One of the most common criticisms about ketogenic is that they are ineffective when it comes to building muscle. Due to the low protein intake and almost non-existent carbohydrate intake, it’s easy to see why a bodybuilding enthusiast would avoid the ketogenic diet in favour of a traditional bodybuilding diet (high protein, high carbohydrates, medium fat).
But you don’t need carbohydrates to create glycogen, they are just the easiest way to do so. A process called gluconeogenesis can turn protein into glycogen, and dietary fats can be used to increase blood ketone levels. You can also take exogenous ketones to further boost energy production.
Studies have demonstrated that a ketogenic diet does not affect strength performance, for example a study on elite artistic gymnasts found no difference in strength performance whether on a keto diet or not . Building muscle may not be quite as easy while on a ketogenic diet, but if your goal is preservation of muscle mass while losing body fat it may be an advantage.
A study on 18 untrained women found that resistance training combined with a fat loss diet (either ketogenic or normal) produced better results in the ketogenic group . How successful you are will depend on your current level of training, your current body shape, and your goals.
Someone who has not exercised regularly in years but starts weight training while on a ketogenic diet will get amazing results. Whereas someone who has been training at a high level for years but swaps dieting techniques from high carb to keto may notice a small drop in progress – but progress all the same.