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Ketosis & Building Muscle

By Tyson Alexander ; Updated July 18, 2017

Choosing the right diet plan is crucial to building muscle. Your body has mechanisms that allow it to adapt to changes in your diet. If you deprive yourself of carbohydrates, your body turns to your stored fat as a fuel source. The fat your body breaks down in lieu of carbohydrates may help you to lose some of the body fat you normally gain while bulking.

How Ketosis Develops

Ketosis is a biological state caused by eating low amounts of carbohydrates. Your body normally generates energy by breaking down glucose that comes from the carbohydrates in your diet. However, if you consume low amounts of carbohydrates, your body must break down stored fat as an energy source. When your body breaks down fat instead of glucose, the levels of ketones in your blood increase. Ketogenic diets take advantage of your body's tendency to break down fat when carbohydrates are low to help you lose weight.

Effects of a Ketogenic Diet

Entering a state of ketosis by consuming a low-carbohydrate high-protein diet reduces your body weight and feelings of hunger. A.M. Johnstone et al, in "Effects of a High-Protein Ketogenic Diet on Hunger, Appetite and Weight Loss in Obese Men Feeding Ad Libitum", report that individuals who followed a high-protein, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet lost more weight and felt less hunger over a four-week period than individuals who ate a high-protein, medium-carbohydrate nonketogenic diet.

Bulking Without Fat

A ketogenic diet may help with building muscle because it allows you to lose the fat that you normally gain when bulking. Being in ketosis also means that more protein is available to help build your muscles. Normally, some of the protein you eat gets used up generating glucose. However, if your body is using its fat for fuel rather than glucose, the protein that your body would normally use to generate glucose is spared.

The Role of Carbs in Muscle Building

While lowering your carbohydrate intake to enter ketosis enables your body to break down fat, carbohydrate intake is important for building muscle. Carbohydrates provide fuel for you muscles and give you the energy you need to excel at your weight-lifting routine and get through your day. The American Dietetic Association recommends getting at least half of your calories from carbohydrates if you want to build muscle.

Ketones Acidify Your Blood

While you may shed fat when you enter ketosis on a low-carbohydrate diet, staying in ketosis for a long period of time can damage your health. Ketones are acidic, so when they continue to build up in your body your blood can become overly acidic. Overly acidic blood can damage your liver and kidneys.

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