In the medical community the keto diet is a popular weight loss approach and a medicinal treatment for epilepsy. In the mainstream world though the keto diet can be helpful for athletes looking to get leaner and stronger and even build more muscle. While the traditional ketogenic diet isn’t necessarily a high protein diet, there are variations of the diet that can help you cut the fat and build muscle and reach your bodybuilding goals. Read on to determine the type of keto diet that may best fit you for your exercise goals and how to build muscle on the keto diet.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat diet. Studies have shown that the keto diet can help you trim the fat by putting your body into a metabolic state called ketosis that can be achieved when the majority of your diet comes from fat allowing your body to switch to burning body fat for fuel instead of burning carbohydrates. On the keto diet, your body gets incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates for fuel. When a strict keto diet is followed you can significantly reduce the available blood sugar levels in your body which positively affects how hard your pancreas works to product insulin levels in your body.
The standard ketogenic diet comprises of eating a low carb diet (around 50 grams or less daily), moderate protein and high fat. The breakdown is typically 70% fat, 20% protein and 10% carbs.
Foods to Avoid on a Ketogenic Diet
On a traditional keto diet you’ll need to avoid sugary foods like treats and juice, smoothies and soda. Stay clear of, or reduce your intake of grains, starches and legumes. If you are craving fruit, reach for a small portion of berries over apples and bananas because berries have a lower carb profile. Root vegetables like potatoes and sweetened sauces like barbecue sauce and ketchup are also a no-no. While you need to eat a lot of fat you’ll want to avoid unhealthy fats like processed oils and mayonnaise and steer clear of alcohol.
Eating carbs to fuel a workout has long been considered common knowledge in the bodybuilding/athletic world. Contrary to that stubbornly held belief, your body does not actually require carbohydrates — especially in the amounts consumed in a traditional American diet. Most people are over-eating on carbs and this leads to insulin resistance in the body and means your body is in a constant state of burning glucose for energy rather than stored body fat.
When using the keto diet to build muscle you’re giving your body just the right amount of glucose (those found in fats and proteins) for your body to survive. When your body switches to running off ketones you have a more efficient energy source and you can still build muscle but with one major bonus — no worries about gaining excess body fat and trimming down the fat you do have to give the muscle definition you want.
Targeted Keto Diet
If you are a bodybuilder, a serious athlete or an intense exerciser then you might want to consider the Targeted Keto Diet for building muscle. The targeted keto diet is a basic keto diet but you include eating carbs around your workout times. On intense exercise days you’ll replace some of your fat with carbohydrates, but only on exercise days. With this diet you’ll consume some carbs 30-60 minutes before your high intensity workout and eat some carbs immediately post workout. The idea behind the targeted keto diet for building muscle is that eating the carbs before will provide extra fuel for your workout and eating carbs afterward will help boost muscle recovery more quickly.
This type of keto diet for building muscle allows you to give muscles the glucose they need to sustain high-intensity activities for sustained periods of time allowing you to get the energy you need for those extra muscle gains.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet
Another variation of the keto diet that is employed for strength and building muscle is the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet. Following this adaptation of keto for building muscle you would follow the traditional keto diet for 5-6 days of the week, followed by a high-carb 1-2 days. Implementing the keto diet this way keeps your body anabolic, helping with strength and performance gains, moving back into ketosis by the end of the week to stay on track with fat loss so you can see those muscle gains and trim up. This diet can be more sustainable long-term because you aren’t cutting those carbs completely, you can satisfy your carb cravings knowing that each weekend you can eat those favorite foods. This diet has been employed by bikini competitors and body builders who want to use the keto diet to build muscle.
Tips for Success
Any diet is only as good as your ability to follow it. If you continually have cheat days and make exceptions you’ll never see the results you want when trying to build muscle on the keto diet. Here are some tips to make the transition — and sticking with it — go easier:
-When going to parties or dinners with friends, consider bringing your own food. Family and friends will want to support your exercise goals and eating your own food will help you stick to the plan and avoid the inevitable carb cravings that come when you get off track.
-Start reading food labels. Become familiar with the amount of fat, carbs and fiber are in your favorite foods. Knowing what’s in your favorite foods will help you figure out how to fit them into your diet so you don’t have to give up the food you love to eat just because you are trying to build muscle on the keto diet.
-Too busy to cook? When life gets hectic consider trying out a meal delivery service that offers keto-friendly options.
-Keep it simple. There are endless websites, apps, food blogs and cook books that offer ket0 recipes and meal ideas to make meal planning easier.
-Plan out your meals for the week and prep ahead anything you can on one day. You’ll save time and be more likely to stick with your plan when you’ve started working on it at the beginning of the week.