Keto and the Fight Game

Fighters eed energy- lots of it. 

I started getting into fighting about two years ago. On a quest to loose 100 lbs, I had knocked 50 off with diet and moderate exercise, which was easier than I thought. Loosing the next 50 sent me spinning into two things I'd become more and more obsessed with; ketosis and Muay Thai.


Grueling high intensity training, sparring, running and rolling take a major toll on the body. Some fighters will eat up to as many as six times a day and other's, specifically Thai fighters will eat two. I usually side with the latter. Eating two times a day, or intermittent fasting, is becoming a popular way to manage weight, boost cognitive function and burn fat with minimal physical effort. Intermittent fasting is a dietary method that allows an eating window of eight, six or four hours to consume your calories and macro-nutrients, where there the remaining sixteen, eighteen or twenty hours are spent in a fasted state. 


Intermittent Fasting Protocol-



That's certainly not why Thai's are fasting. Thai fighters generally get their morning run in as early as six or seven in the morning and will opt for more hours of sleep over an early meal. Most of their diet consists of rice, vegetables, fish soup and eggs as their protein source. 


American martial artists often follow a different approach, eating five or six meals a day with moderate to high amounts of carbs and protein at each meal depending on their needs.  


3 Weeks to Shredded- Mike Dolce MMA Nutrition



Ketosis and becoming Fat Adapted   




To reap the physical and cognitive advantages of a ketogenic diet, it is imperative to ecome fat adapted



Being in a ketogenic state means that your brain and body has begun operating on etones, an alternative fuel source to glycogen. Ketosis is achieved when the body depletes its carbohydrate stores from either fasting, hard exercise, or nutritionally through a high fat, low carb, moderate protein diet. Some people will struggle to function at this state, while others, like myself thrive. To reap the physical and cognitive advantages of a ketogenic diet, it is imperative to ecome fat adapted. A typical ketogenic diet consists of high fat (50-80% of total kcals), moderate protein (25-35% of total kcals) and low carbohydrate intake (5-15% of total kcals) and if you're looking to shed body fat quickly- intermittent fasting aka skipping breakfast.  It is easy to test yourself for ketones through your urine with Ketostix,which you can by on Amazon for about 10 bucks. Totally worth it to see your hard work has paid off and you've achieved ketosis.  


The es part of becoming at-adapte is that your silly little body can't tell the difference between fat consumed through your diet and stored body fat from the homemade donuts and half a pumpkin pie you devoured at Mom's house last Thanksgiving. This helps make fasting, intermittent fasting and training relatively painless as your hunger cravings cease will you are consistently fueled metabolically by body fa. 


Is it possible to maintain high intensity training without carbs?



Foods like sweet potatoes, white or brown rice, carrots and squash are examples of optimum starch resources that can refuel and revitatalyze your muscles without causing blood sugar spikes and food cravings


Hell yes. I spend about five or six days out of the week in ketosis, with a carb re-feed at least once per week, usually after a fasted training session. This seems to work the best for me.Your muscles and cells can benefit greatly from this form of ketosis called a yclical ketogenic diet (CKD). Foods like sweet potatoes, white or brown rice, carrots and squash are examples of optimum starch resources that can refuel and revitatalyze your muscles without causing blood sugar spikes and food cravings, which for me has always been the most important aspect of keto. I swear, if there were AA meetings for Sugar-addicts, I was going to be there one day.


When I begun my weight loss journey from 290 to <200 pounds, I suffered remendously from food cravings on a low-calorie, low fat diet. I was able to loose about half of the weight, but the other half wouldn't budge and my willpower was fading fast. 


Enter healthy fats






Adding Healthy Fats to your diet is key. 


Food Quality on a Ketogenic Diet Matters!


After reading books like The Bulletproof Diet, countless blogs, articles and long stat-filled medical journals, supplementing healthy fats not only gave me the fuel I needed to start crushing my workouts and having the cognitive function to better my technique, my food cravings had become virtually non-existent. The best source of ketogenic fuel that really changed the game for me was MCT OilMCT is short for medium-chain triglycerides which are medium-chain fatty acids found in coconut and palm oil that the liver converts directly to ketones, even if you've had some carbs. These can be considered exogenous ketones, that offer quick access to a ketogenic state- ideal for beginners and keto veterens alike. Other healthy fats that contributed to my newly found stamina included fatty cuts of grass-fed beef and lamb, wild fish, coconut oil, grass-fed butter & ghee, avocados, avocado oil, olive oil, pastured eggs, nuts and ACON. Applegate's Uncured "Sunday Bacon" is a staple in my fridge, and most bacon in general is a perfect ketogenic food. Quality food is crucial to long term health and success. Corn oil, pork rinds and excess cheese, while virtually zero carbs, will not produce the same results as grass-fed meats, wild fish and avocados.


Dealing with Cravings and the "Keto-flu"


If you've been part of the outdated Standard American Diet, your body is going to be in for a shock. Sadly, as a society we have become completely dependent on sugar as a fuel source. Sugar is dangerous and "coming off" sugar and heavy carbs can come with some miserable side-effects, but they can be countered. 


How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat


Your body holds three grams of water for every solo gram of carbohydrate you consume. Imagine how much water you're holding if your diet consists of 150-250 grams of carbs a day. When you lower that amount to <50 grams per day, you will lose a lot of that water, and your body's natural electrolytes that come with it. The most important thing you can do for the first two weeks of keto is to stay hydrated. I'm talking going to the bathroom every 5 minutes may still not be enough hydrated. Consider supplementing with natural electrolytes as well- sodium, potassium and magnesium. You can get a high quality sea-saltpotassium and magnesium supplements online or in the store for about ten bucks, and it'll be worth every penny. Use them in the morning and night and throughout the day if you feel flu-like symptoms for quick relief.   


Eat lots of Fiber




Many of the carbs you'll eat on a ketogenic diet, don't count


hen you consume vegetables, nuts or seeds that are high in fiber, you are only counting the et carbs.




● One cup of broccoli= 6 grams of carbohydrate and 3 grams of fiber; the net grams in your cup of broccoli is . 

● Three cups of baby spinach= 3 grams of carbs and 2.1 grams of fiber, that’s ess tha gram of carbs

● One serving of Almonds= 6 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber, net grams- 3 carbs   


Eating copious amounts of fibrous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, bok choy, and spinach drenched in grass-fed butter or coconut oil and seasoned with sea salt and spices is a great way to not only keep your carbs low but to load up on vitamins you would not be getting from anti-nutrients such as gluten, soy, wheat and grains. Fats take longer to digest, so to me this has always made me feel great knowing that natural, earth grown nutrients and vitamins are on a slow-drip to my cells, muscles and all throughout my body. Oh, and they taste amazing, especially as a side to a grass-fed rib-eye or lamb chop, also topped with some Kerrygold grass-fed butter- if you're into that kind of thing.




You can get a high quality sea-saltpotassium and magnesium supplements online or in the store for about ten bucks, and it'll be worth every penny


 If you're training like a mad man (r lady), you are probably sweating like an animal. When that happens, you are losing significantly more of electrolytes than a sedentary person. I'd recommend a break from training while becoming keto adapted for at least a week or two, but for some of us that simply is o an option. 


Besides electrolytes that I linked to above, coffee, tea, apple cider vinegar, lemon water, creatine mono-hydrate and BCAA's as a preworkout helps too. Whey protein can be also be awesome- bonus points for sugar-free. Use stevia, xylitol and erythritol as sugar replacements and avoid sucralose(Splenda) and aspartame (Equal). They won’t kick you out of ketosis, but they’re chemical makeup is down right cary.


The Four Best and Three Worst Sweeteners to have in your Kitchen by Dr. Mercola



A  ketogenic might not be for everyone. It's worked for me and continues to work for me. My IQ has gone up, my weight has stayed down, I train great and feel unstoppable. It might be my constant and consistent working out or maybe the excess vegetables, but personally, blame it on the butter.