The Ketogenic Diet For Bodybuilders

Date Posted... 30th Jan 2020


The Ketogenic Diet (Keto Diet) has become a bit of a staple within the fitness industry for a little while now and seems to be sparking the interest of more and more people every day. We’ve seen from many studies that this type of diet can help you lose weight and improve health, so why would any fitness enthusiast not give it a go? We’re going to give you an insight into the keto diet and what sort of benefits and negatives you might experience, so you can decide once and for all if giving it a shot is the right option for you.
What is a Ketogenic Diet?

The Keto diet consists of eating very low-carb, high-fat meals. Essentially, you’ll be drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fats. Because of the low amount of carbohydrates you’ll be intaking your body goes into a metabolic state called… You guessed it… Ketosis.

Ketosis means your body becomes very efficient at burning fat for energy, and also helps turn fat into ketones in the liver which could help give extra energy to your thinking cap! Alongside this the keto diet could additionally cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. So, we’re looking at numerous health benefits here that come along with the keto diet.

Ketogenic Diet and Weight Loss

Throughout many studies we see how the keto diet can be a far more superior way to lose weight than the often-recommended low-fat diet. One study found that the high-protein, low-carb keto diets reduce hunger and lower food intake significantly more than high-protein, medium-carb nonketogenic diets [1]. Another study found that people on a ketogenic diet lost more than those on the diet recommended by diabetes UK [2]. So, the findings are often showing that this is a more effective method of dieting for those who want to lose weight – even when total calorie intake is matched!

Here are some other ways a ketogenic diet is going to promote weight loss:

Appetite Suppressant

The keto diet can help keep you full due to the positive changes in your hunger hormones like leptin and ghrelin. [1]


Your body will start to coverts fats and protein into carbs for fuel. This is going to help burning more calories each day.

High Protein Intake

There are many studies to show that a higher protein intake can help with weight loss, one being that just digesting and metabolizing protein will burn calories so roughly 100 calories of protein end up as 70 useable calories.

Fat Burning

The keto diet will really increase the amount of fat burning throughout rest, daily activity and exercise.

Ketogenic Diet & Bodybuilding

One thing that turns people off of the idea of a ketogenic diet is the initial side effects as your body adapts to the changes in your food intake. People will often call this the “keto flu” but it should hopefully subside within a few days.

During this time of the diet you’ll notice things like a reduction in energy levels and mental function, increased hunger, bad sleep, nausea, digestive discomfort and lack of exercise motivation.

Now you’re probably thinking how am I supposed to do this when I train 6 days a week? Not being able to push yourself to the limits in the gym is going to decrease results and hold off new PB’s. That is not what we want! But there are ways to minimise the side effects when first beginning a ketogenic diet.

  • Firstly, try going into a regular low-carb diet beforehand. This is going to help get your body get used to burning more fat before you completely eliminate the carbs.
  • A ketogenic diet can also change the water and mineral balance in your body so adding a bit extra salt to your meals or a mineral supplement might help.
  • Making sure you’re eating until you’re full and avoid counting calories in the beginning. A ketogenic diet is going to cause the weight loss without the need to restrict calorie intake.

So, the key takeaway is to ease yourself into the diet and try to hold off some of the worse side effects. Hopefully training will not be impacted as much as it would if you went cold turkey.

In The Gym

In the gym, sets usually between 30 seconds to two minutes is going to be MUCH harder at first, you are going to lose strength and endurance when doing high repetition sets pretty quickly. But don’t let that de-motivate you. Try decreasing your reps to around 3-5 and do more sets. Also increasing your rest period will help you pop a little more power when you hit your next set. This does unfortunately mean you’re probably going to be in the gym a little longer than usual…

Alternatively, if you don’t have time to get in a longer gym session then stick to your normal workouts. Remember to be consistent and keep your diet in check, you might not gain anything, but you certainly won’t lose any muscle either. Seeing as this ‘keto flu’ should only last around a week, you should be back to your biggest and best workouts in no time at all!

Where the ketogenic diet really shines in your bodybuilding routine will be when you come to your cut. You can make some great progress with fat-loss just by following one of these diet plans and that is going to get you that hard shredded look everyone’s after. STRIATIONS come at me!

One study shows that although a Ketogenic diet may not directly assist in adding muscle mass, it exerts protective effects against muscle mass loss during aging or during low calorie deficits [3]. So, this tells us that loss of muscle mass during your cut might not be as high allowing us the maintain our gains when we’re following a keto diet.

Protein, Protein & more PROTEIN!

We all know (well I would hope you do) that protein is one of the most important things to be putting in your body to build muscle. It will be even more important during your keto diet because it’s what going to provide your body with glucose (via Gluconeogenesis). Make sure you know how much protein you should be taking to help with your current goal, whether that be cutting or bulking.

For quick reference an individual who is lifting weights on a regular basis should try and eat in the range of 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, or 0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight [4]. You can find loads of calculators online to figure out what the right amount for your bodyweight is and you can adjust this based on results.

Getting enough FAT.

Along with a good amount of protein you’re going to need to up that fat intake to allow your body to become keto-adapted. Just think, you’re going to be losing a lot of calories from the lack of carbs, so try replacing those calories with healthy fat sources. Also eating enough fat is going to help you avoid those hunger periods whilst your body is entering ketosis.

Remember, these need to be HEALTHY fats, it doesn’t mean you can go maccys every day.

Ways to add healthy fats into your diet could be swapping your daily non-fat yoghurt for a full-fat yoghurt and adding things like heavy cream, avocados and nuts to your shopping list. One tip I’ll share is using veggies that are low in carbs like, Zucchini and Mushrooms. These can be cooked with a healthy fat source such as grass-fed butter or olive oil and with a nice piece of steak, that sounds mmmm LOVELY. When it comes to meat look at the fattier cuts, like a ribeye steak or chicken thighs. There are loads of different meals to cook when you’re on your ketogenic diet, just have a look online and you’ll find some great inspiration!

What to take away

I’m sure you’ve tried a lot of different types of diets, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. There are definitely some downsides and that is the same with any diet change, but our bodies can easily overcome and adapt to where we want them to be.

If you’re someone who is heading into a cut and really wants to take it to the next level, why not give the keto diet a go? What have you got to lose? Oh no it has loads of health benefits. Oh no it’s going to make me lose weight. Oh no I can eat yummy fatty foods… C’mon, let’s be realistic, once we get over this “keto-flu” everything seems pretty good!