Cyclic Ketogenic Diet

by Demetri on September 30, 2002

I have been experimenting with Cyclic Ketogenic Diets (CKD) since the spring of 1999 with some success. I always achieved a body close to what I thought was ideal but without a clear goal of where I wanted to end up I always fell short of what I thought was a great accomplishment.

It wasn’t until I made the decision that I would compete in my first contest in April 2002 that I made any progress that could be considered impressive.

In a nutshell

The CKD diet is relatively simple and one of the most effective diets. In a nutshell, the CKD involves eating 60% to 70% of your calories from fat, next to no carbohydrates (carbs) and rest of your calories from protein.

For my first contest I was taking in lots of fat. Approximately 12 to 15 table spoons of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) a day. That comes out to around 1500 calories day and I’m sure I made Dr. Udo proud.

Taking in all that fat is pretty easy if you make smart (sounds funny I know) choices about what you eat. Those 12 to 15 table spoons came from a mix of EFA’s sold under the name of Udo’s Choice and the rest from fatty food choices (like cheese, red meat, eggs, etc).

So you can eat doughnuts, right?

Eggs and cheese are great choices as they have almost the perfect fat to protein ratio and are typically low in carbs. Be careful with cheese though, some of the fancy cheeses have carbs in them so always read the label. If there is no nutritional break down you should be safe with a cheese that is over 35% moisture and 30% milk fat. Lamb, salmon, cod, and the more tender cuts of beef are also excellent choices. What will be harder than finding high fat low carb food is putting up with the annoying questions that often follow this misunderstood diet.

One of the questions I would get was “What can you eat?”, to which I always replied that anything high in fat and low in carbs was a good choice. This almost without fail raised the questions “What’s a carb?” and “You can eat doughnuts, right? They’re high fat.”. What’s painfully obvious is that most people have no clue with it comes to diet, exercise, nutrition, and why they can’t lose weight.

You still need to cut calories

Contrary to what Dr. Atkins and his followers think, you’ll still need to make a caloric restriction to help achieve you goals … that is if you’re goals involve rock hard abs or a body fit for the beach. Most people on a CKD or Keto diet are very focused on the ratio of fat to protein. I must admit that in my first contest I was also of this opinion. I was six weeks out of my show and I had only lost 5 pounds in what was already six weeks of dieting. It’s not that I hadn’t made good progress, my weight was down, my waist was smaller, and I was showing more and more shape all the time, but at the rate I was going I just wasn’t going to make my deadline of April 27th 2002.

March 14th, 2002
185 lbs

185 lbs
April 27th, 2002
151 lbs
151 lbs

Logically I figured that the ratio of protein to fat was probably too high due to the large amount of red meat that I was eating. I decided at that point to cut all my protein consumption in half. I also increased my cardio from 20 minutes a day to 40. This seemed to do the trick, the weight came off and I managed to come in looking respectable for my contest.

I had incorrectly assumed that my luck came from properly hitting the ratio of protein to fat. At 1500 calories of fat a day I was eating far too much. I figured this out by reading some posts by Lyle McDonald in the news group.

Lyle had argued that ketosis was not necessary for fat loss and that it didn’t make sense to sacrifice protein in order to keep a fat to protein ratio while cutting down on calories. The formula was simple, according to Lyle, just take in .9 grams of protein per pound of Lean Body Mass (LBM), then subtract the calories from your daily maintenance, eat minimal carbs and make up the rest from fat. You can then reduce calories by taking away the fat. You can also cause a caloric deficit by increased activity.

I wasn’t satisfied with my first contest

I had a hard time wrapping my mind around this one but I knew I hadn’t hit the formula right for my first contest and decided to try a slightly different approach for me next contest, the Manitoba Amateur Body Building’s 2002 provincial competition on September 14, 2002.

I decided to keep my protein intake the same but cut the EFA’s down to 4 table spoons a day from 12 to 15. You can always tell when you’re taking in enough EFA’s as your skin is soft and without dry patches. 4 table spoons was plenty enough to keep my skin as soft as a baby’s. In addition to the intake of less fats I had also cut my cardio down to between 10 and 20 minutes a day. Truth be told that was all I had the energy for after the loss of calories from the reduced fat intake.

April 27th, 2002
151 lbs
September 14th, 2002
147 lbs

The pictures aren’t the best for comparison but at 147lbs in September of 2002 I carried more muscle, less fat, and less water than I did at 151lbs in April of 2002. Not only was I leaner and harder, but I was also dead lifting 455lbs that September where previously in April I only could only dead lift 400lbs. My performance in the gym was around the same for most other exercises.

The real stark contrast in my physique was with my legs. While I had really nice abdominal definition during the April show my legs were smooth like a baby. It surprised me that I even took first place considering the other competitors were ripped to the bone. The second show I competed in brought no surprise on how I place. I was just as lean as the other guys, thicker, and my legs muscles were showing some fantastic separation.

The September show is where I really demonstrated the kind of potential I carried and I felt very satisfied with how I placed if not somewhat smug over having proven, in my mind at least, that the CKD diet is a good choice for competitive bodybuilders.

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