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Frequently Asked Questions

Part K: Ketogenic Diets

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On Ketogenic diets:

What do you think about Ketogenic diets for naturals, would they come in to flat, would they be able to still put on muscle and get pumps?

Ketogenic diets have always been thought of as ‘protein sparing’ because ketones spare blood glucose which will reduce gluconeogenesis (conversion of amino acids to glucose) and ketones can be used as fuel, however ketones can only be used by aerobic metabolism. Weightlifting is quite anaerobic and studies have shown performance is very closely correlated to levels of muscle glycogen & glucose availability. Is keto a good way to lose fat very quickly? yes. But if you give yourself ample time… why not have carbs? They are not evil and are quite useful. Also keto diets will make it more difficult to fill out when it comes time to do so, it takes weeks to adapt to a ketogenic diet, so when you come off of keto it will take weeks to adapt to carbohydrates back in the diet and so if you are trying to carb up a few days before the show after you did keto for 12 + weeks I’m afraid you will have very little idea what to expect as you will essentially be challenging your body with something it isn’t accustomed to. If you choose to do a ketogenic diet and not re-introduce carbohydrates, I would do a moderate protein/fat load and only increase carbs very slightly.

Finally, I think some people are better with keto diets than others. I think the mental aspect cannot be discounted. Some people just mentally cannot handle carbs. That’s fine, keto is probably better for them, but in my opinion, if you don’t absolutely have to do keto, you are better off not doing it as it really complicated trying to properly fill someone out for a show and has not been shown to be superior to an isocaloric high protein non-ketogenic diet in peer review studies.

On Dave Palumbo’s Diet

I keep hearing about Dave Palumbos diet, anyone got any info on it at all or links
From what I can see it is similar to a CKD (cyclic ketogenic diet)

What is your opinion on Dave Palumbos diet for natural bodybuilders?

Dave’s diet is pretty much just a keto diet from what I understand. I think it will work just fine, but you won’t be able to do a standard carb up for your show and you will probably be dry; but I’m not sure it’s possible to fill out correctly.

On Efficacy of Ketogenic Diets:

Ketogenic diets work for fat loss; there is little doubt of that. However, I have a few issues with them. I mean if you are eating sub 50g carbs per day and you hit a wall in terms of fat loss you have very little of anything else to drop other than dietary fat. Additionally, it can be difficult to fill out on a keto diet

Comments on a specific ketogenic protocol

Layne, if you don’t mind, I’m prepping for a few shows this fall and I’m doing a keto diet (60% protein/30% fat/10% carbs – green veggies/incidentals from fat sources). I started by multiplying my bodyweight by 15 (181). The first week I lost 5 pounds and refigured by multiplying 15 by 175. Days 1 and 2 I use that number (2625). Days 3/4 I use 2325. Days 5/6/7 I use 2025. Do you think I’m cutting cals enough for my body weight? (2 days on 1 off, 3 days on 1 off training w/ 5 days of 40-min cardio)

I think it looks reasonable

On artificial Sweeteners and Ketogenic diets:

On a ketogenic diet, would you count artificial sweetener as a carb or not, ie, would it would it bring you out of ketosis if you ate enough of it?

You’d have to eat a ton of it to affect ketosis

So technically it counts as a carb as opposed to protein or fat?

Well, it has a bit of sugar as a filler but it’s very small

On methods to deliver creatine more effectively during Ketogenic diets

Layne, do feel 4-hydroxyisoleucine, Taurine, & BCAA’s taken with creatine would help the delivery since there are no carbs on the keto diet? Also, what about sodium…couldn’t it theoretically increase delivery as well?

Isn’t the whole point of a keto diet to keep insulin low? That’s what all those guys seem to say (not that I agree that insulin is so evil) but if you were doing keto to keep insulin low… why take something that raises insulin

Also, increasing insulin would drop your blood glucose and since according to the ketogenic people out there, insulin is this evil hormone that causes you to store massive amounts of fat… you wouldn’t want that.

That said.. insulin isn’t as evil as everyone thinks.

In a nutshell:

oversecretion of insulin= very bad

normal modulation of insulin= optimal

On Peanut Butter and Protein Isolate Post workout

Layne, got a question on ketogenic diets. I noticed that Palumbo will take in Whey Protein Isolate w/ a shitload of peanut butter postworkout. What’s the point of PB postworkout? Doesn’t that slow the absorption of the protein?

I would think so yes, honestly you’d have to ask him, i’d rather not speak for him

Hitting the wall with Keto: 2 cases

Case 1:
Hey Layne I’m having a problem. I’ve been on Dave’s diet for 4 months it’s worked great. I have actually stayed very strong I’ve only lost a rep here and there. But lately I’m not feeling right, I’ve been thinking of cutting my fats back and replacing them with carbs staying at the same amount of calories that I’m at now. I’m losing 2 pounds a week, my is show is Oct 13 8 weeks away. If I start eating carbs will I get some kind of rebound, or will my weight lose slow down.
For both of your cases, if you are at a sticking point it’s always good to try something & see if it works. I would slowly add in carbs and reduce fat and you may gain some weight simply from filling back out with glycogen/fluid; but it won’t be fat. But I would not increase carbs more than 15-25g/week

Case 2:

I, right now, am kinda depressed, to use an euphemism, due to the fact I seem to be stuck with every aspect of my diet.

Some infos about me:
I’ve been on Dave Palumbo’s diet for 6 weeks now. I diet for personal reasons, not for a contest, so no date set in stone, which is an important factor. Yet despite this no time constraint, I’m trying to diet for the shortest possible time (while preserving maximum amount of muscle), since gettin up in lean mass is bodybuilding’s purpose actually, at least in my case, by the way, I’m 29 yo, two years of training, endo-meso, 170 cm and 75 kg at ~10-11% BF.

My first problem, is I may have gotten too excited when I began the diet and did too much cardio right from the start, like two hours a day (1h am, 1h pm). At first, of course, it worked wonders and I shed fat like dead skin, feeling tighter by the day; but now I’m completely burnt out.
I must specify, even if I never felt very good while in ketosis, (which makes me ask myself if this really is the right diet for me, I maybe am not someone who does very well whithout carbs….), that my strength,even right now, never decreased in the gym. No progress, but no loss. The diet is not excessively low, between 1800 and 2000 Kcal, but with all the cardio, I sometimes got far below the 1000 kcals deficit daily barrier…I can easily guess I’ve got a snail’s metabolism right now, with totally annihilated leptin levels.
My symptoms? As I wrote I was getting leaner on a regular basis, waist tightening, skin thinning down etc… when all of a sudden, like a week ago, I seemed to stop losing fat, even worse, at one point I seemed to begin to get softer and watery each day. And tired as hell. Always feeling cold (it’s summer goddammit), cold hands with violet fingernails, sometimes feeling dizzy. Not good.
I think you get the picture by now…

I’d like to know if you think it would be wise, if I broke the diet for a week and ate slightly above maintenance level (which is now lower than it should), with a high carb ratio (since leptin is more reactive to carbs, e.g. 1g proteins 0.5g fats and 4g carbs per pound of bw), in order to restore my leptin levels?
I would also slowly taper down the cardio, like no more pm cardio and a decrease of 5mn each other day to finish at 40-45 mn per am session.
(My problem is I actually have no idea how long it takes to reset cardio tolerance and efficiency.)

And then at the end of the week I get straight back to Dave’s diet but with a smarter cardio and calorie deficit protocol.

Does it look appropriate or am I gonna screw it up even more and gorge my hardly drained fat cells with this sudden change?

I’d greatly appreciate your guidance, since I quiet feel at loss right now…


Paul, I would not eat at maintenance… with your metabolism as slow as it is you’d put back on fat pretty quickly. I would slowly increase your carb intake by about 15-20g/week until you get to about 125-150 with a corresponding decrease in calories from fat. I think you’ll feel better and fill out better. You might put on a little bit of weight, but it will just be water/glycogen.

Layne, thank you for your answer. I’ll do what you wrote and keep you updated.

And just out of curiosity, am I biased or does water like to fill places where you usually store fat (belly, glutes, chest…) when you suffer from water retention? If it’s the case, what are the mechanisms behind this?

Thanks again for your time, it’s really been appreciated.


no, I think that fat likes to hide in those places so it looks like more water lol, I know what you mean. my lower back is like ham!

Gluconeogenesis and Ketogenic diets

This person from my gym had a very similar opinion such as yourself towards ketogenic diet. Here is the info behind what he said…curious as to ur opinion:

I asked a very knowledgeable nutritionist and bodybuilder I know (not some retard im talking experienced and with a PRO-CARD worthy physique and prepared many for contests with success) and he said about ketogenic diet the problem is when protein is over 20 % on ketogenic diet ur body performs process of glucogenesis.

Ur opinion on this? does this ruin the precepts of the diet, or is the glucogenesis ok?

It doesn’t ruin it. your body only has a finite capacity to produce glucose from gluconeogenesis… about 5g per hour max. That ends up being about 100g/day. If you aren’t eating any carbs this will still put you in ketogenesis

Solute Load on Kidneys during ketogenic diets:

hey Layne, someone posted your comment about ‘solute load’ and the kidneys, as well as eating to much fat over a long period of time can cause problems with the kidneys.

Does that mean following a high fat diet (like ketogenic diet) can cause kidney problems (eg- if u eat in that style for ur entire life from 20’s and onwards). U have me curious?

I think what i said was probably taken out of context… anything that is too high is bad; but if you are eating super high fat in a caloric deficit i doubt your kidneys will be negatively affected