What Is the Relationship between Ketosis and Bodybuilding?

Glyn Sinclair

Ketosis occurs when there is an excessive production of ketones in the body caused by the breakdown of too many fats due to a carbohydrate deficiency. This condition can happen during fasting or long periods of exercise in combination with a diet extremely low in carbohydrates. Ketosis and bodybuilding go hand in hand because it creates the conditions for extreme fat burning while still being able to build bulk. This state can also work to shape the lean, sculpted physique that is typically coveted by the bodybuilding community. The condition is not particularly harmful, however, if the ketones are too numerous, diabetic ketoacidosis may occur, and even coma.

Bodybuilding creates the conditions needed for ketosis to occur.
Bodybuilding creates the conditions needed for ketosis to occur.

When a person restricts carbohydrates and calories when lifting weights, his or her body will begin to burn fats, which is its primary store of fuel. Once the liver has been depleted of glucose it will begin to produce ketones. The weightlifter’s body will then convert protein into glucose. Feelings of hunger are also reduced when in the state of ketosis, so the bodybuilder tends to eat less. The entire process serves to spare the lean muscle mass and create muscle cuts as well as keep the process going even after the person has discontinued the diet.

A bodybuilder.
A bodybuilder.

There are a number of side effects related to ketosis and bodybuilding. These can include raised cholesterol numbers. Lifting power may be slightly diminished as well. This is due to the lack of glucose available to the muscles. This condition changes rapidly once carbohydrates are introduced back into the diet.

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When using the state of ketosis for bodybuilding, there is a small chance that nutrient deficiencies can be created due to the absence of carbohydrates. Experts recommend taking a quality multi-vitamin a few times a day to help stave off this possibility. Green vegetables, rice and potatoes are also recommended to keep the body in balance. People suffering from diabetes should be extremely cautious of attempting ketosis due to shifts in blood sugar.

Bodybuilders will typically begin their ketosis diet with a high intake of fats and low protein intake. It is usually recommended that at this point the fat intake is cut back and the protein intake is raised. The ketosis and bodybuilding program relies on keeping the bodybuilder in the state of ketosis for as long as it takes to achieve the desired result. This can mean continually changing the ratio of protein to fats and there is a number of ketosis and bodybuilding guideline manuals and books that are out in the marketplace so that each person may find the precise formula that suits their needs.

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