Keto and powerlifting for strength and ultimate hypertrophy

Keto and powerlifting, or maybe it’s better to say powerlifting and hypertrophy is a subject that brings a lot of controversy and unanswered questions. As someone who has over 10 years of experience in training individuals and groups, studying sports science and rehabilitation, I felt that I really need to scratch deeper into these subjects. I also felt that the myth that Ketonians can’t lift heavy and have real muscle growth has to be demystified! 

On numerous occasions,  I talked about exercise and ketogenic diet especially in our live videos on social media. I must point out, powerlifting and Keto are a great combo! Not only to lose weight but to get stronger and healthier. Now, I know that many of you wonder if you need to join a gym to start losing weight? The answer is simple – No! But it’s a great way to maintain, eventually, grow muscle mass and sculpture your body the way ancient Greek sculptures are presented.

Many times a lot of viewers and followers asked me which program they should follow. Sometimes they purchased a program that didn’t work at all or it was difficult to follow. To be honest there are thousands of promising programs out there. Especially, for somebody who is a beginner, it feels like swimming in deep waters and confusion is quite understandable. 

Why Keto and Powerlifting Protocol?

When I changed my lifestyle and I went Keto almost every fitness enthusiast told me that I will lose my power due to low carb consumption. Was that true? After 2 and half years riding the Keto spaceship, I have more power than before and plenty of energy. My body fat went drastically down while my muscle mass increased. 

You don’t have to lift super heavy to have results

This is de facto! But you have to train smart. Remember, intelligence wins physical power. To make your training effective and efficient you need to utilise a strategy. This strategy will keep you away from injuries or any other negative effects. To create a plan is your golden rule or your number one priority. When you have a plan, you always know when and where exactly did you start and where will you be heading to. 

The key component on this journey, which many trainees seem to miss, is the proper technique. Without proper technique, we will fall into a trap of injuries as the heavier weight comes along. Following a structured hierarchy for your training, you will get the optimum results. To say it simply, we need to wake up the strategist inside of us!

Lift Heavy + Train Smart = Results

Lift Heavy – Train Smart = Injury

The equations above should work as a staple for you! The heavyweight will come as we have progress and proper technique. We don’t want to show off and try to lift heavy weights when we are not able to. By doing this, we are increasing the risk of injury and the training is not effective at all. Mental clarity, especially during Keto, will help you achieve any goal.

Now, Keto and powerlifting not only will get you stronger physically but mentally too. Respect for the weight you move will increase your self-esteem. You will be able to help more people and grow our community. By following a Keto lifestyle the infamous carbohydrates are excluded for our own well-being. In the beginning, there’s this misconception that you will lose power and, of course, muscle mass. Well, I must say this is wrong! In my article about fat adapted training, you can learn more about it. 

Let’s see why Keto and powerlifting are working great for fitness enthusiasts

Any Keto oriented athlete who has been fat adapted for a longer period of time will utilise fat as the main fuel. This will not only help us to burn fat but to preserve our muscle mass because the keto diet has a spare muscle tissue effect. So, by preserving our muscle mass we are not slowing our metabolism but keeping it at the same rate.

The usage of Anaerobic a-lactic energy system known as creatine phosphate system (ATP-CP system) is crucial in powerlifting because it’s the system which will supply us with power during the first 5 seconds of exercise. 

By performing 1 to 3 reps, ATP will be our main supplier. So, carbs or fats are out of usage at that moment. Of course, after these heavy lifts ATP is drained and we need to replenish it. It will take 3 or even 4 minutes to replenish it and perform again.

Proper rest is the key here!

Hypertrophy regime

Now, when it comes to hypertrophy a whole new rule applies here. I explained above the creatine phosphate system and low heavy repetitions. While we are working hypertrophy we require the utilisation of glycogen aka “carbohydrates”. When we talk about hypertrophy, especially followed by a ketogenic lifestyle, we want a TUT approach.

What is TUT?

TUT or Time Under Tension is a method which we have to apply in order to maximise our muscle size, not just strength. This kind of method puts muscles under strain for way much longer period of time than the usual. This means a substantial muscle breakdown which is equal to more muscle gain.


If you are performing bicep curls and you lift the dumbbell in 1 second this is your concentric contraction. Now, by lowering your weight you will reach the lower point which is the isometric contraction. But the movement to reach the lower point is your eccentric contraction and it is the most important movement. It should last around 5 seconds. Then we have the formula which should look like this 5-0-1-0. This has a duration of 6 seconds for every repetition you hit. 

5 sec. Eccentric contraction

0 sec. Pause in lower point

1 sec. Concentric contraction 

0 sec. Pause in the highest point

Let’s go back for a moment on the subject of energy utilisation. While we are performing TUT, we are increasing the demand for glycogen. More time under tension means more glycogen usage. When your glycogen is short then ketones will provide the necessary energy that the body requires.

Fasted training, hormonal function and benefits

It is known that fasting triggers the production of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and Hormone Sensitive Lipase (HSP) which mobilises fatty acids. When we are training in a fasted state and the intensity is high this will increase the production of Human Growth Hormone. 

Now, you should finish your workout close to your “breaking fast time”. This will give you the advantage to use a biochemical pathway called mTOR or mammalian target of rapamycin. This factor is also anabolic and helps us to increase our lean muscle tissue. 

Here is where things get  a bit complicated

 In order to promote this biochemical pathway, we need to have insulin. This part must happen only after our workout and that’s the main reason we want to break our fast immediately after our training. 

The consumption of food will increase insulin levels. Then mTOR will be activated and start the mighty protein synthesis. We want to exploit insulin and that momentum in order to build muscle and keep mTOR really low during the rest of the day. The reason is that mTOR is a growth factor and it’s responsible for the growth of malicious tissues and tumours too. 

Of course, mTOR, while we are fasting, is suppressed because of low insulin levels. We want mTOR to be suppressed. For example, if somebody ate before the training mTOR will be activated during the workout. There are several differences in the body’s functions while on ketogenic diet with the implementation of intermittent fasting of course. The muscle quality which we are going to build and the health benefits cannot be matched with any other diet. 

For more information or a specific muscle growth exercise plan that works synergistically with the Keto and powerlifting, together with intermittent fasting, contact me at [email protected]