Keto diet, which has gained a lot of followers – and also a slew of pundits, really caught the imagination of many not only because of its ability to help those who are struggling with their weight but also enhance the person’s mental clarity. This by just focusing on consuming fats and minimal carbs. There lies the difficulty, however, on the reduction of carbs. While weight loss is the primary aim of many keto diet followers, some are keen on gaining muscle. The idea has always been muscle needs carbs to develop. So if that is the case, is gaining muscle on a keto diet possible?
Understanding The Keto Diet
Keto diet unlike most diets that focus more on eating a well-balanced meal or investing heavily in fiber-packed foods, encourages the consumption of fats, moderate protein, and fewer carbs – around 50 grams per day. The concept behind this is using stored fat to fuel energy. Instead of burning sugar and carbs, the body is placed in a state of ketosis where ketones are produced while burning fat. Ketones also help in optimizing cognitive function, making the person achieve a level of mental clarity.
In the keto diet, consumption of fats is the key or rather good fats but reducing foods packed with sugar and carbs. Only certain types of fruits and vegetables are eaten too, like leafy green ones.
Since carb intake is taken in a bare minimum, how would it be possible then to gain muscle as muscle needs an ample amount of carbs?
Are Carbs Essential For Muscle Growth?
Old belief points to the massive consumption of carbs to promote muscle gain. While eating carbs remains important in maintaining muscle mass and growth, it doesn’t necessarily suggest that once you go on a keto diet, you will automatically lose the ability to gain muscle. On the contrary, the body can adapt and use the stored fat in transforming it to ATP (also known as adenosine triphosphate) which fuels the brain, muscles, and other vital organs of the body.
Anabolic hormone, which pumps up the muscle cells and encourages muscle development is said to be derived from carbohydrates, the fear then is – especially those who aspire to be gain muscles is that once consumption of carbs is decreased, gluconeogenesis occurs. Gluconeogenesis means when there is low carb in the system, the body takes the protein from muscle cells to maintain a level of glucose in the bloodstream. This then leads to muscle loss.
Sure carbs are indeed important, especially after a heavy workout as the enzymes from carbs allow the body to cope with the physical stress and energy loss. However, in reality, muscle growth does not necessarily need a large number of carbs and/or glucose. The body can process the fatty acid and turn it into fuel to stimulate the muscles and even transform protein and calories into glucose, although minimally.
Another fear is that in the Keto diet since weight loss is fast and imminent, some suggest that it could trigger even muscle loss. This is untrue though since it targets fat loss but muscle mass is retained. The body losses weight, but becomes leaner.
Other studies also point to the ability to gain muscle on the keto diet, or at least preserving it since under the fitness strategy, it triggers the adrenaline compound beta-hydroxybutyrate, lowers the oxidation of leucine, and enhances protein synthesis. Likewise, when the person is on a keto diet, it ups the growth hormone levels – and we all know this leads to muscle development.
Ways On Gaining Muscles
Of course, just because gaining muscle on the keto diet is possible, doesn’t necessarily mean that you just rely on this and wait for an increase in muscle – you still have to put an extra amount of effort to see your biceps and triceps bulged. This means lifting weights, exercising, and other activities that can spur muscle growth. Here are some simples tips to gain muscles while on the keto diet:
1. Add more calories
In the keto diet, there are certain limits on certain caloric intake. However if muscle mass is the ultimate aim and not weight loss, then you could increase your calorie and protein intake (but still in the ketosis state) but make sure to get these calories from healthy fats like avocado, nuts, eggs, and the like.
2. Do strength training
Regular strength training is the best as it targets a specific muscle group. It also keeps the fat at bay, strengthens the muscles, and keeps the body lean.
3. Take some additional energy giving food and supplements.
Several natural and organic supplements can increase the energy and fuel up the muscles that are keto-friendly. Consuming bone broth is good as it can restore lost electrolytes. Electrolyte drinks too are good as it can help your energy level up plus keeps the body working properly, especially after a strenuous workout. Just make sure these electrolyte drinks are not packed with sugar and other carbs. Some supplements to are available that are keto-friendly or ketone supplements. Some of these contain beta-hydroxybutyrate.
Other Keto-friendly Foods for Gaining Muscle
If you really want to gain muscle, make sure to also indulge in keto-friendly foods that can help increase muscle mass. For muscle mass, it is necessary to have the following: magnesium and potassium.
- Dark chocolate
Likewise, working out to gain muscles can be extremely tiring – making you perspire more. Thus, you must add more sodium to your diet. Make sure to get a healthy variety such as Himalayan sea salt.
Getting a dose of creatine too can do wonders.