Amidst the onslaught of fad food plans and late-night TV weight-loss infomercials, one special diet has stood the test of time and has been verified as a viable aid to those aiming to shed some extra pounds. Countless competitive bodybuilders have used it to attain single-digit bodyfat percentages, revealing shredded muscles and striations beyond belief. It may seem too good to be true, however this is as real as it can get.
This is the Ketogenic Diet, and for bodybuilders in particular, it can serve as a strong component in one’s fitness arsenal for finalizing that summer shred or show prep. But just how does it work? In this article, we will delve into the nitty-gritty details of how the Ketogenic Diet can benefit aesthetic-oriented athletes.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
First and foremost, we must review what exactly the Keto Diet is. The Keto Diet is a 24/7 eating habit that places a heavier emphasis on dietary fats, moderate proteins and minimal to no carbohydrates. Entering into the keto state is a lengthy process worth its own entire article, but here is a brief overview of how to achieve it: the body’s primary energy source is glucose, which it uses for everyday homeostasis and physically demanding activities.
To enter Keto, one must omit all ingested glucose from their diet. Due to the absence of glucose from carbohydrates, the body is then forced to enter the ketosis stage, during which it resorts to utilizing one of two alternative energy sources: glucose from the breakdown of ingested proteins and pre-existing muscle fibers, or ketones from the breakdown of ingested fats and pre-existing bodyfat. The latter is the goal state of the Keto Diet, during which one is only burning body and dietary fats as energy via internal ketone production.
How the Ketogenic Diet Can Benefit Bodybuilders
Now that we have briefly covered what the Keto Diet is, we will now elaborate on why Keto is so widely praised within the bodybuilding realm. Although it is touted as a clean and efficient method of energy utilization for sedentary individuals, Keto is implemented by bodybuilders for one reason in particular: fat loss. It is not uncommon to see pro and semi-pro competitors cut down, only to eventually hit a plateau that no amount of cardio or training can overcome. At this point in the prep, the only other variable to adjust is diet – this is where Keto can come into play.
Typically, bodybuilders eat a fair amount of carbohydrates and calories to fuel their rigorous training. When cutting down for shows, they will lower their overall caloric intake in order to burn off and lose excess bodyfat in order to reveal the underlying muscle. When a fat-loss plateau is reached, Keto can be implemented to achieve even lower numbers in both bodyweight and bodyfat. This occurs for a variety of reasons:
- When an individual omits carbohydrates from their diet, they burn through their glycogen reserves and eventually deplete their body of any and all stored glucose. When this happens, in conjunction with a higher dietary fat intake, the body instigates a higher rate of lipolysis – this results in the release of stored fatty acids from bodyfat. These fatty acids are then oxidized in the liver, a process that produces ketones which are utilized by the muscles and brain as an energy source (thus replacing dietary glucose and stored glycogen).
- In a prolonged state of glucose deprivation, the body must continuously burn ketones in order to maintain homeostasis and energy expenditure. Over time, more and more bodyfat is burned in order to sustain this state of ketone production, bringing overall bodyfat and bodyweight levels down in the process as reserves are depleted.
- With increased ketone production, the body’s natural energy levels will skyrocket, boosting overall performance in the gym to new levels. This increased energy potential allows the individual to train at a newfound capacity, bestowing upon them the opportunity to oxidize bodyfat at an even faster rate due to an increased training load.
- At the same time, due to the absence of carbohydrates, the muscles become “harder” or less bloated with glycogen. This, in conjunction with the Ketogenic Diet, lipolysis and a constantly moderate emphasis on dietary protein necessary to preserve muscular mass, results in the body developing a significantly dryer, leaner, and more aesthetic physique with a notably low bodyfat percentage.
NOTE: every body is incredibly different, and in turn can respond in a variety of ways to different cues and stimuli. For some people, the Keto Diet may be the cure-all to their training and physique needs. To others, however, it may be detrimental to overall performance, as some people function best off of a high-carb diet. It is with great emphasis that each individual listen to their bodily cues and discern which method of diet, training, and lifestyle works best for their unique selves. You never want to force yourself into a position that is alarmingly uncomfortable for either your mental health or physical wellbeing.
In these ways, the Ketogenic Diet may prove to be a valuable aid for bodybuilders who are prepping for a show, have reached a serious fat-loss plateau, or are just searching for a serious boost in natural energy levels from an alternative fuel source. There have been many pros who have used it to achieve sub-10% bodyfat levels, and you can, too – all it takes is dedication, time, and adherence to the diet!
For some, this may be the key to a totally shredded physique – for others, not so much. If this is the answer, just be sure to conduct the proper research and execute the Ketogenic Diet properly; it is an extensive and taxing process, but with due diligence the results will definitely speak for themselves. If the Keto Diet is for you, then by all means use it to FUEL YOUR AMBITION and reach your fat-loss goals!