then I say have it.

The V-diet offers a liquid PSMF in contrast to a solid-food PSMF which Lyle McDonald promotes in his book "The rapid fat loss handbook". Personally, I find the thought of trying to do a PSMF with portion-control solid food absolutely horrible. If I'm going to do a short-term diet as strict as a PSMF, I'd prefer to not consume solid foods. One is not better than the other -- it is entirely a matter of preference. I will repeat again, that these are short-term plans and one should not use the fat loss provided a PSMF as a substitute for healthy eating habits the rest of the time.

All of that being said, I think that the original V-diet as posted on T-nation could use a few tweaks to make it better. I've done a couple runs of the V-diet myself, just to try it. The first time was back in 09 for 4 weeks and the other was in 2010 for about 2 weeks. The general plan and my comments follow.

First, use the V-diet calculator here to figure out your macros. Let's assume we have a 200lb dude looking to shed a few pounds, and we get the following macros and cals:

Off days:

Calories: 1,590

Protein: 240g

Fat: 43g

CHO: 66g

Fiber: 28g

Workout days

Calories: 1,920

Protein: 266g

Fat: 43g

Carb: 117g

Fiber: 28g

Now, T-nation wants you to get these cals exclusively from their metabolic drive protein (which is decent protein, except that it's grossly overpriced). They also want you to purchase a ton of their other stimulants to support the v-diet, including various stimulants and such. You can easily make your own protein blend, using casein/egg/whey proteins, but I would add that you must use a blend of proteins. Whey alone will not suffice for this; you will be hungry all the time. You must add a casein or egg protein (or both) to your whey, in at least a 50% ratio of casein:whey.

T-nation also advocates using peanut butter and flax seed to provide fat and fiber and drinking 6 small shakes a day. I disagree with both of these. First, peanut butter concerns me on the basis of allergens and inflammation (high lectin content). I believe that almond butter is a better alternative. To add a third item to the mix, I also used coconut in my plan. Coconut has a tremendously high fiber:carb ratio, contains saturated fat (something lacking on the v-diet as written), and is very filling. Saturated fat is important, because you don't want to be screwing with your hormones any more than necessary on a calorie-restricted diet.

On the subject of meal frequency: eating fewer calories isn't easy. Doing 6 shakes a day is a good way to ensure that you will always be hungry on this plan and therefore a bad way to do this successfully. I highly recommend doing Intermittent Fasting for 16 hours a day and consume 2-4 larger shakes within 8 hours. This way, you can stay full for the entire afternoon/evening and only experience brief hunger in the morning, which is much more manageable. Also, one of the benefits of V-dieting is that you drastically reduce the time you spend cooking/eating throughout the day. Doing 6 shakes a day significantly negates that effect. You'll spend more time cleaning your blender than you want. When consuming larger shakes, you'll often find yourself struggling to finish the shake because you're so full -- not a bad thing on a diet!

I also deviate from the as-written v-diet in that I included, sparingly, fruit to get my PWO carbs. My PWO carb of choice was trader joes dried banana and I occasionally blended up a banana into my PWO smoothie as well. But I did add bananas rather than just consume added dextrose to my shakes. Again--we're at a calorie deficit, so whatever you can do to keep calories equal and increase satiety is important. Thickening a smoothie with banana or chewing on some dried banana with a few smoothies per week goes a long way towards keeping hunger at bay.

So, I basically recommend doing the V-diet as written except:

-Don't buy every single biotest supplement. Get your own protein (casein and whey, at least 50%), a multi-vitamin, and some fish oil. Everything else is optional

-Consume 2-4 shakes in an 8 hour window instead of 6 shakes throughout the day. I did 3 big shakes that were ~80g protein each.

-Use almond butter instead of peanut butter and add coconut to the rotation of fat/fiber items. Coconut with Banana or strawberry flavored protein is delicious.

-Consume bananas or a fast-carb of your choice to get your PWO carbs. Yummy Earth makes candy made from rice syrup that would be ideal (and tasty!) for this purpose. Trader Joe's dried banana is also great.

Interestingly, when I did my modified version of the v-diet in 09, I had better results than were advertised. I wrote about my modifications and my experience on the T-nation forum and immediately received several nasty responses (including one from Chris Shugart, the V-diet creator/promoter) who told me that I "wasn't doing the V-diet" and I was all wrong, etc, etc. I don't know if they were offended that I didn't accomplish my goals with $1,000 of Biotest supplements (though I did use several tubs of Metabolic Drive protein) or that I found something that works better, but I found their lack of openness to constructive criticism without reason quite disturbing. It's not as though they levied any valid criticism towards my changes -- they pretty much just bitched about it.

If anyone is aiming to try a short-term, rapid fat-loss diet, and is up for trying a liquid PSMF, give the V-diet a try with these modifications (and maybe some of your own!) and post about your experience.

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@Froto: Something like 1,400 for rest days and 1,650 for WO days would probably suffice for you, depending on your maintenance cals. Do you know what those are right now?

Well, given that my body fat estimates range from 27-50%, I can't really accurately estimate my lean mass in order to make any sort of judgement on how to calculate maintenance calories. If I had to guess, maintenance would probably be around 2100 cal/day at my current level of activity (working out 5-6 days per week). My current plan is to stay around 1500 cal/day, regardless of activity, with a higher day every great once in a while when I'm feeling crappy. (Also, I doubt I'd do the V-diet. I like chewing, and I can tell you from experience that I get hungry as all get up on 1400 cal non-keto.)

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Try estimating calories based on desired weight, not current then. If you want to be X lbs, then eat like you weigh X lbs.

I should add that I made my shakes so thick that chewing was required. I hate thin smoothies.

Also, 1,400 cals outside of keto would be BRUTAL. Keto is the only way I can keep cals very low when doing stuff like this. As soon as carbs wander up, hunger kicks in and it gets tough.

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@Randy, I always do IF and always lift in the morning. Martin has a guideline for how to do that on the leangains site. Basically you consume preWO whey/casein or BCAAs to holdyou over until you eat. There's no need for food PreWO, especially if you're somewhat lean already. The more BF you have, the harder it will be to workout fasted.

Hmmm as is I generally do not take anything preWO and have a shake postWO. having anything before hand gave me real stomach issues. I plan to start Monday and run till thanksgiving and then maybe running it again next semester depending on how things go.

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Try estimating calories based on desired weight, not current then. If you want to be X lbs, then eat like you weigh X lbs. I should add that I made my shakes so thick that chewing was required. I hate thin smoothies. Also, 1,400 cals outside of keto would be BRUTAL. Keto is the only way I can keep cals very low when doing stuff like this. As soon as carbs wander up, hunger kicks in and it gets tough.

Agreed. The only reason I wasn't hungry on the RFLD was due to the massive amount of meat I ate. Eating under 1,000 calories with carbs would leave you permanently starving.

One downside I noticed was a serious diarrhoea after eating - apparently due to the lack of fat in my diet.

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Hmmm as is I generally do not take anything preWO and have a shake postWO. having anything before hand gave me real stomach issues. I plan to start Monday and run till thanksgiving and then maybe running it again next semester depending on how things go.

No worries, get yourself a BCAA/EAA product like purple wrath or Xtend. You just need something to put aminos in "the pool" so they are there when your muscles want them.

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Thanks for posting about this; I've been looking for this exact thing (kind of like finding this forum). I've done Lyle McDonald's RFL diet successfully, but I've been wanting to try a modified V-diet like this for various reasons.

Dan John has stated that the 40-day workout (soon to be known as Easy Strength) would be a good match for the V-diet (it's not clear to me if this is what he did during his V-diet or not). But the two would actually appear to conflict; working out every day means you can't really cycle things based on workout and non-workout days (even if you only do 5 days/week, it's not nearly the same as 3). I was hoping to get experiences/opinions on this before I tried setting it up. I'm planning to make January some combination of the 40-day workout and a caloric deficit, as I just finished a run of Smolov Jr. and perhaps ate slightly more than I needed.

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Guest ExperimentB76z

rvshaw, no DJ didn't do his 40 day program on the V diet - though he doesn't say what his program was, except it included front squats, possibly his tabata front squat drill made an appearance if I remember rightly, and he went onto snatch a personal best or something, so I imagine some of the Oly's featured. In ES he just says it would be a nice accompaniment to the V diet or any hard and fast diet really, as your strength would take off after the 28 days of calorie deficit.

It seems to make sense to do the 40 day diet, because your not pushing yourself beyond your limits, and though it's every day, because of that it should't matter that you're not able to cycle. You could always modify the diet so that you were, however.

When I do my V diet, I will be doing the 40 day program...

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Hi Spector,

I'm on my last month of the 90 days transformation challenge and I'm interested in doing something to finish it. The challenge ends on 10.8. for me. I've already lost quite a bit of weight and I'm not sure if this would be the best thing for me to do and if it would fit my goals. I think at least a week of liquid PSMF would shed few centimeters from my waist and that's something I'm aiming for.

My progress in these two months has been: bodyweight from 85 kg to about 80 kg and waistline from 95 cm to about 88 cm. I've actually been on a diet since December, I started at about 95-97 kg, but I don't have the measurements.

Would you have any recommendations for me?

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very interesting read, thanks spector!!! Just curious, would it be worth it to do the V-diet, with your modifications, for say 1 week/2 weeks every once in a while?? I just want to drop about 2-3kg bodyweight at the moment. I usually follow a reasonably healthy diet but slacked for the past few months and just want to lose a few kilograms quickly and get back on track with eating properly again. Thanks

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Resurrecting this old thread but I'm thinking of going on this for a few weeks and was looking for a few tips. I don't want to have a repeat of being on a deficit for an extended period of time without making any progress. Since I'm not big on eating I thought this would be easy for me.

What did you use for coconut? Was it powder, milk, oil or all?

Besides the protein blend, coconut, almond butter and bananas what are some other staples that can be added?

I'm thinking maltodextrin and fiber to balance out the macros and berries for carb variety.

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michail, coconut was shredded coconut. Publix has it in the freezer section in a little flattened rectangle.

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Thanks, I just got a bad injury (passed out while squatting) so I'll probably be holding off for a bit. I don't want to compromise nutrition while I'm recovering.

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You passed out while squatting?! What happened? I hope you're OK...

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