T Nation

Keto, Fasting, Intermittent Keto


#1

Christian I wanted to get your thoughts on performing a Keto diet on off days. I read an article awhile back regarding a nutrition protocol of doing keto on off days and then having your diet on your typical maintenance or bulking plan during workout days. I had read several reviews where people like it.

Do you see any validity to this being helpful with dropping bodyfat while maintaning strength? I understand that it would not neccesarilly put a body in ketosis because your body would likely still have substantial glucose throughout your system, but I wonder if it would provided an almost intermittent type fasting weight loss effect.

Is this an approach you would steer clear of?
Do you feel a reverse diet approach would be a better tactic, or a reverse diet approach with keto on off days, or a reverse diet approach with intermittent fasting on off days? Or am I just combining too many variables at once?

Any input from those in the know is appreciated.


#2

Ok let’s be clear, you cannot be “keto” if you eat low carbs/high fat 2-3 days per week (especially on non-consecutive days like it would happen in your question).

KETO refers to becoming adapted to using ketones as the primary fuel source. For that to happen you need to be in a physiological state where very little glucose (carbs) are available. This means almost no carbs in the diet and very little glycogen stored in the muscles and liver. If there is plenty of glycogen (stored glucose) in the muscles and liver you will not adapt to using ketones as your primary fuel source.

If you go “keto” for 1 or even 2 days you will not deplete muscle and liver glycogen (especially in your example where the keto days are on non-training days).so even if you eat no carbs for 1-2 days you will not become keto adapted. But even if you were, you would drop right out of that state by having carbs for the next few days.

Not only do you need to have no significant amount of glucose available for fuel, you must be in that state for a fairly long period before you become “keto adapted”. Most keto experts talk about being in that state for at least 3 weeks to become fully keto adapted.

So as you can see just because you have 2-3 days of low carbs/high fat in your week doesn’t qualify as “keto”… a lot of people just like to fall in love with a concept and attach the keto work to it.

That having been said I’m not saying that the approach will not work. It will work, but not because it’s “keto”… simply because a few days a week you are consuming a caloric deficit and and energy deficit. Having days with lowered calories will indeed limit fat gain when you are eating a surplus on the other days. I call these “control days”.

They only work bey reducing the average caloric intake over the week.

Let’s say that your maintenance level is 2500 calories per day and that you are 200lbs; so you need 200-250g of protein per day (800-1000 calories)…

Let’s say that on your “gaining” days you consume 3200 calories with 250g of protein , 300g of carbs (1200 calories) and 110g of fat (1000 calories). And you have 5 such days in a week.

On the other two days you also ingest 250g of protein (1000 calories) but only 1700 total calories. It gives you 500 “energetic” calories (fats or carbs). It absolutely will not matter if those 700 calories come from carbs, fats or a mix of both… you could eat…

152g of carbs and 10g of fats
88g of carbs and 39g of fats
50g of carbs and 56g of fats
25g of carbs and 67g of fats
0g of carbs and 78g of fats

And in the long term it will make zero difference in body composition. All options will be effective to the same extent.

In that case it would give you a weekly caloric intake of 19400 calories or an average of 2771 calories/day, which in the example is a surplus of a bit more than 250 calories per day along with enough protein to support growth. For someone with a 2500 calories maintenance level this would allow for a gradual gain in muscle mass and basically no fat gain.


#3

We could use a similar approach if body recomposition was the goal.

For example:

Assuming 5 weekly workouts.

Two days with a significant surplus (you’d put your toughest workouts there)
Three days with a slight surplus
Two days with a deficit

For example… assuming a maintenance level of 2500 calories
DAY 1 - 250g of protein, 3000 total calories
DAY 2 - 250g of protein, 2750 total calories
DAY 3 - 250g of protein, 2750 total calories
DAY 4 (off day) - 250g protein , 1750 calories
DAY 5 - 250g of protein, 2750 total calories
DAY 6 - 250g of protein, 3000 total calories
DAY 7 (OFF day) 250g of protein, 1750 calories

it would give you a weekly total of 17750 calories and a daily average of 2535 calories.

This should allow you to lose a little bit of fat and build a little bit of muscle… not the most effective method, but it works.


#4

If your goal is fat loss without losing muscle or strength (maybe even adding a little). You could also use a similar approach.

But now with 2 days with a slight surplus
3 days at a slight deficit
2 days at a large deficit

For example… assuming a maintenance level of 2500 calories
DAY 1 - 250g of protein, 2750 total calories
DAY 2 - 250g of protein, 2250 total calories
DAY 3 - 250g of protein,2250 total calories
DAY 4 (off day) - 250g protein , 1500 calories
DAY 5 - 250g of protein, 2250 total calories
DAY 6 - 250g of protein, 2750 total calories
DAY 7 (OFF day) 250g of protein, 1500 calories

This would give you a weekly total of 15200 and a daily average of 2175 which should allow a steady fat loss and not muscle or strength loss (maybe even gaining some).

THESE ARE NOT MY FAVORITE APPROACHES FOR LOSING FAT. But it’s because of my neurological profile that responds better to all-out intense dieting phases.


#5

You are just making things too complicated. Tons and tons of studies not to mention the work of no-bullshit experts like Brad Shoenfeld, Alan Aragon and Lyle McDonald (even though we are not on speaking term anymore and he is kind of an a-hole, he is super smart with dieting) conclude that if protein and calories are equated and that 80% of your food choices are “natural, quality” foods, fat loss/gain will be the same regardless of the “type” of diet.

So having 2 “control days” (or even 3) per week will work regardless of if you go intermittent fasting, low carbs, no carbs, low fat, etc.


#6

Christian you mention couple of methods and said these are not your favorite.

Can you describe your 1-2 favorite method for losing fat and not muscle or strenght loss…and how you usually get i really great shape. I know you do on nero profile but …

BTW: you still mentain good photoshooting composition and how you eat right now?


#7

Here’s an article I wrote on the subject. I personally like the “intervals” approach: 3 weeks of very severe dieting, 1 week at maintenance and repeat.

https://thibarmy.com/how-should-you-approach-fat-loss/

That is when trying to get lean.

When I want to stay lean while adding some muscle I use a variation of Scott Abel’s cycle diet.

Mon: Low calories
Tues: Low calories
Wed: First half of the day high carbs/high calories (sometimes cheating), second half low carbs
Thu: Low calories
Fri: Low calories
Sat: HIGH calories
Sun: Maintenance

I adjust the caloric intake on the low days depending on progression.

If I want to gain muscle rapidly I use a decent surplus, with lots of carbs around workouts (pre during, post).

At the moment I’m 220 (was 202 in last photoshoot). But I did put on muscle and of course glycogen stores. I’m not in photoshoot condition, but still full abs/obliques, veins on obliques, delts separation, veins on quads, so not sloppy.


#8

At the moment, I’m trying to gain as much muscle as possible so I will likely do the opposite of what I do when trying to get lean:

3 weeks of surplus
1 week of decifict
Repeat


#9

In your experience, is 3 weeks at a big deficit long enough to lose significant muscle mass? Do you do anything to prevent muscle loss other than increasing protein intake and dialing in workout nutrition during that period?


#10

If you keep training hard, you will not lose muscle in 3 weeks.

I don’t really increase protein intake since it’s always pretty much 1.25g per pound, more than that will not be beneficial.

I always focus on peri-workout nutrition. Just keep training hard and don’t stress over it. YES on some days you will feel flat and small and think that you are losing muscle, but you really are not.


#11

HI and thank you for your reply. I read your article and I have a couple of questions:

  1. I will be entering a fat loss phase in the near future and I would like to use your interval method. I would like that phase to last only 8 weeks, so 2 “cycles.” How should I go about it? I weigh 176 lbs and am at around 16% bf and I would like to drop as low as it’s possible to in eight weeks without losing muscles.

  2. I’ve been doing your BDW program for more than a month and I’m planning on doing it during that fat loss phase also (possibly switching to your BDW2). I remember you mentioning that program is a good option while cutting because of the low volume, so could that offset the cortisol release inherent to intense dieting?

  3. I would like to try your “ab shredder” workout during such a fat loss phase. How could I implement it in the program, as I’m already working out 6 days a week?

Thank you


#12

Big Thanks for all the insight and information here. I like to “train smarter not harder” so Im always seeking information. Your advice will be strategically used by me.


#13

Dude you are money with this advice for me right now. 43yr old lifter doing keto trying to get back under 15% BF. I’m 3 weeks into keto and was wondering if I needed to back off and add carbs or keep going until I get where I want to be. If I’m not gonna lose muscle I’ll keep pushing down into the well and stay the course.

Training 4 days a week. I may add some rope jumping, prowler, battle rope, and kettle swings. (20 or so minutes) I’ll run on the warmer days until I get the BF under control.

I’m sick of the diet. I did drop from 275-280 lbs @38-40% in May 17 to 225 @15% September on a strict keto. Currently I’m 235-238 17-18%.

Thanks for the advice. I would enjoy picking your brain about neuro type some time to see what I am. I’ve watched the videos…still not sure where I fall…


#14

As someone who’s been on the bandwagons of keto to fasting to “intermittent keto” to paleo and everything in between…and as someone who went from shredded to fluffy to now lean & full, on my way to achieving my best aesthetics (despite more stressful lifestyle)…i can basically summarize the key diet advice (btw its a lifestyle thing…if you dont’ sleep or manage your stress you will look like shit regardless)…but assuming the thing is just diet here…literally all you have to do is:

Eat whole foods and good amount of protein. Like meat & veggies with every meal LOL.
It’s ridiculously that simple.

If you want to get cute and maximize performance…do some sort of intermittent fasting (anything from 12 hour to 16 hour window, with the former hardly even being fasting) and stay low carb or fasted until your training session at which you point you ingest some intra plazma or carb/protein fast drink.

Then afterwards eat as much wholefoods as you want. If you crave some junk you can save it for before bed (snack on some chips, nuts, whatever). As long as you’re not drinking bacon oil or eating bags of nuts before bed you’re gonna be fine.

99% will have abs, great aesthetic look. Probably can get shredded too without even counting calories or doing manipulating stuff. It’s really not even worth the mental stress (which spikes cortisol and ironically makes you look worse). GOod luck!!!


#15

Some tips***since you hate Keto…don’t do that shit lol. It’s not worth suffering and causing other aspects of your life to go down hill.

Here are the meal combos that will get you below 15% easily…and probably make you feel amazing to boot:

White fish (tilapi) + Avocado + siracha. Smear or mix that shit and eat as much as you want.

Veggies -> Cruciferous like cauliflower or broclli boil that shit in chicken broth, add a little salt…mush it or blend it even. Eat several heads of this “soup”.

CABBAGE. I can eat 2 huge heads of cabbage a day. I steam it then sautee it in coconut oil or olive oil with salt, sometimes pper flakes. Eat this with my meat.

CHicken thighs (remove most of the skin) or ground turkey, lean meatballs etc. Hundreds of recipes but I like throwing it inside a crockpot with carrots, onions, more veggies whatever and some sort of broth/sauce (jaapense Nabe flavor). Delcioius and filling.

Red meat & asapargus

Huge green salad with various assortments and reasonable amount of dressing & protein

Then the secret…BOWLS OF BERRIES. Frozen blueberries, starwberries even mangos. Eat this shit afer your main meat & veggies.

Postworkout and pre bed meals can have white rice and potatoes…hell even pasta or bread whatever lol. Some ice cream & nuts or jerky or chocolate whatever before bed.

Use an intraworkout during your fasted/pre-low carb workouts.

You will look better, feel better, be happier and more productive than ever…promise :slight_smile: