A year and a half ago it seemed as though everyone wanted to get into Ketosis!
I got sucked into it too as most do because of the many metabolic benefits and amazing weight loss stories you hear at this point last year, I had reached 261. It was the heaviest I had ever been since I was trying to bulk for powerlifting, because, hey! You need mass to move mass and I had plenty of it. Someone had to keep the wifey warm at night, so why not my layer of fat as a blanket.
Along with the many downsides to weight gain for strength training were the issues that followed. Sleep apnea, no energy, and hypoglycemia were creeping up on me and it started to negatively effect what I was doing in the gym (or WASN'T doing it, really).
I started researching Ketosis and the Ketogenic Diet overall when a guy that I had a mutual friend with started implementing the diet. He was a powerlifter at one time and set several 220 lb records. Of course, he would go on to being one of the most recognized Ketogenic athletes in the industry, Danny Vega of Fat Fueled Family https://www.fatfueled.family/. We had already shared several interests so I inboxed him to ask how it was going. Knowing Danny better now I should have realized he wasn't going to give up until he convinced me and the entire world to go Keto! I could tell he was excited about it and eventually he would go on to do several podcasts including The Ketogenic Athlete and start a few websites devoted to Keto and specifically the Carnivore Diet.
I initially had an easy time with transitioning from my carb heavy diet to fat adapted and did not experience the 'keto flu' or any of the small speed bumps associated with changing over fuel sources. I lost a lot of weight and was able to drop down to 223, the lightest
I had been since college and was actually started to see those abs reappear that I had not seen since high school. I did not anticipate the loss of strength though and found out really quick that I needed to brush up a little more on the macro side of things. I became so
paranoid that my protein intake would knock me back out of Ketosis that I started keeping the Keto meter in the kitchen next to the rest of the cooked Ribeye. So naturally my protein was considerably low.
My body needed the protein to keep the muscle size on, but I wanted to remain in Ketosis. So I went down the carnivore path to see if I could maintain the muscle size.
I can't say enough good things about the lack of brain fog, the reduced cravings, the lack of blood sugar spikes and the disappearance of the lower back inflammation and how many great positive results came out of going carnivore. But I've always been the type of person who tracked all my calories and macros. But because I was experiencing all this fluid and mineral loss, my training was in the toilet. Unfortunately nothing else BUT the training actually was going in the toilet. I had bad constipation, no energy in the gym, and my lifts had gone down.
I finally started researching the micro-nutrient aspects of eating since I was having to supplement a ton. Because, after all, I wasn't doing this necessarily for 'clean eating', I was doing this for performance. I stumbled upon Stan Efferding, who is one of the most experienced and smartest guys in the industry. Stan had been a major competitor in bodybuilding and was the strongest bodybuilder in the world. His mantra is "the best diet is the one you can adhere to." Stan promoted the Vertical Diet, which is micro-nutrient and gut health focused.
He explains the diet in his interview with Metabolic Mike.
Listening to Stan, it dawned on me that the minerals, the supplementation, and the nutrient value was the biggest factor in seeing the improvements in the gym. I started supplementing more salt, magnesium, potassium, fructose (oh my god, sugar!!!) and through Stan's nutrition expertise, discovered how important my hydrochloric acid was in breaking down my food. No wonder I was chasing everything with milk so long ago and wondering why I would get frequent indigestion. It also re-introduced me to the benefits of Iodine. I would retain so much water and lose so much fluid from sweat in the gym, that it left me with very little fuel for the training sessions.
So instead of the typical pre-workout junk we've all become so accustomed to, I started supplementing with doses of Fructose, Salt and Iodine prior to a max effort day or a hypertrophy day. I come away with a pump, I'm stronger, and my energy has improved tremendously. These days, when someone asks whether I'm back on Keto, off Keto, Carnivore or Paleo, I tell him I've pretty much run the gamut of lifestyle eating.
I realize now that eating for health and eating for performance are too totally different endeavors. Gut health has become the new focus when we realize which foods are going to give us maximum nutrient value and assimilate into our bodies. Calories still matter, vitamins and minerals matter, individual variance is always a factor, but most vital to the quality of our training results from our ability to use those elements to our advantage in the gym.