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Thib Goes Keto – Week 5

Articles / 07 November, 2017 /

By Christian Thibaudeau

I feel like an arse for writing this, especially towards my friend Joe Binley (www.customizingketo.com) who did an amazing job helping me tailor a keto diet for my needs, but I am ending my keto experiment.

Not because of a lack of discipline or because it “didn’t work”.

I don’t lack discipline. When I dieted down for my latest photo shoot, I cheated once in 10 weeks and my diet was a lot harder to follow than the keto plan I am on. My calories were much lower and while I did have some carbs on a few days of the week, my overall energy intake (carbs + fats) was lower and I felt a lot worse. But I only cheated once… and it was because I drove 5 hours, filmed for 3 hours and didn’t have a solid meal throughout.

And I can’t say that keto “didn’t work”. I felt awesome. My mental focus and mood was amazing. Nothing bad to say about that.

While my physique fluctuated wildly (on some days I looked good and on others I looked like crap), overall, I can’t say that keto sucked from a body composition perspective. But I can’t say that it was better than other approaches I have used throughout my “career”. It wasn’t better or worse in that regard.

And I’m not stopping because I am craving carbs either. If anything, I have a lot less cravings than usual.

So, what’s the problem?

It got boring. If my goal was to optimize my physique, no doubt that my mindset would be different. After all, when preparing for my photo shoot I basically ate the same 3-4 foods over and over for 10 weeks and didn’t have a problem with that. But at the moment, I’d rather be at 90% of my best and enjoy life a little bit more than be at 100% and feel trapped.

“Yeah Thib, but you can make some fun keto recipes to make things more interesting!”

Sure. For most people that is true. But not for me.

See, I’m one of the pickiest eater in the history of mankind. No joke! I eat all my food bland. Not to reduce sodium and calories but because ANY form of dressing or condiments disgusts me. I eat my hamburgers plain for God’s sake! And I’m probably one of the only people in the world who can’t eat pizza.

I’m the furthest thing possible from a foodie.

So, no, cool keto recipes don’t work for me. They don’t make things interesting, they make things disgusting. I’m weird, I know.

Plus, I don’t “enjoy” keto foods that much. I like salmon, beef and other meats. But I can’t say that they give me pleasure. They are palatable but that’s pretty much it.

Yeah, I know, you will give me the speech about food being fuel and bricks to make the body grow, that you shouldn’t eat for pleasure but rather for function.

You know what? Fuck that!

15 years ago, when I spent 18 months eating a low carbs diet with very few cheats, I would have agreed. But at this point in my life and with my current goal, I’d rather eat in a way I enjoy without negatively affecting my body composition.

While I don’t need crap, and rarely crave it, things like pastries, cookies, kids’ cereals, popcorn flavored rice cakes make me happy. I don’t need them but they are among the very few things in life that I enjoy (I’m Asperger so everything is pretty neutral all the time).

As such, I just cannot see myself cutting these things out of my life.

Yeah but Thib. you can have a cheat day per week on the weekend on keto, like the Bodyopus or Anabolic diet

That also doesn’t work for me either. Well, it works if I have a specific goal of getting into amazing shape, but I still feel trapped since I can only have the foods I enjoy on one specific day. And I always end up overdoing it. I eat a lot less “dirty” foods when I know I can have some when I want to rather than be forced to have them on a specific day. Plus, I start to obsess about the upcoming cheat day a few days in advance which makes things a lot worse. That’s just how my brain works.

I’m a neurotype 2A. If you haven’t listened to my videos about Neurotyping I suggest that you visit the video section in my blog area. Neurotype 2A basically need two things:

  1. Variation
  2. To feel respected, admired or liked

When I’m preparing for a photo shoot my main motivation is no.2. I know that I’m going to put pictures of my physique out there and I NEED to be my best so that I know that I will be respected and even admired for my appearance.

It’s shallow, insecure and weak. I agree, but that’s my deep motivation. But if I did not have that need, I would never have produced so much free content over the years. I only did that to know that people liked me. And that’s also also why I pushed hard to accumulate a lot of knowledge, write books, etc. I needed to feel respected by other authorities.

So, when I’m preparing for a photo shoot, my need to feel respected strongly supersedes my need for variation. For that reason, I have no problem eating the same way over and over as well as do the same program, do cardio at the same time, etc.

But when I’m not preparing for a shoot (or a vacation on the beach, or anything where my physique will be revealed), my need for variation overtakes my need for being admired for my physique. I still want to look good and will still do everything I can to improve my physique and stay in good shape, but I just can’t be comfortable sticking to the same thing over and over. I need freedom to change my training, my schedule, as well as my diet.

2A need variation. Even if keto is treating me well, I feel good and my physique is okay, I still get bored of it. And you keto experts, I know what you will say…

“It’s after 6 weeks (or more) that the real magic happens!”.

And Joe will tell me that we just figured out my body and I’m quitting when things are going to get more “fun”.

I agree. But logic and reason cannot win over neurotransmitters and psychological mindset.

I just need a different approach. Just like after a few weeks I need to train a different way otherwise I get unhappy, stressed out and lose motivation… even if the program is working great!

And you know what? My new diet might actually end up being more restrictive (in the caloric department). I’m not quitting because it’s hard, I’m quitting because I’m mentally fed up.

And there’s more. I will tell you one of my bad habits, but one I’m not willing to change because it makes me happy and at this point in my life that is what I want.

The reason why I decided to do my keto experiment (I never said that it was going to be a long-lasting change) at this time was because I had no seminars planned for 6 weeks. What does that have to do with anything? You’ll see.

Ever since I have been giving seminars I have always done the same thing: I fast during the day. That helps me perform better by increasing adrenaline production (types 2A and 2B are super sensitive to adrenaline and are heavily potentiated by it). And in the evening, I eat crappy sugary foods. This helps me relax and acts as a reward for my performance.

THIS IS A VERY BAD HABIT!!! If I had a client who did that, I would do everything possible to have him/her break this habit. But you know what? From a body composition standpoint, it doesn’t affect me much (I retain a boatload of water for 1-2 days) and since I’m lean and insulin sensitive I can get away with it.

I was feeling good on keto and didn’t have any cravings for my normal “cheat foods”, so I thought that maybe I’d be able to break my habit easily. Well, this week (last week since this is posted on a Tuesday), I had three full days of filming for my upcoming online certification. Which is basically like giving a seminar but a bit more structured.

The first day, I was able to stick to keto eating. I still didn’t eat through the day but upon coming back home I ate a huge amount of keto food. I basically ate the equivalent of 3 of my 4 meals in one sitting.

On the second day, I really needed some “feel good foods”. They were the first real cravings I had gotten in the past 5 weeks. I didn’t give in, but I had problems sleeping because I kept thinking about it. As a result, the next morning I had to take ephedrine and caffeine to have the energy to present. And at the end of the day, I rewarded myself with 6 chicken hamburgers with BBQ sauce, 10 oven-baked chocolate cookies and 1 liter of salty caramel frozen yogurt.

That made me sad.

Not the fact that I cheated, but the realization that my triggers were still there. And tomorrow (in relation to the publication of this article), I’m leaving for Europe for two weeks, where I will give two seminars, and upon coming back I will have one last seminar before the end of 2017. And I know that I wouldn’t be sticking to keto eating for that time.

Am I weak? Keto purists who want to protect their tribe will blame me, say that I’m too weak, that I’m giving up. And you know what? Maybe I am.

However, I’m strong-willed enough to diet down into low single-digits body fat anytime I want to. If that’s being weak, then so be it. But as I said, at this point in my life I would rather be at 90% of my best condition and be happy than at 100% and feel bad. Especially when I’m travelling and have to perform in front of a crowd.

Don’t get the wrong impression though. I’m not moving from “Thib goes Keto” to “Thib goes Junk food”. I’m eating a “clean” (whatever that means) diet for a vast majority of the time, but if I want to indulge once in a while, I do it. Heck, I’m under 10% body fat, I do cardio every morning and do serious weigh training 75-90 minutes 6 or 7 days a week. So, it’s not like a little bad food here and there will destroy me, plus I know that if I ever add too much fat for my own taste I have no problem losing it (which is not the case of 90%+ of the population).

And I will be honest. I did not get better body composition changes from keto than from any other ways of eating I have tried. Okay, you might say that I only did it for 5 weeks and that I should have waited longer to get a clearer opinion, but I’ve been training and dieting for 20+ years, so I know my body well and how it reacts.

I’m not saying that keto is worse than other methods for me. I’m saying that from a body composition standpoint I did not get better or worse results than:

– Carbs cycling

– Intermittent fasting

– Zone diet

– IIFYM

– Cycle diet (severe restriction Sun/Mon/Tues/Thu/Fri, whole cheat day Wednesday and clean carbs Saturday)

Among others.

From a health perspective, who knows? My blood pressure spiked the first week but then returned to my normal levels. So from that standpoint, it is no better or worse than other diets I used the past four years (since I started measuring my blood pressure) and I did not get blood work done yet, so I can’t comment on my lipids and cholesterol at this time.

I just can’t justify eating in a way that prevents me from doing what I enjoy without getting better results, especially since my current goal is more about maintaining my body composition rather than improving it.

The last thing that bothered me was that I felt like I was still preparing for my photo shoot. Those who have competed know what I’m talking about: Having to eat the same meals, at the same time. Even if you are not in a caloric deficit, even if you have plenty of food to keep you satiated, it gets mentally hard (not for everybody, but for a type 2A, yes). I remember reading in an old Flex magazine in which they asked Jay Cutler what he would eat after the Olympia. He answered, “A steak I won’t have to weigh“. Cutler was known as a consummate professional who did everything like a machine. But it does illustrate the point that regimented eating can take its toll.

On some days, I might feel like having only two meals on some others I might want to eat six. Type 2A love variety in style, frequency, content, etc.

So even though I did not feel physically drained, mentally it started to be tough. I just finished dieting down for 10 weeks, and then stayed pretty regimented for 2 more weeks after that to avoid a big rebound. With the 5 weeks of keto, that makes 17 weeks of regimented, planned eating and my brain honestly needs a break.

So, what’s next? Good question! I haven’t figured it out yet, but I know that for at least one week I want to eat without thinking. Since I’m already in a low carbs groove, I will likely stay low carbs most of the day but include carbs around my workouts. And if I ever crave some of the foods I’ve been missing, I’ll have some in reasonable amounts. Then I’ll likely go back to the cycle diet, since this is what seemed to fit my profile and seminar schedule best, the difference being that I will likely put the cheat day on Sundays (last day of my seminars) and my clean carbs day on Thursdays.

-CT

Christian Thibaudeau

Written by Christian Thibaudeau

Christian Thibaudeau has been involved in the business of training for over the last 15 years. During this period, he worked with athletes from 28 different sports. He has been “Head Strength Coach” for the Central Institute for Human Performance (of…