If you are, or are interested in becoming, a bodybuilder, then you may have seen resources suggesting that a ketogenic diet and bodybuilding can compliment each other really well. Whether your interest in bodybuilding is at a competitive level or you simply want to look ripped, a ketogenic diet can really help you achieve your goals by stripping off body fat while preserving lean muscle mass. There are few champion bodybuilders who don’t incorporate a low carb eating plan at some times, even if only just before a competition to really highlight their muscles.
Why do some bodybuilders choose a Ketogenic Diet?
So why are a ketogenic diet and bodybuilding such a good combination? Well, a ketogenic diet is one that is high in fat, with good protein levels, but very low in carbohydrate. The absence of carbs means that the body has to use fat stores as a source of fuel, in a reaction called ketosis. This means you lose body fat quickly while still being able to get the calories you need – a low calorie diet would make you lose fat too, but you risk losing muscle mass, which you definitely don’t want.
Another benefit of the ketogenic diet in bodybuilding is that it has a strong diuretic effect, meaning you won’t be holding excess water. Many bodybuilders actually dehydrate themselves before competitions using diuretic pills or alcohol, to further define the appearance of their muscles. While this works, you wouldn’t want to be dehydrated all the time because your performance would suffer and you’d feel terrible. The gentle diuretic effect of the low carb diet will help you look good all the time without going to competition level extremes.
Can I compete at the same level as bodybuilders that eat carbs?
The one concern many people have around the ketogenic diet and bodybuilding is that the lack of glycogen in your muscles can impede you in your workouts. This can be the case for some people, however this doesn’t mean they can’t get the benefits of the low carb diet. If you want to ensure you can perform when you work out while still cutting fat, consider adopting a cyclical ketogenic diet. This involves following the standard ketogenic diet from Monday through Friday, then eating a high carb, low fat diet at weekends (this is how most people do it, you can use any cycle of five days keto, two days carb loading to fit around your weekly schedule). This allows you to replenish your carb stores at the weekend, giving you something to help you through the week’s workouts, while still allowing you to spend a reasonable proportion of the time in ketosis.