That is a good question. Why would anybody be drawn to a sport in which the climax comes in the form of scantly clad individuals flexing their muscles in front of a panel of judges??? That sounds more like the prelude to a rated R movie than a test of physical and mental fortitude. Truth be told, the sport of bodybuilding is widely misunderstood. Contrary to popular belief, it is not simply an outlet for steroid abusing freaks to hype themselves up and galavant around in tight-fitting posing trunks. Quite the opposite really.
I may be a bit biased but I would argue that the sport of bodybuilding is one of the most physically and mentally demanding sports one could possibly pursue. You can't fake your way to success with bodybuilding, you must put in the work. There is also no "off" switch. You can't expect to compete at the elite level if you train hard during the day but then hit up the bars with your buddies when the sun goes down. You can't kill it in the gym and then half-ass your nutrition. It's an all-inclusive, never-ending, ritual that you must live and breathe day in and day out. You'll have to sacrifice much of what you love to be a successful bodybuilder. You'll have to say goodbye to the all-night keg stands, the tantalizing buffets, the care-free outlook towards exercise, and your demoralizing circle of friends. You'll have to push yourself harder than you've ever been pushed before, physically, mentally, and even emotionally. Why would anyone agree to such madness? Simple. The reward and satisfaction at the end of it all is unparalleled. To do this properly you'll have to go to a place where you've never been before. You'll have to sacrifice more than you ever have and gnaw and tear you're way to the top but…it will be the most incredible thing that's ever happened to you. I can guarantee this sport will absolutely change your life for the better IF you commit to it fully. If you give it everything you've got and take zero shortcuts.
We live in an era that is peaceful and plush. Sure we have our hardships but really…when was the last time you woke up questioning if you would be alive by the end of the day? We no longer have to hunt for our own food or march off into battle, sword in hand to rage against the enemy. Our food is conveniently prepackaged for us at the nearest convenience store. Our "raging battlefield" is little more than a disagreement with a co-worker at the office. It's safe to say that we live in a time that makes it incredibly easy to get "soft." We are no longer warriors. We are peaceable coach potatoes perusing on Netflix.
The sport of bodybuilding can be our "cure". It can be our self-manufactured hardship that forces us to toughen up and rise to the challenge. It can teach us discipline and dedication. It can not only sharpen our bodies but also our minds. The lessons learned in the sport of bodybuilding will transcend the sport itself and bleed into all aspects of your life. I can say with 100% confidence that being a bodybuilder is what gave me the foundation necessary to become a successful businessman, husband, and contributing member of society. It gave me purpose and acted as the backbone upon which so many of the values I live by were established. It has done this for me and it has done this for so many others. It can do this for you.
The ketogenic diet has gained a ton of popularity in recent years but that hasn't always been the case. If you rewind the clock back to the 1920's you'll see that the ketogenic diet was primarily used as a method of treating children with epileptic seizures. Rewind a bit further to, say, the dawn of human existence, and you'll realize that ketosis is simply an evolutionary adaptation for survival in the absence of carbohydrates and glucose. In our early existence, before the advent of grocery stores and fast food, we had to actually hunt and gather our food to survive. Depending on the season and location, our furry forefathers may have had a tough time finding sweet potatoes and juicy fruits. As a result, they would have to consume predominantly meat and animal fats. In times of extreme scarcity, they would consume nothing at all for extended periods of time. Carbohydrates provide fuel for a relatively short period of time and we can only absorb so much to be stored for later. If we hadn't adapted to burning fat and ketones for fuel, we would have become extinct long ago. In its purest sense, being keto-adapted is a survival mechanism used to keep us alive and well when food is scarce.
In the current day and age, the keto diet has widely been popularized as a miracle weightless diet. Guaranteed to trim inches off your waist and even cure brain cancer…. Sound too good to be true?? Yeah probably so but there is definitely a shadow of truth in that if implemented correctly. The ketogenic diet really started to pick up speed in 2017 and it's been a whirlwind ever since. "Keto" has now become somewhat of a household name and everyone has either tried keto at some point or knows someone who has. Companies have come out of the woodwork to ride the coattails of the keto hype train and now, seemingly every product is marketed as "keto-friendly." Is all this buzz warranted? Is there truly a benefit to following a ketogenic diet and lifestyle? Hell yes, there is!
While it's true that the ketogenic diet is most commonly talked about in weightless circles, it has proven effective in many more arenas than dropping scale weight alone. It's gained popularity amongst endurance athletes, ultra runners, cyclists, and swimmers. It's even picked up momentum in certain cross-fit circles and more explosive sports. Is it possible that it can be leveraged in the sport of bodybuilding? Keto has historically gotten a bad rap in the bodybuilding industry. I'm not entirely sure why this is the case. Personally, I feel like bodybuilding "bro diet" dogma is just so ingrained in the sport that it's been hard for athletes to look outside their nutritional norms for a better alternative.
Traditionally, a "healthy" diet consisted of a ton of whole grains and fiber. Boatloads of protein for muscle building and recovery. Minimal dietary fat as that would clearly clog your arteries and make it impossible to get lean. This typically takes the form of chicken and rice, consumed every 2 or 3 hours to "boost metabolism". The resulting outcome is bland food that you are forced to become a slave to. IIFYM or "flexible dieting" is the current reigning champ within bodybuilding circles. My issue with this philosophy is that it places minimal attention on nutrient quality and puts all of the emphasis on calories alone. However, there is more to the equation than calories alone. Hormones, for instance, are often compromised when following a stereotypical IIFYM approach.
There is a strong argument for implementing a well-formulated ketogenic diet when you actually look at the science and consider the long-term effects of your nutritional protocol. Emphasis on "Well-Formulated." I would never recommend a "lazy keto" approach in which the bulk of your calories come from butter, cheese, and bunless burger patties. There is no perfect diet that works for all 7 billion+ people on the planet. However, I would argue that a well-formulated keto diet is going to give the human species the most bang for their proverbial buck.
Contrary to what you may think, we didn't evolve to perform on a mainline diet of hot pockets and veggie burgers. We ate meat. A lot of it! Widespread agriculture is a fairly new advent in the timeline of our human existence. It only makes sense that our biology is poised to function better on a diet that more closely resembles what we've been consuming for the last 5 million years. I digress. Much has been written on this topic and the point of this book is not to give you a history lesson. Rather, I'd like to turn our attention to how you can leverage the ketogenic diet to excel in your transformative bodybuilding endeavors. While your peers and competitors are sucking down rice cakes and bland Brussel sprouts, I'm going to teach you to eat juicy ribeye steaks and kick all their asses on stage!
What makes me qualified to put forth this content in the first place? That question is totally fair. After all, since the rise in popularity of the ketogenic diet, keto coaches have become a dime a dozen. Everyone seems to know how to coach you on your keto journey and what meals and macros are going to help you reach the goal! Optimizing your nutrition, especially in the context of preparing for a bodybuilding competition, shouldn't be taken lightly. What makes the principles laid out in the following pages more qualified than any of the other keto resources that turn up in a simple google search???
Well, for starters, I'm an actual bodybuilder. I am a natural athlete and have made the decision to never introduce illegal performance-enhancing drugs into my protocol. I'm also keto-adapted and have been for the past 6 years. No "falling off the wagon". No carb-laden uncontrolled binge fests. No compromises! I practice what I preach and I do so every damn day!
Prior to finding keto, I had followed a traditional, "bro-dieting" approach to my nutrition. I would eat every 2 or 3 hours on the clock and I would count my calories and my macros to the gram. I followed this protocol for the first 5 years of my bodybuilding career. I experienced "success" in the sport in the sense of building muscle and being able to get incredibly lean for a competition but that success was short-lived and it was far from sustainable. I developed serious eating disorders and had a terrible relationship with food. Hormones would take a drastic nose dive with every prep I went through and mental clarity was all but lost. I was the poster boy example of a stereotypical bodybuilder…. Chicken and rice at every meal. Disordered eating. Zombie mode towards the latter half of my prep. Massive drops in strength and stamina. Zero sex drive. Unhealthy surges in body fat post-show followed by the negative cycle all over again. I was definitely not the ideal picture of health and I had no idea where to turn.
In 2014 I started dabbling with "Carb-Backloading". A dieting approach in which you remove all carbs during the day and only consume meats and veggies. At night, you are supposed to consume a large bolus of high glycemic carbohydrates to intentionally spike insulin and provide fuel for the following day's workout. This was all fine and dandy but I noticed that I would experience some GI distress on the days following the massive carb ups. I decided to avoid them entirely and just see what happened. Lo and behold I felt better in the absence of carbohydrates. I didn't know it at the time but this was my first foray into the keto diet. In 2014 there was zero hype about the ketogenic diet. There were no food products, no podcasts, no books, no NOTHING. I was in unchartered territory but I was experiencing benefits and decided to run with it. I noticed an almost immediate benefit to my relationship with food and my battle with disordered eating started to subside. That alone was reason enough for me to stick with it. That wasn't all that changed though. I experienced a drastic improvement in my gym performance. My inflammation disappeared and my recovery time was cut in half. My energy, both physically and mentally, shot through the roof! My strength steadily improved and it was much much easier to maintain a lean physique without all the chronic calorie counting. I didn't know exactly what I was doing but I knew I was onto something!
In 2017 I decided it was about time to step on stage again. At this point, I had been following the keto diet for a few years and I felt pretty confident in its effect on my overall health. I was totally unsure of my ability to be competitive on a bodybuilding stage with keto. I figured it was worth a shot and that I'd blaze my own trail or die trying. There were no keto coaches at that time and certainly none that were competitive bodybuilders so I was flying blind and learning as I went. I tracked every morsel of every macro that went into my mouth. I tested blood ketones, glucose, hormones, EVERYTHING! I took detailed progress pics and measurements. I tracked my training and how I felt. I left no stone unturned and documented everything to the best of my ability. I wanted to learn as much as humanly possible and pave the way to a healthier protocol for competition dieting.
When the show day finally arrived I was at peace with myself. I knew I had put in the work and I was prepared to let the judges take it from there. I meditated until it was my turn to step on stage. The judges liked what they saw…. I brought a level of conditioning that I personally have never achieved before. My skin was so incredibly paper-thin, showcasing every artery, vein, and capillary that could be seen. I filled out and had a crazy pump that took all the other competitors by surprise. I waltzed onto center stage knowing that I had just brought a level of conditioning to the table that was going to redefine what was possible in the world of natural bodybuilding. And what's more…I did it following a strictly ketogenic protocol that I had developed myself through rigorous trial and error and self-experimentation. I earned my bodybuilding pro-card that day. From then on, I was able to claim the title of a professional, natural, ketogenic bodybuilder. A title I hold very dear and carry with pride. I've since dedicated my life to refining my methods and teaching others this technique. I truly believe it to be significantly healthier than traditional dieting methods. It's incredibly sustainable, I've followed it flawlessly for the past 6 years. It's also superior! My performance has only improved and my life optimized. The industry is still filled with doubters, clinging to their dogmatic beliefs about carbohydrates being required in the sport of performance bodybuilding. You can be swayed by their ignorant interpretations of the diet or…you can listen to me.
I've coached hundreds to success with my methods. Many of which are world-class athletes in their own rights. I don't pretend to know all the answers but I am confident I know one thing pretty damn well….How to optimize your health and perform at an elite level leveraging the ketogenic diet. I've quite literally made this my life's purpose. After battling with disordered eating for years and being lost in a sea of endless information regarding human performance, I set out to discover the solution. Ketogenic natural bodybuilding is that solution. So, if the possibility of taking control of your nutrition, removing the guesswork from the sport of bodybuilding, and becoming an overall badass excites you, please continue to leverage this website and all its resources!