Ketogenic Dieting – Part 2: What’s going to happen, training, and what you should eat!
Welcome back! Following on from Part 1 of this article, where we looked at what ketogenic and cyclic ketogenic diets are and their pro’s and cons, in part 2 we will go through how to set up your diets to take advantage of ketogenesis and where to add those tasty carbs!
First off, you have to switch on the ketogenesis. As I stated before this is relatively easy, you just don’t eat carbs. But what you really need to know is how long you need to be no carb for before you start reaping the benefits and start considering that awesome influx of carbohydrate.
You need 7-14 days of below 30g of carbs a day. Your muscles are able to use the ketones just fine for exercise but your brain isn’t use to burning so many ketones all the time. The last time your brain used the ability to use ketones for fuel was when you were a baby. Breast milk is full of fatty acids which are easily converted to ketones to provide the fuel for rapid growth and brain development. When you move on to solids, carb derived energy is used for the bulk of your daily function, with your brain only using ketones at night. When on a ketogenic diet the brain switches to full time ketone burning, that takes a little time and also provides an excellent excuse to make advances towards your heavily pregnant or lactating wi…I better stop…
Moving swiftly on (before you realize I am a total pervert) here is what you can expect over the next 10-14 days as you transition to burning ketones more efficiently as a primary fuel source.
During this phase you are using up your glycogen stores. You can expect to drop a few kilos over these first days as you lose water and glycogen. You aren’t burning much fat at this point though you may appear leaner as the water drains off. Most of this water-weight will go back on when you eat carbs again.
By the end of day 4 and beginning of day 5 your body has shut down the production of enzymes responsible for the conversion of carbs to fat. Ketone production peaks in this phase as you are starting to maximally produce Ketone bodies for immediate fuel. Unfortunately, your brain still takes a little while to get with the program at this point and you are likely to be a bit lethargic and brain foggy.
This is the make or break point for many people and really shows you whether you have the will power worthy of a Green Lantern. Many people don’t understand that the lethargy is minor and temporary, not realizing that it only lasts a day or 2. They fall off the wagon and forever damn the use of ketogenic diets because they felt a little tired over the weekend.
These are final days of reprogramming, by the end of day 10 your brain and body are efficiency using ketones for fuel. You feel just as good, if not a little better than before and are ready to take on the world. You’re also burning pure fat, which is quite handy for a fat loss diet.
Training on the ketogenic phase:
Ideally you should be training during the ketogenic phase, this will deplete glycogen faster and hopefully provide you with an easier ride through the switch to ketogenesis.
Honestly, there should not be much of a difference when training ketogenic than training with carbs. You may notice that your endurance suffers a little as the glycogen is needed for squeezing out the last few sets in a long session and you may experience a temporary dip in strength for a few days as your nervous system adjusts but by the end of the initation phase your strength levels will be back up to where they were before, if not slightly higher due to the adrenal response.
The aerobic and endurance systems will also recover but this takes a little longer than the anerobic systems, unless it is your primary mode of exercise.
So what do I eat on this diet? I hear you cry!! Here are a few examples for meals you could eat on a typical ketogenic day; the amounts will vary from person to person. How, when and what to eat is pretty much up to you and how you feel. Bear in mind that you do not need to be constantly grazing. Leaving adequate time between meals means you’ll be burning more body fat!
Example 1 4-egg omelet cooked in coconut oil with asparagus (or any other vegetable) drizzled in macadamia nut oil.
Example 2 salmon steaks cooked in butter with stir fry veg and a tablespoon of unsweetened natural peanut butter.
Example 3 Beefsteak topped with fried egg – cooked in coconut oil with Mediterranean vegetables drizzled in olive oil.
Hopefully you can see the pattern emerging here and see that you need protein, fat and vegetation at every meal. In reality it doesn’t matter what the sources of each are, whatever your personal choice is really, just make sure that fat makes up the majority of your calories. When considering the amount you should eat, you should eat enough that you don’t feel hungry very often. This is something many typically find anyway (as mentioned before) so your intake should be pretty self-regulating.
How and when to introduce those carbs.
After you have completed the 10-day ketogenic phase you are happily burning fat with great efficiency and due to the depleted nature of your muscles, also primed to respond maximally to any carbohydrate you eat. Restoring muscle glycogen, elevating growth and repair processes (e.g. Muscle growth) and maintaining a high metabolic rate.
To get the very most out of your carbohydrates whilst maintaining the ability to burn fat large amounts of fat, timing is everything…
Depending on your level of leanness and the speed at which you want to lose fat, you space your carbohydrate ‘refeeds’ closer together or further apart.
Here are a few examples of different scenarios and how you would lay out your diet accordingly:
Ensuring maximum fat loss.
In this situation, you want the mechanisms for burning fat (ketosis) to be fully functional, without interruption from carbohydrates to ensure only fat is used for all bodily processes.
You would carb up every 10-14 days for between 24 and 48hrs in this case, essentially completing the ketogenic initiation phase to maximize fat utilization. Carbohydrate intake at this point maintains your hormones levels and ensures the continued smooth running of your metabolism, the insulin response also provides a potent stimulation of muscle growth and repair, maintaining your muscle mass, which has high metabolic demands for fuel resulting in greater fat loss.
Tailoring for fat loss and optimum muscle retention.
As fat loss progresses and body fat levels fall, the potential for the body to start utilizing muscle mass for fuel is greater, in this situation (particularly if you are starting fairly lean) more frequent refeeds after the ketogenic initiation can be used to sustain your muscle mass. In this case muscle glycogen levels must deplete fully before the body achieves maximum fat burning. This means you refeed should occur at the soonest every 5th day, ideally every 7th day. This provides a window of both glycogen depletion and optimum fat burning between each carbohydrate feed whilst maintaining muscle via more frequent growth stimulation.
For more detailed information on this form of cyclic ketogenic diet Dr Mauro Di Pasquale has covered it in great detailin his book: The Anabolic diet.
Tailoring for sports performances.
Unfortunately, depleted muscle glycogen experienced on typical ketogenic and cyclic ketogenic diets does not allow for maximal sports performance, in this case refeeds should occur the night before a training session at the end of a ketogenic day, ideally immediately following a workout to ensure maximal glycogen stores for the next day’s activity. This provides a shorter window of ketosis and fat utilization; slowing the process the fat loss compared to the previously stated methods but allows for greater performance and higher chance for muscle growth.
Again, this particular protocol has been detailed in various forms, two authors who have covered variations of this are John Keifer – (carb back loading) and Nate Miyaki (the samurai diet).
Training, Timing and Food Choices.
So we’ve covered how to set your weeks out to get the most out of them to suit your goals, but what you are probably wondering now is how do you go about setting up your gloriously tasty carb refeed?
The 10-14 day refeed.
As this feed only occurs every 2 weeks, you really want to ensure all metabolic hormones and carbohydrate machinery is fully active. In this case, a refeed window of up to 48hrs ensures you are fully tanked up and with a white-hot metabolism.
If you are training the day before the refeed, moderation is the key. You should not be training to failure all the time or feel totally ripped up and sore after every session anyway, regardless of the plan you are following, but it is especially important here not to wreck yourself so you are so sore you cant walk/brush your teeth or get that fork near your mouth. If your muscles feel like you’ve gone 10 rounds with Thor they wont take up the carbs very efficiently and they will not grow optimally.
When thinking about the layout of your session, training with relatively high volume will ensure you are primed to uptake the carbs. If for example, you train heavy, reduce the reps but add more sets, similarly if you have a weak point (say its chest) you would do ‘pump sets’ of flies or isolation work at the end with a light weight and emphasis on the concentric movement, possibly even just with bands.
Here is an example for someone primarily training for strength but who has a lagging or imbalanced body part:
Dynamic warm up superset:
*Up to 5 rounds of:
Clap pushups x 3
Medicine ball slams x 3
Incline plyometric push ups x 3
Standing jumps x 5
*stop when you feel ‘switched on’. Do not fatigue.
Primary exercise: Bench press
Wave loading. 7 sets: 5 reps,3 rep,1 reps, 5 reps, 3 reps, 1rep. *Final set* drop weight to 12-15 rep max: 8-10 reps with controlled decent and pause.
Accessory work: Weighted dips
Micro wave load: 7,5,3 reps. *final set – body weight reps to metabolic fatigue.
Pump set: band/2-4kg flies, squeeze at peak. Between 50-100 reps.
The way that this workout is set out means that you are activating, warming up and recruiting your target muscles, stimulating them with a training load using both concentric and eccentric movements and finishing with a movement emphasizing the concentric. It is worth noting that you require both the concentric (contraction) and eccentric (lowering/stretch) portion of the lifts to maximize the effects of the carb up. The concentric movement conditions the muscle to greater nutrient uptake and the eccentric pattern proves the greater growth stimulus, adding the concentric emphasis movement for your target muscle will result in greater nutrient uptake by that tissue, in other words it is prioritized for soaking up those carbs.
I’m not saying this is the only way to train don’t change your training just because some guy (who is arguably more than a little batshit crazy) tells you to. In reality as long as you stimulate the tissue correctly any session you decide to do will work. Just don’t annihilate yourself.
I would start this carbfest with fruits to restock the liver glycogen first and then move on to starchy carbs such as potatoes, rice and oats to load the muscle glycogen. Fat should ideally be kept to a minimum to ensure fast digestion of the carbs and greater insulin response. Eat multiple times a day to ensure you can cram in the amount of carbs you will need to restock everything and keep it stocked.
A typical carb up day would look like this:
Meal 1: Banana’s or fruit.
Meal 2: Oats and fruit with honey.
Meal 3: Jacket potatoes
Meal 4: Fruit
Meal 5: Rice.
Obviously you can experiment and make this a little less bland. I’m just giving you some examples of the carbs that suit this better, in the healthiest manor.
I would add a little protein to each meal, between 10 and 20g’s to keep the anabolic machinery going, but your main emphasis on these days should be on carbs.
*If you are training on the carb up day and certainly if you are looking for some growth, add a post workout shake, DURING the session, as well as an hour afterwards. The mix of mechanical strain/carbs/protein and insulin when you train like this is incredibly anabolic, maximizing carb uptake and protein synthesis as well as reducing the effects of catabolic hormones.
The 5-7 day refeed and performance based “back loading”
In this scenario the refeeds are more frequent, and due to the shorter windows of glycogen depletion and maximal ketosis, we should aim to preferentially stock the muscle glycogen and try to keep the liver relatively free of carbs to ensure maintenance of ketogenesis. Therefore, foods rich in starch and glucose should be used. I’m talking potatoes and/or rice for example. We should also try to keep the carb up to less that 4hrs as this ensures the mechanisms for fat storage remain dormant, as this is the period of time needed for the body to get wise and start thinking about storing those carbs as fat.
Often, If you are following the more regular carb up scheme you are aiming for better sports performance and as such will most likely have more specialist goal for your training. By all means, follow what have been given. The timing of the carbs may change if you are doing aerobic based or strength endurance work, where by you are starting your carb intake during the session and continuing for a period of time after wards but for most purposes pure ‘backloading’ will suit the majority of trainees.
There is no real set eating plan here, graze on carb rich foods for a few hours after training, but here is a typical example of how you could set up your evening if you were to have set meals:
Post workout – Whey shake with dextrose
< 1hr later Chicken and jacket potato.
30 mins later – low fat cottage cheese and sweet potato.
30 mins later – Oats and honey, cottage cheese or whey.
Timing can vary depending on how full you are, but really aim to keep it sub 4hrs.
Alrighty then. That ladies and gentleman, is a wrap! Hopefully this article has given you some idea about how to use ketogenic diets effectively so that you may at least consider using them as a tool unleash your superhuman self and achieve that Kryptonian physique. I highly recommend reading as much as you can from as many sources as you can find so you can make an informed decision, not just on this style of eating but on nutrition in general!
Thanks for reading, happy eating!
Recommended reading and references, in no particular order.
· For well compiled books on this topic read anything and everything by…
o Lyle McDonald – compiled a huge amount of research on ketogenic diets. Whether you like or agree with him or not he has put a hell of a lot of work into researching keto based diets. He knows his stuff.
o Kiefer (John Kiefer) – possibly the most extensive understanding of carbohydrate/fatty acid metabolism and hormonal/ receptor responses I have found in public – This guy is so smart it’s unfair!
o Mauro Di Pasquale – along with Mc Donald these two are like the grandparents of modern understanding of keto diets.
· For a small selection of scientific references on this subject:
DALEY, C. A., ABBOTT, A., DOYLE, P. S., NADER, G. A. & LARSON, S. 2010. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutr J, 9, 10.
DANFORTH, E., JR., HORTON, E. S., O’CONNELL, M., SIMS, E. A., BURGER, A. G., INGBAR, S. H., BRAVERMAN, L. & VAGENAKIS, A. G. 1979. Dietary-induced alterations in thyroid hormone metabolism during overnutrition. J Clin Invest, 64,1336-47.
GOODYEAR, L. J. & KAHN, B. B. 1998. Exercise, glucose transport, and insulin sensitivity. Annu Rev Med, 49, 235-61.
HUDGINS, L. C., HELLERSTEIN, M. K., SEIDMAN, C. E., NEESE, R. A., TREMAROLI, J. D. & HIRSCH, J. 2000. Relationship between carbohydrate-induced hypertriglyceridemia and fatty acid synthesis in lean and obese subjects. J Lipid Res, 41,595-604.
KENNEDY, J. W., HIRSHMAN, M. F., GERVINO, E. V., OCEL, J. V., FORSE, R. A., HOENIG, S. J., ARONSON, D., GOODYEAR, L. J. & HORTON, E. S. 1999. Acute exercise induces GLUT4 translocation in skeletal muscle of normal human subjects and subjects with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes,48, 1192-7.
TARDIF, A., JULIEN, N., PELLETIER, A., THIBAULT, G., SRIVASTAVA, A. K., CHIASSON, J. L. & CODERRE, L. 2001. Chronic exposure to beta-hydroxybutyrate impairs insulin action in primary cultures of adult cardiomyocytes. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 281, E1205-12.
VEECH, R. L. 2004. The therapeutic implications of ketone bodies: the effects of ketone bodies in pathological conditions: ketosis, ketogenic diet, redox states, insulin resistance, and mitochondrial metabolism. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids, 70, 309-19.