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How Different Diets Stack Up. Part 1- Keto

The majority of people want to know the most efficient way to a lean and healthy body. Many articles in the fitness industry promise they hold the answers. The thing is, nutritional science is something that is still very young in our scientific understanding. How can we promise to know the answers if we don’t have substantial long term data on the topic? Most people know they should at least follow the government food guidelines, like eating fruits, veggies, and lean meats. However, when it comes to being more specific on certain goals, we see chaos and debate erupt.
I am personally lucky to have a great education on the subject of health and nutrition. However, most people are not as versed on the science of nutrition. We know how to live the lifestyle through what we absorb from those around us. These can be our friends, people we see at the gym, or even social media accounts we follow. Yet most clients who come into my office have the same thing to say, “I feel pretty good about my workouts, but I need help with my nutrition.” I hear multiple variations of this phrase throughout the week.

“I feel pretty good about my workouts, but I need help with my nutrition” – Every intermediate athlete who comes to my office for a consultation.

I find it to be a fun challenge to help guide my clients to proper eating habits that will improve their lives and help them with their goals. Yet with so many popular diets to choose from, it can be confusing for an athlete to follow their coach’s’ advice when they read the opposite information on their favorite fitness personalities social media page.
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So today I wanted to roll out a series that will take an unbiased look at various types of popular diets by interviewing experts and athletes in each of their respective fields. I also plan on giving you a breakdown on each category, including a pros and cons list for each. The diet styles we will be breaking down include; ketogenic diets, clean eating method, flexible dieting or if it fits your macros (IIFYM), and vegan diets.
Sometimes people chose diets thinking it will help them with one thing, but it does something else. For example, choosing a diet to lose body fat but they end up keeping the same fat and improving their performance instead. Others chose diets for their overall health without realizing that this particular style is more advanced and might not work unless done with 100% accuracy.
Therefore without further ado, let me present to you today’s topic, KETOSIS DIETS. With all the popularity as well as confusion surrounding ketogenic dieting, I figured this would be a good place to start. I was able to get a hold of Ryan Lowery, one of the leading voices in the keto field for an interview. As well as one of my teammates and world class powerlifter friend, Mike Saunders, who has used keto diets to help him prepare for a competition.
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So what does a Ketogenic diet mean in a nutshell? Ketones are an organic compound that are used in the absence of glucose. Glucose is the bodies preferred source of energy, the body will see if there is any glucose present, and then the body will use it for energy first. A proper keto diet will be about 75% from fats, 20% from protein, and only 5% from carbs. This is different from a low carb diet that might be about 40% protein 40% fat and 20% carbs. Low carb diets can include carb cycling or carb refeed days. If you cheat and eat excess carbs while doing a keto diet, it kicks your body out of “ketosis” and you will not feel the benefits of either very well.
It does take time for your body to adapt to keto type diets. It will not switch over in one day! So keep this in mind when you are considering keto for show prep or any competition. One big mistake you can make when trying keto without professional help, is getting too much protein. Like I said before, the body likes to use glucose or carbs first. So if you are getting excess protein, the body can convert those proteins to glucose for you to use and will keep you out of ketosis.
One place you do not want to be in is low carb limbo, where your body has not switched over to ketosis and you are not getting enough carbs to really perform. If you are choosing to do a low carb diet, try to do carb cycling or refeeds to give your body a performance boost when you need it.
Some people chose to do keto for just one meal like breakfast to keep their pancreas resulting from insulin production longer. This can mimic the benefits of intermittent fasting without needing to skip a meal!
As with all nutrition science, you should not get all your information from one source. Here are some references I personally know that are great wealth of knowledge on ketogenic diets. Please refer to them if you are considering taking on this diet.
Dr. Jacob Wilson “The Muscle Professor”
Craig Preisendorf “The Superhero Maker”

Dr. Wilson, Craig, and myself after speaking at a retreat I hosted in Deer Valley, UT 2015.

Dr. Wilson, Craig, and myself after speaking at a retreat I hosted in Deer Valley, UT 2015.

Keto Interview

Name and what do you do?
Ryan Lowery and I currently serve as the President of the Applied Science and Performance Institute here in Tampa, FL where we bridge the gap between science and real world application in varying populations from general to elite athletes. [A big player in the scientific world of Keto research]

ryan-lowery

Ryan Lowery

How long have you been (doing/ following) diet?
I’ve been low carb for about 2 years now and on and off of a ketogenic diet for the past year and half.
Why did you choose this diet style or way of eating?
Before we do any studies, we always tend to pilot on ourselves first and we decided to investigate the effects of a ketogenic diet in an athletic population several years ago. Once I started reading up more about the ketogenic diet and lifestyle, the more interested and intrigued I became.  In addition, Dr. Dom D’Agostino is a great friend and colleague of ours and he has been eating this way for a long time so it has always been something that has been in the back of our mind along with people like Shawn Wells, Craig Preisendorf, Emily Maguire, and Karen Thomson.
How has it helped your short term and long term success?
I used to be one of those athletes who needed to eat every 2-3 hours and was hungry all day long. With our business, school, and travel, taking my mind off of food and allowing me to stay lean while trying to maximize my production has made the world of a difference.
What are some common misconceptions about the way you eat?
Everyone always hears the term “high fat” and instantly think that it is an unhealthy lifestyle or way of eating. At first, people look at you funny when you say “add bacon and some butter on top of that steak.”  But in all honesty, the research is clear that fat, in the absence of carbohydrate, is inert.  Plenty of research from our colleague Dr. Jeff Volek has shown that fat oxidation is significantly higher in those on a ketogenic diet compared to those having higher carbohydrate intake.
What is your favorite meal?
This is a tough question! If a Brazilian steakhouse with unlimited fatty cuts of meat (and some veggies) was an option, I might go with that.  I tend to have a sweet tooth but luckily one of my best friends and business partner Dr Jacob Wilson makes incredible recipes on his Instagram @themusclephd which I try and replicate all the time
Advice for anyone who wants to get into this diet or lifestyle?
Do your research first. LCHF is a great style of eating but there does appear to be something unique about ketosis and particularly having an elevation in ketone levels.  A ketogenic diet is a high fat (70-75), moderate protein (15-25%), and low carbohydrate (5-10%) diet so fully understanding the diet, the approach, and coming up with a sound strategy for implementing into your lifestyle is key.
Where can you be contacted?
You can add me on Facebook (Ryan Lowery) or email me ryanplowery@gmail.com
Closing thoughts
The ketogenic lifestyle awareness is growing rapidly and it is incredible to see more and more research coming out in various applications whether it be sports performance, therapeutic, or even supplemental ketones. There is a plethora of information out there and in the next few weeks-months you will be able to see some of that information plus much more on ketogenic.com which will be the one stop shop for anything and everything that relates to ketogenic dieting, ketosis, etc.

 


Name and what do you do?
Mike Saunders, I’m a chemist.  I currently work with the military, training troops in their ability to detect and handle hazardous chemicals and chemical warfare agents.  I’ve also worked as a forensic chemist and a medicinal chemist. [Mike is also an elite powerlifter holding world records and competing on the Olympia stage]

Mike Saunders

Mike Saunders

How long have you been (doing/ following) diet?
I’ve been dieting off and on for most of my adult life.  I’ve been on the ketogenic diet for around 2 months.
Why did you choose this diet style or way of eating?
I mostly wanted to try it out.  I’ve done lots of different diets but never tried Ketogenic dieting.  With most low carb diets I end up feeling tired and weak, but I had never gone full ketogenic before so I figured it was worth a try.
How has it helped your short term and long term success?
I’ve been able to lose weight and maintain strength.  I lost about 10-12 lbs over two months while continuing to get stronger and set new personal bests.  This was a first for me.  Usually, as soon as I go into a calorie deficit I have huge issues with getting through workouts.  On the keto diet I did feel like my muscles would lack energy, especially at the beginning of the workout, but as I progressed with a workout I would feel stronger and eventually be able to finish well.  I probably did lose a bit of muscle endurance, but not strength.
What are some common misconceptions about the way you eat?
Probably that all I eat is meat and fat.  It is actually mostly nuts and veggies with enough protein thrown in to keep my muscle mass.  Also, I do get some carbs, particularly before workouts.  I usually have 20-30g of carbs in my preworkout shake before my heavy lifting sessions.
What is your favorite meal?
Honestly, probably pizza or hamburgers or other things with carbs in them.  If I eat because I like the way food tastes then I end up eating too much.  I do best on my diets if I focus on eating to refuel.  My go to meals for keto are things like stew, salad with some kind of beef, seeds and nuts, things like that.  No carbs was actually pretty hard for me to do.  I end up eating lots of meat and lots of veggies with a lot of sunflower seeds thrown in for snacks.
Advice for anyone who wants to get into this diet or lifestyle?
Plan things out ahead of time.  Get recipes for various foods than you know will work and cook in bulk so you always have food on hand.  This isn’t a diet that works terribly well with eating out at restaurants and it can be hard to find last minute meals that actually work (polish sausage, sauerkraut and mustard is a good quick meal).  Also, the first week and a half or so is pretty hard, but then it gets much easier.  Once I was in keto it was the easiest diet to stick to as far as hunger and cravings that I’ve ever been on.
Where can you be contacted?
The best way would probably be facebook
Closing thoughts
This diet can be pretty inconvenient.  People don’t make carb free meals so good luck going to a friend or family member’s house for dinner.  Restaurants are hard, one of the best are probably buffets (lots of salad and a few decent meat choices).  One benefit that I really didn’t cover is the mental focus thing.  I was told that the brain works better on ketones than it does on carbs/glycogen.  Apparently this is true.  While in ketosis I feel more mentally awake and aware than I have in years.  I don’t need as much sleep to feel functional and I virtually stopped using caffeine.  For a person that does better on a strict diet (if I give myself an inch I tend to take several yards) a keto diet can be great.  I am not entirely sold on a long term lifestyle, but I still have another 15-20 lbs I want to lose so for the near future keto is a good place to be.

KETO FACTS (2)


Through an anonymous survey, I collected some interesting results from folks who follow a keto diet. The results I found was that the general public’s idea of keto is much more broad than the science allows. Some would say they still give themselves upwards of 30% of their diet from carbs. This would not even classify as a low carb diet in most books. Around 60% of those surveyed said they do not do cheat meals ever. (Keep in mind that when you eat a surplus of carbs, it kicks your body out of ketosis. Forcing you to start over again.) My main takeaway from this was, if you are doing an extreme diet like keto, make sure you do your homework and stay under the guidance of a Registered Dietitian.

 

 

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