You’ve probably heard of the keto diet already? But for those who haven’t it’s basically a high fat, medium protein and low carb diet. Although it can be modified for bodybuilders who need more protein – for example high protein, medium fat, low carbs.
The keto diet is often used by people who are wanting to lose fat and lean down, so it could be an option for bodybuilders who are looking to get super lean on stage.
In this article the aim is to discuss the keto diet and whether or not it can work in bodybuilding…
The Theory of Keto
The ketogenic diet is allegedly supposed to encourage fat loss, with dieters claiming to go into ketosis – which basically means that the body uses fat for fuel instead of carbs. The theory is that if you don’t put carbs into your system your body has no choice but to use fuel from other sources i.e. fat and protein.
This concept is slightly misleading though, because whilst it’s true that your body will become more efficient at using other fuel sources it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will lose fat. A common misconception that lots of people still forget is that the only way to lose weight is by creating a calorie deficit i.e. burning more calories than you consume.
It doesn’t matter what diet you follow, unless you create a calorie deficit you wont lose weight. For example you could eat 2,000 calories per day of ‘so called’ healthy foods: chicken, steak, cod, vegetables, fruit, etc – or you could live of 1 x chocolate bar per day (300 cals) and you’d lose more weight eating the chocolate bar than you would eating 2,000 cals of healthy foods!
More Than Calories
Of course for bodybuilding it’s not only the calories that need to be looked at but also the macronutrients i.e. protein, carbs and fats.
In order to optimise your physique and keep/build as much muscle mass as possible you need adequate amounts of protein (at least 1-2g per kg of bodyweight).
Fats are also important because they help with things like increasing testosterone. Therefore if we look at a keto diet it could very well work in bodybuilding because it’s high in both protein and fat.
When you look at a list of keto foods, there are plenty of options to choose from that are conducive towards a bodybuilding lifestyle, for example…
chicken, turkey, eggs, steak, mince, cod, haddock, salmon, tuna, butter, olive oil, nuts, whey protein, and vegetables
All of the above foods are the staple of most bodybuilders diets.
Bodybuilding Without Carbs…
As we’ve already discussed following a keto diet means eradicating carbs from the diet. This causes a major issue for bodybuilders because carbs are an extremely important food group for hypertrophy training – swelling of the tissue also know as the pump.
Carbs are stored in the muscle as glycogen and are hugely beneficial during weight training when the body needs quick energy. Carbs are super important when it comes to bodybuilding and there’s no denying this, therefore following a keto diet all the time will not lead to optimal results.
Keto Bodybuilding Conclusion
Whilst the keto diet could definitely be used in bodybuilding it’s far from an optimal strategy, and you wont be winning any trophies if you follow this approach.
Most bodybuilding pros do what’s called carb cycling, which involves periods of low carb dieting, but then carbs go back into the system when the bodybuilder looks flat and needs a re-feed. This is to boost training performance and improve aesthetics – so they look bigger and fuller.
Like I said a keto diet could be used if you use it in cycles, and at correct times during your training phases. But long term keto dieting will definitely not lead to optimal performance results when it comes to bodybuilding.
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