There is a saying “Summer bodies are built in the winter”. For me that’s too long, let’s try to make summer bodies in the spring.
Over the summer I came out with a post What’s the best diet for me? where I went over a couple of the most popular diets out there now and listed the pros and cons. Well consider this What’s the best diet for me? version 2.0 accelerated fat loss edition.
I’ve done a ton of research in the last couple months of some different dieting techniques that haven’t gained steam in the mainstream yet or just haven’t made it there yet. All these methods I list do not use any drugs to accelerate fat loss. I like short cuts but I don’t like to risk my health in the process. I don’t want today’s experiment screwing up my body later in life.
I’ve tried all of these at one point in the past year so I’ll put in my 2 cents along with a small how to. If you go to aesthetic-physiques.com, I’ll have a How To on each diet including acceptable foods and a sample meal plan of each diet for you.
Here is our starting 5….
First off the bench… The Ketogenic diet
The Ketogenic Diet (KD) is a high fat (>60%), low carb (5-10%), moderate protein (20-25%) way of eating. Originally used to treat epilepsy in the 1920’s and is still used today to treat epilepsy that does not respond to prescription drugs.
The research behind KD shows the limited amount of carbs per day, about 25g, which is about 6 oz. of soda, makes the body switch from using carbohydrates as fuel to using ketones as fuel. This is known as ketosis. Ketones are produced in the liver when fatty acids are broken down. Basically, your liver is breaking down body fat and using that for fuel. People tend to see body fat reduction quickly.
Don’t get this confused with Ketoacidosis which happens to people with type 1 diabetes. KD is nutritional ketosis where there are still low levels of insulin in your system which keeps all the rest of your levels in check. Ketoacidosis is the extreme and extremely dangerous. So if you aren’t type 1 diabetic you are all set, your body will keep you in the sweet spot so you can accelerate fat loss.
There are ketone pee strips and some glucose monitors will tell you if you are in ketosis. The pee strips are basically ketone pregnancy tests and are super cheap ($15). The glucose monitor ($40) is more accurate because it takes the blood reading but is a little more expensive. The pee strips measure the ketones you excrete which could mean your blood levels are higher. Good if you are in a jam but bad for experiments.
The sweet spot to be in is 1.5-3 mmol/L for maximum fat burning.
The only trick about KD is actually getting into ketosis. This is one of the things that sucks about ketosis. Getting into ketosis requires you to carb detox, to get all the glucose and the glycogen (sugars) stored in your muscles to be used up. Once all those are depleted, then you are in ketosis. Getting started requires up to 12 straight days of no carb eating. In these days you will see quiet a bit of weight loss but it’s only you losing water. In those 12 days you will experience mood swings, cravings and tiredness to name a few. I know, sounds like a blast. But once you switch over to ketosis it’s amazing. You lean out quickly and have lots of energy. Great for beach season.
Another thing that sucks about KD, is that eating carbs (excluding vegetables) will kick you out of ketosis, only to have the start the no carb detox again. Thankfully this one won’t need to be as long. Maybe a day or 2, depending on how much you ate.
Besides losing fat quickly, the KD requires lots of fatty meat, whole eggs and oils. All the foods most men love to eat.
The fats keep you fuller longer which is definitely better than starving yourself to lose weight. I guarantee you will not be hungry on KD. I struggled to keep my calories up because the fat kept me full for hours.
My 2 cents
I tried the KD over in the summer in 2015 and I’m on the fence about it. The first 3 weeks or so, I was adapting to the carb detox which was tough. I had no strength or energy. I was moody and my cravings were all over the map. I was more or less pregnant. Then, I went into ketosis and I leaned out quickly while not having to starve myself in the process. Cooking eggs and bacon every morning was awesome at first, but that got old quick. I yearned for the simple days of a banana on toast with peanut butter for breakfast.
One of my biggest concerns with KD is staying on long term. I worry, but don’t have any evidence, that going long periods of time without eating something like bread, would cause me to lose the enzymes required to digest bread or developing a gluten allergy.
Next off the bench…The Anabolic Diet
The Anabolic Diet (AD) was created to in response to the use of steroids in the mid 90’s. Thanks Sammy and Mark! Rather than taking a shot of some unknown compound that you bought from some shady guy in the back of his van down in Tijuana, the AD was created to try and mimic the hormonal response that is seen with steroids. The thought is cycling carbs and fats would alter your testosterone response to make you big and strong sans shady deals in Tijuana.
The AD is broken up into no carb/high fat days during the week and 2 high carb “refuel” days on the weekend. This is a cyclic Ketogenic diet. The main focus on no carb days is to eat a lot of saturated fats. Saturated fats have been shown to elevate testosterone levels, hence the steroid like effect.
During the week, you would follow pretty much the same ratios as the KD. Getting roughly 60% of calories from fat, 5% from carbs and 40% from protein.
On the weekend, it switches to 25% fat, 60% carbs and 15% protein to fill your muscles.
The drawbacks of KD apply to AD as well. To start AD, there is a carb detox for about 12 days. Expect 11 days of being tired and moody. At least day 1 isn’t bad.
Unlike KD, the weekends are pretty sweet. Oatmeal, sweet potatoes, rice, bread all day. After a week of eating eggs and different oils this is a much needed break. Yes this is my definition of pretty sweet.
The heavy reliance on fatty red meats will help you put on more muscle quickly so expect to make some gainz. The increase in muscle plus being in ketosis during the week will help you burn through body fat.
Also I’m not sure if this is a drawback or benefit but the baseline for the AD is 18 calories per pound. So for me, a 200 lbs. man, I would need to eat 3600 calories a day. For me, this is an obscene amount. I can barely handle 3000. Needless to say, you won’t be hungry on the AD.
My 2 cents
I haven’t started this yet. I wanted to start in the beginning of the year but I want to track my body fat while doing it. Usually I would just use the mirror test but I’d like to add a little more concrete data to my experiment. I’ll be documenting everything, along with shameless bathroom selfies every Thursday on my Instagram if you are interested in following along. I was also thinking of doing a video blog to give my experience with it. I still have a few days to think about that one.
Next up…. Carb cycling
Popular in the bodybuilding circles carb cycling does…. you guessed it…. cycle your carbs throughout the week. The ratios are based on bodyweight. Here’s how it breaks down:
High Carb day
2-2.5 g of carbs x bodyweight
Medium Carb day
1.5-2 g of carbs x bodyweight
Low Carb day
0.5-1.5g of carbs x bodyweight
Regardless of day protein (1-1.25g x bodyweight) and fats (0.15-0.35 g x bodyweight) stay the same.
These days are alternated throughout the week. The high carb days give your metabolism a boost while the low carb days keep insulin levels low to prevent fat storage.
Traditionally, the days are cycled low, med, high, low, etc. You can schedule them out how ever you wish except for having 2 high days back to back. This will cause you to store some fat which is the exact opposite of what you want to do.
The only drawbacks I found is that I had more cravings. The constant up and down of my insulin levels made me crave sugars and especially bread. I am Italian so maybe I predisposed to pasta and breads. Or maybe I’m just a fat kid at heart.
One of the biggest benefits is there is no carb detox. You can jump right into the deep end with carb cycling. Constant fluctuation in calories and the amount of carbs keeps the metabolism guessing.
My 2 cents
I’ve used carb cycling to get ready for both of my bodybuilding competitions with great and good results. The second time I was hanging on to a little too much weight and started dieting a little too late. The big thing with carb cycling is in the planning. I would sometimes schedule my high carb days on a Saturday so I wouldn’t have to sacrifice too much when I went out to dinner with my wife.
I would usually start with a traditional low, med, high rotation and then as the competition got closer I would substitute a low day for a high day. So I would have 2 low days in a row. This made the transition easier for me to a low/no carb diet.
Next up…. Intermittent Fasting
I won’t go into too much of the background here because I just did a post 2 weeks ago exclusively on Intermittent Fasting (IF).
IF is a pattern of eating rather than an actual diet. IF is often combined with another diet to speed up results.
There are many ways to fast but the most common way is to fast for 16 hours and eat for 8. Most people start their fast after dinner and won’t eat again until lunch time. This allows your body to burn through all the carbs in your body and begin to burn body fat (think ketosis).
So instead of eating 3000 calories spread out across 5-6 meals, you jam it all into 3-4 meals within that 8 hour window.
Hint, awesome things are about to come in the benefits section.
During the fasting hours water, tea and calorie free drinks are fine. Everything else is a no-go.
Depending how often you fast this could put a damper on your social life. Most of the time people go out for dinner with friends and if your fasting, that could be extremely tough to pull off.
Well the awesome thing about IF is it is a shortcut to ketosis. Rather than suffering through 12 days of mood swings and being tired, 1-2 nights of fasting for 16 hours will put you into ketosis. Like a said, this is awesome. Condensing 12 days into 2 16 hour fasts is a game changer. The caveat is that you have to eat a KD or AD while in your 8 hour feeding time.
Another benefit is an increase in growth hormone production. During a fast the body makes fat stores more accessible. Enter growth hormone. Growth hormone benefits fat loss and muscle gain. Win-win.
My 2 cents
I’ve dabbled in the IF world a few times now and I am a huge fan. The fact that I can enter ketosis within a day or 2 instead of suffering for 12 is the main reason. I’ve tested this too. I bought ketone strips and after 2 days of IF I was ketone pregnant.
And the Star of the Show…The Slow Carb Diet
The Slow Carb Diet (SCD) is simplistic and easy. More or less the ideal diet in my opinion. There are 5 simple rules to follow 6 days a week and you are allowed a “dieters gone wild” day. Here are the rules:
Rule #1: Avoid “white” starchy carbohydrates (or those that can be white). This means all bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and grains.
Rule #2: Eat the same few meals over and over again, especially for breakfast and lunch. You already do this; you’re just picking new default meals.
Rule #3: Don’t drink calories. Exception: 1-2 glasses of dry red wine per night is allowed.
Rule #4: Don’t eat fruit. (Fructose –> glycerol phosphate –> more bodyfat, more or less.) Avocado and tomatoes are excepted.
Rule #5: Take one day off per week and go nuts.
Slow carbs are carbs that don’t produce a large spike in insulin. Without that spike in insulin for 6 of 7 days your body is less likely to store fat. That means lots of veggies and meats. Beans (not the high sugar baked beans variety either) and lentils are suggested to keep calories up since veggies are not calorie dense.
The cheat day actually is very beneficial. The spike in calories throws your metabolism in overdrive. Not to mention it gives the dieter a day to relax with strict rules and live a little.
Sometimes eating out can be a bit difficult. A safe bet is to go with salads when out to eat if something like steak is not available. Getting up to your required calories is a bit difficult based on the quantity of food you need if you don’t use beans or lentils.
A well balanced diet of protein and vegetables. Avoiding sugars. Lowering body fat. A cheat day. Where do I stop? No fear of losing the proper enzymes to digest different foods.
My 2 cents
The SCD in my opinion is probably the easiest diet to follow that I’ve seen. Getting used to eating canned kidney beans was a little bit different but it made me get creative with my meal prep which helped a lot. I also thought that all the beans would blow up my insides like a balloon but it didn’t. Not sure why that is, but I was sure happy it didn’t.
I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv or on the internet. Please consult your physician prior to starting a diet. Don’t be that guy.
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