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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Ice age fairy tales

Trigger warning: potentially offensive.

Trying to pinpoint an Ice Age Diet is about as complicated as defining a Paleo or Mediterranean diet… it would’ve been completely different depending on when & where, season, family/tribe, etc., etc.  And while the interwebz are full of anecdotes & guesses (educated & otherwise), there seems to be little reliable information and a lot of contradictions.

And anyway, is this really relevant for us today?


Hat tip to Prof Tim Noakes for pointing out the work by Curtis Marean, who showed that our species may have survived the ice age(s) in a warmer climate in Africa, where seafood played a large part in their diet: “Humans would have been able to survive because of rich vegetation that was available in the area.”

Here’s what I came up with, and why I feel like ranting.

I don’t doubt that humans went through periods of low & high plant consumption, but if someone argues that passing through times of low plant consumption is what “elevated” our species or fostered brain growth or whatever; LOGIC: it can be just as easily argued that passing through times of high plant consumption did the same.  Saying “don’t eat plants because #IceAge” is just as flawed an argument.

Alternatively, considering the importance of #context in our modern environment, couldn’t you also argue that low-plant diets are only evolutionarily appropriate during an ice age (where the Earth is theoretically a giant snow ball LOL)?  Also, if plants are somehow unhealthy, how did we survive periods when hunting was poor?  All of the arguments can go both ways.



I mean, if I lived 10 thousand years ago, I would eat anything I could get my hands on — which would probably look something like a plant-based diet with seafood and whatever else could be hunted, scavenged, etc.  Gotta eat, but why handicap yourself by intentionally avoiding plants – shouldn’t the goal be to spend as little time worrying about this as possible?

If you didn’t have to hunt 24/7, you’d have more time to do other things like acculturation, play, sex, music, story-telling, building traditions, etc., etc.


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High Meat, Low Carb During Pregnancy

The Motherwell Studies

Around 50 years ago a group of expecting mothers were asked to increase their meat intake to about a pound a day and cut out the carbs (Campbell et al., 1996). They assessed a variety of traits of the infants and again when they were all grown up.

The babies were healthy, but as adults they tended to have higher blood pressure (Shiell et al., 2001), higher cortisol response to stress especially if the diet was also low in green vegetables (Reynolds et al., 2007), and modestly worsened glucose tolerance (Reynolds et al., 2007).


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Steak Fam and the Wild Mustard Plant

There are many different types of beef cattle which have been selectively bred for specific qualities or properties.

A lot of info here, “Knowing It: Beef Cattle



Scottish Angus x Longhorn = Black Angus.  Apparently, Longhorn beef was unpleasant and tough but they bred well.  Scottish Angus beef was tender but they didn’t breed well.  Cross ’em and problems solved.

Hereford cattle are inexpensive and were bred for feed efficiency.



Piedmontese cattle are double-muscled and less marbled than Angus, and they’re often crossed because it’s hard to give birth to a fully double-muscled babe.  Seems like it would help if momma was the Piedmontese, too.



Wagyu: main breeds are Japanese Black, Japanese Red, Kobi, and Sandai.  Allegedly fed beer and given regular massages LOL

Angus vs. Wagyu: look at that marbling –>



More info from American Cowboy and Steak Perfection.  And a comprehensive list of breeds here.


Needless to say, we aren’t eating the same animals as our ancestors: all of this selective breeding… it’s kind-of-like GMO.  Also, we would’ve been domesticating the slow and less intelligent animals because the fast and smart ones would’ve gotten away.  I’m not saying this is a bad thing, just that it’s not what the hunters were a’huntin way back when.

If an animal has been bred for a trait that increases growth hormone (GH); is it really that different from an animal treated with GH to induce that trait?  [rhetorical]



Same goes for plants.  Check out this awesome infographic:



Thank you for all you’ve given us, Wild Mustard Plant.


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Clara Davis: Babies Know Best

“The nurses’ orders were to sit quietly by, spoon in hand, and make no motion…”

The babies never had anything other than breast milk prior to starting the experiment.  Fully ad lib, they could have as much of whatever food they wanted.  Every morsel was weighed and quantified.

Setting: orphanage.


“Armed with growing evidence from the newly emerging field of nutrition, doctors began prescribing with bank teller–like precision what and when and how much a child should eat in order to be healthy.”  #fakenews LOL

Results: “Every diet differed from every other diet, 15 different patterns of taste being presented, and not one diet was the predominantly cereal-and-milk diet, with smaller supplements of fruit, eggs and meat, that is commonly thought proper for this age.”

“15 uniformly well-nourished, healthy children”


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The DietFits Study

Preliminary results from Chris Gardner’s follow-up to this study suggest insulin resistance may not be as big an influence on the success of LC/LF diets as prior studies have shown.  Maybe I was wrong.

We aren’t given many details in the abstract or interviews, and there are still some good studies showing otherwise (eg, those by Cornier, Pittas, Ebbeling, and Gardner himself), although this one is bigger (n = 609) and longer (1 year).  However, the range of weight change was huge, something like +20 lbs to -80 lbs, so the devil might be in the details… time will tell.  Might be subtle yet important changes in body comp or other metabolic indicators.

If it turns out to be true, my best guess: they were all following Hunger-Free Diet(s)… which work regardless of whether low fat or low carb.


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Whole grains aren’t all they’re cracked up to be

WUUUT *rimshot*

A new study on whole grains demonstrates how nuanced & complicated nutritional science can be.


Substituting whole grains for refined grains in a 6-wk randomized trial favorably affects energy-balance metrics in healthy men and postmenopausal women (Karl et al., 2017)


Sounds simple enough…


Study design: adequate to address the questions being asked.  Isocaloric, weight-maintenance diets.  Biggest differences between the two diets were whole grains (0 vs. 200 g/d) and insoluble fibre (15 vs. 30 g/d).


Disclaimer: I’m not a huge fan of cereal fibre, but that’s irrelevant for the point of this post.



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The BROAD Study or Meat

Is eating meat necessary?  Optimal?


Hint: it’s more important to not eat processed refined junk foods.


Exhibit A. The BROAD study: a randomized controlled trial using a whole food plant-based diet in the community for obesity, ischaemic heart disease, or diabetes (Wright et al., 2017)

Tl;dr: it worked.



The longer version: it was a low-fat vegan diet supplemented with 50 ug B12 (methylcobalamin) daily.


Participants were advised to eat until satiation.

We placed no restriction on total energy intake.

Participants were asked to not count calories.”


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The Spanakopita Experience

I’ve made variations of this recipe about a million times, substituting different cheeses &/or yogurts, different ratios of spinach:leek, different onions, etc… but here’s the recipe I make most often.

2 lbs chopped spinach

2 eggs

1 white onion

½ bunch of parsley

½ bunch of dill

1 bunch of scallions

A couple cloves of garlic

Salt and pepper

Optional: about half a chopped up leek

12 ounces of dairy — mix & match; these are a few that have worked well for me: Feta, cream cheese, plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and Parmesan.  Current fave is equal parts Feta, Greek yogurt, and Parmesan.




edit: all ingredients should be chopped, diced, & sliced

Some people like to sauté the garlic and onion a bit; it softens their contribution.  I don’t.  There aren’t strict rules; I’ve even replaced some of the spinach with shredded Brussels sprouts.  MADMAN!

Mix everything in a big pot or mixer.  If you want a creamy spanako-spinach dip instead, pour it into something like this, and bake 250F x 1 hour or until it reaches your desired consistency.  Time & temp may vary depending on your oven.



For the full spanakopita experience, gonna need phyllo dough and melted butter or duck fat or bacon grease or something similar.  This can have a big impact on the final flavor — I usually use a mix of butter and something else.



Place a sheet of phyllo in the dish and brush on a layer of butter.  Repeat 5-10 times.  Add the spanako mix, then phyllo-butter-phyllo-butter again about 5-10 more times.  For a lower carb version, use less.  Some people go crazy and put layers of phyllo between layers of spanako mix.

note: water is toxic to all known species of phyllo.  Don’t get it wet.

Now is the time to cut it into squares – not after you bake it or else the crispy phyllo will crack all over the place.

Bake it at 350F for about 45 minutes or until the phyllo is golden.




Advanced course: spanakopita triangles.

Cut the phyllo into 2-3 inch strips.  Butter up 2 strips on top of each other, put a spoon-sized lump of spanako mix at the bottom, fold lower left corner over, then fold up, then fold lower right corner over, then fold up, and repeat until you’ve used all the phyllo.

Cook at same temp but about half as long.



Super-advanced: sprinkle a little Parmesan (or something similar) on the phyllo before you fold it so it gets in there, between the layers of phyllo.  You can do this for both the pan spanakopita and the triangles.


note: baking spanakopita is very aromatic.  You’ve been warned.


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Insulin secretion happens pretty quickly after a meal, in part, due to nutrients and gut-derived incretins like GLP-1.  GLP-1 secretion only happens with a meal, so the insulinemic response to oral glucose is greater than that to i.v. glucose:



Part 2. The liver sees WAY more insulin than peripheral tissues when this happens.  And it’s probably that way for a reason; ie, perhaps you need more insulin to shut down hepatic glucose output than to stimulate muscle glucose uptake and shut down lipolysis, etc.


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