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Building Muscle on Keto

A high-fat, low-carb diet that is becoming increasingly more admired is the ketogenic diet. When you are on the ketogenic diet, you mostly cut out carbohydrates and switch them out for fats.

It is likely that you are familiar with the ketogenic diet as an approach for shedding pounds. It is highly sought after and successful due to the fact that it gives you a feeling of fullness, causing you to eat less.

Many people consider it tough, if not impossible, to put on muscle while following a ketogenic diet. Carbohydrates tend to be the body’s preferred energy source while exercising with weights, and they can cause the production of insulin—a hormone that promotes growth.

Studies have indicated that even experienced weight-lifters can benefit from a ketogenic diet, though gaining muscle might be somewhat difficult without carbohydrates.

This article provides complete details on how to develop muscles while following a ketogenic diet.

What Is Keto?

A diet that consists of both a small amount of carbohydrates and a large amount of fat is known as a ketogenic diet. Reduce the proportion of carbohydrates in your diet to 5–10% of your daily calorie intake, and substitute those calories with fat. Consuming no more than 2,000 calories daily implies you should restrict carbohydrates intake to under 50 grams. Some people go for an entirely carbohydrate-free approach.

After a period of avoiding carbs, your body enters a condition known as ketosis. In most cases, it takes two days for it to happen, though it could take up to a week or even longer for some individuals.

When you are in ketosis, you stop using carbohydrates as fuel and switch to alternative sources, such as fat and ketone molecules. Once you use up the carbohydrates in your body, your fat cells release large amounts of fatty acids that the liver then transforms into ketone bodies. Carbohydrates cease to be the primary source of energy and are instead substituted by ketone bodies.

As long as you avoid consuming any carbohydrates, you will remain in ketosis. Your body uses ketone bodies to power your muscles, organs, and even your brain, which typically prefers sugar.

A ketogenic diet has the same or better results in terms of weight loss compared to a low-fat diet. Exercising helps to modify the blood lipids and sugar levels of individuals who are overweight or obese.

What Type of Keto Diet Is Best for Building Muscles?

Developing muscle on a ketogenic diet is achievable with the correct nutrition plan. What specific keto diet for bodybuilders do you need?

First of all, there are many types that exist. We concur that a Targeted Ketogenic Diet is optimal for attaining muscle growth and boosting workout outcomes.

Here’s what this diet entails.

A Targeted Ketogenic Diet requires that you eat a certain quantity of carbohydrates, ranging from 20 to 50 grams, prior to beginning any physical activity.

Consuming carbohydrates about a half-hour prior to working out is what many folks find most effective. They obtain added vigor to power through their exercise. Another option is to consume carbohydrates right after your workout.

On a different note:

Some people have brought up the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) as another potential way of building muscle. This approach is not suggested for people who are just starting the keto diet because it would require those individuals to eat a high-carbohydrate diet for one or two days out of each week. This can slow down your transition into ketosis.

Yet, do experiment with it when you’re fully keto-adapted.

Can You Build Muscle on Keto?

Yes, you can. Examples of people changing their bodies and building muscle while on a ketogenic diet are plentiful.

Studies suggest that following a keto regimen can lead to both muscle growth and fat loss. In a study done in 2020, twenty-five male youth took part in a power-building exercise plan for twelve weeks while either consuming a ketogenic eating routine or an ordinary Western eating regimen. Both groups increased their lean body mass. In addition, the keto group experienced more fat loss.

Other studies are not as optimistic. A study found that while a ketogenic eating plan could help you keep the muscle tone you earned in a weight-loss diet, it could make it more difficult to develop larger muscles. Most research indicates that it is possible to have successful workouts while on a ketogenic diet, although it may be harder to gain muscle without carbohydrates.

Difficult or not, you can gain muscle on keto. It could be that certain dietary facets aside from an absence of carbs may be the reason why certain studies demonstrate that the ketogenic diet isn’t the ideal approach for muscle development. They do not determine what the participants eat. Keto is well-known for giving a feeling of fullness sooner, as well as reducing hunger, which could explain why they ate less than they needed to build muscle. Groups on a ketogenic diet typically reduce fat while those that are not following this type of diet do not, which further backs up my hypothesis.

A recent review of studies concluded that the ketogenic diet provides an effective method of muscle building, as long as the individual is capable of consuming adequate amounts of calories. Ideally, it is possible for you to consume more calories than you expend in energy over a period of time. The biggest difficulty with the keto diet is likely making sure you’re consuming enough due to it increasing your feeling of fullness compared to other diets. Ketosis in itself doesn’t seem to be the problem.

How to Build Muscle on Keto

You are now aware of the optimal diet for gaining muscle mass when following a ketogenic plan – a specifically structured keto plan. What are the fundamental steps to begin gaining muscle mass?

Reduce Carbs

Eating fewer carbohydrates is an absolute must. It doesn’t matter what keto diet variation you’re using. Ensure that you begin correctly.

Try to work out four to five days each week and strive for 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates each day. By setting a carb restriction, your stores of glycogen are reduced and the production of ketone bodies is switched on. At this point, your body begins to use ketone bodies as its energy source.

It is simple to place too much emphasis on lowering carbs and disregarding other macronutrients. Make sure that you increase dietary fat. You should get between 55% and 60% of your diet from healthy fats.

Swapping out carbs for fats will keep you satiated. Keep in mind that when you are just starting the diet, you may experience a lot of hunger. Healthy fats help.

Strength Train

It’s no secret that resistance training maximizes your gains. There are many ways to increase the muscles’ mass and strength.

Keto bodybuilders swear by these exercises:

  • Bodyweight workouts like planks, push-ups, and squats.
  • Free weight exercises like dumbbell shoulder presses, triceps extensions, and hammer curls.
  • Gym machine workouts like leg presses, and cable overhead triceps extensions.

There are many options available for you. What I mentioned above are only a few. Step up the intensity of your exercise program depending on your skills!

Increase Protein Intake

You need to have enough protein to build muscle. Your body converts protein into amino acids, which help to heal the muscular tears from your physical exercises.

If you used to eat a lot of carbs, there is a chance you may not be taking in enough protein.

Why is that?

Unless you understand the right amount of dietary protein to take while on the keto diet, you might still be adhering to the recommended dosage of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. This is far below what is recommended for a correctly planned keto diet.

Consume 1.2 to 1.75 grams of protein per kg of body weight as part of a carefully planned ketogenic diet. This larger protein range takes into consideration situations of anxiety, maturing, sickness, and fewer calories.

Take Supplements

Individuals who are aiming to maintain a better way of living take nutritional supplements to assist in achieving their objectives. Supplements are required if you’re following a ketogenic diet and striving to build muscle.

Here’s why:

Consuming a very limited diet, like the ketogenic diet, could cause a lack of certain micronutrients. This is something we can anticipate when cutting out certain foods from our eating habits. In this case, carbohydrates-rich foods.

A number of micronutrients aid in providing energy, building muscle, and eliminating fat. You cannot afford to miss out on these micronutrients.

Helpful additions such as MCT oil and exogenous ketones make bodybuilding simpler. We’ll explain why as we introduce each supplement below.

Optimize keto diet body building with the following supplements:

Vitamin B

Vitamins B1, B2, B6, and B12 all belong to the B vitamin family, and they are significant for both aerobic and anaerobic physical activity. These vitamins process fats to produce energy. They also enable oxygen to reach your muscles.

Research demonstrates that taking in less than a third of the B vitamins can cause a decline in your VO2max.

Note: VO2max describes your maximum energy intake. It relates to your physical working capacity!


Creatine supplementation is popular in the bodybuilding world. To sum up creatine quickly: It is a substance that is present in high concentrations in muscle tissue. Additionally, it allows you to lift significant amounts of weight and do strenuous exercises.

It is amazing that there have been a lot of studies done concerning the use of creatine monophosphate as a supplement. It’s known to effectively improve lean body mass.

According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, use of creatine supplements is safe provided it is done precisely.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D maintains normal muscle function. A deficiency of vitamin D leads to debility and impaired muscle performance. This vitamin is necessary for taking up calcium and phosphorous. Calcium and phosphorous enable your muscles to contract.


BCAAs stand for branched-chain amino acids. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts ingest BCAAs for many reasons. Constructing muscle mass through boosting protein synthesis is one option. At the same time, BCAAs decrease protein degradation.

BHB exogenous ketones

Your body makes BHB, also known as beta-hydroxybutyrate, during a ketogenic state, but you can also add more of it through supplementation. BHB increases one’s ability to exercise more intensely, thereby improving their athletic expertise.

There is an undeniable truth that BHB is the primary ketone in the body, and it is the most efficient fuel source.

Great Foods for Building Muscle on Keto

These are some must-have items for developing muscle while on a ketogenic diet. Make sure you’re well-stocked!

  • Fish and seafood. Both canned goods like tuna, mackerel, sardines, and fresh or frozen fish like salmon are healthy and muscle-building food. Lean fish is excellent too, but fatty fish give you both quality protein and fats in the same convenient package.
  • Meat, including both red and white meat. Beef, pork, lamb, game, chicken, turkey, etc. Don’t be afraid of the fattier cuts. On the contrary, these are often the better choice for a ketogenic diet and usually the most inexpensive.
  • Low-carb vegetables, fruits, and other plants. Fibrous vegetables without too much starch can be part of your ketogenic diet. Broccoli and cauliflower are low-carb, and you can include them as part of your diet in moderate amounts. In moderation, you can also use spinach, arugula, asparagus, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, and bell peppers.
  • Avocado and olives are two fatty fruits popular amongst keto-fans for a good reason.
  • Nuts and seeds. All kinds of nuts, seeds, and almonds are a great addition to a keto diet. They are low in carbs and high in fat and protein. The fat quality varies depending on the nut, and the protein doesn’t have the best amino acid composition. Still, as a part of your diet as a whole, they are valuable and provide both energy and nutrients.
  • Eggs are the complete package. Almost. They lack vitamin C but provide you with most other nutrients you need for building muscle. Perfect both as a main dish and in cooking.
  • Dairy products. Milk, cottage cheese, curd, quark, hard and soft cheeses, yogurt, and butter are rich in either protein or fat, or both, and in most cases also provide plenty of calcium. If you aren’t intolerant to dairy, milk products give you access to the most muscle-building proteins of all. You get some milk sugar from regular milk, so make sure you don’t go overboard.
  • Pure fats. Olive oil, rapeseed oil, nutty oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and good old butter are pure fat sources suitable for cooking and for adding to any recipe to increase the fat content.

What to Avoid When Building Muscles on Keto

You are already aware of the necessary steps to gain strength and size while following a low-carb diet.

But what about the things to steer clear of? What are these practices that could hinder your progress?

One mistake is overindulging in processed foods. We know that sugar is a common culprit. Sadly, it is present in many pre-prepared and packaged meals. Examples are cookies, breakfast bars, smoothies, and salad dressings.

Many individuals are unknowingly taking in excessive amounts of sugar without being aware that this could be the reason they are not putting on muscle. Excessive sugar leads to obesity.

Another mistake is not eating enough protein. People on the keto diet consume more protein than the typical individual. You should eat between 1.2 and 1.75 grams of protein for every kilogram of your body weight.

Can you build muscle on keto? YES! Having an appropriate nutrient intake, dishes, and exercise routines, success is attainable. Numerous studies have already established the efficacy of combining a ketogenic diet and muscle building.

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