Build Muscle on a Keto Diet: Nutrition Science

(Bunny) #1

Published on Apr 5, 2018 Build Muscle on a Keto Diet: Nutrition Science - Thomas DeLauer

Protein Intake

In order to gain muscle, you need to have a positive nitrogen balance - nitrogen balance compares the amount of nitrogen coming into the body to the amount being lost

If you’re consuming more than you’re losing, you’re in positive nitrogen balance - gaining muscle

If you’re losing more than you’re consuming, you’re in negative nitrogen balance - losing muscle


Journal of Applied Physiology:

Observed no differences in whole body protein synthesis or indexes of lean body mass in strength athletes consuming either 0.64g/lb or 1.10g/lb over a 2 week period - Protein oxidation did increase in the high protein group, indicating a nutrient overload

bHB & Muscle Sparing:

Even if your protein intake is low, the ketogenic diet can still elicit a muscle sparing effect

One study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) decreases leucine oxidation and promote protein synthesis in humans

Protein Synthesis & No Carbs:

Study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology had two groups of participants that consisted of 6 weeks of calorie matched high carb or very low carb ketogenic segments

After 6 weeks subjects did a resistance training bout and researchers looked at muscle protein synthesis - found that both groups increased protein synthesis to the same extent


Protein is able to stimulate protein synthesis without the aid of carbs - also leucine has been shown to stimulate protein synthesis

Training & the Phosphagen System:

No carbs or fats are used in this system - the regeneration of ATP comes solely from stored creatine phosphate, which allows cells to replenish energy more quickly than any other energy system

This is why the phosphagen system is the predominant energy system used for all-out exercise lasting up to around 10 seconds

However, there is a limited amount of stored creatine phosphate and ATP in skeletal muscles, which is why fatigue occurs rapidly at higher intensities of activity

Keto vs Traditional Study:

Study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition looked at the effects of a ketogenic diet on skeletal muscle

The effect of this diet directly compared the effects of a traditional high-carbohydrate diet to the ketogenic diet

26 resistance-trained men participated in the study and were split into two groups:

5% CHO, 75% Fat, 20% Protein (Ketogenic Diet)
55% CHO, 25% Fat, 20% Protein (Traditional Western Diet)

After 11 weeks, the results were as follows:
The ketogenic diet resulted in a 2.1 kg greater lean body mass increase.

Fat mass decreased on the ketogenic diet by 2.2 kg (0.7 kg greater than the Western diet group).







BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids) and Fatty Liver
(Troy) #2

Great post
I somehow missed the above video🤔
Very timely

I have been tweaking up protein levels these days
Great clarification

Sadly, I’m NOT gonna make it to the BBT “ body by Thomas “ look​:joy::weary: by Summer…

Or By the Fall
Or By the Winter
Or By the New Year

I accept defeat :smile:
Oh Well
I’m motivated by KETO and feeling great!!

(Sitanshu) #3

This is my problem with building muscle on a Keto diet. All of these fitness coaches and models who proclaim that muscle can be built on a Keto diet, have actually not done it on a keto diet.

Even Thomas DeLauer, the coach in the video above, actually built most of his muscle on a Standard high carb and high protein diet. He then used the Ketogenic diet to lose the extra fat he had accumulated during the gaining phase.

Now, I am not claiming that one cannot build muscle on a keto diet. However, I believe it is much easier to build muscle on a higher carb and higher protein diet than a Keto Diet. After going through a lot of videos and articles from fitness coaches talking about both Keto and Standard Diet, I have come to the following conclusion.

If your main goal is to build muscle, then Keto diet might not be the right tool for you. For example, if you are already 15% body fat or lower, you are better off going on a standard diet, gaining muscle (and a bit of fat) for 6-9 months. After 6-9 months, you might have gained 6-7 kgs of muscle and 2-3 Kgs of fat. Then a keto diet for another 3-4 months to get back to a body fat less than 15%. One might need to undertake this cycle a couple of times in order to get maximum muscle gains in the most efficient manner. After you’ve built around 10 kgs of muscle, then you can use keto diet to maintain your muscle mass and reduce body fat, or gain small amount of muscle.

However, if your goal is to lose fat, especially if you are over 25% bf, then you are better off doing keto and resistance training until you hit the 15% bf mark. You will build muscle and lose fat at the same time in the early part of the fat loss phase.

The thing is we are genetically inclined to gain a certain amount of muscle. And generally, that happens in the first 2-3 years of a muscle building phase. That 2-3 years corresponds to 2-3 cycles of Standard diet for muscle gain and Keto diet for fat loss.

After all the research, I am going through my first gaining phase. I used to be 23% body fat. Using the keto diet, I went down to 14% body fat in 3 months and I am now in the muscle gain phase.

(Old Baconian) #4

I’m not clear how carbohydrate contributes to the muscle-building process. I thought the need was for amino acids, i.e., protein. In particular, don’t we need branched-chain amino acids in order to build muscle? If extra energy is required, why can’t it come from fat, since it metabolises as readily as carbohyddrate?

(Bunny) #5

I agree there is a certain point where you have to carb-up and calorie-up in the phases of becoming metabolically fit by building more muscle volume just so you do not slip into that “…I gained all my body fat back because I ate a carbohydrate …” mentality…lol

If you have a lot of body fat and your lifting, your going to be in protein sparing mode and not losing muscle but that does not last forever, once you get really lean and buffed you are not going to get away with that restricting carbs, fats and protein mentality; that only lasts for so long because you have to start feeding your muscles from all 3 calorie groups and confident in knowing that your not feeding fat cells by sheer leanness of body composition, nice muscles, mass and volume?

I see a lot people who cannot figure out why they gain all their weight back after going on a ketogenic diet because they falsely believe restricting carbohydrates indefinitely (only if your diabetic or still diabetic?) is how you do this and it is because they are not feeding their muscles, because the current gurus have it implanted into their psyche that they will always be feeding fat cells carbohydrates and if your diabetic that’s is a different ball game?

(Sitanshu) #6

From my limited understanding, an insulin response is needed to build muscle. Protein with fat (in a ketogenic diet) will have a much smaller insulin response than protein with carbs.

I believe there are other factors too. It is difficult to constantly eat on a calorie surplus on a ketogenic diet. From my experience, I would be really full at about 90% of my maintenance calories. I need atleast 120% of my maintenance calories to get a surplus. Also, Keto leads to infrequent meals, so infrequent metabolic phase.

This is just a theory and I could be wrong.

However, I am also yet to come across a fitness coach/body builder who has built most of his/her muscle only on keto diet. Most of the youtubers like Thomas DeLauer, Jason Witrock, Daniel Ventura etc gained most of their muscle on a standard diet. If someone points out athletes who have built most of their muscle on keto, I am more than happy to change my opinion.

Again, I am not claiming that one cannot build muscle on Keto. My claim is that keto is not the most optimum way to build large amount of muscle. If one wants to lose fat or maintain muscle or even gain a small amount of muscle, then Keto is the way to go.

(Bunny) #7

A visual of that would be: You have very lean muscular guy over here with bulging muscles? And over here is a fat obese guy with tiny muscles that look like shredded wheat under a microscope and pronounced adipose tissue around the mid section?

Now which one needs more food and insulin to maintain that kind of sheer muscle volume and metabolic fitness? The guy with the muscles is oxidizing carbohydrates before they become lipid droplets (left over glucose goes to bigger muscles as glycogen storage and the liver), the obese guy with tiny muscles is storing carbohydrates (or excess dietary fat and protein) in fat cells as lipid droplets via insulin?


It’s possible but only after adipose tissue is low and fat is stored as intramuscular fat.

Adipose tissue releasing fatty acids blunts growth hormone release and subsequent production of IGF-1.

(Sitanshu) #9

Well, as I said a standard diet is only suitable if your goal is muscle gain & you are below 15% bodyfat. Anything higher that, and muscle building should not be your main goal. It should be to get down to 15% bf via keto.

Also, if you already muscular (close to genetic potential) and oxidising carbs, it is better to be on keto since you will not gain muscle at a significantly higher rate with a standard diet than you will on keto.

Technically one will reach genetic potential for muscle amount with keto as well, however, it will take longer than it would with a standard diet.

(Sitanshu) #10

yup. thats why bf should be around or below 15% bf. At this point one will be insulin sensitive and able to make the most from the insulin release from carbs. Ideally during the muscle building phase, bf should not exceed 18%. Once it reaches 18%, a keto cut should be implemented.

(Ken) #11

Paul, carbohydrate is important because muscle anabolism is facilitated by the presence of Muscular Glycogen. Both in the stimulus aspect as well as in repair and growth.

That’s why limited carbs consumed around workouts can facilitate the anabolic process. Coupled with a slight caloric excess.and a positive nitrogen balance, muscle building on a low carb regimen is fairly easy.

This is a pattern for muscle gain. It is not a pattern for fat loss.

(Bunny) #12

Wow I love that statement want to put in a picture frame and put it on the wall!

(Ivy) #13

For Which OMAD
is what you would lean towards for the WoE ?