Anyone who ever engaged in a serious resistance training, has come across the problem of retaining muscle mass and sports performance. Usually, this is counterbalanced with gearing up on the protein intake. Ketogenic diet is thought to be detrimental to muscle mass: it’s supposed to reduce muscle glycogen levels and stiffle muscle anabolism. In this regard, crossfit and keto are an odd couple. Well, this is thinking – but empirical studies clearly show otherwise.
A study in School of Kinesiology, Auburn University, sought to find out the effects of a 12-week ketogenic diet with 12 individuals who train recreationally in crossfit. Ketogenic diet group obviously consumed keto diet, the control group ate as they normally do. Both did their regular crossfit activity.
The researches performed anaerobic performance tests pre-research, at 2.5-week and 12-week period, blood beta hydroxybutyrate levels were measured weekly and body composition, resting energy expenditure, blood biomarkers and aerobic capacity at baseline and at the 12-week point.
The keto groups ketone bodies were significantly higher throughout the experiment. Both groups retained the same lean body mass, but the keto group’s fat mass decreased by 12.4%. However, the keto group also had decreased lean mass of the legs and vastus lateralis (the most powerful part of the quadriceps) thickness. Other biomarkers were similar in both groups, keto group showed increased LDL cholesterol (which is quite normal in keto, as a consequence of lipid metabolism and is not a threat to health).
The main finding: resting energy expenditure and performance tests did not produce significant differences between groups. Having said that: even with the reported decrease in leg lean mass the keto group performed just as well as the control group (Kephart et al., 2018).
KEPHART, W.C. et al. 2018. The Three-Month Effects of a Ketogenic Diet on Body Composition, Blood Parameters, and Performance Metrics in CrossFit Trainees: A Pilot Study. Sports (Basel), vol. 6, no. 1, pp., 10.3390/sports6010001
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