There are two main reasons why we opt for a ketogenic or keto diet. One is to lose weight, and two, for general fitness. However, I am guessing you did not know that one can still build muscle while on keto, although the diet restricts the intake of carbs that contribute to muscle growth. I’ll show you how this works.
Keto is a high fat, low carb diet. The diet works by reducing your carbs intake, which drives the body to use fats as its primary energy fuel. This is called the ketosis metabolic state. To create a ketone body, I have to reduce my carbs intake to anything lower than 50 grams daily. Since the body still needs energy, it shifts to getting it from fats or a relatively higher protein diet.
Keto takes at least two days for the body to adjust, but it can take some people as long as a week. While weight loss is usually our target when participating in such a diet, it is possible to still build muscle. Our bodies may have to initially drop some weight as it adjusts. However, with time muscle building starts to build up.
If we are going to focus on muscle rather than weight loss with keto, we have to consider a few things.
To build more muscle while avoiding weight loss, I need to take in more calories than I burn. If, say, 15% of my calories get burned with every workout, it means I should be adding the same percentage to my meals. This also means that I keep proper records of our body’s daily calorie needs.
While at it, I should not add anything more than 0.5% of our weekly weight to keep me within the same minimum weight limit. The secret here is to strike a balance between too many calories that cause weight gain or fat accumulation and too few calories, which leads to substantial weight loss.
If I want to have healthier and well-built muscles, I should be thinking about the types of food that will contribute to my desired results. What better food choice if not proteins?
Proteins are traditionally known as bodybuilding foods, and this is why we need more of them when focusing on good muscle growth. Adding at least 0.7 to 0.9 grams of proteins daily for every body pound is the perfect score for muscle building. But what about gluconeogenesis?
When the body turns proteins into amino acids that lead to high sugar production, a process called gluconeogenesis is created. This can prevent the body from developing ketones. While this is a valid concern, restricting our protein intake to a gram per body pound will keep our bodies in their ketosis states.
Besides paying attention to protein intake, we also need to monitor our fat levels for this diet to work while building our muscles. Fats account for about 9 grams of calories after accounting for proteins and carbs. This means we can get our daily fat requirement by dividing our calorie count by nine after subtracting carbs and protein needs.
Whatever math anyone chooses to account for calories needed daily, it should always round back to fats that amount to at least 70% of the diet.
Now that we are reducing our carbs count, it does not mean we neglect our carb intake entirely. The body still needs a limited amount of the same. However, ketosis demands that we do not go past 50 grams of carbs daily. Better so, we can consume the needed carbs count around our workout time, creating a targeted keto diet.
While what I eat highly contributes to the results I seek, I also need to pay attention to other underlying factors such as the exercise level I participate in. One of the best ways to build and strengthen muscles is through resistance training, which includes: pushups, squats, pullups, and bench presses. Doing a full muscle workout and resistance training twice a week will work the magic.
Supplements might help, but they should not be our primary source of needed nutrients. We should also watch out for hidden carbs in the foods we eat and track our daily progress. With all these tips, building muscles while doing keto is achievable.