For many people, deciding to go keto is an easy decision.

With all of the benefits you gain from the keto diet, it’s hard to think of reasons why you wouldn’t want to transition to a ketogenic state.

But there are still lots of questions about the keto diet, especially when it comes to athletes, bodybuilders and individuals who lead a very active lifestyle.

This article will answer a lot of questions one may have about the ketogenic diet. In this article we’ll discuss:

But first, what exactly is the keto diet?

What Is The Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet with moderate protein intake. While many individuals make their first mistake by thinking they can eat however many fats they want, the truth is you have to follow macronutrient and calorie guidelines just like any other diet in order to see weight loss.

A standard ketogenic diet (SKD) includes no more than 20-50 grams of net carbs per day (and oftentimes much less). The other calories should come from about 70-75% fats with the remaining calories being made up of protein.

While the diet originally started as an attempt to treat epileptic patients, research is showing that the keto diet can be beneficial for much more. Some benefits of the ketogenic diet include:

  1. Improves heart health
  2. Improves weight loss
  3. Increases energy levels
  4. Improves cognitive function

Improves Heart Health

Consuming a diet abundant in health fat has the ability to improve your triglyceride levels as well as HDL cholesterol.

Improves Weight Loss

The ketogenic diet can be a key factor in weight loss by utilizing fat for energy and putting the body in an efficient state of fat-burning. It also enhances weight loss by reducing hunger. With fatty foods being much more satiating, the ketogenic diet allows you to feel fuller for longer periods of time.

Increases Energy Levels

The state of fat-burning will translate directly to your energy levels. While carbs can leave you with major shifts in energy and mood throughout the day, the sustained energy you’ll receive from healthy fats will leave you feeling like you don’t need that afternoon nap after all.

Improves Cognitive Function

By now we’ve all heard of that dreaded brain fog from carbs. Along with potentially improving neurological performance, the keto diet may benefit those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive diseases.

So now that we know what the ketogenic diet is, let’s discuss the best types of keto diets for athletes and active individuals.

What Type Of Keto Diet Should An Athlete Follow?

When it comes to the ketogenic diet, there are a few different types:

  1. the standard ketogenic diet (SKD)
  2. the targeted ketogenic diet (TKD)
  3. the cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD)

The SKD is the basic guidelines of the ketogenic diet, with 20-50 grams of net carbs being the limit each day.

The TKD is type of keto diet that can be more beneficial to individuals that lead a more active lifestyle and need a bit more fuel around their workouts. The TKD follows similar guidelines to the SKD, but with an extra 20-50 grams of net carbs both pre and post-workout.

The CKD involves a day or two of carb backloading and is idea for athletes or individuals performing very intense exercise that simply need to refuel their muscle glycogen.

The CKD follows a standard ketogenic diet for five or six days out of the week with one or two days being a carb backloading day, meaning you have 24-48 hours to consume a high carb (up to 400-600 grams of carbs) and low fat calorie intake.

Yep. That’s a lot of carbs alright.

These keto diets allow for a bit more wiggle room with carbs for those individuals struggling with performing well strictly from fats.

But what if your main goal is to exercise for the purpose of maintaining ketosis?

How To Exercise While In Ketosis

You may be wondering, “but if carbs my my main source of fuel, how will I power through my tough workouts?”

Good news here, it’s completely possible to fuel your workouts with a high-fat, low-carb diet.

The key keto exercise tips to keep in mind before hitting the gym are to remember to fuel correctly and make sure you’re getting enough electrolytes.

Some individuals may experience dehydration when first starting on keto. This is due to the lack of carbs stored in your body (for every one gram of carbohydrate stored in the body, there is approximately two to three grams of water retained).

Aerobic exercise such as endurance running or any other form of steady-state cardio is a fat-burning exercise in which fats will be the main source of energy. Other forms of exercise such as yoga, pilates and light weight training are great examples of exercise that will help you gain the benefits of the keto diet.

High-intensity exercises or heavy weightlifting (high power output) will require some carbs as fat alone oftentimes can’t provide enough energy for this type of workout.

Top Keto Foods For Muscle Building

While the words “keto” and “muscle building” may not often be found in the same sentence, it doesn’t mean building muscle on keto is impossible.

While keto normally advocates a low to moderate protein intake, if you’re looking to build muscle on keto, you may want to add a bit more protein to your diet.

After all, you need enough protein to initiate protein synthesis in the first place. Pairing adequate protein intake with resistance training is a great start to building lean muscle while on the ketogenic diet.

But what protein-packed foods can you eat to ensure you’re doing all you can to increase your muscle mass?

The top keto foods for muscle building and recovery include:

  • Organic, free range eggs
  • Grass-fed beef and steak
  • Wild caught salmon
  • Free range chicken
  • Bacon
  • Avocado
  • Leafy greens (spinach, lettuce, etc.)
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts)

So now that we have a better idea of what kind of keto-friendly foods to eat in order to gain muscle, what about supplements?

Top Keto Supplements For Muscle Growth & Recovery

With the supplement industry being bigger than ever, it’s important to keep an eye out on which ones to use and which ones to avoid. Many supplements add in artificial ingredients and fillers which can end up doing more harm than good. However, we’ve gathered a list of some of the cleanest supplements to use while trying to build muscle and train properly on the ketogenic diet.

The Top 5 Supplements To Include:

  1. MCT oil
  2. Omega-3 fatty acids
  3. Digestive enzymes
  4. Exogenous ketones
  5. Creatine

MCT  Oil

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT’s) are the new buzzword as of late and for good reason, too. MCT’s have at thermogenic effect which means they’re broken down by the liver and immediately used for energy for your brain and muscles.

If you need a quick dose, MCT oil can be conveniently added to almost anything. In fact, it’s infamously known for its appearance in Bulletproof or Keto Coffee.

If you’re new to supplementing with this particular healthy fat, try adding only one teaspoon at a time to your coffee to see how your body reacts to it. From there you can increase your dose as you see fit.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly fish oil and krill oil, are abundant in two key fatty acids — EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These fatty acids have been shown to improve cognitive function, decrease inflammation and improve heart health. (1)

Digestive Enzymes

Many people struggle with digestive issues without ever realizing why. This could be due to the lack of digestive enzymes in their diet. This is especially true for the ketogenic diet.

A diet this high in fats may be tough on the digestive system. These enzymes also help to digest foods high in protein which could be helpful in ensuring you’re getting all the nutrients you need.

Exogenous Ketones

Exogenous ketones are external ketones you can supplement in your diet in order to raise the levels of ketones in your blood.

They have the potential to help you reach a state of ketosis quicker while boosting your energy levels as well. This can have a positive result in your overall athletic performance while increasing recovery and reducing appetite. (2)

Creatine

Creatine is one of the most researched supplements to date, and for good reason too. The benefits are truly endless when it comes to this popular bodybuilding supplement.

Some of the benefits of creatine include improving cognitive performance, neuroprotective benefits from aging and decline as well as traumatic brain injury, increasing ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production, energy levels and power output and improving the recovery time of athlete’s from a heavy training session. (3)

Whether you’re an athlete or active individual looking to try the keto diet, this article is the perfect guide for you. No need to stress about whether you’ll be able to make gains on the keto diet. Keep these simple tips in mind the next time you’re headed to the gym to gain all the benefits of the ketogenic diet.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4179185/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29105987
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266138342_Creatine_timing_on_muscle_mass_and_strength_Appetizer_or_Dessert
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Steph is a writer, content creator and recipe developer with a passion for all things health and wellness. She is the founder of The Athlete's Kitchen, a website dedicated to providing its audience with articles, recipes and more. Find her @steph.lodge and @theathleteskitchencom

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