The keto diet is very useful for weight loss. Limiting your carb intake to less than 50 grams per day forces your body to burn more fat for fuel. The result? Much faster progress when compared to most other weight loss diets. Many keto dieters lose five pounds or more in the first week alone.
The keto diet even works for sedentary people, and that’s good news if exercise isn’t your thing. But what if you enjoy exercise? Many people find that following a strict low-carb keto diet leaves them feeling tired and weak.
Luckily, there is a solution: the Dave Palumbo Diet – or DPD for short.
Dave Palumbo is a professional bodybuilder and bodybuilding coach. He created a keto diet specifically designed for exercisers and, in particular, bodybuilders and weightlifters. Overcoming the drawbacks of the traditional keto diet, Palumbo’s version of the keto diet is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to build muscle and lose fat at the same time.
DPD is mainly aimed at experienced keto diets and hardcore exercisers. It’s far more structured than the regular keto diet, and a whole lot stricter than the lazy keto diet. However, that is the price you have to pay if you want to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.
What is the Dave Palumbo diet?
Bodybuilders don’t just want to lose weight. Instead, they want to get ripped! Being ripped means that their body fat levels are so low that you can clearly see the outline of their muscles. They look like walking anatomy charts! To achieve this, the body fat percentage must be 10% or less for men, and 15% or less for women. For comparison, 18-24% is considered healthy for men, and 25-31% is deemed to be healthy for women.
Most diets can help you lose weight, but very few will get you ripped – even the traditional keto diet. With most diets you lose muscle as well as fat, so while you lose weight and get leaner, you still won’t achieve that ultra-lean bodybuilder look.
In the regular keto diet, you eat lots of fat, moderate amounts of protein, and minimal carbohydrate. That’s creates the ideal environment for fat burning. However, to preserve or even build muscle, you need to consume plenty of protein.
In the DPD, Pulumbo switches things up by increasing your protein intake and reducing your fat intake. This will still put you in ketosis, but you’ll have all the protein you need to maintain or even increase muscle size as your body fat percentage falls. You’ll still lose weight, but almost all of that weight will be fat. Less dietary fat also means fewer calories, and that will help speed up weight loss even more.
DPD – it’s all about the macros
The traditional keto diet involves following macro ratios, but they aren’t overly strict or precise. To achieve ketosis and stay there, your diet should comprise of 65–75% fat, 15–30% protein, and 5-10% carbs. This means your carb intake should be no more than 50 grams per day, and most people should aim for 20-30 grams. Sticking to these numbers will put you into ketosis and lead to weight loss.
The DPD is much more prescriptive and involves eating between 1 and 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day, about 0.5 grams of fat per pound, and very low levels of carbohydrates – the lower, the better. This, Pulumbo believes, creates an even better environment for fat loss, while facilitating muscle repair, recovery, and growth. These macronutrients should be spread evenly over six meals.
Calories matter too
With the Dave Palumbo diet, you also need to control the number of calories you eat. Your total calorie intake should be reduced to below maintenance level. While being in ketosis will ensure your body preferentially burns fat for fuel, cutting calories to this degree will dramatically accelerate fat loss. This means that DPD is really two diets rolled into one – keto and calorie restriction.
To estimate your maintenance calorie level, also known as your basal metabolic rate, use an app or online calculator, or use one of the following equations:
Men: BMR = (4.536 × weight in pounds) + (15.88 × height in inches) − (5 × age) + 5
Women: BMR = (4.536 × weight in pounds) + (15.88 × height in inches) − (5 × age) – 16
Or, if you prefer to work in kilograms and centimeters:
Men: BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) − (5 × age in years) + 5
Women: BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) − (5 × age in years) − 161
So, assuming you are male, weigh 170 pounds, are 5’ 8” (68”) tall, and 30 years old, your calculation should look like this:
(4.536 x 170) + (15.88 x 68) – (5 x 30) + 5
If all those numbers make you feel dizzy, just remember you need to do the calculations in brackets first…
1) 4.536 x 170 = 771.12 (rounded to 771)
2) 15.88 x 68 = 1079.84 (rounded to 1080)
3) 5 x 30 = 150
Finally, simply slot your bracketed calculations into the main equation:
BMR = 771 + 1080 – 150 + 5 = 1706 calories
But there’s more…
DPD is not just a strict keto diet, it’s also a cyclic keto diet too. That means you avoid all carbs for six days and then eat carbs on the seventh day. Palumbo recommends you have one high carb feast or “cheat meal” per week, ideally at the same time and on the same day each week. This is a free meal during which you can at as much as you want, and that includes carbs.
However, you are limited to one meal only. No extra snacks, and no taking a break from carbs only to eat more an hour or two later. Consider this to be a one-shot meal. Pulumbo states that this meal works best when it is the last meal of the seventh day. That will help bring the meal to a close in a timely fashion and will prevent overeating. Saturday or Sunday are good days for cheat meals.
This high carb cheat meal is designed to replenish your depleted glycogen stores. This has several benefits:
- Greater strength and endurance for exercise
- Reduced levels of cortisol – an anabolic or muscle-eating hormone
- Prevents metabolic slow down to allow for continued fat loss
- Provides a break from strict dieting which increases compliance and motivation
Unlike the regular and lazy keto diets where fats are the primary source of energy, the DPD uses a lower fat approach to achieve ketosis and weight loss. Because of this, Pulumbo recommends getting your protein from chicken, fish, lean red meat, whole eggs, and whey protein shakes. High-fat protein sources are generally best avoided.
For fat, DPD emphasizes healthy monounsaturated fats and sources of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. The recommended fat sources include salmon, tuna, mackerel, avocados, walnuts, almonds, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil. Natural peanut butter, made from nothing but peanuts and sea salt, is also an excellent source of healthy fat and can be added to fat-free protein sources to make a quick and easy meal on the go.
For reasons of health, most main meals should also contain an abundance of low-carb non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, cucumber, lettuce, cabbage, kale, and bok choy. Other vegetables can also be consumed providing they do not contain significant amounts of carbs. Fruit is to be avoided except as part of your cheat meal.
Typical DPD meals include:
- 4-6 scrambled eggs with spinach
- Whey protein shake plus a tablespoon of natural peanut butter
- 200 gram/7-ounce turkey breast plus raw green salad and olive oil dressing
- 200 gram/7-ounce salmon fillet plus baked broccoli and cauliflower florets
Because of the limited food choices available, you may find yourself eating the same or very similar meals over and over again. This is not a problem. In fact, with fewer food decisions to make, you will probably find meal planning much more manageable.
Choose 2-3 protein sources, 2-3 fats, a few free vegetables, and rotate them from day to day. When it comes to the Dave Palumbo keto diet, the simpler you can make things, the easier your diet will be.
For cheat meals, anything goes! You are free to eat unlimited amounts of high carb foods such as bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes. You don’t have to eat clean either – junk food is fair game too. If you want to eat pizza, ice cream, or even candy, this is the time to do it. After six days of eating next to no carbs, the carbs consumed at this time will be preferentially shunted into your muscles and stored as glycogen. Very little carbohydrate will be left over to be converted to fat.
Dave Palumbo’s keto diet IS undeniably more complicated than a regular keto diet, but that’s because it is designed for people who want more from their diet than just weight loss. By precisely controlling your macros and calories, you will achieve a very specific outcome.
The basic principles of the DPD are:
1. Eat 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, 0.5 grams of fat per pound, and no more than 50 grams of carbs per day.
2. Adjust your calorie intake to maintenance level or slightly below to accelerate fat loss.
3. Stick to this protocol for six days in a row.
4. At the end of the seventh day, enjoy a single high-carb cheat meal.
5. Go back to eating very low carbs the very next day to get back into ketosis as quickly as possible.
For most dieters, the regular or the lazy keto diet will produce very acceptable results. Both of these diets are straightforward, require minimal effort, and can help you lose weight both quickly and predictably.
However, if you want to get as lean as possible while building muscle and improving your gym performance, the DPD may be a better option. It’s ideal for dedicated exercisers and bodybuilders, and anyone who wants more than fat loss from their diet.
To achieve success with DPD, you are going to have to be more detail-orientated, weigh and measure all your food, and be prepared to power through the inevitable hunger. You’ll also need a lot of willpower to stop your once-a-week cheat meal becoming a cheat weekend!
But, if you stick with DPD to the letter, you will be rewarded with fast fat loss, increased muscle mass, and you may even achieve that ripped bodybuilder look. Be warned though, the Dave Palumbo diet is not for keto novices. You should only try it if you have spent a few months consistently and successfully following the regular or lazy keto diet.