T Nation

Disspelling Some of the "Huge Drawbacks to the Keto Diet"

#1

###Huge Drawbacks to the Keto Die

2 – Bad for Strength Athletes

Yes and No.

Training on the Ketogenic Diet requires a different approach than on the Traditional High Carbohydrate Diet.

Training in the Phosphagen Energy System is necessary for individual on the Ketogenic Diet. ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) is utilized for energy rather than glucose.

Hypertrophy Strength Training

Traditional Hypertrophy is more effective on a high carbohdrate.

However, one way of “Hacking The System” is with Cluster Hypertrophy Set Training". Source: Dr Jonathan Oliver research.

4 – Killer Constipation

I’ve been on the Ketogenic Diet for three year due to metabolic condition. I nor the few individual that I have worked with have experience constipation.

Research by Dr Paul Mason dispelled the constipation issue, as well.

6 – Bad Blood

As per TC, “The dangers of high cholesterol appear to be overrated,…”…

A vague statement follows that take us nowhere.

7 – Actual Ketosis is Really Rare

Correct

Very few individual every get into ketosis or remain on the diet.

I personally like the diet but don’t recommend it due to the fact that the majority of individual cannot maintain it or for that matter diet.

I recommend Intermittent Fasting, since many of the same benefits can be achieved and because of the simplicity of it; nothing to fix, just skip a meal.

8 – Unrealistic Expectations

Water weight loss initially does occurs. However, over time on the diet, muscle rehydration occurs; the water weight that was lost is regained. Source Drs Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney.

Kenny Croxdale

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#2

i did keto twice, during best damn program, and loved it. once i got fat adapted and took mct before training i gained strength and muscle. this is just a keto flame, because keto is ‘‘mainstream’’ today :slight_smile:

#3

This is deja vu. Although TC and co have not kicked the keto diet for sometime now, it’s odd that it gets singled out periodically for punishment - often citing the most tenuous sources.

I’m not a strict advocate of the diet by any means, and I think it is misinterpreted and misapplied across the internet. The fact that it attracts such cultish devotion doesn’t do much for its PR image either. However, when you start making claims it’s catabolic, unhealthy, blah, blah… you are in danger of sounding as perverse as the crazy keto crowd.

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#4

Everyone knows keto is not optimal for athletes or bodybuilders. If not a large percentage of athletes/bodybuilders would already be on keto diet. It is only good for a very small percentage of population who wanna lose weight. Facts don’t care about your feelings.

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#5

look keto isnt optimal for muscle gain, and explosive athletes, but that isnt its purpose. i use keto for fatloss and it works, much much better for me personallly than carb loading or other diets. but for mass ofcourse carb approach is better

#6

Muscle Gains on Keto

Research has demonstrated that muscle gain can be obtained on a Ketogenic Diet.

As an example, when I was initially diagnosed with my metabolic condition, I combined the Ketogenic Diet with Intermittent Fasting. In doing so, I dropped 17 lbs.

The 17 lbs drop in body weight was from simply cutting calories, Intermittent Fasting. What the Ketogenic Diet mainly did was keep me from being hungry

Gaining Back 17 lbs

I then decided to gain back the 17 lbs while staying on the Ketogenic Diet.

Since carbohydrates were restricted to 50 gram or less per day and protein needed to be moderate, no higher than 25% of my kcals, that meant that most of the increase in kcals would need to come from fats with a slight increase in protein.

I gain back the weight and muscle by consuming more fat calories via: MCTs, Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, Oliver Oil, eating butter by itself, having celery with cream cheese or sour cream, etc.

I ended up taking a page from…

Bill “Peanuts” West

West was one of the original members of the Culver City. California Westside Barbell Club. West got his nick name because he drank Peanut Oil to gain weight.

The 17 lbs that I gained back followed followed West’s Protocol. I’d have a "Cocktail’ shot of two tablespoons of MCTs, Liquid Coconut Oil and Avocado Oil two to three times a day.

That increased my kcals between 504 to 756 a day from fats. I incrementally increased my protein intake; maintaining it at around 25% of my micros.

Thus, my weight gain, muscle along with some body fat, was primarily driven by the increase in fat kcals.

Explosive Athletes

The Ketogenic Diet is basically an “Upside Down Food Pyramid”.

The Ketogenic Diet to some extent turn your training upside down. That means training on a Ketogeic Diet is different from training on a Traditional High Carbohydrate Diet.

It too me about a year to figure it out. As Einstein said, “Research is what I am doing, when I don’t know what I am doing”.

The information in my original posted provide some information some of the changes that need to be implemented when on a Ketogenic Diet for Strength Training; it also applies to training for Explosive Power.

Hypertrophy Training

Dr Jonathan Oliver’s research on “Custer Hypertrophy Set Training” was designed for Strength and Power Athletes.

As we know, Traditional Bodybuilding/Hypertrophy Training is effective at increasing muscle mass; it fall more into the Glycolytic Energy System.

It appears that individual on a Ketogenic Diet don’t do well in activities or sports fall into the Glycolytic Energy System; which make sense.

Research by Rachael Gregory found that Keto Adapted Athlete did well when training in the Glycolytic Energy System. So, it might work. However, I question it.

The downside to Traditional Bodybuilding/Hypertrophy Training is the increase in muscle mass initially come at the expense of a decrease in Limit Strength and Power.

Oliver found that “Custer Hypertrophy Set Training” allowed Strength and Power Athletes to increase muscle mass but not at the expense of Strength or Power.

Phosphagen Energy Syteme

The primary key for Strength, Power and Hypertrophy Training on a Ketogenic Diet is a program designed for the Phosphagen Energy System.

Kenny Croxale

#7

So might that “very small percentage of the population” include those who form part of the ‘obesity/type 2 diabetes epidemic’? Yes, facts don’t care about feelings.

#8

2 points or counterpoints so far.

  1. Regarding muscle building-I believe that it is much harder to spike leucine levels (and of course to spike insulin) on a ketogenic diet because ketogenic sources of leucine like cheese tend to be very slow in digesting. The main signal for protein synthesis is a leucine spike combined with an insulin spike. Ketogenic muscle building seems to be more a factor of slow and steady relative increases in protein synthesis over the course of time. However, those who say that strength training requires carbs are wrong. Strength training uses training intervals that use primarily ATP and Creatine Phosphate. Those substrates can be completely refilled without carbohyrate by beta oxidation of fatty acids given 2-5 minutes of rest. Carbohydrate is directly used primarily in endurance activities where fat can not restore ATP and Creatine Phosphate fast enough, and when intermuscular fat reserves have dwindled. Even at 600 calories and hour of continuous work, fat is responsible for restoring 50-60% of ATP, and the percentage rises for people who consume more fat.

  2. Regarding hunger, ketosis obviously works to curb hunger and energy crashes (low blood sugar) but blood sugar stability and hunger reduction are largely achieved just by providing a roughly isocaloric diet where there is enough fat to prevent rapid swings in blood sugar and insulin. A 40/30/30 carb, protein fat, or even better a 2:1 ratio of fat to carbs blocks hunger effectively in many people. In addition to this, sources of carbs tend to have far more bulk per calorie that fat sources. You can eat a 6 ounce banana, or an ounce of high fat beef, or 10 grams of oil. The difference comes not only from fat having over twice the calories as carbs per gram, but also since carb based foods usually have more water, and also have more fiber. The actual mass of food consumed on a ketogenic diet can be 20% that on a carb based diet, and its also easy for people to add a couple hundred calories from oils and fats without even noticing it. Personally, I have found through years of experimentation that the bulk of a higher carb diet (with hydrated foods like rice, potatoes and fruit included) leads me to naturally eat fewer calories than I would if I self regulated on a fat based diet. More effort goes into eating a half pound baked potato with a tablespoon of butter and two cups of broccoli than eating a quarter pound of ribeye or 4 eggs.

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#9

I agree. I’ve never been on Keto per say, but I’ve done stints of very low carb (unlimited meats and leafy veggies only) when in summer camp and lost significant weight each time (10lbs last summer) despite eating a lot more. I doubt calorie balance is actually the issue because I have MAJOR portion control problems when it comes to proteins (ie eating an entire roast pork knuckle+3 sausages in 1 sitting or cleaning off a 3lb halibut after 1/2 a kilo of shrimp). After going back to eating carbs, I only gain back about 1/3-1/2 of the lost weight, so there might be some truth in carb restriction for fat loss at least on an anecdotal level

Regarding constipation, I found the opposite. I had pretty bad constipation while eating starchy carbs and fruit (and still eating at least 4-5 cups of cooked leafy veggies so fiber shouldn’t be an issue), but I was pretty much a shit machine while on low carb. Bloating also went away despite eating a lot more volume/calories.

#10

This is where the targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) shines. That said, when combined with fasting, ingesting something like Peptopro pre-WO will create a sizeable insulin spike.

#11

could you maybe further explain, fasting, tkd and peptopro? i mean you do fasting for x hours then train with pepto, and the eat carbs after workout?

#12

When you fast for extended periods, between 24-48 hours, I believe you become more nutrient-sensitive. If you then ingest a fast-acting protein source like Pepropro, its rich leucine content and rapid digestion will cause a noticeable insulin spike. This should allow amino acid uptake at an appreciable level.

TKD takes the above process a step further by simply adding anything from 5-50 CHO. This is a more viable strategy for longer sessions.

There is no need for post-WO carbs.

#13

im very interested in this approach, do you have maybe link to somewhere more specific?

#14

Check out Ketogains for a useful starter on TKD.

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#15

What I don’t get is why you would want to use a keto diet while attempting to gain muscle, unless of course you have some sort of health condition like diabetes. Is there any other reason to do this, other than trying to follow trends?

There are a few elite powerlifters and strongmen who use the keto diet, but one thing that came up in a discussion elsewhere was that it appears there are no strength athletes who compete in drug tested federations/division that use keto. Perhaps the loss in strength from the diet can be made up for with the proper drug protocol.

And since @KennyCrox was calling me out before in another discussion on this topic for “coaching a sport I haven’t played”, it turns out I actually have used a keto diet in the past, before I got into powerlifting. I was actually using a TKD diet, although I had no idea there was such a thing and I had never heard of keto then, this was on the advice of some bodybuilders at the gym where I trained. I was doing mostly bodybuilding-style training at that time, I lost a few pounds so it worked in that regard but my strength levels dropped fast. I remember I was able to do something like 225x12 on bench, after 2 months of keto I think I was able to do 4 reps. Also I was miserable on that diet, the fact that I cook for a living and I’m always around food made cutting out carbs (except around training) more of a problem.

#16

Reason For Keto

As I stated, I use it due to a metabolic condition. I can’t say why other would be on the diet.

[quote=“chris_ottawa, post:15, topic:254730”]
I actually have used a keto diet in the past, before I got into powerlifting. I was actually using a TKD diet, although I had no idea there was such a thing and I had never heard of keto then, this was on the advice of some bodybuilders at the gym where I trained. I was doing mostly bodybuilding-style training at that time, I lost a few pounds so it worked in that regard but my strength levels dropped fast. I remember I was able to do something like 225x12 on bench, after 2 months of keto I think I was able to do 4 reps. Also I was miserable on that diet, the fact that I cook for a living and I’m always around food made cutting out carbs (except around training) more of a problem.[/quote]

Regarding Your Training

Initially, you’re training will suffer until you become acclimated to the diet, “Keto Adapted”. As I stated, it took me about a year to figure it out.

Also, you may not have been on the Ketogenic Diet, in ketosis. One of the primary issues is consuming too much protein converts it (glueoneogenesis) into glucose.

Thus, many individual are on a High Protein, HIgh Fat, Low Carbohydrate Diet which isn’t a Ketogenic Diet. That was one of my initial issues.

You end up being in “No man’s land”; you’re still glucose dependent due to the fact that you’re converting protein to glucose. However, you don’t have enough glucose to do thing or feel good.

And due to the fact that you’re not in ketosis, you not utilizing ketones for energy.

Once “Keto Adapted” and by writing a strength training program that works for the Keto Diet; training should not be an issue.

Compliance

Any diet that is restrictive, like Keto, is hard to comply with and maintain.

That is one of the reasons that I don’t recommend it, even though I like and use it. I promote Intermittent Fasting.

To reiterate, Intermittent Fasting provide some of the same benefits as Keto but is much easier. Nothing to to fix or count, just skip a meal once in a while.

Kenny Croxdale

#17

Ok, fair enough. I suppose we are mostly on the same page here.

With TKD would you actually be in ketosis since you consume substantial amounts of carbs around training? I can’t remember how much I was having, but protein was around 1g/lb bodyweight.

Aside from people like yourself with metabolic issues, it seems like keto is something that would work for people who like lots of meat and grease and have little problem giving up carbs. None of these various dieting strategies have anything magical about them, it’s just about restricting calories to lose weight and whatever method is the easiest for each person to stick with will be the most successful.

#18

This is also how I feel. If you have a condition or are obese and need a restrictive diet to reach a healthy weight, then I can see doing this. I have cousin who lost ~80 lbs on keto. But if performance is and strength gains are your goals, of course you want to eat carbs to maximize your performance and gains.

I did this for ~1 year, and after the initial adjustment it wasn’t too bad. I ate between noon and 7 pm. That said, I feel the drawbacks outweigh the benefits.

The drawbacks (for me):

  1. An over reliance on coffee in the AM to make the mornings more palatable.
  2. Starting to become too “food obsessed”. When your eating plan is timed, you end up watching the clock and eating when you’re allowed to, and not when you naturally feel hungry.
  3. I personally would get a bit shaky in the mornings until I ate at around noon. I realize this is an individual thing.
  4. It was difficult to maintain my weight. I really didn’t have weight to lose when I did it, and wanted to try it because I had heard of health and well-being benefits.
  5. Once I went back to eating normal, I realized how much better I felt. I still eat a relatively light breakfast and lunch, but those calories and nutrition have a huge impact on how I feel.
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#19

1 Gram Per Pound

I am not sure if someone needs a gram of protein per pound of body weight. Drs Volek and Phinney recommend around 1.4 to 1.6 gram per pound of body weight.

Based on some of their finding the body retain more Leucine, an anabolic amino acid; storing it in the body.

Ketones appear to spare protein and preserve Leucine in the body.

So, the amount of protein needed on the Ketogenic Diet may be less than on a Traditional High Carbohydrate Diet. Thing appear to get turned upside down on the Ketogenic Diet.

Yea, if meat and grease is you thing, Keto might be for you.

Calorie Restriction

Yes, a diet that restrict calories below maintenance work for losing weight.

Mark Haub, MS Nutritionist, Kansas State proved that years ago when when went on the “Twinkie Diet”. Haub consumed a calorie deficit with his junk food diet; losing 27 lbs.

One of the things that a high fat Ketogenic Diet does is make you feel full. So, many individual eat less and lose weight.

As I pointed out, I jacked up my fat intake and created a calorie surplus, gaining, 17 lbs.

Kenny Croxdale

#20

Performance And Strength

The emphasis for a sport need to be on catering to the Energy System that it employs.

Strength, Power and Speed are in the Phosphagen Energy System. ATP is utilized not ketones or glucose.

Thus, Keto Adapted individual will do well in the Phosphagen System, as well as individual on a high carbohydrate diet.

Individual in Glycolytic Energy System sports need to consume more carbohydrate. Keto Adapted athletes won’t do well. Although Rachael Gregory indicated they would; I question that.

Athletes and activities that fall into the Oxidative Energy System do well with Keto.

Kenny Croxdale