Training On a Ketogenic Diet

Training On a Ketogenic Diet: Can You Build Muscle Without Carbs?

If you’re like me and have done even a casual search for information about ketogenic diets before, you have probably come across an assortment of information that seems biased, inconclusive, contradictory, promotes myths or debunks them, is semi-authoritative, and mildly useful or just downright misleading. I think I pretty much just summed up most results for just about any search done on the Internet.

It can be frustrating clicking and scrolling up and down tons of information for answers that you feel should be straightforward and consistent across all channels if based on any truth. For example, have you heard that ketogenic diets promulgate poisons in the body? Due to the controversiality of ketones, there may be some ambiguity about whether ketogenic diets can successfully help with the building of muscle without the high consumptions of carbohydrates.

Can You Build Muscle Without Carbs? Male and Female


Before we delve into the topic, I want to clarify a thing or two about ketosis to make sure you and I are on the same page as far as fundamentals of ketosis. Just about anyone who abruptly switches from an everyday diet that is high in carbs to one that is low-carb experiences a state of ketosis. It is a healthy and natural physiological state that presents itself in the form of elevated ketones in the blood.

Video source: Ketogenic Supplements


The three ketone body substances resulting from fat metabolism are acetone, beta-hydroxybutyric acid, and acetoacetic. Don’t panic! I know acetones are a common household solvent and an active ingredient in many nail polish removers, but the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry confirms that naturally higher-than-average amounts of acetones in the body “usually don’t cause health problems.”


Acetones are helpful in the breaking down of fat in the body. Additionally, ketones serve as the metaphoric fuel injectors for the brain, as pointed out by Aaron Moritz in his article Ketosis Makes Your Brain Work Better. Having an understanding and acceptance of the core benefits of ketosis can help us approach the further exploration of ketogenic dieting and muscle building without misconceptions lingering like a phantom.


What is a ketogenic diet?

A ketogenic diet, a progenitor of the ketosis, is a diet that is high in protein and fat and has minimal intake amounts of carbohydrates. The significance of this regime is in how it induces a natural state of ketosis, wherein ketones become the preferred fuel source for the body instead of glucose.


Is it healthy?

A ketogenic diet is not suitable for everyone. Although, if done correctly, it can be extremely beneficial for many. For credence to this claim, one need only to look at those who have epilepsy. Ketogenic diets are recommended by the Center for Disease Control as an alternative to medicine and surgery for the treatment of the illness.


Many people quit the diet after only a few days due to fatigue because essentially they were depriving their body of carbohydrates which, before starting the diet, served as the body’s primary source of fuel. It is common for people to feel substantially fatigued during the beginning weeks of the diet because their body is shifting its reliance on energy to a new source away from carbs and is adapting to the use of ketones.


What are the basic rules and guidelines?

A strict diet would have the following precepts:

  • Maximum carbs – 60 grams daily (5% of the total day’s calories)
  • Fat – 70% of total calories
  • Protein – 25% of calories

Something to keep in mind: The consumption of too much protein will cause your body to convert it to glucose instead of there being a metabolic conversion of fat into ketones.


Does a ketogenic diet compliment bodybuilding?

Whether building muscle is something you do merely to look nice and ripped at the beach or if your interests in bodybuilding are of a competitive degree, ketogenic dieting can help you shed fat and allow you to preserve lean muscle mass still.

preserve lean muscle mass


Will the lack of glycogen in the ketogenic diet be impeding to your workout?

For many people, the body’s detachment from glucose as fuel can pose a hindrance. However, a slight alteration to the diet can allow them to derive real benefits from a low-carb diet. To ensure your ability to perform during your workout but remain cutting fat, you can consider a cyclical ketogenic diet.


One cyclical approach will still require the strictness of the standard diet outlined above, but on the weekends, higher carbs are allowed. The replenishment of carbs store for the two days will help you in your workouts during the week, but you will have a reasonable amount of time experiencing ketosis. You can change the number of days, so long as the most time gets spent with low-carbs.


Is the concept of the “Bulk and Cut” correct?

The “bulk and cut” theory says that the body needs a lot of fat stores, protein, and nutrients which can be accessed to promote muscle growth successfully. If this does not happen, the muscles will starve before muscle hypertrophy can receive proper stimulation. Therefore, you eat a lot of whatever is accessible. The writers at find this theory to be accurate for the most part as it relates to muscle growth but at the same time it is also somewhat “misleading.”


Final Thoughts

For the casual weight trainer, the extra pounds acquired initially can take several disciplined months to sculpt into something more attractive. However, it is entirely possible to gain muscle mass without gaining a gut with a ketosis.


Training pushes your body to heightened protein synthesis within muscle cells. Keto Support Line staff members say that a majority of people eat larger amounts of protein than the portions suggested by the National Academy of Sciences. The protein recommendations for ketogenic dieting is the same as the US recommended dietary allowances. Therefore, many people mistake the diet as also being low-protein when it indeed promotes having a healthy protein diet. As mentioned earlier, too much protein can impede ketosis.

Built Muscle Utilizing A Low-carb Diet

Ketogenic diets not only provide adequate protein for the stimulation of muscle growth but also sufficient fuel for workouts through ketones. You can join the many people who have successfully built muscles utilizing this low-carb diet.


To hear more about ketogenic benefits in maintaining strength, building muscle, and improving athletic performance, check out this short YouTube video by the organization, Consider This. The video takes a look at the scientific findings of researchers, Phinney and Volek who shed light on the “super human” benefits of a ketogenic lifestyle.


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