Muscle building while slimming down?


(Reina Noemi) #1

So I am 72 pounds down on my keto journey and though I have a lot more to lose, I actually think im going to really like my body thicker. Like im not sure I want to go all the way skinny and once i reach size 14 I may actually decide to stay keto but in maintenance mode.

My question however is, has anyone here been able to build muscle while continuing with their keto weightloss? Call me vain but I want to build up my thighs and butt to create the body shape I want. But idk if I should start now or wait until im at the size I want to be and then start building muscle?

(Carl Keller) #2

Body recomposition is definitely possible on LCHF. As long as you’re getting the right fuel for your metabolism and to build muscle, while restricting carbs, you can change the shape of your body without losing weight.

(Reina Noemi) #3

Wow thank you! This is definitely what i needed to know. So i guess i can start now if i wanted to.

(Carl Keller) #4

In all fairness, I should say that the woman in the pic, Adrienne Osuna, isn’t a LCHF person. But the pic does prove how one can reshape their body without changing their weight.

BTW, there’s a ton of articles on how to approach this, if you haven’t googled it already.

Best wishes on your journey. :wink:

(Allan Misner) #5

Yes, you can add muscle while you’re losing fat, however it isn’t the optimal way to do so. You’ll have to be very tight on your macros to keep the carbs low and enough protein to support the muscle gains.

I’d also recommend you get a dexascan early on and toss out your scale.

(Fast Freddy) #6

Just lift heavy stuff :slight_smile:

Squats, Deads, Overhead Press

Use progressive load & eat KETO


(George) #7

It’s possible. I’ve been weightlifting while on Keto the past 5 months, and I can definitely feel the difference when I flex, not as much of a difference than I had hoped for being 5 months in, but still there nonetheless. Unfortunately (for me), the definition is not there whatsoever, I’m hoping once I lose more fat, the muscle gain will be visible.

(Reina Noemi) #8

thanks! have you been in a caloric deficit while doing this?

(George) #9

Yes, but unintentionally. I cycled through the IF meal windows pretty quickly and have settled on OMAD for most of the time I’ve been keto, and my calories can range anywhere from 1300 to 1700/day, plus the heavy cream in my coffee that I usually don’t account for (i stopped tracking a few weeks ago) I’ve had a couple personal trainer friends of mine tell me that I should be consuming near 3000 a few months ago (i was probably around 270lbs at that point, I’m 242 now), but they also say I should be eating rice and other carbs LOL, that’s not going to happen.

(Reina Noemi) #10

From what I’ve read so far i think they’re right about the calories if you want to build muscle but you would get those calories from Keto foods and protein and NOT rice lol. I will say though im at 250 right now and consuming 1600 calories for weight loss. For a man, 1300 is real low. Thats most likely why you’re not seeing the muscle definition that you want imo.

(I'm that bad type, make your mama sad type) #11

VAIN!!! Sorry, had to.

There’s no better time than the present. I’m a ways away from my goal but I generally strength train 4x a week and do massive amounts of squats and stairs. You don’t want to be a smaller version of your former self, you want to resculpt. Start now and don’t wait. It’ll make a big difference.

(George) #12

I agree, I just have a tough time eating that many calories. I tried 3 weeks ago or so, I was consuming closer to 2100 for 6 days, and i was beyond full after eating. I still lost weight though, so that’s good.

I naturally have big arms, the kind of big that I can pass for a former bodybuilder who packed on the fat and hasn’t worked out in forever LOL, so I think staying at a deficit while keto to keep losing the fat will help with having a more defined appearance in the long run.

(Reina Noemi) #13

haha! THANK YOU. Do you mind me asking your weight and how much calories you’re taking in?

(Mario) #14

take a look on his page, macrocalculator:

for female its anyway hard to gain muscles, so if i may suggest to consider carb-cycling?

a cycling keto diet, with once per week a carb reload. it is way easier - especially for women.

(I'm that bad type, make your mama sad type) #15

Sure, I’m 5’7, I started at 240lbs (previously was 330 at my highest), now I’m about 210. I don’t track cals really, but last I measured my meal prep portions, it was about 1400-1500 a day. I workout a lot (currently not because of a car accident), but normally I’m pretty active. I’ve weight trained since day 1, even at 330lbs. I can tell you it makes a difference. Instead of just being a smaller blob, I’m a smaller, more shapely blob and I have some definition.

What ends up happening is if you don’t add strength training in, you do shrink, but into a similar shape as you were when you were heavier. Speaking on an aesthetic standpoint, you’ll greatly benefit from adding strength into a routine. But I’m bias because I just like lifting to begin with, even if I whine about it to myself.

You’re never too heavy to start doing some kind of resistance training, IMO. Unless of some medical thing.

(Give me bacon, or give me death.) #16

It is entirely possible, and no, you don’t need to restrict calories to do it.

In fact, we regularly have to console women who go on a ketogenic diet after years of calorie-restrictive diets and wonder why they are not losing weight. Usually it turns out that they are losing fat, but their bodies are using the abundance of calories to put on lean tissue, as well. We know this is so, because their clothing size shrinks even though their total weight changes very little.

So you don’t even need to work out for this to happen.

In your case, I would make the following recommendations: first, be sure to eat at the higher end of the recommended protein range (whoever’s advice you are following). Second, go easy on the lifting until you are fat-adapted, if you’re not already. Third, do not consciously set a limit on your caloric intake, but rather eat to satiety. Your appetite will quickly regulate itself (there are very few people whose hormonal signaling is actually broken, so trust your body) to be a reliable guide to food intake.

You may find yourself eating at a caloric deficit while your body uses up some extra stored fat, but this is not the same as restricting calories on purpose. Intentional caloric restriction works against your body, while eating to satiety works with it.

(George) #17

Absolutely, it took me some time accept that although I’m a bigger guy and I’m being told I should be consuming more calories, I just need to keep doing what I’m doing, and stop eating when I’m full.

(Reina Noemi) #18

thank you so much! that is very helpful!

(Fast Freddy) #19


This myth has been debunked by many experts - its about controlling hormones and specifically Insulin.

Fasting and Keto is the most effective and healthy way to cut the fat and build muscle, after all eating Keto is muscle sparing.

All my lifts continue to go up and I am fasting all day and practice 5x5 Stronglifts style weight training

I always train in a fasted state as well - burns tons of fat.

Eat the right foods, don’t snack, lift heavy weights - your body will know what to do.


(KetoQ) #20

Hi Reina –

See that you want to build up your thighs and butt (quads and glutes). Squats are foundational to that kind of program. I started a Bodyweight Squat Challenge back in November on this forum as a way to stay active during the winter. Here’s the link to the thread:

If you read thru, you’ll find videos posted of a number of squat variations, as well as dryland speedskating exercises that will target those body areas.

I’ve done a variety of exercises in addition to the bodyweight squats:

  1. Weighted squats – I don’t do many because I have some knee issues.
  2. Leg Presses
  3. Leg Extentions

These three exercises will definitely grow and tone quads and glutes. This is currently the core of my program that I do 3x week. Have experienced fantastic results.

Some other exercises you can consider adding include:

  1. Deadlifts. They are great for targeting multiple muscle groups, esp quads and glutes. But don’t over do it. Deadlift once a week. Too often might trigger lower back issues. And don’t go too heavy.
  2. Glute Machine. I belong to a Planet Fitness ($10 month membership) and they have a nice glute machine, which provides a great workout.

And what I often do is “superset” my training, which means I alternate my leg exercises with my upper body ones. I find it a great way to accomplish more in less time and keep focused on the workout. For example, I always do bench press first, and in between those bench sets do 25-35 bodyweight squats. So once I finish all my bench work, I’ve often done 200+ bodyweight squats.

Then I will alternate leg raises with either a seated row or lat pull down, depending on which machine happens to be open. Again, its a way of incorporating more of a full body work out. And you only have to do this 2-3x week. You’ll see more gains and results giving yourself 1-2 days rest in between each session. I currently do M-W-F.

Also, if you want to look better, then eating right is more important for aesthetics than the weight lifting. Just consider how important body builders take their nutrition.

Good luck,