Ketogenic Diet for Bodybuilders: The Complete Guide

Ketogenic Diet for Bodybuilders: The Complete Guide

Daniel Burford ·

On of the phases in our How to get shredded in 12 week is a transition into a ketogenic diet. Why is this? 

As discussed in our Introduction to the Ketogenic Diet, the diet offers numerous benefits for the broad population such as weight loss, reduced sugar cravings, fat loss, mood stabilisation and more.

Since our introduction we've received numerous questions from clients and trainees about the ketogenic diet for bodybuilders including:

  • What is the ketogenic diet for bodybuilding?
  • Should the ketogenic diet be used by bodybuilders and how effective is it?
  • What types of keto diet should I follow if I am a bodybuilding competitor?
  • What are the best ketogenic diet food choices?
  • Are cheat meals allowed on a ketogenic diet?
  • What should my target macros be on a ketogenic diet?
  • What is the ketogenic diet food pyramid?

This post aims to answer these ketogenic diet for bodybuilding questions and more. Let's get started.

The Ketogenic Diet in Bodybuilding

The Ketogenic Diet is becoming more mainstream and now it has captured the attention of bodybuilders around the world. The diet offers an effective way to achieve body composition, weight loss and fat loss with minimal lean muscle loss. 

What are the other benefits of ketogenic diet for bodybuilders?

  • Ability to build muscles with minimal fat levels increasing
  • When on a cutting/shredding diet you will see minimal muscle and structure loss
  • Your body will secrete an increased amount of serum anabolic hormones naturally

What's so effective about the ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet improves the body's fat burning ability while lowering insulin levels, carbohydrate intake and improving fat digestion. The results of this diet are called “ketosis” – this is a state in which your body will go once it starts using fat for fuel as opposed to carbohydrates.

Can you Build Muscle on A Ketogenic Diet?

As shown by Mike Roussell, Ph.D., you can build muscle while you’re on the Ketogenic Diet. However, often trainees experience their first 1-2 weeks as challenging while carb levels gradually deplete. However, post this phase, you can perform at a high level while on a minimal carbohydrate ketogenic diet.

While muscle is composed of various components, of which the most important one is protein. Even though you will burn a lot of fat and lose some carbs, you can still build protein by building up Leucine (the amino acid found mainly in the egg yolks).

Ketogenic Diet Bodybuilding Concept

The Ketogenic Diet: Carbs, Protein & Insulin Role

Carbohydrates, protein & insulin define your body shape and performance. 

Carbs create the process of anabolism by triggering certain hormone-driven events. The main hormone that is secreted by this process is insulin – it regulates the level of blood glucose. Carbs and insulin form a combination which has a lot to do when the muscle growth is in question. The protein is dissolved into the muscles, absorbing the two and resulting in the muscle growth.

Diet Versions

As there are various types of this diet, some are best suited specifically for bodybuilders. As most traditional types of Keto Diets tend to wear out the bodybuilders, so they mainly opt for:

  • The Standard Ketogenic Diet is otherwise known as the SKD. It is a diet comprised of low carbohydrates (5%), high-fat dosage (75%), and moderate protein dosage (20%).
  • The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet is a modification of the SKD that implements the rotation of the days when you should consume high dosages of carbs, with low dosages of carbs. For example, cheat days.
  • The Targeted Ketogenic Diet is the best KD for bodybuilders. It allows you to consume a lot of carbs just before and after you work out, so the energy replenishment rate is equalized.
  • The High-Protein Ketogenic Diet is also a modification of the SKD, which reduces the number of fat and increases protein (35% protein, 60% fat, 5% carbs).

Best Choices for Bodybuilders

The best choice for bodybuilders can’t be specifically defined as different people have different metabolisms. Since the carbs are the basis of their performance, bodybuilders tend to prefer HPKD and TKD.

The Myth

The common myth concerning this diet is that you need carbs in order to grow stronger and get your muscles bulky. This, however, is not accurate at all. This myth was busted soon after it emerged, but the rumors still linger. In order to build your muscles, you need to consume enough protein (1.0 to 1.2g per pound of LEAN body mass), consume a lot of calories (eat more than you need, as you will burn a lot of fat), and Train correctly.

How do I start?

You should start with the Standard Ketogenic Diet, and by doing so you should follow the four steps before proceeding to the next levels.

First of all, you should determine your needs for calories and either subtract them or add them (depends on your goals).

Secondly, consume protein in the amount that is according to the goals you have determined (0.8 to 1g/p of LEAN body mass)

Thirdly, set your carb levels. Twenty to thirty grams per day should be enough for starters.

Finally, determine how much fat you should consume (also based on your goals). Ideally, you should double the fat intake in comparison to the carb intake.

Ketogenic Diet for Bodybuilders Works

If you're struggling on your ketogenic diet, you could refer to more detailed explanations and solutions on this video below. We also have a Lean Muscle Transformation program which contains keto diets program. In this program, you will get everything you need to lose weight, build muscle & burn fat. Learn more our How To Get Shredded in 12 Week here.

Reference List

  • Norton, L.E., et al., The Leucine Content of a Complete Meal Directs Peak Activation but Not Duration of Skeletal Muscle Protein Synthesis and Mammalian Target of Rapamycin Signaling in Rats. The Journal of Nutrition, 2009. 139(6): p. 1103-1109.


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