Using the Keto Diet Effectively for Health & Performance
Hey guys, Keto King here.
I wrote an article on this topic many moons ago, but as with most things in life you kind of look back and say, “I can do better.” So to follow my first guide to the ketogenic diet, and in response to “How do I use the Keto Diet for health and performance?” being one of the questions I most frequently get asked, so I thought I would rewrite a page from that chapter.
Okay, before I get into the how-to section, I am going to give you my personal opinion. I guess we are all entitled to our own opinion, and this is mine.
So let’s just start here on the most controversial questions.
The answer is YES, you can eat carbs; and NO, not all carbs are bad for you.
So how can I use carbs to add to my performance?
As I go on all will be explained – I certainly don’t want you all think I am waving the ‘high-carb banner’ now, because that I won’t do, I can assure you.
I find it hard to take when people are extreme with anything in life, and being so extreme with keto only makes my life so much harder. How do you think you are helping more people? By scaring them to death with the idea that if you ever eat a carb again you will die?!
Thanks for making my job so much harder.
If you are eating 90 per cent of your weekly meals in a ketogenic way do you think 10 per cent of your weekly macros coming from carbs is going to kill you?
The typical American diet consist of up to 70 per cent of carbs per day and sometimes even more, so tell me: How much better off do you think you will be reducing that to 10 per cent?
Eating some types of carbs as little as half a day a week can be the difference in making this diet palatable for life. And you may feel all the much better for it!
Diets such as the Paleo Diet, Low Carb High Fat (LCHF), Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD), or the Cycling Ketogenic Diet (CKD), have slightly higher carbohydrates incorporated into them. And you can still feel great – or for me even better. So, you don’t have to live in a ketogenic state for the rest of your life; or be scared to death that eating a little sweet potato would mean doomsday for you.
This sends the wrong message and will only deter more people from becoming low carb eaters. Be sensible, use common sense, and let’s get more people eating a whole lot better than the typical Western Diet.
I am here to tell you that good functional low carb/high fat diet works, and you can come in and out of ketosis. In fact I prefer it. I love switching between the two systems. And why do you think we were born with two types of fuel systems so you could only ever use one?
Come on, it just doesn’t make any sense to use only one or the other! So knocking yourself out of ketosis is no big deal.
I carb reload once a week and feel much better for it. And even my doctor says that my blood work is perfect. I feel even better than before – when I did solid standard keto for two years and didn’t do the weekly reload. And hey, I now get to enjoy a nice bowl of pasta on one of these days, so it’s a no brainer 🙂
“So what are we, and what do we have if we lose our sense of humanity, and can’t enjoy the finer things in life from time to time. I am afraid to tell you, you have become a robot.”
PLEASE TAKE NOTE: If you have any medical reason that doesn’t allow you to eat small amounts of carbohydrates, or if you have any major intolerances to carbs and you feel you will pay the price for doing the carb reload, then all of the above statements do not apply for you and you should stick to a standard nutritional style of ketosis, without the carbohydrate reloads. You should also probably avoid the reload if you have any medical symptoms or conditions including diabetes, celiac, autism, and cancer just to name a few. However, if you are like me and have no medical problems that prevent you from ingesting any carbs, then the carb reload day once a week may just be the piece of sanity you been searching for to keep you low-carb long-term – for the rest of your life.
So now let’s get into it!
I will start with the 3 ways you can use the Ketogenic Diet. It is up to you to decide which one suits your goals and needs.
The three options are:
- Standard Ketogenic diet (SKD)
- Targeted Ketogenic diet (TKD)
- Cyclical Ketogenic diet (CKD)
Starting off with SKD, I suggest this type of Ketosis Diet to be used on a more medical basis.
The Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)
Usually used for medical reasons, and provides rapid stable fat loss as well as the retention of lean muscle mass.
The term keto has become a widely used term describing a diet that is high in fats, with moderate protein intake, and very low carbohydrates, with the intention of activating the process of ketosis in the body.
The term ketosis describes the utilisation of dietary fats as an energy source for the body, as opposed to using carbohydrates (glucose, and sugar for example) for fuel.
When we follow a Keto Diet, we place ourselves into a state of ketosis and our liver starts to convert our food into ketones. We then start to source our energy from ketones.
So why is this preferable?
Burning ketones rather than carbs and sugars ensures that we don’t spike our blood sugar levels or disturb our insulin levels, which can cause rapid weight gain.
SKD is a high fat, low carb, and medium protein, diet. However, we also need to ensure we are consuming healthy dietary fats, such as: butter, cheese, olive oil, avocado, and fatty cuts of meat. Things like mayonnaise and aioli are also great. The most common Ratios are as follows: Fats: 65% Protein 30% Carbs 5% , per meal. These are just the most common ratios and should only be used as a guide. They can be different according to your goals. With experience you can start to play around with these ratios.
• Fats are 9 cal/gram
• Proteins are 4 cal/gram
• Carbohydrates are 4 cal/gram.
Also remember that fats are harder to digest so you should be using good digestive enzymes with a good dose of: Protease S, Protease SP, Lactase, and my favourite and absolutely essential – Lipase. You can find them in a good local pharmacy, or online. Personally I use the keto-specific enzymes and greens blend which I sourced from Ketosis Tools team. Feel free to have a look at their offering here at Keto Enzymes by Ketosis Tools.
With regard to all of your questions about calculating macros, yes, they can be done manually, but for those just starting out or wanting to get an idea of their macros here is a link for a Keto Calculator that will make things a little easier.
Who should be using or can benefit from the Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)?
• Bodybuilders (competition prep. time only)
• Obese/ morbidly obese/overweight people
• Endurance athletes/marathon runners/long distance cyclists
The ketogenic diet is also having very positive effects in the medical world with patients suffering from diseases such including:
• Celiac disease
• Diabetes type 2
• Parkinson’s Disease
• Cancer (cancer cells need glucose to thrive)
NOTE: Please consult your doctor before undergoing any diet change.
Let’s talk a bit more about Ketones.
Ketones are a slower burning energy source so the standard Keto Diet should be, and is very commonly being, utilised for long distance events. In endurance sports such as long distance cycling and running, carbohydrate burners are known to ‘hit the wall’ or ‘bonk.’ This describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy.
Milder instances can be remedied with brief rest and the ingestion of food or drinks containing carbohydrates. Being keto adapted will ensure this will not happen, and that there will be plenty of energy in the tanks to finish the race.
SKD is not known for muscle gain, but rather for its ability to rapidly lose fat. Yes, SKD does maintain muscle well, but it does not rapidly build muscle. So if it’s rapid fat loss you’re looking for – the SKD diet is what I believe to be the best fat loss diet in the world.
This diet does not typically do a carbohydrate reload day (re-feed). A re-feed is where one of your meals is, by majority, full of carbohydrates.
I believe there are many benefits to carb re-feeding. Cutting out any food group completely, or for long periods of time, is never a good idea. I strongly believe in having at least one re-feed meal every 14 days. This will ensure no hormones or systems in your body will shut down or ‘get lazy.’ And one carbohydrate meal every 14 days is hardly what I would call carb cycling – I would barely refer to it as Cyclical Ketogenic Diet.
When deprived of any food group for a long-period of time Thyroid hormones, in particular (T3/T4), have been said to slow down and this can, in extreme cases, lead to hypothyroid. Hypothyroid slows down your metabolism, making it harder to lose weight. This may be a reason your results have been hitting a plateau. Now I’m not saying binge on carbs, or go to the extent of CKD which we will cover shortly –I am simply pointing out the benefits of a system reset to ensure regularity of your body’s systems.
Next up we have the Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)
The Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)
Usually targeted towards athletes, such as running sprinters and sprints cyclists, and more aesthetic bodybuilders
This diet is for those athletes who still need to utilise some fast burning, carbohydrate-based energy before a race – carbohydrates being a fast burning explosive fuel.
It is also used by some bodybuilders who just can’t handle long periods without carbohydrates.
TKD provides a foundation for maintaining exercise performance, and allows for glycogen re-synthesis without interrupting ketosis for long periods of time. TKD is known to also put on some adequate lean body mass (LBM).
TKD is great because it still allows athletes to live the high-fat/low-carbohydrate (HFLC, or LCHF) healthy lifestyle.
The carbohydrates in TKD are targeted for a purpose, and if executed correctly they should be all used up by the end of a TKD athlete’s race or energy-consuming activity. This is what we call ‘macro timing’.
Macro timing refers to introducing your macros, in this case carbohydrates, at a specific time. With TKD the carbohydrates are usually introduced 30 minutes prior to an event or exercise; however, for the bodybuilders they more often introduced both intra- and post (immediately).
TKD bodybuilders consume the majority of their daily carbohydrates following their training, in order to get the blood insulin levels up quickly while the metabolic pathway is supporting anabolism. The first 30 minutes post workout window is said to be the most beneficial for this.
Consuming fast acting liquid carbohydrates mixed with protein, branched chained amino acids (BCAA) at an appropriate time, creates an optimal anabolic environment. Simply eating protein does not guarantee that the amino acids will be used to repair muscle tissue.
Now that insulin levels are soaring we must add in protein to the concoction. By adding BCAA to the drink we are supplying protein to the muscles by taking advantage of the insulin surge.
It is also important not to use up too many carbohydrates or they will slip back into ketosis very quickly.
This is a method I use often and, if done right, it works wonders.
The most important thing is to get the amount of carbohydrates right to ensure you don’t have too much. Too many carbohydrates would have you in a surplus of carbohydrates and could lead to the spilling over of unburned fuel, and into fat cells.
You also shouldn’t consume too much fat right after exercise. I suggest waiting at least two hours before your next keto meal following exercise. It’s a macro timing thing – we don’t want to use fats and carbohydrates too close to each other.
My personal stack and timing whilst on TKD –
This works well for me. Dextrose is burnt immediately as it is already in glucose form and does not need to covert; and Maltodextrin is also quite fast acting (it burns a little slower, but a little longer).
The shorter chain length a carbohydrate has, the higher it raises the solution’s osmolality (concentration). A pure glucose (Dextrose) solution induces very high concentrations of solute. A combination of Dextrose and Maltodextrin results in a solution with a decreased osmolality so glucose will enter the blood as a faster rate.
However, using only Maltodextrin for this purpose isn’t optimal. A solution containing two substrates, in this case Maltodextrin and Dextrose, stimulates the activation of more transport mechanisms in the intestinal lumen – as opposed to just Maltodextrin or Dextrose alone.
This way more carbohydrates are transported out of the small intestine and absorbed into the blood, thereby leading to faster and greater circulation of carbohydrates.
This is my reasoning and, again everyone is different. TKD needs some fine tuning for every individual.
Okay, for the people asking how much they should be consuming post-workout, intra-workout, or split between the two, here is a rough guide for a post-workout carb drink: About 0.5 grams of carbohydrates for every kilogram of body weight – immediately following their training session.
So if you don’t feel like getting down like a bio-chemist and mixing your formulas up, there now is an easy way.
There are two BCAAs I use. One type is for SKD and CKD ketosis and another type for CKD.
The SKD and CKD style of BCAA won’t cause insulin spikes, and is sweetened with keto-friendly Stevia; and is flavoured naturally. It is also made in Australia so the quality is extremely high.
The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)
Usually used for the bodybuilder who knows his or hers body, or for the average Joe just wanting to do a carb refeed once a week.
This form of Keto Diet can mean business, and can create a whole lot of muscle.
Unlike the TKD, where the primary goal is to maintain muscle glycogen at a moderate level, the goal of the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) is to completely deplete muscle glycogen stores between carbohydrate loads. Where TKD works well to keep you lean and maintain current muscle levels with slow but good lean gains, CKD turns it up.
So with CKD you can put on some large muscle gains, while remaining lean and keto-adapted.
Now I’m not going to tell you what some forums would make you think CDK is. They would have you believe that all you need to do is carb up once a week and your fine. This may work for the smaller beginner with lower levels of LBM, or for the average person just wanting to do a refeed ever week, this will work. However, for the advanced bodybuilder who wants to really hone in, this is not the case.
This is where you may find yourself throwing away the text books as they just become words on paper in light of your discoveries.
CDK is about the advanced bodybuilder being so in touch with his or her body that they know exactly when the right time for a re-feed is. This will never be the same each week.
You will eventually get a feel for CKD, but you must learn to listen to and monitor your body and its needs.
As I mentioned before, CKD aims to completely deplete your muscle glycogen stores between the carbohydrate loads.
Some CKD routine ideas
For the beginner, building muscle by carb loading one day a week with about 300g to 600g of slow GI burning carbohydrate works well. Long grain basmati rice is a favourite of mine.
The advanced bodybuilder may need to do this twice a week or even more. For example, an advanced bodybuilder may have a carbohydrate load day of approximately 500g of slow burning carbohydrate on Sunday; and then they may have one meal of 200g slow burning carbohydrates on the Tuesday morning, if they are doing legs in the afternoon. They may then have a small 200g meal on Friday if they feel depleted.
You must remember that an advanced bodybuilder has very high levels of LBM, and a very vigorous work out regime leading them to be able to exhaustively burn through the carbohydrates in very small time periods….really next to no time at all!
Okay, for all the people that are already lean, one carb refeed day won’t kill you! And for me, I like to call this day my “junk day”.
Yes I know I have the weight loss gurus saying, “OMG, no way!”
Well I say, “Why not?”
I have already explained if you are not where you want to be, or you have a medical reason, don’t do it. However, if you are like me, a dirty big burger or an ice cream on a glorious Sunday afternoon overlooking the Australian beaches won’t affect you in the slightest – so, why not?
And, yes, I have no problem the next day. I still feel great.
If you are not where you want to be as I explained earlier I still believe you should be doing a cleaner style of reefed day or even one meal at least every 14 days at minimum.
BUT WON’T THAT KNOCK YOU OUT OF KETOSIS?
Who cares if you get knocked out of ketosis!
I actually want to know who coined that silly line.
I am glad to say I hear more and more from leading Doctor’s and low carb experts agreeing on this – finding it beneficial to come in and out of ketosis.
Look it really is this easy: If you carb load once a week, you are still eating in a ketogenic state for six days of the week. So I ask, how much better off are you than simply eating a typical western diet?
Okay, as for me and what I am experimenting with, that is a totally new way of doing ketosis. I am working on honing in on macro timing. I think macro timing and keto-OS is a real game changer. Sorry, you may have to wait a little on this one.
On a side note, I am using one scoop of keto-os upon waking, and half a scoop 30 minutes prior to my workout…and, yes, it’s making a difference. 🙂
In conclusion I guess all I am saying is be opened minded, and at least give it a try. Remember you must have been opened minded once, which is why you went against the grain and found ketosis, right?
We are all different and will work differently on each variation of diet.
My best advice to you is to try all of them out and find out for yourself. Remember you can change diets if you feel like you’re hitting a plateau, or if you have different goals at different moments in time. Personally I change it up regularly.
Hopefully I have cleared up the most common questions you had, and perhaps focused on the most common of them all – “Can I build muscle on Keto…”
The answer to that question my friends, is yes. To sum it all up, there is a form of Keto here that will work for you.