Why You Don’t Need Carbs to Build Muscle

Why You Don’t Need Carbs to Build Muscle

So you don’t need to eat carbs to build muscle?

When it comes to the ketogenic diet there is loads of bad information circulating out there.

Unfortunately, these myths and lies stop a lot of people from trying the ketogenic diet and missing out on some serious gains (if it works for you).

The most common reason people use for trashing ketogenic diets is simple – they claim that when training for strength or to build muscle mass you need carbohydrates in order to grow.

Without them they say, your body simply won’t grow.

As it turns out this is actually not true and we are going to explain why that’s the case.

Why You Don’t Need Carbs to Build Muscle

Why You Don’t Need Carbs to Build Muscle

Myth 1 – Carbs Build Muscle

We’ve all heard the expression “eat big to get big” and carbs play a huge role in hitting that daily calorie intake target.

However, as it turns out you don’t actually need to eat tons of carbs to build muscle mass.

Just to recap, the three main steps to build muscle are:


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  • Consuming a calorie surplus: Note the key word CALORIE surplus, not CARB surplus.
  • Getting at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
  • Lift weights in the hypertrophy training range (8-12 reps).

Notice how none of those said “eat carbs”?

That’s not to say they can’t help you build mass.

Carbs will encourage your body to release insulin and restore glycogen to the muscles.

However, while you gain muscle more quickly with carbs you ALSO gain more fat.

The reason ketogenic diet is so effective is that it converts your main source of energy from glycogen (obtained from carbs) to ketones.

This is known as being in the state of ketosis and very little glycogen (carbs) is needed.

In fact, what glycogen you do need when in this state can easily be obtained from your protein intake.

With that said we can go back to our original question – do you need carbs to build muscle mass?

The answer is no given that you can still refill your glycogen stores when on a ketogenic diet and have sufficient energy to get through those tough workouts.

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Another great benefit of ketogenic diet is that because your protein intake is so high you are very unlikely to start losing muscle.

When on a bulk, while you might be a bit slower to gain mass you will ultimately be putting on lean muscle mass rather than lots of body fat.

At the end of the day that means less time spent on calorie-restrictive diets.

Why You Don’t Need Carbs to Build Muscle

Myth 2 – It Will Mess Up My Workouts

Another huge myth circulating about ketogenic diets is that it messes up your lifts.

People feel that by reducing their carb intake their glycogen stores will be empty and they won’t be able to lift heavy weights any more.

In reality, what keto diet does is it converts your body’s energy source to fat so your body will be burning off body fat in order to get through those lifts.

It’s common to feel less energetic for the first few weeks of ketogenic diet.

Most people interpret this as the diet not working and quickly move on to something else.

However, once your body gets used to using fat as energy your strength and energy levels will go back up.

There are many studies out there that show athletes on a ketogenic diet performing just as well as those on a carb-heavy diet.

However, the ones on ketogenic diet tend to have lower bodyfat levels.

Given that we are all going to the gym to LOOK better it’s obviously important that we keep our bodyfat levels as low as possible.

This is where ketogenic diet comes in – you get to stay lean while still eating a lot of great foods (meat, veggies, healthy fats).

As for your carb intake – limit it to 25-50g and consume it around your workout.

Ketogenic Diet and Testosterone Levels

As you know, one of the most important factors in determining muscle growth is your testosterone levels.

In fact, some guys have great physiques year-round despite hardly stepping into a gym simply because of their high t-levels.

One of the reasons ketogenic diet is so effective is that it actually boosts your testosterone levels!

By consuming lots of meat and healthy fats (which are linked with improved testosterone levels) and cutting out carbs (which are typically processed foods that lower t-levels) you will be surprised how much your body changes simply from dieting.

Now, ketogenic diets are great for boosting testosterone but they are only one of many factors you need to consider.

Training hard at the gym, taking a testosterone boosting supplement, getting plenty of sleep, avoiding excessive stress and eating well are all crucial if you want to maximize your gains!

To truly supercharge your muscle gains, higher testosterone levels need to be achieved.

One of the best way to make your body produce as much testosterone as it naturally can is to take a testosterone boosting supplement.

We’ve made a guide on the best testosterone boosting supplements on the market here.

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