Ketogenic Diets Do Not Impair Muscle Growth

Body fat and proteins break down to produce energy during fasting or carbohydrate restriction. In the absence of adequate dietary carbohydrates, the fatty acids from fat breakdown are incompletely metabolized, which produces ketone bodies and causes ketosis (accumulation of acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyric acid in the blood). Fats burn in a flame of carbohydrates. Carbs break down to pyruvic acid, which supplies structures for the Krebs cycle— a critical metabolic pathway for metabolizing fats. Can muscles grow during ketosis— a time when the body is using muscle protein for fuel? A study on rats led by Michael Roberts from the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama found that rats fed a ketogenic diet (20 percent protein, 10 percent carbs, 70 percent fat) showed similar adaptations to resistance training as animals fed a normal Western diet (15 percent protein, 43 percent carbs and 42 percent fat). If these results apply to humans, this is important information for athletes trying to lose weight by following a low-carbohydrate diet. (Journal of Applied Physiology, published online December 29, 2015)

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