The ketogenic diet may have been born as a method to treat child epilepsy but it developed in the bodybuilding community. Decades before it became the ‘in’ thing, iron pumpers were following a high fat low carb dietary regimen in order to fuel their workouts for explosive muscle growth and to get as shredded as humanly possible.
In this article, we’ll explore how you can adapt the keto diet for maximum muscle growth as you strip off body fat.
The Glucose Problem
Bodybuilding training is hard work. To help fuel you through those grueling gym sessions, you need glucose, or blood sugar. Yet, that is the very thing you are trying to reduce on the keto diet.
During intense exercises that last less than ten seconds, our bodies use stored ATP and creatine phosphate in the muscles. An example of this would be sprinting up a steep hill.
Your body would call on ATP and creatine phosphate for the first ten or so seconds. After that it would start to use glucose.
Bodybuilding training generally involves short, sharp bursts of intense effort. This will primarily rely on ATP and creatine phosphate. However, over the course of the workout, glucose will also be required to prevent fatigue and keep you going.
There is plenty of research that indicates that heavy weight with low reps maximizes muscle gain. But that is not the only method to packing on lean mass. Research done by Dr. Brad Schoenfeld revealed that training with 3 rep max sets can produce the same results as doing 10 rep max sets, provided that the total weight lifted is the same. So, if you usually 3 sets of 20 pounds with ten reps per set, you are lifting a total of two hundred pounds per set and six total pounds for the exercise. But if you did 8 sets with 25 pounds for three reps per set, you will be lifting the same overall weight of 600 pounds. However, you will be doing fewer reps. According to the research the gains should be comparable.
If you’re training for muscle gain, you should take around three minutes between sets. This allows your muscles time to refuel with ATP and creatine phosphate.
You can speed up this process by taking a creatine supplement. Creatine will allow you to extend your explosive energy to eek out an extra rep or two at the end of a set. You should take 5 grams of creatine per day for best results.
The Targeted Keto Diet
There are specific adaptations of the ketogenic diet that can be used at different phases of your muscle building career. For beginning and intermediate bodybuilders the targeted keto diet is recommended.
The targeted ketogenic diet is designed for people who work out at high intensities such as bodybuilders. It involves increasing carbohydrate intake immediately before a workout. This could involve eating a sweet potato thirty minutes before your workout. You also have carbs after your workout in order to replenish the glycogen stores that you have used up during the workout.
The targeted keto diet is great for people who train 2-4 times per week and who train at high intensities. This will allow you to more readily stay in ketosis as you will not be consuming the carbs every day. However, you will still be delivering to your muscle cells the glucose they need to work at high intensity.
People who are only doing low intensity workouts are able to follow the standard ketogenic diet. The standard keto diet (SKD) is the one that the general keto population follows. In the SKD net carbohydrate levels are limited to 25 grams, on average; protein is determined by your body type and activity level, but it is typically between 20-30 percent of your overall calorie intake; and your fat will make up the rest of your calories for your day, which depends on your weight and whether you want to lose weight, maintain weight, or gain weight.
On the targeted keto diet, you will take in between twenty-five and fifty grams of carbs a half hour before the workout. The best type of carbs to consume are complex carbs such as sweet potatoes or beets.
This will provide your body with the energy that it needs to power you through your intense training session. However, you will still be in ketosis because you’ll be burning up the carbs while you’re in the gym.
You should not move into the targeted keto diet until you’ve been on the standard keto diet for at least a month. This will allow your body to fully get into ketosis and to adapt to that state.
The Cyclical Keto Diet
Experienced bodybuilders should follow the Cyclical Keto Diet (CKD). The body can only burn glucose, not fat, for high intensity workouts. In this version of keto, you load up on carbs for two days out of every seven.
On this carbohydrate day, about seventy percent of your daily calories will be provided by healthy carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes and whole grains. You will then follow these carbohydrate loads by doing your high-intensity training so that you can burn off all of the glucose levels.
The reason that the CKD is for advanced trainers is that beginning or advanced trainers are not likely to be able to burn calories at a high enough intensity to get back to a state of ketosis after the workout.
Two days per week on the CKD, you will consume 75 percent of your daily calories in the form of carbohydrates. Then on the other five days, consume eighteen calories per pound of body weight if trying to gain mass, or fifteen to sixteen calories if trying to maintain body weight. You should consume thirty or fewer net grams of carbs on those days. The lower the carbs, the quicker you will be able to get back into ketosis.
Here is a model of what your diet and workouts could look like on CKD . . .
Day 1: To prepare for an anabolic state, where your body will heal and build muscle, start your carbohydrate load five hours before an intense workout. One to two hours before your workout try to consume an added 25-50 grams of carbohydrates that contain both glucose and fructose, such as from fruits, to enable your liver to refill your liver on glycogen. You will want 70% of the day’s calories to be from carbohydrates, 15% from protein, and 15% from fat.
Day 2: Rest day from your workout. Try to aim for 60% calories from carbohydrates, 25% from protein, and 15% from fat. Keep the carbohydrate sources as healthy as possible, such as whole-grains, vegetables, and fruits. Do not eat after 6 pm.
Day 3: Do your workout on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, and then throughout the day try to consume no more than 2% of your calorie intake from carbohydrates.
Day 4: Start the day with a medium intensity weight workout on an empty stomach, and then throughout the day consume 3%-5% of your calorie intake from carbohydrates.
Days 5-6: Standard ketogenic diet paired with your regular
Day 7: Standard ketogenic diet paired with rest to recuperate.
Day 8: Standard ketogenic diet back to your regular exercise routine.
You’ll notice that on your regular workout days, you are to train on an empty stomach. The reason for this is that it will allow you to get back into ketosis as quickly as possible.
It will take you longer you get back into keto in the beginning of your using the CKD. The longer that you follow this diet, the quicker you will enter ketosis.
The High Protein Keto Diet
Keto Muscle Tips
Don’t Rush the Protein
For years, bodybuilders have been told that they have a 30- minute window after the workout when they need to get protein into their system. This is required to rebuild the muscle tissue that has been broken down during training. However, more recent research has shown the ‘anabolic window’ is a myth. You actually have between 4 and 6 hours to get that protein into your system. This is provided that you take in about twenty grams of protein some thirty minutes before the workout.
Consume 30-40 grams of Protein every 3 hours.
Include fatty fish in your diet to boost muscle growth and recovery.
Get Plenty of Rest
Most muscle pumpers underestimate the importance of rest and recuperation. However, this is a vital element to your success. Working out to build muscle is extremely hard work which places a lot of stress on the body. The time when you recover and grow is when you are sleeping. So, if you’re serious about building muscle you will aim for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
You should also get at least two full days per week where you are not going to the gym.
If you are following a targeted or cyclical ketogenic diet should consider adding beets into the pre-workout shake. Scientific studies have shown that beets reduce the ATP requirements in exercise. This can improve your performance. Blend 200 grams of beetroot into your shake. 200 Grams of beets includes 15.84 net carbohydrates and 86 carbohydrates.
Cut Out Cardio
As mentioned earlier, you should aim to create a caloric surplus by consuming 250-500 calories more than you consume each day. Those extra calories will then be available to build muscle. However, if you are running up and down the basketball court every night or starting your workout with a half hour on the treadmill, then you will simply be burning up those valuable extra calories.
That is why you need to limit your cardio exercise while you are building muscle. Even though doing some cardio will help you to burn off more body fat, when you’re on a muscle quest, you need to forego that benefit and leave it your ketogenic diet to strip off the body-fat.
Mental Intensity: The Key to Building Muscle
Lifting weight is an intensely physical activity. Your body is performing under tremendous load, which puts a huge amount of stress upon it. It’s a little ironic, then, that the key to success in all iron related activities is not physical, but mental. Whether it be bodybuilding, cross training or Olympic lifting, what is going on between your ears will determine whether your workout is awesome or average. In order to bring it in every training session, you have got to learn how to program your mind for weight lifting success.
What Not To Do
The first mistake that most newbies make when they walk into a gym is to compare themselves to others. Of course, you will find guys who are stronger than you, have better technique and bigger muscles. But you are there for one reason – that is to improve who you are. So, forget everyone else. Despite what you may think, they won’t be looking at the weight that you’re handling and making an assessment. They’ll be too busy doing their own thing. So should you be.
Another thing you must not do in the gym is to just go through the motions. Yet, you see it all the time. Guys who are operating on auto-pilot. They are sleep walking their way through their workout. On the other side of the spectrum, there are those who treat their workout like a battlefield mission. They are zoned in, they know exactly what they are doing and every fiber of their being is focused on making forward progress. That is the guy that you want to be.
The things that you do before you hit the gym floor will have a huge bearing on the type of workout that results. In the hours before you train, you should talk about the upcoming session with others. Discuss your specific targets in terms of weight that you will be lifting. Put it out there, so that, after the workout, they’ll be able to ask you how you got on. Knowing that you’ve got to go through this analysis will make you work harder.
Visualisation is a technique used by many professional athletes to propel themselves to greatness. An hour before the workout you should visualise yourself going through the session. See yourself loading the weight on the bar, getting in perfect position and powering through a successful lift. Watch in your mind’s eye as you achieve your immediate training goal – an extra rep or another five pounds on the bar.
Over that preceding hour you should also build up your inner drive. An hour before you hit the gym, your engine should be idling at a 4. By the time you walk into the gym, it should be revving up to a 7. While you’re doing your warm up, it will be up to an 8.5. And when you step up to the bar you’ll be hyped and ready to go at a 10.
When you get to the gym, be distracted early on. Pause and take in your surroundings. Take notice of what’s different and who is working out. Process all of this information now, so that you won’t be distracted by it when it comes to doing the business.
While Working Out
Now that you’re into the workout, you must develop laser like concentration on the task at hand. The first way to do this is to develop the mind-muscle connection. If you are doing squats, for example, put your mind into your thighs. Let nothing else matter. Be in the moment.
While you are fully engaging your brain with the body mechanics of the movement you are performing, you need to, at the same time, switch it off to the part that is trying to curtail your workout. You know that part – it’s the part that is always attempting to rationalize why you should do less . . .
So you don’t get injured
So you don’t miss that appointment
So you don’t over train.
We all have that voice inside, and it’s always trying to get us to do less than we should. Never negotiate with it. Instead do the opposite – tell yourself that what is set before it is easy. Rather than obsessing with the weight, view your body as a machine, rhythmically and mechanically moving the weight in perfect precision.
The final way to use your mind to produce killer workouts is to play mind games with yourself. By altering your reality, you will be able to summon incredible reserves of strength to push you past your plateaus. If you are truly zoned in, then the situation you enact in your mind will become your temporary reality.
Here are a five ways to do it . . .
- Tell yourself that a loved one has been kidnapped and someone is holding a gun to his or her head. They will not be released until you perform your goal number of reps and weight.
- Convince yourself that you have just been offered a thousand bucks to get this lift.
- An explosion has just taken place inside the primary muscle group that you’ll be using for the lift. The power of the blast will explode through you as you push up.
- Take it personally. View the weights as an enemy that has been mocking you, insulting you and making fun of you your whole life. Don’t take it anymore. Show them who’s boss.
- Tell yourself that you are the boss of the gym. You are the one that others look to for training inspiration. You’ve got a rep to live up to. Don’t let it down.