It’s tough to sort through all of the facts and fiction when it comes to dieting. One aspect that remains fairly misunderstood is the keto-intense diet and its benefits. For bodybuilders, the keto diet remains one of the most unexplored facets of food intake. This article takes a bite into the keto diet and lifts the lid on why bodybuilders need to get in on it.
What is the ketogenic diet?
To understand the keto diet, you need to know how the body breaks down food to generate energy. Typically, our bodies have evolved to utilize carbohydrates so that they can create energy. The ketogenic diet replaces carbohydrates- though not entirely- with fats and protein. In fact, this diet has earned itself the moniker low-carb high-fat (LCHF).
Instead of breaking down the carbs in the system to produce glucose, the body utilizes the fats stored in the liver to use as body fuel. These fats are known as ketones. Essentially, a low-carb high-fat diet will trick your body into switching to ketones as the go-to energy source.
Does that mean going off carbs completely?
No, it doesn’t. In the initial phases of the LCHF diet, you will need to maintain a healthy balance of fat, protein, and carbs in your diet. This gives your body the time to adapt to low carb intake and lower glycogen output to switch to ketones as the body’s primary energy source. However, the faster you reduce your carb intake, the faster your body enters ketosis.
How does the ketogenic diet help bodybuilders?
• Muscle growth is brought about by the body being in an anabolic state. A high-fat diet will increase the fat burning process, providing more energy for the body and reducing the amounts of stored up fats. During this process, there is an increase in growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone, both of which are immensely critical to muscle growth and more accurate in strength training.
• High-carb intake increases glucose and insulin production. Insulin blocks the conversion of fats into energy, requiring the body always to expect carbs for energy. Lowering carbohydrates means a lower insulin output. The body hydrolyzes the fats and stays in high metabolism since it has a more stable energy source in the form of stored up fats.
• While strength training, your muscles experience a lot of damage. That is why it is recommended that you allocate recovery time. The repair process gives the muscles more strength and better definition. A high-fat diet fastens the muscle building and healing process.
• Essential fatty acids are effective against joint inflammation. Omega-3, for instance, contains two essential acids- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These acids, found in fish and fish-oil supplements, have anti-inflammation properties that provide quicker recovery time.
• During exercise, the body produces adrenaline. Adrenaline, in turn, slows down the breakdown of protein. This helps the bodybuilder to retain muscle protein since the body resists the urge to ‘feed on muscles’ as an energy source. Any protein taken into the body is used in the building up of muscle as the body burns fat to keep it running.
Do you need to increase protein intake?
No, you do not. Higher protein intake leads to a counterproductive process known as gluconeogenesis. This simply means the formation of new glucose. If the protein intake surpasses the fat intake in the body, your body adapts by substituting protein as the primary source of fuel. This means the body resumes storing up fats and using glucose. Just like that, your ketosis �almost success’ story crashes and burns.
Still, you will need to maintain the proper balance of protein and fats so that you can keep your body firmly in ketosis while still building muscle.
Ketosis is a state that takes a while to master properly. However, when done right, you should see substantial gains in good time. Watching out for sneaky carbs hidden in foods and replacing bad sugars will keep you in ketosis for years. Snacking on the right salt forms and hydrating products should also be on top of your priority list.