Back in 1996 I told a bodybuilder friend/mentor whom I really looked up to about this new diet I was following.

“You eat zero carbs but lots of fat and it tricks your body into surrendering bodyfat while sparing muscle.”

My mentor wasn’t too impressed.

“Oh yeah, THAT diet. Again.”

I protested.

“No, this diet is NEW and totally cutting edge. You also get to stuff your face with carbs on the weekend, and your body is so insulin sensitive and depleted it soaks up all those carbs like a sponge.

So you like, get lean throughout the week and then get full and vascular on the weekend.

You even get to pee on keto strips. So it’s fun too!”

But he had already lost interest, while I became obsessed.

I bought every book I could related to what we now call “ketogenic dieting.”

I looked for everything I could about The Metabolic Diet, and it’s earlier permutation The Anabolic Diet, and everything I could find (this was pre-internet) on Dr. Walter Bloom and the “fish & water” diet. And of course, the classic BodyOpus by Dan Duchaine.

But I didn’t just read, I applied it. For years I experimented with different tweaks and techniques and potential “hacks” to lower my insulin signal and then trigger a massive anabolic rebound.

I might’ve been natural, 170 pounds, and woefully ignorant… but I KNEW from the magazines that “anabolic” meant stupid dope gains with a capital G.

And… I made next to no progress. Lean, yes, but also small and soft and totally unsatisfied.

By the time 2000 came around I finally realized that there was a reason most experienced bodybuilders abandoned this plan — unless they were VERY experienced, had a crazy short deadline, and wore a fanny pack full of steroids.

Image of a fanny pack.

Instead, they ate, well, normally. Lots of lean protein and veggies and enough starch to support training and building mass.

In my hubris, I’d fallen for a cutting edge gimmick, or at best a highly complicated and contextual niche, when I should’ve just attacked the boring basics like the rest of the 20-something guys I saw every day.

Deflated but not defeated, I tucked my skinny tail between my legs and got busy doing what I should’ve been doing all along.

* * *

Since then I’ve seen keto dieting come and go at least three times and it’s always the same sales schtick: a physiological “hack” that doctors and dietitians don’t want you to know about, because they want you to be sick and fat and on a litany of blood sugar medications so they can all have multiple yachts to waterski behind.

In hindsight, I see how utterly moronic I was (not to mention arrogant). But nobody could’ve convinced me that I was wrong.

I had to to lick the stove (there’s an image) and get burnt before I could grasp how dumb it was for 95% of the lifting population.

And that’s why today you won’t see me blast keto diets too often. Not because they have merit, but because I realize some people (like me) just have to make mistakes for themselves before they see the light.

Just please excuse my smugness if I roll my eyes and say “Oh, that diet. Again.”