Category Archives for Keto News

Keto Smoked Zuppa Toscana Soup

KETO SMOKED ZUPPA TOSCANA SOUP DESCRIPTION:

Are you craving an amazingly simple keto soup recipe that also tastes delicious!? If so, this Zuppa Toscana soup is your answer! This beauty is a breeze to make and is packed full of nutrient-dense ingredients. It's hearty and filling but doesn't feel heavy on your gut. Smoke it for some extra flavor!

INGREDIENTS AND MACROS:

INGREDIENTS AND MACROS

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 1 Pound Italian Sausage
  2. 4 strips of bacon
  3. 1 Head of cauliflower (or as much/little as you like)
  4. 32 oz bone broth
  5. 1/2 Onion
  6. 3 Cloves of garlic
  7. 1/2 Cup heavy cream
  8. 2 Cups of kale
  9. Cheese or Spice as desired toppings

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cook sausage and bacon in pot
  2. Chop cauliflower into bite-sized florets and add to the pot
  3. Dice onion and saute in pot as well
  4. Stir in garlic
  5. Add bone broth and continue stirring
  6. Chop up kale or spinach and add to pot
  7. Smoke on a low heat (185-225 degrees) for several hours to provide a smoked flavor
  8. If not smoking, simply cover pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  9. Add heavy cream and desired toppings
  10. Dig in!!!

MACROS:

MACROS

Cook some of our other tasty keto meals!

http://ketosavage.com/kitchen/

Adam Schaeuble on the Million Pound Mission University!

Million Pound Mission

Adam Schaeuble Podcast Show Notes: 

Adam Schaeuble from Million Pound Mission is an awesome gym owner and podcasting mastermind.  He never fails to make me laugh on a show and this episode is no exception.  We dive into his new project, the Million Pound Mission University!  We also discuss how he has transitioned from owning a gym to creating a successful online business!

LINKS:

Check out Million Pound Mission University: ​University

Listen to Adam’s podcast: https://www.transformationcoach.me/blog

Follow Adam on Insta: https://www.instagram.com/millionpoundmission/

Listen to my other podcast episodes: http://ketosavage.com/podcasts/

What is ketosis? What is the science?

What is ketosis?

Ketosis is simply an alternative fuel supply for the body and the brain. It is a metabolic state in which much of the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies and fat oxidation rather than glucose.

What is ketosis?

Energy demands of the cell

The cells in your body require energy for three types of tasks: transporting needed substances across membranes, driving metabolic reactions that don’t occur automatically and to do mechanical work like contracting muscles. Carbohydrates and fats store chemical energy. When that energy is needed by the cell, those carbs and fats are converted into ATP (Adenosine triphosphate). From there, ATP acts as a transporter for that energy to certain areas in the cell that need it.

HUMAN CELL

The Krebs Cycle (Citric Acid Cycle)

If you consume carbohydrates, your body goes through a process call glycolysis to convert glucose (from carbohydrates) into pyruvate. This conversion process generates ATP molecules.

KREBS CYCLE

Under normal conditions, fatty acids are broken down in beta-oxidation and glucose is broken down in glycolysis to form acetyl-CoA. This acetyl-CoA then goes through several enzymic reactions in the Krebs cycle to create ATP through a process called oxidative phosphorylation. That is a totally normal process that occurs in everyone.

The Blood Brain Barrier (BBB)

BBB

In the absence of carbohydrates, your body is going to look for an alternative fuel supply to power the body and brain. However, you can’t simply turn to fat alone as the next available energy source due to the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB). The BBB is a semi-permeable layer surrounding your brain formed by endothelial cells that fit tightly together. This barrier acts as a protective mechanism preventing foreign substances from entering the brain. However, it also prevents fatty acids from entering the brain as an energy source. To combat this, our body produces ketones that are able to cross the BBB and provide energy to the central nervous system.

blood brain barrier

Without Carbohydrates | Gluconeogenesis

Without carbs, glucose and insulin levels drop and your body needs an increased amount of enzymes to synthesize energy molecules. Glucagon is a regulatory hormone that acts as the inverse of insulin and is released when blood glucose levels are low. Glucagon triggers gluconeogenesis which is the production of glucose from non-carbohydrate substances like muscle tissue.

gluconeogenesis

Ketogenesis

That is all fine and dandy for awhile but continued gluconeogenesis is going to have a serious catabolic effect on muscle tissue which is not ideal. Gluconeogenesis also results in the depletion of oxaloacetic acid which is a metabolic intermediate necessary for the oxidation of acetyl CoA in the Krebs cycle. Without an ample supply of Oxaloacetate, acetyl-CoA can’t efficiently produce ATP using the Krebs cycle and is shunted towards ketone body production. The acetyl-CoA undergoes a biosynthesis process in the liver that generates ketone bodies via thiolase, acetoacetyl-CoA, and beta-hydroxy-beta-methylglutaryl-CoA. This multi-step, enzyme-catalyzed process results in the production of the ketone body acetoacetate. A fourth enzyme, beta-hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase, then reduces acetoacetate to beta-hydroxybutyrate.

ketosis

Ketone Bodies For Energy

Both acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate are then released into the bloodstream and used by the body in place of glucose. The beta-hydroxybutyrate molecule is more stable than the acetoacetate which is why it’s predominately used for transportation. Acetoacetate is a beta-ketoacid and may spontaneously decarboxylate. The byproduct of this decarboxylation reaction is acetone which is excreted in the breath.

ketogenesis 1


Once the ketone bodies reach the cells in need, they go through a process called ketolysis.  Ketolysis is the conversion of ketone bodies back into acetyl-CoA which then feeds into the aforementioned Krebs cycle for the mitochondrial generation of ATP.

ketolysis

SOURCES:

The Beginning Of Keto Savage, My Story: Part 2

GET HUMBLED

So then what, Crystal and I live happily ever after and Keto Savage became a huge success right? Not quite. Crystal and I were together yes but times were rough. I was dead broke and that created a huge strain on our relationship. I couldn't afford grocery’s, much less a date with my new girlfriend. That was a tough pill to swallow. I didn’t want to portray weakness or appear inadequate. I was able to spoil her when I had the income from the Railroad. Now, our idea of a date was walking around grocery stores to see how we could save money on a meal. I began to rely on credit cards to make ends meet. Something I hated to do but it kept me above water which I’m grateful for. I would swipe the plastic to put gas in my truck, to buy grocery’s, to get a haircut, to buy toilet paper. Anything and everything, credit card to the rescue. I would keep telling myself, “Just get through this time and then I’ll be able to pay everything back in full.”

I believed I would find the solution to my problem. I needed to put in the time and the work until I figured out what that solution would be. The solution didn’t come for a while though. As a result, I racked up about $30,000 in credit card debt. Add that to the $30,000 in college loan debt I had and the mortgage loan I had on my house. I was in freak out mode! Broke as hell, in debt to my ears, and unemployed, what the hell was I going to do?

cc card
downward trend

DISCOVERING KETO

CBL

All this was going down shortly after my last competition. I was secretly grateful that I had all the financial stressors on me. It prevented me from going through a post-show depression. I didn’t have the time or energy to focus on that, I was too concerned with making money. The gym continued to be my only source of relaxation, I would train in a constant state of meditation. I decided I was going to treat my post-show reverse diet differently this time around. I wanted to use John Kiefer’s “Carbohydrate Back-Loading” technique. The principals of carb back-loading are simple... Eat fat and protein throughout the day and consume all your carbs at night. For this to work, the carb sources needed to consist of high glycemic, sugary, carbs. That way, your insulin would spike quickly and return to baseline within a few hours. This would prevent the interruption of your growth hormones while sleeping. I thought this would be a great way to stay lean in my off-season while still eating tons of carbs. I had experimented with back-loading before and I had always liked it. My body responded well to the huge amounts of food and my eating disorder binges were minimized. However, stuffing myself with donuts, cereal, cherry turnovers, and pizza wasn't sustainable. Even though I wasn’t getting fat, I felt guilty for eating the low-quality foods. It felt “wrong”, there had to be a healthier alternative.

I noticed that I seemed to feel the best during the first half of the day when I was only eating fat and protein. As soon as I binged on the high-glycemic carbs, I would crash and feel dead to the world. I decided to try something crazy, I was going to skip the carb load altogether. I was doing carb back-loading, without the carbs! I did this for a few days and felt a little sluggish but I decided to keep pushing through. I lost a little weight and felt leaner so I thought I’d keep at it until I noticed any negative effects. Oddly enough, there were none. After a week or two, I had more energy than ever before. I couldn’t believe it, I must be some strange outlier. I’d tell my training partners that I hadn’t had carbs in weeks and they all looked at me like I was crazy. “What, no carbs?! You’ll never make it through this workout.” I did make it through though, I made it through and trained harder than all them in the process.

no carbs
limitless

My training wasn’t the only improvement, I noticed my mental clarity had shot through the roof. I no longer got the 3:00 pm brain fog that plagued everyone else. I could plug into my work and not get up for hours at a time. My productivity doubled and I felt like Bradley Cooper in the movie, “Limitless.” I was waking up earlier and going to bed later and getting so much more done than ever before, what the hell was going on? I was always told, “Carbs are energy” yet, I had more energy without them. None of this made sense to me and I had to figure out what was happening.

I did some research and stumbled upon this thing called “Keto.” I read that it was first used for epileptic children in the 1920’s, not sure what that had to do with me. Yet, this diet for kids who suffered from seizures aligned perfectly with what I was doing. I dug deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. I downloaded this book called, “Keto Clarity” by Jimmy Moore and read it cover to cover. My eyes opened. Now it all started to make sense. I read every article I could find, listened to every podcast, and read all the research, I was on the ketogenic diet! As soon as I heard the Tim Ferriss podcast with Dom D’Agostino, I was convinced. This was going to be my new lifestyle.

ketones

The more I learned, the more interested I got. I began experimenting with my own nutrition and tweaked my food sources and meal timing. I learned about electrolytes and certain supplements to include to maximize performance. I ate only quality foods and removed anything processed. My prior eating disorders seemed to vanish. I became much more in-tune with my body and I knew what it did and didn’t need. Solving the eating disorders helped immensely with my OCD. Being solid in my nutrition gave my compulsive disorders one less thing to feed off of. This had a cascading effect on so many other areas of my life. I began to regain control. However, I was still a long way from success. I had my nutrition figured out but I still had to figure out my relationship with Crystal and my finances…

CLIMBING OUT

I doubled down on the real estate endeavors since I already had my realtor license. I worked tirelessly, finding clients, hosting open houses, and networking within the community. I managed to become the selling agent for one of the railroaders. His house became a nightmare! Every time I got close to getting it under contract, something would happen. The boiler went out, the roof needed repair, electrical work needed to be done. It was a never-ending battle of trying to appease both sides. That was a commission check I desperately needed but didn’t think I’d ever see.

UNDER CONTRACT
FIRE AND IRON LOGO

I reached out to David Frazier, the guy I tried making the Amazon store with, to see if there was anything I could do for him. David is a master blacksmith and I wanted to help with any admin/marketing work he may have. I started doing his accounting work, reconciling his books and making his budgets. Most of his work was physical but, he needed to have more of an online presence. He needed a website so I taught myself how to code and use WordPress. There were so many things I needed to learn and I happily dug into acquiring new skills. I knew they would be beneficial later in life. I would stay up all night watching tutorials on YouTube and Udemy to further my knowledge. David creates a 3-D rendering for all his projects to present to his clients before he ever strikes an arc. So, to create more value, I taught myself how to use Google Sketchup and create accurate 3D designs.

The work I did for David was great but it wasn’t paying the bills, I was still digging deeper and deeper into cc debt. I talked to the manager of the Gold’s Gym I was training at to see if they had any open positions. They did! He fixed me up with a front desk sales position. After that, I lived at the gym. I woke up early and worked on David’s books. Then, I headed to the gym to get some hours in. I closed the gym and trained after hours. I'd get home and prep all my meals for the next day. I'd get a few hours of sleep then repeat the process. It was a humbling experience to go from making the money I was with the railroad and then drop to minimum wage at the gym. After the gym closed I would have to take out all the trash, clean the bathrooms, and pick up all the weights. I would smile at myself thinking wow, from high-end manager to low-end janitor, I’m really moving up in the world…. I tried to stay positive and optimistic throughout it all, at least I had a job.

GOLDS GYM
PBW TEAM
pbw logo

However, I still wasn’t making enough to pay the bills. Both were minimum wage and I had quite a few expenses. I had a mortgage to pay, college loans to pay off, and standard living expenses. I needed something else. I reached out to my uncle Mark who owned his own business. Mark built his business, Personalized Bottle Water, from nothing. I respected him for what he had accomplished as a businessman. I use to help him when I was a kid, running the label line and making deliveries. I asked if there was anything I could do for him remotely. He did some thinking and thought I could get into sales. Perfect, I’ll take it! They would send me a ton of cold leads and I would call on them trying to convert them to paying customers. Let me tell you, cold calling is another humbling experience! I would spend hours on the phone, “Hello, this is Robert Sikes at Personalized Bottle Water. I’d love to help you with your custom labeling/branding needs.” On and on an on, I got really good at leaving voicemails! I gladly did the work. I needed the money and I knew the sales skills I was developing would help me later in life.

This was one of the hardest times for Crystal and I. I worked all damn day and most of the night. My stress was through the roof and I had no time or money to treat her at all. She never asked for much but I couldn’t even give her that. We would talk a little throughout the day but it was always small talk and then I’d go back to work. Since so much of what I did was on the computer and could be done from home, I never left the “office”. At the time, she didn’t want to train with me so I couldn’t even spend time with her at the gym. I noticed myself becoming more and more bitter towards her. I felt that I was doing everything I could do dig myself out of this hole. Why couldn’t she understand and support that? I was blind to the fact that she supported it the whole time. All she needed was five minutes for a hug or a moment of kindness. I didn’t even give her that. I started to pick apart all the things she did that I didn’t agree with. She used to smoke and that drove me crazy. She wasn’t near as healthy as she could be with her food and that pissed me off. She wouldn’t train with me, she wouldn’t try keto, she wouldn’t try and find a better job, on and on and on. I was being completely unfair to her. I loved her so much, I just didn’t know how to show it. I didn’t know how to see a light in the world because of the financial darkness that seemed to suffocate me. It was beginning to consume me in a very negative way.

STARTING KETO SAVAGE

HEADSHOT

I was so focused on surviving that I lost my sense of self? Who was Robert Orion Sikes? I felt like I was juggling so much that things were beginning to slip. I’d mess up a sale for Mark. I’d miss a tax payment for David. I’d forget Crystal’s Birthday. I was beginning to lose it. I was so sick of feeling sorry for myself and so exhausted from always trying to build myself back up. It felt like I’d get ahead and then fall back farther than before. One day I remember getting my check from Gold’s and feeling like I had a little bit of breathing room. I felt like I wouldn’t have to struggle to buy grocery’s that week. On the drive back home, my clutch went out in my truck and I had to spend $850 dollars to get that fixed. No groceries and more cc debt. It seemed as though I was in a downward spiral and no matter how hard I worked, the deeper I would fall.

I began having suicidal thoughts. Driving home from work, I would ponder the idea of driving as fast as possible into the Spokane bridge. I didn’t want to die to escape my reality. I wasn’t afraid of the work. I wanted to die because I believed others would be better off without me. I felt like I was a weight on David, on Mark, on my family, and on Crystal. I knew they all loved me which is what made it that much harder. I would rather them all abandon me and focus on their own happiness, not concern themselves with mine.
I broke down after a particularly hard conversation with David on how I had messed up something else. I was laying on the floor of my office in tears and confused about what to do next. I got into a fight with Crystal the night before, I felt like I was losing David as a friend, and I couldn’t see any end to it all.

DEPRESSION
KNIFE TO THE HEAD

I went over to the wall where I had a picture of my first competition. That competition was the hardest thing I had done in my life up to that point. It took more effort than anything else I had done before or since. After it was over, I felt more accomplished than I ever had before. I realized that I hadn’t achieved anything that great in the 4 years since. That realization hit me hard, how pathetic. I grabbed a dagger I kept by my bedside and forced it into the picture, right between my eyes. I made myself a promise. I wouldn’t remove that knife until I had accomplished something of greater magnitude.

I got up, jumped in my truck, and drove to the middle of nowhere out in the woods. I prayed, meditated, and tried to gather my thoughts while I watched the sun go down. I knew the path I was on wasn’t sustainable. No matter how much work I did, I was still losing more money than I was making. I was working harder to make more money and that would result in damaging more relationships. What could I do? I asked myself one simple question. What can I, Robert Orion Sikes, do to add the most value to the most peoples lives? What legacy can I see myself leaving? I thought about my skills and my passions. I thought about what I loved doing and learning. I thought about the life I would want to live and began working backward from there. I loved fitness, I loved nutrition, I loved motivating and teaching others. I loved science and research. I loved the feeling I got when I pushed myself beyond what I previously thought possible in my training. I loved business and networking. I took stock of what I loved and what I was good at and could become great at. I thought about how I could combine them together to be symbiotic in nature and help build on one another. That became the beginning of Keto Savage.

At first, I didn’t know what I wanted to call it. I still have the piece of paper where Crystal and I scribbled down a bunch of potential names. These included things like “Natty Keto Fit and Keto Fury.” We decided on Keto Savage because I wanted Savage to evoke a lot of emotion. To be Savage is to be relentless towards your goals, towards your ambitions, and to the day-to-day grind. I believe everyone has so much potential, they are just scared to attack it with ferocity. Reach deep into your soul and conjure up the primitive savagery that we are all born with. Leverage that energy towards your life’s purpose. That is the underlying message behind Keto Savage.
Ok, so now what? I’ve got this business that I’m trying to build but how do I make it a success? How do I use it to add value to others? I wanted to teach others what I had learned thus far about the ketogenic diet. However, I wasn’t sure how to market myself and reach a large audience. I was addicted to Gary Vaynerchuk's content. One of the common themes he talks about is leveraging the power of social media to connect with people. So, that is exactly what I did. I created a Keto Savage Instagram and Facebook. I started a podcast. I used the web design skills I had learned working on David’s website to create ketosavage.com. At the time, I didn’t have money for a camera so I used my phone to create YouTube videos and quick clips. My first several videos were all recorded in my closet because that was the only quiet space I had at the time. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and it was obvious. Yet, it felt right! It felt like I was working on something with a great purpose. I felt like this had potential to be great. This was something I was excited to put my head down and grind on for the next several years if necessary.

KETO SAVAGE LOGO
MANUAL

I decided I was going to write a manual that I could distribute to anybody willing to read it. I thought it would be a great credibility indicator for me and possibly even a source of income. I put my head down for a month and wrote the entire thing. It would cover all I had learned up to that point. I wanted it to be a valuable resource for anybody wanting to use the ketogenic diet for their own benefit. After I wrote it, I had my dad proofread and edit it for me. He tore it apart. I was so proud of the work I had done and I was so excited to get my father’s opinion on it. I’ll never forget the day that we were all sitting around the dinner table and I asked Dad what he thought of it. His words knocked the breath out of me. He thought nothing I wrote had any scientific basis. Nothing was founded on fact. He told me I would be doing a disservice to anybody that read it. He feared I would be endangering the health of anybody that applied the principals I wrote about. I honestly didn’t even know how to respond. There is nobody I would rather impress than my own father. Yet, here I was, offering something I was incredibly proud of only to be shot down.

I knew in my heart that what I was doing was right. I knew that the business and brand I was building had potential. I took the sting of his words and put them behind me forever. I vowed to stay true to the message I was trying to send and I was going to be successful with it no matter what. With or without the support of my closest family. In hindsight, I’m thankful for his words. They were a great lesson in stoicism. I can’t control the way others think. I can only control my own actions and my own thoughts. Rather than let his words be a weight on me, I leveraged them into the ember that made my fire burn that much hotter.

THE GIFT OF ADVERSITY

I don’t believe things get better randomly. I don’t think you get lucky after going through a hardship simply because. Adversity is the catalyzing factor that improves your situation. It’s a necessary evil that becomes a positive. Every success I’d experienced up to that point was a result of a very trying time. What could I introduce to my current situation to make things more adverse, more chaotic, and yet, more likely to change??? How about a competition! Going through a competition prep is the hardest, self-imposed thing I can imagine. I figured I’d compete and leverage that adversity so that I may be able to tap into the clarity it provides. I’ve never been one to remove things to simplify my situation. I’m more the type that adds things until the correct path is revealed. That is exactly what I did in this situation. This competition prep was going to be a bit different though. I was going to do it broke, with a girlfriend, working four jobs, while starting a business, and in a ketogenic state. How in the hell does that make sense??? It doesn’t, that’s why I did it. It was either going to break me or I was going to break through to the next level of life. Buckle up.

KETO COMPETITION PREP

There is a strange mental shift that occurs when you commit to doing a competition. It’s an on/off switch, there is no middle, no halfway. When I commit to doing a show, it’s game over, everything else gets put on the back burner. There is no cheating, no fudging the numbers, no half-assing the workout, no dodging the macros. It’s all in, 100% of the time, every time. This competition prep was going to be no different. The worse feeling you can have at the end of a contest is the thought that you could have done something more. That sense of regret is debilitating and it scares the hell out of me. I never want to find myself in that position, never want to regret the effort I didn’t put in towards a competition. To work so hard for so long only to come up short isn’t worth it. I would rather fail knowing I couldn’t have done anything more than fail knowing I held back.
I didn’t know of any other ketogenic bodybuilders at the time so there was no mentor I could turn to for help. I learned to listen to my body and be very intuitive with all my macronutrient manipulations. I would tell fellow bodybuilders what I was doing and they all assumed it wouldn’t work. They told me, “Carbs are muscle sparing.” “You will look flat on stage.” “This will never work.” I heard it all, I tuned them out. I didn’t know what I would look like on stage. I didn’t know if this would work. I knew how great it made me feel compared to what I had done in the past and I saw no need to change that. If nothing else, I would learn so much in the process. I could be a guiding light for others going down a similar path in the future. I put my head down, ignored the naysayers, and got to work.

CURLS
DIPS

Crystal rallied behind my cause and understood what I was trying to do. She didn’t like it but, she understood it. She was an absolute angel throughout my entire contest prep. She cooked all my meals and even started training with me. I don’t know how I managed to stay on top of my workload throughout the process but I did. I became a freaking machine. Wake up, work four jobs, eat my meals, train for 2 hours, build Keto Savage, repeat. I would sleep 3-4 hours a night and that was it. I’m not sure how I maintained that degree of intensity for five months but I did. I was fueled by my desire to do something that had never been done before. To push the limits of what was “possible”, and to leave a legacy I was actually proud of.

GLUCONEOGENESIS

Most competitors tend to taper their carbs and fats throughout the course of a prep. I know athletes that have gone as low as 20grams of fat a day to lean out. They will typically keep protein high throughout the prep, often above 300grams. The more I learned, the more I realized this was a disaster. With fats and carbs so low, gluconeogenesis was used to convert protein into an energy source. No wonder they all walked around like zombies. I decided to take a very different approach. I figured I would try and keep fat as high as possible as that was my primary source of energy. I didn’t need the carbs so those stayed under 20 for the entirety of my prep, sometimes as low as 5. I instinctively thought to make protein my most manipulated variable. When prepping for a show, my goals change. The primary focus shifts from building muscle to getting as lean as possible. All while maintaining as much muscle as the body allows. With that in mind, I wasn’t as concerned with keeping protein very high. I knew ketones were muscle sparing. I assumed I would suffer minimal muscle loss as I dropped my protein intake.

My prediction was correct! By the end of the prep, my protein was as low as 65 grams, a number all my fellow competitors couldn’t even fathom. My fat stayed elevated throughout and my ketones were through the roof. I was hitting record numbers on my lifts despite the caloric deficit. This was a pretty clear sign that I had lost very minimal muscle mass if any. Since I didn’t have the stored glycogen to retain any fluids, my skin was paper thin. I had vascularity I never thought I would be able to achieve naturally. Another huge benefit was that my mental clarity was sharper than ever. I’m not sure if this was due to the elevated ketones, the minimal body fat, or some other factor but, it was a game changer. I improved every day while my competitors started performing worse and worse. Don’t get me wrong, it was still incredibly difficult. No contest prep is going to be easy, I don’t care what diet you are on. I was still hungry and there were times when I would feel like I was on the verge of burning out. However, there was one thing I knew with absolute certainty. This method of prepping for a competition was so much more sustainable than methods I had used in the past. I didn’t have near the hormonal fluctuations because I didn’t have to drop my fat low at all. My world didn’t revolve around meal timings because I was only eating once or twice a day instead of six or seven times. Another huge benefit of prepping in a ketogenic state was how I handled peak week. Unlike other competitors, I didn’t have to manipulate my water or sodium. I didn’t have to load up on mountains of carbs the night before the show. I didn’t have to worry about spilling over and looking soft after so many months of hard work. None of those variables applied to me. I didn’t have the glycogen to retain the water and I wasn’t worried about my carb intake. I consumed a ketogenic caloric refeed the night before. It had some additional fat and protein but that was it. I assume the extra calories would help fill out my muscle, much like a carb load would. Again, I didn’t have any frame of reference but it made intuitive sense to me at the time. The question was, would it work on show day or was all this too good to be true?

KETOSIS

KETO BODYBUILDING DEBUT

COMPETITION

I was scheduled to compete in two events. The GBO show in Spokane WA and the WNBF competition in Marysville WA. They were about 2 weeks apart from each other. I had tried to peak for the WNBF show as it was my primary focus. I didn’t even plan on competing in the GBO show at first. However, I realized it would be a great way to test my peaking strategy before the WNBF competition.
On the morning of the show, I began my day like I did every day during the entire prep. I woke up, meditated, drank my keto coffee, and visualized what lay before me that day. Win, lose or draw, I was happy with the intensity of my training and degree of disciplined I had put forth. I got to the venue and had some time to spare before stepping on stage for prejudging. I ate a keto brick and touched up my tan. All the other competitors were milling about similar to how they do at all shows. Everybody was pumping up, applying tanner, eating rice cakes, or listening to music. There were two stark contrasts between myself and all the others. I was drinking ten times more water than everyone else and eating copious amounts of fat. On show day, most competitors are very stringent on their water intake. They don’t want to risk “spilling over.” I didn’t have to worry about that so I was chugging away. I nearly drank a gallon before I stepped on stage for the first time. The other primary difference was the fat intake. I had consumed 90 grams of fat before stepping on stage whereas everyone else was munching on rice cakes. I don’t miss those damn rice cakes one bit! The venue was very cold. I spent most of my time bundled up in a heavy blanket by a small space heater, waiting for my time to step on stage. I was about to find out if the last 4.5 months of incredible adversity had proven itself fruitful. I was given the 2-minute mark, time to rise and conquer.

As I stepped on stage and began hitting my poses, I could tell something was different. My body was responding much more than it had in years past. I could feel the blood surging through my veins as my vascularity reached a level I had never had before. My skin was paper thin and every single muscle contraction was visible by the judges. Everything seemed to improve with each pose the judges called. I knew with absolute certainty, I was the most conditioned competitor on stage. Everything seemed to click, there was no second-guessing anything. I looked down at my quads and I could see every single muscle fiber pop when I made a move. The nerves were gone and I was confident in how I looked in front of the panel of judges. When it was time for the pose down, it was lights out. The music kicked off and the competition was fierce. There were a lot of other great athletes there that day but nobody had the level of conditioning I had. I had looked great when I prepped using carbs but, this was something different. I had redefined muscular definition.

POSEDOWN

I was awarded the overall prize which included a sword and an all-expense paid trip to Cancun. I had realized one of my dreams. I was now a pro bodybuilder! I was handed the microphone and asked to speak. I turned to Crystal in the crowd and thanked her for helping me throughout this whole journey. I thanked everyone for being there and supporting the sport. I thanked God for giving me the fortitude to see it through to the end. I handed them the mic, congratulated all the other competitors, and smiled all the way home. I proved the ketogenic diet was an effective protocol for competitive bodybuilding.

WNBF NATURAL

There was not much time to celebrate. My next show, my main show, was in a few short weeks. I had to get back to the grind and not let the ego distract me from the task at hand. I didn’t even talk about the win. I didn’t share the results with anyone at my gym. I wanted to stay hungry and be strong to the finish. This next show was all that consumed my mind. My best friend Charley, my parents, and a few other close friends would be attending the WNBF show. I didn’t want to disappoint them. I didn’t want to disappoint Crystal after all that she had done for me. I didn’t want to disappoint my audience and my fans. I didn’t want to disappoint myself. I knew know that keto could work, now I had to optimize it to work at 100% for this show. Time to get serious.

COMPETITION PAGE
FAMILY

Crystal and I booked an Air BNB not far from the venue a day before the show. We drove in and got settled in our room. I had the competitors meeting, weighed in, and took my drug test. My spirits were good. I felt confident in my condition. I was a little concerned about some swelling I had been experiencing in my ankles. The long drive led to some water retention and I wanted to ensure that it flushed out before stepping on stage. After the competitor meeting, I met up with Mom and Dad who had flown in a few hours prior. We all went to the Air BNB so that I could eat my keto refeed meal and prepare for the coming day. As we all sat around visiting, I looked around the room and felt so blessed for this opportunity. My parents were there supporting me. My girlfriend was there by my side. My best friend traveled a long way to be with me as well. I was overtaken by a sense of pure gratitude. I handed my mom a letter I had written earlier that day. She opened it up and began reading. At the time, she didn’t realize I had any plans of leaving Washington. She assumed that I had established myself there. She was very sad about it but accepted it for what it was, assuming we would not be able to see each other very often. Little did she know, Crystal and I had planned to move back to Arkansas that year. The letter revealed this plan and it touched her dearly. We would have all the family together again and this meant everything to her. That was a very special moment that I’ll never forget. Family is everything to me and I was so grateful to be able to bring us all together again. They left for the night, wishing me best of luck in my competition the following day.

Crystal and I woke up at 4:00 am to apply the dream tan solution, a lengthy but necessary process. As we were applying the tan, I looked in the mirror to see if I was retaining any fluids. None, I was as dry as a bone. My condition was on point and I knew I had timed everything perfectly with my peaking strategy. Time to head to the venue and put me up against the other competitors. Bodybuilding is generally one of the last divisions to compete so I had plenty of time to kill. I walked into the audience and visited with my folks and my friends for awhile. Like most shows, I spent most of the time in a deep state of meditation. About 1 hour before I stepped on stage, I was overcome with a huge surge in emotion and I couldn’t contain it. I walked outside and sat on one of the lawn chairs away from everyone else. I began to reflect on everything that had transpired up to this point. The financial uncertainty, the tension with Crystal, the training, the nutrition, the depression. This had been the most challenging 4.5 months of my life and I didn’t know how to deal with that realization. I burst into tears but they weren’t tears of sadness. I couldn’t stop smiling while I was balling my eyes out. I had done the impossible and came out victorious. I had proved this ketogenic strategy worked. I had fallen deeper in love with Crystal and I had the support of my family and friends. I had scraped up enough money to move back to Arkansas. I had won! No matter what the judges said that day, I had won! I pulled out my camera and recorded a v-log right then, tears and all. I wanted to document this moment to have for future reference. I was on top of the world and nothing could shake me. I was more content in that moment then I had ever been. I stared deep into the eyes of adversity and kicked its ass. I walked back inside to prepare for the judging. Regardless of the placing, I was supremely happy with the outcome.

2017 WA STATE NATURAL
CRYSTAL AND I

I placed second. I battled it out with some other great competitors and fell short of the overall title. The winner looked great and I proudly shook his hand as I congratulated him. The camaraderie amongst other competitors at this event was admirable. We were all there to have fun and be the best we could be. Nobody wished any ill-will towards one another and I was proud to be involved. My spirits weren’t broken at all from the second place finish, I won before I ever stepped on stage!

FOOD

After the show, we all headed to a nearby steakhouse to celebrate. It was a beautiful sight to have all my closest friends and parents there at one table. They supported me in my endeavors and were a part of this journey. I ate a massive prime rib and devoured a huge keto brownie that Crystal had prepared for me in advance. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. There is no greater feeling. To push oneself this hard, have the support of your loved ones, and come out victorious. I was in heaven.

BROWNIE

21 DAY, 4,000 CALORIE CHALLENGE

Typically, competitors binge and overindulge for several days following a competition. This often results in extreme weight gain and uncontrollable eating disorders. I know this because it has happened to me in the past. This was the reality of my post show experience following my first three competitions. In fact, I gained 20 pounds within 36 hours after my first competition. This experience is referred to as post-show “rebound”. It is rarely talked about because so much guilt surrounds the topic. I was determined to avoid this after my keto competitions. I wanted to test the efficacy of the ketogenic lifestyle from a post-show perspective. Would I gain a ton of fat? Would I develop another eating disorder? Would it have a similar effect to what I had experienced before while eating carbs? I honestly didn’t know. I wanted to document the experience in its entirety. Contest prep, peak weak, show day, and post-show, everything! The best way for me to test the post-show effects of a ketogenic contest prep was to drastically increase my caloric intake. I knew competitors were going to overindulge regardless of diet. I wanted to portray what would happen if they followed the ketogenic lifestyle. I replicated Jason Wittrock’s 21-Day Challenge and documented the entire thing on my YouTube channel. The rules were simple, eat at least 4,000 calories a day while following a ketogenic macro ratio. At the end of my prep, I was only consuming 1,650 calories a day. I figured more than doubling that would test my body’s post-show response and I would learn a ton from the process. I didn’t know if I was going to blow up like a balloon or stay shredded but I was definitely curious to find out. I also thought the structure from continuing to count my macros post-show would help with my psyche. The results blew my mind.

21 DAY CHALLENGE

At the end of the 21 days, I had only gained 8 total lbs and increased body fat by 1.2%. Interestingly enough, all my blood work improved dramatically. I pretty much cut my triglycerides in half! These results were far from what I expected and I couldn’t be happier with them! Following a ketogenic protocol immediately post-show was effective in minimizing fat gain. This was a perfect way to reverse diet after competing. I don’t recommend 4,000 calories BUT, I can say that a keto reverse diet will minimize a negative rebound. This completed the ketogenic competition prep journey. I had found a superior method to anything I had done before. The keto diet proved effective during my contest prep. It worked beautifully during peak weak and show day, and it proved effective as a reverse diet. If I had this success, I knew other competitors could as well. This could revolutionize the way athletes prepared for a competition. Since this realization, I’ve made it my focus to share my results with as many people as possible.

MOVING BACK HOME

It would have been awesome to relax after all the chaos from the competition and the 21-Day challenge. However, relaxation is a concept I know nothing about. Crystal and I put our heads down and prepared for our move to Arkansas. I decided to keep the house as an investment property and was lucky enough to find a responsible tenant. We wanted to keep the moving process as simple as possible. We sold everything we could to make some money for the trip and downsized from all the unnecessary stuff. I built a huge plywood box that mounted on the back of my truck and we loaded all our belongings inside. I’m not going to lie, we looked like a redneck bunch, to say the least. Crystal, myself, and our chihuahua Jack, loaded up in a plywood box, traveling across the country from Washington to Arkansas. I’m sure everyone we passed pointed and laughed. That didn’t stop us though, we were high on life. We stopped in every state between WA and Arkansas to train at a local gym. We didn’t miss a single workout during the whole 6-day move. We tried to save as much money as we could and avoided getting a hotel room whenever possible. Instead, we camped out in our vehicles or threw up a hammock. As luck would have it, every time we tried to sleep in a hammock, we got caught in a torrential downpour.

BOX
HOTEL

I documented the whole trip on my YouTube channel. I knew it would be something worth looking back on later in life. The trip itself was chaotic but, in hindsight, I loved every minute of it. I tried to make the whole ordeal enjoyable for Crystal. We stopped in Buffalo Wyoming and stayed at the Historic Occidental Hotel. I had stayed there when I first moved to Washington and I wanted her to experience it. The hotel was built in 1880 and housed guests like Butch Cassidy and Teddy Roosevelt. It was an iconic piece of history and I wanted to make the time for her to see it as well.

The trip was exhausting, to say the least, but Crystal and I made so many memories along the way. Once in Arkansas, we spent several weeks visiting family and getting organized. My parents were spending three weeks in Australia so we stayed at the house and watched over the livestock. During that time, we developed a game plan for our lives moving forward. We decided to keep costs low and maintain the “minimalist” lifestyle we seemed to have adopted. We signed a year lease for a cheap 2 bedroom townhouse in Fayetteville close to where I attended college. We planned to put out heads down, save money, and build the foundation that our future would be based on. That is exactly what we did.

HUSTLE

When you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. That’s what they say right? Well, that’s true but it damn sure ain't easy! Since I’ve been back in Arkansas I’ve vowed to pour everything into my work, zero distractions. We kept costs low and maintained a minimalistic lifestyle on purpose. I didn’t want anything to get in the way of my endeavors. I’ve focused on creating content and documenting the process with a fierce intensity. I poured myself into Keto Savage with the same kind of intensity I put into my contest prep. As a result, I’ve been able to build it organically from the ground up. I focused on creating an informative podcast. Trying to bring the words of thought leaders to the ears of the public. I’ve engaged in many n=1 experiments alongside people like Danny Vega. I documented all these experiments on my YouTube channel through daily videos. 

KETO CON

I’ve networked with leaders in the field to collaborate on game-changing projects. I’ve been able to build up my client base to a point that is effectively paying my bills. I’ve been invited to speak at conferences such as Keto Con in Austin Texas and Low Carb USA in San Diego California. I’ve since rebuilt my website. My goal is to create a resource for anyone interested in living a ketogenic lifestyle. I’ve involved Crystal as much as possible and built things with the intention of her taking an active role. I am currently starting a food business. and learning to create, manufacture, and distribute a ketogenic performance bar (Keto Brick). Every single day, I learn something new, meet someone amazing, and fall deeper in love with the life that I am building.

THE LONG GAME

I can’t tell you where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing in the next 6 months, much less the next five years. However, I can promise you this, I’ll be loving every single second of it. There is no roadmap to life, no rulebook. You simply have to live as best you know how and make the most of what you have. That is exactly what I intend to do with my life. I have tasted the bitterness of working an unfulfilling corporate job and I have no intentions of going back. One emotion I can assure you I’ll never experience is that of regret. I’m giving this life and the opportunity I have before me the maximum effort. There will be no holding back. It’s not about the money and it’s not about the fame. It’s not about the superficial bullshit that seems to plague the majority of our society. It’s about the legacy. It’s about living a life that you can be proud of. I guarantee you I’ll make mistakes and I guarantee you that I'll have failures. I also guarantee you I’ll win this thing called life. When you know you aren’t going to give up and you’re ok with putting in the work, day after day, anything is achievable. I’ll never sacrifice my integrity, I’ll never take a shortcut, and I’ll never forget why I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m playing for the long game ladies and gents, and I’m excited to encounter all the adversity along the way. I’ve fallen in love with the process and the climb more than the destination. With that kind of mentality, I can’t lose.

LONG GAME

THANK YOU

Now, as this short (but actually quite long) bio comes to an end, I’d like to keep your attention for one more moment. I owe YOU a sincere moment of thanks. Thanks to YOU, I am able to live a life dedicated to my passions. I thank YOU and I appreciate YOU and I freaking love YOU with all that is in me. If it weren’t for YOU, there would have been no reason for me to write this. There would be nothing to read. There would be no Keto Savage. There would be no Keto Brick. There would be none of this. I owe YOU my everything. Every second you give me, every "like" on social media, every share, every word on your lips that has anything to do with me, EVERYTHING, is my oxygen! Without YOU, there would be no me. So Thank YOU for that. Please let me know if there is anything I can ever do for you. I truly care about YOU.

A PLEA TO DO

One more thing before I leave you…. There were two reasons I wrote this bio. The first was to give you a background on me. I figured you would appreciate the rest of my content more if you understood the place and the person from which it came. However, the second reason is much deeper. I wanted to illustrate my life up to this point with a reasonable degree of detail so that it would remove any questions. Questions on whether or not I was given some great “break” in life that made this whole journey achievable. If the bio didn’t answer that question with enough certainty, let me answer it now…NO.  I didn’t get a break. I worked my ass off to get where I am now. You may think I’m reiterating this point so that I can boast a little or put myself on a pedestal. That is not my intention at all. I am making this point for one simple reason. I want to illustrate that YOU, whether you have everything going for you or nothing going for you, can create the life you aspire to live. It won’t be easy. There will be adversity all along the way. GOOD, that’s what you want. That’s what you need. There is no second chance at this thing called life. You get one ride and that’s it. Don’t play it safe now and be filled with regret as you lay on your deathbed. If there is something you want, go get it. I encourage you to DO. It is so much better to fall in failure than to stand in mediocrity. The summation of those small failures, combined with your desire, discipline, and dedication, will result in the greatest thing you can ever imagine. A life you can be proud of.

LOGO

READ PART 1 HERE

The Beginning Of Keto Savage, My Story: Part 1

Who the hell is this Keto Savage guy???
Well, let me tell you but first, a little background…

2009, THE BEGINNING

I started training and focusing on my nutrition when I was a junior in High School.  Mostly out of desperation to get bigger, look better for the ladies, and feel more confident about myself.  However, like many beginning fitness stories, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

I would watch hours of YouTube videos featuring top bodybuilders in the 90’s like Lee Priest, Kevin Levrone, Flex Wheeler and, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  I would read every single page of any bodybuilding magazine I could find.  I would talk the ears off of any more experienced lifter I came across.  I dove deep into the world of bodybuilding, convinced that I would become the next Mr. Olympia.

Growing up on a farm, my family and I lived an active lifestyle but we didn’t really do anything for additional exercise.  My dad couldn’t understand the idea of paying for a gym membership to go “pick things up and put them back down.”  We lived far out of town and, more often than not, my high school vehicle was broken down so I couldn’t even drive to a gym.  I decided to make the most of the resources I had available to me.  I fashioned a gym out of pieces of steel and tractor equipment we had in the shop.  I used an old green ice chest for a bench.  I taped pictures of pro bodybuilders on the wall for motivation, (you can imagine how weird dad thought that was…), and I was ready to rumble!  My first weight set was a 180 lb adjustable set that I got at Academy for a $100 bucks.  I had to screw the plates on and off every time I  wanted to switch the weight.  I welded together a makeshift weight rack and I would have my little brother come out and spot me on chest day whenever dinner was over.  That is what I worked with for the first year of my training.  I lived and breathed the lifestyle.  I would watch YouTube videos, prep my meals, run out to the shop to train, think I was hardcore, and repeat the cycle.  I loved it!!!


early bodybuilding picture



I committed myself to this lifestyle long before it was “realistic” to do so.  I vividly remember getting into arguments with my parent’s because I was becoming too “consumed” with it.  We rarely went on vacations but, I remember packing up to visit my grandparents in Georgia one day and getting into a huge fight!  We were going to be gone for a whole week and I didn’t have any way of getting to a gym.  I decided that I was going to sneak all of my weights into the car without dad knowing.  I wrapped each plate up in an article of clothing and packed it as tightly as I could into my little suitcase.  All went perfectly until Dad picked up my bag to throw it in the trunk.  “What the Hell is this son!  You can’t take these with us!”  He then proceeded to throw all off my weights out and I was left in total frustration….push-ups it is...

HIGH SCHOOL

robinson high

I finally saved up enough to get a gym membership at the YMCA and that became my second home for the next year of my life.  I would train there every day after school.  I was so excited to have something besides a piece of rusty steel to work with.  I met Shawn Boutwell, a seasoned bodybuilder, and he took me under his wing.  I learned a ton from him and I am forever grateful to the knowledge he bestowed on me.

At this point, I was a senior in High school and, like most high schoolers, still not really sure of myself.  I was always comparing myself to other kids that were stronger or bigger than me.  I had this vision in my head of what I wanted to look like and I was far from that point.  I literally never wore a t-shirt during the last two years of High school because I didn’t want anybody to see me before I had built a physique I was actually proud of.  In fact, I made a little competition for myself that went something like this: I was going to train as hard as I could for the rest of my High school days.  I was going to stay covered throughout that entire time so that nobody would have a clue what I actually looked like.  Then, on the last day of school my senior year, I was going to do a little pose-down for my entire class and reveal the fruits of my labor…

That is exactly what I did too!  I don’t know how I convinced Mrs. Humbard, my English teacher, to approve of a shirtless bodybuilding pose down in the middle of the classroom but she did!  I brought in some dumbbells, got pumped up, stripped down, and posed for everyone in the class.  Weird as hell I know!  All I can remember is hysterical laughter.

COLLEGE

After I graduated Highschool, I enrolled at the University of Arkansas for college.  I was much more “seasoned” at this point and I actually felt comfortable around the weight room.  Thankfully, the college gym was well equipped and I was happy as can be.  I was required to live in a dormitory the first year of college so I signed up for their “unlimited” meal plan.  They lost money on that one!  At the time, I was eating a traditional bodybuilding type meal plan that focused on carbohydrates and protein.  I was convinced that in order to get big, I had to eat big.  I ate really really big!  I would eat every 2 or 3 hours and was consuming over 6,000 calories a day.  In order to get the calories while on a college budget, most of my foods were very unhealthy.  I would eat ramen noodles and 800 calorie, microwavable, macho chimichangas.  I would eat WAY past satiety and was literally force-feeding myself every meal.  My stomach was always upset and I always felt like I was going to puke.  One day, I was trying to finish my meal and it just wasn’t happening.  I decided I was going to get the calories in by drinking two glasses of whole milk.  I sat by the milk dispenser, slowly fighting through the second glass.  I finished the milk and started heading down the stairs of the cafeteria to go to my dorm room.  It hit me hard.  It was all coming up and I was in the middle of the largest dining hall on campus.  I tried running to the nearest trash can but it was too far.  All you could see was this blimp of a kid spewing whole milk like a ruptured volcano tumbling down the stairs.  I was so focused on eating as much and building as much muscle as I possibly could.  I ballooned up to 230 lbs and was absolutely huge.  I had a ton of muscle and was very strong but I was also incredibly out of shape and unhealthy.  At the time, I was trying to find my place in college and began attending various fraternity parties and other festivities.  This lead to some drinking.  I never really considered myself a drinker but I definitely drank more that first year of college than I ever had before that point or since.  I was eating WAY too much, drinking WAY too much and not really feeling productive with my life.  I knew something had to change.

I started to clean my act up in my second year of college.  I rented a house along with two other guys and removed myself from the frat party scene.  However, my other two roommates were still big partiers and I would often come home to a house party in which 100+ people would be getting drunk in my house, sleeping in my bed, stealing my stuff, and making a complete fool of themselves.  After one such night, I decided I had enough and basically cut myself off from everything I had known to that point.  I still lived in the house but I totally removed myself from the roommates.  I made a commitment to enter a bodybuilding show and dedicated all of my time to training and studying.  Shit was about to get real!

arkansas razorbacks
fat picture
fat picture 2

FIRST COMPETITION

ocd cycle
OCD
meal prep

I decided to compete in the Kansas State Championship as a natural bodybuilder.  I started my prep at a colossal 230 lbs and 28% body fat.  I gave myself 12 weeks to get in shape and prep for the show.  I chose 12 weeks because I thought 3 months was a typical prep length.  In hindsight, I needed twice that time.  I attacked everything I did during that three month period with absolute intensity!  My nutrition was exact, every macronutrient gram was accounted for.  I never missed a workout.  At the time, I was really suffering from a serious case of obsessive-compulsive disorder.  A lot of people say they have OCD but I REALLY had OCD.  I’m talking serious, like Howard Hughs level OCD.  However, I learned to leverage this to my benefit and use it as a tool during my prep.  I applied my OCD tendencies to my food prep, I literally counted rice grains to get things exact.  I applied it to my training and would perform reps and sets that were freakishly intense.  I vividly remember crying in the gym because I would train so far past the point of what the human body is naturally capable of.  There are many different types of OCD but mine often centered around something bad happening to my loved ones if I didn’t perform a certain task or tendency.  This manifested itself in my training.  I would imagine someone holding a gun to my parents head and saying, “If you don’t give me everything you’ve got, I’m putting a bullet between their eyes.”  That is incredibly morbid I know, I hate even thinking about it but, that was my reality.  I would take those thoughts and pump out an extra 50-100 reps on a given exercise when I only needed to hit 10-15 reps.

I wasn’t keto at the time and I followed a traditional bodybuilding style, “bro-diet” type of eating.  I would have chicken, rice, potatoes, oatmeal, and tuna every single day.  I would prep all of my meals in advance and make sure I consumed a meal every third hour without fail.  This is an incredibly unrealistic style of living if you stop and think about it.  The University of Arkansas campus is located in the mountains and I could be seen hiking up the hills carrying my backpack full of textbooks, my laptop bag, my gym bag, and a lunch box full of 6 or 7 different Tupperware containers.  I spent more time fixating on the time of my next meal than any of the coursework at hand.  I recall opening up a container of tuna and rice and chowing down in the middle of final exams on more than one occasion.


Since I didn’t really have any guidance during this 12 week period, I just kept pushing and pushing.  My OCD became more and more amplified the closer I got to show day.  I had pushed my caloric intake down so low that I was literally starving myself.  I took “hangry” to a whole new level and began to accept the situation as my reality.  I would do endless amounts of cardio, sometimes as much as 60 min sessions on the stair master at level 15.  I would come home at the end of the day and need to study but instead, I would run around the neighborhood for additional cardio.  I would run to the gym in between classes to get my stair master session in.  If there was somebody on the stair master when I got there, I would have so much hate and fire consume me.  I felt that if I missed a single meal or a single workout, I would fail at this endeavor.  I would literally ask them to please get off the stair master because I have a competition coming up and my life depended on it.

Two weeks before the competition, I had a complete and total breakdown.  I was at home visiting the family that weekend.  I was just about to pack up and head back to college because I needed to train chest that day and I had an exam the following day.  I got in my truck and turned the key, nothing…. I can’t remember what was wrong with it now but it was broken down and I was three hours from campus without a vehicle and under a time crunch, the gym was closing in five hours.  My parents and brother came out to see what was wrong and I totally freaked out on all of them.  It was the final straw, I couldn’t hold it any longer.  I was broke and didn’t have the money or the time to replace the part necessary.  I wasn’t going to make it to the gym in time.  I wasn’t going to pass the exam.  I was so distraught and, convinced this would be the determining factor in my prep that kept me from winning the show.  I was in the middle of the yard in tears and totally depressed, I didn’t know what to do.

My Dad offered to help me fix the truck but I didn’t have the time, I needed to go train or something.  I just needed to get out.  Mom convinced him to work on it solo and I just started running.  I dropped all of my things and just ran.  We were out in the country and there is a 6-mile, dirt road loop around my parent's house.  I ran the whole thing as fast as I could.  Not sure what my goal was, I just needed to exert myself.  To be completely honest, part of me wanted to die on that run.   I wanted to push myself so hard that I would just explode, my heart would give out.  Then, at least all of this tension and stress would be over and I would know that I gave it my all.  If I pushed myself so hard that I died, I must have been giving it my absolute best.  At some point near the end of the run, something strange happened.  Call it an epiphany, call it Devine intervention, call it an Ah Ha moment, call it whatever you like but, I’ll never forget it.  I felt totally outside myself, totally in-tune with the reality of my situation and its place in the grand scheme of things.  In hindsight, I believe it was a moment of absolute stoicism.  I accepted my situation for what it was and gained a much clearer sense of perspective.  In that flash of a moment, I had absolute clarity on how I should go about the last few weeks of contest prep and the mentality I should have throughout the whole process.  I came back home as cool, calm, and collected as a monk.  For the first time, I felt like I had control over my life instead of the other way around.  Going forward, I was going to evaluate my situation, void of emotion, and act in the best manner possible.

On the day of the show, I was in a constant state of meditation.  The other competitors spent their time milling around, talking, pumping up, etc etc.  I found myself a corner, propped my feet up, and plugged in my earbuds, I couldn’t be distracted.  I spent the time visualizing my self on the stage, practicing every movement of my routine in my mind.  When the time actually came for me to step on, all went black.  There was no questions, no doubts.  I just performed what I had already visualized so many hundreds of times already.  I didn’t see the audience, I didn’t hear their screams.  I looked out and all was dark.  The only thing in the world at that moment was the lights and the cold floor beneath my feet.

first competition 2
first competition 1

When it was all over, I returned to my corner and my meditation.  After everybody had stepped on stage, we were called back out for placements.  At that point though, the placements didn’t matter.  I didn't care whether I was first or last.  I had completed something from start to finish.  I had done something harder than anything else I had ever done before.  The 60 seconds of stage time wasn’t the paramount of this journey.  The paramount of this journey was the journey itself.  However, I did place well.  In fact, I won my class.  I competed for the overall title and got second there.  It was a victory through and through, both in the superficial placings and in the mental and physical journey it took to get there.  I would never be the same…

DEPRESSION

I was in a state of euphoria for the next three months.  I had seen the light and tasted its pleasure.  I knew now with absolute certainty, anything I wanted in life, I could achieve.  The great equalizer is hard work.  If the passion is there and you put forth the effort, you can accomplish anything.  I totally wrote off the “old” me.  He was dead.  I was reborn into a new person.  Like a phoenix, I rose out of the ashes of the mediocrity that plagued me up to that point.  There was no looking back.  I was naive to this new power though, and it caught up with me.  Peaks and valley’s, what goes up, must come down.  After the show, I didn’t have anything to pour myself into with that type of intensity.  I didn’t have an outlet.  The competition prep had become my addiction, it was my everything.  Without it, I became lost.  I began to lose my sense of purpose and my identity.  To work so hard for something and to taste the success is empowering.  Without that goal, without that drive, I no longer had anything.  I fell into a deep state of depression and began to slip farther and farther into darkness.  I looked at myself in the mirror and saw the fat that I had gained back since the competition.  It’s not realistic to maintain a competition level conditioning year round.  I inherently knew that, I just couldn’t accept it.  I had worked so hard to achieve a look that was quickly disappearing.  I began to develop severe eating disorders.  Being so strict with my macros for so long and then abruptly losing that structure put me in a tailspin.  I had no concept of hunger and satiety.  I was so used to eating based on the numbers.  Not having those numbers to guide me any more left me with no plan.  I would go binge on plates of food, sometimes eating 10,000 calories in a single sitting.  Then, I would feel guilty for not having the self-discipline to control my eating.  I would try and redeem myself by purging what I had just eaten and then not eat for days.  It was a vicious yo-yo cycle that screwed up my metabolism, made me obsessive with food, and damaged all of my relationships.

depression
force feeding

AFTER COLLEGE

bnsf
first house

I learned to cope with this and it became my reality.  I dealt with it but never truly overcame it.  However, life must go on.  I finished college, graduating with a bachelors degree in business management.  I was offered a career in management at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.  The handsome salary and the opportunity to move up the ladder appealed to me so, I accepted the offer.  My family was all very impressed and I thought I had things more or less figured out.  I attended 6 months of training and on-boarding before I moved up to Spokane Washington where I was stationed as a Terminal Trainmaster.  I was working 12-hour shifts with a monthly rotation between days and nights.  I was making more money than I ever had before and I thought I had things locked down.  I bought a house, started investing in retirement, and was moving up the ladder quite nicely, all before I turned 23 years old.  Impressive right?  Not really.  My folks were proud, my friends were impressed, my bank account was full, but my heart was empty.  There was no passion in what I was doing, no excitement.  Everybody I worked with hated their lives.  They were stuck in the day-to-day and every word out of their mouth was a complaint.  Laziness and complacency was a plague that seemed to fester 90% of the workforce.  I felt it suffocating me and I knew this wasn’t the legacy I was intended to leave.

Throughout my time in Washington, I stayed active at the gym.  I joined a local Gold’s and maintained my training intensity.  In order to fill the void that was left from my unfulfilling career, I decided to compete in another bodybuilding competition.  I trained religiously for that while working my butt off at the railroad to try and find happiness there.  I still hadn’t heard of the ketogenic diet and was following a traditional bodybuilding nutrition routine.  All the “rough tuff” railroaders thought I was a pretty strange dude rolling up with my rice cakes and chicken breasts.  At this point in my life, I had developed a much clearer sense of self and had really begun to practice the stoic mentality.  This competition prep wasn’t near as draining as my first.  Still incredibly difficult, but not likely to kill me.  I used a prep coach this time and he monitored my macros while I focused on the training and eating the foods to hit his suggested macros.  That took a considerable burden off of me as well.  Rather than try and juggle it all, I was able to focus on what I could control.

In 2015, I competed in two bodybuilding shows.  The WNBF Washington State Natural Puget Sound Pro-Am and the NPC Empire Classic.  I got first in my class at the WNBF natural show and placed second at the untested, NPC show.  They were both a great experience and I learned a ton from them.  I always came in very sharp and shredded compared to many of the other competitors but I knew I hadn’t tapped into my full potential.

second competition

MEETING CRYSTAL

I had never dated anybody prior to my move, I was always so focused on work and business.  I held the belief that a woman would just slow me down in life.  I needed to establish myself and build a solid foundation before I focused on finding someone to spend the rest of my life with.  However, things don’t always go as planned…  At the time, Crystal worked as a barista in a coffee stand two blocks up from my house.  I would walk to the stand for an occasional cup of coffee.  After meeting her, my occasional coffee runs became more frequent.

She was unlike anyone I had met up to that point.  She was sweet and genuine and actually cared more about others than herself.  I didn’t have a clue how to be “smooth” with the ladies since I hadn’t really had any experience up to that point.  I would drive through to get my coffee on the way to the gym and she would ask, “Hey, what are you doing today?”  I would inevitably respond with the muscle I was about to go train, “Oh, today I’m doing legs!”  Note to all guys: I don’t recommend this technique!  She was convinced I was a “tool” and not worth her time.  One day, she was having a bit of an emotional moment.  Something was wrong with a family member or something of that nature.  I stopped in and was genuinely concerned about her feelings and offered her somebody to talk to if she ever needed to get something off her chest.  The next day when I came through for coffee, she apologized for assuming I was a "tool" and said she was impressed that I actually had feelings.  We started to really connect after that.

JACOBS JAVA
Crystal

A year passed and I started falling harder and harder for her.  I feared what that emotion could lead to.  I hadn’t yet made my millions as a business tycoon and I certainly wasn’t happy in my current career at the railroad.  I figured a relationship would be the final nail in the coffin for me.  I thought it would prevent me from creating an empire and it would leave me in a world of mediocrity, my biggest fear.  I couldn’t bear the thought of living in regret, thinking I could have made it farther in life if I had just had the willpower to turn away love.  I felt I didn’t yet deserve to have a beautiful woman that loved me as much as Crystal, I hadn’t accomplished anything yet.  I remember it very clearly, we were both sitting on my old futon in my downstairs bedroom.  I looked up at her and told her I loved her for the first time.  Then, I said I could never see her again.  She didn’t have the words and I didn’t either.  She left in tears and that was the end.

CAREER MOVES

Three months went by.  I tried to focus on my career, focus on my business endeavors, and just focus on getting somewhere in life.  The depression I had struggled with so much before started to rear it’s ugly head once again.  Not because I had left Crystal, but because I felt like a failure with everything.  At this point, I knew I couldn’t continue at the railroad but I didn’t have a plan b.  I tried to create an Amazon store selling backpacks, knives, and flashlights. Failed that.  I decided to get into real estate investing and took a test to become a licensed agent.  I did that for a while but it was very difficult as I didn’t have an established network in Washington.  I decided to partner up with a good friend who was also in the railroad and hated his career.  We planned to invest in a small 4-plex apartment and make our riches with residential properties.  We paid off our debts and submitted a loan application, things were starting to look hopeful.

4 PLEX

At about the same time, I got offered a promotion at the railroad that would take me to Gillette Wyoming.  This was a great opportunity if I wanted to make the railroad my career path but, I certainly didn’t want to do that.  I saw it as a huge conflict because it would take me away from the real estate empire I was trying to build.  To make matters even more interesting, the upper management at BNSF was engaging in some dishonest career placement activities that put me in a rather strange position.  I was basically given an ultimatum, take the promotion and move to Wyoming or lose your job.  Hmmm, decisions decisions.  I knew I would be financially screwed if I quite the railroad.  I also knew that if I quit, the loan that we had just gotten approved for the 4-plex would be revoked.  I seemed to be between a rock and a hard spot.  I needed to do some serious thinking.

railroad tracks
question mark

I flew home to celebrate Thanksgiving with the family and ask them for advice. In their eyes, the only sensible decision was to stay with the railroad, it was a no-brainer.  However, that just didn’t feel right.  BNSF has a two-year relocation program in which you are required to stay with the railroad two years after any relocation move.  If you default on that you are required to pay for all moving expenses and then some.  That was a contract I didn’t find appealing.  It seemed that if I said yes to the promotion, I would only be postponing my endeavors to break free of the corporate chains.  I had a call scheduled with one of the top managers the day after Thanksgiving in which I would have to let them know my decision.  That was a call I’ll never forget.  It seemed everything I had worked on up to that point had led me to this promotion.  The 4 years in college, the degree, the multiple rounds of interviews, the 6 months of training, the relocation to Washington, everything!  Was I really prepared to throw all that away?  The call went something like this:  “Robert, are you going to take this promotion and maintain your employment with the BNSF railroad?”  Me: “Well sir, I don’t believe so. I don’t want to become trapped by the salary you are offering me and I know this isn’t my calling in life.  I’m going to create my legacy elsewhere.”  And that was pretty much it.  My family couldn’t believe it, my friends couldn’t believe it, none of my coworkers at the railroad could believe it, and frankly, I couldn’t believe it.  What the hell was I going to do now??

MAKING THINGS RIGHT

It was a hard decision to quit the railroad but, at the same time, it was an easy decision.  I knew it my heart that it was the right move.  I felt a huge weight lifted.  One thing I’m very proud of is my sense of integrity.  I’ve made a lot of hard decisions.  A lot of uncomfortable decisions.  However, I’ve always maintained my integrity.  I always did what I knew to be right.  Whenever I make a mistake, I feel it in my soul.  I can’t sleep, my conscience won’t let me.  When I do make a mistake, I do everything in my power to correct course.  I didn’t get that feeling about leaving BNSF, I knew it was right.  However, I did get that feeling about what I did to Crystal.

Enough time had passed now that I realized my mistake.  It had been three months since I’d seen or spoke to her.  I honestly meant it when I told her I could never see her again, I didn’t have any plans of returning.  I knew now that was a mistake and I had to at least apologize.  I’d driven by the coffee stand where she worked several times in the past, never having the courage to stop and talk to her.  This day was different though, I was on a roll!  I had just quit my career job, just lost my real estate loan, just went broke, what the hell did I have to lose?  I walked up to the back door, knocked on it softly, and waited for her to open it.  I didn’t know what to expect and I damn sure didn’t know what to say.  She probably had moved on to somebody else by that point.  She opened the door slowly saw me and then quickly shut the door!  Perfect, exactly the response I was looking for.  I was about to turn away when she slowly opened it back up.  I looked at her and she was in tears. We started talking, still not knowing what to say or think of the other.  It was clear that the feelings were still there but neither of us knew what to do with them.  I didn’t want to hurt her again and she was hesitant to open herself up to me.  We had to start over, I had to prove myself worthy.

CRYSTAL AND ROBERT
crystal 2

It went on like this for a few months.  I still hadn’t committed to her and we were both finding it very difficult to just be “friends.”  I had to fly home for a weekend and she gave me an ultimatum as she dropped me off at the airport.  She said, “Choose to be with me or choose to be without me.  I have to move on with my life.  My feelings for you are too strong to be bound in this friendship that has no future.”

I thought deeply about this choice that I had to make.  I knew she was right.  I knew she deserved the best.  Could I give her the best?  I knew if I said yes to her, I couldn’t turn back, not a second time.  I felt like my whole future depended on this single decision.  Some may find it funny that I put so much thought into it.  After all, we weren’t even dating.  I was asking myself the same type of questions men ask themselves before proposing marriage.  I guess that is just my nature though, full throttle.  100%.  If I said yes to this, it would have the same type of weight as proposing marriage, at least in my mind.  I thought about her strengths and weaknesses and compared them to my own.  Could we be compatible?  Would she hinder my business and life endeavors at all?  If so, how could I possibly be willing to pursue her?

She picked me up from the airport and I asked if we could visit the historic Davenport Hotel.  The Davenport is a beautiful building that she and I used to walk through, admiring the artwork and talking about life.  We did just that, walked through and talked about life.  I hadn’t given her an answer yet and I knew she was getting anxious.  As we were about to leave, I turned to the front desk attendant and asked for our room key.  I had called in advance and booked the finest room.  She had always wanted to stay there and we had never had the opportunity.  I figured this would be a fitting occasion.  Crystal had a look of total surprise and confusion as the attendant handed me the key.  We walked up to the room and I poured us both a glass of wine.  We sat by the fire, sipping our wine, and wondering what the other would say.  I kneeled down, looked into her eyes, and asked her to be my girlfriend.  She said yes.

davenport hotel

CONTINUE TO PART 2

Gene Blueprint team on leveraging genetics to optimize performance!

Gene Blueprint podcast

In this episode, I talk with the team over at Gene Blueprint on how to leverage genetics to optimize performance.  Every individual carries certain genes that perform better under certain conditions.  This podcast was all about finding those genes and manipulating your lifestyle decisions to use them to your advantage!

Gene Blueprint Website: https://geneblueprint.com/

How does Gene Blueprint compare to other genetic testing companies?  Find out HERE.

Blog post I found on Gene Blueprint's site explaining the process....


How does GeneBlueprint Work?

NOV 21, 2017 POSTED BY: PAUL MERCANTE

  1. Order your test
  2. DNA Analysis
  3. Review of Genetic Data
  4. Wellness Plan Creation
  5. Follow the plan that best suits your DNA

You’ve probably heard about direct to consumer genetic analysis companies and you may be wondering what they’re all about. Can spitting into a tube really be helpful in determining what kind of fitness and nutrition program will work for you?

THE ANSWER IS YES!

While general principles of a healthy diet and fitness regime are common to most of the population, we are still unique human beings. Our DNA can determine whether we will be sensitive to certain types of food and it can also determine the types of exercise that will naturally give us the best fitness results.

There are several companies out there that can analyze your DNA for you but one of the things that makes GeneBlueprint stand out from the crowd is how many gene variants it measures – 10 million in fact! With a lifetime subscription, GeneBlueprint gives its customers access to over twenty genetic prediction scores and a personalized diet and fitness plan through its web portal.

So how does GeneBlueprint work? There are four steps.

  1. Order your test

The first step towards your personalized diet and fitness plan is to order your test. It takes less than ten minutes to register online. Then simply, sit back and wait for your test kit to arrive in the mail.

Once your kit arrives in the mail, follow the instructions to provide GeneBlueprint with a sample of your saliva. Send the kit back using the pre-paid envelope that we send you.

  1. DNA Analysis

When your sample arrives at our lab, our trained geneticists will use state of the art technology that can detect and analyze 10 million different genetic variants.

  1. Review of genetic data

Once the analysis is complete, we take the data and use it to determine over 20 different unique traits that will provide insight into the types of food and exercise program that will be most beneficial to your overall health.

  1. Create a wellness plan

The final step in this process is to develop a fitness and nutrition plan based on your unique genetic makeup. This plan will take into account traits such as sensitivity to carbohydrates, alcohol sensitivity, whether your body responds better to high-intensity short workouts or low-intensity longer workout and many other factors.

FOLLOW THE PLAN THAT BESTS SUITS YOUR DNA

When it comes to diet and fitness, we are not all created equal. A plan that works for your friend or co-worker is not necessarily the best plan for you. If you are working hard to get fit but find that you aren’t making much progress, it may be that your genes are to blame. A change in regime based on your genetic composition might just have you seeing a big improvement in your progress.

If you would like to work smarter instead of harder and finally get a plan that is tailored to your DNA, then why not take the first step with GeneBlueprint today!

2017 Manifesto Newsletter

If you are subscribed to my YouTube channel or my weekly newsletter, you have probably already seen this content.  I got a lot of great feedback on it so I wanted to go ahead and publish it as a blog post as well.  Here it is:

This email falls on the first of January 2017, New Years, lets make this email slightly different…..

Quote I’m pondering-

“Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.”

– Niccolo Machiavelli

Execution baby, don’t be paralyzed by not being perfect….DO.

2016 Reflection-

As I have mentioned in previous emails, 2016 has been a doozy for me. No one cares. The market doesn’t care, my competitors don’t care, my friends don’t care, you don’t care, and I don’t care. Complaining does absolutely nothing. Rather than complain, I like to reflect. People don’t reflect enough these days. Reflection on the past is sure to benefit the future. So, what have I learned….

1) Conduct an 80/20 analysis on everything in my life. I am a huge fan of Tim Ferriss and he highly recommends this. The theory is that 20% of your input results in 80% of your positive output. The same is true for the negative, 20% of your input results in 80% of your negative, your bad, your misfortunes……KILL the negative and add more of the positive.

2) I severely overextended myself this past year and it resulted in subpar results. I’ve learned to only accept projects that I genuinely want to excel at, and then give them my undivided attention.

3) I am a very analytical, systems oriented, type of person. If things are just left un-organized, I run inefficiently. To counter this trait, I’ve decided to put systems in place that force me to become much more efficient and productive.

  • Wake up at 6 everyday and go to bed at midnight every night.
  • From 6-7:00 a.m. I will prepare my morning coffee, meditate for ten minutes, and organize the day in my head before I start anything else.
  • I have set alarms and notifications for when to prepare for the gym so that nothing can intervene that priority.
  • Prepare ALL of my meals for the week in advance, this totally minimizes inaccuracies and gives me one less thing to stress/deal with on the day-to-day.
  • Journal every night before going to sleep. This gives me the opportunity to reflect on the day and plan for tomorrow and allows my creative thoughts to be put on paper.

4) I need to find ways to connect work/friends/family. My default is to sacrifice pleasure in the now to work towards the future. I think that is a good thing and I do not apologize for it. However, if everybody I care about is not on the same page, it puts tremendous stress on the relationships in my life. I need to either A, draw distinct lines that are not crossed or, B, find a way to blend them together so they compliment each other. I haven’t figured out which is best yet.

2017 Theme

Rather than create “resolutions” that often get forgotten, I like to create “themes” that overshadow everything I do throughout the year. 2016’s theme was “Discovery.” I discovered what I wanted to do with my time. I discovered what I believed in. I discovered more about myself in 2016 than any other year by far. Keto Savage was born in 2016 out of these discoveries. 2017 is “Execution.” Now that I have the vehicle, the motivation, the foundation, and the drive, I’m going to execute. Every day is going to see me at work, practicing and perfecting my craft. Talk is cheap, DO. I can’t promise I won’t mess up, I can’t promise I won’t make mistakes. I can promise I will put myself out there to create something of value that I believe in. I can promise I won’t conclude 2017 with regret. I will be working towards mastery every day, every moment, every chance I get.

Testing Ketones With Your Breath: Part 4

ketonixeswithshadow400Breath testing is gaining in popularity as it is much more accurate than the urine testing and not as invasive as blood testing.  The breathalyzers detect concentrations of acetone ketones which are closely correlated to blood ketone levels.  I expect to see an increase in available breath tests in the near future.  One of the more popular models currently available is the Ketonix model.  It is somewhat expensive but it is only a one-time, up-front cost.

Pros of breath testing:ketonixsettings

  • Only way to measure acetone ketone bodies
  • One time expense, unlike test strips
  • Can perform the test anywhere
  • Easy to monitor the change over time using a viable software

Cons of breath testing:

  • No standardized testing method
  • Not commercially available

Testing Ketones With Your Blood: Part 3

Of the three testing methods, testing ketones with your blood is by far the most accurate.  Approximately 78% of the ketone molecules present in the blood stream are beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) ketones.  Ketone blood tests are performed using a technique similar to the diabetic glucose tests that sample blood from a finger tip.  There are two popular blood testing devices.  The Precision Xtra meter and the NovaMax meter.  If ketone levels are low, the NovaMax displays a “LO” reading which is not as desirable as the actual millimolar number as is displayed by the Precision Xtra meter.  For this reason, I prefer the Precision Xtra.

precision xtra ketone monitor

Pros of blood testing:

  • By far the most accurate method of testing for keto-adaptation by measuring the concentration of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) ketone bodies in the blood
  • Digital display of ketone levels
  • Precision Xtra device can also test for blood glucose

Cons of blood testing:

  • Very expensive when compared to alternative methods (strips cost between $2 and $6 each)
  • Have to draw blood from your finger
  • Not readily available, will probably have to order online

Testing Ketones With Urine Strips: Part 2

This is a reasonable testing method when first beginning a keto diet if you are on a budget.  However, your kidneys will adapt to excrete fewer acetoacetate particles after about a month of being in ketosis.  As ketones become your primary fuel source, acetoacetate is more efficiently converted to beta-hydroxybutyrate, which is best measured through blood tests.  This pretty much negates the use of urine strips after becoming fully keto-adapted. 

urine-strips

Pros of urine testing:

  • Painless
  • Cheap
  • Clear color change within 15 seconds
  • Ketones in urine verify that you are producing ketone bodies
  • Available in most drug stores

Cons of urine testing:

  • Ketone levels may fail to show on urine strips after fully keto-adapted
  • Only measures acetoacetate (AcAc) ketones
  • You may in fact be in ketosis without a high level of acetoacetate (AcAc)

How to test for Ketone levels: Part 1

blood-or-urine-ketone-testingThis post will be the first of four that dive into testing for ketone levels.  This introduces the topic and the three that follow will each go into detail about the different testing methods.

The only way to know exactly how your body responds to different stimuli and the extent to which you are in ketosis is to test for ketone levels.  Ketones are produced in three forms: Acetoacetate (AcAc), which is found in urine; Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), found in blood; and Acetone (Act), which is detected in the breath.  There are urine, blood, and breath tests in which you can test for these three ketone bodies respectively.  Each of the three testing methods have advantages and disadvantages, so I will cover those in detail.  The main thing to know is that testing for ketones in the beginning is the only way to know for certain how your body is reacting to the keto diet.  Once you have established your baseline, you don’t need to test as frequently because you will have become much more knowledgeable of your body.  Some people are hesitant to test due to the costs.  If possible, spend the money up front and get keto-adapted and then phase out the testing as necessary. It’s also important to note that ketone levels are generally lower in the morning than the evening.  If you test your levels only in the morning after waking, you may be in ketosis even if the urine strips indicate you are negative.  Also, your liver releases glucose into your bloodstream independent of carbohydrates during strenuous activity.  Don’t test your ketone levels immediately after a workout as they will likely be decreased.

You are considered to be in nutritional ketosis if your blood ketone levels exceed 0.5 millimolar.  Ideally, you want to be between 1 and 3 millimollar.image

Photo courtesy of Jeff S. Volek and Stephen D. Phinney

What Is Keto-Flu??

Sustained, long-term ketosis can have side effects in some individuals, but these are usually easily managed and are most common during the first few months, when the individual is gradually becoming keto-adapted.  Most of the problems people have with the ketogenic diet are experienced early on and can usually be remedied by proper hydration and mineral supplementation.

– Dr. Dominic D’Agostino (research scientist at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition)

Keto-flu

As you transition from burning glucose for energy to producing ketones, you may experience a “cross-over” point that brings some undesirable side effects.  This phase is often referred to as “keto-flu” and it is temporary.  As glucose levels dip, you may experience constipation, carb cravings, muscle aches, headaches, diarrhea and gas, disrupted sleep, bad breath, increased urination, and mental fogginess.  It’s important to realize that you may or may not experience any of these, but even if you do, it’s normal and likely won’t last more than a week or two.  If these symptoms persist longer than a few weeks, you may have never reached nutritional ketosis and you’re stuck in purgatory between being a sugar-burner and a fat-burner.  Adjust your diet accordingly to ensure you reach ketosis as quickly as possible.

Stay hydratedThe ketogenic diet improves your insulin sensitivity.  Thus, insulin levels will drop quickly without the reintroduction of carbohydrates and your kidneys will begin to dump excess fluids.  Combine this with the fact that glycogen stores excess water, so the removal of said glycogen results in a decline in water weight.  The result is the need to urinate….a lot.  It’s important to realize that you need to increase sodium intake to compensate for the extreme loss of sodium as you excrete the excess fluids.  Simply adding a quality sodium to your diet, such as the pink Himalayan sea salt, will prevent many of the symptoms mentioned above.

The Myths Of Keto…

ketoacidosisOne of the main problems facing the widespread adoption of nutritional ketosis is the mountain of misconceptions regarding its use.  Likely, the most prominent of all of the misconceptions, is the belief that ketosis and ketoacidosis are the same beast.  Reality is…..they are on two opposite ends of the spectrum.  

Ketoacidosis is seen in diabetics who do not get adequate amounts of insulin so their bodies respond as if they were in a state of starvation and start producing ketones for fuel.  However, their  body isn’t out of glucose, they are insulin resistant and their body isn’t absorbing it from their blood stream.  This results in high blood glucose and high blood ketone levels.  Once the blood ketone beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) reaches 20 millimolars, the diabetic individual will likely fall into a coma.  Clearly, this is not desirable so it’s understandable why someone would want to avoid any chances of ketoacidosis.  However, the body doesn’t naturally overproduce ketones and insulin.  The human body is incredibly impressive and safeguards itself by automatically shutting off ketone production once insulin levels rise, so unless you are a diabetic dependent on insulin, you should have nothing to worry about.

cholesterolWhat about high cholesterol and its contribution towards heart disease?  Popular belief would like to suggest that a high fat, ketogenic diet will cause high blood pressure and bad cholesterol, which will in turn lead to heart disease.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Fact of the matter is, both my blood pressure and cholesterol have significantly improved after adopting a ketogenic lifestyle.  There is much confusion around cholesterol.  HDL is your good cholesterol and you want an increased number in HDL particles.  This increase can be achieved by eating large concentrations of saturated fats and whole eggs.  LDL particles are oxidation-prone and an excess of LDL is the most common abnormality in people who develop coronary heart disease and suffer from heart attacks.  Contrary to what the media tells you, people who consume large quantities of dietary carbohydrates have exponentially higher levels of the damaging LDL particles than their keto counterparts, who have reportedly seen their LDL numbers decrease substantially. 

gluconeogenesisBut wait, how can the body possibly function without glucose?  Guess what, you will be hard pressed to find anything in any medical journal about glucose deficiency.  Why?  Because there is no such thing.  You do not need to consume glucose filled carbohydrates to survive.  Yes, there are some bodily organs and brain synapses that need glucose but your body is able to produce the very minimal amounts necessary through gluconeogenesis.  This is a process that converts excess protein into glucose to answer the bodies needs.  This is most certainly what happens when you leave the gym and suck down 3 heaping scoops of whey protein like your gym “bros” tell you to do.  It gets converted to glucose…..should have just had one scoop of whey and a banana.  It would have been a lot cheaper! 

Obnoxiously long list of ketogenic benefits…..

There is a fistful of reasons why one would want to become keto-adapted, I personally think of the benefits in three main “pillars”.  These “pillars”, if you will, can be categorized by: 1) performance, and the metabolic and cellular superiority of fats as a fuel source; 2) the mental enhancement and cognitive improvements that occur as a result of ketones in the brain; and 3) the overall health, disease prevention, and longevity that results from switching from glucose to ketones as a fuel source.

Everything else can usually be grouped into one of the aforementioned “pillars”.  I will, however, provide a list of benefits that have been linked to a ketogenic diet.  Please forgive me if I sound too much like a late night infomercial; that is certainly not my intent.  I just want to provide an extensive list of what may be possible while in a state of nutritional ketosis.  I will include an asterisk * beside benefits I myself have experienced.

Obnoxiously long list of benefits that may be experienced while in a state of nutritional ketosis:benefitsofketo

  • Natural hunger and appetite control*
  • Weight loss and maintenance*
  • Mental clarity*
  • Greater athletic endurance*
  • More restful sleep*
  • Normalized metabolic function*
  • Longer breath hold times under water
  • Stabilized blood sugar*
  • Restored insulin sensitivity*
  • Faster recovery between workouts*
  • Lower inflammation levels*
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Increased HDL (good) cholesterol*
  • Reduced triglycerides*
  • Lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol*
  • Ability to go longer between feedings*
  • Use of stored body fat as fuel source*
  • Greater energy*
  • Eliminated heartburn
  • Reduction in cancer cell growth
  • Better fertility
  • Reduced acne*
  • Healthier skin*
  • Prevention of traumatic brain injury
  • Increased sex drive*
  • Improved immune system*
  • Slowed aging due to reduction in free radical production
  • Improvements in blood chemistry
  • Optimized cognitive function*
  • Improved memory*
  • Increased natural testosterone*
  • Probably a lot of other things I can’t think of at the moment

History of the ketogenic diet

cavemen hunting mammoth

One could argue that the ketogenic diet has been around since our great ancestors were hunting down mastodons with sharpened sticks.  The use of agriculture to grow and maintain crops for food is relatively new in the grand scheme of human existence.  Rewind a bit before that and you have a predominantly hunter/gatherer type of lifestyle.  Aside from cultures living along the equator, many of the inhabited regions were too cold to produce fruit-bearing vegetation in abundance.  Taking that into consideration, the majority of our ancestors were surviving on a diet consisting mostly of animal fat, meat, and an occasional green, leafy vegetable.  Even the Inuit Indian cultures who are still in existence today consume a diet that is hugely dependent on meats and animal fats with limited amounts of carbohydrates. 

I say all this to illustrate tha2245362817_2cd6b263af_zt we evolved to rely, and be efficient, on the food sources available for our consumption…..not twinkies and hot pockets.  From this, you could assume that we would react more positively to a diet that is closer to what our bodies have evolved to use over a millennia.  I would be willing to bet that there was not an abundance of 300 pound cavemen walking around back in the day.  Fast forward to the current day and morbidly obese people are in great supply.  I can relax in front of Wal-Mart and see more fat people than fit people stroll on by…..geeez, what is the world coming to?  Is it a total coincidence that this dramatic shift in body composition has happened at about the same time our diets have become dependent on glucose and highly processed carbohydrates…..I think not.

Apart from the ancient ancestors and the Inuit who relied on ketones for fuel out of necessity, the ketogenic diet had been implemented as a medical treatment by modern physicians as early as the 1900’s.  It was found to be highly effective in treating epileptic seizures, especially in children.  Treatment for epilepsy with a ketogenic diet began to decline after the advent of anti-compulsive drugs but is still used in epileptic patients
who are drug resistant.epileptic seizures 

Most of the patients adopted a “strict” ketogenic diet in which dietary fats made up about 90% of their daily macronutrients.  Modern science has illustrated that many of the benefits made possible by a ketogenic diet can also be obtained through a “modified” version of the diet in which protein makes up a higher percentage of the daily macros.  I practice a “modified” version of the keto diet in which dietary protein comprises about 20-25% of my daily macronutrients.  The important caveat is to not increase protein to levels that activate gluconeogenesis.

What is ketosis?

There has been a substantial increase in interest regarding the ketogenic (keto) diet in recent years.  A portion of this can be attributed to the popularity of the Atkins diet, which has many similarities.  Some interest may be a result of the published scientific studies that have been shedding light on the benefits of being in a state of ketosis.  Ketogenic supplements have even begun hitting the mainstream market for the first time.  This hype is sure to raise some questions abut the efficacy of the keto diet and its place in performance athletes.  Hopefully this post and those that follow will answer questions and simplify the process of implementing it in your own regimen.

Acetoacetic-acid-3D-balls

Ketosis is simply using ketone bodies as the primary source of fuel and energy.  Ketones are derived from fat stores within the body, so being in a state of ketosis means your body is using fat for fuel.  This is contrary to the standard American or Western diet in which glucose derived from carbohydrates is the primary fuel source.  When the body breaks down fat for energy, the vast majority of that fat is converted into ATP molecules.  During that conversion process, ketones are produced.  It just so happens that most of your body’s tissues, your brain, and other organs prefer the energy derived from ketones as opposed to glucose.

Its important to realize that the ketogenic diet is not a fool-proof weight-loss diet….its a fat-burning diet.  This often leads to dramatic weight loss for those who have excess fat stores because the body will use them as fuel.  However, if you’re not morbidly obese to start with, you won’t have to worry about wasting away to nothing.  If you’re in shape and not excessively overweight, your body will use the fat you ingest through your daily diet for fuel.

But hey, whats so exciting about another fuel source for the body?  Most of you are probably thinking that there is no need to experiment with alternative fuel sources since you feel just fine on your daily diet of rice and chicken breasts, (if you’re healthy) or ice-cream and French fries, (if you’re not).  Well, allow me to introduce you to the world of alternative fuel and superior performance.  Maintaining a glucose dependent diet is the equivalent of driving one of the cars straight from the Flintstones….a whole lot of effort to not get anywhere fast.  Compare that to a ketogenic diet where you are now cruising in a classic muscle car with 11:1 compression and running on high-octane gasoline…..I’ll take the latter please.

1410 POUND LEG PRESS

1,410 LB leg press for 5 reps, new personal record! BEFORE you start HATING about my range of motion, know that I am doing a very high and wide foot placement to specifically target my upper hams where they attach to the glutes. I know AND accept that this is a very short range of motion! I alternate between this style and more of a quad focus in which my feet are lower and closer and my range of motion is significantly more.

Protein Source For Keto

Gone are the days when you have to look for the leanest protein source you can find.  Forget the baked chicken breast and boiled turkey, bring on the bacon!  One of the best things about going keto is that you can justify eating fatty meats again with no worries.  The fattier the meat the better honestly.  One key thing though is to try and consume meats that are grass fed and organic.  I know this is more expensive but it actually makes a difference while on a ketogenic diet.  Livestock that is grass fed is going to have a higher ketone concentration than livestock that is fed predominantly grains/oats.  This carries over to you as the end consumer as well.  That said, forget the flavorless chicken breasts that have become the foundation for a typical “clean” diet and splurge on some barbecue, steak, and bacon.

Keto Diet Fat Sources

While on a ketogenic diet, approximately 70% of your daily calories will come from fats.  My personal fat intake hovers between 350 grams and 450 grams per day.  This may sound incredibly high if you’re use to a higher carb, lower fat based diet.  Contrary to popular belief, this extremely high fat intake will not make you fat and it won’t give you a heart attack.  My blood work is better now that it ever was on a low fat diet.  But, enough with the back story and onto the facts!

While on a keto diet its important to get a variety of fats.  Consuming only Omega-6 fatty acids can result in inflammation within the body.  Try to ingest a balance between Omega-6’s and Omega-3’s as far as your polyunsaturated fats are concerned.  Saturated and monounsaturated fats are much more chemically stable and are generally tolerated much better within the body so try and include them as well.

Fat Food List

Keto Post-Workout Protein Pancake

These pancakes are great for getting some easily absorbed fats and protein right after a workout.  They are super fluffy and taste better than a real pancake.  These are keto pancakes so there is no carbs obviously but they are so bread-like its hard to believe there is no flour.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 Scoop Whey Isolate Protein
  2. 1 Scoop Provosyn Protein Blend (optional)
  3. 1 Scoop MCT Powder
  4. Pinch Of Baking Powder
  5. 3 Whole Eggs
  6. 1-2 Tablespoons Butter
  7. Splash Of Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  8. Walden Farms 0 Calorie Syrup
  9. Peanut Butter

Step 1:  Wisk the eggs and stir in all of the dry ingredients.  This forms the batter and should have the same consistency as a regular pancake batter.  If its too thick, add some coconut milk to get the right consistency.

Step 2:  Slap some butter on a skillet (I use cast iron) and melt it on the stove on medium heat.  Once the skillet is hot, pour on the pancake batter and cook it until its hardened enough to be flipped.

Step 3:  Flip the pancake and cook the other side through.  I recommend putting your peanut butter on the freshly flipped side while its still hot.  This helps melt the peanut butter so that it can be easily spread.  Once its cooked through, cover the pancake with your 0 calorie syrup and eat that baby up!

Keto pancake

405 Squat PR

I know the prior post was also 405lbs squat for 7 reps but this one is progress.  The last video was taken fresh at the beginning of a leg workout, this video was after 2 hours  of killing legs.  I felt good about getting this as cleanly as I did after pre-exhausting myself.