This is a harder post to write than I anticipated.
I feel like I’m ending a long term friendship or relationship.
Cue the slow-motion video of me dancing around with a human sized piece of bacon and stick of cream cheese while My Endless Love by Lionel Richie plays in the background.
The hard truth is that I’m quitting the keto diet.
For the better part of a year I’ve touted the benefits of the diet to you here at Supplement Reviews Lab.
Fat loss. Mental clarity. Reduction in appetite. Just a few of the benefits that I’ve experienced from the keto diet.
The truth is that in recent months, I’ve struggled with a few issues on the diet that I will go in depth on below.
The thing I want to make clear is that my original thoughts and comments on the keto diet still stand.
I think it’s a powerful diet however, for me it’s served its purpose.
I feel like a year was more than enough time to understand the diet well and learn about the positives along with the negatives.
If you are still doing keto and love it, great. I am not going to bash it. I still think of it quite positively.
I know that my issues are not unique with the diet and hopefully this post helps a few of those out there struggling with making a decision about it going forward.
There are 4 main reasons why I’ve decided to quit the diet. These reasons outweigh the positive reasons for me to stay on it which ultimately led me to my decision.
# 1- Lack of muscle growth
The main reason I started the keto diet over a year ago was to lose weight for my wedding.
I actually didn’t start out intending to follow the diet specifically. Through a series of trials, I found that cutting out carbohydrates led to rapid weight loss.
My wife had actually been doing it a little longer than me and helped me with a few finer points of the diet.
It worked awesome for weight loss and I lost about 20 pounds of excess fluff.
I was training a little differently last year and doing a lot of running so gaining a ton of muscle wasn’t on my mind as much.
For the last 10 months or so, I have again focused on packing on muscle and getting bigger. This is where I really noticed a problem.
Keto is great for getting shredded, but it’s not an optimal diet for putting on muscle.
If it was an optimal diet for putting on muscle, every single professional bodybuilder would be on it.
While professional bodybuilders utilize it for short periods, usually right before a show, it’s not the diet they are on routinely.
They know that carbohydrates are necessary for adding muscle and supplying the body with energy.
I don’t have scientific studies on why the keto diet doesn’t build muscle well. I don’t honestly care to look them up because I learned through personal experimentation.
That’s far more valuable to me than what some university found through a trial of 15 senior citizens.
I worked out hard this summer. Old school meathead bodybuilding. Arms a few times a week. The whole thing.
While my results were ok, they were not what they should have been.
I had barely any carbohydrates in my system during most of the workouts which I know hurt my gains.
Keto works great for many other sports, but it’s not optimal for bodybuilding due to the carb restrictions.
# 2- It’s hard to get a pump
This contributed heavily to the first reason.
In bodybuilding, it’s important to get a pump in your muscles if you want to gain size.
Regardless of what any functional fitness dork says, the better pump you can get the better your results will be.
Getting a pump without any carbohydrates is extremely difficult.
No matter how quick I went or how many drop sets I did, I just couldn’t get a good one.
If I got one, it would disappear quickly.
The only way I could get a pump was when I took Karbolyn right before I worked out or ate carbs in a pre-workout meal.
While it worked decently well, it just wasn’t the same as having carbs routinely during the day.
I know that my glycogen levels were constantly depleted, and I felt like I was having to work harder and harder to get that pump.
You lose a lot of water weight from the body on the keto diet which drastically impacts the pump you are able to achieve.
# 3- It’s hard to be normal
I know that this sounds weird coming from a bodybuilder, but sometimes I don’t always want to be the odd one out.
While keto has caught on quickly and there are many restaurant friendly options available, it’s just not the same.
I don’t want to constantly continue to avoid going out with pizza for friends or be that screwball that just orders a salad at every single restaurant.
Like it or not, American culture is deeply intertwined with food. Holidays, birthdays, weddings etc. There are many celebrations during the year and having to constantly obsess over “is this keto?” during every one has become exhausting.
It’s also difficult to eat with your family or spouse because the chance that they are all also on the keto diet is low. I constantly have to eat different things than my wife eats which is both time-consuming and costly.
My point is that it’s difficult to be flexible. The anxiety of worrying about keto friendly food options for every single meal away from home has gotten tedious.
While I eat most of my meals at home, I have a busy life (as you all do) and there are times when I just have to get something out.
With a standard bodybuilding diet, it’s far more flexible in most situations and I don’t have to be terrified of eating a carbohydrate all the time.
# 4- It’s expensive
In a recent post, I discussed how it was possible to subsist off a few things a week to save money if absolutely possible. While it’s possible, most of us don’t want to do that, myself included.
Unless you are committed to living off a cheap protein like eggs or chicken breast, keto is going to end up costing you more money than usual.
Beef, steak, cheese, grass-fed butter. These are not cheap items in most stores.
Sure, you can skip them if you really want to, but your keto experience will be miserable without them.
Carbohydrates are generally the cheapest food out there while meat is usually the most expensive. Eliminating foods like pasta, breads and rice meant I had to spend more money each week on meat.
I was buying pounds and pounds a week of meat and it just never seemed to be enough.
My grocery bill was noticeably larger on the keto diet. Even when I would make things in bulk, it never seemed to be enough and I was always running out to the store every few days to buy something else.
It’s very difficult to keep a tight grocery budget with the keto diet.
Gone but not forgotten
There you have it. My public break up letter with the keto diet. All the reasons I’ve decided to move on.
I do not regret the time I’ve spent on the keto diet. It’s been a positive experience for the most part and it’s a diet that I will likely use again in the future.
The way I will use it in the future however will be different. I personally think that the keto diet is a better short-term diet than a long-term one and will use it that way.
If there is a time I need to lose weight fast or lose some stubborn body fat, I will utilize the keto diet. I haven’t found a better diet out there for accomplishing such feats.
I know that there are a lot of people out there that have been on it long term and that’s great. Unfortunately, it’s just not working with my lifestyle at the current point in time.
I don’t know what the future will hold, but I doubt that I will ever be on it long term again.
So what’s next?
I’m reverting back to more traditional bodybuilding diet that’s high in protein, moderate to low in carbohydrates and low in fat. It’s part of a new program I’m following and will review once I’m done with it.
I’d like to just keep it under wraps for now because it’s a little different than I’ve ever trained before and I do not know what the results will be.
The good news is that it means new and different recipes in the 5-feature Friday newsletter. Don’t forget to sign up on the form down below.
The one keto principle I will continue to follow is keeping my sugar intake low. I did not realize how much I was consuming before I was on the keto diet and I feel a lot better without it.
I am going to go back to eating carbohydrates with a completely different mindset than I did in the past. While I don’t think they are completely evil, I do think I was eating too much of the wrong kind before.
Since I’ve eliminated almost all of them for a long time, I think that I will be able to have a better understanding of which ones work well for my body and which ones won’t.
I will keep you updated as always with any great results that I get.
P.S. Have you quit the keto diet after being on it for a while? I’d love to hear your reasons, thoughts, questions and comments below!