Ketogenic Muscle Building: Build Muscle & Burn Fat Simultaneously

Ketogenic Muscle Building- Quick Summary

  • Sports legends like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Tom Brady use a very low carbohydrate, high fat diet (the ketogenic muscle building diet) to dominate their sport.
  • The ketogenic muscle building diet can increase your lean body mass, increase muscle mass, and decrease fat mass – simultaneously.
  • Carbohydrates, glucose, and glycogen aren’t required for increasing muscle strength and size.

ketogenic muscle

Eat Like A Legend

For every fan of the low carb, high fat diet there are a thousand haters.

I suspect it may have something to do with one or a combination of the following mindsets:

  1. “But…that’s the way it’s always been!” (So what?)
  2. No one wants to give up sugar, Doritos, pancakes, or beer. (Nothing tastes as good as health feels. -Peter Voogd)
  3. Those who have “attempted” a low carb diet lasted for a few days and felt lousy (because it takes a few weeks to become fat adapted – they didn’t give it enough time).
  4. “But…you have to have carbs and glycogen to increase strength!” (You don’t need carbs or glycogen for excellent muscle recovery.)

I can’t figure out why there is such negativity about the ketogenic muscle building and performance diets.

There is a lot of compelling research and anecdotal evidence that shows how valid a low carb diet can be – even for top level athletes.

If the low carb diet truly doesn’t work, why do athletic marvels like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Tom Brady choose to fuel their dominations with few carbs and lots of fat? 1) 2) 3) 4)

(Entire professional sports teams are adopting the low carb approach, including the Los Angeles Lakers 5)Volek, Phinney. The Art and Science Of Low Carbohydrate Performance. Beyond Obesity, 2012. Print.).

Why do many ultramarathon runners and endurance athletes see massive improvements to their training programs when they switch to a low carb, high fat diet? 6)Volek, Phinney. The Art and Science Of Low Carbohydrate Performance. Beyond Obesity, 2012. Print. 7)

Why did I personally experience a massive boost to energy, endurance, muscle strength, muscle size, and overall wellness when I made the switch?

It clearly works when you put all the pieces together. So let’s talk about it.


What Skeptics Are Saying

There’s a lot of hate against the low carb diet.

The majority of fitness enthusiasts have been duped into believing that you can’t improve muscle size or strength without carbohydrates.

Even the carbohydrates you’ve always been told are “clean” like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and whole grains are holding you back.

But many of the people campaigning against low carb fitness diets often cite extensive scientific studies, which gives them “credibility” in their arguments.

The problem is that many studies comparing the ketogenic muscle building diet to a traditional diet have missed any important step – their keto participants aren’t fat adapted (it takes 6-8 weeks).

Until your body is completely adapted to optimizing fat for fuel, you’ll likely feel weak, foggy, and cranky.

Obviously, those participating in such studies without first becoming fat adapted are going to have poor results.

With that in mind…


A Low Carb, High Fat Diet WILL Increase Your Gains

It’s becoming more and more clear that the “clean” carbohydrates you’ve been so diligently consuming may not be your best option.

A study funded by the International Society of Sports Nutrition compared two groups of college aged resistance trained men.

The first group followed a very low carbohydrate, high fat diet and the second group followed a typical western diet comprised of high amounts of carbohydrates.

The eleven week resistance training study found that:

  1. Lean body mass in the low carb group increased 1.95 times more than the high carb group.
  2. Ultrasounds determined that muscle mass in the low carb group increased 2.1 times more than the high carb group.
  3. Fat mass decreased more in the low carb group by 1.5 times when compared to the high carb group. (1) 8)

In other words this study found that a low carb, high fat diet can increase your lean body mass, increase your muscle mass, AND decrease your fat more efficiently than a traditional high carbohydrate diet – all at the same time.

A similar study also shows favorable results for the low carbohydrate weight lifter, particularly in decreasing stored body fat.

“The KD [ketogenic diet] can be used in combination with resistance training to cause favorable changes in body composition, performance and hormonal profiles in resistance-trained males.” 9)

While both low and high carbohydrate diets can have a positive effect on increasing muscle size and strength, there is one big difference.

A low carbohydrate diet allows you to build muscle AND burn stored body fat at the same time.

This is something that the fitness world has continually stated is not possible – hence the typical cycle of bulking and cutting.

But more and more studies are showing the opposite.

In addition, the low carb performance diet is optimal for athletics because it allows a high power to weight ratio – lots of muscle, with as little dead weight (fat) as possible. 10)Volek, Phinney. The Art and Science Of Low Carbohydrate Performance. Beyond Obesity, 2012. Print.

A high power to weight ratio is key for athletes who require explosive movements to beat opponents one on one.

This is why some of the world’s best athletes have joined the low carb, high fat movement.


You DON’T Need Carbs Or Glycogen To Build Muscle

One of the biggest misconceptions in fitness is that a low carbohydrate diet leads to the loss of muscle mass.

The absolute necessity of carbohydrates is a position that is heavily taught in the fitness community.

This is mainly because glycogen (made from glucose, which is made from carbs) is a key component is muscle energy.

But this is only true in those who depend on carbohydrates for energy.

Fat adapted fitness enthusiasts don’t need carbohydrates or glycogen to increase muscle strength and size.

In fact, a low carb diet has actually shown to protect against muscle loss. (2,4,5) 11) 12)  13)

This is because fat adaption causes the liver to produce ketones. Ketones, the fifth macronutrient, have a “restraining influence” on muscle protein breakdown. 14)Sisson, Mark. The New Primal Blueprint. Oxnard: Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2017. Print.

When muscles are supplied with fats and ketones (instead of glycogen), amino acids are used more efficiently and the hormone leucine, a catalyst to muscle growth, is more free to begin rebuilding your muscles. 15)


Even if you aren’t into the physiological stuff like I am, just remember these points:

  1. On a typical carbohydrate diet, your body is using carbohydrates for fuel, and glucose (derived from carbs) for muscle energy.

  2. If you’re on a typical carbohydrate diet and you want to experiment with a low carbohydrate diet, it can take 6-8 weeks to become adjusted to using fat for energy and muscle growth. 16)

    I truly believe this is why most people don’t see the results and energy boosts from a low carb diet – they just don’t give it enough time before giving up.

    During this time you’ll have to eat less than 30g of carbs per day or your body won’t have a reason to become accustomed to using fat for fuel. 17)

  3. If you’re on a low carbohydrate diet and have invested enough time to acclimate, your body will use fats for energy and muscle growth.

    When you become fat adapted your body can use its own stored fat to help rebuild muscles.

    You’ll experience muscle growth AND fat loss simultaneously – a fact supported by the multiple research citations above.

(You can read more specifically about low carbohydrate muscle recovery and growth here.)


Ketogenic Muscle Building Summary

Notice I didn’t say the low carbohydrate diet is easy. It’s a big adjustment, but there’s a huge potential to see great results.

You’ll still have to do away with pretty much all carbohydrates in your life, particularly those awful grains. At least until you’re fully adapted and can enjoy some on occasion.

But if you’re ready to build muscle and burn fat at the same time then this is your chance.

Remember these key points:

I don’t miss or crave carbohydrates anymore. In fact I don’t feel bloated after eating and I rarely feel hungry.

I can easily play a couple hours of intense basketball games without feeling tired at all.

I typically eat somewhere between 1500 and 1800 calories per day and I always feel full. My body doesn’t crave sugar anymore.

(All carbs are converted to sugar before they can be used as energy – even complex carbs.)

I simply use a ketogenic muscle building diet (5% carbs, 70% fats, and 25% protein) and a lazy, fun, effective combination of high intensity strength training and sprinting

Now that you know more about me, I want to meet you. What do you have going on? Let’s chat. I love meeting new people.

You can use the comments below or send me an email directly at

Chat soon.



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