The Complete Guide To The Ketogenic Diet For Beginners
Ketogenic diets are often labelled as extreme. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your body prefers burning fat for energy and it is the preferred source in your brain and muscles, and it has some remarkably positive results for a wide variety of most common chronic illnesses today.
Unfortunately, the general public have not been exposed to the truth about nutritional ketosis, and therefore don’t believe that it’s a healthy state to be in.
Just as cholesterol is not the culprit in heart disease, ketones have also been labelled as some kind of strange substance that you should avoid at all costs. This is simply not the case.
A ketogenic diet is simply limiting the amount of carbohydrates you eat.
A ketogenic diet is just a low carb diet coupled with higher fat intake. The amount of carbs depends for each person, but it usually below 50 grams of net carbs per day. If you eat 10 grams of carbs, but that contains 5 grams of fibre, you will have consumer 5 grams of net carbs.
This limited amount of carbohydrate intake will switch your body over to burning ketones as your primary source of fuel. Alternatively, you can look at your body switching from being a sugar burning steam train with all the black dirty soot covering the engine, to a clean burning Tesla that runs on fat and ultimately does less damage to your body.
Ketogenic diets are low in carbohydrates. This means you should avoid the following foods:
*Unless you are refuelling from exercise – Still limit these
What most people don’t understand is that this is a normal metabolic state. When babies are born, they will go into a state of nutritional ketosis, relying on their mother’s breast milk which provides 25% energy from ketones. If you have ever skipped breakfast, you would most certainly have been in a state of Ketosis.
Want to calculate this: Visit Tasteaholics
Why go Keto?
So why would we want to reduce the amount of sugar we consume and switch our bodies over to burn fat instead? Ben Greenfield, an elite triathlete explains the 3 main reasons why we would want to pursue this:
- Metabolically, Fat is a superior fuel for the body
- Consuming fats enhances your brain function and gives mental stability
- Greater health and longevity that come from controlling your blood sugar levels naturally.
As we discussed earlier, Ketones (produced by burning fat) are actually the preferred fuel source for vital organs such as the muscles, heart, liver and brain.
Let’s look at some of the other benefits to nutritional ketosis:
- Natural hunger control
- Lower inflammation levels
- Normalise metabolic function
- Lowered blood pressure
- Mental clarity
- Effortless weight loss
- Reduction in triglycerides
- Lowered levels of LDL particles (bad cholesterol)
- Increased levels of HDL particles (good cholesterol)
- Increased sex drive
- Better fertility
- Eliminated heartburn
- Improved immune system
- Slowing the aging process
- Reduces acne breakouts
- Faster recovery from exercise
- Decreased anxiety and mood swings
- ……we could go on and on and on.
Not only does nutritional ketosis benefit the body, weight issues also response extremely well to the approach as well. A study by Harvard School of Public Health analysed 53 studies, involving 67,000 dieters, which found those who cut back on carbs were two and a half pounds lighter after a year than those who embraced a “low fat” approach.
For decades, there has been debate over the merits of a low fat diet, which was endorsed as the best route to weight loss in the 1970s. Now, major research, published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, backs a low carbohydrate approach as a more effective diet.
One thing keeping many from ever implementing a ketogenic diet is the mistaken belief it will require a special skill set in the kitchen, or that it will be more labour intensive than the cooking they’re used to already.
Granted, if you’ve never cooked a fresh vegetable, you’ll have to learn something new, but other than that, a ketogenic diet is actually quite easy to follow once you’ve grasped the basics.
Another common pitfall is lack of monitoring. If you’re healthy, this may not be of great importance, but if you’re trying to address a chronic health condition, please realise that this is not just another diet, it’s a powerful metabolic therapy.
So get the appropriate blood tests and monitor your condition. Don’t think you can just slather extra butter on everything and all will be well. You do need the appropriate support and monitoring.
One of the most misunderstood concepts in history is this one. Fat makes you fat. This logic doesn’t apply to going green after eating too many cucumbers? Fat will make you fat only when it is paired with excess carbohydrates.
Where did it all start?
All the study’s that say fat causes heart disease link back to one study, and it’s the reason why we thing saturated fat causes heart disease. It was developed in the early 1950s by Ancel Benjamin Keys.
In his lab, he was responsible for running experiments looking for early indications of disease. What you must remember is that in the 1950’s, no health issue seemed more urgent than heart disease.
Keys’ most famous findings were contained in the study of the Seven Countries. The study showed that the risk and rates of heart attack and stroke cardiovascular risk both at the population level and at the individual level was directly correlated to the level of total serum cholesterol.
It demonstrated that the association between blood cholesterol level and coronary heart disease (CHD) risk from 5 to 40 years’ follow-up is found consistently across different cultures.
Even before the study had begun, there had been criticism of its methods. Jacob Yerushalmy and Herman E. Hilleboe pointed out that, for an earlier study demonstrating this association, Keys had selected six countries out of 21 for which data were available.
Analysis of the full dataset made the analysis between fat intake and heart disease unclear. Due to this, the association between the percentage of fat calories and mortality from heart disease was not valid.
It wasn’t until 2014 when Nina Teicholz (Author of “The Big Fat Surprise”) reviewed the study and also found that one country, Crete, who’s results formed the majority of the evidence from the study was conducted during Lent, thereby causing Keys to dramatically undercount the amount of saturated fat eaten.
Correlation Vs Causation
Correlation is very different to causation. You cannot draw conclusions like Keys’ did based on correlation. I’ll give you some Examples of illogically inferring causation from correlation:
THE FASTER WINDMILLS ARE OBSERVED TO ROTATE; THE MORE WIND IS OBSERVED TO BE.
THEREFORE, WIND IS CAUSED BY THE ROTATION OF WINDMILLS. (OR, SIMPLY PUT: WINDMILLS, AS THEIR NAME
INDICATES, ARE MACHINES USED TO PRODUCE WIND.)
AS ICE CREAM SALES INCREASE, THE RATE OF DROWNING DEATHS INCREASES SHARPLY.
THEREFORE, ICE CREAM CONSUMPTION CAUSES DROWNING.
SINCE THE 1950S, BOTH THE ATMOSPHERIC CO2 LEVEL AND OBESITY LEVELS HAVE INCREASED SHARPLY.
HENCE, ATMOSPHERIC CO2 CAUSES OBESITY.
Okay, so what does this mean for you? Quite a lot in fact. Social stigma has placed fat as the enemy so much so that it feels weird to even think that fat isn’t the problem with our current diet.
Diabetes and Ingesting Fat
Type 2 Diabetes is one of the most avoidable diseases in the western world, and it has
become an epidemic. Most of our population just don’t understand what causes this disease.
Diabetics are not affected most by large amounts of fat or protein. Insulin resistance is the key cause, and guess what causes insulin resistance? Taking a ride on the carbohydrate roller coaster ever 3-4 hours which eventually leads to insulin resistance, along with other factors.
When a diabetic eats a Burger and Fries, the carbohydrate is the one that sends their blood glucose spiralling out of control, not the meat and cheese. Fat is not to blame at all, it just happens to take the fall.
As far as what you can eat, Ketogenic diets are done differently by different people. Eat dark green leafy vegetables, fatty red meats, chicken with the skin left on, fish, offal (organ meat), eggs, seeds & nuts, full-fat dairy, or anything else you can find rich in nutrition, fat, protein and fibre.
Carbs are a limit. Protein is a target. Fat is to be consumed to remove hunger and meet macros requirements.
Although fibre is a carbohydrate, it is not digested as a simple carbohydrate and is therefore not included in your daily carb count. It’s important to stress that fibre doesn’t NEGATE carbs – it just isn’t counted; so mixing a handful of flax meal into a bowl of ice-cream won’t work!
But the label says sugar free?
Just because the food wrapper says it is sugar-free, it does not mean it has no carbs. Or just because it is beef jerky, it does not mean it has no sugar. I’ve fallen into this trap a few times, turning around the packet to realise that its full of sugar!
Honestly, there are not that many keto friendly foods on the shelves at the supermarket. Keep to the outer edges of the supermarket and avoid the isles where all the packaged food is positioned. Every time you go, write down new foods that are keto friendly. In a couple of months, you will have a full list of foods that you can eat at your store.
Won’t I become tired if I cut out the carbs?
Carbs do equal energy, but like sugar, they only last for a limited amount of time. There is a by-product of fat consumption which are called Ketones. In a state of carbohydrate depletion, ketones are used in your body as energy, particularly in the brain. Which put simply means that burning fat whilst being in a low carb state, also equals energy! And much more of it.
Ketogenic diets often make you feel much more alert because your brain is getting much more energy from Ketones than it ever did from carbohydrates.
Cholesterol plays an important role in our survival. The liver is careful to ensure the body always has enough, creating around 1000 – 1400 milligrams of it each day. The liver also has important feedback mechanisms that regulate how much it needs to produce from how much we get from our diet.
Cholesterols main job is to insulate parts of our cells, build and maintain cell membranes, help digest fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin D (Sun), E (Skin), A (Eyesight) and K (Blood Clotting) whilst also kick starting many of the body’s own pathways to producing hormones, including sex hormones!
Cardiac risk factors improve when blood sugar and insulin levels are lowered via dietary changes. HDL cholesterol goes up on a low carb, high fat diet and triglycerides fall dramatically.
Eating A High Cholesterol Diet Does Not Increase Heart Disease
The American journal of clinical nutrition undertook a study proving that eating a high-cholesterol diet does not increase the risk of heart disease. The study followed 1,032 initially healthy men ages 42 to 60. The men consumed an average of about 2,800 milligrams of cholesterol a week, more than a quarter of it from eating an average of four eggs weekly. (An egg contains about 180 milligrams of cholesterol.)
After controlling for age, education, smoking, B.M.I., diabetes, hypertension, and other characteristics, the researchers found no association between cardiovascular disease and total cholesterol or egg consumption. The researchers also examined carotid artery thickness, a measure of atherosclerosis. They found no association between cholesterol consumption and artery thickness, either.
In Europe, The Countries That Eat the Most Saturated Fat Have the Lowest Risk of Heart Disease
Data from: Hoenselaar R. Further response from Hoenselaar. British Journal of Nutrition, 2012.
The Obesity Epidemic in The USA Started at Almost The Exact Same Time The Low-Fat Dietary Guidelines Were Published
Source: National Center for Health Statistics (US). Health, United States, 2008: With Special Feature on the Health of Young Adults. Hyattsville (MD): National Center for Health Statistics (US); 2009 Mar. Chartbook.
The Diseases of Civilization Increased as Butter and Lard Were Replaced with Vegetable Oils and Trans Fats
Source: Dr. Stephan Guyenet. The American Diet. 2012.
Recommended fats to eat are olive oil, grass fed butter, and coconut oil.
There are actually four main types of fats. These are:
The most important fat to remember AND AVOID is Trans Fats. These types of fats have been chemically altered and industrially produced to improve their physical appearance and taste. This method however has been shown to significantly increase LDL cholesterol in humans (The Bad One) by about 10%, and has no impact on the protective HDL cholesterol.
Trans fats is a variant of unsaturated fat. 50 years ago, saturated fats were thought to be the enemy, as they were incorrectly linked with certain diseases. When trans fats were first introduced to food production, they were considered miraculous because they allowed a liquid oil to be converted to a solid spread without the “adverse effects” of saturated fat on blood cholesterol.
By the 1990, research by Mensking and Katan showed trans fats elevated the harmful LDL cholesterol by about a tenth more than regular unsaturated fat. Compared with other fats, trans fats didn’t have the benefit of elevating the protective HDL cholesterol. Mensink and Katan concluded that trans fats were worse type of food that contributed to heart disease.
This was shown convincingly by Walter Willett in his 1993 study of US nurses. Those who reported eating a large amount of trans fats (more than 5.7 grams a day) were around two-thirds more likely to have a heart attack than nurses eating less than 2.4 grams a day.
Trans fats from dairy and beef fat (“natural” trans) were not linked to heart disease risk.
Saturated Fats (Eat Meat, Dairy)
Saturated fats are usually a solid at room temperature and oxidize slowly. They have a stable composition which is why they are solid. This type of fat is most often found in animal foods including:
- Dairy products
Monounsaturated Fat (Eat Avocados, Olive oil, Cashews)
Unsaturated fats are usually a liquid at room temperature. They have a weak composition which is why they convert to liquid easily. Monounsaturated fats are most often found in:
- Almonds and Cashews
- Olive Oil and Sesame Oil
Polyunsaturated fats can be tricky. This type of fat is mostly found in the following foods:
- Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
- Corn oil, safflower oil, and soybean oil
- Pine nuts and walnuts
There is also a specific type of polyunsaturated fat called Omega 3 Fats, studied due to their significant effect on heart health, their ability to lower triglyceride levels and increase High density Lipoproteins. This type of fat is best balanced with Omega 6 fats at a ratio of 1:1, but you won’t have to worry about that as long as you are eating whole foods. These particular fats can be found in the following:
- Fatty fish – including salmon, mackerel, herring, and tuna
- Certain seeds – including flax seeds and chia seeds
Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) is a special type of saturated fat converted straight into energy by your liver, and cannot be stored as fat. The energy boost you get from MCT oil is like carbs and is important to help you switch over to fat burning as easily as possible.
Coconut contains just over 60% MCT, so it’s a beneficial way to get energy from a high fat diet. MCT Oil in particular has made a huge difference for me, especially when I tried high intensity cardio exercise on a ketogenic diet, but mostly to keep my energy levels at an optimum level.
According to Dr. Laurie Cullen at the Women’s Institute, when MCTs are absorbed into the bloodstream, they bypass the digestion process that longer chain fats go through.
MCT’s provide quick energy for the body and are thus less likely to be stored in the fat cells. Further, Dr. Cullen says when a meal includes medium chain triglycerides, there is a significant increase in amounts of calories burned (thermogenic effect). When more calories are used, fewer are stored as fat, which helps reduce body fat levels.
Many ketogenic diet and MCT oil spokespeople say MCT’s energy sustaining powers can be explained as follows: when MCT oil is metabolized in the body, it behaves more like a carbohydrate energy source than a fat.
Remembering your current fuel of preference for the body is carbohydrate (until you become fat adapted). Unlike other fats, MCT oil does not go through the lymphatic system. Instead, it is transported directly to the liver where it is metabolized so it releases energy like a carbohydrate and creates significant ketones (which can be used for fuel) in the process.
Ketogenic Diet Risks – How you can avoid them.
What are some of the ketogenic diet risks? I am usually a pretty calm and collected person, but this has made me pretty angry.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Ketogenic diet, its relatively simple. The ketogenic diet is basically a low carb, high fat diet which consists of healthy fats, moderate amounts of protein and a very strict limit on carbohydrates.
What I am seeing becoming more prominent recently as the lifestyle has become more mainstream makes me frustrated. What would make a calm and collected person so frustrated?
Specifically, when micro nutrition gets thrown out in favour of the low carb, high fat macros.
It basically looks like this. When someone starts a ketogenic lifestyle, the hardest part is cutting out the sugar in your diet. Sometimes, people do both sugar and carbohydrates in one go. Kudos to those people! Sugar is extremely additive, and carbohydrates have been deemed necessary for energy ever since the low fat brigade made their way to the top.
However, what begins to happen is this. that person begins to eat an incredibly high amount of processed foods, just because the macro nutrients fit the ratios required. They discard nutritious foods just because the macro nutrition of vegetables don’t fit the strict food rules that the ketogenic diet implies.
It can get down to the point where instead of eating living plants, natural foods and drinking water, they substitute everything they can with a low carb alternative that is either filled with preservatives, artificially sweetened with aspartame, or has lived in a can for the past 4 years.
How many carbs does a cigarette have? – Is it good for your health? NO.
Hypothetically, eating a diet solely consisting of cheese will help you lose weight. This might work for the first weight loss goal, because you’ve effectively cut out all the insulin raising foods which prevented you from losing weight in the first place. But if you want to look after your health, then you really need to learn to understand what you’re actually eating, regardless of the carbohydrate and fat content.
The biggest Ketogenic Diet Risks come from ignoring your body, and ignoring nutrition.
So many people are deficient in many of the vital micro nutrients because all they eat is salami and artificial cheese sticks. Some of these include Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin A, B, C and D.
You need to teach your body to re-learn what it actually needs, instead of switching from coke to diet coke, or bakery goods to an enture box of low carb sugar free cookies. The physical food needs to change, but so does your mindset about eating food.
My aim throughout this website is to teach you which items/mindsets are important to change for life long success.
Don’t jump off a cliff with everyone else. Make sure you are eating healthy fats, nutritious sources of protein and a low carbohydrate content. Don’t blindly follow everything you read.
Most of all, where ever possible, make those food choices organic, ethically sourced or free from known carninogens listed here.
If you disagree with me, or want to know more, leave a comment!
Image source – That Sugar Film
Before we talk Insulin Resistance, lets talk Insulin. Insulin is made by your pancreas and allows your body to use glucose (sugar) from carbohydrates in your diet.
This particular molecule helps keep your blood sugar levels from getting too high (hyperglycaemia) or too low (hypoglycaemia).
A good way to remember this is that HYPER comes from too much sugar, and HYPO comes from not enough.
When your body stops responding to the insulin control that keeps your blood sugar regulated, known as insulin resistance. This condition is directly related to the effects of chronically high blood sugar and insulin resulting in insulin resistance (IR).
In addition, related conditions like Fatty liver disease and PCOS are also caused by IR. Low carb, high fat diets have been used in studies to treat and reverse all these IR conditions.
What other conditions will a ketogenic diet help?
There is a great amount of science based evidence which shows the following conditions can be reversed or greatly improved on a keto diet:
Autism: New research is showing that keto diets are helpful in the treatment of autism.
Neurological disorders including ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson’s Disease: research is showing that ketone bodies exert a protective effect on the nervous system and slow the progression of nerve related diseases.
Mitochondrial support: Keto diets provide mitochondrial support and can improve metabolic energy disorders such as pyruvate dehydrogenase complex deficiency (PDHC), glucose transporter type 1 (GLUT1) deficiency, McArdle disease, and a range of mitochondrial myopathies.
Aging is slowed: The ketogenic diet reduces inflammation and slows the human aging process.
Acid Reflux/GERD (heartburn): people who suffer from acid reflux or chronic heartburn will find great relief after adopting a keto diet, especially if all grain and fermentable carb sources (FODMAPS) are eliminated from the diet.
The bottom line here is that the ketogenic diet is a powerful metabolic tool for treating a wide range of illnesses. It is not a fad diet, and if it is implemented correctly, it corrects metabolic function at the cellular level. The result is improved health and well being.
Many people decided to start a ketogenic lifestyle initially to lose weight. Remember, you’re not doing anything wrong if you are not losing weight. At first, the weight just seems to slide off due to the water loss by restricting carbohydrates.
After a little while, you might not be seeing the results that you loved during the start of the lifestyle.
This is because by eating less sugar and carbohydrates, you begin to increase your insulin sensitivity, which enables your body to build muscle.
To avoid disappointment, make sure you take body measurements when the number on the scales isn’t going down. Progress pictures can give a visual representation of where you are in your ketogenic journey, but it is useful to track your waist, butt, and arm measurements.
During plateaus, you will be still shedding inches, but the scale might not necessarily move as quickly. Just keep going for the sake of who you want to become.
Just remember, Keep Calm And Keto On!
One of the first things I did, when switching to keto is finding replacements for my favourite junk foods. Pizza, chips, pastries, cookies, fast foods. The problem I have with low carb replacements is I would still overeat and not hit my macros.
I had to go back, change my lifestyle, and stick to veggies, meats, and healthy fats. Once I thought of it as a lifestyle change and not a diet, it became much easier for me.
To make it really easy, think of this:
- Eat a palm sized piece of protein with every meal
- Use vegetables as fat delivery systems. (Think butter with broccoli)
- Limit carbs
However, if you must cheat, don’t think that you’ve ruined everything. Just make sure that you can get back on track easily without any grief. Meal plans and meal preparation are key processes that make your life easier as you begin a ketogenic lifestyle.
Once you have been in Ketosis for a while (few months), you can actually enter Ketosis again very easily without too much time, generally back into Ketosis within 2 days.
However, if you are just starting out, make sure you stick with it for a while to see the real benefits before falling off the bandwagon. The results will speak for themselves!
Just one won’t hurt right?
Let’s admit it, most people have cheat days on their diet. You are not going to die if you eat a donut. For me, it becomes a slippery slope, where a cheat day becomes a cheat week.
Practice self-control. The trick that learned is to not trust my first instinct. If you are in the cafeteria, and you tell yourself that you want a donut, just say you first instinct is incorrect when it comes to food.
Some people have pictures on their phone to remind them where they were in the journey a couple of months ago to help them not cheat.
How To Think About Butter
Now this is not for everyone, but think of butter as one of your friends from High School. His name is Dan. He laughed at your jokes, helped you complete your maths assignments and was a friend when you needed him most. Then, like most high school boys, you were not interested. Somehow, along comes Paul who was loud, fun, and most of all…. attractive.
Dan was mildly interested in girls throughout high school, but he could never work out why he stayed in the friend zone? He was good at long distance running, but maybe he lacked the thrill that boys like Paul could offer…
Years later after you’ve partied 15 years off your lifespan, you realise that Paul was actually a shallow a**-hole. He didn’t care about moving his career forward, sitting on the couch drinking beers because life had suddenly shifted. You were not ready to settle down and buy a house with this sugar loving junkie.
Remember Dan? Yeah, he’s got a slow and steady online business selling green grass to a niche market of people who live in apartments because their cat is afraid of kitty litter. He finally travelled the world whilst making money online and actually has something to talk about at social gatherings. You are thinking back over the years of crazy nights of binge drinking and steady soft drink consumption. What where you doing??
Dan finds you on social media wants to catch up over coffee. You are sceptical at first.. You are thinking, what happens if I leave Paul? Will all the sugary fun be over?
Think of Dan as Butter, and think of Paul as Carbohydrates/Sugar.
Dan Vs. Paul (Fat Vs. Carbs)
- Dan steadily put one foot forward in front of the other
- Butter is a slow but consistent source of energy and nutrients.
- Paul burnt out like a bail of straw in front of a bush fire
- Carbs burn bright, then crash.
- Dan is Fit and Healthy
- Butter contains CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). It is popular as a fat loss supplement, and studies show it can have powerful effects on health
- Paul has Type 2 Diabetes
- Consistently getting energy from carbohydrates and sugars decreases insulin sensitivity in the body, resulting in Diabetic trajectories.
The belief is that by consuming saturated fats like butter, the dietary fats instantly convert into cholesterol which is is thought to be one of the major causes of a build up of cholesterol plaque in the arteries.
This is not true as you might already know, however, it does depend on the type of butter, and the amount of these nutrients vary greatly depending on what the cows ate.
Butter from Grass-Fed Cows is a Major Source of Heart-Healthy Nutrients. As it turns out, fatty acid CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is popular as a fat loss supplement, and studies show it can have powerful effects on health.
Grass-fed butter contains 5X more CLA than butter from grain-fed cows.
Butter from grass-fed cows is also much higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K2, compared to butter from grain-fed cows. As you can see, butter from grass-fed cows is a much healthier and more nutritious choice.
Here are the 3 different types i recommend:
- Aldi Just Organic Butter (about $3 AUD)
- Westgold Butter ($2 AUD)
- Kerrygold ($5 AUD)
Build muscle on a Keto Diet – How I doubled my squat and gained 4kgs in 4 Weeks
Gaining weight on a (mostly) ketogenic diet is often called “Keto Gains”. The term “Build muscle on a Keto diet” is a slightly controversial subject in the physics world. A common assumption is that you cannot gain weight whilst also losing fat at the same time. The rules of thermo dynamics say that calories in equal calories out right? WRONG.
Having fat on your body just means that there is an excess fat accumulation. It has nothing to do with an energy imbalance, or overeating, or sedentary behaviour. If you don’t believe me, watch the video below:
A Little About Me
My name is Aaron. I’m FatForWeightLoss! I’m 6 foot 5 inches (196cm tall) and weigh 85kgs (187.5 lbs). 4 weeks ago I weighed 81kgs (178 lbs), which has been my normal weight for my entire life. 85kgs is the heaviest I’ve ever been!
I’m a semi-serious cyclists and half marathon runner, but I’ve never been a member of a gym. I have done squats previously, but i’ve only ever used my 20KG kettle bells.
My previous squat attempts where done with 2 X 20kg kettle bells (40kgs in total). To tell you the truth, using the kettle bells, my legs would hurt for 3 days afterwards.
Over the past 4 weeks, I set myself a challenge. I wanted to put on 1kg every week, whilst going mostly ketogenic, and eventually achieving a 100kg squat (220 lbs).
To effectively increase my weight, I chose a Ketogenic alternative called the “Targeted Ketogenic Diet”. The basics of this diet consists of eating a very low carb, high fat diet. The only difference was I consumed 25g Dextrose and 3g Creatine before a workout. Why dextrose?
Dextrose is a type of carbohydrate that is much more bioavailable to your muscles. I wanted my muscles to burn the carbohydrates before they could be stored in my liver as glycogen, which would have negatively effected my nutritional ketosis.
Getting into Ketosis relies on effectively limiting carbohydrates and increasing fat, which eventually empties out the majority of the glycogen stores in your liver. This enables your body to burn Ketones for energy. The last thing you want to do whilst trying to achieve ketosis is load up on fructose (fruit sugar), which tops up your liver glycogen and kicks you out of ketosis.
Post workout I consumed 40g Venom WPC Protein Powder with Water. I was aiming for 1.2g per KG of bodyweight. Maintaining protein intake was the hardest part, as my regular diet doesn’t contain that much protein. Too much protein can also kick you out of ketosis.
To make sure I gained 1kg each week, I setup MyFitnessPal accordingly and ate the meals indicated in this Muscle Building Meal Plan. Over consuming calories is relatively hard whilst eating fat, because your body never feels hungry enough to eat the quantity of fat required to replenish the energy in your muscles in order to gain size.
Eating a low carb high fat diet is important for me as i can regularly suffer join inflammation and lower back problems. Reducing my carbohydrates limited the amount of oxidative damage caused by sugar burning, whilst the high fat intake helped to burn clean energy whilst also protecting my joints.
How I Doubled My Squat
I realised that to increase this squat weight, I had to join a gym. Buying the weights necessary would have cost a fortune. I joined Anytime Fitness Keperra and was given my first 4 weeks for free!
To build muscle on a keto diet, I used an app called Stronglifts 5X5. I chose this app because simplicity was important, and strength was the main goal. Stronglifts focuses on doing 2 different workouts (A and B), alternating them each time. The weight is lifted 5 times, for 5 Sets with 1 min 30 seconds of rest in between.
Stronglifts focuses on compound exercises, which target multiple muscles at the same time. The 5 types of exercises I did to increase my overall strength were:
- Squats (Main Goal)
- Bench Press
- Bent Barbell Row
- Overhead Press
(Squats are done every workout).
My goal was to attend the gym 3 times per week. I successfully completed this for the entire 4 weeks. My first attempt at squatting with weights was 50kgs. This felt heavy (compared to my usual 40kgs) and left me feeling unbelievably sore for the next 3 days. My aim was to increase the weights on the squat rack by 5kgs at a time wherever possible. Shown Below:
Squat Increase Over 4 Weeks
I bought a velcro weight belt when I reached 90kgs in squat weight to “future proof” my lower back from injury. I found that this really helped, and began to increase the weights much more confidently once I realised the weight belt would help so much.
Lets take a look at some of the results.
Week 1 – 81 KGS (Weak and cardio fat – 178.5lbs)
From years of mainly doing cardio (cycling and running) I had become weak. Definitely looking forward to putting on more muscle.
Week 2 – 82.3 KGS (visible water loss 181.4 lbs)
Over the first week, I had not incorporated enough salt into my diet. I had lost a visible amount of water from my body weight.
Week 3 – 83.7 KGS (Posture improvement 184.5 lbs)
In this photo, I can see that my posture is beginning to improve as my hip stability and strength began to increase.
Week 4 – 85 KGS (Shoulders and arms visibly bigger 187.3 lbs)
This week visibly not much has changed except for my shoulder / arms area.
As I was relatively new to the gym, I’m not sure that a gym junkie could also improved their squat 2X. I’m confident that it will be able to increase more steadily and confidently, as consuming a higher fat diet helped protect my joints and muscles from overuse and excessive weight increase related injuries.
In hindsight, I should have taken measurements around my biceps, thighs and belly to compare the difference. Visibly the photos don’t look like much has changed. I did notice that as my squats got heavier, my waist line began to shrink significantly. This was due to the size of my pants around my waist. 4KGS of extra weight added to my bodyweight definitely feels different and heavier.
I still have a lot of work to do, but this was a good start to build muscle on a keto diet. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions? Comment on this post!