Keto and Strength Training Study


I came across this paper after reading a recent article on TNation by Christian Thibaudeau titled ’ 3 Eating Strategies That Backfire Every Time’. The study cited in the article is below:

Valenzuela PL, Castillo-García A, Lucia A, Naclerio F. Effects of Combining a Ketogenic Diet with Resistance Training on Body Composition, Strength, and Mechanical Power in Trained Individuals: A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2021; 13(9):3083.

In summary, it is a review of RCTs showing KDs have no or negligible benefits on body composition when comparing hypocaloric KDs with conventional diets with the same energy deficit. Moreover, it states some studies suggest that KD might impair resistance training-induced muscle hypertrophy, sometimes with concomitant decrements in muscle performance.

I am personally averse to jumping in to defend KD whenever it is challenged. I do suspect when it comes to the narrow topic of optimal hypertrophy, then a diet that has ‘some’ carbohydrate may trump the KD. However, clearly the article cited some studies with confounding findings, e.g. in the bodybuilder study where the KD lost LBM, their 1RM still went up. I am also mindful of Phinney and Volek’s claim that fat mass is actually made up of 15% lean tissue. Therefore, given fat cells not only shrink on a diet but also die and are replaced like any other cells, repeat DEXA scans showing reduction in fat mass should also show a corresponding loss of lean tissue (assuming this hasn’t been countered by additional lean gains).

Any thoughts on this review?

(Old Baconian) #2

I don’t think a DEXA scan is discriminating enough to differentiate the cellular walls of adipose tissue from the fatty acids they contain, so I suspect that adipose is counted as simply fat, unless the algorithm measures the tissue and subtracts 15% (which I suppose is possible).

I am wondering why that study looked at a hypocaloric ketogenic diet, when it is supposed to be ad libitum. And why, if you are trying to add muscle mass, would you want a hypocaloric diet to begin with?

And lastly, isn’t the key to adding muscle getting enough BCAA’s? I thought they were required for muscle growth. So an ad libitum ketogenic diet with protein at the high end of the recommended range and containing plenty of BCAA’s ought to do the trick, no?

As you can probably tell, I have no experience with body building, so these are questions resulting from my ignorance.

(Todd Allen) #3

I’m improving my body composition on a meat based fairly high protein diet with minimal carbohydrate. I’ve trialed many diet variations over the past 6 years and will continue testing and chasing whatever works best for myself. Look at studies, trust your mirror.

(Bob M) #4

Not familiar with body builders, are you? They believe you MUST overeat to gain mass. MUST.

I personally think this isn’t true (I gained lean mass while losing weight), but they’re like CICO-phants, they just keep changing the goal line so that nothing can be proven or disproven. “Oh sure, they gained muscle mass while losing weight, but they were beginners.” Or, “there was a phase where they overate and gained muscle, and a phase when they lost fat”.

I tried a TKD, but I couldn’t tell there was a benefit. Then again, my goal isn’t to get HUUUUGE, it’s just to exercise.

(Bob M) #5

Like this for instance:

You MUST eat more to gain muscle mass.

Like CICO, people simply believe this to be true.


The studies are a mixture of hypocaloric and isocaloric diets featuring strength trained subjects, as well as martial artists.

(Old Baconian) #7

So if a hypercaloric diet is a must, why did the researchers in that study look at hypocaloric diets? It makes no sense to me, but then, what do I know?


I have pasted the graphic from the study. Hopefully this will illustrate which studies they reviewed and the main outcomes:

(Kenny Croxdale) #9

Calories In, Calories Out

Regardless of the diet, calorie intake plays a role in gaining or losing weight.

Personal Experience

Losing Weight

After being diagnosed with a metabolic condition over 5 years ago, I combined the Ketogenic Diet with Intermittent Fasting; two meals a day.

I lost 17 lb in 35 days due to my decrease in calorie intake. Weight loss was not my intention.

Gaining The Weight Back

I then decided to gain the weight back. To do that, I…

  1. Went back to 3 Keto Meal a day; which increase my caloric intake.

  2. Between meals I had “Fat Shots”; two tablespoons of MCTs mixed with Avocado Oil, three time a say. The Fat Shots increase my calorie intake around 800 calories a day.

In around six week, I had gained by the 17 lbs that I lost; remaining on the Keto Diet.

The Devil In The Details

Research studies, like everything, need to be examined in detail and broken down.

Kenny Croxdale

(Bob M) #10

Oops…got my hyper and hypo confused.

(Bob M) #11

You realize that when you exercise more, your body lowers your energy output at other times, correct?

The same can be said with “calories in”. You eat more, your body will increase its energy expenditure.

What you see is a tautology: I ate more, and this caused me to gain weight. For instance, why did it take you only 35 days to lose 17 pounds, but six weeks to regain that?

Anyway, no need to belabor the point, as we have another thread with this never-ending argument.

As to this, “Research studies, like everything, need to be examined in detail and broken down.” Not many people do this. For instance, your first study above used this:

So, they took people not on a keto diet and rotated them on and off the keto diet, without ever getting them fat adapted.

To me, the outcomes of this are worthless.

Call me when they have a month+ of a keto diet, THEN do the CKD protocol.

And that’s the first study.

I stopped reading after this.

(Kenny Croxdale) #12

35 days is 5.8 weeks, which is essentially 6 weeks.

CKD (Research Dr Jacob Wilson/University of Tampa Human Performance Lag) has been showed to increase fat mass and minimize an increase in muscle mass.

Your a f’ing idiot. :slight_smile:

Good luck to you in you future ventures.

Kenny Croxdale

(Edith) #13

I hate to tell you this but 35/7 is 5, so 35 days is 5 weeks. :rofl: