By HANNAH FARROW
The University of Tampa is performing a study in October exploring how the ketogenic diet may improve one’s body by gaining muscle and losing fat. This study is the fourth of its kind that has been conducted at UT. This diet had originally been researched as a possible way to treat cancer, diabetes, and alzheimer patients, but results instead showed how it altered participants’ bodies for the better.
UT Graduate students Ryan Lowery and Chris Irvin will run this two-week study from Oct. 11 – 23. Informational meetings start this upcoming Monday, September 21.
The ketogenic diet relies on a meal plan very high in fat, low in carbohydrates, and moderate in protein. Lowery and Irvin will provide meal and food lists containing 75 percent calories from fat, 20 percent from protein and five percent from carbs. For students who eat on campus, they will provide instructions on which places and meals to eat.
“Most people use carbs as primary source of fuel,” Irvin said. “When you restrict carbs, you produce ketones, which is a product when you break down fats. All the systems in your body that run on carbs can run on ketones. This study uses fats instead of carbs for energy.”
“Once a participant’s brain learns to use the ketones as its main fuel, it’s actually more efficient and their energy levels are higher,” Irvin said.
Lowery and Irvin are looking for 18 to 20 students to participate in the study, and are hoping for an even distribution of males and females.
During the first week, participants will do a high-intensity workout each day, and will get their fingers pricked once after the workout and once at night to check blood sugar levels. The second week will consist of participants drinking protein shakes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, getting their fingers pricked three times over the course of two hours. On Tuesday and Thursday, participants will do a full-body workout.
Irvin emphasizes that participants won’t work out outside of the study because it will alter results.
The hardest part about the study is balancing one’s protein intake, Irvin explained. If a participant has too much protein, the study won’t work.
Additionally, participants will not be allowed to drink alcohol for two straight weeks. Irvin said he understands college students’ desire to drink on Halloween, so they timed the study to end a week before the 31st.
Kevin Shields, a UT graduate student who is currently a sports science researcher at UT, participated in this study last year for eight weeks.
“It’s a really great learning experience,” Shields said. Working out three times a week, he dropped his weight from 195 pounds to 179 pounds. He also lost body fat mass. “The study really opens your eyes. You can achieve the same goal by doing it a different way.”
According to Irvin, when most people diet, there is a loss in muscle mass. The great thing about the ketogenic diet is participants lose fat rather than muscle mass.
“I did the study for 10 weeks and I was down about four to five percent body fat, but my weight didn’t change,” Irvin said. He said he was roughly 15 percent body fat and went down to about 11 percent.
The researchers are looking for participants who can handle a hard workout and have a dedicated mindset. Those who are interested in participating in this study or future studies should visit HSHP 112.
Hannah Farrow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org