Match 14, 2022, marked the release date for the fourth episode of Generation Iron and BarBend‘s interview series with author, exercise physiologist, and creator of JYM Supplement Science Dr. Jim Stoppani. In the first episode, Dr. Stoppani walked interviewer Vlad Yudin through contralateral training and pre-exhaust training. In the second episode, Dr. Stoppani explained the differences between casein and whey protein and the benefits of intermittent fasting. In the third episode, Dr. Stoppani advocated for a lifestyle of moderation when it comes to coffee, caffeine, and alcohol.
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Keto Diet — Good or Bad?
Yudin asked Dr. Stoppani about keto in the context of building muscle. For reference, a ketogenic (aka keto) diet is very low in carbohydrates and very high in fats and “has proven to be very effective for rapid weight loss,” according to StatPearls. (1)
Dr. Stoppani recognizes the value that keto diets can have for short-term fat loss — calling it “great for losing a ton of weight in six weeks” — but conversely understands that it is not practical for sustained weight loss over time:
I don’t recommend [keto] as a diet go-to. The last thing you want to do is go from eating 400 grams of carbs per day to zero.
The reasoning against keto is its inflexibility if/when a plateau is hit.
Once you’ve cut out all your carbs, where do you go? You’ve got no more carbs to cut out. What are you going to cut out?
Dr. Stoppani suggests that the “much smarter plan” would gradually decrease carbohydrate intake once body fat loss slows. That gradual decrease to a diet that is eventually keto is a more sustainable plan in Dr. Stoppani’s view, and his opposition to keto diets is the drastic nature of cutting out all carbs from one’s diet in one fell swoop. The same fat loss is attainable through a gradual decrease in carbs as it is via cutting out all carbs at once. However, the former is more sustainable and likelier more manageable for keeping that fat loss off.
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According to the Official Publication of The College of Family Physicians of Canada, peak weight loss via a ketogenic diet is “at about five months but is often not sustained.” For diets that last more than a year, there is no significant difference in weight loss between keto diets and low-fat diets. (2)
There’s no point in dropping all your carbs.
For someone looking to drop fat for a wedding, vacation, or some other event and only needs to maintain a keto diet for a month or so, it is a viable option. However, for bodybuilders who need to maintain a physique for a more extended period, Dr. Stoppani states clearly:
Maintaining a physique on zero carbs is maintainable for most people.
Dr. Stoppani prefers carb cycling over keto diets and has implemented carb cycling “for many, many years.” Carb cycling is a diet where fewer carbs are consumed each day until close to no carbs are consumed, followed by a high-carb day. It has shown to be an effective way to promote weight loss and, according to Dr. Stoppani, maintains leptin levels to better prevent the metabolism from slowing. (3)
- Masood, W., Annamaraju, P., & Uppaluri, K. (2021). Ketogenic Diet. Statpearls Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/
- Rhonda Ting, A. (2018). Ketogenic diet for weight loss. Canadian Family Physician, 64(12), 906. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6371871/
- Kresta, J., Byrd, M., Oliver, J., Canon, C., Mardock, M., & Simbo, S. et al. (2010). Effects of diet cycling on weight loss, fat loss and resting energy expenditure in women. Journal Of The International Society Of Sports Nutrition, 7(S1). doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-7-s1-p21
Featured image: @jimstoppani on Instagram