Can A Ketogenic Diet Work With The THOR Program?
I have received a bunch of questions regarding whether or not you can use low carb, vegan, paleo diets ect…. on the THOR program.
While these are all interesting questions, they are going to require individual articles to really delve into the reason these diets may or may not work.
As always each diet’s efficacy is going to boil down to the context it’s used in and the individual it is used with.
Anyway, to start answering questions about diet I am going to look at one of the most popular fitness diets, very low carbohydrate or ketogenic diets.
Can a low carb, high fat diet (ketogenic) work with the THOR program?
If you need to use a ketogenic diet to increase insulin sensitivity for medical reasons or obesity issues, it can definitely work with the THOR Program. Although it is not specifically recommended in the program or deal for most people.
The THOR program recommends a diet that follows an intermittent fasting protocol. If you eat a balanced diet on an intermittent fasting schedule, your insulin sensitivity will consistently increase on its own. You will no longer need to utilize a low carb diet, with the exception of obese, diabetic, or other insulin resistant people .
If you decide to unnecessarily limit carbohydrate consumption, you might find that your day-to-day training will start to suffer greatly on the THOR program.
As you know, carbohydrates provide energy for the body to operate. All carbohydrates are converted into glucose. Glucose is the body’s natural fuel… It is key for having productive workouts.
Insulin attaches itself to receptors on your muscle tissues, this allows glucose to enter your muscles. Your muscles operate based on how much glucose is available.
The THOR program is based on key specific lifts to increase strength, which increases muscular size. Without proper glucose stores, you will not be able to continually increase weights. You will notice your body hitting a plateau.
You will also notice that you generally will not have very much disposable energy at hand.
To give you an example of what can happen when you un-necessarily restrict carbohydrates, I’ll give you an example of what happened to my friends. I had a friend attempt a ketogenic diet. He was insulin resistant at the time.
At first, he started to drop a few pounds. He was very happy. Later, he found that he had no energy to really attempt any activities outside of work.
His libido started to suffer, this obviously led to issues with his significant other. His mental state began to diminish, and he felt an overwhelming sense of stress, and depression.
It wasn’t a very realistic diet for him to maintain in ordinary life, let alone if he had been trying to attempt a program such as THOR.
When he came to me for help I offered him a simple solution. I put him on a balanced diet that incorporated roughly 40% of his daily caloric intake as carbohydrates. I dropped his fat intake to 25-30% and had him do short periods of intermittent fasting, pushing back his first meal in the morning. Immediately his insulin levels started to even out.
His energy very quickly recovered. His libido rose above and beyond what it was, even before the ketogenic diet. His mental health improved greatly. He was no longer depressed or under any stress.
He added a bit of exercise to the equation, and began to make real progress to his overall health and fitness level.
While this is obviously an anecdotal experience involving just one person it speaks to a greater truth about balanced nutrition and intermittent fasting.
I also like this example because it involves a friend I was able to closely monitor who was smart enough to get regular blood tests for everything from testosterone to fasting insulin and A1C.
Don’t worry if you are unable to afford all that right now. For most moderately healthy individuals a quick easy and cheap total and free testosterone analysis is all you need.
Micronutrients: Another Issues With Ketogenic Diets
Another issue with a low carbohydrate intake, is that you will find it very difficult to get the appropriate micronutrients your body needs in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits and veggies contain very important vitamins such as C, A, D, E, and B complex. They also include minerals such as fluoride, selenium, sodium, iodine, copper and zinc.
These are very important for specific activities inside of the body, such as regulating water levels, blood iron, and a multitude of other intercellular activities.
When you Neglect micronutrients, you may begin to have unfavorable side effects. You can read more on it at Micronutrients: What They Are and Why They’re Essential?
Having a deficiency of micronutrients can also raise your cortisol levels. Chronically elevated cortisol levels can lower your testosterone, disrupt your energy levels, and have critical effects on your mental state.
You can read more on ill effects of chronic elevated cortisol levels at Slash Stress Naturally With These Five Supplements
When athletes are put on high and low carbohydrate diets, those on the higher carbohydrate diets have consistently lower levels of cortisol over time. Multiple studies have shown consistently higher free testosterone levels in moderate carbohydrate dieters as well.
A study was conducted to evaluate the effects of a low carbohydrate diet on performance, hormonal and metabolic responses to a 30 sec bout of supramaximal exercise.
The aim was to find out whether a low carb diet affects the capacity for all out anaerobic exercise, and how the body’s hormonal and metabolic levels respond.
Eight subjects went under controlled diets prior to the experiment. Half of the subjects had 50% carbs, 30% fat, and 20% protein. The other half had 5% carbs, 50% fat, and 45% protein.
The moderate carbohydrate subjects produced an average of 581 W of power. The low carb subjects only produced an average of 533 W of power.
Low carb diets were proven detrimental to anaerobic work capacity. One reason is because they reduces muscle glycogen stores, and decreases rate of glycolysis. The other reason is, when carbohydrate intake is reduced, it enhances sympathoadrenal system at rest and after exercise. Basically when carbohydrates are low, stress hormone levels are elevated around the clock.
You can read more about this study at PubMed
So if you have the option of eating carbohydrates I believe you should do so. This is of course in the context of the overall diet strategy outlined in the Testshock program.
This is important as the THOR program is designed to fit into the overall lifestyle outlined in the program.
The idea is that by getting a good amount of sleep, doing some intermittent fasting, and hitting it hard in the gym a couple of days a week you can balance stress and recovery.
Ultimately it is this balance that will allow your body to grow and continue increasing its output of anabolic hormones.
In the long run, stair stepping your way to higher testosterone comes down to slowly ratcheting up you bodies abilities.
A low carbohydrate diet is an unnecessary roadblock to your body changing rapidly.
Alright, hopefully that answered some of your questions about why you may or may not want to use a ketogenic diet.
As you can see, its probably not the best bet for someone who is healthy and capable of digesting and assimilating all the different macronutrients.
Hopefully you will be able to gauge which diet is appropriate for your needs. If you can’t I would suggest you first look in the forum and ask me or one of the forum members about your current diet.
If you still have issues after deciding on a diet strategy I would look into getting some easy and quick blood testing to determine if you have some type of micronutrient deficiency.
Finally I would look at the nutrition sections of the TestShock manual to make sure you are not glossing over any of the important principles of the program’s diet.