The keto diet is the most beneficial way of dieting for building muscle mass and getting rid of the excess body fat.
Mainly it consists of minimal carbohydrate intake, moderate amounts of protein and high fat. And surely in order to build more muscle mass you need proper weight training.
The ketogenic diet enables you to achieve an ideal hormonal profile and compared to any other diet, personifies the most natural way of nutrition for the human body. The fact it is called a “keto diet” tends to place it in a category of “diets” and kind of compare it to all the various diets and attempts for proper nutrition. Which are many.
Mainly, the keto diet changes the operating regime of your metabolism.
Metabolism means the way your body uses food to: perform its functions, create energy, grow, heal, etc. The keto regime switches your metabolism to operate in its most natural fashion.
Under “using food” is also meant the type of food used as fuel. As any machine, the body too must work using a certain fuel.
Carbohydrates are one type of fuel, fats are another. This diet switches the metabolism to work on burning fat instead of burning sugars.
With the prevalence of carbs in today’s nutrition, the human body is trained to get its energy from carbs, i.e by breaking them down to the simplest form of sugar – glucose. All the carbs you eat (except for dietary fiber) are converted to sugar (glucose) in the blood.
When your body doesn’t have enough available amounts of sugar and when the stored sugar reserves are emptied, it starts to adapt seeking another alternative energy source – fats. If you switch your body to operate on burning fat instead of sugars, it starts to produce ketones – a byproduct created when the body breaks down fat for energy. Ketones are produced in the liver by breaking down fats from your food and from your excess stored body fat. Ketones become the primary fuel source in the absence of carbohydrates.
Why keto diet
The effects we are interested in are the ones pertaining to hormones. The keto diet helps you achieve:
- Higher levels of growth hormone
- Higher levels of glucagon (onе of the main burners of excess body fat)
- Normal and not high levels of insulin
- Normal and not high levels of cortisol (the first few days it might rise a bit, that’s normal)
What does it mean to burn sugars?
It’s been said that the main source of energy for the body is glucose. Unfortunately, today this is true. But glucose is not the best energy source for the body.
Some amount of the glucose made by eating carbs (bread, soft drinks, sweets…) is used for the body’s momentary energy needs. The rest goes through a process of bonding the glucose molecules and glycogen is created. Glycogen is glucose in “bulkier” form intended for storage. And this is not all.
The body stores the glycogen in your muscles and liver, for future needs. When glucose is lowered, the body turns to the stored glycogen in the muscles and liver, starts extracting it from the stores, turns it back to glucose and sends it to circulate through the blood in order to satisfy the momentary energy needs.
The problem is when the glycogen reserves are already full and still there is a fresh intake of carbs. Then, the rest unused glucose can’t be stored (reserves are full) and the hormone insulin turns them into fat and sends them to the fatty tissues in order to be stored as fat. The keto diet halts this process.
Start of change
A few days after a very low carbs intake, glycogen reserves will be emptied. Then the liver starts to produce a bit of glucose from the amino acids (component parts of protein) you’ve eaten, but this glucose is not by far enough to satisfy the energy needs the brain and the body are used to. Then the body starts to produce ketones as an “alternative” fuel for the brain and the body.
When ketones will get to a certain level in the blood then the body enters the state of ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state of the organism when it uses fats for energy instead of glucose.
In order to get and maintain the body into state of ketosis, you need to lower your carbohydrate intake to a max 40 grams a day. Along with this you need to increase the protein and fat intake, as described here.
The keto diet doesn’t ask for special food combinations and doesn’t impose strict regimes with morning ceremonies, or in specific hours during the day. The more you are under 40 grams of carbs a day, the more potential you have to enter ketosis. If you go over 40 grams a day, you’ll get knocked out of ketosis and you might need days to come back into ketosis.
There are various recommendations for the nutrients ratio in keto. Here is a general but not strictly definitive guide:
The ratios depend upon your current body structure and your goal. It is very important to get enough fats (2-3 per kg of body weight) so the body has enough material to produce energy. Inadequate fat intake can cause the symptoms described below, under “Short-term reactions”. The protein intake should be moderate – around 2 grams per kg.
We made a chart of nutritional contents of dietary products with which you can calculate your daily intakes to help you in your endeavor to achieve stronger body. It will soon be available in the main menu under “Nutrition”.
Additional benefits with the keto diet
▪ Increased mental clarity and aliveness.
▪ Reducing excess fat especially the hardcore ones around the belly.
▪ Increased muscle-building potential in resistance training.
▪ Higher energy levels.
▪ Higher physical endurance.
▪ Improved cardiovascular health and blood results.
▪ Cleaner skin and reduction of acne.
Ketones are superior energy source compared to glucose.
Short-term body reactions in switching to ketosis
When we switch the body to ketosis we change the way metabolism works. The body is an adaptive mechanism. After long years of being used to burn sugar, switching to ketosis is a big change for the body, to which it can have various reactions. These reactions usually wear away after a few days. Irritability, tiredness, headaches are not unusual to appear.
This can happen if you don’t get enough water, salt and other minerals (especially potassium, magnesium, calcium), because when your are in ketosis the body will hold less water (unlike when on carbs). Get enough vegetables to replenish minerals.
These initial symptoms can be avoided or alleviated by taking 200-300 grams of water with 2-3 grams of salt. In about 15-20 minutes the symptoms should recede. You can do this once a day in the first week. After this, the body adapts and the real keto benefits begin. As for salt, you need to take 4-5 grams daily (a teaspoon). And always, at least 2 liters of water.
Gains in resistance training with keto diet
When it comes about weight training, this diet provides much faster process of building muscle mass, with the additional bonus of burning the excess fat.
The ketogenic diet is not a “weight loss diet”. It would be very shortsighted to call it that. Every aspect of the keto diet is in accordance with the principles of training and building more muscle mass.
As you saw here, carbohydrates reduce growth hormone and with it, the gains from your workouts.
You can achieve muscle growth in the most healthy and effective way if you utilize the benefits of the keto diet along with proper weight training and enough sleep.
A word about diets.
Many diets are based on various research, authorities, etc. But the results are highly variable and most often unsatisfactory. Take a look at the results of the standard recommended diet.
Some call the ketogenic diet “the new hit”. Ketones are not a new invention. The body of our distant ancestors operated on ketones and fats. At those times they didn’t have food full of carbohydrates and surely not available at every corner as today. They had to hunt in order to eat. They didn’t have croissants for snacks.
Although every human body is different, for example genetic structure and so forth, still each body is subject to the same natural laws.
The idea “Listen to your body” and the idea that every body has its own specifics so what applies to one doesn’t apply to another – are limited views.
It doesn’t mean that the body isn’t subject to the same natural laws and mechanisms. And it doesn’t mean that the body should not listen to you.
The body can have many odd desires and needs. But it is an adaptive mechanism. If you eat a bunch of sweets, it will then ask for sweets. If you have frequent needs for carbonated drinks, it most probably means that you’ve been drinking them often – the body has adapted, and when you don’t get carbonated drinks, there you have the feeling of lacking them. Adaptations are often “noisy” and the body “rebels” in various ways. But it will always strive to adapt for the good and the bad. Thus the body is not the boss – you are.
Want to make a change? Do something new. The results will tell the tale.