For anyone with 12+ Weeks to diet the answer to fat loss would be to eat a healthy 40-40-20 macro ratio diet at about a 1000 calorie deficiency in order to lose about 2 lbs per week. But you do not have 12 weeks to shed that last layer of body fat that is stopping you from revealing those abdominals that you have worked so hard for in the gym day after day.
The answer to your fat loss prayers may come in the form of the CKD or Cyclical Ketogenic Diet! Now despite this diet has extended periods of “Low Carb” with short periodic refeeds scheduled in, it in no way is trying to give the perception that carbs are bad. Let’s face it, all essentially fitness models and competitors use carb manipulation in their nutrition program at least a few times in their photo-shoot or show prep, and your day at the beach in the sun is your show day right?
Why Ketogenic Diets?
The logic behind CKD or Cyclical Ketogenic Diet is actually quite simple. Since carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of fuel, limiting the intake of carbs will force your body to use other stored energy for fuel to run bodily functions. This energy will seriously come from your stores of body fat! There is one small bump in the road to the perfect fat loss diet though. The human brain can not run off of fat, it needs carbohydrates in the form of glycogen or some other suitable substitute in order to function properly and at full capacity. This substitute will come in the form of Ketones. Ketones are the byproduct of fat being mobilized and burned for fuel by the body. These Ketones can also be used to run some important bodily needs such as brain function. One other perk of using ketones for energy is that instead of excess ketones being stored as body fat like carbohydrates, Excess ketones are excreted through Urine. “Ketostix” are actually one of the best all-around ways to check if your body is in ketosis.
Ketogenic Diets also control insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas that is used to carry carbohydrates in the form of sugar through to blood stream to the muscles and liver to be stored as glycogen. When these stores are full this hormone also aids in the storage of excess carbohydrates as body fat. Knowing this it is not difficult to understand why controlling your insulin levels through low carbohydrates intake keeps your body in fat burning mode due to the fact that there are no carbs entering the system which keeps insulin production to a minimum.
Some of the benefits of a Ketogenic Diet Include:
– Increased in the body’s ability to mobilize fat as fuel
– Decreased hunger due fat having a satiating effect
Disadvantages of Ketogenic Diets
Now there are some definite drawbacks to a low carb diet which many skeptics will bring up and truth be told they may be deal breakers for some although most of these side effects will all but disappear after the first couple weeks of the diet.
Some of these side effects are:
– Brain fog during the transition period from carb metabolism to fat metabolism Also known as the “Metabolic Shift”. This is when your brain is learning to use ketones as fuel.
– Poor gym performance since your body can not store or use ketones in the same was as glycogen essentially depleting your body’s stores of “Quick Energy”.
– Fatigue and dizziness.
– Constipation due to a lower fiber intake despite the majority of these diets make green vegetables an “Unlimited” food choice.
– There are also studies on both sides arguing the fact that cholesterol levels will be heightened while on this diet.
I have felt the effects of each and every one of these symptoms and as described previously, Most if not all of these symptoms will subside. The biggest problem and deal breaker for many serious strength trainers and athletes is the poor gym performance. Your weights in the gym WILL drop while on this diet and you will not be able to sustain the same intensity as when you were taking in higher amounts of carbohydrates. Although I would never recommend this diet to an athlete or anyone in any kind of competitive sport it does have place among the purely Fitness and atheistic athletes where performance is judged on how good your body composition is.
Even though fitness competitors are not measured on strength it does not mean that a diet can ruin and deteriorate muscle tissue that has taken years of hard work and sweat to gain. This is where the “Carb Up” day comes into play. Once or twice a week there is a scheduled day that you can ingest carbohydrates in order to replenish your muscle glycogen allowing you to train harder in the following couple days as well as give your mind and will power a rest from the strictness that comes along with this diet.
Now that we have discussed the pros and cons of a ketogenic diet and how we can turn it into a cyclical ketogenic diet, I would like to dive into how you can follow a keto lifestyle and get your fat burning metabolism into high gear.
There are many variations and strategies to get your body into ketosis but they all have a generally common set of guidelines:
– Intake as few carbs as possible (Between 0-50 Net Carbs)
– Follow a 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbohydrate macro ratio
– Eat your fiber! “Net carbs” is made up of total Carbs – Fiber. Fiber is crucial to keeping your plumbing in order!
– Schedule a carb up day on the weekend. I like to use this day to eat my cheat meal as well.
As with all diets this may not be for everyone. Some people simply can not push through the initial 2 weeks of hell while others do not enjoy the types of foods that are entailed with the diet such as eggs, meat, and nuts. BUT! If you can tolerate the metabolic shift and the somewhat missing food choices this diet may be the best way to loose fat fast. Although many have successfully followed this diet and extended periods of time and had great results, I would not recommend sustaining this style of eating for any longer than needed to reach your body fat goal.