I’m 10 and half weeks in the KETOGENIC DIET and I have to say I’m quite happy about it.
Going in I was nervous and hesitant to make that commitment because I was worried my gym performance would suffer and all “my gains” would go away.
However, pushing through that trough paid off. My body soon adapted by week 4 and I was feeling stronger than ever. I kept my programming up (I’m using Jonnie Candito’s 6 week strength program), and kept making all kinds of gains. And, just last week, I achieved one of my STRENGTH GOALS: squatting 405lbs raw. I did it, and that was coming off 2 and half days of being sick. All while on the KETO DIET and INTERMITTENT FASTING.
Why have I been successful so far and still feel strong today?
It’s because I’m refusing to use a KETO DIET as an excuse that I can’t train in powerlifting, and for strength overall, like I want to. I heard many say a KETO DIET is basically suicide for strength gains, and if you want to become weaker than go for it. The outside the gym benefits, such as increased and more consistent energy throughout the day, were not that debated, but for the gym, oh yeah.
So, starting this experiment with myself, I wanted to do it right. I did my fair share of research and listened to authorities on the diet, like Dominic D’Agostino, and people like Mark Bell and his “War on Carbs.” I settled on some things to help me, and so I’ll break down the most important points to hit to ensure you are doing the KETOGENIC DIET right.
Let’s take a look at 3 main “TO-DO’s.”
THE 3 ITEM CHECKLIST TO DO KETO RIGHT
1. HIT YOUR MACRO SPLITS
This is by far most important because if you do not hit your macronutrient ratios — fats, carbs, and protein — then there is no point of the ketogenic diet. You will feel extra crappy, and your workouts will suck because your body doesn’t know what fuel to use — carbs or fats? You will break down muscle, and feel as weak as a mouse. We don’t want that so make sure you hit your splits.
What are your ratio splits?
Simple. Check ’em out below.
- Fats: 70% or greater
- Protein: ~20%
- Carbs: <10%
For those that need a visual here is a STANDARD pie chart for KETO.
As you can see, you have to get a lot of fats.
Where do you get them from?
The list below will give you an idea.
- Butter or ghee
- Coconut, avocado, olive, and MCT oils
- Fattier nuts and seeds (including their butters) like walnuts, almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, chia and flax seeds, and brazil nuts
- Fatty fish (preferably cold water and wild caught), like salmon, tuna, halibut, and cod
- Cheeses (preferably hormone/antibiotic free) like cream cheese, feta, cheddar, parmesan, and swiss
- Heavy cream and sour cream (free from added sugars and organic if possible)
- Cottage cheese
- Animal fat on meats
Generally speaking that is where your FATS should come from.
To make sure you are hitting your FAT numbers, I recommend tracking your calories for at least 3 consecutive days, if not a week, to ensure that you are consistently hitting your numbers and begin to understand what it feels like to be on a KETOGENIC DIET.
If this is brand new to you, then it is a MUST to keep track of your calories.
If you read my Keto updates (click here for Part I and Part II) you will know that I kept track of my calories for a month straight. I did it everyday to ensure that I was hitting my numbers; both my total calories overall (for me around 2,800 to 3,000/day) and my ratio splits.
This is vital because how can you make sure that you are in a healthy caloric intake for what your goal is — maintaining weight, losing weight, or even gaining weight. Tracking your food and understanding how many calories you consume is essential.
The last thing you want is to be throwing darts in the dark where you don’t know if you are hitting your splits. There is no sure way to know if your body is heading and will remain in KETOSIS if you don’t measure and track it starting out. The whole point is to put your body in KETOSIS. If you are not hitting your numbers everything else is for not.
YOU MUST HIT YOUR SPLITS TO DO KETO RIGHT SO TRACK IT, and BE FULLY COMMITTED TO THE DIET. YOU’RE EITHER ALL IN OR NOT, SO BE ALL IN.
2. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER AND GET YOUR ELECTROLYTES
Number TWO item to take care of is drinking plenty of water and getting your electrolytes.
THIS IS A MUST FOR THE GYM
Any time you’re on a low carb diet, especially KETO, your body is going to excrete more fluids. When this happens you may become dehydrated, which is not good. As a result, your body will often excrete more essential electrolytes than usual, namely SODIUM, POTASSIUM, AND MAGNESIUM. This is horrible, especially for the GYM, and thus must be addressed.
To make sure you are getting your electrolytes I recommended putting some sort of salt, like Himalayan Sea Salt, in your water throughout the day, and supplementing with sport salts 30 minutes prior to your workout. This will help you perform and feel better through your training, and throughout your day.
I use the following sport tablets below.
They are vegetable capsules filled with SODIUM, POTASSIUM, AND MAGNESIUM. That’s it. Regardless of what brand you take, make sure it has those 3 electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and magnesium) in it and make sure it is free of any added sugars and carbs.
Making sure you get your electrolytes and water will help you avoid the “KETO FLU.” The “keto flu” is a term used to coin the way you feel when your body is transitioning to KETOSIS. You will often experience “flu-like” symptoms, like a headache, runny noise, excessive fatigue, poor mood, and insomnia.
Taking adequate amounts of your salts and electrolytes will help you significantly minimize these symptoms and make the transition much more smooth. Be sure to take them.
3. EAT ENOUGH VEGETABLES
The third item you need to take care of is that you are getting your vegetables! More specifically your non-starchy vegetables.
In case you don’t know which ones to choose from look at the list below:
- Kale, spinach, and mixed greens
- Swiss Chard and Bok choy
- Lettuces and radicchio
- Brussel sprouts
- Broccoli and cauliflower
- Onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms
- Celery and cucumbers
Eating more of these vegetables will help you get your MICRONUTRIENTS on the ketogenic diet, and all the necessary FIBER to keep your digestive system flowing properly to ensure a healthy gut. It also helps your transition which avoids the KETO FLU as we discussed in “item 2.”
Feel free to cook them anyway you want, and if you do, cook them in oils like grass-fed butter or coconut oil. This will help keep your fats where you want them, especially if you don’t have the appetite to eat more solid food.
Regardless, make sure to eat your fair share of veggies while doing KETO.
Following this simple 3 item checklist will help you ensure that you are doing the KETOGENIC DIET right.
This 10 item list also breaks it down quite well.
Without hitting your ratios you’re finished before you even start. Make sure to hit your splits. Second, be sure to drink plenty of water and supplement with salt and sport salts to get your vital electrolytes. Finally, making sure to eat tons of veggies will help you get your micronutrients and fiber to ensure your digestive system is working properly.
On top of this, it is already assumed that you are doing other lifestyle habits to ensure you OPTIMIZE KETO. For instance, getting your proper sleep and exercise will enhance KETO’s postive effects, especially WEIGHT-LOSS.
The great part is that your appetite will often be surpressed because your insulin levels are much more consistent throughout the day and you can avoid stuffing yourself with snacks, like potato chips and sweets. This will cut calories in an appropriate way to MAXIMIZE weight-loss and OPTIMIZE muscle retention and/or muscle gain.
Speaking from personal experience, I feel much more leaner than ever, and stronger than ever. I will continue doing KETO moving foward for however long I want, and, perhaps, have certain modifications or “cheat days” where I break it up every now and then.
Hopefully this was resourceful to you in your effort to do KETO right.
If you have any questions please comment below.
Until next time, be strong and be you.