Effects of Combining a Ketogenic Diet with Resistance Training on Body Composition, Strength, and Mechanical Power in Trained Individuals: A Narrative Review

Nutrients. 2021 Sep 1;13(9):3083. doi: 10.3390/nu13093083.


Ketogenic diets (KD) have gained popularity in recent years among strength-trained individuals. The present review summarizes current evidence-with a particular focus on randomized controlled trials-on the effects of KD on body composition and muscle performance (strength and power output) in strength-trained individuals. Although long-term studies (>12 weeks) are lacking, growing evidence supports the effectiveness of an ad libitum and energy-balanced KD for reducing total body and fat mass, at least in the short term. However, no or negligible benefits on body composition have been observed when comparing hypocaloric KD with conventional diets resulting in the same energy deficit. Moreover, some studies suggest that KD might impair resistance training-induced muscle hypertrophy, sometimes with concomitant decrements in muscle performance, at least when expressed in absolute units and not relative to total body mass (e.g., one-repetition maximum). KD might therefore be a beneficial strategy for promoting fat loss, although it might not be a recommendable option to gain muscle mass and strength/power. More research is needed on the adoption of strategies for avoiding the potentially detrimental effect of KD on muscle mass and strength/power (e.g., increasing protein intake, reintroduction of carbohydrates before competition). In summary, evidence is as yet scarce to support a major beneficial effect of KD on body composition or performance in strength-trained individuals. Furthermore, the long-term effectiveness and safety of this type of diet remains to be determined.

Keywords: keto; low-carbohydrate; muscle; power output; resistance training.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Composition* / physiology
  • Diet, Ketogenic / methods*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength* / physiology
  • Physical Fitness
  • Resistance Training / methods*