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But first, what is a keto diet? A keto diet or ketogenic diet includes high-fat foods, adequate amounts of protein, and a very low-carb intake. It is similar to low-carb diets and the Atkins diet. The basic principle of the Keto diet is to replace carbohydrates with healthy fats. This replacement puts your body in a state of ketosis.
It is a natural metabolic state in which the body uses the stored fat for creating energy instead of carbohydrates. The body enters the state of ketosis when there’s a limited amount of glucose in the blood, which is the main source of fuel for the cells. To achieve ketosis, you need to consume less than 50 grams of carbs in a day.
The keto diet benefits you in a way that transforms your metabolism to enable your body to rely on fat stores even when you are working out. Studies suggest that a keto diet doesn’t affect muscle while cutting down on body fat, which is what every bodybuilder wants. The real question is whether it helps you build muscle.
While all ketogenic diets (yes, there are several types) are low-carb, not all low-carb diets are ketogenic. The ketosis process is based on the following principles:
- Consume less than 50 grams of carbs in a day (less than 20 grams in some cases)
- Consume moderate to adequate amounts of protein-rich foods
- Aim at getting 65-80% of daily calories from fat
Now this might sound drastically dissimilar to a conventional bodybuilder’s diet and that’s why so many people stay away from keto diet when gaining muscle
The general belief is that you cannot build muscle on a low-carb diet. The effects of carbs on insulin and the consequential anabolic action assists in bulking up, but that’s not entirely true. According to a study, there is no difference in the results of a diet that includes crabs along with protein and a diet with just protein.
There is truth in insulin being an anabolic hormone that seriously contributes to muscle growth. Still, it’s not necessary even though it's true. Studies suggest that insulin facilitates muscle growth by slowing down muscle protein breakdown but doesn’t cause muscle protein synthesis. So it prevents muscle breakdown but doesn’t facilitate growth. Several studies show that it burns body fat and preserves muscle; in a study, results of keto diet were monitored as opposed to a traditional western diet and found that those who followed the keto diet noticed a better increase in muscle mass.
The benefits of keto diet can be reaped by following some basic principles. Following a few rules can prevent you from making major mistakes and keep you on track.
No matter what you eat, there’s no point in it if you do not train at high-intensity. It is an indisputable fact that training hard is essential for bodybuilding. If you can easily perform a set of exercise with a given amount of weight, you should increase it in the next set until the number of repetitions decreases and it makes you work harder.
Training 2 to 3 days every week if you’re a beginner, 3 to 4 days every week if you’re an intermediate, and 4 to 5 days if you have been doing strength training for a while, is necessary. To gain muscle, you must increase volume and include multiple set programs for the best results. However, just generally increasing workout intensity is essential to gain muscle.
Carbohydrates may not be essential for muscle growth but protein is because that is what muscles are made of. Ideally, you should consume 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day in addition to consuming 20 to 25 grams of high-quality protein around a workout. It is easy to overeat protein, which would lead to the conversion of amino acids into glucose. So, avoid overconsumption.
High-quality protein is characterized by the presence of all 9 essential amino acids. Most animal foods are sources of high-quality protein. Whey protein is considered to be the best for muscle building but in the end, it comes down to your preferences.
It is possible to survive without no carbs at all, theoretically. They are not indispensable like proteins and fats. However, carbs help us avoid illnesses and function properly. Apart from fibrous foods, carb-rich foods are the only sources of fiber. They contain Vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium – all necessary for normal muscle functioning. Moreover, carbs optimize muscle glycogen recovery. They are essential for the liver, kidneys, and blood cells that cannot function without carbs.
50 grams of carbs a day works for most people. Don’t worry about lack of energy because once your body goes into ketosis mode, your body will receive enough glucose to keep your blood sugar stable and muscle health. Choose fat-rich, low-carb foods like nuts, seeds, broccoli, spinach, etc.
You will invariably witness brain shrinkage (loss of neurons), slow neuromuscular functioning, and fatigue if you are dehydrated. Electrolyte imbalance follows dehydration; electrolytes are essential for a healthy muscular response. Moreover, if your body is low on water, your muscles won’t get enough nutrients and glycogen levels will be compromised.
Drinking enough fluids is as important as protein for those wanting to build muscles on a keto diet. It is important because ketosis leads to increased urine output due to glycogen depletion. So, drink enough water to get the best of the keto diet.