What NOT to do . . .
There are several traps and misconceptions that people fall into when exercising low-carb, high-fat.
Please remember, if you’re a beginner to keto, your body is still stuck on burning carbohydrates as its main source of energy. When you carb load every week, you slow down progress.
Tip: Give your body the time it needs to adjust to using ketones efficiently. It can take up to a week or more before your body gets used to burning fat as energy.
This is what happens when you eat carbs over the weekend and when your body is not yet used to burning fat for fuel. On average, it’ll take two to three days to get back into ketosis after you stop eating the weekend carbs!
Once Saturday comes around and you take that opportunity to carb it up, you’re no longer in ketosis. Then, your body has to reset the cycle, deplete the carbs from the liver and start generating ketones again.
Using this cycle means you’ll only be in a state of ketosis for one to two days out of the week. This is called the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet. (CKD)
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet
Someone who is new to keto should be on the low-carb, high-fat diet for at least a month.
After a month, most people can even get by with some carb backloading every 15 days to once a month rather than every week. It’s also common for people to take the wrong approach when following CKD. One of the main reasons why people adopt CKD is because they assume they can eat whatever they want — from pizza to Twinkies— without worrying about ruining their diet.
WRONG! This is a common misconception.
A proper carb load for bodybuilding requires very low fat consumption and high carb intake for one to two days of the week.
Now, it’s not the tastiest diet and requires a lot more discipline having to eat meals like chicken breast and rice - a lot. Know that junk food like pizza is high in fat and carbohydrates.
CKD isn’t a free pass to eating whatever you want! Instead, you should start out on the standard ketogenic diet.
Ketosis has muscle sparing benefits, but only if you’re keto-adapted. When you’re first starting out, you may lose a small amount of lean mass. This is because your body wants glucose since it doesn’t know how to use ketones for fuel yet, so it takes some glucose from amino acids via your muscles.
When you start out with a CKD, you’ll constantly take small amounts of amino acids from your muscles and you’ll teeter in and out of ketosis so you never fully become keto-adapted. Bottom line: Avoid CKD, carb backloading, and junk food — at least for the first month or so of keto.
Constant Cheat Days
Having a cheat meal every once in a while is perfectly acceptable. Most of us like to use cheat days to take a break and binge on junk food so you can come back into the diet all rejuvenated.
But many people make the mistake of overindulging on unhealthy food when they have a cheat day. Just because you had a piece of chocolate cake does not mean you should eat the whole cake.
Instead, allow yourself to have a cheat meal here and there depending on how far you are from your goals.
For example, if you have 100lbs to lose, the more cheat meals you have, the longer it’ll take to reach your weight loss goal. Conversely, if you are already close to your desired weight and you’re on the ketogenic diet to feel good and maintain stable energy, you can get by with more frequent cheat meals.
There’s a common misconception that training in a fasted state will help you burn more fat. This is a misunderstanding and can be counterproductive toward your fat loss goals. Your body needs energy and doesn’t burn fat exclusively.
When you train fasted, you may lose fat but you may also burning lean body muscle mass. If you’re doing crazy intense workouts, beef protein along with MCT Oil Powder will provide more energy for a better workout to help burn fat without losing any muscle.
Focus On Ketones
Just because you’re producing ketones doesn’t mean you’re losing weight. Overeating will hurt your training efforts and physical goals like fat loss and muscle gain.
Instead of focusing on ketone production, prioritize lean tissue growth. Invest in building lean mass with adequate protein and fat, but keep your eyes on your caloric intake and your overall body composition, not just the level of ketones in your blood.
The goal is to lose body fat and improve body composition as a whole, not just body weight overall.
Making Ketones is Not Always the Same as Using Ketones
People often confuse having high ketone levels with being in a fat burning mode. This isn’t always true, especially as a beginner.
Some factors that contribute to ketone production include:
Dietary fat intake
Amount of body fat you have
Frequency of exercise
Having higher ketone levels doesn’t mean you’re losing fat
Ketones are a source of energy and when you first start, it’s normal to have higher ketone levels. This is because your body isn’t fully adapted to using ketones for energy yet so ketones stay circulating in your blood or get excreted rather than used as fuel.
If you’re consuming enough nutrient-dense calories and you already have low body fat, your ketone production is going to be on the lower end. There is no build-up of ketones because your body is actually using it as its main source of energy. The longer you stay on the ketogenic diet, the more effective your body becomes in using ketones as energy. It’s common for more experienced keto dieters to see lower levels of ketones through the use of ketone strips.
This shouldn’t discourage you whatsoever because your body is using ketones for energy more efficiently. It’s normal to be in the .6 – .8 mmol range of ketones once you are fully keto-adapted and lifting regularly.
Note: If your goal is to lose weight and you still have a high body fat percentage, you should focus more on staying low-carb rather than eating large amounts of fat. This shift allows your body to use its own fat storage for energy, which leads to increased fat loss.
Bodybuilding on the Ketogenic Diet Will Help You Build Muscle While Minimizing Fat Gain
The majority of the bodybuilding industry praises the low-fat, high-carbohydrate protocol for gaining muscle. Mostly because that’s been the status quo for so long. But more recent science supports the idea that you don’t need carbohydrates to build muscle.\
Following the strategies above will ensure that you minimize the time it takes for your body to become keto-adapted. Bodybuilding on the ketogenic diet will allow you to build muscle while keeping fat to a minimum.
As long as you are carefully monitoring your electrolyte levels, measuring your body composition (instead of ketones) and eating adequate amounts of protein, you will begin to see vast improvements in your overall physique.
Remember, wellness is simply a balance of what you eat, drink and do.