Ketogenic Diet – What is it?
All Ketogenic Diets are high in fat, adequate in protein and low in carbohydrates. This combination changes the way energy is used in the body, converting fat into fatty acids and ketones in the liver. When there is an elevated level of ketones in the blood, one is in a state of ketosis, which has a variety of therapeutic benefits for the sick and healthy alike. In addition to the macronutrient ratio, the frequency of eating can influence ketosis. More specifically, a practice called intermittent fasting, which reduces the window of time a person eats throughout the day, can help in obtaining and sustaining ketosis. When the eating window is shortened, the body is forced to access energy from its own fat stores rather than calories directly from the diet.
How I started my Keto journey
As my readers already know, I have been training for 10+ years now. During that 10 years I have been able to test, try and put to a test most of the diets out there. The reason I very much prefer ketogenic diets over other forms of dieting is because of the easiness and effectiveness of having minimal carbohydrates in my diet. I have done multiple diets where I have lost more than 20lbs of weight in 3-6 months depending on how quickly I wanted to lean out.
Personally, I have cravings that could easily destroy any effort of losing fat. I love sugar: Ice cream, chocolate and other not-so-healthy stuff. Doing a low carb or intermediate carb diets have not catered to my cravings in a way I’d hope. I find myself wanting to eat bad stuff when dieting since my blood sugar levels keep bouncing up and down when consuming carbohydrates. In order to stabilize my blood sugar levels and get rid of those cravings, I turned to the ketogenic diet.
It allowed me to feel full, have consistent energy and good focus throughout my day without wanting to eat any sugar. The process to getting rid of those annoying cravings takes me 4 days from when I start my keto diet. I consume 70-80% fat and the rest is protein. I do also take a fiber supplement as the large amount of red meat, bacon, whole eggs etc. tends to slow my bowel down a lot so having a good fiber supplement has helped tremendously in getting rid of all the waste products in my body.
Pros and Cons of doing Keto
I’ll start with the pros, since I feel that there are more pros than cons when doing a ketogenic diet. For instance, the “unlimited” energy and not feeling bloated is something that I always look forward to after bulking up. During a bulk, my stomach tends to get distended and bloated, but after two weeks of doing keto, all that bloating vanishes like magic. It’s truly amazing! I don’t crave for sweets and I always look forward to my next meal. I enjoy eating meat, fatty foods and salmon, so it has always been an easy transition from my bulking cycle to a ketogenic diet.
Preparing all the meals during a keto is super simple. I cook meat, minced meat, chicken, salmon and throw in some veggies for almost every meal. Sometimes I add things like avocados, olive oil and such to increase the amount of good fats. All the preparation to do this requires minimal time and is quite easy on the wallet. Yet another reason why I prefer keto.
At the gym I have good focus and energy. Power levels stay constant even when cutting calories far below maintenance. I see myself getting leaner by the day and overall my body feels very light, even after eating a meal! I don’t have to worry about eating exactly 3 hours apart since the high fat intake releases energy slowly instead of in spikes, like when I eat carbohydrates.
As for the cons, durability in the gym takes a hit. This is only natural since the glycogen storages inside the muscles go basically to zero after a week or two of doing keto and training normally. This means that instead of doing 12 reps in a movement, I might go down to doing 8 reps with the same weights. To me this is not a problem as the goal is to lose fat, not build muscle. Thus, I keep my workouts short and intense with a good amount of cardiovascular training.
Keto can get repetitive at some point as the foods that can be consumed are quite limited. If you need a large variety of foods during a diet, this might be something to remembers. Keto relies heavily on meat and fatty fish, so if that’s not something you enjoy eating, the diet might feel hard after a while. On the other hand if you love avocados, oils etc. keto can be done eating chicken and low fat meats as well. Personally I would recommend a healthy balance of good and “bad” fats during a keto. If I would be to only eat red meat and bacon for my fats, it would quickly throw off my body’s natural ph levels and I would become very acidic and bloated. That’s why I always incorporate oils and days of lighter eating to my keto diet.
Carbs during a keto diet
So can you eat carbs at some points during a keto diet? The answer is yes. BUT, the only time you should be consuming carbs is during a designated day and a designated meal to refuel your glycogen storages. Personally I do my first re-feed meal two weeks after starting my keto diet. By that time my muscles are fully depleted and feel a bit weak. If during a bulking phase I consume 300-400g of carbs per day, my cheat meal would consist of 300g of carbs to fill out the muscles and provide a boost for the upcoming week.
After the initial re-feed meal I go by feeling. Whenever I feel that my workouts really suffer from not having enough carbs, I throw in a re-feed meal. Usually, for me at least, it means having a “cheat meal” once per week. But this depends on how quickly I want to lose weight and how many workouts I have per week. So there is no right or wrong answer here. The only thing to avoid is eating carbs too often and not allowing the body to stay is ketosis for prolonged periods of time. Having one re-feed meal per week will not take your body out of ketosis if you have followed the guidelines well during the week.
Who is keto for?
As you read my reasons for using ketogenic diet as my go-to diet, you understand that it’s perfect for people who have cravings for sweets and carbs. If you’re heavily overweight, keto helps you to slim down quickly, after which it’s easy to again start introducing carbs to your diet. When you get smaller, stomach gets smaller, the amount of carbs needed to feel satisfied goes down.
Keto can be done at the start of a diet or at the end of a diet. Some people, me included, like to first cut carbs little by little until the amount hits roughly 100g per day. After that, the small amount of carbs doesn’t basically provide any help for workouts so it makes sense to drop the completely and enjoy ketosis. Likewise, when just starting a diet, keto can get anyone to fast results and show that dieting really is not that hard. The quick results tend to build on themselves and later on fighting through the cravings while eating carbs is easier since your goals is that much closer.
To conclude, I would advice anyone to at least try out a ketogenic diet and see how it fits their lifestyle. I truly believe it’s one the most effective forms of dieting that is the easiest to maintain. Of course coming out of a keto diet is another story and that part is usually the most important factor that people tend to mess up. You can read more about coming off keto in my blog post “End Keto successfully”.