Monday, 24 October 2016

Post 29: Ketobulk Update/Review

Hi Guys,

Here with a quick one for you this week, I aim to get my post out on the weekend but I’ve been incredibly busy with life, as I’m sure you can understand. Much like sticking to a diet, however, I’ll be right back on the horse straight away, and next weekend’s post will be annoying punctual…

Ketobulk Part 2

What I want to tell you about today is how my bulk is going, or as I aptly named it: ketobulk (#ketobulk; tell all your friends!).

At the end of September I threw down the gauntlet and put together a post detailing why bulking (adding lean muscle) was indeed possible in the absence of carbs, and how I planned on doing it. Having experienced the ketobulk for nearly two months now, I wanted to report back and collate my thoughts on the topic.

In case you haven’t already read the original post, here’s the link where you can find out all about this little scheme I’ve cooked up.

You can almost count this post as part 2 to the original; the sequel to the movie where they ride off into the sunset. Nothing will ever work out exactly as you planned. What Mike Tyson said really is true (“everyone has a plan ‘til they get punched in the mouth” which in my case luckily was not literal...).

Results So Far

I must say, the results have been really good, and proved my hypothesis correct. Below is a what my lifts were when I started, and where they are now (heaviest 5*5 fully completed; all in kg):

Squat: 72.5 to 95
Bench Press: 50 to 60
Deadlift: 85 to 115
Barbell Row: 30 to 52.5
Overhead Press: 35 to 42.5

Total Weight Lifted: 272.5 to 365
Weight: 84.1 to 87.8

Power to Mass Ratio (TWL/W): 1.47 to 1.89 (29% increase)

The ratio I want to draw attention to is the power to mass ratio. Think about it, how much you weigh will allow you to lift heavier objects and apply more force to them. Therefore, it makes no sense just to judge strength increases by the sheer weight moved. Instead you need to look at how much you can lift beyond your own body.

This is the same as measuring progress by weight alone, rather than bodyfat %. Just using absolute weight lost can be misleading.

The increase in my bodyweight has me feeling both ways. On one hand, there must be an increase in muscle in there, and am still quite lean. This was one of the things I set out to do when I formed this idea: mainly to prove that it really was possible. However, it is certainly above what I was aiming for (in the original post I said roughly one lb a month).

This led me to my first pivot: to decide to have the non-workout day macros every day, rather than having an increased allowance for workout days. This has worked, and my weight has grown at a much slower pace since implementing.

Something else that I must draw attention to is the fact that I have been sticking to my 5*5 Stronglifts plan, which is a strength building plan (for more info go here). So you would be perfectly within your rights to say “well then it is the strength plan that’s doing it”, and you would be correct. But then again, if you were eating a standard western diet, and not doing doing strength based training, you wouldn’t get any stronger! What I’m getting at is that the training program is required, and that in all fairness what I wanted to show was just the ketobulk was possible, and to maintain the therapeutic benefits.

Back in my post on ketogenic workouts (read it here), I made it clear that you will need to burn sugar for top level anaerobic exercise. So of course, for someone eating carbs every day, they’re probably going to push more weight in the gym (compared to their body weight of course! ;-) ), but I don’t think the tradeoff is worth it.

Random Ketobulk Musings

Here’s a list of other, smaller issues/concerns/thoughts that I’ve had, which are smaller in nature, but interesting points nonetheless (in my opinion):

This is not a license to eat
I’m less guilty of this now than I was a couple of years ago, but it is tough to get your head around this point. Now that you’re trying to gain weight, you think “I can eat anything I like”. This does not work for me for two reasons: 1) I gain weight quickly and am happily bulking on roughly 2500 calories a day. For a “hardgainer” this would be a lot more and they would need to have the intense feasts, but not I. 2) Ketogenic foods don’t give themselves over to mass eating, because they provide good nutrients and are filling. So those pizza binges just aren’t part of your life, like a “dirty bulk” would contain. So if you do choose to open that door it becomes much harder to close it again and get back on the keto wagon.

Cutting is more fun than bulking
This might surprise the lifters out there, but I genuinely enjoy cutting more. I have to think less about food, and you just let your caloric deficit be filled with your internal fat stores. I also find that I enjoy being deeper in ketosis while cutting due to the extended fasts. Another point, is that I am still staying lean, so the fluctuations of a kg or a few lbs actually has a noticeable difference. You get tempted to eat less because the next day you’ll look (even more) awesome.

On ketobulk you need to be even more attentive to your food
This was touched on a little in the first thought, but I want to expand on it a tad more. Like I said, the carb binges are a non-entity now, so if you do decide to say “f@ck it!” and go for a cheat meal, or even cheat day, it is very hard to get back on the wagon. It has given me some very useful insight into how people feel when their diets go ary. Ketobulk actually calls for a lot of discipline, because there will be hard workouts, and you will be tempted by non-compliant food on every street corner. But that’s something I like about it: the challenge; and at the end of the day you can say you tried it and succeeded.

You should take more advantage of the water weight realignment week
This came a little out of left field when I was making my notes, because it is one of those psychological “inner game” tricks. Water weight, in my opinion, is an uncomfortable bedfellow. It’s the annoying friend your parents make you hang out with; you know that they’re to stay, but sometimes you just want to be left alone. Fluctuating water weight makes it a lot harder to stay accurate in tracking your progress. Did you eat too much? Or was it just water weight? My advice is to make sure you get your salt! Read all about how ketosis interacts with salt/sodium intake here. Keep the sodium levels constant in your body and keep your water weight consistent. Then you’ll know whether it’s muscle you’re adding!


I hope you enjoyed this stripped down post, and if you’re trying the ketobulk or thinking of trying anything ketogenic in general, leave a comment below! Here’s this week’s takeaways:
  1. (I feel like I’m always at this one but…) Pivot!!! If you have a plan (like I did) then be willing to adapt and change it. Dogma leads to poor decision making.
  2. Even if you’re not bulking or ketobulking, utilise the power to mass ratio. It’s a smart way to calculate whether you’re gaining appropriate strength or not losing too much strength (when dieting).
  3. Bulking is not a license to eat and go nuts… unless you want to get fat like I did a few years ago! Unless your plan is to go nuts and eat nuts, which is totally ketogenic anyway… ;-)

That’s all folks. Leave a like, share with your friends, go back to whichever social media led you here and click that little heart shaped button. It all adds up.

Until next time,


1 comment:

  1. Hi Tom, Emily here. Another great post. I'm really impressed with how your 5x5 workouts shot up, that's awesome!! Also love the tip at the end about always being willing to adapt, I think that's an important part of progress, plans will change, but for the better and so we need to roll with it. Again, great post and I look forward to seeing what you do next!