The Maximum Definition Diet was one of Vince Gironda’s most famous diets.
Widely-known for generating incredible results in terms of fat loss and definition, Vince prescribed it to bodybuilders who were serious about stepping up to a competitive level.
Whilst this was an incredibly challenging diet to follow, due to the extremely low intake of carbohydrates and lack of food variety, bodybuilders were rewarded for their grueling effort with a physique that was capable of stunning onlookers.
In fact, this is the diet Vince used himself when he placed 2nd in the 1962 NABBA Mr. Universe contest.
Sadly for Vince, the judges had never seen such a shredded physique before, and as a result, didn’t know how to place him because.
10 to 20 years later, and there’s no doubt he would have won the event, since the level of definition he achieved had become ‘normal’ in bodybuilding competitions during the 1970s and 1980s. But all was not lost.
Despite never winning a major event himself, Vince had tremendous success using the diet with the Vince’s Gym members, helping them win numerous competitions with dazzling levels of definition that revealed the true extent of their hard work in the gym.
The absence of carbohydrates in the diet makes training sessions feel a lot more arduous, as well as increased fatigue on a daily basis.
But this is a small price that bodybuilders need to pay in order to turn their body into a fat-melting furnace.
On reading more about the diet, you’d be correct in thinking it was similar, if not identical, to the recent trend of the Cyclic Ketogenic Diet…
Yet this was a diet Vince was using over 60 years ago – way before it ever reached mainstream success.
Once again, it demonstrated the forward-thinking nature of Vince Gironda and that he truly was a man well ahead of his time.
When To Use the Maximum Definition Diet
The Maximum Definition Diet is best reserved for bodybuilders preparing for competition.
Since the diet is incredibly challenging on both the mind and body, it’s not a diet that should be followed indefinitely, and there needs to be a definite ‘endpoint’ for the bodybuilder.
A side effect of this diet is that there is a strong chance of excessive hunger, reduced energy, and also an improved ability to store body fat. If someone were to follow the diet indefinitely, there is a serious risk they will ‘fall off the wagon’, leading to overeating. Therefore, prior to starting this diet, it’s critical the bodybuilder sets an end date, in order to reduce the risk of any catastrophic consequences to body composition.
Typically, The Maximum Definition Diet immediately follows a muscle-building phase, where the bodybuilder uses a diet such as the Weight Gaining Diet, or the All Protein Muscle Building Diet.
If the bodybuilder is carrying a large enough muscle mass, it could also be followed immediately after the Maintenance Diet.
It should therefore be apparent that the number one condition prior to initiating the Maximum Definition Diet is that the bodybuilder has a large enough quantity of muscle to begin with.
An under muscled gym-goer would suffer unnecessarily, and whilst they may achieve incredible definition, they would almost certainly look ill and unhealthy.
The duration of the diet depends on the bodybuilder’s fat mass i.e. the more body fat they have, the longer they will need to follow the diet.
Since this is an extreme diet, it is therefore advisable for bodybuilders to not allow their bodyfat to creep up to excessively high levels, in order to limit the duration the Maximum Definition Diet needs to be followed.
Maximum Definition Diet Breakdown
The Maximum Definition Diet calls for near-complete abstinence from carbohydrates.
When carbohydrates are eliminated from the diet, the body is forced to metabolize fat for fuel, which will drastically help to reduce subcutaneous fat levels, thus eventually leading to incredible levels of muscular definition.
As well as avoiding ‘carbohydrate-heavy’ foods, such as bread, pasta, and potatoes, Vince also advised bodybuilders to eliminate all fruits, vegetables, salad greens, and all milk products (cheeses, yogurt, ice cream, milk, and buttermilk). The only milk products that can be used are butter and cream.
The diet calls for a very high fat and protein intake, in order to fuel the body, manage hunger, and preserve precious, hard-earned, muscle tissue.
The majority of fat and protein should come from animal sources, since they not only contain complete amino acid profiles, but they also contain high levels of the testosterone building cholesterol.
Extreme dieting can cause hormone levels to dwindle, which can result in a negative onslaught of physical effects, such as reduced energy, muscle loss, and lower libido. Therefore, providing the body with ‘hormone precursors’ is tantamount to the success of the diet.
Vince recommended keeping fluid intake to an absolute minimum during mealtimes, and abstaining from coffee in between meals, since it can lower blood sugar and trigger ‘false hunger’.
Is this diet extreme?
But so are the results…
Protein is essential for achieving high levels of definition.
In conjunction with a sound weight training programme, protein helps maintain maximal muscle mass so the bodybuilder doesn’t lose any prior to competition, thus costing them valuable points from the judges.
Vince was strict in his protein recommendations, stating that the only foods permissible were meat, fish, fowl, and eggs.
Contrary to what one may think, a high fat intake is beneficial to the bodybuilder seeking maximum definition.
A high fat intake serves 3 crucial purposes: –
- It ‘teaches’ the body to select fat as the preferred fuel choice
- It maintains high energy levels (it yields more than twice as much energy per gram as carbohydrates)
- It helps to maintain optimal testosterone levels due to its ability to function as a ‘hormone precursor’
Fat should preferably come from low-carbohydrate animal sources, including eggs, steak, butter, and cream.
Vince taught his students that carbohydrates and sugars build fat and not muscle tissue.
Therefore, for maximum definition, they needed to be removed from the diet so the body could ramp up fat metabolism.
However, similar to the All Protein Muscle Building Diet, Vince stressed the importance of eating some carbohydrate every four to five days, in order to sustain vascularity, definition, and strength in training.
This should be a pure carbohydrate meal, such as pasta and tomato sauce.
Although you may feel like eating a small amount of carbohydrate every day, Vince warned against this stating that it will result in a loss of definition.
Finally, Vince warned bodybuilders that carbohydrate withdrawal would be the hardest part of the Maximum Definition Diet.
This once again reinforces the importance this diet is only followed by bodybuilders who have experience with dieting, and are ready to step up to a competitive level.
Here’s an example of a typical day on the Maximum Definition Diet:
- Eggs (no limit)
- Meat (no limit)
- Eggs can be cooked any way: –
- Scrambled in better
- Boiled (soft or hard)
- Sunnyside up (in butter)
- Recommended meats: –
- Hamburger patty
- Pork sausage
- Chicken liver
- Eggs (cooked any way)
- Eggs can be cooked any way
- Recommended meats: –
- Fish (fresh)
- Meatloaf (beef)
- Canned tuna (6oz)
- Same as breakfast and lunch
High-Carb Meal (once every 4-5 days)
- Spaghetti dinner with tomato sauce only
High-carb meal notes
- This must be a zero-protein meal to allow for optimal carbohydrate digestion
- Small amount of high-quality, raw hamburger
- 4 x calcium tablets
Pre-bed snack notes
- Vince only recommended this snack if hungry
- This is only a small snack since the body burns very few calories whilst asleep
In Vince’s own words –
“Without the following recommended supplements, the bodybuilder seeking definition is doomed to failure.”Vince Gironda
So, to avoid failure, Vince recommends bodybuilders take the following supplements at each meal:
- 10 x Desiccated liver tablets (or 2 every hours)
- 10 x Kelp tablets
- 3 x Lecithin tablets
- 2 x Enzyme tablets
- 4 x HCL tablets
- 2 x Vitamin B complex tablets
- 1 x Iron tablet (breakfast only)
- 8 x Calcium tablets (plus an additional 4 before retiring)
- 1 x Vitamin A tablet
- 1 x RNA tablet
- 1 x Niacinamide tablet
- 1 x Vitamin C tablet every ‘x’ hours (500mg)
- 2 x Vitamin E tablets (lunch and dinner only)
- 1 x Tbsp wheat germ oil (cold-pressed)
Desiccated Liver Tablets
Desiccated liver tablets are a potent source of nutrients, including amino acids, which help to keep the body in a positive nitrogen balance, and therefore in ‘muscle building’ mode.
They can also help to increase red blood cell count and total blood volume, which leads to a better pump in the gym and better nutrient delivery to the muscle.
Due to the increased red blood cell count, and therefore oxygen delivery, desiccated liver may help increase endurance levels. This can assist bodybuilders in attaining better results from their training by helping them get through their workouts without suffering the ill-effects of fatigue.
Vince was keen on citing a study involving three groups of rats. The first group was fed a basic diet fortified with vitamins. The second group was fed the same diet with an added vitamin B complex. Finally, the third group was fed the original diet with 10% desiccated liver in place of the vitamins.
Each rat was then placed in a drum of water from which he could not climb out.
The first group swam an average of 13.3 minutes and gave up. The second group swam about 13.4 minutes, but the third group—those fed desiccated liver— swam two hours, at which time the tests were ended.
In Vince’s eyes, this was the perfect justification for adding desiccated liver to a bodybuilder’s supplement arsenal if they wanted increased energy during training.
Kelp is a potent source of iodine, essential for an optimally functioning thyroid.
Before modern farming in America, foods were grown in iodine-rich soils, which made deficiencies non-existent.
Modern farming has depleted the soils of iodine, meaning deficiencies are rampant, which has resulted in a host of thyroid issues across the population.
Supplementing with kelp ensures the bodybuilding building is consuming a sufficient quantity of iodine, and maintaining a healthy metabolism.
Kelp tablets are perhaps the best source of the rare trace mineral elements so often lacking in
the average bodybuilder’s diet. In addition to preventing iodine and other mineral deficiencies, kelp aids in fat metabolism and appears to have a beneficial effect on hair growth. Kelp has been found to contain over 44 different mineral elements.
Lecithin is found in egg whites and acts as a fat emulsifier.
It can aid fat digestion, by helping to break fat down into smaller molecules (fatty acids and glycerol).
Digestive Aids (Hydrochloric Acid + Enzymes)
Hydrochloric Acid and Digestive Enzymes provide digestive support to cope with the high quantity of protein and fat the bodybuilder will be consuming.
Hydrochloric Acid and Digestive Enzymes provide digestive support to cope with the high quantity of protein and fat they will be consuming. They are especially important if you feel bloated after meal times.
They are especially important if you feel bloated after meal times.
Vitamin B Complex
A whole vitamin B complex was necessary for the bodybuilder since supplementing with single B vitamins were of little or no use to the body.
Vince believed B Complex Vitamins were great ‘fat movers’, which helped make it easier for them to be metabolized by the body.
The combination of iron of both liver tables and a high potency vitamin B complex helps to increase red blood cell count and blood volume, which results in a better pump in training.
Iron also helps oxygenate muscle tissue, which can help to delay fatigue in training.
Due to the Weight Gaining Diet requiring a high meat intake, which is low in calcium, Vince encouraged supplementing the diet with calcium tablets.
Additionally, meat is high in phosphorus, which may result in nervousness if calcium intake is low.
Vitamin A helps play a key role in fat metabolism, yet since it’s predominantly found in fruits and vegetables, which are absent from the Maximum Definition Diet, it’s advised that the bodybuilder takes supplemental vitamin A.
Ribonucleic acid (RNA), along with deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) enables the body to more efficiently read the master blueprint in the cells, and thus repair worn tissue more efficiently.
Vince recommended supplementing with Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) for increased energy and well-being.
If the diet is low in vitamin B, supplementing with a vitamin B complex and additional niacin, will help lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
As well as helping to maintain a strong immune system and reduce muscle soreness, vitamin C is a natural diuretic.
It helps to flush out the excessive liquid from the tissues, which will help improve definition.
Vince highly recommended ensuring that bioflavonoids were present in the supplement and not to use pure ascorbic acid.
According to Vince, Vitamin E is indispensable for muscle growth and is the true power vitamin and a strength builder if there ever was one. This vitamin is stored in animal tissue — another reason for encouraging a high meat diet.
As well as producing new capillaries, it also helps to supply oxygen to tissue, thus producing greater endurance.
However, Vitamin E should be taken away from iron, since iron nullifies the effects of vitamin E.
It is best to take iron at breakfast only, and then vitamin E and lunch and dinner.
Wheat Germ Oil
Vince liked using wheat germ oil as a hormone precursor.
In addition, it’s also a rich source of both vitamins B and E.
To summarise, the Maximum Definition Diet is not for the fainthearted.
It is a challenging and testing diet, only recommended by Vince for bodybuilders who had progressed to the point of entering physique contests.
To not be at the level of competitive bodybuilding would mean expending a gargantuan quantity of physical and mental energy for no real purpose, and potentially ruin the individuals’ relationship with food and training.
The diet consisted of 3 meals a day, primarily consisting of meat and eggs.
Due to the incredibly low carbohydrate intake, bodybuilders improve the ability of their body to burn fat for fuel, and as such, would be on their way to achieving incredible definition.
However, a carbohydrate meal was recommended every 4-5 days so that training intensity could be maintained, and help the bodybuilder continue to retain and develop muscle shape.
To help combat the nutrient deficiencies that would almost certainly arise as a result of such a restrictive diet, Vince recommended a number of supplements to be taken at each meal time, including digestive aids, desiccated liver tablets, and a number of vitamins and minerals.
By helping to provide the body with these nutrients, not only was the bodybuilder able to maintain a good state of health, but they were able to supply their body with energy, and withstand the harsh effects of severe carbohydrate restriction.
Closing Words From Vince
The maximum definition diet is NOT for anyone with a negative attitude.
You must never let doubt creep into your mind.
Instead, picture yourself as you wish to be at all times (this is really the secret).