Keto (or ketosis) diets are a hugely popular weight-loss option nowadays. One of the things that makes them popular is that they are an enhancement of a natural process your body already undertakes. A keto diet can be undertaken by people with a variety of health issues, although you should always make sure to check with your doctor first.
However, something lots of people want to know when starting out on a keto diet is how it will affect their muscles. Will they lose muscle or body tone when they are on a keto diet? That’s what we are going to find out.
What Are Ketosis and Keto Diets?
Before we start discussing anything else, let’s talk about what ketosis and keto diets are. Ketosis is a metabolic process that occurs when you haven’t consumed enough carbohydrates for your body to consume as fuel. Instead, it burns fat in the form of fatty acids and transforms these into ketones which it can then use for fuel.
A keto diet is a low-carb weight-loss program that is high in fat and protein but low in carbs. Apart from helping you lose weight, it also can cause you to feel less hungry. If you’re reasonably healthy and aren’t diabetic or pregnant, ketosis can begin as soon as 3-4 days of eating 50 grams or less of carbohydrate each day.
Keto diets tend to be filled with naturally occurring ingredients rather than processed ones. Red meat such as steaks, lamb or pork chops, roasts, etc., as well as bacon. Plenty of fish and seafood, especially fatty fish like salmon, and preferrable un-breaded/coated as that will contain carbs. Eggs are a big part of a keto diet because they contain a good amount of protein per serving.
High fat, natural fat sauces such as butter or coconut oil can be used in cooking, and feel free to ass plenty of olive oil, bearnaise sauce, garlic butter, etc. to your salads and vegetable sides. High-fat dairy is also a key component, as are vegetables that are grown above-ground like broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, and zucchini. Fluids should comprise of water, tea, and coffee without sugar (although a splash of milk is fine) as well as bone broth.
Why Are People Using Ketosis and Keto Diets?
Ketosis can have some benefits aside from weight loss. It can help prevent seizures in children with certain forms of epilepsy, and adults with these forms of epilepsy sometimes live on an Atkins-style diet that has been modified.
Some research suggests a diet that promotes ketosis might help decrease your risk of future heart disease. Other research shows that low-carb diets with special modifications can be of benefit to people who suffer from metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, or type 2 diabetes.
Research studies are currently being undertaken to see the effects of a keto diet on other conditions, including cancer, polycystic ovary syndrome, acne, and nervous system diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
How Do I Get More Muscle?
First things first – everybody’s body is different. Having ‘cut’ muscles versus a somewhat softer, yet still toned look is going to depend on many factors. The biggest is genetics. Yep, your DNA plays a large part in how well-defined your muscles will be in the end.
Another thing that has a lot to do with how well defined your muscles appear is subcutaneous fat – that is the fat that lives under your skin. Diet, how you exercise, how you rest, and where your body stores fat are also other major components. No matter how strong your muscles are from exercising, if you have large amounts of subcutaneous fat, then you are going to have less defined muscles.
Ketosis can help with muscle definition because whilst you may look smaller, to begin with, it’ because you are losing subcutaneous fat, not muscle. You will start noticing a difference in your muscle growth even more once your weight loss begins to plateau. Get rid of that pesky subcutaneous fat and say hello to your muscles.
However, some types of keto diets do restrict protein, which is a key element your body needs to make more muscle, so make sure to check out the amounts of protein your chosen diet allows for. Also, be aware that low-calorie keto diets can also be prohibitive to muscle building, as you need to input more calories than you expend to make more muscles.
What Are the Best Types of Exercises for Muscle Building?
Cardio and resistance training are the best types of exercise for muscle building. Resistance training helps to grow muscle and define its shape. You should start out with a resistance training routine that covers all areas, then decide where you want to especially focus. If resistance training is already a major part of your workout, then you should add in some cardio to increase the overall calories burned and improve cardiorespiratory fitness.
Another thing to do is to ensure that you are performing the exercises correctly – you don’t want to damage yourself, and in some cases, the exercises are useless if not done properly, and that you are doing them completely. Most exercises have three phases: lengthening the muscle, amortization, and shortening the muscle.
Exercise such as plank pose or holding a squat don’t have these phases and are called isometric exercises. You should focus on your form whilst completing these types of exercises. Also, don’t miss your rest days – these are especially important when trying to grow muscle because this is actually when the muscles do their growing.
What about Supplements?
Whilst you are most likely going to meet your protein requirements, the fast-moving pace of the world we live in means that sometimes we need to swap out an actual sit-down meal for something we can eat on the go. If you’re trying out a keto diet, then a shake with some supplement powder in it, like Optimum Nutrition’s Creatine Powder, might be worth considering.
Supplements and protein powders can be a great alternative to actual meals, and there are plenty out there that are suitable for people on keto diets. As with anything else, check with your doctor before beginning a supplement just in case. Sometimes you really can have too much of something.
Keto diets and ketosis can be a great weight loss tool for some people. Especially those who want to get away from carbs, or who have tried other things and found the results unsatisfactory.
You won’t lose muscle on a keto diet, even though it may seem that way at first because what you are losing is the fat your body is storing under your skin. After a while, your muscles will become more defined, and if you do the correct types of exercises, they will grow, and you’ll be able to achieve the results you are looking for with some sweat equity and patience.
So, check with your doctor, then start looking into the dos and don’ts of ketosis and keto diets to see if they are the right weight-loss tool for you.