The Quick Diet Experiment: Day 7 to 10

The Journal: Day 7 to 10

 

Read the introduction by clicking here! | Day 1-3. | Day 4-6. (Will open in new window)

These are extracts from my daily journal entries over at Classic Muscle Newsletter. To get the full story, including tips and more detailed thoughts, become a member today. As a member you’ll also enjoy 4 to 5 new full-length articles a month, a review of the latest research, access to more than 260 articles and training programs, and much more!

Saturday, June 18. Day 7 – MCT-“fasting”:

Weighted in at 71.1 kg (156.4 lbs) today, another 200 grams (0.44 lbs) less than yesterday. The decline in body weight seems rather constant at the moment, but I expect a larger drop by tomorrow.
Since I’ve been training four days in a row, I have a MCT-“fast” with no protein today, and the fact that I have so much else going on I my life for the moment, I decided to take the day off from the gym.

I had one cup of coffee in the morning and one in the forenoon. Only 5 g of MCT oil in each cup. Also took a longer morning walk with my wolfdog, and at 1 PM we took a 4 km (2.5 miles) bike ride to meet up with some friends and their dogs at a dog park, where we stayed for 1.5 hours – walking around, playing and taking some photos. On the way back home, I took another, a bit longer, route home. And I did notice a bit of ammonia in my breath. And since I had my last meal with protein at 7 PM on Friday, it’s due to autophagy – the body is recycling bad cells as protein and energy.

During my evening dog walk I actually felt a bit tired in my body for the first time, but it went away after 10 minutes and then I felt really good again. Considering I only had 15 grams of MCT oil since 7 PM yesterday and that my body is still adapting to run on fat and ketones, it’s expected.
I remember the first time I did a ketogenic diet (Dan Duchaine’s Body Opus) back in 1997. Back then I felt really miserable the first week and I had the infamous keto breath and smelled of ammonia for two weeks before my body started to adapt to burn fats and ketones more efficiently.
With that said, I haven’t done pure keto since 2008, but I have done some 28- to 36-hour water fasts, especially during 2009 to 2012 – and I do a lot of intermittent fasting. So my body is a lot quicker to adapt nowadays.

In the evening, I did have some extra fats, a little bit of dark chocolate, raw cacao nibs, and cacao butter. Also 3 grams of omega-3 and a scoop of greens powder.

So to recap, my last meal yesterday was at 7 PM and it was probably absorbed within 3 hours (since it was small), which means that I was in a fasted state around 10 PM. During the day I had a total of 15 grams of MCT oil, which do not interfere with the fasting or autophagy. Then I had a small meal at 8 PM in the evening. That’s 22 hours of MCT-“fasting”. However, since I had almost no protein at all, my protein fast will continue until Sunday before hitting the gym. It will probably be close to 35 or 36 hours without protein – pretty much as during day 1 and 2 of this experiment.

When adding in my 8 PM meal, the total for the day sums up to:
32 grams of fat (of which 15 grams was MCT oil) – about 91 E%
4 grams of protein – about 5 E%
3 grams of carbohydrates (about 2 grams of fiber) – about 4E%
About 303 kcal total

That’s a deficit of around 2100 to 2200 kcal and almost no protein. Feeling pretty good though. Tomorrow I’ll add in some protein before, during and after my workout, and then I’ll raise the calories again, going back full keto on Monday.

Sunday, June 19. Day 8 – intermittent fat fasting, adding in some protein:

As predicted, my morning weight after yesterday’s MCT-“fasting” and 303 kcal total, was 70.7 kg (155.5 lbs) – a reduction of 400 grams (0.88 lbs) since last morning. I honestly thought it would be a little bit more, considering loss of body fat and contents within the intestines. Perhaps the extra electrolytes I take daily helped to maintain a good hydration/water balance (which can be tricky on a low energy ketogenic diet.)
Speaking of fluids. My previous water/fluid retention around the face and ankles has improved considerably. The fasting and high intake of fats is working. Total body inflammation is lower, which I also noticed during today’s workout (more on that in a bit.)

As I woke early today (4:15 AM), I started the morning with coffee, MCT oil and a little drop of double cream. After a brisk walk with my dog at 7 AM, I took another cup as an early pre-workout at around 8.30 AM. I then had my first protein since Friday evening – about 20 grams of whey isolate mixed with 10 grams of MCT oil. I loaded an additional 30 grams of whey isolate and 5 grams of MCT oil as my intra-workout shake and did yet another push-oriented workout. As my back is still a bit stiff, doing shoulders and some easy chest and triceps seemed as the best choice – so I can go in with more intensity tomorrow and hopefully get a good leg workout.

As mentioned earlier, whole body inflammation is lower and all my joints feel better. I’ve had a lot of trouble with my shoulders and during May and early June, I could only do barbell shoulder presses and high incline presses. If I lowered the bench beneath 45 degrees, as in incline bench press or regular bench press, my shoulders would hurt like hell and I would lose strength and control. I could actually only lower the bar half the way in bench press before the shoulders would give out, risking an injury.
Today however, I could easily do the incline bench press at about 30 degrees. My shoulders felt fantastic.

After the workout I had a tiny bit of unpasteurized raw milk with 20 g of whey protein, 5 g of collagen protein, 5 g of isomalto-oligosaccharide (prebiotic), 10 g of pumpkin seeds, 5 g of sunflower seeds, 10 g of raw cacao nibs and some raw cacao for additional taste. In the afternoon I had another cup of coffee with MCT and in the evening I had a chicken leg with veggies and a bit later some eggs with veggies. And of course, a lot of spices and herbs. A lot!

The daily total looked like this:
170 grams of fat (of which 30 g was MCT oil) – about 71 E%
120 grams of protein (of which 15-20 g was collagen protein) – about 23 E%
30 grams of carbs (20-25 g fiber) – about 6 E%
About 2 096 kcal total

My total energy expenditure for the day was in the neighborhood of 3100 kcal as I was a bit more active than I’ve planned, which yields a deficit of about 1000 kcal. No worries though, as calories will be raised tomorrow.

Monday, June 20. Day 9 – ketogenic diet, more on health:

Slept pretty well for a total of 7 hours with three instances of deep rejuvenating sleep, totaling about 1h 50 min. Got up at 4.55 AM and had my usual cups of coffee. Morning weight was 70.7, a slight decrease by “the usual” 200 grams (0.44 lbs.) Once again, I was expecting more. But it seems that my body is doing quite well on this experiment.
Noticed increased definition and vascularity in my legs, so they are finally coming along. I can now see muscle fibers contracting on the upper part of my calves. The lower part still holds some subcutaneous water, but to a much lesser extent than before the experiment.

Since the main focus of this experiment is to heal my inflamed and injured kidneys, I don’t want my intake of protein to creep up too high. So to keep the calories going up, I can only add more fats. Even if I have room for a few more carbs, they don’t really mount up to anything much. I’d like to keep my “energy giving” carbohydrates below 20 to 25 grams so I’m sure I’m staying in ketosis. After the experiment, I’ll start adding them around the workouts, but for now, more fats it is.
Another concern is the fact that my mother has a very aggressive form of rheumatism and psoriasis. Most of her joints and bones have been eaten away by inflammation, especially the shoulders and elbows, as well as her hip and ankles. When I was younger and hungry for gains and didn’t really care about healthy foods or avoiding chemicals in skin care products or beauty products, I did notice some spots of psoriasis. Luckily they all went away as I became more health-conscious and when I did my first famous diet experiment in 2007 and 2008. Since then, it’s been totally gone. But I still need to be careful because it’s hidden away in my genetics, and although it’s dormant, a compromised immune system or a lot of bodily stress could bring it back to the surface. So the most important thing is to keep inflammation under control, keep my hormones in check (thyroid and testosterone as high as possible and estrogen low, but not too low) and to keep my body fat as low as possible without compromising my health.

In the evening I had pork chops with butter, onions and some veggies. Made it two separate meals, because convenience.

The daily total looked like this:
182 grams of fat (of which 30 g was MCT oil) – about 70 E%
135 grams of protein (of which 10-15 g was collagen protein) – about 25 E%
30 grams of carbs (20-25 g fiber) – about 5 E%
About 2 263 kcal total

Torched about 2900 kcal today, so the deficit for the day comes in the neighborhood of 600 to 700 kcal.

Tuesday, June 21. Day 10 – ketogenic diet:

Slept pretty well for a total of 6 h 45 min. Morning weight at 70.3 – another 200 grams (0.44 lbs.) down since yesterday, like clockwork.

Had a day off from the gym today. My schedule today and tomorrow is crazy – and I’ve been wading through 50+ studies to find some of interest for my research series here on Classic Muscle Newsletter. I got 4. Will wade through another 50 on Thursday.
Diet wise I have nothing much to report really. The veins in my chest, lower abdomen and legs are coming along nicely. And I have tons of energy. Brain fog is a lot less than two weeks ago, and that’s a big plus!

The daily total looked like this:
162 grams of fat (of which 30 g was MCT oil) – about 71 E%
115 grams of protein (of which 10-15 g was collagen protein) – about 24 E%
25 grams of carbs (15-20 g fiber) – about 5 E%
About 1 985 kcal total

Burned about 2500 kcal today, so the deficit was about 500 kcal.

Wednesday, June 22. Day 11 – metabolic day, increased calories, some tips on back training:

Day "zero", day 5, and day 10.

Day “zero”, day 5, and day 10. Click to zoom.

Another pretty good night. I slept for about 6 h 35 min with three instances of deep restful sleep, totaling 1 hour and 55 min.
Sleep efficiency was at 97 % according to my Microsoft Band II and the MS health app. Time to fall asleep was 4 min 39 sec, which is a bit longer than usual. Resting heart rate at 50 (I usually fluctuate between 46 and 51). Not too sure about the accuracy of the data, but I usually check it a few hours after I wake up to see if it matches how I feel – and so far it usually has been pretty correct.

Morning weight at 70.2 kg, so only 100 grams (0.22 lbs.) less than yesterday.

Day "zero" and day 10 of the Diet Experiment.

Day “zero” and day 10 of the Diet Experiment. Click to zoom.

Today is another metabolic day to keep the hormones flowing. I’m a bit pressed for time as my afternoon and evening is fully booked. Anyhow, I took some quick photos this morning before I started to increase my calories. Since I took them 2 to 2.5 hours earlier than usual (at 7 AM), the sun was still low and didn’t give as much light as in the earlier photos, so I had to lower the shutter speed (I don’t want to go above ISO-400, as the photos will be too grainy). Unfortunately, the photos came out with a little bit of motion blur, but they’ll have to do. They look decent when shrunk, and you can still see a lot of changes in only the five days that have passed; abs a little bit tighter, vascularity is beginning to show in the legs again, etcetera.
Higher resolution photos are available at Classic Muscle Newsletter.

My workout this day was all back. I usually have two distinct different ways to start a training session. For as long as I can remember (mid-90’s) I always have begun by ramping the weight on my first and main exercise. Keeping the repetitions between 3 and 5 not to waste energy. By increasing the weight by each set your nervous system gets activated and you get warm, ready to do some serious lifts without burning much glycogen in the process. In other words, you’re fresh once you hit your heavy work sets.
This is usually the approach I take with most clients to learn and program their nervous systems to become more efficient, teaching them to recruit more fast-twitch muscle fibers.
However, once you have a pretty efficient nervous system and can switch it on with only a set or two, I have another approach that is very effective if your main goal is muscle hypertrophy and you don’t care much about doing strength work. This method is simply to start the workout with a mechanical drop-set. In other words, you pick a weight that is about 50 to 60 percent of your max and you do an exercise where you can shift positions without resting. You start in your weakest position and when you are about one repetition short of failure you shift to a stronger position and so on in three steps.
For example, since I did back, I started with Barbell Row. When I was close to failure, I raised my torso and continued to do reps in a Dorian Yates row fashion. When I was close to failure on these I finished off with Romanian deadlifts. This set took about 1 min 40 seconds and it was enough to get me warm, fired up, reach a heartbeat of 170+, and it also sat the bar for the rest of the workout. No way you can drag your legs behind after such a start!

Skin-fold body composition from day "zero" to day 10.

Skin-fold body composition from day “zero” to day 10.

Also got my body composition tested just before my workout using the Harpenden Skin-fold caliper. Most dramatic changes occurred in my upper and lower back, and to a degree in the thighs.

The daily total looked like this:
210 grams of fat (of which 25 g was MCT oil) – about 66 E%
177 grams of protein (of which 15-20 g was collagen protein) – about 26 E%
55 grams of carbs (15-20 g fiber) – about 8 E%
About 2 785 kcal total

At 55 grams and 30 to 35 g of energy giving carbohydrates, that was my highest intake of carbs thus far on this experiment. Did feel fine all day though, never dipped out of ketosis. Probably because I had a lot of things to do and didn’t sit around a lot. According to my MS Band II, I took close to 16 000 steps during the day. I usually average 9000 to 11 000.

So, the “calorie burn” through the day landed at approx. 3420 kcal. More fuel plus more activity equals higher metabolic flux. Still I had a deficit of about 650 kcal, which is just fine.

 

 

 

By | 2016-10-16T14:03:12+00:00 June 24th, 2016|The Diet Experiment 2016|0 Comments

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 “Ironmag.com” 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

The Quick Diet Experiment: Day 4 to 6

The Journal: Day 4 to 6

 

Read the introduction by clicking here! The first three days are linked here. (Will open in new window)

These are extracts from my daily journal entries over at Classic Muscle Newsletter. To get the full story, including tips and more detailed thoughts, become a member today. As a member you’ll also enjoy 4 to 5 new full-length articles a month, a review of the latest research, access to more than 260 articles and training programs, and much more!

 

Wednesday, June 15. Day 4 – ketogenic diet:

This night I woke up a couple of times around 1 AM to 3 AM and I only got about an hour of deep sleep. I did however wake up at 5:05 AM full of energy and I’m not the least tired.
My morning body weight was down 0.8 kg (1.8 lbs) since last morning. I’ve lost some additional subcutaneous water and my glycogen stores are now pretty depleted. I’m currently at 71.8 kg (158 lbs), so my body weight is down by 1.7 kg (3.74 lbs) since the start this past Sunday. Please note that my morning weight on Saturday, when I took my before photo was 72.8 kg, but my morning weight on Sunday when I started the diet was 73.5 kg (162 lbs.) During the last week before the diet experiment, my morning weight fluctuated between 73.1 and 73.8 kg (160.1 to 162.4 lbs.)

I started the day with the same cups of coffee, but for a more awesome taste experience, I used a natural double cream instead of butter as the main fat source. I had 5 grams of MCT oil with both cups, 5 grams of collagen protein with the first and when I was almost done with the second cup, I added a tiny bit of water and 15 grams of whey protein, stirred it for a second and gulped it down – because of laziness (or convenience, take your pick).

At about 11 AM I did a pull-based (back) workout. Since my lower back still isn’t a hundred percent, I did rowing with chest support and alternated high-rep lat-pulldowns with straight-arm lat-pulldowns focusing on peak contraction. Added some seated curls on the end and finished in 50 minutes.
Had the same para-nutrition as yesterday. MCT oil and some whey isolate before and during training. Very simple for the moment, but it does wonders. More information over at Classic Muscle Newsletter.

Yet again I upped the calories and the daily total looked like this:
136 grams of fat (of which 40 g was MCT oil)
150 grams of protein (of which 15-20 g was collagen protein)
30 grams of carbs (mostly fiber)
About 1 915 kcal total

This mean that I had a calorie deficit of approximately 600 to 700 kcal, since my workout today was a bit shorter than usual and I haven’t walked as much (just above 7000 steps). This is right on target and within my body’s limits as far as releasing fatty acids for fuel goes.

Thursday, June 16. Day 5 – ketogenic diet:

All right then, another night with some tossing and turning after the first two hours of sleep, followed by some deep quality sleep. My body has not fully adjusted to ketosis yet. I’m full of “nervous” energy. Although I feel a little bit sluggish in my body at times, I have a lot more energy and mental clarity then during the last month when I averaged 400 to 500 grams of carbs a day. I feel a lot better during the days, but sleep is still a bitch. It usually gets better after a week or so. Just gotta hang in there.
Still miss the carbs and the muscle fullness they give you, though – especially when blood is rushing to the muscles and the veins look like they’re about to explode, haha. 😉

Morning weight today registered at 71.5 kg (157.3 lbs), so I’m down 300 grams (0.66 lbs) since yesterday. I noticed that the separation between my muscle bellies, especially around the deltoids and the tie in to both the chest and the arms was more defined today. Also, more veins are starting to creep out on my legs, especially around the “tear drop” (vastus medialis/VMO) and inner thigh. Some muscle fibers are visible on the outside along the vastus lateralis. I’ll take a new full body photo tomorrow, before I start my “metabolic”/high calorie day.

Since my back is still a bit stiff and hurts when I sit for too long, today’s leg training was a bit compromised. I started with a quick high-rep and contraction workout for yesterday’s muscle groups (back and biceps). This took about 10 minutes and it’s an easy way to prolong the protein synthesis in these muscle groups as well as increasing blood flow and the amount of nutrients that reach the muscle, which will increase recovery.
After that I started with a ramp of the weight alternating between lying leg curls and the hack squat machine (which add support to my back). Unfortunately, I felt my back when I reached about 70 % of my 5 rep maximum (RM) at the hack squat machine, so I did a few extra sets of 8 reps at about 60 to 65 % of my 5RM while finishing the ramp with leg curls. Then I had to do some seated leg extensions, starting with a small ramp as well, and then some double top contractions – all while doing some work sets on leg curls. Usually I do some squat variation and some Romanian deadlifts. But my back would not allow that today. Then I finished off with two drop sets of seated calf raises. I first ramped up to 105 kg (231 lbs) over 4 sets with 5 to 6 reps. Then I maxed out on 105 kg/231 lbs (about 8 reps) and then dropped 10 kg at a time until I was repping with 45 kg/99 lbs – and on reaching muscle failure, I simply held the top contraction for as long as possible. It’s a neat trick that work wonders with calves. That’s it, I finished in just about 65 minutes.

In the evening I could really notice the increased vascularity – although the veins are not at large as when I’m fully loaded with carbs, more of them are becoming visible. It will be fun to add in carbs before my workouts once this experiment is over. New progression pics tomorrow!

The daily total looked like this:
138 grams of fat (of which 30 g was MCT oil) – about 60 E%
170 grams of protein (of which 15-20 g was collagen protein) – about 35 E%
30 grams of carbs (mostly fiber) – about 5 E%
About 2 019 kcal total

Friday, June 17. Day 6 – ketogenic metabolic loading:

Comparison after five days on the diet experiment.

Comparison after five days on the diet experiment.

Slept a little bit better and got up at 4:50 AM. Weighted in at 71.3 kg (156.9 lbs), 200 grams (0.44 lbs) less than yesterday. Had my glass of water with sea salt and bicarbonate followed by a cup of coffee with the usual.

Since it’s my “high calorie” day, I had about 5 grams extra of protein and fats in each cup. At 7:30 I walked my wolfie for 40 minutes and then I decided to set up my camera to take some new progression photos with the natural lightning from the rising sun. Same setup as last time with my “before photo”.

Although it’s only been 5 days, a lot have happened. I’m still holding some water in my legs and a little around the waist (if you know what to look for, you can see it in both pictures). Good news is that I’m retaining less fluids in my lower legs and around my eyes in the morning. Also, my joints feel better.
So it’s all going according to plan.

Skin fold body composition sheet.

Skin fold body composition sheet.

I also got my subcutaneous body fat measured using the Harpenden caliper and my 17-site protocol. The fat percentage was calculated using Parrillo’s standard 9-site formula – just to keep it simple and comparable.
The day before the start of my experiment, my 9-site body fat percentage was 7.79 %. Today, after 5 days, it was 6.95 %. As you can see in the chart, there were several significant drops in this short time. These big changes are a combination of less subcutaneous water between the fat cells as well as some fat loss. But I have without a doubt lost at least 0.5 kg (1.1 lbs) of fat. And I plan to lose a minimum of an additional 0.6 to 0.8 kg in the remaining 9 days.

At about 11:30 AM I did an another push oriented workout. This time I began with focus on chest instead of the shoulders. Finished with two mechanical drop sets of rope pushdowns for the triceps. Finished the whole workout within 45 minutes.

In addition to that, I had two longer walks with my wolfdog – very slow paced though, since he loves to stop and smell stuff and watch anything that moves (if I allow him and give him a longer leash). So I estimate that my total energy expenditure for the day reached about 2500 to 2600 kcal.

Considering that it’s my high calorie day, I had about 100 grams total of 81 % dark natural sweetened chocolate. Also sprinkled some raw cocoa nibs on top of my coffee. It’s so good.
I also had some chicken legs in the evening and 3 eggs as my last meal. Added in some extra vegetables, mainly steamed broccoli and cauliflower.

And yes, I pick all bones clean and keep them in the fridge until I need to make a new batch of nutritious and delicious home made bone broth.

The daily total looked like this:
170 grams of fat (of which 30 g was MCT oil) – about 59 E%
205 grams of protein (of which 15-20 g was collagen protein) – about 33 E%
50 grams of carbs (20-25 g fiber) – about 8 E%
About 2 526 kcal total

For the lolz! Vascularity slowly coming back. Veins still small due to carb depletion.

For the lolz! Vascularity slowly coming back. Veins still small due to carb depletion.

That was pretty much on target. Although calories don’t really matter that much, it’s still important to keep track in order to find clues to how the body respond, how it improves, and so on.
While nutrients are important, what really matters is what you absorb and how efficient your mitochondria can use its fuel – also, how everything influences hormonal responses, inflammation, and other health markers.

All this is what makes nutrition so interesting and fun. Of course there are still a lot of other factors such as internal and external stress, chemicals polluting your body through skin creams, deodorants, beauty products, tooth paste and other toxic crap. But that’s another story in another post.

More updates coming soon!
The complete diet experiment, with daily journals, is being documented and published in its entirety on my membership website Classic Muscle Newsletter.

By | 2016-10-16T14:03:13+00:00 June 18th, 2016|The Diet Experiment 2016|0 Comments

The Quick Diet Experiment: Day 1 to 3

The Journal: Day 1 to 3

 

Read the introduction by clicking here! (Will open in new window)

These are extracts from my daily journal entries over at Classic Muscle Newsletter. To get the full story, including tips and more detailed thoughts, become a member today. As a member you’ll also enjoy 4 to 5 new full-length articles a month, a review of the latest research, access to more than 260 articles and training programs, and much more!

Sunday, June 12. Day 1 – fat “fasting”:

The Diet Experiment The “before photo” from Saturday morning.

Woke up at 5:10 AM and, as I always do, had a full glass of water with a teaspoon of sea salt and a half teaspoon of bicarbonate. 20 minutes later I had my first cup of coffee with 5 grams of MCT oil. I had a total of 5 of these during the day until 5 PM. I added about 5 grams of butter to the last cup. At 7 PM and 9 PM I had 5 grams of hamp oil, 5 grams of coconut oil, and 3 grams of omega-3.
No solid foods at all this day. No protein and no carbs.

Starting weight this Sunday morning was 73.5 kg (162 lbs.), a slight increase from yesterday’s weigh-in when I took the “before photo”.

Had two capsules of electrolytes in the evening (sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, and sulfate.)
And as always, about 1000 mg of magnesium before bed to relax better.

Total for the day:
28 grams of fat from butter, hamp oil, coconut oil and omega-3s
25 grams of MCT oil
About 454 kcal total

As I’m used to about 5 to 10 grams of MCT oil a day (I usually take it with coffee in the morning to boost my brain), stepping up to 25 grams was similar to using a laxative, but it’s all good.
Your intestines could use a spring cleaning once in a while – and I’ll load up on pre- and probiotics starting slowly tomorrow.

And yeah, my lower back is busted. Not a great start. No lifting today, only three walks with my wolfdog totaling in about 7 560 steps (or about 6 kilometers).

Monday, June 13. Day 2 – intermittent fat fasting, adding in some protein:

I slept really good for the first three to four hours (two instances of deep sleep for about 1 hour and 30 minutes), but then I tossed and turned for a few hours before I got up at 5:15 AM. And yeah, I’m slightly tired today, but feel fine otherwise.
Morning weight down 0.9 kg (2 lbs). Still holding some water, which is more pronounced today as my glycogen stores are running low and my muscles are somewhat flat. Today and the next couple of days will be the worst physique wise. But as I’ll get into ketosis and as I increase my calories again I will start to look a lot better.

Noticed some increased vascularity at night after the two larger and last meals for the day. Also, no lifting today. My lower back is better, it’s only troublesome when sitting and the minutes after standing up. Once I’m warm, I hardly notice the pain or the limited mobility.

Only had coffee and bone broth in the forenoon and early afternoon, including some prebiotics (more details at Classic Muscle Newsletter.) In the late afternoon I added in 20 grams of whey protein, which broke the protein fast after about 38 to 40 hours without any protein.

Total for the day:
90 grams of fat (of which 15 g was MCT oil)
85 grams of protein (of which 15-20 g was collagen protein)
15 grams of carbs (mostly fiber)
About 1 194 kcal total

Tuesday, June 14. Day 3 – ketogenic diet, increasing calories:

Slept decent all night. My Microsoft Band II told me I woke three times during the night, but I have no recollection of that. I probably only slept really light. Got 7 hours of sleep with 1 hour and 43 minutes of deep restful sleep (REM). Resting heart rate at 51 (slightly elevated).
Somewhat less bloat today. Although my muscles are flat, I can see more separations. My vascularity has also increased a little bit, but my veins are smaller and not as pronounced as they usually are.
My morning weight was only down 0.1 kg since yesterday, which equals 1 kg in total (2.2 lbs) since the start. I’m actually surprised that I haven’t dropped more, considering that I’ve had virtually no carbs in more than two days and only a total of 1648 kcal (454 kcal the first day and 1 194 kcal the second day.)

I had two cups of coffee during the morning with 5 g of MCT oil and 10 g of butter (the first one also had 5 g of collagen protein.) In the afternoon and evening I had two meals with a little pork, fish and a couple of eggs with steamed vegetables and fats from olive oil, fish oil, coconut oil, and butter.

At 10 AM I went to the gym and did a chest, shoulders and triceps (traditional push) workout. Unless I train purely for strength, I pretty much always do alternating sets – since I seriously can’t sit down and rest because I get bored as hell. So I only rest the time it takes me to walk between the “stations” and get ready for my exercise. It’s also time efficient and today’s workout took me about 55 minutes. My back felt pretty ok once I was warmed up. And I matched all my weights on all exercises – so no decline in strength. Sipped on MCTs and Whey Protein Isolate before and during the workout (more details at Classic Muscle Newsletter.)

Total for the day:
110 grams of fat (of which 30 g was MCT oil)
160 grams of protein (of which 15-20 g was collagen protein)
21 grams of carbs (mostly fiber)
About 1 695 kcal total

I upped the calories a bit again and will probably keep my energy intake in the neighborhood of 1700 to 2000 kcal during my days of ketogenic dieting. We’ll see. I have about 5 kg of subcutaneous fat and probably another 4 kg of intra fat, so that’s about 9 kg, which means that my body can release about 600 to 700 kcal of fatty acids a day to be burned as extra fuel – and this will decrease daily as I lose body fat. Considering that my glycogen stores are depleted by now, I don’t want to go too low on calories as that will mean loss of proteins (muscle).
My current energy expenditure is about 2800 kcal a day when I hit the gym and 2200 kcal if I only walk with my wolfdog and rest from weight training.

 

More updates coming soon!

By | 2016-10-16T14:03:13+00:00 June 16th, 2016|The Diet Experiment 2016|0 Comments