Personal Trainer’s Take: The Keto Diet

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Whats up Guys! Billy here, today I’m going to kick off a new series for you. I have been a long believer that a balanced diet is always the best way to go for the average person to sustain throughout their lives. Over the years I’ve have had a lot of friends and clients ask me about certain diets such as paleo, vegan, and keto. I could only provide so much information to them because I had never actually tried the diets so I couldn’t give them personal experience. So over this next year I’m going to change that. I’m going to be trying out different diets and exercise styles over the course of two months at a time. So for one month I’ll be trying to gain weight on a diet or workout style and the second month I’ll be trying to lose weight. Throughout the two months I’ll be on my own Realistically Fit hypertrophy program working out 6 times a week. Going into this I understand that two months is not a long time. So I will take that into consideration when giving my review. Everyone is different, there may be the perfect diet for you out there. The only way to find out is to try each one. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your body, find what works and most importantly find what’s maintainable. As a trainer I need to give my clients and audience the best advice possible. This means I need to try things out for myself.

About Keto:

The first diet I’m starting with is the Keto diet. You guys may or may not know the basics of it so I’ll quickly break it down for you. By limiting your carbs below 30g a day (people will vary), your body will be depleted of its source of glucose and switch over to breaking down fat to ketones as its source of energy. I will focus mainly on its benefits to the average person: such as weight loss, energy levels, hunger control, and sustainability. I will try to touch on health benefits to other populations that kept may be more beneficial to, but this is not my main focus.

How I’m Implementing It:

So for the keto diet I will shoot for 75% of my calories coming from fat, 20% coming from protein and 5% coming from carbs. I am currently sitting at 9.5% body fat and have my maintenance calories set at 2,800. So in order to gain weight I’m going to shoot for 3,200. I will tell you right now that I actually started this diet on Monday because I wanted to avoid the possible hump that is the keto flu. People often claim that when making the transition from using glucose to ketones they feel sick and lethargic. Thankfully I have not experienced any of this yet and am ready to start my bulk. I would also like to point out that this diet is incredibly filling so far and even eating 2,800 calories has been hard. So I’m going to try my best to eat 3,200 a day but we will see how that goes. At the same time I will be using my own Realistically Fit Hypertrophy program I’ve been working on. Working out six days a week performing a push day (chest, triceps, Shoulders), a pull day (back, traps, biceps), and a legs + core day (self explanatory). My goal is to try and gain strength through each diet by adding weight or reps each workout.

 

Possible Concerns:

So one of the possible concerns I’ve come across is my social life. I feel like restricting my carb intake will eliminate a lot of social activities I would normally do with friends and family. Things such as eating a whole bucket of popcorn at the movies, or going out for late night ice cream, or even going out to the bars to celebrate with friends.

Another area of concern is having enough energy for my workouts. I know that glycogen is the first fuel source my muscles use in the gym and have heard of lifters experiencing similar problems. Glycogen is an immediate fuel source your muscles use when lifting since it’s stored in the actual muscle. Ketones are in the blood supply and need to be shuttled to the muscles, this takes some time. I have seen plenty of elite athletes use this diet with success, but I am not aware of any world champion who credited their success to it. 

The last concern of mine is that I will begin to stress myself out by restricting myself of certain foods. Growing up I have never been a fan of hard and fast rules so this will be a change for me. Who knows though, this may be a positive in my life and teach me discipline. This will determine if the diet is sustainable for me.

 

Possible Benefits:

An area where I think I will benefit from is sustained energy levels throughout the day. Because I am taking away high glycemic carbs I don’t think I will experience such drastic spikes and crashes in my insulin and will instead have a steady stream of energy throughout the day.

I believe mental clarity comes along with the sustained energy levels. This one seems anecdotal so It may vary from person to person.

Another area I think I will benefit is having a better relationship with food. Fat tends to be a lot more satiating than carbs and will hopefully reduce my cravings for foods like ice cream or sodas. I think by disciplining myself I will learn to eat when I am hungry, and not when I am bored.

 

These are my main areas of focus for this diet. I know there are other reasons why people choose to do keto which I will touch on next. For the average person, though, these will be the biggest concern.

 

Things I’m looking into:

The Keto diet has been researched in the short term for things like diabetes, epilepsy, inflammation, and cancer. Here are some areas I plan on looking more into:

-Longevity-

When it comes to diets the main thing to look at is all cause mortality. I have known keto (like most diets) makes you healthy in the short run but I have not found a lot of studies on keto in the long run, just anecdotal stories. One study I found from the US National Library of Medicine looked at Obese patients on a keto diet for 24 weeks. This is not incredibly long but is a good start. I will link the study but in short they all saw a reduction in weight, lower triglyceride levels, lower LDL, higher HDL, Lower Cholesterol. There were no negatives found during this study. You can find that study here. Six months is not very long in terms of an entire life, but this is just a starting point for me. Any kind of diet that helps you reduce weight will likely bare these same results.

-Diabetes-

On a low carb and low protein diet you control the spike of your insulin levels. People can be type 1 diabetic (Pancreas produces little to no insulin) or type 2 (Body becomes resistant to insulin). In both cases the concern is the uncontrolled amount of sugar in the blood that can damage the vessels that deliver blood to vital organs. So logically this makes sense to me, limit the foods that spike insulin and the amount of sugar in the blood should be controlled. What I found is a study which looked at 84 obese and type II diabetic individuals. They were divided and put on a low carb keto diet, and a low glycemic, low calorie diet. Both groups consumed the same amount of calories and performed the same exercise routine. They looked at glycemic control by measuring hemoglobin A1c levels. They found that both groups saw benefits but the low carb keto group saw greater benefits in hemoglobin levels. Diabetes medication was reduced or eliminated in 95.2% of the keno group vs. 62% in the low calorie group.

-Epilepsy-

While the mechanisms to why this is beneficial to children with epilepsy are not well known, it is still considered a dietary option. It has become less used as more medication has come out but is still a healthy choice. As someone who prefers an approach to diet first before medication I hope to learn more about the mechanism of its effectiveness. One study I found performed a meta-analysis on 19 observational studies with over 1,000 participants. They found a reduction in seizure greater than 50% for those that stayed on the diet.

-Inflammation-

A low carbohydrate diet has been shown to reduce inflammation in rats but the mechanisms are still not completely understood. To learn more on this and if it can benefit you check out this!

-Cancer-

The rational here is that a fat-rich, low carb diet essentially starve cancer cells. Most cancer cells use glycolysis instead of breaking down fat for energy. Some cancers lack the ability to metabolize ketone bodies. So by reducing the amount of glucose in the body you could potentially starve cancer cells. More studies need to be done on this but for more information check out this article! 

 

I have a lot more research ahead of me, but I just wanted to lay out what my intentions are. One thing I have noticed quickly is there is a cult following with most diets on the internet and finding unbiased sources can be difficult. So if you feel I have misrepresented any information or left anything out feel free to comment below and let me know. I will try to update you all as I go on what I am eating, having trouble with, and what I am enjoying most.

 

-Billy

 

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