Are you feeling lucky? We’re giving away an awesome bone broth bundle to one lucky podcast listener! Details on how you can enter to win, below…
- What you can win: US listeners can win a Kettle and Fire bone broth bundle! The bundle includes 6 boxes of bone broth — 2 of each flavor (chicken, beef, and chicken and mushroom).
- How to enter: REVIEW the podcast, screenshot your review, and email to info(at)ketodietpodcast.com.
- Enter now: Winner will be randomly drawn on February 11, 2018. We will email the winner and announce the results on Instagram @healthfulpursuit.
Interview with Danny Vega and Brian Williamson, chatting about whether or not a calorie deficit matters, the importance of protein intake for lean muscle mass, how to determine the right fat amount for you, and so much more.
You may have noticed that your needs in the gym are a little different on keto. So much of this experience is rooted in trial and error, trying to figure out what works best for you. That being said, sometimes experimenting can feel a little overwhelming, and you just want to consult with the experts.
If you’ve been listening to The Keto Diet Podcast, you know that we’ve covered keto training before in Episode 22: Keto Athletic Performance and Episode 27: Strategies for Intense Training, but today, we’re going a little deeper. I’ve received a lot of requests about how to maximize your #ketogainz and I figured what better way to answer your keto gym questions than to have two Keto Athletes share their experiences!
In today’s podcast, I chat with our guests, Brian Williamson and Danny Vega The Ketogenic Athletes, who share how to customize your keto in order to fuel you body for the workouts that yield your desired gains.
This episode is all about how to figure out your optimum fat intake for performance, what to do when your workouts feel flat, protein misconceptions, and more.
Let’s get to the interview!
For podcast transcript, scroll down.
SHOW NOTES + LINKS
- Subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcast app
- Get more from Danny and Brian on their website, plus follow them on Instagram, and follow Danny’s Instagram
- More information on Danny’s recommend supplements: 400 mg chelated magnesium, 1500 mg L-citrulline, 500 mg berberine, 1-2g taurine
- Grab my FREE 26-page recipe booklet on how to prepare carb up meals
- Check out my previous episodes on keto training, Episode 22: Keto Athletic Performance and Episode 27: Strategies for Intense Training
- Does copious fat intake stop fat burning? (25:34)
- Zero carb workouts (32:49)
- Feeling flat at the gym (44:12)
PARTNERS OF THE KETO DIET PODCAST
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TRANSCRIPT FOR THIS EPISODE
Leanne Vogel: You’re listening to Episode Number 70 of The Keto Diet Podcast. Today, we’re chatting about whether a calorie deficit matters, does copious amounts of fat intake stop fat burning, zero carb workouts, feeling flat at the gym, and so much more so stay tuned.
Hey, I’m Leanne from HealthfulPursuit.com, and this is The Keto Diet Podcast. Keto is a low-carb, high-fat diet where we’re switching from a sugar-burning state to becoming fat-burning machines. Starting keto and maintaining it long-term can be quite a challenge if you don’t feel supported.
My 60-day program, The Keto Bundle, provides you with clear, step-by-step how-to on successfully adapting to a ketogenic diet, avoiding common ketogenic struggles, and healing your body completely and fully with a ketogenic diet. Go to HealthfulPursuit.com/bundle, and use the coupon code PODCAST all in caps, no spaces to get 10% off your order, exclusive for podcast listeners only. Now, let’s get this party started.
Hey, guys. Happy Sunday. The show notes and full transcript for today’s episode can be found at HealthfulPursuit.com/podcast/e70. The transcript is added to the post about three to five days following the initial air date of this episode. Let’s hear from one of our awesome partners.
This show is partnered up with paleovalley, the makers of the only 100% grass fed and finished fermented beef stick. Each stick contains one billion probiotic CFUs, and we all know how important fermented foods are to the health of our gut and the strength of our immune system, as well as boosting overall energy. Chowing down on paleovalley’s fermented beef sticks provides your body with all of the beneficial bacteria it loves in one convenient little stick. Their gut friendly sticks are gluten free, soy free, dairy free, GMO free, freaky chemical, additive, dye, and preservative free, as well as being 100% free from carbs and sugar, and made with the highest quality ingredients.
Exclusive to listeners of the show, you can receive an instant savings of 20% off paleovalley fermented beef stick snacks by going to paleovalley.com/keto, and if your jaw is tired just thinking about beef jerky, I gotta tell you that these tasty treats are not tough at all, but moist, with a little snap. Again, that’s paleovalley.com/keto, for an instant 20% off savings, and if you’re unsure of the link, simply check out the show notes of today’s episode to get all of the details.
I’ve put together a free 26-page recipe booklet on how to prepare carb up meals just for you guys. You can get it at HealthfulPursuit.com/carbup. If you’re intrigued by carb ups, a practice that can help you balance hormones, bust through weight plateaus, and so much more, this free guide will show you which foods are safe for a carb up and how to prepare each item super easily. You can get the free guide with over 50 complete recipes at HealthfulPursuit.com/carbup.
Okay, we’ve got a couple of announcements today. The first one is that I’ve got an awesome giveaway in store for all of you podcast listeners just to thank you guys for listening every single week. You can enter to win a bone broth bundle from my friends at Kettle & Fire. The bundle includes six boxes of bone broth. You get two of each flavor, chicken, beef, and chicken and mushroom. You’ll be stocked up. Get it? That’s totally a bad joke, but the giveaway is awesome.
Here’s how to enter. All you got to do is go to HealthfulPursuit.com/review and leave a review for the podcast. Enter in a star rating and add a couple of words and totally be honest, and then screenshot that review and email it to info(at)ketodietpodcast.com. A winner will be randomly drawn and announced on February 11th, so make sure that you’re following me on Instagram @healthfulpursuit. We’ll also send the winner an email. This giveaway is open to US listeners only. Again, you have until February 11th to enter, so head on over to HealthfulPursuit.com/review to leave your review and then email us at info(at)ketodietpodcast.com to let us know that you did enter and good luck!
The second announcement is that today we’re going to be chatting about how to get gym results using biohacking and really getting into the macros and what’s required in your macros to have a successful movement practice. If you’re looking for more daily exercise-focused content or hardcore training content, keep an eye out. I’m working on a super secret special project that is going to address all of these areas. Until then, if you’re interested in this topic, definitely check out Episode 22 and Episode 27 of the podcast.
Today’s guests, we have two of them, this might be the first time I’ve done this on the podcast. I can’t remember. In any case, really exciting to have Brian Williamson and Danny Vega on the podcast today. Brian Williamson is a 40-something husband and father of three. While Brian has always been active, he hasn’t always considered himself healthy and topped the scales at 270 pounds. His journey toward a ketogenic lifestyle began with some research into methods to alleviate the effects of epilepsy after one of his children was diagnosed. That research led him to discover the science behind the ketogenic way of life and gave him the tools needed to accomplish the health and fitness goals he wanted to achieve. By adopting the ketogenic way of life, Brian has lost 60 pounds, improved his mental and physical health, and started enjoying his life.
Danny Vega is a 220-pound raw powerlifter. I’m not kidding, guys. Danny is huge, with meet bests of 640 squat in wraps and 610 raw, 400 bench, and 700 deadlift. A native of Miami, Florida, Danny received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University in 2004, where he was a member of the football team and three time dean’s list recipient. Danny earned his Masters of Science in Human Performance from the University of Florida, where he worked with a national championship men’s basketball team along with women’s basketball, tennis, and golf programs. Danny then went on to become the strength and conditioning coordinator at VCU basketball, helping the Rams to the 2007 conference champions and making it to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
I’m super excited to chat with these guys. As you’ll notice, they really took over this episode so I got to take a little break. They really got into a lot to do with macros and gym results and how to adjust your macros to fit your body. Without further ado, let’s get to this interview.
The Keto Diet Podcast, including show notes and links provides information in respect to healthy living, recipes, nutrition, and diet and is intended for informational purposes only. The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor is it to be construed as such. We cannot guarantee that the information provided on The Keto Diet Podcast reflects the most up-to-date medical research. Information is provided without any representations or warranties of any kind. Please consult a qualified physician for medical advice and always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding your health and nutrition program.
Hey, guys. Thanks for coming on the show today.
Danny Vega: Thanks for having us.
Brian Williamson: Hey, Leanne. I was going to say, on behalf of Danny, it’s an honor and a pleasure to be on the show.
Leanne Vogel: I love it. Why don’t you guys start off by telling us a little bit about yourselves individually and together, what you do, and all the things?
Danny Vega: Sure. I played football my whole life. I played college football. After college, I got my masters at UF and did my masters in human performance. I worked with the University of Florida football team and then after about eight months, I got a position as a grad assistant in the basketball weight room where I was working with women’s and men’s tennis, women’s and men’s golf, and of course basketball. That led to my first job, which was strength and conditioning coach for VCU basketball. I did that for a while and I got out of the strength and conditioning game about 10 years ago, but it’s always been my passion by far. I’ve been doing medical device sales for this whole time, but I got into keto in 2016 and shortly hooked up with Brian after. We’ve been making magical podcasts ever since.
Brian Williamson: Yeah, that’s pretty true. I don’t have nearly the pedigree in terms of football and working out that Danny does. He’s like educated on it and stuff. I got into the ketogenic lifestyle through my son. He was diagnosed with epilepsy a few years ago when he was about, I think he was 10 or 11, maybe 12. As part of his treatment, the drug therapies became less and less effective. After a particularly rough bout of seizures that were coming on really, really frequently and really rather more intensively, the neurologist mentioned the ketogenic diet in passing. I’d heard of it before because I’ve lifted weights my entire life and folks in the gym have used keto-type diets, cyclical kind of keto diets to cut depending on what they’re doing for competition. I’d known about it, but I started reading more and more about it. I got just intrigued, not by the weight loss aspect of it, but obviously by the neurological benefits and health aspect of it.
My son was convinced he couldn’t do it because he felt it was too restrictive. My job became the guy that was going to model it for him so that he could see that you could eat healthy, you could sustain it, you didn’t have to have all the bad stuff that he was used to eating, and it would be better for his brain. One thing led to another and a few podcasts later, I decided I wanted to do something for athletes and almost the same week that I decided I was going to launch, I get an email and it says, “Hey, my name’s Danny Vega. I’m a powerlifter. I could probably lift your house. I’m also keto. You know, if you ever need any help with anything, let me know. By the way, I have a masters degree in human performance even though it is from the University of Florida.” I won’t hold that against him, by the way. We hit it off. I interviewed him. Were you the first interview that I did on the show?
Danny Vega: Yeah, he was a day after me, I think you said.
Brian Williamson: I think I may interviewed … Okay, it may have been after. Yeah, Danny was the first guy I interviewed. We just hit it off. We were done with the interview, I was like, “Hey, look. I need a cohost. Are you interested?” He was like, “I don’t know, man. That’s a lot of work.” Actually, that’s not what Danny said at all. Danny was like, “Yes!” I said, “You should probably talk to your wife.” He’s like, “Yes, I’ll do that too!” We’ve just been having a blast ever since on The Ketogenic Athlete, just talking to people, helping people in the gym, on the road, in the pool, whatever, just trying to get people to understand that you can still have this well-rounded athletic lifestyle and still eat right, I guess would be the best way to say it.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, and also get the results too. I think there’s a lot of issues with people that go keto and they can’t quite get things right in order to get the results that they want.
Brian Williamson: Oh, for sure.
Leanne Vogel: You guys are really good at that as well. Let’s just dive in and chat about, first off, eating and fueling right with working out. There’s a lot of conversation around calories and how that influences our results and depending on what our goals are, I’m sure, will dictate calories. How do you guys determine how many calories to eat for a specific workout or do you? Do you think that calories matter on a ketogenic diet? Let’s talk calories.
Brian Williamson: I’ll go first on this one. Obviously, calories matter because it’s the measure of energy that you are intaking and expending. I mean, in that sense, it does matter. However, you have no real way of knowing either one of those things. When people talk about calorie burn or what their rate of energy expenditure is, that’s a guess and it varies from day to day. People mostly think it’s static and it’s not. Trying to go everything by calories is really chasing this ghost that is almost futile. Yes, calories do matter in the sense that you have to have enough energy, but I’ve yet to see an example of where calories are the thing that make you perform better. Does that make sense? I don’t know. Danny, do you want to tackle it a little bit better?
Danny Vega: I mean, honestly, the calorie thing, if you talk to a coach, I think that’s a quick way to find out how real they are. I would say, for me personally, that let’s say I’m working with a client. When I start them on a set of macros and it comes to a certain calorie amount, this is my guesswork on where to start. We have to start somewhere. I’ll do like, if I want to look for their protein macros, I’ll have anywhere from .6 to .8 times their lean body mass. I’ll have them get their body fat. Then I’ll also look at their lean body mass and I’ll do by kilograms. There’s this range that you get and then I kind of just start off right in the middle. Usually, I start with the fat extremely high because I want them to just have as much raw material for ketone production as possible and just to feel as full as possible.
If they were like a physique athlete, then we would, over time, we would definitely put them in a deficit, but more important to me is the consistency versus like a macro count. If I were to tell you, “Follow these macros,” and you’re diligently trying to hit those macros every time but you’re eating all these different foods, but you’re working really hard at making sure that those macros are perfect, it’s still going to be really hard. If I really wanted control, I would say I want to have basically three meal plans, which is what I do with my athletes. They can pick from one of those three meal plans. Then they kind of see which one they settle in on. We stick with that one for a while and we adjust over time. They’re kind of eating very similar foods so that we don’t have all these different variables in that we don’t know what’s happening.
Brian Williamson: I think one of the things that gets overlooked and Danny’s kind of, he’s alluding to it, is how you feel is going to determine more than what’s on the spreadsheet. All throughout the day you feel really crappy by eating not enough food or whatever and you know you have to work hard that day, you know you’re going to need to do more. One of the things that gets overlooked is don’t ignore what your body’s telling you. This biofeedback that you get infinitely more important than whatever the spreadsheet is. If you’ve got a plan and you’re working towards something, yeah, of course, but you have to make room for adjustment and I think a lot of people lose sight of that sometimes.
I’m coming from a very I’ll say anarchistic point of view when it comes to this sort of thing just because I’m very intuitive and I’m not at all going by what’s on the paper. I invite people to experiment with that a little bit. Of course, you’ve got to start with a plan. It can be a vague plan, but it’s still got to be a plan. Then let your body tell you what you need to do next. You’ll notice what Danny did when he was talking about macros was he started with protein. That’s kind of the thing that you need to start with. When we’re talking keto, the carbs are going to be low so the next thing you deal with is protein because that’s the one thing you actually have to have in terms of your lean muscle mass. You have to make sure that you’re consistently getting enough amino acids to rebuild all of the material in your body. Of course, fat after that is for various other reasons, but you want to start with your protein and then you can build out from there is like what Danny said.
Danny Vega: I think I’m going to do something now, I’m just going to give my personal secret because it’s not a secret. This is Danny Vega’s macro calculator. This is kind of like the simplified, most simplest way that I would come up with. Mine is just I take their, what I said. Let’s say Phinney and Volek say .6 to .8 times lean body mass. I’d do .7. I’d get that number. Let’s say that person’s number is 140 grams of protein. I’m, right off the bat, going to start them off at like 270, 280 grams of fat, which is right around 80%, which is super high fat. It’s probably not what they’re going to always be at, but, number one, in that first week, we’re doing basically we’re collecting data. I’m figuring out what’s happening to their body weight, what’s happening to how they feel, how full they are, and then I’m making adjustments over time. That’s it. Basically, determine my protein number and double it in fat. I’ll start the carbs with like 20 or 25 total carbs. Then we go from there. That’s my simple macro calculator. Everything else is going off of what’s happening and how they’re responding.
Brian Williamson: 65% of your dietary intake to 80% of your dietary intake is of the fat macro. The rest of it is constituent parts of protein, carbohydrate. That’s what we do. I’m not saying that everyone has to do that. That’s what we do.
Danny Vega: Yes, let me also add that what we both believe in is really listening to your body because, like me personally, I’ve gone through phases where anyone who’s following what I’m doing will be like, “Wait. I don’t get what you’re doing, Danny. I though you were low protein. Now you’re high protein.” I’m like, “Guys, I’m trying to figure out what works best for me.” That’s what I think everybody should do. You know, there’s times where I’ve had my protein at 75 grams a day. Right now, it’s at like 160 grams a day, which is more than twice what I was eating. I think the most important thing is you can have things to guide you, but listening to your body and I think keto makes it so easy to listen to your body …
Brian Williamson: Can we talk just for a second about protein? I think this is something that needs to be talked about, if you don’t mind, Leanne. I feel like I’m taking over your show and I’m sorry.
Leanne Vogel: No, do it. I’m just going to sit back. You guys chat. I’ll be back in 45 minutes. I’ve been recording all day. Let’s do this. No, go for it. My question to you was going to be like let’s hone in on protein. I had a question about protein timing because I know that there’s a lot of concerns about, “Like, oh my gosh. Protein timing. When do I eat the protein?” Run with it. I’ll sit here. I’ll learn.
Brian Williamson: From my perspective, there’s only a problem with too much protein if you are already metabolically broken to begin with. That generally manifests itself in this sense of insulin resistance. If you are someone who is chronically insulin resistant, going on a low-carb, high-fat way of eating, a lifestyle, is going to benefit you in that way, but it’s not going to solve the problem. You’re still going to be insulin resistant. You’re just not going to be ingesting the foods that manifest the symptoms. There is such a thing as too much protein if you are in that particular state. However, if you’re not, generally speaking, you can eat all the protein you want because there is a satiety effect that is associated to protein and fat that can negate the overeating aspect of it. Doesn’t mean it will, it means it can. Again, a lot of things are at play.
Leanne, you know very well about hormones and how they interact. If one is not exactly functioning correctly because of thyroid, because of adrenals, because of different aspects of your metabolic makeup, it can cause a cascading effect. We’re talking like the physicists, when they talk about the surface area of a cow, the first thing they say is you have to imagine a spherical cow. We’re talking ideally. Ideally, you have to start from this point, and then, like Danny’s talking about, find out what works best for you. Now, in terms of timing, Danny’s actually done some experiments on this, unintentional experiments on this. From my perspective, protein timing after a hard workout, you probably want to get some protein into you within four hours of a hard workout is what I’m going to say. I’ve found that that seems to be, it’s the ideal for me. Danny, talk a little bit about what you went through.
Danny Vega: Yeah, you know, a lot of the things that informed my philosophy on this my personal experience. I’m very selfish that way. I experienced these things. One of the things that happens with intermittent fasting and I can almost guarantee that it happens a lot because it happened with me and it happened with my wife is we were intermittent fasting was the end goal. We were putting so much emphasis of hitting that number of 20 hours or 18 hours and there might have been times where we were actually hungry. If I’m training at 6:00 AM and I’m training until 8:00 AM and I’m not eating until 4:30 PM, chances are, over time, that could lead to some bad changes in body comp. That’s what happened to us. What happened to us is we were doing that and then we got a BOD POD. What I found was that early on that month, I did lose some extra fat and I was looking leaner, but then as the months went by, I started to look flat and I didn’t feel as good. I get a BOD POD and I had lost some lean mass and my body fat had crept up just a tiny bit. This is while I’m cutting calories this whole time.
I started working with Robert Sikes, Keto Savage, and for a few other reasons because I was also doing lots of keto recipes and getting creative. I was like, “You know what? I need to cut this out. I need someone else to take over and keep me accountable and put me on a plan so I don’t get all creative.” The first thing he did was add a post-workout meal. Then, within a month, over that four-month period where I lowered my fat from 11.4% to 6.5%, that month, that first month was when I saw the biggest difference in lean mass. Even though over time, over those four months I gained six pounds of lean mass, in that one month was like the biggest difference throughout the whole time. Maura went through the same thing. My wife went through the same thing where she added eating after her workout.
Nowadays, it’s kind of like what Brian says. The reason why we say that four hours, there was this one time that Dr. Jacob Wilson quoted about meal timing. He wasn’t even talking about ketogenic athletes. The study that they were referencing was trained athletes versus untrained athletes and the protein timing. What they found was in the untrained athletes, that they could 12 to 24 hours without consuming protein, without consuming anything, and not hindering protein synthesis. The more trained athletes were more like four to six hours before something happened where it was a negative effect. I think that just goes to show the timing matters more as your training age increases. One thing Brian’s always said is if you’re hungry after you train, eat. If you’re not, don’t. Now, for me, I’m not always hungry after I eat, but within an hour or so, if I’m not really busy, I’m ready to eat and so I just eat.
Brian Williamson: It’s not uncommon to be famished especially when you are … and that’s okay, too. I think it’s interesting that like what you were talking about, Danny, with the more adapted you are in terms of your exertion, the more of a senior level athlete type person, you’ve worked out for a longer period of time over your life, you will tend to have adapted to this point like you’re talking about where you kind of need more protein. I think it’s a matter of your body recognizing the need for synthesis. What I mean is like if you exert once, your body’s like, “I don’t think she’s going to do it again.” All of a sudden, she’s hitting the gym four times a week, now the body’s like, “Um, okay. We need to make a few changes here because clearly she hates us.”
Danny Vega: Yeah, adding that muscle is all that inflammatory process is basically the body’s way of saying, “Oh my gosh. This hurts. We need to get these things bigger and stronger so that it hurts less.”
Brian Williamson: I mean, the key point there, I think the key takeaway is protein matters but it matters even more the more you workout, the longer in terms of consistency or the better in terms of consistency you are.
Leanne Vogel: More on my interview with Danny Vega and Brian Williamson after this message from one of our podcast partners.
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What about fat? I know that there’s a lot of misconception around fat on the ketogenic diet. If you eat too much fat, you won’t tap into your fat-burning stores. When you work out, it’s actually better to eat less fat because you’ll burn your body fat quicker and better. What is your guys’ stance on fat? I know you kind of chatted about it when we were kind of talking about the macros. Thoughts on that at all?
Brian Williamson: Danny’s actually done an experiment on this too. I’ll go, and I’ll put my two cents in, and then Danny can actually give an educated opinion on it. Yes, what we hear a lot is that the less table fat you eat or less plate fat you eat, the more your body’s going to consume of your body fat. That works on paper, but it doesn’t necessarily work for individuals. Again, it comes down to it’s not a simple calorie in/calorie out kind of thing. It’s a hormonal thing. Some people are more predisposed to tap into adipocytes inside their body than they are others. Other people, their bodies tend to want to cling onto that body fat more. Now, whether it’s because they’re genetically predisposed because they come from colder climates or whatever, I don’t know the reason, but there are people who are less inclined to give up the body fat.
It doesn’t matter how much they cut it down, it makes it harder for them to burn body fat. You kind of have to figure out where you fall on that spectrum. You’re going to know because you’re going to be the one who, no matter what happens, you can’t get a six pack. There are folks, unfortunately, who just can’t. They can get fit and they can get healthy and they can get thin. They just can’t get to that like Danny with that 6% body fat kind of thing. It’s just not going to work.
The problem with the whole fat thing, just one more thing and I’ll let Danny go, is when if you follow it to its logical conclusion, you can say, “I will eat zero fat and therefore my body will burn all the fat off my body.” That is proven false because your body is then in a state of starvation because you’re just not eating enough food for what your body needs. You’re eating enough for it to be starving, but not enough for it to be fasted. You know what I mean? The logical conclusion of that doesn’t play out. From what I tell people is use it from that 65%, that 1:1 fat to protein ratio, to the 80%, which is the 2:1 fat to protein ratio. Staying within that realm and kind of lowering it down to 65 or raising it up to 80, depending on what you’re doing, seeing how your body reacts. My wife, who is a very, very petite woman, started losing body fat when she started increasing her dietary fat intake. I have friends who, as they started decreasing their dietary fat, they started decreasing their body fat. It’s not a guarantee that it’s going to work for everyone. There are a lot of factors involved. Experiment a little bit with it and see what happens. I talk a lot. I feel like I should be quiet now. Danny can go.
Danny Vega: You talk a lot. I talk a lot. It’s amazing. The more I learn, the more I realize how awesome Phinney and Volek are because they have all these recommendations. The recommendations, they don’t come out of nowhere. They just come from what they’ve observed over these three, four decades. When they start saying things and I’m starting to see those things play out when I’m experimenting on myself, it’s amazing and it’s just so impressive. I’m just like, “You guys are awesome.”
One of the things is the fat thing. They talk about as you get more fat-adapted, you’re able to tap into your body’s fat stores more. What happened to me, but it took about a year and a half for me to get to this point was I had gotten a DEXA scan in July. Then I had gotten a DEXA scan in October before the first month of this hypertrophy experiment I was doing.
I had lost all the visceral fat in my abdomen but then I had gained some subcutaneous fat, like that okay fat that’s under the skin that doesn’t look great, but it’s not bad for you. I was still doing my typical diet where I just add in a bunch of dietary fat, like extra fat, like fatty cuts of meat. Then I put butter on everything and I have my two keto coffees. Each one is like 50, 60 grams of fat. I’m like hmm. I’m starting to think, “Okay, this extra fat, my body is possibly telling me that I don’t need it.” Then that was confirmed. I realized that on our high-fat month of this hypertrophy experiment, I was having to go to the bathroom more, which I don’t mind saying. It happens to all of us.
The other thing was that, you know, I’m realizing that in the morning, because I was doing fasted blood ketones and fasted breath ketones, I was noticing that my morning fasted ketones in my blood were very high, but there wasn’t a corresponding high breath ketone. If you know about breath ketones, they’re basically testing acetone, which is just a byproduct of the ketone production or it’s a waste product of the ketones that were used. Now I’m seeing high blood ketones, which look great on social media and they’re really cute parlor tricks that you can do. By eating a lot of fat, your body’s going to produce ketones, but if you’re not using them, then what does it really matter? Why am I ingesting this extra fat if it’s only going to either be stored or my body’s going to say, “Let’s evacuate this”?
For me, I just started this week a three-month experiment where I’m going to be cutting dietary fat and I’m going to see what happens. I know that cutting dietary fat, a lot of people, especially if you’re metabolically healthy, you’re going to get lean. When you get to that 65% fat range, that’s a low calorie number. For me, getting to 65% where my protein and my fat are equal, that’s like getting close to like the end of a bodybuilding prep. That’s what I would say. I don’t think you need to go any lower than that because also you want to make sure that you keep these changes. If you do these crazy cuts in fat like that, you’re going to rebound back. Your body, it’s too much of a shock.
I’m now testing cutting dietary fat. What that means, I’m pretty sure it means that I’m going to get more lean, but how does that affect my performance? We talked to our friend Chris Irvin. He is at ASPI here in Tampa, which they’re basically doing all type of experiments, clinical experiments as well as stuff with athletes. He noticed himself personally that his performance got better when he lowered the fat. That was interesting to note, but not relevant to me, but just an interesting thing to keep in mind. I’m wondering if my brain function is going to suffer or if I’m going to be more tired. These things I don’t know yet. All I know is that I go into these experiments with an open mind and curiosity and I’m not trying to confirm or deny anything. I’m trying to just find out what happens. It’s an amazing and empowering thing. I totally encourage other people to do it. It takes work but it’s worth it.
Leanne Vogel: That’s really awesome information, Danny, and really cool that you do your own self-experimentation rather when it comes to fat. I’d love to also talk about carbs and specifically carb cycling and whether or not you guys practice that for your workouts or timing them or anything.
Brian Williamson: You want to go first on this one, Danny?
Danny Vega: Sure. I have not seen a need for me to add carbs yet. I mean, I’ve done different types of training. I did, when I did my half marathon, that’s one of those things you do keto and all these new things start happening. You have more endurance and you’re trying different things. I ran most of my runs fasted. Then, on the day of the race, I basically had a VESPA, which I don’t know if you’re familiar with Peter Defty’s product. It has five carbs in it. I had that like about 30 minutes before the race and 45 minutes into the race. About 10 carbs total and then I did have to drink some Gatorade towards the end of the race because I had really bad cramping because I basically had some sort of nasty …
Brian Williamson: What he’s not telling you is the week up to the race itself, he was like barely able to get out of bed …
Danny Vega: I lost seven pounds.
Brian Williamson: He ran the thing like with the flu.
Danny Vega: I gained three pounds. Well, I had the day before, I had this thing called, I think it’s called the Myers’ cocktail. It’s like an IV bag with all these different electrolytes. I felt awesome. I gained three pounds back. I had a big steak the night before. I had like …
Brian Williamson: Not through the IV bag. He actually ate the steak.
Danny Vega: Although I could possibly like do that because my body would just be like, “Yes, give me the steak.”
Brian Williamson: I would totally buy that. I would totally buy one of those.
Danny Vega: Steak IV?
Brian Williamson: Yes, yes.
Danny Vega: You know, I’ve done hypertrophy-style training. First, let me say what people say. People say you need carbs for hypertrophy-style training because you’re going to be moving and doing things for more than let’s say 30 to 50 seconds. Once you start to tap into that glycolytic fuel system, you’re going to need carbs. For me, if you would have asked me the first three months, I would have said, “Probably, yeah, I need carbs.” I have friends that say, “I just can’t get my training to go right. I feel flat in the gym.” They’ll play around with carb stuff. My personal opinion on that is I think a lot of them don’t commit fully and so they’re just dipping their toes in the water. I personally found that, after three months, I started to get my pumps back. That was telling me that my glycogen was getting refilled again and my body found a way to do that.
I think that there’s a place, especially for longer distances and I’m thinking like anything over two hours where you could benefit from carbohydrate supplementation during the race, but there’s a guy, Charles Washington, he’s a zero carb guy. Zero carb meaning he just eats meat. He does marathons. I’ve been dying to talk to him to try to figure out how he does that because I know that with marathons we’re talking a different story here than a half marathon. A half marathon, I would say pretty much anyone who’s healthy would not need carbs. From a scientific standpoint, there’s always this one study that I quote. It was one that Dr. Wilson did where they took groups of bodybuilders and they put them both in a caloric deficit. They had one of them was doing the one group was doing standard keto and the other group was doing cyclical keto. Their hypothesis was that the cyclical keto group would probably have the best of both worlds. That’s what I would think if I didn’t really look at this and I didn’t experience that I don’t really need carbs. Hypothetically, it made sense.
What they found was at the end of the study, both groups lost the same amount of weight, but the group that did the cyclical ketogenic dieting, they actually they lost some lean mass. All the weight that the standard keto group lost was basically fat. The cyclical group also complained that it took them days to get back to where their ketones were showing up again and they also experienced cravings. I don’t really see … One of the things that Dr. Wilson commented looking at the data was what they think is happening is that these ketones are, they’re anabolic. We know that they’re muscle-sparing, but if they’re muscle-sparing and you only need so much protein because the ketogenic diet is so muscle-sparing, then you’re basically using all that protein to do what is needed and to rebuild muscle. This other group, who knows if there was gluconeogenesis happening. It just threw them all out of whack.
For me, personally, I know Brian kind of feels the same, I don’t really see the need. I would love to try maybe like having a VESPA, for instance, right before a tough rowing workout because I’m looking at them right here. I’ve got a few leftover. I would see like what that would mean. Personally, for most people, I don’t think they’re going to be necessary.
If you have an issue with overeating, if your issue’s overeating, which is what my issue is, I would caution strongly against it. If I taste a carb, all bets are off. It’s game over. I could eat 800 carbs in a day. I’ve done it several times. Don’t try me because I will eat 1,000 carbs in a second. They’re so easy to eat and it’s so hard to govern that and to keep that in check. Being that I have an addictive personality, I just don’t, for me, I don’t see the benefit.
Brian Williamson: Yeah, I’m in the same boat. I do not see a need at all to cycle carbs when you are in training. Of course, the longer that you’re disciplined with your ketogenic foods, as you’re training, the quicker you’re going to be able to overcome the adaptation period. Like Danny’s talking about, a lot of the times what we see is people who, “I’ve been keto for free days and my lifts are not as much or I can’t run as much.” That’s because you’re not giving yourself enough time. We’ve talked to folks who are endurance runners and powerlifters and guys who, triathletes, doing long-term kinds of things. They all say it takes you more time than that. Sometimes it’s three, six, nine, maybe 12 months before you’re fully adapted depending on your body. You have to give yourself enough time. You’ll know that you’re there when your workout starts to come back. When you start to rebound, that’s when you start realizing, “Okay, I’m good. I can deal with this.”
We have yet to see a real need for it. However, there is a place for certain kinds of carb ups. That is let’s say you’re racing in the Tour de France and you’re trying to compete for whatever the prize money is for the Tour de France, not just the acclaim. You’re working for a world championship. It’s entirely possible that you may, in one of the mountain stages, need to have some carbs because you aren’t able to sustain with someone else who is burning those fast carb fuels. Now, the longer you train and the more adapted you are, the higher your threshold is for your body to adapt to those carbs and not start getting the deleterious effects of those carbs. That’s a scenario where even Professor Tim Noakes talks about, yeah, he would advocate for that because it’s a short-term situation where you’re trying to compete for a world championship. He’s like give it a shot. Then, as soon as you’re done, get back on plan. Don’t just let that go like Danny’s talking about. Give me one and I’ll take all of them.
In a situation like that, yeah, we can see it, but when you’re talking about training, give yourself time to adapt and let yourself adapt and be disciplined and be strict about it. I will say this. Yes, your body absolutely needs carbs, but, no, your body does not need dietary carbs. Your body is going to produce the carbs it needs. The reason I know that is because I’ve worked out really, really hard and I eat hardly any carbs at all and I have yet to die, as far as I know. As far as I know, I have yet to die. I’m pretty sure that I’ve experienced the same thing that a lot of other folks who are keto. Danny and I are both very strong carnivore kinds of keto and we both have gone many days where it’s zero carbs at all. It’s just meat, meat, meat, meat. Again, no death.
Danny Vega: No death. Let me say one more thing because I think with the adaptation. I think I should add that my friend Brandon, he was transitioning from, well, he does everything from powerlifting to ultra marathons. He wanted to do his first bodybuilding competition. What I did with him was I, over 10 weeks, I brought his carbs down. That worked really well for him because he started off with 100 carbs a day. Then I went to like 50 within a month. It wasn’t even a month. It was probably like over two months where I got it down to 50. What happened during that period is he actually got stronger on his lower body lifts, which just blew me away because especially lower body …
Brian Williamson: That’s another thing, too. Danny’s used to me interrupting, so I apologize. When you are in that situation where you’re trying to adapt to the ketogenic lifestyle, you have got to find a way to kind of stress yourself. Once you’ve gotten over that sort of like carb restriction phase where you’re no longer feeling bad, you’ve made the switch. They call it the keto flu. Once you’re over that hump, you need to start giving yourself time under load, like stress, because your body’s going to adapt faster the harder you work in that period of time. Like Danny’s talking about with Brandon, they weren’t going with the two pound dumbbells for weeks at a time. They were working hard at the same time. That allows for a faster, more complete transition so you can actually bounce back to your previous state faster because your body has to adapt, if that makes sense.
Leanne Vogel: More on my interview with Danny Vega and Brian Williamson after this message from one of our podcast partners.
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What if somebody’s feeling flat in a workout? Say they’ve been eating keto for three months. They’re feeling really good and they want to go a little bit harder, but they’re constantly feeling flat. Some people would say have a touch of carbs after your workout. What would be, if you’re going kind of your approach of just keep pushing through it, do you just keep going to the gym and keep feeling flat or are there tools that you could use to kind of get over that quicker or you’re saying just keep going?
Brian Williamson: My first thing would be what is your salt intake. That is my first response to that question is, “Are you getting enough salt?” You are working out, like you said, you’re three months in, you’re strict, you’re disciplined, the whole bit. When you work a little harder, you start feeling a little worse. Are you compensating for the hard work by making sure that you maintain enough electrolytes in your system? The harder you work, the more electrolytes you’re getting rid of, you’re excreting, or you’re burning. Keep your salt intake at a consistent level commensurate with the level of effort that you’re giving.
The other thing I would say is start with fat as fuel first. You know, I’m feeling a little flat. Okay. Throw some coconut oil in your coffee or throw some MCT oil in your coffee before you work out and see how that helps you as opposed to turning to the carb stuff.
Of course, there are people who respond differently to different things, but that has been what I’ve seen for me. I know Danny and I have talked about this numerous times. I would rarely find a situation where I would say, “Yeah, carb up, go ahead, for your workouts.” Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying, “Oh, you feel miserable. Too bad. Work hard.” Sometimes you got to give your body a little rest. Are you building the rest in? Are you making sure you’re getting enough sleep at night? All these things play a role, as you know, Leanne. You’re super smart. You’ve been in this space long enough to know that there’s a gotcha around every corner. If we’re assuming that all those boxes are checked, I would say get your salt levels and fuel up with fat first and then see how that plays out. That’s my response.
Danny Vega: Yeah, you know, the salt thing is one of those things where even myself who’s fat-adapted and if you look at the research, in the beginning, when you’re adapting, salt and magnesium both go down and even potassium. After about a month, those levels return back to normal once you adapt. That’s what the research is saying, but you still have to supplement because you’re more at risk being keto. Just in the past month and a half, I’ve really started to get intentional about making sure I get that extra salt in. I feel so much better just by focusing on salt. I know that some people, what happens if I’m working with a client, what ends up happening is they don’t ask me, they just do it. When they do it, most of the time, they’ll say, “Hey, I did a little carb up.” I’ll ask, “How did it feel?”
One of my clients did experience strength gains, but he had only been doing it for about a month and half. His body’s used to burning sugar. If he’s still a sugar-burner and he gives himself some sugar, yeah, sure, he’s going to feel good. It’s one of those things that it’s on a case by case basis. I haven’t really seen a need to add extra carbs. I know it’s like the head game’s involved, especially for guys, because guys hate feeling small. If you start feeling small in the gym, you get desperate and you want to add some carbs. Like I said, I haven’t really seen the need for it yet. There’s nothing wrong if you do it, I just don’t personally see the need for it. I’m definitely not saying I’m judging people who eat carbs, especially because the ones that are smart about it, they’re not having Fruit Loops. They’re saying, “I’m going to have a sweet potato.”
Brian Williamson: Yeah, we would never advocate for it, but you’re still a good person.
Danny Vega: Yeah, yeah.
Leanne Vogel: Oh, good. We can still be friends. I was worried.
Danny Vega: Yeah, you know, my wife could do it. She can do it. She’s the type of person that, if we buy Lily’s chocolate, she’ll have like one row, one little row. If I buy Lily’s chocolate, I eat the whole bar.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, or like half an apple. Yeah, I think what you said, Danny, about if I have one carb, I’ll have a thousand. I think definitely if you have that mentality, then you probably shouldn’t do it. For me, it’s like whoop-de-doo.
Danny Vega: Absolutely. I can not tell you guys how many times I have, on the way to the car, the wrapper, I’m like, “What do I do with this wrapper? This garbage. I’m taking garbage in my car.”
Brian Williamson: Like, wait. Before you get out of the grocery store? Oh, me too. When I buy stuff like that, I eat over the garbage can next to the checkout. Like, “I’ll just be here for just a second.” I mean, that’s part of the problem. I’m a sugar addict so I need to get away from stuff like that.
Leanne Vogel: Totally, I love it. This conversation has been mostly based on how to sort of manipulate your macros and even understand your macros on a ketogenic diet, not even so that you can count them, but just so that you can understand which does what and how it works and how you can kind of move them around to fit your body. Is there anything else when it comes to how to fuel your body specifically with the three macros that you don’t feel like we touched on that you want to leave our people with, nuggets of wisdom?
Brian Williamson: I would say the two things you want to kind of keep constant once you dial them in is your carb intake and your protein intake. The thing you can kind of mess around with is your fat intake. You’ll find different results depending on what you do. If you’re a tracker like Danny is, you’re way more set to be able to understand and to know what the numbers mean. If you’re not a tracker like I am, you’re just going to do it by feel. Some days, I know that I’m eating higher levels of this, that, or the other, just because I know what I ate yesterday. If that’s how you work, that’s how you operate, that’s okay. I wouldn’t necessarily mess with protein. I wouldn’t necessarily mess with carbs. I would say the one thing that you kind of the little dial with is your fat, going between that 65% and that 80% thing. This is assuming not having a need for therapeutic ketosis. We’re just talking about working out and regular everyday stuff. Therapeutic ketosis is a completely different story.
Danny Vega: Well, I just, again, going back to it’s interesting to see like in my hypertrophy experiment the second month. Just so you know, Leanne, Robert Sikes and I decided that we’re going to do this hypertrophy experiment. We added 500 calories every month and every month they came from something different. The first month, it was all protein and we felt like crap. The second month, it was all fat and we felt great and we burned more fat, which we weren’t trying to do, but our body fat went down and I personally added a little bit of lean mass. My arm measurements got bigger. Then, the third month, it kind of a wash. It was my favorite month because it was kind of just a mix of protein and fat. All that to say that I personally, if someone’s having bad workouts, I add fat first. If someone says, “I’m not putting on the muscle that I want,” I wouldn’t necessarily add protein right away. I would look at their workout, make sure that they’re pushing themselves hard enough, because that’s the most important.
Brian Williamson: That’s huge. That is huge. The problem with a lot of understanding is eating protein equals muscle. That is not the case at all. You get more muscle by lifting heavier. That’s it, period.
Danny Vega: You need that protein but it’s not where you start. You start with that training. The fat, if you’re underfed on fat, you’re not going to feel good.
I did want to add one more thing, which is like my personal supplements that I do, which Brian does some of these too. I know that that was one of the things that we might have talked about. I figured I might as well mention them now. People also ask me about vitamin supplementation. When I tell them what I take, only one of them is something that will be considered something you take as a vitamin. I take 400 milligrams of chelated magnesium every morning. I take I think it’s 1500 milligrams of L-citrulline. I take 500 milligrams of berberine every morning. There’s one more that I’m going to say, oh, taurine. I take about one to two grams of taurine just because there was a time in my life where I was doing lots of stuff and I was getting cramps. It was before I was keto. Once I started taking taurine, it went away so that’s like my security blanket at all times.
I have done a lot of experimentation with exogenous ketones. I think that it was really helpful for me when the calories were really low at the end of my cut because one of the things that Robert does is he asks people how their workouts are going. When he realizes, he’s waiting for that time for them to say that it sucks. That’s when you should be getting really lean. I noticed that as I got really lean, my workouts weren’t suffering because I was taking exogenous ketones as a pre-workout. My wife didn’t do that at the same time when she was getting leaner and her workouts did suck. I think, for me, personally, exogenous ketones have their place. I don’t take them as much anymore. I don’t plan on taking them anytime soon. I do take them once or twice a week if I want to be like hit with some creative energy and I want some extra brain power. I do feel like they help with that. That’s my little tip.
Brian Williamson: I wonder MCT oil would affect for the same reason.
Danny Vega: Doing the same thing?
Brian Williamson: Yeah, I wonder if that would be … That would be a cool experiment to see.
Danny Vega: It would. The only thing is like if I take it in the morning, I guess I would have to split it up. My MCT, even now when I take too much at once, it’s like it’s more than before, my tolerance, but there’s still a ceiling.
Brian Williamson: Right, right. It’s a feeling deep down inside.
Leanne Vogel: Have you tried MCT oil powder? I find that that’s better for people that have that feeling their belly when they try regular MCT oil.
Danny Vega: Well, if you know me, you know that I’m the type of guy that says, “Oh, that too? Okay. I’ll take that.” I take them all.
Brian Williamson: Danny takes MCT powder and mixes it with his MCT oil.
Leanne Vogel: Why would you do that?
Danny Vega: I do. I do in my morning coffee. I’ll have a tablespoon of MCT oil, a scoop of Ballistic Keto MCT powder, and then I’ll have some unsweetened cashew milk just because I want volume because I don’t like the taste of coffee by itself. My coffees look like, they’re like white.
Brian Williamson: For supplementation, just to kind of piggyback. I do the same exact thing that Danny does for the first three things that he mentioned. I have chelated magnesium, I have berberine, and I have L-citrulline, both morning and night. I do it in the morning because that’s the start of the day, but I do it at night, mostly the magnesium at night because it’s helpful for sleep, to get that restful state. I don’t do anything else. People talk all the time about BCAAs or creatine. There’s some benefit to those, but they’re not a must. You know, I caution anyone to say that they need them. You don’t. If you’re eating good food, you don’t necessarily need those things. Again, it depends on what your goals are. If you’re trying to reach to that elite level, you may need something that you can’t necessarily get just by food alone. Most regular folks aren’t there. That’s not them. My recommendation is kind of save your money and buy steak.
Leanne Vogel: That is probably one of the best recommendations and where we should end today’s call. Just buy steak.
Thanks so much for coming on the podcast, guys. Where can people find more information from both of you together or separate?
Brian Williamson: We have a website called The Ketogenic Athlete. It’s a podcast as well, TheKetogenicAthlete.com. You can find us on iTunes, The Ketogenic Athlete. My Instagram, because I run @theketogenicathlete Instagram and the Twitter, which means it’s terrible. Danny’s is @ketocounterculture and it’s awesome. You can tell which one of us is into social media and which one of us is not.
Danny Vega: Yeah, that’s what you should have said. I’m not into social media and Danny is. I don’t know if it’s awesome. I think it’s a numbers game. I get it right one out of every, if there’s 500 posts, one of them’s going to do well.
Leanne Vogel: Well, I’ll include all those links in the show notes for sure.
Brian Williamson: We appreciate it, Leanne. Thank you so much for having us on the show. We didn’t mention this, but we’re huge fans.
Leanne Vogel: Oh, thanks.
Brian Williamson: It’s really, really great.
Danny Vega: Yes, totally. I remember when we were on our podcast panel, I remember when you were talking about, I remember when you were first looking into doing your own. Wow, it’s been like, how long has it been now?
Leanne Vogel: I think about a year and a half.
Danny Vega: Wow. That’s cool.
Leanne Vogel: Which is nuts. Yeah, it’s been really fun. I really like doing it. Because we live in the RV full-time, we get to rent a hotel and do the whole thing. Yeah, it’s an experience. It’s fun.
Brian Williamson: Well, you’re good at it so you should keep doing it.
Leanne Vogel: Okay, check and check. Well, thanks, guys, for coming on the show. I really appreciate it. This was really fun. I let you kind of like do your thing and it was a really nice break for me. Thank you for knowing what you are talking about and for being so open with all of your information.
For those listening, if you want to get all the links and some of the supplements that these guys were talking about, you can head to HealthfulPursuit.com/podcast/e70. I’ll make sure to include all their good social media, bad social media, and everything in between.
That does it for another episode of The Keto Diet Podcast. Thanks for listening in. You can follow me on Instagram by searching Healthful Pursuit where you’ll find daily keto eats and other fun things. Check out all of my keto supportive programs, bundles, guides and other cool things over at HealthfulPursuit.com/shop. I’ll see you next Sunday. Bye.