Welcome to my QA series.
Today’s question is from a previous video I made entitled, “Ketogenic Do’s and Don’ts”, which you can watch here.
So the question that was posted is: “How does a ketogenic diet affect muscle growth? Can I gain muscle being on a keto diet?… Ever since I’ve been following this diet, I feel like I’m getting smaller and weaker.”
As a quick summary – a ketogenic diet is when you are basically eating no carbohydrates and very little protein and thus, the majority of your calories is from FAT.
After about 3 days of not having any carbohydrates in your diet, your body will run out of “glucose” and will then start using KETONES as fuel.
Now, this is a good way to burn fat for many people because without carbs and glucose, your blood sugar and insulin production will be low and your food will have a harder time being converted to body fat.
However, this is NOT a good way to gain muscle. In fact, long-term ketogenic diets will actually cause muscle loss.
Your muscles prefer glucose for energy. Doing any kind of sport or lifting weights where your muscles require fast contraction, glucose is the preferred fuel.
Ketones are a great fuel source for your brain, but not for your muscles.
Also, long-term keto diets cause a decrease in testosterone and other androgens, thyroid production, and IGF – which is the main anabolic hormone that is converted from Growth Hormone (GH).
Experts will say how ketogenic diets will increase Growth Hormone and how great that is. But who cares because GH does nothing by itself?
GH only works when it converts to IGF (Insulin-like Growth Factor) – which requires insulin and thyroid — TWO hormones that are depleted on a ketogenic diet.
Remember, the way you look and feel is ALL genetics and hormones. You can’t change your genetics, but you CAN control and optimize your hormones, which influence your genetics.
“Lean” people have much better fat-burning hormones than “overweight” people.
Similarly, “muscular” people have better muscle-building hormones than “skinny/weak” people.
If you’re going to follow a ketogenic diet to lose weight, yet you still want to build muscle – you’ll have to cycle it carefully and not do it long-term. No more than 2 weeks of ketosis and I actually prefer something like 7 days on, 3 days off.
But, that’s another topic for another article.
And if you want to lose fat and still build muscle at the same time, you can watch a great video about this topic and how you can quickly turn ON your “fat-burning genes”.