Build muscle on a Keto Diet – How I doubled my squat and gained 4kgs in 4 Weeks
Gaining weight on a (mostly) ketogenic diet is often called “Keto Gains”. The term “Build muscle on a Keto diet” is a slightly controversial subject in the physics world. A common assumption is that you cannot gain weight whilst also losing fat at the same time. The rules of thermo dynamics say that calories in equal calories out right? WRONG.
Having fat on your body just means that there is an excess fat accumulation. It has nothing to do with an energy imbalance, or overeating, or sedentary behaviour. If you don’t believe me, watch the video below:
A Little About Me
My name is Aaron. I’m FatForWeightLoss! I’m 6 foot 5 inches (196cm tall) and weigh 85kgs (187.5 lbs). 4 weeks ago I weighed 81kgs (178 lbs), which has been my normal weight for my entire life. 85kgs is the heaviest I’ve ever been!
I’m a semi-serious cyclists and half marathon runner, but I’ve never been a member of a gym. I have done squats previously, but i’ve only ever used my 20KG kettle bells.
My previous squat attempts where done with 2 X 20kg kettle bells (40kgs in total). To tell you the truth, using the kettle bells, my legs would hurt for 3 days afterwards.
Over the past 4 weeks, I set myself a challenge. I wanted to put on 1kg every week, whilst going mostly ketogenic, and eventually achieving a 100kg squat (220 lbs).
To effectively increase my weight, I chose a Ketogenic alternative called the “Targeted Ketogenic Diet”. The basics of this diet consists of eating a very low carb, high fat diet. The only difference was I consumed 25g Dextrose and 3g Creatine before a workout. Why dextrose?
Dextrose is a type of carbohydrate that is much more bioavailable to your muscles. I wanted my muscles to burn the carbohydrates before they could be stored in my liver as glycogen, which would have negatively effected my nutritional ketosis.
Getting into Ketosis relies on effectively limiting carbohydrates and increasing fat, which eventually empties out the majority of the glycogen stores in your liver. This enables your body to burn Ketones for energy. The last thing you want to do whilst trying to achieve ketosis is load up on fructose (fruit sugar), which tops up your liver glycogen and kicks you out of ketosis.
Post workout I consumed 40g Venom WPC Protein Powder with Water. I was aiming for 1.2g per KG of bodyweight. Maintaining protein intake was the hardest part, as my regular diet doesn’t contain that much protein. Too much protein can also kick you out of ketosis.
To make sure I gained 1kg each week, I setup MyFitnessPal accordingly and ate the meals indicated in this Muscle Building Meal Plan. Over consuming calories is relatively hard whilst eating fat, because your body never feels hungry enough to eat the quantity of fat required to replenish the energy in your muscles in order to gain size.
Eating a low carb high fat diet is important for me as i can regularly suffer join inflammation and lower back problems. Reducing my carbohydrates limited the amount of oxidative damage caused by sugar burning, whilst the high fat intake helped to burn clean energy whilst also protecting my joints.
How I Doubled My Squat
I realised that to increase this squat weight, I had to join a gym. Buying the weights necessary would have cost a fortune. I joined Anytime Fitness Keperra and was given my first 4 weeks for free!
To build muscle on a keto diet, I used an app called Stronglifts 5X5. I chose this app because simplicity was important, and strength was the main goal. Stronglifts focuses on doing 2 different workouts (A and B), alternating them each time. The weight is lifted 5 times, for 5 Sets with 1 min 30 seconds of rest in between.
Stronglifts focuses on compound exercises, which target multiple muscles at the same time. The 5 types of exercises I did to increase my overall strength were:
- Squats (Main Goal)
- Bench Press
- Bent Barbell Row
- Overhead Press
(Squats are done every workout).
My goal was to attend the gym 3 times per week. I successfully completed this for the entire 4 weeks. My first attempt at squatting with weights was 50kgs. This felt heavy (compared to my usual 40kgs) and left me feeling unbelievably sore for the next 3 days. My aim was to increase the weights on the squat rack by 5kgs at a time wherever possible. Shown Below:
Squat Increase Over 4 Weeks
I bought a velcro weight belt when I reached 90kgs in squat weight to “future proof” my lower back from injury. I found that this really helped, and began to increase the weights much more confidently once I realised the weight belt would help so much.
Lets take a look at some of the results.
Week 1 – 81 KGS (Weak and cardio fat – 178.5lbs)
From years of mainly doing cardio (cycling and running) I had become weak. Definitely looking forward to putting on more muscle.
Week 2 – 82.3 KGS (visible water loss 181.4 lbs)
Over the first week, I had not incorporated enough salt into my diet. I had lost a visible amount of water from my body weight.
Week 3 – 83.7 KGS (Posture improvement 184.5 lbs)
In this photo, I can see that my posture is beginning to improve as my hip stability and strength began to increase.
Week 4 – 85 KGS (Shoulders and arms visibly bigger 187.3 lbs)
This week visibly not much has changed except for my shoulder / arms area.
As I was relatively new to the gym, I’m not sure that a gym junkie could also improved their squat 2X. I’m confident that it will be able to increase more steadily and confidently, as consuming a higher fat diet helped protect my joints and muscles from overuse and excessive weight increase related injuries.
In hindsight, I should have taken measurements around my biceps, thighs and belly to compare the difference. Visibly the photos don’t look like much has changed. I did notice that as my squats got heavier, my waist line began to shrink significantly. This was due to the size of my pants around my waist. 4KGS of extra weight added to my bodyweight definitely feels different and heavier.
I still have a lot of work to do, but this was a good start to build muscle on a keto diet. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions? Comment on this post!