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By Kendall Lou Schmidt
So you’ve decided to hop on the ketogenic bandwagon. I don’t blame you. All the research is overwhelmingly in favor of cutting carbs. A huge collection of clinical studies show an incredible variety of health benefits… but let’s be real, you’re in it for the fat loss. You start out strong, fill up on protein and fats, go the gym for your workout, and BAM! Before you know it you hit a wall so hard you feel like someone slipped kryptonite into your shaker cup. Does this mean that a ketogenic diet is wrong for you? No. It means you are doing your ketogenic diet wrong. Take a deep breath, relax, and read this article. There is more than one way to keto. Let’s find the one that is right for you.
The basic concept of a standard ketogenic diet (SKD) is simple: eat a diet high in protein and fat while consuming the minimum amount of carbohydrates at all times. Although the exact amount can vary per individual, it is generally between 20 to 50 grams of net carbs per day2. Being low-carb does wonders on regulating insulin levels and body fat. Studies also show eating keto can improve energy metabolism and cognitive performance3, combat obesity-induced mitochondrial dysfunction in muscle tissue5, and prevent potential muscle loss from a restricted calorie diet1.
For most people, the SKD works great. It is important to keep in mind that when I say “for most people, the SKD works great”, I am taking into account that most people aren’t trying to perform optimally and make gains. Most people are trying to lose body fat and improve overall health. Most people workout at a low to moderate intensity if at all. Most people live a rather sedentary lifestyle the majority of the time. If you train long, workout hard, and constantly push for your personal best, you are NOT most people. A standard ketogenic diet can cause a notable decline in endurance capacity, reduce peak power, and lead to faster exhaustion7. So, if your training program is more vigorous than most, a different kind of ketogenic diet would better suit your needs.
|Standard Ketogenic Diet|
20-50g of carbs throughout the day
|Great for most people|
In a targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) overall daily intake of net carbohydrates is still limited to 20 to 50 grams per day like in a standard ketogenic diet, but the majority of those carbs are consumed 30 to 60 minutes before vigorous exercise. This allows those carbs to be used effectively and completely by your workout, so you can continue to perform without causing any damage to your state of ketosis. Glycogen, the energy your body stores in muscles from the carbs you eat, is used rapidly as exercise intensity, duration, and training status increases. This depletion of glycogen is the major cause of fatigue in both endurance and high-intensity activities. Timing carbohydrate intake prior to your workout can slow glycogen depletion, therefore improving all elements of your performance. For very lengthy and intense workouts like endurance sports, you may find it necessary to replenish carbs during and after the workout as well4.
|Targeted Ketogenic Diet|
20-50g of carbs timed with activity
|Great for people who exercise vigorously and/or focus on overall performance|
As the name implies, a cyclic ketogenic diet (CKD) involves cycles of high and low-carb days. In the past, you may have heard about similar diets referred to as carb cycling. On a CKD the basic ketogenic mind set is followed the majority of the time. 5 to 6 days of the week carbs are limited, protein and fat consumption is high. 1 or 2 days a week are designated to very high carbohydrate consumption of 450 to 600 grams. Protein intake on carb-loading days remains the same and the total fat is reduced to maintain total calorie intake.
Many people enjoy following a CKD because it allows them to break from the rigid low-carb keto lifestyle. Athletes that train very vigorously might choose to incorporate a carb loading day midweek and weekend to keep glycogen stores higher, others might save high-carb days for social activities outside the work week.
Bodybuilders and other athletes use this diet to maximise fat-loss while also building lean mass.This diet is not for everyone. Unless you are extremely active and perform very high intensity exercises 5 or more days a week, those high-carb days are more likely to do harm than good. If you have already been successful with other ketogenic diets, are highly disciplined and committed to a rigid program, and are looking for a new twist to your carb intake… then, and only then would, I suggest looking into a CKD.
|Cyclic Ketogenic Diet|
|5 to 6 days|
|1 to 2 days|
450 to 600g Carbs
|Great for bodybuilders and other athletes who are extremely active 5 or more days a week|
Regardless of which ketogenic diet is best suited for your bodies needs, here are a few tips to keep your body feeling good and performing strong:Get all your micronutrients
Any time you are cutting calories or limiting the types of foods you eat, there is an increased risk that you may be missing out on some important micronutrients. Taking a multivitamin or enjoying some Blackstone Labs Juiced Up (which is packed with 100% micronized fruits, veggies, fiber, minerals, and antioxidants) is an easy way to give your body what it needs while keeping calories and carbs low.Stay hydrated
All the cells in your body, including those ever so important muscle cells, need water to perform. When you start to cut carbs, there will be an initial loss of water weight while your body adjusts. Staying hydrated is especially important during this transition.Get enough protein
On a ketogenic diet you will be eating a lot of protein. But how much exactly is recommended? It really depends on your fat free mass (FFM) or lean mass. Your FFM is the amount of your body weight that is not fat (muscle, bones, organs, etc.)6. Studies show that to maintain muscle during a resistance training program while restricting calories, you need to consume 2.3 to 3.1 grams of protein per kilogram of FFM each day6. So hypothetically speaking, if you know your FFM is 75kg (165lbs) you should be consuming 172 to 232.5 grams of protein each day. For more detailed information on calculating your individual calorie and protein requirements, refer to page 27 in The Ultimate Bodybuilding Cookbook. Eat the right carbs at the right time
20 to 50 grams of net carbs isn’t many, so don’t waste them on the wrong thing. On a SKD complex carbs like fibrous vegetables and whole grains are great choices. On a TKD, eating some fast digesting carbs with a higher glycemic index help fuel your workout. In a CKD, don’t let your high-carb days be an excuse to binge eat junk food. Keep it clean, and your body will thank you.Get a good night’s sleep
Rest is always important. While we sleep our body is working hard to repair, rebuild, and make gains. Ketogenic diets are notorious for causing fatigue, especially during the first few weeks your body is adapting to a fat and protein based energy metabolism. Sleep deprivation will only make it worse. If you’re a restless sleeper or hopeless nightowl, a mild sleep aid like Blackstone Labs Anesthetized is a simple solution.