With so many different variations of diets out today, no wonder why people have a hard time succeeding. As a fitness enthusiast I felt implored to discuss my thoughts and opinions on my personal accounts of using, in my opinion the two most discussed diets today,the KETO and traditional body builder, 40/40/20 diet. For those who don’t know what these diets are or consist of, KETO, or the ketogenic diet uses a high fat, low/moderate protein, and low/0 carbohydrate macro split. This is in an attempt to put the body in a ketogenic state where it metabolizes and uses fats as the main source of energy instead of metabolized carbohydrates that are burned as sugars. The “traditional diet”, uses a 40% macro nutrient make up of protein, 40% carbohydrates and 20% fats. They both present their own difficulties and different types of rewards. Both are more than capable of fat loss and helping to create an aesthetically pleasing physique. After trying both I can honestly say I had a lot of fun and would love to do both again someday. But before I discuss my experiences, I want to explain that this was not a scientifically controlled situation. My macros and ways of measuring were unique to me and other surrounding variables such as training, sleep, and cardio were not the same. This comparison is more of a mental synopsis of how the diets affected my daily life, routine, and physical and mental outlook.
My experience with the KETO diet took me by surprise. It was a weird, hard thought to conceptualize. Being able to eat large amounts of fatty meats, peanut butter and whole cream products like cheese and milk were foreign to me in a "dieting" scenario. The other part that was hard to get through my head was the idea that I didn’t need to nor should I be eating large amounts of proteins. Meals consisted more so of cheeses, vegetables cooked in oils and a lot of peanut butter. Now you would think this would make eating out easier, but it did not. It felt very difficult to navigate around the parameters of the Keto diet, due to the fact that a lot of restaurants now tend to provide more “heart healthy” options, which include more low fat, low glycemic, clean protein options. With the protein and carbohydrate consumption being so low I didn’t tend to feel as hungry as I would on a traditional diet. I think this has something to do with the way my body was breaking down the fats, but also might have been a mental barrier. I tried to get 5-6 meals a day in. Most days started with an egg meal. Others meals would be smaller amounts of proteins, such as chicken, beef, and pork with oils and other fats. At the completion of the diet, I had lost about 12 pounds in the 8 weeks. I enjoyed the experience and new ways of thinking. It challenged my abilities to come up with different recipes and meals to keep things from getting old. I liked how I felt, physically. The good fat sources helped strongly with tendon and joint mobility, as well as healthy brain function. My flexibility seemed better at the same time as my “achiness” subsiding. I didn’t find any loss in strength nor energy and my digestive system was firing on all cylinders, if you catch my drift. At the same time I did find that my physique always looked flat. My body looked depleted, muscle density diminished, and my vascularity was nonexistent. This makes sense due to the lack of carbohydrates. I may have been able to overcome this with increasing sodium but would have ran the risk of having an adverse reaction and chose not to. The constant, "I'm I in ketosis" thought ran across my mind. The mental ups and downs of whether the diet was working or hurting me played a large role on my mental status and outlook on the diet. It was very difficult to maintain.
I tend to have always used the traditional diet split that is considered most popular by the fitness community. In a nutshell, your total macros are broken down into a 40/40/20% split, protein, carbohydrates, and fats. I shot for 6 meals a day. For me personally I like to start my day with a high protein, moderate fat, low carb meal. This might consist of eggs, avocado or coconut oil, and a piece of fibrous fruit such as a pear or apple. I take this approach because when your glycogen levels are low, due to calories lost to repair while sleeping, I feel this type of meal keeps the "fat burning" process going. The next four meals would consist of a higher carb and protein source, with low fat, and the final meal would be a high protein low carb, moderate fat option such as cottage cheese. My protein sources mainly consist of turkey and chicken, no fish because I honestly don’t like it. For carbs sources I tend to side with Jasmine or Basmati rice, oat meal, sweet potato and Ezekiel bread. I do like to try to eat gluten free as much as possible. I don’t think this is a necessity, just a personal preference based off how I feel after eating. For fats I tend to use avocado, coconut oil, and natural fats found in eggs. I don’t eat a lot of other fruit because I tend not to respond well to excess sugars. With this approach I find that sometimes my body has a hard time digesting, especially at the beginning of the diet. I often will look to adding in a probiotic or other digestive aids to help ease the process. With my fat intake being a little lower I also find supplementing fish oils and omegas in to help aid joint and tendon mobility. Another issue I have with a higher carb type diet is my body’s seemingly hyper sensitive insulin reaction. My body tends to have the urge to store, store, store, when carbs are consumed. Over time I have discovered that there seems to be a threshold where my body is comfortable with a certain amount of carbs. I also have adopted into my diet a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. I know this seems to be a subject of debate, and could merely be a placebo like affect in my mind, but at 6$ a bottle for a few weeks, I can afford to feed myself that lie. When it comes down to it, if your mind is the strongest muscle, I believe you use any means necessary to train and tame it. Adversely to the KETO diet, this diet tends to leave my body looking harder, more vascular and denser. I also feel it was much easier to control weight loss due to the fact that macro adjustment was easier.
When all is said and done I feel that for me, the traditional diet was overall more manageable. I felt it easier to prep meals as well as keep them constantly changing and different. Adding new sauces and ways of preparing meats were not only easy but made to be convenient. The idea of being able to eat fatty foods is nice at first but after a while became. The lighter faster burning foods kept me hungry and created a more mentally, satiated feeling. Now I know what people are thinking, “what is this guy talking about?” Why wouldn’t he want to have that feeling of being full more? When I’m dieting for a purpose that constant feeling of being hungry reminds me that I am progressing and turns on my competitive switch. Not with anyone else, but with myself. I like that. I want to remind myself all of the time, this is only temporary, it too shall pass, and I am succeeding! Please comment below or go to our Instagram page and comment your thoughts and personal accounts of these dieting techniques. Thank you, and as always keep up the hard work.