T Nation


Alright,its a theory I have alluded to before, but in light of recent posts on gaining mass while restricting carbs (a la keto lean gain), I propose the following:
Research suggests that:
a) Ketones will stimulate anabolism
b) Will cause a slight rise in insulin by themselves
c) that insulin, seems to have more of an anti-catabolic effect on muscle tissue than an anabolic one
d) that testosterone is the primary anabolic hormone.

Now given these “loose truths”, why wouldn’t a keto type, restricted carb diet (but above mntc. kcal) promote the nutrient partitioning that we so desire as bb’ers.

Insulin as we know leads to fat gain (primarily) and perhaps fat cell receptors are more biologically active when stimulated by insulin and in a caloric excess than when stimulated by ketones and in a caloric excess. Also, given the correlation between fat and T levels, wouldn't a keto type above mntc diet lead to better muscle growtht through this mechanism? In addition, some carbs could be consummed a al CKD but they would be done with very specific timing sequences (since the liver intercepts ~55% of all carb loads) to maximize muscle glycogen refilling (okay maybe not supercompensation) while maintaining a slight-to-moderate ketotic state.

In addition, ketones will provide a mild or heavy diuretic effect which can lend a psychologial hand.

Further, we also know that max type strength lifting (e.g., eccentrics etc.) is the primary type of lifting?? that is necessary for muscle hypertrophy. This type of muscle lifting does not require the ATP (carb based) that fast paced high rep type lifting does.

Now, I am not saying eat shitfull fats, but you could do well eating good, real good fats, as well as a healthy dose of MCT’s.

These are some theory thoughts, and I really haven’t been able to elucidate what I am thinking in this short space, but as WSTRNR would say:
Let’s Discuss
what are some anecdotal or theoretical arguments against this claim or for it.???

I’m interested to hear your thoughts.
Peace Brahs

Vain, just a quick question. How much mass have you put on a Keto or CKD or simply very low carb diet? I’m not trying to put you down, its just I’ve tried all three types of diet in the past at a ~high calorie intake and was never able to add LBM. If you were able to plz let give me some details. Despite its initial failures I dont want to give up on it yet.

You raised the points I made in an earlier (albeit less technical) post. I’m looking forward to the responses.

Peacock, I am not saying that I have gained on this type of diet per se, however, I do know that I am resistant (it seems) to fat gain in some weird sort of way. You mentioned you have no gained on this type of diet–did you calculate your overall calorie numbers…how much over mntc were you going?..I am not saying this is going to work per se, but I wanted to throw this out for theoretical discussion, given some facts that we now know about diet and particular macronutrients, hormones, etc.

I am no expert, but based on the logic of adding more cals. than you burn you will gain weight, I would have to think that this would have to work. If you could eat 4000 cals. with little or no carbs, then you would have to gain weight. It would have to be lean as well. I don’t know how you would eat that much. That would take a lot of work. If I could come up with a meal plan, then I would do it.

It can be very hard to consume enough calories to bulk up when you are eating a lot of fat because fat makes you feel full and it makes you feel full longer. I also remember reading somewhere (by Mauro DiPasquale I think)that medium chain triglycerides are a bad choice when on a keto diet because you want your body to shift to burning LONG chain fats so MCT’s act similar to carbs on a keto diet. I also believe that a keto diet causes excessive oxidative stress although this can be off set somewhat with proper supplementation of anti oxidants but you wouldn’t be getting enough vitamins and minerals from natural sources like fruits and vegetables because many of these contain to many carbs.

I have to agree with you here, I believe a keto diet is better for basically everything (cutting, adding mass) than a so called balanced diet. Once one is fat adapted, then performance is often better than on a moderate or high carb diet. High fat intake along w/ cholesterol provides the building blocks of hormonal production and raised Testosterone levels. Saturated fat is safe since it is our primary energy source. Our ability to store glycogen is VERY SMALL but fat storage capabilities are unlimited, just step outside and look at all the fat people. Excess carbs are stored as fat via de novo lipogenesis, and the type of fat they are turned into is SATURATED FAT. This is the energy we are meant to run on. Also, Insulin is more anabolic to fat cells than muscle. Many people put on size faster w/ a higher carb intake, but every person i’ve ever seem who bulks on a high carb diet gets FAT, and retain a lot of water. I don’t think antecdotal accounts of someone gaining mass w/ higher carbs is valid b/c they rarely get body composition tests, if they did they would find the overwhelming majority of mass is fat and water, w/ very little muscle. The advantage of eating a fat and protein diet is one can easily burn excess fat off and is a fat burning organism since that is the fuel they are running on. Gotta go, will continue later, but I think Keto diets rule for all purposes and are natures diet.

I often sing the praises of a keto/ low carb diet because I find it so unbelievably easy to follow, in comparsion to a high/moderate carb approach( in terms of cutting). I was always struggling, craving, and dropping gym performance when using a carb approach to lose fat. Then VOILA! Along came some articles on CKD and now Im able to lose FAT and gain strentgh with little effort. I am also going to try a hypercaloric approach to gain LBM, but I would like to hear some anecdotal evidence that this actually works. ( Carbs would be consumed post w/o and on weekends)

you stated insulin leads to fat gain (primarily), but if it weren’t for insulin, you would have no muscle, and would probably be dead by age 20 or soon there after. insulin is not the enemy, overeating is.

Paul, muscle size can be increased w/ out insulin, protein synthesis is possible w/out carbs. Insulin is necessary in very small amounts, I never said it was the enemy, but it is also deadly. Too much shortens your life span, clogs arteries b/c of damage it causes to them, and leads to Diabetes. I’m talking about the optimal diet, humans can adapt and live for a long time regardless of how little u take care of yourself. We wouldnt die with low insulin levels, humans have lived like this for thousands of years. Stefannson wrote a book called “The Fat of The Land”, talking about his life with Eskimos, who ate high fat, moderate protein and no carbs, and were healthy, lean, and always active. He and his partner subjected themselves to a 1yr. study in Bellville Hospital eating a meat only diet, 80%fat, 20% protein, no carbs. They were closely watched and several science experts from varies fields recorded all info, their health was perfect, fat was lost, energy was fine, etc., this type of ratio is more hardcore than BodyOpus w/ no carb ups.
Again, it all comes down to basic Thermodynamics, burn more than you take in, but health is also a concern and low carbs is healthier, easier for most b/c of controlled appetite, enjoyment of food (for some), etc. Calories are most important, but macro ratios determine more if fat or muscle is preferentially lost or gained. And since the body stores most energy as saturated fat, this is the energy we’re meant to run on, so thats why I eat it, along with other EFA’s, only needed in small amounts.

Good points so far…and let me once again say that I am just throwing this out for dicussion at this point, although i do lean towards keto as a healthy lifestyle or one that can optimize lean gain with no fat gain. However, I am not saying completely exclude carbs per se. To maintain my LBM (not necessarily gain) I do indeed eat carbs but in a very cyclic manner and at that, only low GI (very low actually). The only HIGH GI carb I will have is during a gain phase and is a mixed “recovery” beverage by met-rx. I have abandoned rice cakes :)) even post-workout, as they just haven’t proven useful whatsoever.

Mufusa, Patsy, KB, Joel, Heb, British, JB, what are your thoughts on this?—Yeah, it does seem radical, but, lets discuss.


It most likely will work if you try it. Lots of people from Beverly International follow a similar approach…although not an all out “Keto” approach. What you could also do is follow more of a metabolic diet approach…5 days low carb with a 2 day higher carb loading period…let the amount of carbs and calories in the carb loading period dictate how much weight you want to gain.

protein and fat are insulinogenic. so the protein synthesis and muscle gain are not in the complete absence of insulin. its always there. cell receptors are not on muscle cells for protein, carbs, and fats. this is a facilitated transport with insulin being the facilitator. humans can live on low insulin, but NO insulin will kill you. ask type I diabetics.

The Natural Hormonal Enhancement eating plan by Rob Faigin (extique.com) is similiar to Kelly B’s metabolic diet. It’s basically a CKD with a carbup every 3-4 days. The diet has a big and loyal following. I did it for awhile with good results but found it to restrictive in eating choices. I’m somewhat insulin insensitive and have trouble with carbs (gain fat quickly if consuming excess carbs) but am more comfortable eating Berardi Massive Eating Style and just seperate carbs and fats and really watch my carb intake with carbs only coming from low GI sources except post WO surge. I do better with daily source of moderate low GI carbs. However, I will stay leaner on the same calories when eating Faigin’s CKD plan.

The reason I’m so interested in a “low carb” approach is that right now I’m not interested in gaining mass super fast like I was before.

I THINK it was Mauro DiPasquale who advocates a low carb approach M-F and carbing up on the weekends. He claimed that this diet would help one gain 25 pounds of muscle per year. Not too shabby, if you ask me, but I'm wondering how much higher those gains would be if you cycled Mag-10, 4-AD, Tribex, etc.

I think the debate is still very much open on whether this approach will work. I'm hoping Bill Roberts puts his 2 cents in.

Vain some interesting theories but I am still convined that dietary carbs while gaining is preferable. All the studies I have seen have only looked at between 20 - 40% fat in the diet and its affect on T levels, which makes me think it is not constant proportional increases in both but would have a cut off point. as for these type of evidence we have to be carefull with the interpetations as protein levels have been shown to be inversely be related to T levels (i.e high protein low T)and I dont think mainy of us are going to cut done on the protein because of this finding.
I have already made a few points on mike’s post but will say them again -
Low carb diets will lead to low glycogen levels and even a CKD would not restore your glycogen levels fully if you are training hard and often - as even 200g of carbs a day diets have shown progressive glycogen depletion oppossed to higher carb ones. this glycogen depletion will have effects on the training and catabolism as a) lower glycogen levels will reduce training intensity therefore reducing the stimulus for growth and b) glycogen levels are inversely proportional to BC oxacid dehydrogenase levels, which means that training whilst glycogen depleted will cause more protein degredation and catbolism. whether continued absence of carbs in the diet would make the body adapt and negate these affects I dont know.
Having the body in a slight dehydrated state because of diuresis doesn’t seem to be beneficial to growth to me as firstly it would again decrease training intensities and might lead to less protein synthesis. I say this because that is one of the theories as to how creatine can help muscles, in that the cell volumising effect and hyperhydration increases protein synthesis and I would think that the water brought in by storing glycogen would act similairly.
even though eccentrics cause growth it is only because there is more stress per fibre due to less fibres recruited at a given intensity, and as such any increase in stress (overload)on the fibre will probably lead to some form of hypertrophy, and having higher glycogen levels would allow more work to be done in a workout therefore leading to growth due to overload. just because the time period may not be sufficient to cause a large call on glycogen during the lift, it will be used to resynthesis ATP during rest between sets, as well as the nervous system using glycogen which would mean that low glycogen levels would lead to central fatigue.
Overall I think that the best nutrient partitioning diet out there is the Massive eating as it allows sufficient carbs whilst minimising fat gain from Insulin.

I personally have gained a considerable amount of muscle on keto diets. I have found that for my body, I can gain lean mass by lifting semi-mentzer style every day. Obviously the intensity is not always 100 percent, especially after day five with no carbs and doing light aerobic activity, but after a two day carb up, I feel stronger and harder, more so than with traditional lifting schemes. I came about this two years ago when I helped a freind build his house. We did pretty much everything from the masonry to laying the carpet. Both of us were doing body opus at the time. I think that the body, no matter what type diet it’s on, can gain or at least retain muscle tissue, as long as it is being used. Of course this flies in the face of “overtraining” but fuck it. Have any of you guys tried this type of lifting, on keto or otherwise?

Vain, you articulated some really interesting theories very well. I thought British Lifter countered some of them thoughtfully aswell, but in my personal experience, I tend to agree with pretty much all of point you came up with. I have only ever used CKD's for cutting, but have always found it the best diet for preserving Lbm. I have also noticed that if I don't watch my calories and eat too much, on a keto diet, my fat loss progress stops. This leads me to believe that if I were to consume a hypercaloric keto diet, I would gain mass. I also believe that it would most likely be LBM over bodyfat. I am going to try this approach at the end of the summer. Whenever I try gaining mass with even a Berardi style Massive eating diet, I simply gain too much fat. Even with p+f and P+low GI carbs meals. I think it's a highly individual issue and different body types respond differently to manipulated macronutrient profile consumption. I think true hard gainers (ectomorphs) probably need a lot more carbs too promote an anabolic environment. For people like myself, (endo-meso) carbs just really don't seem to be that neccessary for gaining muscle mass. For this body type, muscle gain comes relatively easy, but so does the fat gain. It's a much trickier nutritional balancing act to achieve muscle mass increases while keeping fat gains to a minimum. I'm starting to believe a hypercaloric CKD may very well be the answer. The exception to this would of course be for athletes who are training insensley in other sports outside the weight room. I'm assuming however that we are talking strictly about people interested in bodybuilding.

Why is the anecdotal evidence of Anabolic Diets effectiveness so hard to come by? I have addressed this topic before and always get replys like “well, my friend tried it a couple of years ago and he got hyyooge!”. But there doesnt seem to be anyone to get direct feedback from? I want to hear about long term progress, LMB gains and strength gains.

First, British your points were excellent and I will be looking to follow up with some literature reserach on them.

Anecdotally however, a couple questions I have or counterpoints for the forum depending on how you see them.

First off, when I do keto, there is a period of initial muscle flatness after the depletion, but, following that, it seems that muscle pump returns (or at least after a bout of lifting); in addition, as I have mentioned before, when i do keto for cut, i do not carb-up for the duration (last period was 33 day straight in keto) and this does not seem to impair muscle protein proteolysis in any way. Indeed, the initial point of keto dieting was that the fat would spare the muscle from degrading in the first place. I agree that muscle hydration is a “signal” to grow, but what mediates and moderates this (i.e., what variables)?? Furthermore, the diuretic nature of ketones should not leach what water does get into the muscles, but should only act as a subcutaneous diuretic, but I may be incorrect…I just don’t see ketones being able to go into muscle and “pull out water”, although this will be achieved through lifting during periods of the keto cycle (w/o the carb up).

Also, anecdotally (and this is poor scientific evidence I know) when I do a keto, I do not notice gym strength or ability to lift decreasing until the end of the keto period when a)over-traning sets in and b)when body fat begins to get relatively low (i.e., below 6%). As such, perhaps the impairment in training noticed on keto is due (or more correlated with) lower body fat and continued restricted kcal intake, than it is the keto in particular.

One point I am not clear on and would like some clarification on is the role of insulin. Sure it drives the nutrients into the muscle cell, but from what I have researched, insulin is not primarily anabolic but to the fat cells. Keep in mind that glucose OR ketones is the raw energy material necessary for synthesis of protein, and that insulin (which will always be present to a degree)will most likely be more than enough to get the necessary requirements of fuel into the areas where it is needed to synthesize muscle tissue.

Another point. In regards to the “ceiling effects” of too much fat and too much protein being attributed to LOW T, I agree, as this has been found for insulin as well. However, I have found that with moderate amounts of fat (say 75g) and around moderate amounts of protein (less than 300), I am able to be in ketosis. Throw in a supplement such as ALA (which i am big on) and I can be in ketosis on a carb load of 75g. Keep in mind that insulin is the primary key to ketosis, and not carbs per se. I realize when bulking that all macro levels will be higher (to achieve kcal excess) but perhaps not too high to impair T levels.

Anyway, Keep her coming on the thoughts. I think perhaps the best thing to maybe do, would be to get a group of us that commit to trying the modified CKD approach to lean gain (I’ll be happy to write up a guide based on what we have discussed and what I have researched) and we can try it. Worst case scenario is that we either don’t gain anything and restructure diets, gain too much fat and abort with a cut (which most of us here are disciplined to do) or we do make solid and good LBM gains at the expense of fat, and we are rewarded for putting our theoretical rheotoric to the test based on sound principles.

Any takers, I’m in I just want to go in with a few others (and we can wait till the later portion of the summer not to mess up our physiques (if that may be the case) for the ladies on the beach.

Dippin out