Low-Carb Dieting: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

April 21, 2018

low-carb dieting

Uncover the truth about low-carb diets like the ketogenic diet. In an episode of the James Grage Theory podcast, BPI Sports co-founder James Grage, and Creative Director, Deniz Gungor, sit down to discuss the challenges and myths that surround the latest diet craze, from mind state, to supplements and more.


There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for everybody and there’s definitely not just one diet that fits everybody. So, first you’ve got to ask the question, “What do I want to accomplish?”


If you just want to lose body fat rapidly, the ketogenic diet will definitely work. It really comes down to your goals. If your goal is like mine, and you just want to look good all the time, find something that’s more balanced and more sustainable. I’m a big believer in sustainability. It’s like anything else in life, the more extreme something is, the harder it is to maintain.

LOW-CARB DIETING, THE BAD: Preserving Muscle & Strength

If you want to maintain some strength, size and muscle fullness in the gym, the ketogenic diet is not very good for that. Ask any bodybuilder when he goes through a low-carb phase what happens to his body. He’s cutting the carbs and he’s trying to lean out in phases, alternating through carb cycling or whatever his program is. The first thing he’ll tell you is that he feels weak.

The second is that his muscles feel flat. They’re flat because when you consume carbohydrates, your body turns the carbohydrates into glucose. Your body stores that glucose in the form of glycogen in your muscle. Now, glycogen holds three times its weight in water and pulls all this water into the muscle. That’s what gives your muscle fullness. On a low-carb diet, you cut out that glucose supply, therefore reducing the glycogen stores in your muscles and losing that full, hard look.

LOW-CARB DIETING, THE UGLY: Stress and the Habit Loop

Everyone’s different when it comes to the association they have with food. I look at food almost like a drug. Food can really change how you feel and so I think there’s a lot of people out there that can relate to that. When they’re feeling bummed out, stressed out, whatever, and they just want to feel differently, they gravitate towards the refrigerator or the pantry, so that’s a separate challenge in itself. This is not just psychological either. I think it’s physiological at that point; it’s almost like an addiction. It becomes very habitual when you feel a certain way. It’s automatic. Most people don’t think, “Hey, I’m super stressed out, let me make myself feel better by going and eating something,” but it just becomes part of that habit loop for them.


Lean muscle is your metabolic engine. That’s what’s going to burn calories. So, if you go full ketogenic diet and you start losing lean muscle, then you’re losing the ability to burn calories as efficiently. So you want to maintain, or if possible, even build lean muscle, and that’s going to help you get in shape.


If I’m hungry or if I think that I’m hungry, I’ll make sure that I eat something that is quick and easy. That’s where supplements come in for me. A lot of people want to have the debate, “Do you really need supplements?” and I’m the first to stand up and say, “No.” If you want to lose weight or you want to build muscle, you don’t have to use supplements. They’re just convenient.

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