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Can You Build Muscle On Keto?

The Science Behind The Ketogenic Diet

The Science Behind The Ketogenic Diet

When you eat, your body automatically stores part of your meal as fat so it can be released later for energy in times when you’re not eating. When you eat carbs, insulin—a hormone that regulates blood sugar—is released to help take the carbs out of your bloodstream. Since your body can only use a certain amount of glucose (the simple sugar that carbs break down to with digestion) at a time, insulin sees that the excess sugars are shuttled straight into your fat cells for storage. Over time, excess weight, inactivity, and stress can cause your cells to become insulin resistant and make it harder for them to absorb glucose from your blood. If this happens, it becomes difficult to burn stored fat because you’re always refilling your fat cells with glucose. But you’ve been told since eighth-grade nutrition class that carbs are the best source of energy. Guys who work out have to eat a lot of them, right? “Athletes generally have been told that they need to fuel their exercise with a carbohydrate-based diet,” says Dominic D’Agostino, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida. But if you do the math, it’s clear that carbs aren’t the best fuel. Play Video Play Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% Remaining Time -0:00 This is a modal window. Foreground --- White Black Red Green Blue Yellow Magenta Cyan --- Opaque Semi-Opaque Background --- White Black Red Green Blue Yellow Magenta Cyan --- Opaque Semi-Transparent Transparent Window --- White Black Red Green Blue Yellow Magenta Cyan --- Opaque Semi-Transparent Transparent Font Size 50% 75% 100% 125% 150% 175% 200% 300% 400% Text Edge Style None Raised Depressed Uniform Dropshadow Font Family Default Monospace Serif Proportional Serif Monospa Continue reading >>

The Ugly Truth About Ketogenic Diets

The Ugly Truth About Ketogenic Diets

Here's what you need to know... Ketosis occurs when carbs are in such low quantities that your body relies almost exclusively on fatty acid oxidation and ketone metabolism. Ketogenic diets have about 70-75% of your daily caloric intake coming from fat and about 5% from carbohydrates. Ingesting protein above approximately .8 grams per pound is enough to kick you out of ketosis. Ketogenic diets improve body comp, but so does any diet that reduces calories from any source. There is no literature to support that a ketogenic diet is beneficial for promoting increases in muscle mass. Ketogenic diets affect performance negatively. Questions About Ketosis While the ketogenic diet has been used widely and rather effectively in some cases, there's still a lot of confusion about it. What exactly is a ketogenic diet? How does it differ from low carb dieting? Most importantly, at least for the T Nation demographic, is the question of whether ketogenic diets allow you to put on, or at least keep, muscle. Ketosis: What is it? Ketosis is a metabolic state that occurs when dietary carbohydrates are in such low quantities that your body must rely almost exclusively on fatty acid oxidation and ketone metabolism. That sounds simple on the surface, but let's unpack that explanation a bit. To function, your body requires a substantial amount of energy in the form of ATP. So, let's just assume that the average person uses about 1,800 calories per day to create enough ATP to keep him alive (not including any physical activity). Now this is where it gets interesting. You have this thing in your skull called a brain. It uses about 400 or so calories per day and runs almost exclusively on glucose. (There's some evidence it can use small amounts of fat and lactate, but in the big picture it's not Continue reading >>

How To Build Muscle On Keto Blueprint

How To Build Muscle On Keto Blueprint

The question a lot of low carb athletes want to get answered to is: “How does a ketogenic diet affect performance?” Secondly: “How to build muscle on keto?” Can you even do it? Well, in my experience, YES you can. Let me give you my story and secrets… When I first heard of nutritional ketosis I didn’t immediately try it out. Being into resistance training, I figured that it couldn’t possibly ever work. Sounds familiar, right? If you’re physically active then you’ve probably been told about the importance of proper nutrition, post-workout glycogen synthesis, recovery, etc. etc. And that you need CARBS to do it. In the athletic community, carbohydrates are being held at the pillar stone of success. But you don’t need them. I’ve never been into this dogmatic belief so eventually, I decided to try out the keto diet. Let’s see what happens and if I lose strength, so be it… I can always get it back. It was meant to be a short experiment, but… After a month of eating less than 30 grams of carbs a day I was in ketosis. I’m not going to lie that some of my performance had suffered, but only temporarily. Other than that, I felt amazing and loved the keto diet. I thought to myself: Why hadn’t I tried it out before? The answer to that was fear of losing my gains – all in vain. I didn’t want to sacrifice the health benefits of low carb and how amazing it made me feel. But I also wanted to regain my performance and continue getting stronger… all while staying on a ketogenic diet. To me, it sounded like a challenge, which I was more than willing to accept My training consists of mainly bodyweight exercises, such as calisthenics, Yoga, and gymnastics. The keto diet is perfect for that and I’ve learned how to build muscle on ketosis. It’s doable Continue reading >>

Keto Workouts – How They Help Me Build Muscle & Lose Fat, Fast

Keto Workouts – How They Help Me Build Muscle & Lose Fat, Fast

My Keto Workouts This is the first post for a new series about keto workouts. It features the workouts, diet, supplements, and other health and fitness stuff I’m trying out and testing while in nutritional ketosis. My goal is to help both you, the reader, and myself, learn the best ways to eat, exercise, sleep, and supplement, etc. for optimal health and performance. Not only will it save us all time and money using what actually works, but you can read about a first hand experience of keto workouts. I’m currently following a low carbohydrate diet with a goal of getting into nutritional ketosis for several hours a day, at a minimum. By fasting everyday, eating every 20 hours or so, supplementing with MCT Oil, its working. For dinner, my meals consists of 70% fat, 10% carbs, and 20% protein. Below I list specifics about my dinner plan for those who are interested in trying it! My training is focused on total body workouts using kettlebells, sandbags, etc. My daily goal is to train every morning at 4:30 A.M. Changes In My Daily Life Resulting From Nutritional Ketosis Sleeping While In Nutritional Ketosis I wake up at 3:30 A.M. everyday, usually without my alarm. Finally, after years of troubled sleep, I now get 7 1/2 hours, which has become the status quo! In the past, I would wake up every few hours, and have bad dreams. The result was dreading my morning workout and finding it very hard to feel refueled and ready to perform explosive movements on an empty tank. You know how it feels, like doing farmers walks in quick sand. We can all agree that sleep is one of the most effective ways to repair fatigue and sluggishness. Joint Pain And Nutritional Ketosis About a week into nutritional ketosis, I noticed that the joint pain in my knees and elbow was completely gone! Th Continue reading >>

Take Your Training To The Next Level With Ketosis

Take Your Training To The Next Level With Ketosis

One of the most popular critiques of a ketogenic diet – a diet that’s high in fat and low in carbs – is that it isn’t good for athletes. The argument is usually that you need carbs to produce glycogen, a stored form of sugar that fuels your muscles. As a result, most doctors and trainers suggest high-carb diets for athletes. If you’ve been working out while eating Bulletproof, Paleo, keto, or any other variation on a high-fat, low-carb diet, here’s some good news: brand new research shows that you not only don’t need carbs for athletic performance, you can actually gain an advantage if you cut them out. Let’s talk about how ketosis can kick your athletic performance into a higher gear. Why you don’t need carbs to train hard A groundbreaking new study out of UConn found that low-carb endurance athletes perform just as well as high-carb endurance athletes, if not better. The results challenge nearly 50 years of research saying the opposite. Until now, most studies have concluded that you top out at around 10% of energy recruited from fat [1] and for the rest you rely mostly on glycogen, a form of sugar stored in your muscles and liver. That’s the main reason high-carb diets have been the standard for athletes for so many years. With a low-carb diet, your glycogen stores empty quickly, you run out of fuel, and you start breaking down your muscles for energy. Right? Well, maybe not. If you teach your body to prefer fat for fuel you can work out intensely without any problems, according to this new study. The paper’s authors measured the performance of ultra-endurance runners who regularly run upwards of 100 miles. Here’s how they set it up: Half of the participants ate low-carb (<20% of calories from carbs) for 6 months The other half ate high-carb ( Continue reading >>

How To Gain Weight On Low Carb Or Keto

How To Gain Weight On Low Carb Or Keto

Do you want to gain weight? Given how most nutrition articles focus on fat loss, maybe you feel in a minority there. The usual advice for weight gain is to eat a higher amount of carbohydrates to “bulk up” and adopt an exercise program. Unfortunately it often results in mainly gaining fat mass, and is not necessarily healthy. This page will examine how to gain weight the healthy way, while staying on a low-carb diet, and has the following subsections: Low-carb for weight gain? While most people see a low-carb diet as a weight-loss diet, this is not necessarily true. Low carb tends to lead to weight loss for people with excess weight, due to increased satiety and fat burning. However, low-carb foods are very nutrient dense, and can assist lean weight gain in people who are underweight. Eating low carb, and eating when hungry, can be considered a weight-normalizing diet (or lifestyle). 1. Why do people want to gain weight? It’s true that most people today are looking to lose weight, but some also want to gain weight. While the majority just want to add a few extra pounds to a skinny frame, others wish to build muscle and increase in size. So, what are the reasons people want to gain weight? That depends on the goal, but here are several: Gain more strength Sporting objectives For better metabolic health (muscles burn more fat) Combat aging (muscle-density loss is a natural side effect) Improve self-confidence To possibly improve overall health (in those who are too skinny) All of these are understandable aims where weight gain could possibly benefit someone’s life. Problems caused by pressure to gain weight Unfortunately, this desire for weight gain often causes problems. This is especially the case in young men, with more than 8.5% of people extremely concerned a Continue reading >>

Can You Build Muscle On A Ketogenic Diet?

Can You Build Muscle On A Ketogenic Diet?

The other day, I was on a phone call with a good friend and fellow strength coach, Joe Dowdell, CSCS, of Peak Performance in New York City. I told him my current deadlift personal record stood at a respectable 420 pounds but that I aspired to pull a 500. He told me it was "doable." Great. Then I threw him a curveball worthy of Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw. I wanted to add 80 pounds to my deadlift … while following a ketogenic diet. Joe let out a big sigh. Staying on a ketogenic diet means eating so few carbohydrates that when your glycogen stores empty, your body cashes-in on a process called 'ketosis' for energy. The carbohydrate threshold to stay in ketosis will vary by individual, but the guideline for most folks is fewer than 50 grams of carbs. I was dead-set on eating fewer than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day. How low is that? One medium banana would place you over your daily limit! Wait, don't carbs stimulate muscle growth? How could this work in the long term? More important, can I add 80 pounds to my deadlift without eating much carbs? These questions and more piqued the scientist in me. So I set out to find the answers not only by poring over the scientific literature but through real-world application on the gym floor as well. Now before you rush down to the bottom of the article to see if I did it, I want to preface the grand finale by explaining the anabolic capacity of carbohydrates. Let me walk you through several key areas of anabolism in which carbohydrates and insulin play a role. Carbohydrates, Protein, and Insulin Carbohydrates create anabolism largely by setting off a cascade of hormone-driven events. (Just so we're clear, you also get an insulin response from protein as well.) Chief among these events is secretion of a hormone called insuli Continue reading >>

Ketogenic Diets For Bulking

Ketogenic Diets For Bulking

The ketogenic diet is nothing new. The high fat, low or no carbohydrate diet was first developed in the 1920s as a treatment for pediatric epilepsy. In recent history, the ketogenic diet has been used by the bodybuilding and strength training community as one of the most popular and controversial ways to improve body composition. The diet was initially developed as an alternate means to fasting, which was found to induce the state of ketosis in the patient (1). Early physicians found not only a decreased frequency of epileptic seizures in patients who were in ketosis but also accelerated fatty acid oxidation, which then led to the loss of body fat. Ketosis is often referred to as the body’s “fat burning” mode (2). Some benefits often associated with ketogenic diet include: Reduction in body fat Appetite suppression Mood elevation and mental clarity (after the initial weaning period of 3-5 days) Stable blood glucose levels Reduced cardiovascular risk factors (chronically elevated insulin, triglycerides, etc.) Lowered cancer risk (cancer cells thrive on glucose) So, what exactly is ketosis? Ketosis (not to be confused with ketoacidosis in diabetic patients), occurs during a state of prolonged carbohydrate deficit, where the liver converts fatty acids into ketone bodies (acetoacetate, β-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone). Normally, ketone concentration in the blood is very low and is primarily regulated by insulin and glucagon (4). It may reach high levels during periods of accelerated fatty acid oxidation combined with low carbohydrate intake or impaired carbohydrate use. Glucose is the preferred fuel source for various tissues in the body, including the brain. However, with very little glucose present and ketone body formation increased, most cells in the body can use Continue reading >>

Building Muscle On Keto: Can You Build Muscle On A Ketogenic Diet?

Building Muscle On Keto: Can You Build Muscle On A Ketogenic Diet?

He wasn’t overweight, but wanted to lose some fat and gain some muscle while he was at it. And, after reading a bunch of articles, he was convinced that a ketogenic diet was the best way to go about it. Google around for information on ketogenic diets and muscle growth, and you’ll come across the many great and wonderful things that happen when you cut carbs from your diet. Fat will be lost. Muscle will be gained. You’ll recover more quickly, feel less sore, and get stronger faster. Critics of the diet say the exact opposite. Ketogenic diets limit your ability to train hard. Trying to build muscle without carbs is like Batman patrolling the streets of Gotham without his utility belt. There’s absolutely no way, they say, to add muscle while you’re in ketosis. As it turns out, both sides can bring data to the table to support their point of view. SIDE NOTE: If you want a basic overview of the ketogenic diet, as well as more information about the pros and cons, Jeff Cavaliere explains more in the video below. The Ketogenic Diet and Muscle Growth Fans of keto dieting point to research showing that low levels of muscle glycogen don’t have an adverse effect on your performance in the gym [1]. That lifting weights with low levels of muscle glycogen doesn’t impair the anabolic response to resistance exercise [2]. And that the consumption of carbohydrate has no effect on muscle protein synthesis above and beyond the consumption of protein alone [3]. On the other hand, keto critics claim that low carb diets limit your ability to train hard [4]. That lifting weights with low levels of muscle glycogen dampens the post-training anabolic response [5, 6]. And that carbs are anti-catabolic, playing a key role in preventing the breakdown of muscle tissue [7]. Who’s right Continue reading >>

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

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. 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. Ad Continue reading >>

Ketogenic Muscle Building

Ketogenic Muscle Building

For years, I was told, and I believed that it was impossible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. The reason for this thinking was a belief in the incorrect calorie hypothesis. If the calorie hypothesis was true, the only way to gain muscle would be to have a calorie surplus, and the only way to lose fat would be to have a calorie deficit. Since math is…math, then it is a logical impossibility to be in a state of both surplus and deficit at the same time. But since the underlying paradigm is incorrect (we don’t lose fat by restricting calories), it is very possible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. All it takes is a little bit of discipline, some heavy stuff, and a pig-headed devotion to the ketogenic lifestyle. The only way that we put on muscle is to increase the stress on our muscles to the point where they must grow in order to accommodate the stress. Excess calories don’t do that. Lifting very heavy things does that. When you stress your muscles, you break them, and the body builds them back up bigger, so that they can handle the stress. It is important, however, to have enough dietary protein to heal the injured muscle cells. So if you are attempting to gain muscle, you will need to check your protein levels to make sure you getting enough to build the muscle. At the same time, while building muscle, if you are eating correctly (high fat and very low carbs), you will burn through your body fat. But you’ll also recover quicker, feel less sore, and increase strength faster. So what should you do to build muscle? Well, the answer to that question has filled shelves and shelves of books. But I’ll simplify it. Heavy, compound movements. That simply means using the heaviest weights you can move, and using movements that stress large areas Continue reading >>

Mythbusting: Training On A Keto Diet

Mythbusting: Training On A Keto Diet

There’s a number of myths, misconceptions, and misinformation floating around that are confusing a lot of people about the ketogenic diet. They’re teaching that when you’re training, whether for strength or for endurance, that carbohydrates are necessary in order to get the best results. This is not true, and I’ll tell you why. You Need Carbs To Build Muscle People that tell you this don’t understand how muscle building really works – it’s entirely possible to be gaining muscle mass while on keto. In a simple way, the 3 easy steps to build muscle are: Eating enough protein – For mass building between 1.0 – 1.2g / pound of LEAN body mass. Eating a calorie surplus – You can’t build muscle without eating more calories than you need, and these come from fats in a ketogenic diet. Training correctly – You need to promote hypertrophy in your muscles. Are carbs good for building muscle? Of course they are – they promote insulin release and help restore glycogen in the muscles. With carbs you gain mass quicker, but that’s because you’re also gaining fat. What exactly is glycogen? It’s a molecule that our bodies use as energy. What exactly does glycogen do? Wikipedia explains it nicely: In humans, glycogen is made and stored primarily in the cells of the liver and the muscles, and functions as the secondary long-term energy storage (with the primary energy stores being fats held in adipose tissue). Muscle cell glycogen appears to function as an immediate reserve source of available glucose for muscle cells. Other cells that contain small amounts use it locally as well. As you can see, glycogen is being used as a secondary source of energy, where fats are being used over it. Once your body has become adapted to using fats (you’re in ketosis), then Continue reading >>

Will I Lose Muscle On A Ketogenic Diet?

Will I Lose Muscle On A Ketogenic Diet?

The ability to simultaneously gain muscle and lose fat is a rather controversial topic amongst those in the fitness industry; however, this seems to be the desired goal of anyone looking to optimize body composition. One of the biggest conundrums we face is that in order to shed body fat, we tend to cut calories so much that we lose muscle mass, and in order to build muscle mass, we tend to bring along some fat gain for the ride. These changes in body composition can happen for a number of different reasons, a few of which we will touch on in this article. In any case, the evidence is clear that a properly implemented ketogenic diet exhibits a protein sparing effect, which may allow one dieting to preserve more muscle mass than if he/she hadn’t been ketogenic. This means that we can ideally shed off that pesky lower abdominal fat, all the while keeping those prized muscles we have worked so hard to build. In this article we are going to discuss some of the mechanisms of fat loss and muscle maintenance on a ketogenic diet and why a ketogenic diet may be more ideal for attaining these goals than a traditional low fat diet. One particular piece of dietary advice that people tend to give is the “calories in, calories out,” hypothesis which indicates that it doesn’t matter what you eat or how you eat it, just as long as you eat less than you expend. This is true to a certain degree, but far too often we tend to simplify what both of those equations mean without taking into account other variables (e.g. fiber, thermogenic effect of protein, brown adipose tissue, etc.). If you put yourself in a caloric deficit, it is likely that you will experience weight loss; however, it is possible that some of this weight loss will not come strictly from body fat, and that some of Continue reading >>

Can You Build Muscle On A Low Carbohydrate Diet?

Can You Build Muscle On A Low Carbohydrate Diet?

Meet my brother Zach Greenfield. He’s been following my Superhuman Food Pyramid for the past 6 months. For anyone who doubts that you can build muscle on a low carbohydrate diet because you don’t have enough “fuel”, my brother is living proof that you can. And no, it doesn’t require shoving a bunch of acidic, ammonia-producing proteins down the hatch. Instead, all you need is a high fat intake (and nothing over 0.7 grams per pound of protein). In a moment, I’m going to show you some more pictures of Zach, and give you a sample daily diet of what he’s been eating. But first, I want to give you a few additional resources, since I haven’t been shy lately about the fact that I also eat a low carbohydrate diet, as do many of the clients I advise and athletes I coach. For example, a few weeks ago, I released the podcast: Is It Possible To Be Extremely Active and Eat A Low Carbohydrate Diet? I’ve also written the book Low Carbohydrate Diet For Triathletes, and produced these articles about how to avoid typical recommended carbohydrates dosages and instead eat a higher fat diet: -Should You Eat Carbohydrates Before Exercise? –How I Ate A High Fat Diet, Pooped 8 Pounds, And Then Won A Sprint Triathlon. –The Hidden Dangers Of A Low Carbohydrate Diet –10 Ways To Do A Low Carbohydrate Diet The Right Way Want more proof that you can build muscle on a low carbohydrate diet? Here’s a few more pictures of my brother: Eliminate fatigue and unlock the secrets of low-carb success. Find out how in The Low Carb Athlete - 100% Free. Sign up now for instant access to the book! Here’s a sample daily meal plan (Zach is 6’5″, about 230 lbs): Breakfast: 4 eggs cooked in coconut oil with side of spinach and a piece of fruit Snack: Half a can of full fat coconut milk Continue reading >>

Nutritional Ketosis For Strength Training

Nutritional Ketosis For Strength Training

“Fat is bad for you, your cholesterol is going to go up, and so will your risk of chronic disease.” This is what many of us have been told throughout our lives, and this view point has pushed by the media, trainers, and most of the health world for many, many years. Thankfully, things have changed. Fat as a macronutrient is now being accepted as beneficial for our health (as long as it comes from good sources). Due to this acceptance of fat, more researchers and people have been experimenting with nutritional ketosis, which is extremely high in fat and low in carbohydrates. The concept is that nutritional ketosis allows the body to use fat as its main fuel source rather than carbohydrates. The prevalent thinking today is that carbohydrates are needed with protein after workouts in order to help repair muscle tissue and promote strength gains, but is this really the truth? Can we train for strength on a ketogenic diet or are we destined to wither away into scrawny prepubescents? In this piece I will discuss what nutritional ketosis is, what it means to be in nutritional ketosis, how to get there, how this influences our ability to strength train, and what to keep in mind while in nutritional ketosis during strength training. The Skinny on Nutritional Ketosis Nutritional ketosis means we are using ketones and fat as our primary fuel source not carbohydrates. Our mitochondria (the guys who make our energy) typically run on glucose if it is available. In nutritional ketosis this interaction shifts, and our body starts burning fatty acids and ketones in order to produce energy. The energy that can be produced from fat far outweighs what can be produced from glucose.1 Fat also burns much cleaner then glucose, which can result in less ROS (reactive oxygen species) which ca Continue reading >>

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