Published articles in the Nutrition category

The Ketogenic Diet, Part 2

The Different Types of the Ketogenic Diet


In this part we’ll continue our introduction journey by looking at the different recognized types of the ketogenic diet. I’ll explain their composition, how they work, their advantages and possible disadvantages for dieting and as a long-term diet. We’ll also look closer at the variants of the ketogenic diet used to treat various diseases.
Even if you’re not suffering from any of these diseases, you probably know someone who is – and by getting a basic knowledge of these applications you can point this person in the right direction.
Another aspect of disease treatment and prevention is that there are many other benefits that can improve your health, quality of life, and longevity. The more you know, the better you can tailor your own diet to suit your needs, goals and life situation.


The Standard Ketogenic Diet

The Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD) is the most common type of the ketogenic diet. It’s usually the type that is used in studies and what people usually refer to when speaking of ketogenic diets and being in ketosis.
The definition is quite simple; you restrict your carbohydrate intake to less than 20 to 50 grams of net carbs per day (depending on your muscle mass and level of activity). You set a protein intake suitable to your goals and then fill up the rest of your daily caloric intake from fats. Usually, fats make up at least 70 percent of total calories.
Your carbohydrates in the ketogenic diet usually come solely from vegetables, and it’s important to note that most carbs in vegetables are fiber that can’t be used as energy (other than for your gut bacteria). In other words, when looking at vegetables, you need to separate fibers from actual energy giving carbohydrates, also known as “net carbohydrates”. In its most simplicity, this means that you can eat a lot of vegetables as long as you limit or stay away from the few that are high in starches such as corn, green peas, butternut and acorn squash, pumpkin, carrots, tomatoes, and of course any kind of potato or yam. We’ll look at the best food choices in the upcoming parts of the series.

The SKD is also the type that people use long-term or as a “base diet” for life. It’s also important to recognize that just because you structure your diet around the principles of the SKD, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have foods with carbohydrates on occasion. Once you’ve adapted to the ketogenic diet and your mitochondria runs efficient on fats and ketones, it’s much easier to transition in and out of ketosis if the occasion arises for consuming some carbs – at, for example, social gatherings, business meetings, or simply because you feel like having some variation or trying some food you never had before. Being fat adapted also means that you won’t feel as drowsy or tired when you have carbs again and shift out of ketosis. You will by all likelihood feel and perform better than you previously would, since your mitochondria can now efficiently use both glucose, fats and ketones as fuel.


The Targeted Ketogenic Diet

The Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD) is simply a traditional ketogenic diet where you place, or “target”, a single intake of carbohydrates before your training session/exercise. It’s advisable to use simple and easy digestible carbs to avoid stomach upset. Also, fructose should be kept to a minimum or avoided, as it replenishes liver glycogen instead of muscle glycogen.
Typically, you eat 20-60 grams of net carbs (depending on body weight and muscle mass) 30 to 60 minutes before exercise. The post-exercise meal should be high in protein and low in fat.

Some people does better with carbs before their workouts, while other do not. TKD is a variation you can try if you exercise at a high level and you have been following a traditional ketogenic diet for a few months so you’re fully “fat adapted”.
Ingesting carbohydrates before and/or during your workout can give some people a performance boost and can help a little with recovery if you exercise at a high level. It’s also a convenient way to get in more calories if you have trouble pushing your fat intake even higher (if trying to gain muscle mass). This is especially true if you already have a muscular physique and require a lot of calories just to maintain your weight.

If you perform well without carbs, another powerful pre-workout strategy is MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides). You can get them as a pure MCT-oil (preferred), as a powder or from coconut oil.
MCTs are easily digestible, less likely to be stored by your body and are used for immediate energy. Research also shows that MCTs are thermogenic and can therefore aid in fat loss.
MCTs can of course be used in combination with carbohydrates before and/or during your training sessions.


The Cyclic Ketogenic Diet

The Cyclic Ketogenic Diet (CKD) is obsolete and should not really be used by anyone – as it defeats the purpose of a ketogenic diet. On a CKD you’ll alternate days of ketogenic dieting with days of high-carb consumption also known as “carb-loading”. Typically, this kind of carb-loading lasts for 24-48 hours. Usually, you consume about 450-600 grams of carbs during the carb-loading phase. And on some variations used by larger bodybuilders, about 50 to 80 grams of carbs are allowed daily while following the ketogenic diet. Due to hard training and more metabolic active muscle mass, these 50 to 80 grams of carbohydrates won’t affect ketosis. Bodybuilders and other athletes used CKD during the 90’s and early 2000 to maximize fat-loss while also building lean mass. Usually insulin was used during the carb-load and even after to quickly get into ketosis again.

The idea behind CKD was the faulty belief that a strict ketogenic diet would lead to muscle loss in the long term. This has been proven to be false. Actually, the opposite is true. A ketogenic diet is very muscle sparing when you’re in a calorie deficit – more so than a low-fat diet if the amount of protein is the same over the board.

The biggest problem with CKD is that you disrupt ketosis at given intervals, which will increase hunger and cravings for more “sugary and high-carb foods”. You will also feel like crap once the body dumps a lot of insulin to handle all the carbs – and you will probably get a kind of “carb-load hangover”, where you feel drowsy and tired the day after and before you have returned into ketosis again.

CKD is one of the few ketogenic diet types that would not be advisable to follow as a long-term or life-long diet as it was originally designed for bodybuilders and fat loss. 


Restricted Ketogenic Diet: for treating various diseases

The restricted ketogenic diet is a calorie-restriction version of the standard ketogenic diet and is designed for specific therapeutic uses. We touched on this in the beginning of the first part, as ketosis is a very beneficial condition for treating cancer. We know from several studies that calorie restriction, that is, eating about 15% less calories than you need in a day, is beneficial for healing the body and slow down aging – mainly from a lowered protein synthesis and reduced levels of insulin and IGF-1. When combining a low caloric intake with the benefits of ketosis, you will starve and slowly dispose of cancer cells.

Some of the more prominent researcher’s within this field are Dr Thomas Syfried, Dr. Ron Rosedale, and Dr. Dominic D’Agostino. They recommend that you begin with a water fast for 3 to 5 days to quickly get into deep ketosis while turning on your body´s own repair and recycling program known as autophagy. Then you continue with a low-calorie ketogenic diet, aiming for blood sugar levels of 55-65 mg/dL and blood ketone levels of at least 4.0 mmol. This means that the daily carbohydrate intake will likely have to be below 20 grams of net carbs for the average person. Also, protein intake will have to be kept pretty low, in the neighborhood of 50 to 70 grams a day, and preferably spread out over several feedings to lessen the impact on mTOR. Stimulating mTOR and protein synthesis can lead to accelerated cancer growth if you have cancer cells. Although the impact will be low if you’re in ketosis and already starving your cancer cells, it’s advisable to do anything in your power to minimize anything that can promote cancer growth or slow down the healing process.
There is also some evidence that certain brain tumors and some breast cancers can, when there is a lack of glucose, turn to burning glutamine or glutamate (from proteins). So, when treating cancer, it would seem that a calorie-restriction ketogenic diet with high fat, low protein and very low carbohydrate content would be the best bet.

Additionally, restricted ketogenic diets, as well as the standard ketogenic diet, have been used for treating neurological diseases (Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism, depression, migraines, epilepsy), chronic fatigue syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome (POS) and more.

Unless you’re suffering from one or more of these diseases, or if you really need to lower inflammation in your body, I would not recommend the restricted ketogenic diet due to its low protein recommendations.

It’s also worth mentioning that Dr. D’Agostino is a passionate weight-lifter and has worked with various athletes and bodybuilders. He’s currently an Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida. He works to develop and test nutritional and metabolic therapies including ketogenic diets and ketogenic agents for CNS oxygen toxicity (epilepsy & seizures), metabolic disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, muscle wasting and cancer. He’s one of the true pioneers of ketogenic diets for both performance, body composition, optimal health, and disease prevention and treatment. If you want to dig really deep into the possible therapies of the ketogenic diet, look him up.


In the next part I will take you through the first steps of the standard ketogenic diet. What to do before you start, how to start in the best way possible, and some other tips and guidelines.

By | 2018-04-21T13:16:57+00:00 June 21st, 2016|All in Nutrition, Articles from 2016|0 Comments

The Ketogenic Diet, Part 1

Starting Out – Introduction to the Ketogenic Diet


In 1996 I started Ironmagazine Online, or “” for short. It was the first bodybuilding online magazine of its kind with aspiring amateur writers from all over the world. As we kicked off, I had recently been introduced to the ketogenic diet and discussed it frequently on the Usenet (the first platform for discussions on the internet – before it became mostly a way of posting files and “pirated warez”). As I got into the research and discussed various strategies, I started to experiment on my own and documented everything at Ironmag, so the public could get a glimpse of what it would be like to go on the ketogenic diet and what results it would bring.

I tried several different styles of the Ketogenic Diet – including the Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD), the Cyclic Ketogenic Diet (CKD) and Dan Duchaine’s version of the CKD called Body Opus. The latter got me really good results, but it was a pain to follow due to the weekly refeeds of carbohydrates – tossing you in and out of ketosis every week.
I did these experiments on and off during 1997 to 1999, and back then, the ketogenic diet variations were almost exclusively a tool for fat loss – at least in the public eye. Only a few researchers and doctors used the ketogenic diet to treat epilepsy and autism. But the science was young, and the ketogenic diet was not really thought of as an alternative “lifestyle/long-term” diet or a diet to improve health markers or to treat disease.
It was simply used as an alternative to other diets to get you as shredded as possible.


A Quick Look at the Benefits and Drawbacks of the Ketogenic Diet

As a fat loss diet, the power of the ketogenic diet lies within the fact that it’s very satiating. The protein and fat bring high levels of satiety and will effectively blunt hunger. This makes long-term dieting and getting lean quite easy for most people – because once you are fat adapted, and you run more efficient on fats and ketones, your blood sugar is more stable and insulin production is low. There’s no “crashes” where you get sleepy after a big meal. Energy is constant. This hormonal environment makes it very easy to restrict calories and tap into your fat stores for energy. This also means that a ketogenic diet as a life-long diet is very easy to maintain.
For dieters, most common “trigger foods” (sweets, junk food, etcetera) are by nature eliminated on the ketogenic diet and once you’re adapted and your palate shifts, all cravings are gone. You also don’t run the risk to binge due to “re-feedings” or having planned “cheat days” with mentioned trigger foods (or similar carbohydrate/sugary foods). And yes, your palate will always adapt to what you’re eating on a continuous basis. On the ketogenic diet you will usually start to crave savory foods and vegetables (for the crunch and texture). The transition for our taste buds to change/deprogram usually take about 3 weeks – and once this have happened, sugary foods will taste overly sweet, to the point of being disgusting.

The drawbacks of the ketogenic diet are the limited source of food choices and the potential stomach upsets from pushing up your fat intake too quickly. Some people will find the transition into ketosis to be easy and enjoyable, while others will not and may feel really bad for several weeks. There’s also a concern with electrolytes, which is one of the reasons why many feel more miserable than necessary when jumping on the ketogenic diet. This is due to the big dump of water weight that happens when your body burn off most of its stored glycogen as well as loss of subcutaneous water from reduced inflammation. This dump in water weight will simultaneously flush away a lot of electrolytes. So it’s important to increase your intake of magnesium, potassium, and sodium (as in unrefined sea salt) during the first 1 to 2 weeks. We will cover all this and much more in this series.

The reason I got back into the ketogenic diet is the recent discoveries and ongoing research into its health benefits, especially the lowering of inflammation, as well as improved clarity and alertness due to our brain using ketones as its primary fuel. As an added bonus, a ketogenic diet makes your body inhospitable to cancer cells. While healthy cells can use ketones for energy, cancer cells can only use glucose and they literally starve to death on a ketogenic diet. This makes the ketogenic diet combined with fasting the best way to treat and reverse cancer.
If you’ve missed it, my recent experiments with the ketogenic diet are available here.


Defining The Ketogenic Diet and “Being in Ketosis”

The most common eating pattern in modern societies, three meals plus snacks every day, is abnormal from an evolutionary perspective. Recent and emerging findings from studies of both animal models and human subjects propose that intermittent energy restriction periods of as little as 16 hours can improve health indicators and counteract disease processes. Restricting the feeding window to allow for a longer window of fasting is known as Intermittent Fasting and it’s also an easy way to control energy intake and improve body composition. The mechanisms involve a metabolic shift to fat metabolism and ketone production, and stimulation of adaptive cellular stress responses that prevent and repair molecular damage. This also happens to a degree when you’re in ketosis, but the benefits of ketones and low stable blood sugar are not limited to a fasting window, you benefit from these effects as long as you stay in ketosis.
This is why Intermittent fasting protocols or days of fasting combined with the ketogenic diet has risen in popularity among those interested in fighting disease, inflammation and increasing our well-being and longevity. We will look into different approaches, their benefits and how to implement them in upcoming parts of this series. First however, let us define the ketogenic diet and being in ketosis.

A ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate diet where the body relies on fat for fuel rather than glucose from carbohydrates. In essence, it’s a low-carb, high-fat, and moderate protein diet.
When carbohydrates are restricted, for many people below 30 grams per day of net carbs (carb tolerance for ketosis varies for all individuals), and the body’s glycogen is depleted, the liver begins to create ketone bodies out of fatty acids to fuel the brain. These ketones can be measured with ketone strips on a blood glucometer. Being over .5mmol per liter is considered to be in “ketosis”. While ketones are the preferred fuel for our brain (which is why we feel better on a ketogenic diet), our brain still need a small amount of glucose; these small quantities can be synthesized from amino acids.
When in ketosis, our body switches to burning fat, rather than glucose, as our primary fuel. This state is called nutritional ketosis and is a fully normal and safe physiological state.


Protein: this is usually where we start

When defining a ketogenic diet, we already know that we have to limit and almost eliminate all sources of net carbohydrates. This leaves protein and fat. And protein is what we will look at first.

The amount of protein within the diet depends on the individual physical state and his or her goals. Usually 1.5-2.5 grams of protein per kilogram of lean body mass is adequate. More muscular bodybuilders, or people trying to get really lean while carrying more muscle mass than the average person, might go higher; in the neighborhood of 3 to 3.5 grams. However, consuming too much protein in proportion to total calories will probably lead to an increase in gluconeogenesis; a metabolic pathway that generates glucose from certain non-carbohydrate carbon substrates such as proteins, from breakdown of lipids (such as triglycerides), from glycerol (although not fatty acids); and from other steps in metabolism where pyruvate and lactate are produced.
In other words, consuming too much protein in proportion to your fat- and total caloric intake might make it harder to stay in ketosis.
This is why the original ketogenic diet used to treat epilepsy had a very high fat intake with at least 90 % of all calories coming from fat, as a very deep state of ketosis was required to control seizures.
For improved body composition and health, such deep levels of ketosis are not necessary, nor desired. A higher protein intake is necessary for both preserving and building muscle mass, as well as providing amino acids for enzyme- and hormone production.

With that being said, current evidence points to gluconeogenesis being driven by demand for glucose, not by the supply of protein. This means that as you get more and more fat adapted and your body’s need for glucose decrease, you could probably get away with a higher proportion of protein in your diet.
Still, it’s well documented that when going above a certain level of protein intake, ketogenesis declines, even in people who’ve been on a ketogenic diet for a long time. So regardless of the involved mechanisms, as a ketogenic dieter, you probably need to limit your protein intake. And keep in mind that it’s not necessarily the amount in grams that counts as much as the ratio of calories between protein and fats in your diet. Simply put, the higher your calorie intake, the more protein you can consume and vice versa. I would say that you would want at least 70 percent or more of your energy intake to come from fats. At 75 percent from fats, that would yield 150 g of protein at a calorie balance of 2500 kcal, but only 90 grams at 1500 kcal.

Another thing to keep in mind regarding protein is bioavailability and potential inhibitors contained within the source of the desired protein. Protein bioavailability depends on the type and relative amount of amino acids available within the protein molecule. There is quite a difference between the superior source of animal proteins compared to the inferior vegetable proteins.

In practicality, this means that if you rely a lot on vegetable protein sources such as pea protein, rice protein, chlorella protein, hemp seed protein, beans, etcetera; you need to take both protein bioavailability/quality, enzyme inhibitors, and antinutrients into consideration. On average, about 65 to 75 percent of vegetable proteins are absorbed and used by the body in contrast to 95+ percent in meat, eggs, fish, and milk-based protein powders. For example, one popular choice among the zombie population is soy protein. Problem is that soy is very rich in enzyme inhibitors, phytates, phytoestrogens (functions like estrogen within the body), and allergens (28 different proteins that bind to IgE antibodies) – and on top of all these health hazards, only 61 percent of the protein is bioavailable. It’s a terrible choice for many, many reasons.
Some vegetable sources, and especially seeds, nuts, beans, legumes and grains, also contain a lot of phytates (phytatic acid), which blocks absorption of important minerals such as zinc, calcium and iron. Phytates also reduce the digestibility of starches, proteins, and fats.

To get to the main point, if you largely get your protein from vegetable sources, this could easily mean that while you counted 130 grams of protein from reading nutrition labels and calorie tables, you might actually only absorb roughly 90 grams of protein – and thereby putting you at risk for muscle loss. It could also lead to lack of specific important amino acids, which could disrupt enzyme- and/or hormone production further down the road.
Since you can’t add potatoes, rice, grains or too much of the more carbohydrate rich vegetables such as peas, corn or lima beans, it’s quite difficult to follow a ketogenic diet as a vegetarian or vegan. You might have to rely on vegetable protein powders in such case. Best options are pea/yellow pea protein isolate, rice protein isolate or a combination of them.


In the next part we’ll look at the different types of the ketogenic diet. What the differences are and what they have to offer – so that you can choose the perfect approach for you.

By | 2018-04-21T13:22:52+00:00 June 20th, 2016|All in Nutrition, Articles from 2016|0 Comments

Ät rätt under timmarna runt träningspasset

Ät rätt under timmarna runt träningspasset

Ät rätt under timmarna runt träningspasset

Publicerad hos Stadium 2009-11-11


Hejsan! Jag tränar 2 ggr/vecka. Främst styrketräning för att bygga upp muskler men även kondition. Min fråga är hur jag kan minska fettprocent och öka muskelmassan genom träning + rätt kost? Det är ju inte helt lätt att sluta med socker…är snarare underviktig än över.



Hej Elisabeth,

En bra tumregel är att åtminstone styrketräna 3-4 gånger i veckan om du vill bygga muskler. Du kan kombinera styrketräningen med konditionsträning så länge som konditionsträningen inte tar för mycket energi och återhämtningsresurser från styrkepassen.

Att bygga muskler kräver att du tillför kroppen tillräckligt med näring för att hålla kroppen i ett muskeluppbyggande anabolt tillstånd, medan fettnedgång kräver ett visst energiunderskott. Att försöka sig på båda samtidigt är fullt möjligt, men det ger ofta mediokra resultat på båda fronter då de är lite av varandras motsatser.

När det kommer till att bygga muskler vill jag poängtera att jag varken tror på eller förespråkar tränande att tvinga i sig mat för att åstadkomma muskeltillväxt och viktuppgång. När du når taket för hur mycket näring du kan använda till att bygga muskler på daglig basis kommer all övrig näring du stoppar i dig att omvandlas till kroppsfett, vilket i sin tur leder till sämre insulinkänslighet och därmed mindre muskeltillväxt (och ökad fettinlagring) i det långa loppet. Om en person vill maximera sin förmåga att bygga muskelmassa, speciellt om personen har lätt för att lägga på sig kroppsfett, behöver denne individ precision och näringstiming i sitt kostupplägg. Mängden näring vi får i oss är viktig, men det är inte den enda faktorn (eller ens den viktigaste).

De två viktigaste faktorerna i ett kostupplägg är:

  • Valet av födoämnen/livsmedel (att använda enbart de bästa födoämnena)
  • Näringstiming (att använda dessa födoämnen och näringsämnen vid de tidpunkter där de gör mest nytta)

Den viktigaste tidpunkten att använda sig av dessa principer är timmarna runt träningspasset (från 60 minuter innan träningen till 60 minuter efter). muskelmassa. En timme innan träningen bör du få i dig långsamma och lättsmälta kolhydrater (exempelvis frukt som päron eller äpple) för att ge dig långvarig energi som räcker under träningspasset. Cirka 30-15 minuter innan träningen ska du få i dig snabba kolhydrater (maltodextrin eller vitargo) och snabbt protein (vassleisolat/hydrolysat) för att åstadkomma ett insulinpåslag och pressa in så mycket näring (glukos och aminosyror) i musklerna som möjligt. Under träningspasset fyller du på med mer aminosyror genom att dricka ett snabbt och lättupptagligt proteinpulver eller en aminosyreblandning som EAA.

Gör du rätt runt träningspassen kommer du garanterat att få resultat. Därefter kan du justera näringsintaget under resten av dagen beroende på hur din kropp svarar. Vill du ha utförligare instruktioner rekommenderar jag dig att läsa min bok The Maximum Muscle guide, som tar upp exakt det du frågar om.

Lycka till!

/Joachim Bartoll

By | 2016-12-04T08:16:43+00:00 November 14th, 2009|All in Nutrition, Q&A Columns from 2009|Comments Off on Ät rätt under timmarna runt träningspasset