Effects of Two Months of Very Low Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet on Body Composition, Muscle Strength, Muscle Area, and Blood Parameters in Competitive Natural Body Builders

Antonio Paoli,1,2 Lorenzo Cenci,3 PierLuigi Pompei,4 Nese Sahin,5 Antonino Bianco,6 Marco Neri,7 Massimiliano Caprio,7,8 and Tatiana Moro1,

Published online 2021 Jan 26. doi: 10.3390/nu13020374

Background: Ketogenic diet (KD) is a nutritional approach that restricts daily carbohydrates, replacing most of the reduced energy with fat, while maintaining an adequate quantity of protein. Despite the widespread use of KD in weight loss in athletes, there are still many concerns about its use in sports requiring muscle mass accrual. Thus, the present study sought to investigate the influence of a KD in competitive natural body builders. 

Methods: Nineteen volunteers were randomly assigned to ketogenic diet (KD) or to a western diet (WD). Body composition, muscle strength and basal metabolic rate were measured before and after two months of intervention. Multiple hormone markers were evaluated.

Results:  Body fat significantly decreased in KD; while lean mass increased significantly only in WD. Maximal strength increased similarly in both groups. KD showed a significant decrease of blood triglycerides, glucose, insulin, and inflammatory cytokines compared to WD .

Conclusions: KD may be used during body building preparation for health and leaning purposes but with the caution that hypertrophic muscle response could be blunted.

I often hear from many patients and athletes that I cannot do a Low Carbohydrate High Fat Diet (Ketogenic Diet) because I will lose my “gains” or my overall strength will decrease. This study proves these thoughts are false. Strength was maintained along with weight loss with the ketogenic diet and metabolic health improved as well!

If you are struggling with diet, have questions about the Ketogenic diet, or you want to find out how to get back on the road to optimal health schedule your appointment with Live Ignite Thrive Medical today!

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