Ketogenic Diet - and effects on lifting heavy?

I am not going to the gym (and it is killing me) due to a medical procedure that is still not healed. Rest assured I will be taking my happy butt to the gym as soon as I can.

However, since I don't like loosing time I have been playing with nutrition (using myself, just to be clear). I have been following a higher fat, lower protein and pretty low carb break down the last week or so and AM LOVING IT. I am at 55% Fats, 13.5% Carbs and the rest protein. I am eating a ton of food, I love the taste of all this delicious food and am not feeling like if I even look at another piece of food then I am going to explode. I am *thinking* about adapting the ketogenic diet (I have a higher A1C and have for a decade and nothing I have done - to date - has changed anything with respect to the A1C numbers....still just under 6.0......not good). This would be something I would do moving forward.

However, I have not been in the gym with these numbers (nutritionally, speaking). I fear that I will go for that heavy squat 5 x 5 or heavy dead lift 5 x 5 and have no energy going into the second or third set. I am not loosing any sleep over that fear, but am aware that it is a possibility.

I am consuming roughly 65g of Carbs a day. I know - when I played with this a few months back - that I killed it in the gym on days that I consumed 320g - 350g of Carbs. 65 compared to 350 is a HUGE drop.

I am loving the weight loss (eating much more food and still going odd is that?) and do not miss that "OMG, you mean, there is MORE food to eat?" feeling.

So, my question (yes, finally......the question): does anyone who lifts heavy follow the ketogenic diet? Or, similar (LCHF)? If so, what are your experiences?


  • Chieflrg
    Chieflrg Posts: 9,081 Member
    edited October 2017
    There are plenty of people who lift on keto diet.

    Keep in mind, some of the bigger names are on roids which helps with recovery/energy. Mark Bell rings(pun intended) out loud and proclaims to having sucess while practicing keto.

    It's not optimal, but it can be done clean with noticable results regardless, though I would never do it personally.
  • VintageFeline
    VintageFeline Posts: 6,771 Member
    I'm curious how the volume of food has increased when you have increased fats, the most calorie dense macro?
  • mmapags
    mmapags Posts: 8,946 Member
    I guess my question would be: why? What are you hoping to gain in other areas of your fitness and health for what you will give up? Because as Chieflrg said, it is not optimal. Also, you could consider not going full keto, going low carb (at or under 100 grams or so). You could also cycle higher carbs on workout days (or the day before) for workout performance. But it all depends on what you're hoping to accomplish.
  • psuLemon
    psuLemon Posts: 38,038 MFP Moderator
    I'm curious how the volume of food has increased when you have increased fats, the most calorie dense macro?

    I think they are enjoying the decrease in volume based on the several references about the "OMG, i need to eat more calories" comments.

    Personally, I need the volume. Carbs support muscle recovery, but there are plenty of keto lifters. Really, if you like it, by all means. Just make sure it supports what you want to achieve. But you may and probably will lose some strength.
  • kimothy38
    kimothy38 Posts: 840 Member
    I'm doing keto and haven't noticed any impact on my training at all. In fact, I'm lifting heavier now than ever before. I also train early morning in a fasted state so make sure I have a BCAA drink beforehand which helps.
  • AlabasterVerve
    AlabasterVerve Posts: 3,171 Member
    edited October 2017
    If the diet suits you - and it sounds like it does - stick with it. Train and you'll see results... Sean Baker is a good example:
  • thepragmattic
    thepragmattic Posts: 16 Member
    I'm back on keto and can notice the difference, especially with metcon type workouts. I do more of a modified Atkins 60/30/10 so I have a little more room for carbs (approx 67g/day), which I ingest mainly before and after my workout...enough to help with recovery. Stick with it! Just make sure you take the adequate rest periods between sets...don't rush.
  • LiftHeavyThings27105
    LiftHeavyThings27105 Posts: 2,104 Member
    Hey, everyone....thanks for the replies.

    And, I am just thinking out loud with all of this so forgive me please if I appear to ramble a little bit.

    So, all very valid questions....why? why? why? Super are some of my initial thoughts on "why?"...

    I have a higher A1C and - as I stated - nothing that I have done in the last 10 years has changed that value. I eat pretty healthy (whatever that means) and train regularly and have seen no change. So, thinking outside the box a little bit. Exploring things. Higher carbs seem to have an effect on me and because of training I have stuck with higher carbs. Looking to see if there is another possible answer to my higher A1C.

    Another part of my willingness to explore something similar to the Ketogenic Diet is that I fill up so quickly with Carbs. I feel really really full. So, after 1/2 cup of brown rice I feel really full. If I eat 1 cup of brown rice then I am literally stuffed. I love carbs. I really do. This exploration has nothing to do with carb bashing (seems like the popular thing to do.....I want no part of that). It does, however, have everything to do with trying to figure out what works for me.

    I have been playing with a much higher fat content as a part of my diet - as mentioned. For me, the effects are very different from having a more "normal, but still higher (because of the training)" carb content.

    So far, I have been in the 55% Fat and 13.5% Carb breakdown. It seems to be working pretty well with respect to weight and with respect to feeling full (satiety) but not feeling like I am going to pop (please notice....only one "o" in there!) if I even look at anything.

    I am pretty disciplined with my nutrition so it is not necessarily an issue for me....I know what happens if I eat four pieces of pizza but since I follow a flexible diet strategy I can - and at times do - have those four pieces of pizza. I am in this for the long haul so denying myself things is not really part of the plan. I know what happens to adherence if one is constantly denying oneself. I am not competing in any events so there is no pressure there. I am simply trying to live a healthy life style and am at the point (50 years old) where it is time to figure this issue out (higher A1C).

    To be honest, I am loving all the fatty foods. Absolutely loving it. I am eating a ton of food and not feeling like I am going to pop. I am not gaining insane amounts of weigh with all of this food. I am specifically and intentionally eating a lot of food (yesterday, for example, I ate 4,250 calories.....much much higher than my 2,200 maintenance calories) and loving it. Feeling lean and mean....

    Now, I am gaining a little bit of weight with these insanely high caloric meals. That is all part of the plan and my testing.

    My biggest concern is the training. I go pretty heavy (for this point) and I know from past testing that I am much stronger if I eat a bunch of carbs on squat day and do squats in the evening....same for dead lifts. I still have goals to reach with the training (I will not die if I do not reach them, but I am super competitive and really do not like setting goals and then not reaching them).

    So, to those that ask "why?" - pretty basic answer: really want to focus on reducing my A1C value *BUT* also want to reach my training goals.

    Kinda sounds like I have to decide what is more important - lower A1C value or reach training goals. If that is the bottom line - there is no thought process necessary. I will do what I need to do to lower the A1C values. I am here for the long, I kinda need to "be here" to do that.

    Since I still can not go in the gym, I have a couple more weeks to play with this.

    I really appreciate everyone commenting and offering their thoughts on this question.
  • sardelsa
    sardelsa Posts: 9,826 Member
    I do not follow low carb or keto, but maybe timing your carbs around your workouts can be beneficial if and when you hit an energy wall? I think it's called TKD or CKD or something, I don't know the difference.. maybe someone else can chime in or you can look into it.
  • mmapags
    mmapags Posts: 8,946 Member
    A couple of thoughts. Your A1c has been higher for 10 years. Is there a family history of this or of T2D? In other words, could there be a genetic component and has your MD ever mentioned this? I know because I have it in my family.

    I am not eating ketogenic but I do eat lower carb. Between 100gr and 150gr when cutting. Lower carb can help increase insulin sensitivity. Keto even more so, but I would have compliance issues with keto and I seem to be able to keep my A1c in a decent range without it. Could always step it up to keto if I had to.

    Intermittent Fasting also helps with insulin sensitivity. Have you considered that?
  • VintageFeline
    VintageFeline Posts: 6,771 Member
    Are you saying your maintenance has increased from 2200 to upwards of 4000 calories a day because of the way you are now eating?
  • tcunbeliever
    tcunbeliever Posts: 8,270 Member
    I am doing keto for migraine control - only just over a week so far. I have not noticed any difference in my workouts (P90X), but I also did fasted training and low carb prior to keto, so not sure if that has an impact on the ease of transition.
  • LiftHeavyThings27105
    LiftHeavyThings27105 Posts: 2,104 Member
    @sardelsa - Thank you, Miss Sardelsa. I have no idea about that - whatever it is called. But I will look into it. Full report within the hour! LOL! NOT!

    @mmapags - T2D, and no family history at all. In my ex-wife's family it runs rampant, but that clearly has no bearing on me (but does for our two kids......). Anyway, nothing in my mother's side or father's side so this is just a thing for me. Actually, really grateful for that. It is likely due to the fact that I used to weigh 251lbs. There was a roughly five year period in my life where I was not active at all (just worked 14 - 16 hours a days a week.....and drank literally 15 Mountain Dew's a lie on that). I am reaping the benefits of that time frame! Now I am looking to change that.

    And, I *mostly* do IF in that I *mostly* eat when in the office. But, *mostly* does not cut it. Kinda like being *mostly* pregnant. Or, to quote a GREAT MOVIE, *mostly dead*! And, that (eating only while in the office) was something that just kinda morphed into how I *mostly* do things. Sounds like this might be a part of the solution. I will *fully* implement IF so that I have a solid understanding of how that works (or not) for me.

    I am still playing with food (and loving it all) but make no mistake. I am logging everything (and am very CDO about it....not sure what 'CDO' is? It is "OCD", just alphabetically correct!) and paying strict attention to "cause - effect" with what is happening. And, consuming large quantities of food (translation - calories) on purpose with with a purpose. Very interesting so far. Really loving this experimentation right now. Gonna miss those bacon wrapped wings every day when "play time" is over.....

    Will figure out the training aspect of things once I get back in the gym. Primary goal is A1C and secondary goal is training goals. Not gonna loose site of what the primary goal is. And that - for the foreseeable future - is not going to change.

    Thanks again, everyone!
  • LiftHeavyThings27105
    LiftHeavyThings27105 Posts: 2,104 Member
    @sardelsa - Okay, I actually have heard of "TKD" (Targeted Ketogenic Diet). I believe that was two or three days ago. It just did not register when I read your suggestion. Now it does. And "CKD" is the "Cyclic Ketogenic Diet". Yes, ma'am! Neither is suggested for most people, but athletes and folks that weight train are exceptions to that general comment.

    I will look into both and write up a little piece if folks are interested.
  • psuLemon
    psuLemon Posts: 38,038 MFP Moderator
    edited October 2017
    A few things.

    You aren't gaining a ton of weight now because you just went keto which means you depleted glycogen at the same point. And water weight, especially with males, can be pretty high.

    Also, if you have A1C issues, that is a bit more important than some extra strength.

    And lastly, if you weren't eating delicious foods before, you were doing it wrong. There was no reason before to not include nice fatty foods. Hell, I eat everything from keto friendly to vegan friendly and everywhere in between.
  • LiftHeavyThings27105
    LiftHeavyThings27105 Posts: 2,104 Member
    @psuLemon - Agreed 100%: hitting PRs in the gym or kicking A1C value down is not even remotely a question....PRs can go away. A1C is 100% the focus.

    I was eating delicious foods before. Just a different set of foods. I am a creature of habit and really enjoy the foods that I was eating. I have been playing with nutrition and doing things on purpose, with a purpose so I was eating a whole different set of food. I really do not have anything off limits. There are just the usual things that I eat. When I was a kid, I ate two PB&J Sandwiches and some "fruit" (usually grapes) every day for two years straight. Just how I am. So, not doing it "wrong" - per se. Just doing things the way I do things. Def gonna open the menu up a bit now, though. And, totally get the spirit of your comment. If I did not know me I would think that I was limiting things too much. Nope. Well, actually, yes......but for no other reason than that is just how I am.

    Still playing with nutrition to see how things work for me. Not gone "keto" just yet.....still playing with things. We will see how things go once I am back in the gym and get some heavy training days. Focus is still A1C....first and foremost. Just having a lot of fun with the experimentation. :-)