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Keto, SKD and TKD with Powerlifting

Im on keto, 1.5 - 2 weeks in doing SKD. Tested and im at 2.4 mmol/L so im well into Keto, but i wouldnt say keto adapted because my lifts are a little lower than normal. im not concerned much about muscle gain as far as mass goes, but i do want to gain it slowly, more importantly make the muscle i have stronger by strengthening my CNS. Long story short, im not a bodybuilder and dont care to be.

My question is related to SKD and TKD or CKD. Wondering what people have had success with in powerlifting and when/if to switch from SKD to TKD or CKD. I have heard 4-6 weeks, but not sure whats best.

Starting keto i was 187lbs 27% BF
Right now (1.5-2 weeks in) im at 181 at 25.5% BF

So thats about 135 lbs lean body mass

I want to eventually eventually be around 175lbs with 12-15% body fat, but am in no rush, just want to stay consistent until i get there. Is it advisable to do TKD or CKD to build muscle while being in ketosis the rest of the time? I would lean more to TKD because my body responds quickly and well to quick pre workout carbs.

Didn’t you hear that keto is nonsense? It’s only effective for weight loss for people who can’t lay off the grease but can give up carbs, eliminating an entire macronutrient fro your diet will definitely reduce calories. However, it’s not good in terms of performance because your body functions better with carbs. Look at total caloric intake (and keep protein high) rather than looking for a miracle diet, because there isn’t one.

Keto wiorks great for sedentary people. Terrible for powerlifters

I lost 30 lbs of body fat and got down to 174 and 18percrnt body fat from 210 and 31 percent .

But that was before I started lifting


@wondergoat77 I have been on a CKD with a re-feed meal (or two consecutive meals) on weekends now for about 4 months. I never found the TKD to serve me any positive function beyond theoretically rationalising carb consumption, which never actually makes me feel any better. CKD works well enough for me (I still question the need for the carbs to be honest). One little trick I found is taking exogenous ketones post workout to help optimise cognitive function. Just a half pack/scoop of your preferred BHB keeps you sharp. Keep your rep ranges low (I usually build to a heavy triple, then hit 2 sets at 80% of that), volume reasonable (play around with this) and rest adequate, and you’ll be good as gold.

I live in Canada and can’t justify spending an arm and a leg for keto test strips so I don’t know my specific blood concentrations, but in any case I feel damn good for the most part. I decided to go keto because I become too lethargic around meals if I am eating 4500kcal+/day with>25% carbs (I’m a graduate student so brain fog doesn’t really serve me… or anyone for that matter). In any case, I have found that with strategic programming, I use a ME/DE modified westside method, you can still grow your numbers rather effectively, it’s just relatively difficult to add mass in general. I have begun experimenting with different “fat bombs” to bump my calories over 6000kcal/day, so time will tell, but I’m stuck around 220-225lbs, 5’11 at ~10% bodyfat. It takes alot of trial and error but in my opinion it’s definitely worth it. If you’re not competing nationally and don’t care to, then I totally understand why you would choose keto and I’m right there with yah. Best of luck, man.

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There are equally effective ways to lose weight that include carbs. Unless you have some kind of eating disorder that prevents you fro reducing fat intake and you don’t give a damn about strength, this is just the wrong way to go. Really, this discussion doesn’t even belong in the powerlifting forum. It’s the equivalent of replacing squats with leg press.

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Why would you try to bulk on a keto diet? This is very bizarre. It’s like saving for retirement on welfare.

I’m not sure what you’re accomplishing by participating in this threat, but if you must know I am (very) slowly gaining weight, hoping to gain about 5-10lbs/year. I just stay really lean and my diet allows for gradual weight gain and strength progression. It’s not conventional, and it’s clearly, judging by the critical nature of your comments, not a preferred dietary method for you. It is, however, a condition stipulated in the original post by @wondergoat77, which is why I commented in the first place. Best of luck.

Please expand on why keto is the wrong way to go, I appreciate any opinion although I disagree that it doesn’t have a place in powerlifting.

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I keep hearing this but it is never backed by evidence, please provide evidence if you have any. I have seen evidence to the contrary myself, specifically from the research of Dom D’Augustino, my spelling may be off. But I do understand the importance of carbs, which spawned my original question. I went on keto to cut. I am not sedentary at all and it works find for me, but that is anecdotal evidence and limited to me and my girlfriend also following the same diet/exercise I do. I want to know the best approach for carbs in conjunction with keto. I am experimenting with myself and what works for me. No one thing works for every person, so I would find it hard to say and absolute statement like one diet is only for one kind of person.

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Another question, did you stop keto while lifting or keep lifting on keto? If you kept on it, why did you switch? What did you switch to? Have you experimented with going back and forth?

First of all, there’s a whole bunch of studies that showed that there was no advantage to keto over a diet including carbs if total caloric intake is equal. Second, it will negatively effect your performance. Powerlifting is all about performance (obviously) so in this context there is no good reason to use a keto diet when you can accomplish the same objective (weight loss) while still eating carbs and not getting so much weaker. People are just looking for some kind of magic diet to lose weight, and unfortunately there isn’t one.

There’s an article on this site that gets into it as well:

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I have been on a ketogenic diet for four years now, two of which were while I was in the navy and a 7-8 month deployment. its not massive gain, I don’t think, but ive added 20 lbs to my lean body mass as measured by a SKULPT and Dual energy x-ray since the end of 2015 to now.
you absolutely can gain both mass and strength on keto.
id say that the benefits to being patient with the steady gain on keto would be:

  • You benefit more greatly from fasting

  • Fasting elevates growth hormone which is a precursor to IGF-1

  • Insulin sensitivity is improved so the ratio of IGF-1 to insulin will be higher as growth hormone is elevated.

there is more I could get into, but that’s the gist. this means that what matters is your training regimen, not carbs.
I will say that being in a ketogenic diet is not 100% devoid of carbs. I still eat skippy peanut butter, brazil nuts and broccoli. just stay under 10g carbs and 40g protein per sitting, then the rest is high variety of fats.
This article suggests that there is not effect on performance.
also interesting

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I can’t understand why you would want to use a keto diet while adding mass. Why not eat carbs while bulking and then return to keto to cut or maintain?

Saying that it doesn’t negatively effect performance goes against all logic. Low glycogen levels automatically reduce energy and strength. Sure, you could get used to having no carbs/minimal carbs and you would theoretically see some gains, but progress will certainly be slower than the conventional approach.

Personally, I tried a low carb diet for 6 or 8 weeks once, before I got into powerlifting. I was bulking for a while and got a bit flabby, I spoke to a couple of bodybuilders at the gym about how they would go about cutting weight. They recommended carbs only before and after training, none on off days, and high volume/high reps. I lost about 15lbs. (probably some muscle included) but I was weak as hell. Before starting that I had benched 225x12, towards the end I was doing 225x4-5. Sure, I got lean but I felt like crap (partly psychological because I also cook for a living and I couldn’t eat anything) and I was weak as shit. That’s actually what led me to get into powerlifting.

6-8 weeks isn’t long enough. I agree that such a short stint of Keto is probably detrimental. there is a difference between Ketosis, Nutritional Ketosis, and being Keto-adapted. Keto-adaptation can take 6mon-1year.
The reason that I like it are its benefits for longevity, hormonal health/maintenance, quality of life and that it is surprisingly muscle preserving.

Im not sure why you say it would go against all logic. your muscles still store glycogen for use in the phosphate energy system; its blood and liver glucose which is low. Muscles absorb the desired glucose more easily because of improvements in insulin and cortisol sensitivity.
In fact if I may draw from personal experience, the only time that I have seen a quantified drop in performance of an athlete who reduced their carbs too low was in ultra-running. if one is FIT ENOUGH, then they are able to out perform their rate of fat oxidation; this is a supremely hard thing to do and I would stretch to say that the level of and duration of exertion is sooooo high that it would never happen with traditional resistance training.

PS I can come off confrontational. it is just my mode of speech. if that is perceived, then it is because im a dingus who cant socialize well :sweat_smile:


I never said I did keto, I tried a low carb diet for a short period of time because I was trying to lose some weight. It worked, but I got very weak and could have accomplished the same objective while eating carbs and not losing so much strength.

Your body needs carbs to function optimally. You can get by without them, but there is a good reason why no elite athletes that I have ever heard of are into keto.

What is the advantage of not having any carbs? And why would you use a weight loss method to gain muscle mass? I really don’t get it. If you don’t care about strength (then you’re posting in the wrong forum, by the way) then I can understand using keto to lose weight if it fits your personal preferences. But as a competitive athlete, why?

Where do you get this from? Where would glucose go other than muscles, and or course the brain? If blood and liver glucose/glycogen is low then how is that not a negative effect?

simply, one does not need to sacrifice health for performance and it is understood that carbs are necessary, but only in the 20-50g/day range.

Also, low carb and high protein making me feel like crap is what lead me to LCHF with essential protein.

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Glycogen is stored in the muscle and in the liver. Blood sugar and muscle/liver glycogen levels normalise in any functioning human on every diet that you could imagine. If you perform glycolytic exercise such as a 400-800m sprint, a CrossFit workout, some German Volume Training or anything that could be characterised as having a conditioning component, you will be exhausted. I used to play squash a fair bit and that totally killed me when I was in ketosis. If you keep your rep ranges really low (1-3 reps is comfortable for me) and rest adequately (I usually rest between 2-3 minutes between sets), you can get through an excellent workout assuming your goal is strength development. I usually work to a heavy set with whatever lift I’m doing that day, then do volume exercises on another movement plane and finish with dynamic speed work. Most days I leave the gym pretty gassed but like I said, exogenous ketones will keep you cognitively sharp and eating/sleeping will facilitate recovery, even if you stick to a KD. Good luck.

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People who disagree with me, check Amit Sapir’s response. He is an IFBB pro bodybuilder and hold multiple world records in the squat.

See the end of the thread:

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How about an entire generation of bodybuilders from the 70’s who many today aspire to look like… :wink:

If you don’t like the diet then don’t do it, but pushing your opinion on others when you, by your own admission have zero experience with keto is a bit odd don’t you think?