Heavy Exercise + IF + Ketogenic, more protein?

(Nick) #1

Hi Folks,

Newbie, this topic could end up in exercise, but it’s really about food I’m thinking about.

Recovering from a chronic pain / fatigue condition, after 12 months of working up from swimming, I’m currently training at the gym most days with a couple of days off. Doing 1-2 hours weight lifting, splitting upper/lower body by day. Also cycling to and from gym but not doing a huge amount of cardio at this point. It’s been quite a transformation, it used to hurt to carry grocery bags back to my car, I needed naps all the time and had brain fog. Now I’m doing 70 push ups as a warm up, followed by heavy weights and then pull ups of my own body weight. I’ve also lost most of my body fat, as you can no doubt imagine.

Diet wise, I’m using an app to have 5% carb, 75% fat and 20% protein. Carbs currently set to 28g, although a couple of times I’ve pushed up to c45g, but still kept it within 5%. Most days I possibly don’t get quite enough carbs, as the app doesn’t calculate net carbs.

I IF most days, not eating till around lunchtime, even when I’m training, in fact, I find I train better on an empty stomach as long as I don’t leave it too late, after mid day I start to feel a little light headed near the end of my routines.

I monitor my keynotes with pee strips but also have a bloody gadget, last time I checked I was at roughly 3.0 mmol/l. And fluctuate between 2-4.

I have a few questions I’d appreciate peoples thoughts on:

  1. Should I IF every day, or is that too much stress on body?
  2. Should I eat more carbs whilst training (like upto 50g?)
  3. Should I eat a higher ratio of protein for muscle growth / repair?

Thanks in advance,


(Allie) #2

I do, but I also pay close attention to my body and the signals it gives me and on days when it tells me to eat an extra meal, I eat an extra meal.

It depends on whether that works for you or not. I’ve played around a lot with adding different carbs at different times and in different amounts, but have always come back to being close to zero carb because that is what works best for me.

I don’t limit protein at all, it’s always on the higher side because that works better for me.

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #3

The carb limit is not a percentage of calories, but a specific amount. The reason is that there is a level of insulin in the blood, above which ketosis is inhibited and fat-storage is promoted, below which fat is available to be metabolised and the liver can make ketones. Too much carbohydrate will take your insulin above that threshold.

We recommend a limit of 20 g/day, because that works for almost everyone. Your particular carb limit will depend on how insulin-sensitive or -resistant you are, but the problem with thinking of it as a percentage of calories is that the percentage value may be above your actual limit, if your total caloric intake should rise for some reason. One company executive who was written up in a case study in the 1960’s found that he started to regain fat if he ate so much as a single extra apple.

  1. You should eat enough food each day to satisfy your hunger. Whether you eat that in three meals or only one is up to you. But be aware that stinting on calories (which can happen, depending on what “IF” means to you) signals the body that there is a famine going on, so it needs to hang on to its resources till the famine ends.

  2. What will the extra carbohydrate do for you? Is there a value to raising your insulin above the threshold so that ketosis is inhibited?

  3. If you are trying to build muscle, you need not only the amino acids to make it (i.e., more protein) but also the energy to fuel the growth (i.e., fat). Be sure to eat foods that contain the branched-chain amino acids, leucine, iso-leucine, and valine. (They are among the essential amino acids, but you don’t need much of them, if you’re not building muscle, and they can cause liver problems if you eat more than you need.) So far as I know, glucose is not a component of muscle, so you don’t need to increase your carb count.

(Nick) #4

Both really helpful responses thank you.

I generally do listen to my body in terms of eating. I’m often not hungry before lunch time and 2 meals is often enough. But if I have trained very hard, I will eat more if I’m still hungry.

Noted on the 20g of carbs. Some trainers at the gym suggested you need to increase carbs if training hard, I didn’t think that was the case, but though worth asking.

I started using the app as it’s so hard to track macros (for me) withtout it. And it asks you to put in your calorie amount for the day and then works it out as a percentage. But it does show you the actual grams. It’s just a tool to approximate that I am generally eating the correct macros.

I’m rarely over 20g and as I mentioned, it’ll be lower anyway as the only carbs I eat are generally veg, berries, which have fibre. So it’ll net back to under 20g most days.

Yesterday I did have quite high carbs (34g in the app), and eat a three large meals after 4 days of consecutive weights.

Today when I did a blood test this morning after fasting from 7pm - 10.30am I was at 1.5 Mmol/L. The lower end of keynotes but still in ketosis.

The main Concern I had about increasing protein was that some people suggest if you go over moderate protein, the protein gets converted to glucose, but I guess because I’m using it to build muscle that its unlikely I’ll have excess anyway.

Thanks again for responses.

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #5

That’s excellent.

There are even some people on these forums who advise that, but also a number who advise against it. I’m not convinced that there’s real science behind the idea. I do know that it is possible to build muscle on a keto or even carnivore diet, but that unless you use steroids your results will be limited by your genetics.

That can be helpful. My only problem with some of those apps is that they adhere to old, misguided dietary advice.

Hey, that’s a good level. Dr. Stephen Phinney, the researcher who coined the term “nutritional ketosis,” says that, while 1.0 might be a bit better than 0.5, ketones above 1.0 don’t really confer any added benefits. Not to mention that the very fit keto-adapted athletes he and Prof. Jeff Volek have studied over the years all had ketones around 0.3, and they were fine.

The first point is older thinking, and the real situation has been shown to be more nuanced than that. A certain amount of protein is converted to glucose in the liver, but it’s a small amount (the body doesn’t normally need more than about a U.S. teaspoon circulating in the blood).

The body maintains a small labile pool of amino acids for use in making new proteins, but if it can’t make use of all the protein we eat, it can’t store much of the excess. Excess amino acids can be disposed of in a number of ways, besides being turned into glucose. And besides, not every amino acid can easily be turned into glucose anyway. Some amino acids readily make glucose, some readily make fatty acids, and some can be turned into either. And if your body needs them for structural purposes, that takes priority.


IF every day is fine if it suits you and you can eat enough.

A higher carb need… It depends. If one does very extreme exercise, it’s pretty much unavoidable as far as I know but for us normal mortals… Some people work better with more carbs, others don’t need it, it matters if someone wants the most muscle gain possible… I just walk/hike, cycle, lift my baby weights in my lazy ways, I never felt the need for carbs. My body is very happy with very little, my other parts mess it up sometimes :slight_smile:

Do whatever suits you.

And it’s about grams, be it carbs or protein. Our needs and ketosis carb limit is in grams. My energy intake is all over the place but my protein is always in its usual range (I can’t even avoid that, it’s automatic. I desire protein when I had little and stop wanting it when I had very much). This is convenient :slight_smile:
I never noticed eating high protein would be a problem for me (but I don’t go crazy high, my average is below 200g at all times. I don’t need nearly as much I suppose but it’s still not high enough for me to trigger any noticeable problem). There are people on the forum who eat WAY more protein than me (quite a few probably needs more than me).

(B Creighton) #7

I am 59, and I believe once you get past 50 your body just needs more time to recover from training. You also do most of your protein synthesis in the first hours after training, so I try to get in lots of protein right after training and on the next morning(a goat yogurt 'n egg and cheese breakfast)
So, I IF on my training days only, which are 3x week, and train in a fasted state in the evening.

If your progress stalls, it may help. I did several things when my strength and muscle growth stalled, this being one of them.

I did, but when I finally added up what I was doing, it was still under a commonly recommended intake of 1 gr of protein per pound of body weight. When not training, I do not eat as much protein. I haven’t seemed to lose my gains though.

(Nick) #8

Thanks everyone for the feedback. Really helpful.

My normal routine is to go to the gym for late morning, and do 1 - 2 hour routine (longer is more resting time, not more weights). And I find I’m super energised despite not having any food. And in fact it’s easier to do that heavy exertion when not digesting or recently digesting food. Very occasionally I start to feel hungry or slightly light headed near the end.

But generally it’s amazing how much energy I have and how consistently I can train burning internal fat sources. And I’ve lost a lot of weight as a result but I’m still building very good muscle and definition.

Blockquote scaperdude
You also do most of your protein synthesis in the first hours after training, so I try to get in lots of protein right after training

I hear you on that one.

I take a smoothie with me in a flask and take it directly after training. Then go eat at home shortly after.

Current one works out at exactly the right macros.
-frozen spinach
-small amount of berries (blueberries etc) - (don’t always put these in)
-almond milk + ice + water
-raw cacao
-faba bean protein powder (or alternative)
-small amount lucuma powder
-small amount of xylitol
-MTC oil + coconut oil
-creatine powder

Sometimes take nuts with me too (Brazil, walnut, Macadamia, almonds) and seeds too.

I am normally still craving protein after this, so will have oily fish or fatty meat of some kind, with more veg.


Percentages don’t work, I wouldn’t advise going by them. If you over eat on carbs, do you then eat more fat and protein to match? Or any combonation of that?

hard to tell, since you only listed percentages, we have zero clue how much you’re actually eating or if it’s right for your goals.

  1. I wouldn’t, it is a decent stress on the body, typically not a friend to building muscle, and you’re lifting heavy multiple times a week.

  2. I do! I do a hybrid of CKD/TKD. I have carbs around workouts and it’s a night and day difference.

  3. Absolutely, can’t build without the building blocks! I get a gram per lb of body weight daily, which scales automatically with your size and gives you a little wiggle room. Prioritize protein!

(Nick) #10

This guy (Thomas DeLauer) is quite interesting, he seems quite well read on the subject.


Points of interest:

  • He recommends training in fast.
  • He agrees with the above, don’t be afraid of eating protein has long as you’re having a higher level of fats and keytones are present.
  • He suggests one day of eating before training AND having a small amount of carbs on that day.

(Nick) #11


My Ketones are fairly consistent and I’ve increased protein since the 11th.


Gotta base info on what your specific goals are, I’m not anti DeLauer, but I’ve been paying attention to him for years, he was one of the first bigger guys to go from CKD to standard keto so he had my attention, him and Danny Vega. They were both into CKD, refeeds, and TKD, Delauer went startdard strict keto, Vega went standard keto, then carnivore. They’ve both lost a ton of muscle over the last couple years. Possibly, they wanted to. But everybody I see that does that has the same end result. Then I take my personal experience of 4yrs strict keto and my amount of muscle loss an inability to regain it while remaining on standard keto.

Ultimately everybody’s different, gotta play around with stuff and see what works for you, just don’t do what I did and watch yourself go down the toilet and not do anything about it until way to much damage is done. Then you have guys like Robert Sikes which is a keto bodybuilder that literally has his pro card, ripped to hell don’t get me wrong, but I’ve got more muscle on me than he does, he looks better because he’s small and cut up, but I look stronger. That simply shouldn’t be! I’m a lifter, and while I may be bigger than averagez, I’m far from what I would ever call a “bodybuilder” . I shouldn’t look stronger than somebody that competes professionally.