Ketogenic Diets (more specifically Cyclic Ketogenic Diets) are the very best diets for achieving rapid, ultra low bodyfat levels with maximum muscle retention! Now, as with all such general statements you will find circumstantial exceptions. But done right – which they rarely are – the fat loss achievable on a ketogenic weight loss program is nothing short of staggering! And, despite what people might tell you, you will also enjoy incredible high energy and overall feeling of well being.
Despite these promises, more bodybuilders/shapers have gotten negative experiences than have seen great results. The main criticisms are:
Massive decline in gym performance
Severe muscle loss
All of these criticisms result from a failure to heed the caveat above: Ketogenic Diets must be done right! It should be realised they are an entirely unique metabolic modality that adheres to none of the previously accepted ‘rules’ of dieting. And there is not any going half-way; 50 grams of carbs per day plus high protein intake will not be ketogenic!
Just how are ketogenic diets ‘done right’? Lets quickly take a look at how they work.
Summary of Ketosis
Simply, the body, organs, muscles and brain can use either glucose or ketones for fuel. This is the purpose of the liver and pancreas (primarily) to control that fuel supply and they show a strong bias toward adhering to glucose. Glucose is definitely the ‘preferred’ fuel because it is derived in abundance from your diet and readily available readily from liver and muscle stores. Ketones have to be deliberately synthesised from the liver; but the liver can easily synthesise glucose (a procedure known as ‘gluconeogenesis’ that uses amino acids (protein) or any other metabolic intermediaries) too.
We don’t get beta hydroxybutyrate, acetone, or acetoacetate (ketones) from your diet. The liver synthesises them only under duress; being a last measure in conditions of severe glucose deprivation like starvation. For that liver to be convinced that ketones are definitely the order of the day, several conditions must be met:
Blood glucose must fall below 50mg/dl
Low blood glucose must lead to low Insulin and elevated Glucagon
Liver glycogen should be low or ’empty’
A plentiful availability of gluconeogenic substrates must NOT be available
At this point it is essential to mention that it must be not actually an issue to be ‘in’ or ‘out’ of ketosis; we don’t either totally operate on ketones, or otherwise not. It really is a gradual and careful transition in order that the brain is constantly and evenly fuelled… ideally. Ketones Needs to be manufactured in small amounts from blood glucose levels of around 60mg/dl. We consider ourselves in ketosis when you will find greater concentrations of ketones than glucose within the blood.
The reality is that a lot of people – especially weight trainers – have had a regular intake of glucose to get a good couple of decades, at least. The liver is perfectly capable of producing ketones but the highly efficient gluconeogenic pathways can maintain low-normal blood sugar higher than the ketogenic threshold.
Couple this with the reality that so many people are at least partially insulin resistant and also have elevated fasting insulin (upper end of the normal range, anyway). The small amount of blood glucose levels from gluconeogenesis induces sufficient insulin release to blunt glucagon output and the production of ketones.
Sudden glucose deprivation could have the consequence, initially, of lethargy, hunger, weakness etc generally in most people – until ketosis is achieved. And Ketosis will not be reached up until the liver is forced to stop with gluconeogenesis and start producing ketones. As long as dietary protein is sufficient then this liver continues to produce glucose and never ketones. That’s why no carb, high protein diets are certainly not ketogenic.
Whats So Great About Ketosis Anyway?
If the body switches to running primarily on ketones several very cool things happen:
Lipolysis (bodyfat breakdown) is substantially increased
Muscle catabolism (muscle loss) is substantially reduced
Energy levels are maintained in a high and stable state
Subcutaneous fluid (aka ‘water retention’) is eliminated
Basically, once we have been in ketosis your body is utilizing fat (ketones) to fuel everything. Therefore, we aren’t breaking down muscle to offer glucose. That is, muscle is being spared as it has nothing to offer; fat is all our bodies needs (well, to a large extent). For that dieter this implies substantially less muscle loss compared to what is achievable on every other diet. Make sense?
As being a bonus, ketones yield only 7 calories per gram. This really is greater than the equal mass of glucose but substantially less (22%, in reality) than the 9 calorie gram of fat from whence it came. We like metabolic inefficiencies like this. They mean we can eat more however the body doesn’t obtain the calories.
Even cooler is the fact ketones can not be turned back into fatty acids; your body excretes any excess within the urine! Speaking of which, you will see quite a bit of urine; the drop in muscle glycogen, low Insulin and low aldosterone all equate to massive excretion of intra and extracellular fluid. For people which means hard, defined muscularity and quick, visible results.
Regarding energy, our brain actually REALLY likes ketones therefore we tend to feel fantastic in ketosis – clear headed, alert and positive. And because there is never a shortage of fat to provide ketones, energy is high constantly. Usually you even sleep less and wake feeling more refreshed when in ketosis.
Doing it Right
From whats said above you may realise that to get involved with ketosis:
Carbohydrate intake should be nil; Zero!
Protein intake should be low – 25% of calories at a maximum
Fat must take into account 75% of calories
With low insulin (as a result of zero carbs) and calories at, or below maintenance, the dietary fat can not be deposited in adipose tissues. The reduced-ish protein signifies that gluconeogenesis will quickly prove inadequate to keep up blood sugar and, whether the body likes it or otherwise not, there is still all of the damned fat to shed.
And burn it can. Our prime dietary fat is oxidised for cellular energy inside the normal fashion but winds up generating quantities of Acetyl-CoA that exceed the capacity in the TCA cycle. The significant end result is ketogenesis – synthesis of ketones from the excess Acetyl-CoA. In more lay terms: our prime fat intake ”forces” ketosis upon the body. This is the way its ‘done right’.
You now just have to dispose off what you thought was true about fats. Firstly, fat fails to ”make you fat”. Most of the details about the evils of saturated fats, particularly, is really disproportionate or plain wrong anyway; over a ketogenic diet it really is doubly inapplicable. Saturated fats make ketosis fly. And don”t worry; your heart will likely be a lot better than fine and vntjcc insulin sensitivity will NOT be reduced (there is not any insulin around in the first place)!
Once in ketosis it is really not necessary, technically speaking, to keep up absolute zero carbs or low protein. But it is still better in order to reap the greatest rewards. Besides, assuming you are training hard, you are going to still want to stick to a cyclic ketogenic diet where you get to eat all your carbs, fruit and whatever else, every 1-2 weeks, anyway (much more on this in another article).