Give Me The Fish (GMTF): With over 7 years of experience training in ketosis has led me to believe that the Keto lifestyle really does have more benefits then you can count, but it’s not the end-all-be-all for your nutrition and fitness goals. Ketosis is just another energy system, use it intelligently and you will not only look good naked, but your training and you will feel infinitely better. Use it poorly and it can have disastrous consequences. Moral of the story, don’t be a robot, use what you learn to your advantage and don’t just do what the interwebs tell you. Remember, there is no Keto Prize, except for maybe more pocket bacon.
Table of Contents
Keto Lifestyle For The Long Haul
There a lot of articles on the web about going on the keto diet. They tend to focus on the first few week changes, tips and tricks on how to stay the course, as well as what to expect in your lifestyle and while training. But few discuss living a keto lifestyle longterm and even fewer discuss it in terms of training.
As a guy who stays in ketosis for 8 to 11 months out of almost every year for the last 7-8 years, I find that a lot of the things on the web either don’t apply to me, or I have a different viewpoint on them.
So, with that in mind, this is not going to be science-based, but it’s going to be based on my experiences with ketosis and going both on and off it over the years both in my life and while training.
What The Keto Diet Looks Like To Me
I would say that at this point my default diet is keto.
The only reasons why I’m not on it for a few months or so of the year is because I typically stop around the December time frame for the holidays and visiting family, as well as for the adventures I like to sporadically go on.
One, because unlike most people, I don’t really “diet”.
I live a keto lifestyle because it happens to be how I feel best, so, that’s how I try to eat. But, that doesn’t mean I feel cornered to always be keto. Last I checked, there are no keto police.
So, going home to see extended family is a lot easier when I don’t have to be anal about the food I eat. But, this also kind of leads to another important part of eating keto.
I’m not really too anal-retentive about any of it. I don’t buy non-keto food from the store and I don’t intentionally have it around. But, I’m also not weird about it.
So, if the wife wants ice cream, we get ice cream. If I go out to eat, I order normal food. If I go to a friend’s house I eat whatever they’re eating.
If they do have keto food around, I opt for that instead, but I don’t bemoan the fact if I can’t.
The second, if I have specific training goals, I will switch off of keto just because it’s easier.
For the first couple of years, I refused to eat anything else if I could help it, to include bringing bottles of olive oil, pounds of beef jerky, and bags of pocket bacon to the field when I was still in the Marine Corps.
All of this in the name of training and fitness.
But, the impact on my life and the willpower I put towards that was just not worth the effort. So, I’ve learned to relax a little, and the benefits have been well worth it.
At the end of the day, I don’t “diet”, I live a and train with a keto lifestyle. And, if you are doing this for life than you shouldn’t “diet” either. Have a diet that happens to keep you in ketosis. If it doesn’t, oh well.
Chances are, your fitness won’t suffer that much.
You Can Only Have So Much Pocket Bacon
**Pocket bacon** coined termed by my Company Commander when I pulled bacon out of my pocket during a 5-mile Company ruck. “Is that Pocket Bacon?”
I have probably read the same keto diet \ keto lifestyle articles online as you and I know what they say about endless energy.
But, I’m going to call bull sh** on that.
Keto sucks whenever you start breaking the threshold of one hard workout a day.
What do I mean by that?
I mean multiple circuits a day, multiple interval workouts or just working out hard in general.
And, while keto does help while training endurance. Long endurance events (keyword ”events”) I typically fall off the keto train, and then occasionally for long run days for practice. Train like how you fight, so I eat whatever is going to be at the race.
Partially because I’m cheap, but partially because it’s just easier logistically. Especially if you’re flying across the country to go running 50 miles.
It also avoids the weird looks security gives you when you try flying with 5lbs of cooked bacon in Ziploc bags.
Then, of course, I would also fall out of ketosis back when I was still in the Marine Corps and going to the field or on deployment and bringing bottles of olive oil wasn’t an option.
MREs are not exactly conducive to a keto lifestyle with their hundreds of grams of sugar in every bite, and sometimes, you can only bring so much pocket bacon.
Following a Keto Lifestyle Gets Way Easier
I actually had to ask my wife about when I first went into ketosis, because I don’t remember much of when I first started. Because at least now, I don’t have the same side effects that I read about online in terms of what side effects people feel when they first start going keto.
If I fall off the bandwagon and get back on, I don’t drag, I don’t crave carbs, and I still feel pretty good the next day.
But, talking to my wife, she very starkly remembers when I first started my keto lifestyle.
Apparently, I was so grouchy, it’s burned into her memory. And, in tune with what you read, she says it lasted for a month or so (my bad babe).
The Keto Crash Is A Thing
The part I do remember was 6 months in.
And that’s because I learned an important lesson for training and keto that I still remember to this day.
At the time, I was training like a mad man. I was working out two to three times a day. They were typically a circuit or running in the morning, rowing or rock climbing at lunch, and then rucking, or another circuit in the evening.
Through all of this, I felt like a fitness machine.
And, the keto lifestyle seemed like a cheat code to reach a new level.
It had taken me years to get to this point and I lived in the gym.
If I wasn’t working out, I was coaching somebody.
But, one day, I was working out and I just crashed.
I was on my third workout of the day and I was about to make a climb up a rope and all of a sudden, my arms felt like lead weights.
60 to 0.
Not like a normal kind of tired, but like when you bonk on a long-distance event.
My body was just done.
I struggled to finish the workout. I made it halfway up the rope and my arms started violently shaking.
Something that was normally the easy part of the workout all of a sudden felt impossible.
I managed to finish the rope climbing in a not so safe manner and struggled through the rest, literally taking an extra hour to finish.
The Non-Keto Solution
Doing what anyone does in the day and age of the internet, I went home and started stalking the internet for a solution.
Not wanting to fall off the keto lifestyle, I followed all of the advice I could find. I tried taking more salt, waiting it out, sleeping a lot more, adding more fat in.
But regardless of what I tried, my body just kept deteriorating over the course of the next week or two. I felt weaker, I felt dumber, and I felt extremely sick.
Still looking for a solution, I read an article about the speed at which glycogen is replenished and how it can take days to replenish while in ketosis.
I was desperate and gave it a shot. I went to the grocery store and I bought a banana and grape juice. Both because of their high level of sugar.
And I’m not going to say I felt instantly better, but I remember that same day I started feeling good.
I’m sure it was partially because my body was finally flooded with a superfood called sugar, but it was something more.
The next day I went back to keto again, but I felt good, not great, but good. A couple of days after that, I felt like I was back to where I was at before.
Ever since then, I’ve taken what I learned that day as gospel.
Ketosis and burning Glucose are just separate energy systems, different uses, different purposes, and they both have their advantages.
For keto, training hard and training often, isn’t one.
There Is No Keto Prize
While the frequency in which I eat carbs has changed over the years.
I still end up eating them at some point, whether that’s eating a piece of fruit once every month or two or having a cheat day on Sunday. To having multiple HIIT sessions a day and switching to carb city to make it through.
Carbohydrates haven’t disappeared from my life.
I always think of my food as wood burning in a stove. If I want it to burn hotter, I add in more wood, but not only is it hard to store that much wood, at a certain point it’s easier just to use coal.
To me, that coal is carbs.
Just like with the crappy analogy above, sometimes you just need to use a better fuel source.
The lesson I learned was, I eat for performance, but I also eat for life.
Like with everything, it never works out if you’re on autopilot.
If you are following the keto lifestyle for the long term, it’s worth your while to put some thought into it, for both your performance, your sanity, and for not pissing off those around you when they make a meal specifically for you and you refuse to even try it in front of everyone (#oddlyspecific).
You don’t get a prize for following the keto lifestyle, so make it work for you. And if you can’t, the world won’t end.
If you do want to follow the keto lifestyle you need to ask yourself what your goals are and what training or fitness goals you are trying to accomplish.
And, if you do decide to jump down the rabbit hole, know that it does get easier.