Targeted Ketogenic Experiment Results

Experiment Design

This experiment was my attempt to maintain higher ketone levels through a timed delivery of high glycemic carbs pre-workout. In my past keto mass gaining experiment, I struggled to maintain high ketone levels. I attribute this problem to two things:

  1. Elevated cortisol from over-training
  2. High calorie diet (regardless of low carbs and protein) causing an insulin spike

By introducing a pre-workout carb source, I was expecting to provide a small hit of glucose to be used during anaerobic strength training. I also reduced my workout days to only 3 workouts per week. Here is the initial post detailing this experiment.

On workout days, I would consumed 3000 Calories, and on non-workout days, I  would consumed 2000 Calories.

My supplementation was placed in and around my workouts. My supplementation was as follows:

Pre-workout

  • 30g of Gatorade with 5 g of BCAAs

Intra-workout

  • 3 g of L-Leucine with water

Post-workout

  • Whey protein, MCT powder, 5 g of insoluble fiber with water

As for my workouts, I alternated between 1 week of strength training (2-5 rep range) and 1 week of hypertrophy training (8-12 rep range).

Mid Experiment Revisions

I decided that since I was falling off the rails at certain points, I would add 1 fast each week of at least 24 hours. After my tuesday leg day, I had two days off from the gym. I would use the day after leg day to get an adequate amount of calories in and then fast the second day after leg day.

Results

Over the past month, I have gained 2 lbs. Since my discipline wavered, I was unable to stave off fat gain. It was definitely a mix of some muscle (triceps and shoulders) with some fat. Here is my caloric intake over this period of time (workout days are bolded):

As you can see, I was all over the place. I had some pretty crazy cravings which caused me to exceed my carb and protein limits for the day.

Here are my ketone measurements when I was able to take them:

Ketone strips are expensive and in short supply so I couldn’t take as many measurements as I wanted. I was far more able to rebound into ketosis range in this experiment over the last. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, my macros fell apart on some days.

I also happened to have some blood work done in the middle of this experiment. Here are the blood lipid results:

  • Glucose, random – 5.6 mmol
  • Cholesterol – 5.51 mmol
  • Triglyceride – 2.22 mmol
  • HDL Cholesterol – 1.12 mmol
  • LDL Cholesterol – 3.38 mmol
  • Non HDL Cholesterol – 4.39 mmol

It’s important to note that my blood test was at 2pm and I had consumed eggs, coconut oil, spinach and bulletproof coffee 4 hours before that.

Observations

Throughout this experiment, I struggled to hit my desired macro targets. Although my workout intensity skyrocketed from the added carb, the Gatorade actually caused an unexpected side effect. CRAZY CRAVINGS.

I have noticed 2 things that cause my cravings to go crazy. Going over my protein max (1.5g per pound of bodyweight) and over eating nuts and nut butters which push me over my 20g of net carb allowance daily.

These factors most likely caused my insulin to spike a few times. It can be seen that, although my rebound into ketosis was very quick, my ketone concentration still dropped pretty far on certain days.

These insulin spikes most likely were the cause of some slightly high blood lipid markers. My triglycerides were slightly above normal and my triglyceride to HDL-c ratio was too high. This ratio being high, indicates the presence of smaller (more atherogenic) cholesterol particles.

In my opinion, it’s a sign that my discipline really did waver. To my credit, this is an extremely difficult diet to pull off.

During the experiment, I started to realize that my high fat breakfast was most likely in too close of proximity to my pre workout Gatorade sugar hit (about 1-2 hours). Having blood sugar elevated while fat is still being metabolized probably wasn’t the best idea. On top of that, I added a scoop of MCT powder to my post workout shake.

It’s made me wonder whether it’s actually better to separate times of fat ingestion from times of carb ingestion by around 4-5 hours to ensure that fat isn’t present in the blood when insulin is elevated.

Elevated insulin in the presence of fat is most likely the reason for my elevated triglycerides. Elevated triglycerides from a high fat diet that is also high in carbohydrates is something that I have heard Dr. Adam Nally report from studying his patients (Keto Talk Podcast). He says that as soon as his patients completely lower their carbohydrate intake, the triglycerides drop back to normal.

This makes sense to me. If the digestion of fat occurs properly, and triglycerides are released into the bloodstream (from dietary sources), they will stick around in the blood if glucose is available to be utilized instead.

As for my cholesterol, I would not have been concerned with elevated levels, if my triglyceride:HDL-c ratio were lower. As of right now it’s up near 1.9. I am going to design a new approach to see what happens in the future.

One other observation that I made, was that recovery was hindered. Soreness lasted for 2-4 days. This may actually be due to my workout intensity being elevated (since I’m only going 3 days each week now). I’m sure that both play a role.

Conclusion

I would consider this one a failure. This is because it’s very hard to pull off. When you’re consuming supplementary sugar, you’re walking a very fine line. The sugar causes cravings and ingesting it in close proximity to a high caloric intake of fat is clearly not very safe.

I believe that there is a way to pull this off properly, with a little bit of tweaking. Ideas are already starting to pop up in my mind and I will surely attack this problem again in the near future.

As for right now, I am moving into a cyclical keto diet that I will post the details of in a post tomorrow.

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