The Keto Muscle Building Diet Benefits According to Research Key Points:
- The author of the study suggested that the keto diet can be beneficial for keto muscle building under certain conditions thru the following mechanism:
- Enhanced fat oxidation and energy utilization, increasing energy availability and potentially supporting muscle growth and recovery.
- Keto may reduce inflammation and improve recovery, contributing to muscle building.
- Adequate protein intake is essential for muscle protein synthesis on the keto diet, and moderate protein consumption can promote muscle growth without impairing ketosis.
Are you on the keto diet and wondering, “Can you build muscle on keto? The ketogenic (keto) diet has been a topic of interest in health and fitness for quite some time, especially among bodybuilders. Characterized by high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate intake, it has been lauded for its potential health benefits and weight loss effects.
This blog will review a recent review titled “The Positive Effects of the Keto Diet on Muscle Building: A Comprehensive Overview.” The review provided practical tips on keto muscle gain, including calculating your calorie needs, ensuring adequate protein intake, cutting carbs, incorporating healthy fats, and consuming essential amino acids. This article aims to delve into the current literature on the role of the keto diet in muscle growth, recovery, and performance.
Are Keto Muscle Gains Real?
Keto is a low-carb, high-fat diet that aims to shift the body’s metabolism into the state of ketosis. The ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, is a dietary approach that involves consuming high amounts of fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrates. It induces a metabolic state called ketosis, in which the body primarily relies on ketone bodies derived from fat for energy instead of glucose from carbohydrates.
While its impact on muscle building has been a subject of interest and debate, recent research suggests that weight training combined with the ketogenic diet can support muscle growth and improve recovery in athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
The typical ketogenic diet is made up of the following macronutrient ratios:
- 70-75% of calories from fat
- 20-25% of calories from protein
- 5-10% of calories from carbohydrates.
This means that carbohydrate intake on a keto diet is drastically reduced and replaced with fat. Reducing carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called the state of ketosis.
Types of Keto Diets
It’s important to note that there are several versions of the ketogenic diet, including:
- Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): This diet is very low-carb, moderate-protein, and high-fat. It typically contains 70-75% fat, 20% protein, and only 5-10% carbs.
- A cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) involves periods of higher-carb refeeds, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days.
- Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): This diet allows you to add carbs around workouts.
- High-protein ketogenic diet: This is similar to a standard ketogenic diet but includes more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs.
Health Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet, a low-carb diet, offers numerous health benefits. One of the key benefits is its ability to promote weight loss by inducing a state of ketosis, where the body burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. Research suggests that the ketogenic diet can also improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control, making it beneficial for individuals with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.(ahmed et al., 2022; Choi et al., 2020)
Additionally, some studies have shown that the diet’s high fat and whey protein content can increase feelings of fullness and reduce appetite, potentially leading to reduced calorie intake and weight loss. (Blundell; Johnstone, 2009; Veldhorst et al., 2011) Studies have also shown that the ketogenic diet may have neuroprotective effects and could help improve symptoms of epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. (Gasior et al., 2006; Włodarek, 2019)
Can You Build Muscle on Keto?
Ketogenic diets have gained popularity for their potential health benefits, including weight loss, improved glycemic control, and neuroprotective effects. However, the impact of ketogenic diets on hypertrophy, particularly on muscle building, remains a topic of debate.
Studies on Keto Muscle Building Diet
One study by Rana (2022) reported reductions in skeletal muscle thickness or lean body mass with a ketogenic diet, indicating that it may repress muscle hypertrophy from resistance training (Rana, 2022). Similarly, (Moscatelli et al., 2020) found that the ketogenic diet was ineffective in increasing anaerobic performance or lean body mass from anaerobic exercise (Moscatelli et al., 2020).
These findings suggest that ketogenic diets may have a negative impact on muscle hypertrophy when combined with resistance exercise. However, a major issue with studies looking at lean mass is that ketogenic diets often reduce cellular water leading to misinterpretations of DEXA measurements.
The ketogenic diet can lead to losing water weight and body fat, especially in the early stages, as glycogen stores are depleted. Each gram of glycogen is stored with approximately 3-4 grams of water. When the body shifts to burning fat for fuel and glycogen stores are reduced, this water is excreted, which can lead to a significant decrease in body weight.
This water weight loss can affect the results of Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scans, often used in research studies to measure body composition, including lean body mass. DEXA scans work by passing two low-dose X-ray beams through the body and measuring the energy absorbed by the body’s tissues. Changes in hydration status can affect the accuracy of DEXA measurements.
However, other studies have reported no significant differences in muscle hypertrophy between ketogenic and bodybuilding diets. For example, one study found no significant differences in muscle hypertrophy between a ketogenic diet and a control diet in Taekwondo athletes. (Rhyu & Cho, 2014) Similarly, another study found that a ketogenic diet did not significantly affect muscle hypertrophy after resistance exercise (Ishii et al., 2012).
Do Keto Muscle Building Diet Need Carbohydrates
Some have suggested that the carbohydrates themselves directly contribute to muscle building by enhancing the anabolic factors in muscle directly (Note: studies have found no difference in anabolic muscle signaling factors between low and high carbohydrate diets. (Paoli et al., 3919)
Other studies have reported that a ketogenic diet has a diuretic effect that induces water weight loss and fat loss, while lean body muscle is mostly preserved. (Pastuszak, 2023) This suggests that the initial reduction in lean mass observed in some studies may be due to water loss rather than actual muscle loss. These findings suggest that the effects of ketogenic diets on muscle hypertrophy may vary depending on the specific context and population studied.
Do you Lose Muscle on Keto?
One meta-analysis analyzed 5 studies with resistance-trained athletes who consumed similar calories and protein. Still, the only difference was that one group followed a keto diet, and the other followed a high-carbohydrate diet. The review assessed 5 studies with 101 participants. All the subjects in the study consumed a protein intake of .7 to 1 grams of protein per pound of body weight. When the calories are similar, there was no difference in gains in lean muscle mass for the keto group compared to a high carbohydrate diet.(Vargas-Molina et al., 2022)
The Positive Effects of the Keto Muscle Building Diet: Review Study
The Special Journal of the Medical Academy and Life Sciences (Tzenios et al., 2023) made the case for the potential benefits of keto diets for building muscle. The main points to support he argued that a ketogenic diet can support muscle growth and improve recovery in athletes and fitness enthusiasts under certain conditions.
· Initial Decrease in Training Intensity:
The transition to a keto diet may initially result in reduced training intensity due to a temporary decrease in energy levels as the body adapts to utilizing ketones for fuel. This adaptation period can last from a few days to several weeks, and individuals may experience a transient decline in performance. Moreover, athletes who have adapted to the keto diet have demonstrated improved endurance performance. (Cox et al., 2016)
· Enhanced Fat Oxidation and Energy Utilization:
The state of ketosis promotes a shift in the body’s primary energy substrate from glucose to ketone bodies derived from fat. (Volek et al., 2016)This process enhances fat oxidation, increasing energy availability and possibly supporting muscle growth and recovery. In addition, a ketogenic diet has been suggested to improve mitochondrial function and biogenesis. (Miller et al., 2018) Mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells, and their efficient functioning is crucial for various biological processes, including muscle growth and recovery.
· Reduced Inflammation:
The keto diet has been shown to reduce inflammation (Youm et al., 2015), a critical factor in muscle recovery and growth. Lower levels of inflammation may accelerate the repair and regeneration of muscle tissue, allowing for quicker recovery between workouts.
· Improved Hormonal Balance:
The keto diet may positively impact hormonal balance. For example, insulin sensitivity can be improved on a keto diet, allowing for more efficient nutrient partitioning and potentially contributing to muscle growth. (Wilson et al., 2020)
· Preserved Muscle Protein Synthesis:
Research suggests that moderate protein consumption (1.2-1.7 g/kg body weight) can promote muscle growth on a keto diet without impairing ketosis. Some studies have shown that a well-formulated keto diet can help preserve lean body mass during weight loss.(Vargas et al., 2018)
Factors Affecting the The Keto Muscle Building Diet
When trying to gain weight on a keto diet, several dietary factors are crucial:
- Nutrient-Dense Foods: Consuming nutrient-dense foods is essential. These include fatty fish, dairy products, eggs, and vegetables. Nutritional value should be prioritized over calorie counting.
- Healthy Fats and Proteins: The keto diet emphasizes the consumption of fat and protein while limiting carbs. Foods like eggs, whey protein, dairy, nuts, meat, fatty fish, and healthy oils are recommended for weight gain.
- Caloric Surplus: Regardless of the diet followed, a caloric surplus is necessary for weight gain. This means consuming more calories than your body burns in a day .
- Meal Timing and Stress Management: Factors such as meal timing, sleep, stress, and gut health play a significant role in weight gain. It’s important to manage these aspects effectively.
- Exercise: Incorporating resistance training can help in gaining muscle mass, which contributes to healthy weight gain.
- Avoid Overeating and Unhealthy Methods: Overeating, especially of high-calorie fatty foods, can disrupt ketosis and hinder progress. It’s important to find the right balance with all macronutrients for success on the keto diet.
- Supplements: Certain supplements like MCT oil and minerals can be helpful in supporting the diet and promoting weight gain.
- Whole Foods Over Packaged Keto Products: Choosing whole foods over packaged keto products can help in managing weight gain on the keto diet.
- Moderation in Cheat Meals and Alcohol: Overindulgence in cheat meals and alcohol can disrupt ketosis and hinder weight management. Moderation is key.
Potential Limitations and Considerations
While the ketogenic diet can offer several benefits for muscle building, it is essential to recognize potential limitations and considerations. Transitioning to a ketogenic diet may initially result in reduced training intensity due to a temporary decrease in energy levels as the body adapts to utilizing ketones for fuel (Burke et al., 2017). This adaptation period can last from a few days to several weeks, and individuals may experience a transient decline in performance.
Additionally, some athletes may find it challenging to maintain a ketogenic diet long-term due to its restrictive nature, making adherence a potential issue. However, it is crucial to recognize individual variability in response to the ketogenic diet, and athletes should consider factors such as their training goals, type of sport, and personal preferences when determining if the ketogenic diet is appropriate for their muscle-building objectives. Further research is warranted to understand better the ketogenic diet’s long-term effects on muscle building and athletic performance across various populations and sports disciplines.
In conclusion, building muscle on the keto diet is possible with the right approach. It’s important to ensure you consume enough calories, eat adequate protein, and keep your carbohydrate intake low. Filling up with healthy fats will provide the energy you need to fuel your workouts and support muscle growth.
Additionally, monitoring your ketosis levels can help optimize your progress. To learn more about effectively building muscle on the keto diet, check out our blog for detailed information and sample meal ideas. If you found this information helpful, remember to share it with your friends on social media!
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can you build muscle while following a keto diet?
Yes, it is possible to build muscle while in a state of ketosis. Consuming enough protein and macros (i.e., calorie surplus) for muscle growth while incorporating healthy fats (i.e., olive oil) is important. Finding the right balance of macronutrients may require some experimentation.
The state of ketosis is a metabolic state where the body uses fat as its main energy source instead of carbohydrates. This state can be achieved through a ketogenic diet, which is high in fat and reduced carb intake, or through intermittent fasting. Keto can be enjoyable when you consume full dairy creamer in your coffee. The body enters ketosis when carbohydrate intake is under 50g/day, usually within 2-4 days. You can measure the state of ketosis by measuring ketone levels with keto sticks in the urine.
Ketogenic Diet and Calories
The ketogenic diet has gained popularity for its potential benefits in weight loss by consuming fewer calories, cardiovascular health, and even as a treatment for certain conditions like epilepsy. It promotes fat burning, reduces appetite, and can improve blood sugar control, which is beneficial for those with insulin resistance.
However, the ketogenic diet is not without its challenges and potential risks. It can be difficult to sustain due to its strict restrictions and may lead to imbalanced nutrient intake. Some side effects of ketosi include fatigue, increased ketones, digestive issues, and insomnia.
Regarding supplements, research on ketogenic diets and ketone supplements still needs to be more conclusive. It’s important to note that while the body is in ketosis, it can use fatty acids as a fuel source.
Regarding macronutrients, the standard ketogenic diet is low in carbs, high in fat, and moderate in protein. However, it’s crucial to ensure not to consume too much protein as it can interfere with the state of ketosi.
The ketogenic diet also requires careful monitoring of micronutrients. For instance, potassium, magnesium, and calcium are essential for the body’s normal functioning and must be adequately supplied in the diet or through supplements if necessary.
Strength training can be incorporated into a ketogenic lifestyle. However, it’s important to note that carbohydrates are the body’s primary fuel source during high-intensity exercise. Therefore, a high-carb diet may benefit those engaged in high-intensity strength training.
Lastly, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider or a personal trainer before starting a ketogenic diet, especially for individuals with certain health conditions like diabetes.
In conclusion, while the ketogenic diet has potential benefits, it also comes with challenges and potential risks. It’s crucial to approach it with a balanced perspective, considering individual health conditions and lifestyle factors.