Category Archives: Exercise

Endurance Performance Doesn’t Decline on a Low Carb Diet

The new study by Zinn and colleagues doesn’t debunk ketoadaptation. And the authors agree!

In brief, it was 5 ~50-year old recreational endurance athletes. They’ve been training a lot for a very long time. In other words, one way to view this study is the opposite of n00b gainz. Experienced exercisers don’t typically make gains in 10 weeks without drastically changing their training program or increasing protein intake – neither of which occurred in this study.

 

 

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Long-term fat adaptation.

Ketoadaptation

More on physical performance and ketoadaptation

A timeline of ketoadaptation.

 

calories proper

 

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Exercise & protein, man. Exercise & protein.

-Basically, any beginner can make decent gains upon starting a new exercise regimen… it’s actually hard not to. Noob gainz.

-What’s easier than doubling exercise volume? PROTEIN.

Protein Supplementation to Augment the Effects of High Intensity Resistance Training in Untrained Middle-Aged Males: The Randomized Controlled PUSH Trial (Wittke et al., 2017)

Four groups: 1) high intensity training (HIT); HIT + high protein diet (HIT+P) (1.6 g/kg/d); HIT + high volume (HVHIT); and control. Baseline protein intake was ~1.2 g/kg, so it was about a ~33% increase.

Duration: 22 weeks, which is long enough to actually make some measurable noob gainz.

Results:

 

 

Exercise alone (HIT) wasn’t particularly effective but doubling the volume worked.  What’s easier than doubling the volume?  PROTEIN.  Protein is better than doubling the volume for n00b gainz in LBM.

 

 

More gainz in leg & arm muscle mass and strength.  Doubling the volume was slightly better for fat loss. CICO? Energy intake declined slightly in HIT but remained stable in HIT+P & HVHIT.

My take? Protein is way easier than double-volume high intensity training.

 

 

Protein & exercise, man. Protein & exercise.

 

 

 

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Conserved lean body mass? O_o

Alternative title: keto isn’t muscle-sparing if you compare it to any remotely sensible control group.

Exhibit A. Resistance training in overweight women on a ketogenic diet conserved lean body mass while reducing body fat (Jabekk et al., 2010)

The exercise intervention was resistance and progressive.  The diet was ketogenic, confirmed by urinary ketones… of note, presence of urinary ketones is a better indicator of ketosis than any information about diet (although they were advised to start at <20g carb/d).

 

 

As per usual, the LC diet was higher in protein… but that wasn’t enough to induce skeletal muscle growth, even when combined with resistance exercise… worded another way, resistance exercise and more protein prevented ketogenic diet-induced muscle loss:

 

 

Neither group was instructed to restrict energy intake, but from the above graph it’s relatively safe to assume the LC diet counteracted exercise-induced hunger.

Confirmed:

 

 

However, exercise-induced hunger isn’t conducive to fattening because the cause is exercise.  I think.

Ketones may spare muscle during starvation, but not in the context of regular people eating a ketogenic diet.  Otherwise, muscle mass would’ve increased in that study relative to the control group.  Confounded by negative energy balance?  Perhaps, but from where I’m standing, the LC diet did almost exactly what we expected: reduced food intake and induced a selective loss of fat mass.  And exercise also performed as expected: increased muscle mass.  In other words, if you want to gain muscle, you need calories, protein, and exercise.  Keto provides no advantages in this context.

 




 

Exhibit B. The effect of weight loss by ketogenic diet on the body composition, performance-related physical fitness factors, and cytokines of Taekwondo athletes (Rhyu and Cho, 2014)

Keto dieters got 33% more protein (40% vs. 30%), and still managed to lose almost twice as much lean mass as non-ketogenic dieters.

 

(figure from Suppversity)

 

The participants were physically active, and thus likely fairly insulin sensitive, so this may be why those assigned to a ketogenic diet lost less body fat…

 




 

Exhibit C. Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women (Volek et al., 2004)

And in this study on sedentary insulin resistant folk, keto still wasted muscle (NS) despite more protein and calories:

 

 

If you’ve been paying attention, this wasn’t unexpected.

Sedentary and overweight: more fat loss on keto.

Keto and sedentary: muscle loss.

Sleep well, get your circadian rhythms entrained proper — otherwise these efforts will give you a mere fraction of the benefits.

 




 

Other~

Protein + exercise works: Interactive effects of an isocaloric high-protein diet and resistance exercise on body composition, ghrelin, and metabolic and hormonal parameters in untrained young men: A randomized clinical trial (Kim et al., 2014)

Simply replacing carbs with fat, or resisting food for as long as possible after waking up and staring at your smart phone all night: doesn’t work.

#context

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20% off some delish stocks and broths from Kettle and Fire HERE.

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Cyclical ketogenic diet and carb refeeds

Potential conclusion (pending full texts): “if you’re gonna keto, no need to carb”

I think these three abstracts are all referring to the same studies.  I haven’t seen the full texts.  My takes are in italics, after each abstract.

Exhibit A. The Effects of an Eight Week Ketogenic Diet vs. a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet on Performance and Testosterone in a Resistance Training Program (Lane, Lowery, Volek, D’Agostino, Wilson, et al., 2015)

Introduction: Our lab recently examined the effects of the ketogenic diet (KD) compared to a western diet regarding strength related performance; additionally, free and total testosterone was evaluated. Individuals on the KD saw similar adaptations in strength and similar changes testosterone. Comparisons of the KD against a cyclic (CKD) in strength, endurance, and testosterone have not been previously demonstrated in literature.

Purpose: Therefore the purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of the KD versus a CKD on performance and testosterone in resistance-trained males.

Methods: Sixteen resistance trained males participated in the study (age: 23.5 ± 3.3; weight: 187.6 ± 32.6). Participants on the KD consumed 5% carbohydrate, 25% protein, and 70% fat for 8 weeks. The CKD group applied the same macronutrient ratio to their diet Monday through Friday, while altering the ratio on weekends (50% carbohydrate, 25% protein, 25% fat). A periodized resistance training program was strictly followed 3 days per week throughout the duration of the study with high intensity interval training implemented on intermittent days 2 times per week by all participants. Participants were placed on a 500 kcal deficit derived from basal metabolic rate determined by the Mifflin St. Jeor equation. One repetition maximum (1RM) strength was assessed on deadlift, bench press, and leg press at baseline with a repeat assessment performed Week 8. Strength endurance was assessed on the leg press at baseline and re-assessed at Week 8. Free and total testosterone was evaluated at baseline and at Week 8. An ANOVA with repeated-measures was used to scrutinize the effects of KD and CKD on dependent variables assuming group (KD and CKD) and time (pre and post) as fixed factors. The significance level was set at p ? 0.05.

Results: There were no differences between groups in the performance tests or testosterone levels detected at baseline (p > 0.05). A time effect was observed for bench press and deadlift 1RM (p < 0.01). There was a trend towards a group by time interaction (p = 0.07) which favored an increase in the leg press 1RM in the KD group. There were no significant differences for leg press strength endurance in both groups. For free testosterone, there were no group or group × time interactions (p > 0.05). For total testosterone, there was a group × time interaction following the diet treatment (p < 0.02). The pairwise comparisons revealed that only the cyclic group decreased in total testosterone (10.3%, p < 0.02).

Conclusions: In regards to performance, a strict KD seems to augment positive strength related adaptations when compared to a CKD. These responses may be explained by sustained total testosterone levels seen in the KD group compared to reductions in total testosterone as a result of the fluctuations in macronutrient intake.

Practical Applications: Individuals attempting to optimize adaptations in strength performance while maintaining testosterone levels should perform a KD compared to a CKD.

My take: no difference between KD & CKD, despite testosterone declining in CKD.  This isn’t surprising because small fluctuations within the physiological range are not expected to affect these outcomes.

When protein and calories are controlled, and the #context is a 500 kcal deficit, not really sure what they were expecting.  Because of the constant deficit, insulin will be low even on the carb-up days, and those carbs are more likely to be burned off than replenish glycogen.

 

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A timeline of ketoadaptation

This is how ketoadaptation works (when it works), chronologically, on physical performance (I think):

 

 

Dark grey line: the gradual increase in performance for someone training on a regular diet.

Red line: performance declines on keto initially, but is back to baseline (light blue line) by week 3.

Light grey line: as long as ketoadaptation doesn’t impair performance, similar gradual increase in performance for someone training on a regular diet.  Parallel to the dark grey line.  May even catch up to the dark grey line.  I don’t know, but probably not as per FASTER – long-term LC athletes were not superior to their LF counterparts.

 

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LCHF negates performance benefit of training. O_o

It takes about 3 weeks to become fully ketoadapted and you don’t really get more ketoadapted thereafter, at least as per max fat oxidation rates (which seems a pretty good surrogate, imo).

Important point: “Athletes who drop carbs cold turkey suddenly suck.”  And performance usually recovers by around week 3.  This has been confirmed in nearly every proper study on the subject, in a variety of contexts.

 




 

Which brings me to the latest alleged slam on keto & physical performance:

Low carbohydrate, high fat diet impairs exercise economy and negates the performance benefit of intensified training in elite race walkers (Burke et al., 2016)

 

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These dudes ate a ton of sat fats and nothing bad happened

Study: 12 weeks, obese men, very high fat low carb (VHFLC) vs. low fat high carb (LFHC) (Veum et al., 2016) #FATFUNC

 

Pictorially:

 

 




 

It wasn’t explicitly AD LIB, but pretty close.  I say this because that is the magnitude of appetite decline we might expect when people go on The Hunger Free Diet(s), eg,

 

^^^ GOOD IDEA

 

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The poor, misunderstood autophagy

Autophagy isn’t a big deal in the way some Internet Bro’s think it is.  Yes, Dr Ohsumi received a Nobel Prize for cracking deeply into this nut, but that in no way means “intermittent fasting is awesome because autophagy.”  Autophagy isn’t awesome like that.

Alternate title: The dark side of autophagy.

For example: Autophagy contributes to muscle wasting in cancer cachexia (Penna et al., 2013)

Cachexia (muscle wasting) is one of the leading contributors to poor quality of life in cancer patients.  Thanks, autophagy.

“Autophagy is the major process for degradation of cellular constituents, its rate being enhanced under stress conditions leading to organelle damage…”

 

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Autophagy

Caloric restriction (CR) activates autophagy.  Intermittent fasting (IF) is basically kind-of-like the opposite of CR.  I’m not knocking IF.  The animal studies of autophagy, based on “chronic nutrition depletion,” more accurately reflect CR which results in decreased body weight or metabolic rate.   IF generally includes refeeds, resulting in weight maintenance.  Also, in the few human studies on it, weight loss (CR) but not fasting (IF) has been shown to induce autophagy.

If you’re actually losing weight over the long-term with an IF protocol, and thus are CR by definition, then I suspect you may be autophaging, too (yeah yeah, I know, that’s not really how autophagy works, but you get the picture).

Disclaimer: I’m relatively autophagy-agnostic; not really confident racing to maximize it is a great thing based on Human Studies.

Book: Autophagy in Health and Disease

 

autophagy-image

 

Exhibit A: autophagy in skeletal muscle

Tl;dr: “a little exercise is a better than a lot of fasting”

A1) Physical exercise increases autophagic signaling through ULK1 in human skeletal muscle (Moller et al., 2015)

The protocol: participants either fasted for 36 hours or received a glucose infusion before and during exercise (cycling at 50% max for an hour).

“In the present study, we demonstrate that short-term aerobic exercise activates autophagic signaling through ULK1 in human skeletal muscle, independently of nutrient background.”

They really should’ve stressed that the deck was stacked to show fasting activated autophagy… 36 hours of fasting is pretty long but it had no effect.

 

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Keto myths & facts

:::begin rant:::

Trigger warning?  Maybe.

Disclaimer: I’m pro-LC (P<0.05), but not anti-LF because LF works better than LC for some people.  And with the exception of things like keto for neurological issues, I think macros take a back seat to many other factors.

Myths: carbs cause insulin resistance (IR), diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.  Carbs are intrinsically pathogenic.  If a healthy person eats carbs, eventually they’ll get sick.

And the only prescription is more keto.

 

cowbell

 

And of course all of this could’ve been prevented if they keto’d from the get-go.

Proponents of these myths are referring to regular food carbs, not limited to things like Oreo Coolattas (which would be more acceptable, imo).  Taubes, Lustig, Attia, and many others have backed away from their anti-carb positions, yet the new brigade proceeds and has even upped the ante to include starvation.  Because “LC = effortless fasting?”

Does this sound sane?

“No carbs ever,
no food often…
otherwise diabetes.”

 

 

oreo-coolatta

 

no one in their right mind would say lentils & beans cause diabetes

 

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