As time evolves many individuals are always looking for the easy fix on how to shed those extra pounds, what will work best on their body, what is the recent fad in the diet world? As time passes there are always those magazine diets that will help you drop the belly, lose that magical ten pounds for the beach season, and the perfect diet plan to add lean body mass over the winter. Individuals also pertain themselves to special fad’s like low carb diets are the king of losing weight (Keto, CKD, TKD which I will get into more detail later in the article) and there are those who thrive off new diets such as the biorhythm diet and carb back loading which show the individual eating mostly protein and fats up to their workout and then loading up on starches, carbs, fruits, sugars right before bed and sleeping like a rock and waking up looking tighter/leaner each morning.
Now how can all of these work to show us results? How do we know which one is best for us? How do we know what one to read into to learn more about this? Easy just keep reading and you are about to get a bomb of knowledge regarding the recent diet fad’s that are out there in the industry. This article may be lengthy and I may not cover every single diet fad that has been mentioned over the last couple of years, but I just want to touch base on them and not get into too much detail.
1. Keto (CKD and TKD), Anabolic Diet, Atkins (Low-Carb dieting)
First of all what is Keto and what does it mean? It stands for Ketosis pertaining to high fat, moderate protein amounts. During this diet individuals force themselves to burn fats rather than carbohydrates due to the severe limit of overall carbs on a daily basis. Since individuals usually thrive off carbohydrates based on most diets that prolongs to glucose turnover from the amount of carbohydrates eaten in a given 24-hour period (a day) to help the brain function. Since we are referring and talking about a keto diet and the low carb lifestyle we are using and converting in our liver ketones as our energy source (hence the word keto). When the individual goes on a low-carb lifestyle such as keto water weight is less present in the system due to carbohydrates holding 3g of water for each gram of carbohydrate digested. The generic outlook is that we provide adequate protein to help stay anabolic and maintain strength gains (Depending on overall caloric intake).
How do we reach ketosis?
A general approach would be limiting intake to under 100g of carbohydrates, meeting adequate protein levels (1-1.25g/lb) and the rest of your intake coming from fat. The keto diet thrives on fat and fat sources (Cream, butter, bacon, fatty meat, peanut butter, almonds, fish etc.). A famous author named Lyle McDonald who wrote a book on the Ketogenetic diet even stated “A diet containing exactly 100g of carbs will probably just reach the ketosis stages, but a diet that lowers the carbs will help get into a deeper degree of ketosis and higher levels of ketones in the bloodstream”
Is there a way to know we are in ketosis?
Absolutely you can have test strips to test for ketones in your body. Ketostix, which are designed to change colors when they come in contact with urine samples are key indications of how to understand if in ketosis or not. The human body can show in urine samples ketone extracts, and ketones can also be present while breathing, so this is something that could pop out of your mouth or urine tract to be recorded. About how long will it take us to reach this state? That is truly unanswerable considering the individual and how long it may take (up to 2-3 weeks if not longer) depending on the individuals diet before attempting to shift to a keto lifestyle.
There are also two alternative Keto Diets
I do want to talk about these while on the subject, which are the CKD and the TKD, so lets get right to the chase.
CKD. First and foremost the CKD is a common abbreviation, which stands for a Cyclical Ketogenetic Diet. During the long stint of Keto where you are staying at a moderate protein level, with high fat and low carb we alter these days with high carb, low fat, and moderate protein days to cycle our calories to help refeed our body (carb-Ups). As I touched on in my refeeding and cheat meal article there are plenty of benefits to refeeding and its effect on fatloss and individuals looking to trim up while keeping their metabolism burning and t3, leptin, and hormone levels from dropping. An individual who may be eating around 50g of carbs 6 days a week may end up refeeding on over 500-600g of carbs come the weekend in their CKD to help keep their body burning and losing fat. How much carbs do you carb up on? This is totally individual knowing how lean you are, how long you have been dieting, and also your overall training and cardio frequency/volume will be the outcome of the amount of carbohydrates.
TKD. Now the TKD stands for the Timed Ketogenetic Diet, which is very similar to what we just explained about in the CKD. The only different is the T stands for Timed, which refers to including more carbohydrates on a daily basis but timing them to perfection. We are going to shift these carbohydrates right around our workout to maximize the use of carbs and replenishing what we lost during our workout (Glucose/Amino’s), which can come from carbohydrates. When we meet our protein and fat minimums carbohydrates are very protein sparing, therefore we will intake these in the pre/post-workout period. TKD’s are mostly associated with those who are involved in intense activities (think hiking, endurance training, athletes etc.) and require carbs to fuel them, and this is also for those who do not like the complex carb loads and would prefer to not do depletion workouts. In the end it is just another alternative to the keto diet which is a very common dieting principle out there that many may have to refer to in shedding off the last few pounds as calories drop, but can be productive for gaining size.
2. Leangains Diet
As I did a very large article on Intermittent Fasting and Leangains in the past I just want to touch base on this as this is getting a lot of looks as the go-to way to lose bodyfat and make life a lot easier. Coming from someone who has had a lot of experience with intermittent fasting and leangains in my time I found this is very helpful when cutting due to eating in a timed frame (8 hour maximum window) and eating less meal’s per day which help the individual stay very satiated and help them stay diverse on their diet instead of eating 200-300 caloric meals throughout the day that may be repetitive and keep the individual very hungry.
Leangains is based off a 16/8 window, which stands for 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of feeding, if you wish to prolong the window to 18-20 hours that is personal preference and you can. If you wish to eat in a shorter window by all means go for it, while it may not be easier to fit in your calories in a smaller window and in less meals that will be up to the individual to decide while messing around with their set-up and overall caloric intake. The only major difference is in a shorter time period you do not have to eat those so called 6 meals a day, you can simply eat 2-3-4 or whatever suits you and your work schedule. The whole diet is based off personal preference and convenience. You can set up your diet in 3 different ways which is based off Martin Berkhan and his website (leangains.com)
Fasted State Training
Training in fasted state in which you will intake 10g of BCAA’s and then train and follow up with your 8 hours and as many meals as you want, for instance train at 10 a.m. eat your first meal at noon and then have up to 8 p.m. at night to end your eating window, so you could eat meal 1 at noon, meal 2 at 4, and meal 3 at 8 as a guideline.
Another situation would be training with 1 pre-workout meal in your system, so for example lets say you eat at noon, train at 2 p.m.have your post workout meal at 4 and another meal at 8 p.m. That would be a simple example. Now all these times are based off the 12-8 eating window, this can be adjusted to your day and what times you will have to eat to suit you and your goals, again for more information you can read on leangains.com at the leangains guide for further information or more questions that may be asked.
2 Meals Pre-Workout
The last common setup is just like above but with two pre-workout meals for those individuals who work a typical 9-5 day and then lift later at night. Lets start your day with eating lunch at work at noon, then you will have a small snack around 3-4 p.m. and then head to the gym after work and then come home and slam a HUGE meal right before going to bed and ending your feeding window (again assuming the 12-8 window for these examples) would be a general outline). Now if you want to just have a small snack around 2-3 p.m. and then have a major meal while returning from your session that again is up to you and your personal preference.
What is the takeaway message about leangains and intermittent fasting? Personal preference that is the key feature, some people live such hectic lifestyles they don’t have time to sit in a kitchen, pack Tupperware, and find that eating less meals gives them better results, fasting gives them greater energy throughout the day, and they go against the dogma of eating 5-6 times is necessary. Not to mention Martin Berkhan has quite an extensive amount of research and studies to back eating less often, better blood glucose levels, better signs and symptoms of how you can lose fat at a better rate, and the whole eating carbs at night will help aid in fatloss and serotonin levels which is going to take me right into my next stream of diets pertaining to carb back loading and the biorhythm diet by Borge.
3. Carb Back Loading and Biorhythm (Borge Fagerli)
This is a very interesting approach to dieting which really puts aside what most people believe is true as far as losing weight and eating carbs at certain time periods. Now Carb Back Loading or the Biorhythm diet can be used for both gaining size and leaning down the only difference will be the amount of calories utilized to suit your goal. Borge also does work hand in hand regarding training and diet with aspects to those of John meadows who is a training mastermind with his Mountain Dog Training and Mountain Dog Diet (MountainDogDiet.com) if you wish to research further about john and his work. This diet is set up with taking in protein and fat meals during the day or leading up to training, and then utilizing all your carbs intra/post training and in your later meals expanding to greater amounts the closer towards when you sleep. First of all you probably think this is absolutely crazy because you have always heard carbs before bed will make me fat, or carbs before I sleep will keep me up forever, but this is not always 100% true. Martin from above on Leangains had some great research to back up carbs at night and how it can aid in fatloss right off his website (which you can look up and google the article), but lets keep this back onto Borge and his Biorhythm diet which is pretty similar to carb backloading.
Borge first stumbled upon research while coming up with this idea that started back in 1997 regarding individuals eating 70% of their carbs earlier in the day and later in the day, and doing so they would compare overall weight loss and fat loss. Truth be told the AM group dropped the most weight but 30% of that weight was muscle weight which is not optimal to retaining mass when dieting, but on the other hand the PM group loss of weight was not as much but they only lost 7% muscle mass given the same caloric intake just shifting the carbs to later in the day. Lets compare what I just wrote fat loss was higher in the PM group even though the AM group held the edge in the overall weight loss. Comparing the facts it is safe to say that if you are losing weight its more optimal to take it slow and hold onto that hard earned muscle you built up in the gym here goes strike 1 against eating carbs at night.
Lets invest further into health benefits of the carb backloading/biorhythm diet can offer as there was a study done on nearly 80 police men who changed their carb approach from the morning to night. The result of this study was that there was greater fat loss (just like study number 1 above), less hunger on the individuals, higher leptin levels (which drops in a caloric deficit and while dieting), increased insulin sensitivity which dictates how you utilize the micronutrients from your food and supplement, and improved blood glucose levels (which is also supported on the leangains studies from martin’s site as well).
You must be thinking I am crazy now don’t you? Lets keep talking about how this can affect our workout if we are not fueling up on carbs prior to hitting the iron. Let us remember that if we are backloading we are getting plenty of glucose and glycogen from those later meals from the previous day so the stores will be maintained and saturated during those morning or afternoon workouts. The carbs we will intake after we workout will show increased nutrient partitioning, which is also shown while doing low intensity cardio. This will provide pushing calories into the muscles and maximizing anabolic opportunities for muscle growth. The last study I want to talk about is subjects tested in 2 sessions of 60 or 90 minute workouts utilizing 70-75% of their working max during major complex lifts. The different was one group took in the majority of their carbs prior to their workout and the other after their workout or in the later meals (nearly 60-70% carbs 15% fat and 15-25% protein). The rest of the diet and calories were the same for each group just the major meal prior to or after their workout and the outcome was showing more support towards those who utilized the carbs post-workout instead of pre-workout with increased insulin sensitivity, fat oxidation, and metabolic activation/enzymes.
Wrapping up about the CBL (Carb Backloading) or Biorhythm diet lets talk about what we do to start with higher fat and protein meals leading up to the workout (or if you workout first thing upon waking then your carb meal will follow training). For those training later lets take 1-2 meals of protein + fat such as eggs, veggies, beef, protein powder and Greek yogurt to help keep insulin levels at bay with decreased sensitivity. This also aids in fats being burned off for energy due to lipid droplets and fat oxidation being increased. Shifting the higher carbs to post-workout and later in the day will aid leptin, hormones, and t3 levels to increase fat burning throughout the night and towards the next day to fueling those next day sessions, or recovery from an off day of weights. The last take home point I want to address is a psychological factor from lots of carbs prior to bed and the neurotransmitter Serotonin which can aid in sleeping. Those ingesting a large surplus of carbs prior to bed will increase that neurotransmitter and aid in deeper and longer sleep!
In the end these are highly debatable dieting schemes that individuals may strike gold with, or they may not be able to adapt to. In the end when choosing how you will allot your calories and meals will be personal preference, what one individual does should not be what another does. Everyone is different and if person X makes incredible gains off low-carb dieting that does not mean person Y should follow suit because that individual had a good run. The human body is too diverse and as Marc Lobliner put it “The body is not a textbook” its about finding what works for you through trial and error. Take the advice and research above and consider these for the future when you want to shred some pounds or try an alternative way of shifting calories for maintaining, recomping, or adding size. All of these diets have their benefits and downfalls, but to say which is the best is nitpicking based on the individual. The best way I can state on how to guage which works for you compared to what you are doing is ride each out for at least 8 weeks given a similar caloric intake and macronutrient breakdown and asses your mood, energy, gym performance, and weight loss/gain. These will be huge factors on how the diet affects you and what the mirror shows as far as progress!