T Nation

Weight Loss and Strength Loss on Keto Diet


I’ve been following 5/3/1 for 6 months now with continued success. I’ve recently lost about 20 lbs in one month on a Keto diet. I’ve noticed my strength has suffered, as expected, where I used to get 8-9 reps on most 5+ I’m now struggling to get the base 5 reps, sometimes one less.
My question is; should I continue to just get the minimum reps and try to maintain/gain strength with the progression of the program, or recalculate my TM and almost start over? I’m still planning on continuing to lose weight and train 5/3/1 as I love the program and " Strength is never a weakness" Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks


use the 7th week protocol and retest your 5RM. Your TM should = 5 STRONG reps, meaning good bar speed, no grinding out a rep, etc…

Finish the cycle you’re in and take a deload week to reassess your TM. It’s better to error on the side of too light, especially if you’ve lost a lot of weight.

While a Keto diet is a good way to lose weight, I’ve ready a couple NIH studies that actually point to a decrease in performance when substituting fat for carbs. If you hate carbs then whatever I guess, I just don’t really see the point in a Keto diet. It’s a fad diet that works for physique competitors, but isn’t really great for performance. If it was, all athletes would be doing it, and not simply handful of genetically gifted freaks.

Your best bet to lose weight would be to establish good eating habits, and ditch the fad diet. Your performance is no doubt suffering from the lack of carbs in your diet, which impacts your ability to recover. You’re probably not weaker, you simply aren’t recovering.


Great thanks for the feedback I will try the 7 week protocol, as far as keto goes I agree that it is a fad diet -atkins/low carb-, however I’m finding along with weight loss I’m having great success in my mental clarity as well as my anxiety levels from burning ketones and not glucose. I like having a diet that is very black and white- as to what I can and cannot eat and undewrstand its not for everyone.


I’m in keto, and did 5/3/1 for quite awhile. Keep assistance work to a minimum, sometimes none at all. I’ve had my lifts increase, while losing weight. I’ve also found that BCAAs right before lifting help dramatically.


I think this is likely to be the root of the issue.

While Keto is great for weight (fat) loss, I don’t think you’re going to lose 20lbs of anything in one month without performance suffering greatly.

Are you measuring ketones to ensure you are in fact in ketosis?

Are you maintaining a level of calories close to or just below maintenance?

Mark and Chris both gave some great points on how to adjust your training, I’m just digging a little deeper into your current diet. Congrats on the weight loss, btw!


Eat more. I would guess around 7500 calories on keto.


Agreed, although, if he’s way over weight it wouldn’t be surprising to initially lose that much.

Also, this. Please don’t do Keto and drastically drop your calories. Keep them at Maintenace to begin with. Then slowly adjust. Keto is a drastic enough change to begin with, without dropping calories.


I did begin my calories at a maintenance level in order to slowly decrease, in the event of a plateau. I am over weight and can afford to lose around 30 more lbs, so yes that explains the large initial loss. I am now however losing 2-3 lbs a week. I went back to my 531 book and looked into stalling in my lifts and have recalculated my TM 90% like Jim says three steps forward one step back. I’m hoping doing this as well as having more of a steady weight loss will start to pay off. Thanks for your input.