One of the biggest struggles for people when they first start the low carb, high fat lifestyle is maintaining a high level of athleticism.
Individuals who lift heavy weights, train at high intensities, or need to perform at their best during competition may feel like their workouts are suffering on the ketogenic diet.
But does this mean people who live an active lifestyle can’t benefit from the ketogenic diet? Not at all!
In fact, the targeted ketogenic diet is the preferred method for people who want to build muscle or increase their overall athletic performance.
What is the Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)?
The targeted ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat eating protocol similar to the standard ketogenic diet. But the difference is, carbohydrates are consumed a few minutes before exercise and/or after exercise.
A TKD gives your body the necessary glucose it needs to lift heavier weights and exercise for longer periods of time.
Even though ketones are more efficient as an energy source for overall brain and body function, some exercises require glucose from carbohydrates to achieve peak performance. This allows your body to benefit from a quick supply of fast-acting carbohydrates.
On the days you aren’t working out, you are encouraged to stick to the standard ketogenic diet (with minimal carbohydrates).
Who Should Incorporate the Targeted Ketogenic Diet?
Following a targeted ketogenic diet isn’t suited for everyone. In fact, if you are a beginner to keto, it’s advised to stick to the standard ketogenic diet to ensure that you are priming your metabolism to run on fats as its main source of energy.
The targeted ketogenic diet is suitable for:
The targeted ketogenic diet is not recommended:
Benefits of the Targeted Ketogenic Diet
Most athletes have found that the targeted ketogenic diet is highly effective when it comes to overall exercise performance.
The targeted ketogenic diet allows you to perform exercises at a high level.
Studies have shown that carbohydrates consumed pre-workout help increase performance short term but no research has been conducted on the effects of it in the long run[*][*].
This is because muscles need glucose to fuel anaerobic training. When you provide your muscles with the glucose it needs through a TKD, they’ll function better to power through exercises.
When the muscles used during anaerobic activity don’t have glucose, your strength and endurance will become hindered during exercises that require extreme exertion for 15 seconds to three minutes.
Endurance athletes and regular exercisers can benefit from the TKD when performing any activities that last an hour or longer. Research has demonstrated that supplementing with carbohydrates before long endurance exercise like competing in a half marathon can improve overall performance[*].
Consuming carbs right before working out helps you build more muscle[*]. While high insulin levels is not the goal on keto, having elevated insulin around your workout can help you build muscle. This is because higher insulin levels before exercise induces an anabolic effect which promote muscle growth.
Bottom line: If you’re an athlete or someone looking to build muscle, the targeted ketogenic diet is a great way to do so. Otherwise, it’s best to stick to a standard ketogenic diet.
Will the Targeted Ketogenic Diet Kick Me Out of Ketosis?
In order to enter a state of ketosis, you must restrict carbohydrates to ensure that your body starts burning fats for energy. With that said, some carbs before or after exercise will not ruin your ketosis efforts.
The goal of TKD is to ensure that you are using the carbs you just ingested to fuel your workout. When done correctly, your body will burn through the glucose storages and you should re-enter ketosis soon after.
Many people will find that they get knocked out of ketosis for a few hours after exercise because of the increased insulin levels.
Fortunately, working out will increase your insulin sensitivity which means less insulin will be needed to take care of the 25-50g of carbs that you consume on a targeted ketogenic diet. Cell membrane proteins known as glucose transporters are also more active as a result of working out.
The combination between these two functions will ensure that the carbs you consume will be used for energy and enter ketosis soon after exercise.
What to Eat on the Targeted Ketogenic Diet
On the days you’re working out, you will consume 15-50g of carbohydrates 30 minutes before your workout.
Many keto experts suggest eating simple, fast-acting easily-digestible carbohydrates such as high-glycemic foods. These foods include candy, white bread, gummy bears, and gatorade.
The most popular carbs to consume are dextrose and glucose dominant sources. To get the purest form, consider supplementing with dextrose tablets or glucose gel packets before your workout.
Make sure you avoid fructose because it will go directly into replenishing liver glycogen. The goal is to replenish muscle, not liver glycogen.
It’s important not to eat any fats around your workout when you consume these quick carbohydrates. Fats will slow down the digestion of carbs which will make the TKD approach less effective.
How Do I Start the Targeted Ketogenic Diet?
If you are relatively experienced with keto, adopting the targeted ketogenic diet can be very simple.
Here is a quick summary of the key points you’ll need to follow to successfully improve your exercise performance with the TKD:
One of the only downfalls to the ketogenic diet is the lack of overall athletic performance. Fortunately, the TKD approach will help you reach all of your exercise goals while still benefiting from a fat-burning state.
There are many skeptics to the ketogenic diet because it goes completely against all of the nutritional beliefs we have been taught. After all, consuming a healthy portion of carbohydrates was always encouraged for a “well-balanced diet”.
But thanks to modern science, we have discovered that following a low carb, high fat lifestyle may just be the most effective weight loss regimen known to man. In this article, we’re going to dive deep into why following a ketogenic diet can help you drop fat faster than ever.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate, moderate protein, high fat diet that was initially prescribed to children with epilepsy back in the 1920s. But it wasn’t until the past couple decades did scientists start researching the weight loss and mental clarity benefits that come with restricting carbohydrates.
Successfully following a keto diet means you must eliminate most carbohydrates from your diet and replace it with healthy fats and protein. Studies have proven that saturated fats and dietary fats in general are not the culprit for weight gain or heart disease. In fact, they are actually healthy for you (when consumed from the right sources)[*].
How Does Keto Work?
There are two main energy sources that your body can run on, glucose (from carbohydrates) or ketones (from fats).
The only way to use ketones as a fuel source is by restricting carbohydrates and increasing healthy fat intake. By doing so, you enter a fat burning mode also known as a state of ketosis. This is because glucose takes priority for energy if there are carbohydrates present in your body. When you remove carbs, you use fats -- both dietary and stored body fat -- for energy instead.
Ketones are molecules that can supply the brain and body. In fact, your body prefers this fuel source over glucose. Not only do you receive the benefits of weight loss by becoming a fat-burner, but you’ll begin to experience mental clarity and improved mood.
The ketogenic diet also decreases insulin levels. High insulin levels contribute to weight gain and certain metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
Aren’t Fats Bad for Your Health?
There is a common misconception that eating fats make you fat and unhealthy. However, advice from nutritionists and researchers in the past failed to mention that there are good fats and bad fats.
Additionally, we were conditioned to think that saturated fats cause heart disease. Recent studies have debunked this and have demonstrated that saturated fats are actually healthy for you[*].
In fact, our bodies actually prefer to run on fats rather than carbohydrates. It’s been shown to improve your mitochondria, produces more energy, and supplies the brain with a more efficient energy source.
Good fats to consume on keto include saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as:
Conversely, unhealthy fats such as vegetable oils and certain polyunsaturated fats can increase the risk of heart disease, harm your gut health, and increase LDL “bad” cholesterol.
Avoid consuming unhealthy vegetable oils including:
Studies Prove that Keto is the Most Effective Weight Loss Diet
Scientific literature has proven that adopting a ketogenic lifestyle is the most effective weight loss diet.
One randomized control study looked into the effects of keto in conjunction to a Crossfit training routine to see determine its efficacy. The results found that the participants who followed a ketogenic diet experienced a significant decrease in body fat percentage, body weight, and overall fat mass compared to the group who consumed carbohydrates[*].
Following a low carb, high fat lifestyle helps you preserve muscle mass and improve various markers of metabolic disease such as inflammation, high blood pressure, and obesity[*][*][*][*].
5 Reasons Why Keto is the Best Diet for Weight Loss
There are various mechanisms that occur in the body when you enter a state of ketosis, all of which allow you to burn fat more efficiently and lose weight faster. Here’s why the keto diet is the most effective weight loss protocol:
#1) Appetite Suppression
Think back to a time where you tried to a diet that requires an extreme calorie restriction. Chances are, you felt very hungry and ended up binge eating soon after.
The ketogenic diet is proven to help you feel satiated because it positively alters your hunger hormones, ghrelin and leptin[*].
#2) Higher Protein Intake
A standard ketogenic diet is higher in protein compared to the standard American diet. Against popular opinion in the keto community, higher protein intake is actually good for you and will help you lose weight.
There’s a common fallacy that eating too much protein on keto will knock them out of a fat burning state. Some people believe this is due to excess protein turning into sugar -- kicking them out of ketosis -- through a process called gluconeogenesis (GNG).
But the truth is, GNG is an important metabolic pathway of the body. There are some organ function that can only survive off glucose. GNG will not ruin your ketogenic diet goals.
Protein is known as the most filling macro out of the three (protein, carbohydrates, fats). Higher protein consumption will help you stay fuller for longer periods of time[*].
#3) Preserves Muscle Mass
Being in a state of ketosis prevents your body from breaking down muscle for energy. When compared to standard, carbohydrate-heavy diets, the ketogenic diet provides muscle sparing effects when calories are under maintenance[*].
#4) Improved Fat Burning Abilities
When you restrict carbohydrates and increase your fat intake, you’re priming your metabolism to rely on fats for energy. This means your body uses both dietary and stored body fat as a fuel source, which makes losing weight much easier.
#5) Keto Increases Your Energy Levels
Think back to the times where you ate a high carb meal. Sure you may have had energy for one or two hours, but it typically leads to extreme burnout and hunger shortly afterwards. This occurs because your spiking your body’s blood sugar which causes extreme tiredness.
Conversely, ketones provide more ATP (energy) molecules per calorie. So when you’ve become keto-adapted, you’ll begin to experience sustained energy levels throughout the day without any crashes.
The Ketogenic Diet Will Help You Reach Your Weight Loss Goals Faster Than Any Other Regimen Out There
The ketogenic diet is one of the most widely studied nutrition protocols for a reason, because it works and it’s our body’s preferred way of eating.
While other diets may help you lose weight, it usually comes with negative consequences. Calorie restriction diets can lead to excessive binge eating shortly afterwards whereas other diets don’t have tasty foods.
Thankfully, science is finally proving to us that a low carb, high fat lifestyle isn’t just the most effective weight loss regimen, but it’s also the best diet for overall health.
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