Can You gain muscle on the Keto Diet?
We are all looking to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. Combining these two body composition goals has been said to be unlikely and unconventional. I’m here to tell you that it can be done with ease with just a few of these simple tricks. In this article we will deep dive into some simple and relatively unknown methods into maximizing muscle gain while doing the Keto Diet.
What You need to know
So the overall consensus on muscle gain is you need enough protein. Make sure to check out how much protein to eat on the keto diet for more information on how much protein you need a day on the Keto diet. As an overall rule I would recommend 1 - 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight you are carrying. For example if you weigh 200 lbs you should be consuming 200 grams of protein, if you are 150 lbs you should be consuming at least 150 grams of protein. This will allow your body to maintain its current muscle mass while at a caloric deficit.
What Kind of protein should I have to gain muscle?
The Inner bodybuilder in me is always going to recommend a meat source as the base of your protein source for the day. I recommend meat because its amino acid profile is superior to other sources of protein like nuts and veggie protein. That being said I do think it is important to vary your protein sources throughout the day. Every protein source has a specific amino acid profile that is unique to that particular source. Here is a list of my top 8 protein sources on the keto diet.
Chicken - Chicken is a great source of protein, typically you’re averaging about 21 grams of protein per 120 calories. It is also a great protein source because most of the chicken is edible. Typically when you hear about chicken on a fat loss diet you will be told “only eat the chicken breast” because of its lack of fat content that you’ll find in other cuts of meat like the thigh or wing. Healthy fats are your friend on the Keto Diet which is great because you’ll get quite a bit of variety in taste from this animal from “fattier” cuts. So don’t be afraid to dive into some BBQ wings as a protein source.
Fish - To tell you the truth I’m actually not a huge fan of the taste of fish. I typically gravitate more towards salmon and sea bass as my main sources of protein. I choose these sources because of the quality of the fish. These fish have some of the better diets compared to “bottom feeders” like tilapia. What your fish eats as a diet is extremely important as it will change the quality of the protein source. You can see this example with humans, the quality of your diet greatly affects your body composition, skin, body functions and your overall mood.
Red Meat - Moooooo..ve over, it is time to deep dive into the world of red meat. Red meat is typically high in fat content depending on the cut of steak you’re going for. My go-to is Tri Tip steak from Costco. I prefer this option because its cost effective and has a good balance of fat and protein. It also happens to be be conveniently cut in strips which makes it easy to grill and portion out. I wouldn’t bother with cuts like the filet unless you are really trying to cut out the calories of your protein sources. I find this cut to be extremely costly compared to other options.
Eggs - Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Regardless you’re going to want to eat both while you’re on the Keto Diet. Eggs are great sources of protein, in fact they are actually the best source of protein due to the amino acid profile. Some people choose to discard the egg yolk, I would advise to keep the egg yolk. The egg yolk accounts for half of the protein in the egg. It’s also the source of nutrients that feed a baby chick if the egg is fertile. A single egg has all the content to create life, it is definitely capable of helping you put on some serious muscle.
Protein Powder - This modern advancement is nutrition is highly effective. It’s easy and cost effective compared to traditional protein sources. This protein source is effective because of something called “bioavailability”. Bioavailability determines the ability of the body to absorb and use the protein source. This is done on a numerical scale, an egg white ranks around 100 where as a Whey protein Isolate can rank as high as 160. The type of protein powder you use is extremely important as well. Using a whey isolate when you wake up or post workout is ideal because of its bioavailability and ability to enter your system effectively and put you in an anabolic state. If you want to use a protein powder as a meal replacement before bed I would recommend a casein protein because it takes longer to break down and you’re about to sleep for at least 6-8 hours.
How to hack your Fat sources
So we all know at this point the keto diet is a high protein , high fat and low carbohydrate diet. That being said where you get your fats from can greatly effect your body composition. If you are going to be consuming a large amount of your calorie intake from fats you might as well get some protein consumed as well. That is why I recommend eating higher fatty protein sources like the ones I have listed above and limiting calorie intake from sources like avocados and oils as a source of fats.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat these fat sources , but your calorie and protein intake could be greatly improved and superior if you are prioritizing meat sources vs things like nuts and traditional sources of fats. Personally I think your calorie intake should be about 50-75% from meat sources if you are trying to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.
Results from personal experience
Everything I have recommended above has been from personal experience with my own body and personal training clients over the last 10 Years. Some of these methods and ideals you will not find anywhere else because quite simply the people writing the articles lack the personal experience associated with the topic. If you can implement some of these unique and simple changes into your Keto Diet you can save yourself years of split testing methods. Work smarter not harder and watch the results manifest in front of the mirror everyday.
Alright so we went over the recommended protein intake and what are the best sources of protein to consume. Long story short if you use these recommended protein sources and also get your fat intake from these sources you’re off to making sure you get the most of your calorie intake. Not all calories are created equally, nor is any other macronutrient source. Anyone who tells you otherwise does not have your best interest in mind. Counting your protein intake from pizza is not the same as protein from the list I have provided. But by all means you can run this experiment yourself and let us know how your results go. I just want to save you some time and money regarding this topic. As always thanks for listening to my thoughts on gaining muscle while on Keto and I hope this article helps you on your fitness journey.