The keto lifestyle has been gaining popularity in today’s health and nutrition culture. The crux of this popularity is in the ability of ketosis to turbocharge weight loss by switching to body fat burning metabolic function and building muscle on keto diet.
Building Muscle on Keto Diet
Because of this, keto is most commonly prescribed and advised for those with weight-related issues including obesity and its resulting complications.
There is no doubt, with all the evidence out there, that ketosis is a powerful and health-conscious way to burn body fat and lead a leaner, cleaner life.
Keto is also an awesome way to reduce the risk of several diseases while boosting many of your body’s existing functions. But for some out there, nutrition is more than a means to just maintain or generally improve health and building muscle on keto diet.
Nutrition for some is a way to push the limits of both performance and body composition.
So how does keto stack up when it comes to enhanced athletic performance and lean muscle growth? In this article, we’ll peel the lid off another side of keto and see what exactly this lifestyle means for above-average body goals.
Before we jump in, be sure to check out our store for some amazing products and recipe ideas.
So, you’re thinking of putting on some muscle, but you’re also jumping on the keto wagon? Let’s jump into it and see how you can maximize your goals.
Hypertrophy: Muscle Building 101
Before we delve into the specifics of ketogenic muscle building, we need to unpack muscle building in general.
Muscle building works based on 2 fundamental stimuli. As an adaptive response to increases in external resistance forces, as an internal response to hormonal instruction. Let’s look at these two stimuli to learn more.
Building Muscle on Keto Diet
Resistance training is the primary way your muscles will be jolted into action. By subjecting them to mechanical strain, and progressively increasing it as you adapt.
You’re optimizing the anabolic/catabolic cycle of protein synthesis more in the favor of anabolism (building).
This is done because, for one, intense resistance leads to microtrauma (little tears) in the muscle fibers, which when repaired, add an extra bit of new Muscle each time.
It also happens because of mechanical pressure signals mTOR, a protein which signals muscle growth.
The best form of resistance training for this purpose is weight training with a hypertrophy plan in place. That means lifting, pushing and pulling loads at 60-70% of your 1 rep max (the most weight you can lift with one maximum effort) with a rep/set range of 8-12 reps over 4-6 sets. In order to see sustained results, you must progressively increase intensity or level of resistance.
Another essential stimulus for muscle building is hormonal response. There are specific hormones that stimulate muscle growth. Insulin, insulin-like growth factor(IGF), human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone are the most prevalent anabolic hormones.
These hormones are produced naturally (endogenously) in the body and their levels of effect and production are affected by several things such as diet, state of health, age, genetics and level and nature of physical activity.
You will, of course, be aware that these hormones are commonly used through artificial means in the form of anabolic steroids (exogenously). We, of course, will only be dealing with the natural methods.
Testosterone and HGH respond favorably to increased physical activity, especially resistance training. So you have the power to engage a virtuous cycle of muscle-building potential by riding the wave of resistance training and the hormones it releases.
Both these stimuli function positively with the assumption that your body has loads of protein lying around for muscle protein synthesis. Well, that’s correct, after all, keto is a low carb, not low protein diet.
You specifically want to load up on BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, as these are the most responsible for your muscles.
But what about carbs? Aren’t they a super important part of building muscle?
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Keto vs. Carbs, the Body builder’s Conundrum
Common understanding has it that in order to get a great muscle building phase going, you need to constantly and effectively load up on carbs, especially just after a heavy workout.
This is because carbs will naturally raise insulin levels, a response that assists in muscle protein synthesis. But here’s the fun part, protein also causes a spike in insulin levels.
So even though carbs can help you spike your insulin for its anabolic effect post-training, the same can be said for a healthy dose of protein.
Building muscle on keto diet, while on a keto diet, the combined effects of the extra fat burning plus the muscle-building response to training and hormones means you can achieve what is known as a “lean bulk”, steadily building muscle without the additional sacrifice of gaining body fat.
Another astounding benefit of building muscle on keto is the fact that it actually helps buffer against the catabolic effects a carb-based metabolism has on muscle tissue. What do we mean by this?
When your body is in a recovery/catabolic state, it burns as much of its primary energy source as possible to keep up with demand. When you are burning carbs, this means the first option is glycogen.
But once your glycogen is depleted, your body will turn to protein and go through a process of converting it to glucose called gluconeogenesis.
The little gluconeogenesis that takes place is just for your brain and won’t take a huge toll on your overall gains.
So if your question is “can a keto-adapted athlete or individual effectively build muscle?” the answer is yes, they can!
Just get your keto system up to scratch and follow the correct exercise plan! Check out our blog and store for the best products and recipe ideas for the keto-adapted warrior we know you’re going to be!