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THE KETOGENIC FARCE An Expose' of a Disastrous Diet

THE KETOGENIC FARCE An Expose' of a Disastrous Diet When discussing nutritional strategies for the bodybuilder, it's doubtful a discussion can last for two minutes without someone mentioning the ketogenic diet. This controversial method of losing weight and burning fat has become a widely utilized diet plan among bodybuilders embarking on a fat loss diet, yet I sometimes wonder if anyone knows why. It could be that the ketogenic diet falls into the same category as so many other fallacies that are perpetuated through "parroting" in that an authority makes a claim (coupled with some sketchy scientific rationalization), and before long, it spreads among those in the field. After a while, everyone who wants to sound like they know what they're talking about begins repeating the information. Soon, the hyperbole and hypothesis are considered fact. If the information is of a technical, scientific perspective it has an additional snob appeal which appeals to exercise elitists. In an effort to appear "in the know," no one dares to disagree with the popular consensus. So is the case with ketogenic diet. There are so many things wrong with using ketosis as a fat loss tactic that it's hard to know where to begin. But I shouldn't get ahead of myself. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this diet method, here's a brief outline of the principles involved. The Ketogenic Diet was written by then 24 year old UCLA kinesiology student, Lyle McDonald. The premise suggests that by excluding carbs from one's diet, the body will then be forced into a state of ketosis, forcing it to burn fat for fuel. I have no argument with that. In fact, when I first read of Mr. McDonald's findings, my initial response was to say: "give me some more groundbreaking information, like the sky is blue or OJ is really guilty." The concept of cutting carbs in order to lose weight is nothing new. Back in the 40's, when the science of nutrition was in its infancy, the only information coaches had for helping athletes in losing weight was; "lay off the starches." They didn't know nor did they care why it worked. It just did. It was obvious that eating too many carbohydrates would make you fat. If that tactic didn't work they had a back up plan: "Get the fork out of your face." Worked every time. Of course, there were physiological reasons for the occurrence and those principles were later compiled and marketed to the general public by a certain Doctor Robert Atkins back in 1973. Fifteen years following Dr. Atkins studies, Dr. Mauro DiPasquale wrote a book called The Anabolic Diet which explained how bodybuilders could implement the high fat diet into their programs for greater muscle gains. (Which was something training coach Vince Gironda advocated in a less formal fashion back in the 1960's). Concurrent with Dr. DiPasquale, Dan Duchaine offered a similar assessment in a document entitled "The Ultimate Dieting Handbook." (Later rewritten into "Body Opus.") So my question is this: Why is everyone so impressed with the ketogenic diet? It's essentially old news. 51 Besides its lack of originality, the concept of the low/no carb diet is also severely flawed. Placing the body in ketosis takes the already bad idea of dropping carbohydrates and makes it worse. This is why: For starters, the utilization of ketones for energy induces tremendous metabolic stress. It will work for a short while and cause a dramatic loss of weight but the loss will be temporary, mostly due to its dehydration effect. It can also elicit dangerously low blood sugar levels and places considerable strain on the kidneys. Since the brain requires carbohydrates for fuel, a deficiency can lead to dizziness and disorientation. The current trend of incorporating insulin into the array can lead to such a severe drop in blood sugar, it could instigate a state of comatosis. Mess up and you may mess up big time -- maybe for the last time. On a pragmatic side, the ketogenic diet is almost impossible to maintain. The food choices are too limiting. Constipation is often a problem. (A big problem). Energy levels plummet resulting in sub par workouts. Your muscles flatten out. The absence of carbs is also extremely catabolic. Any way you slice it, ketosis is an unnatural and unhealthy condition. You're essentially beating up your body in order to lose weight. It's one thing if winning a bodybuilding contest is your goal and you tough it out for a few months, but excluding grains of any kind on a consistent basis is nothing short of self torture. Only the truly obsessed can live day to day in such Spartan denial. Eat a piece of bread. It won't kill you. Perhaps the strongest argument to the ineffectiveness of the ketogenic diet comes from the author himself. Lyle's reputation grew quickly and he soon became known as an exercise and nutrition guru throughout the bodybuilding community. He gained notoriety as a popular "ring leader" of an internet newsgroup dispensing his rhetoric with a pompous and almost bullying tone to those who questioned him. He was respected and revered by a loyal following of disciples...until they saw what he looked like. Now let me preface my next remarks by saying that it isn't necessary to look impressive to be a good coach. However, Lyle, despite the fact that he was young and not particularly big, had what many would consider a hefty bodyfat percentage. Again, you can't blame someone for their genetics, but if you're going to imperiously espouse a system as effective, at least practice what you preach. Lyle was a perfect example of the ketogenic diets failings. It looks good on paper, but in reality, it just doesn't pan out. Once Lyle's omnipotence was questioned by his former flock, he vowed to get into the best shape of his life using the principles of the ketogenic diet. He then posted pictures of himself. Pffft. There was hardly any change! It simply looked as if he started working out a little. The people who frequented the message board were merciless in deriding his efforts. Whether or not the criticism was justified is arguable. Be that as it may, it ostensibly proves that the ketogenic diet isn't a miracle cure. Still, there are many who will attest to the benefits of the Ketogenic Diet and swear that it worked for them. (Of course, many use fat burning drugs at the same time). I find it especially humorous when someone misinterprets information, yet still gets 52 results. I recently spoke with a competitive bodybuilder who declared he never got more cut than when he eliminated bread, potatoes and pasta from his diet. Then he went on to explain that he ate rice with every meal! Rice?! That's the starchiest, highest glycemic carb in the world! Yet, the diet still worked -- because he ate clean and ate sparingly. There was no way I could convince him his "no carbs" plan was totally off base, so I didn't try. (Note* Even in Ronnie Coleman's video, there's a point where he's eating his "no carb" meal -- chicken cutlets -- dipped in barbeque sauce!) The cold hard truth is -- people want to think they're being "high tech." It gives the impression that they're privy to "inside" information which will give them the extra edge. By obtaining a wealth of esoteric scientific knowledge, one can hopefully understand the workings behind a protocol. Well, it's time to wake up and smell the sneakers. Understanding how something works or why it should work, is often in contradiction to what works in the real world (much to the chagrin of many a scientist). Naturally, if fat loss is your objective, excess carbs should be the first to go. But they are still needed. The fact remains, the basis behind any fat loss diet is that you need to burn more calories than you take in. That may be the main reason low carb diets work at all. The food choices are limited and you simply wind up eating less. It may seem appealing to be able to eat hamburgers and sausages but how much of that stuff can you chow down every day at the exclusion of most other foods? I don't know anyone who thinks that lamb chops are a good before- bedtime snack! If you're thinking about going on the ketogenic diet, you may want to think again. It's only a quick fix which can ultimately backfire by disrupting your metabolism. Don't rely on gimmicks -- even if they're saturated with "sciency" jargon. Keep it simple. Learn proper eating and implement rational calorie restriction if you want to remain lean and hard, year 'round. That's what has always worked. As a matter of fact, it's the only thing that works. And for a final note on the topic I'll leave you with this excerpt from the movie "Analyze This." Gangster One: "I'm hungry." Gangster Two: "Eat a sandwich." Gangster One: "What can I eat that's less fattening?" Gangster Two: "Half a sandwich." I couldn't have said it better myself. What? No mention of what type of protein is best for muscle growth? Okay, here goes. Excluding other elements present in a particular food and excluding the speed of absorption... ...a gram of protein is a gram of protein is a gram of protein. The End. 53 Note: Be aware that cheap protein such as whey concentrate isn't pure protein. It may contain 20 grams of powder, but within that 20 grams, only 10 or so grams is usable protein. Tip: Instead of buying an MRP, purchase the bland protein powder wholesale (check out www.proteinfactory.com) and make your own protein drinks at a fraction of the price. Or, you can eat a hamburger. 

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