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Targeted Keto Diet: Everything You Need To Know


The ketogenic diet has various types. The one we generally talk about, or the one people usually follow is called a standard ketogenic diet or SKD. There is an equally popular another form of the ketogenic diet typically discussed and researched in contrast to SKD. It’s called a targeted keto diet or TKD. While discussed in contrast to a standard ketogenic diet (SKD), the TKD is no more different than SKD. It is the same high fat, low carb diet with a similar following calories breakdown. 

  • 65-70% from fat
  • 20-30% from protein
  • 15-20% from carbs

The only difference between the two is the timing of the carbs. When and how to consume carbs is what makes the TKD different from the traditional ketogenic diet or SKD. The amount of carbs consumed remains the same, only the timing of their consumption changes in TKD. In the traditional ketogenic diet, you can consume your daily carbs intake throughout the day. Whereas, in the targeted keto diet, you consume the daily allotment of carbohydrates at one time. You are supposed to time the consumption of carbohydrates around your workout. It is either before, or after the workout that you consume your daily intake of carbs.

Who benefits from the Targeted keto diet? What to eat on a targeted keto diet? How does one start it? Here is everything you need to know about the targeted ketogenic diet. Read on to get your queries answered. 

Who Benefits From The Targeted Ketogenic Diet?

Who Benefits From The Targeted Ketogenic Diet

It is mostly the athletes who go on a targeted keto diet. The people who work out regularly at higher intensities and for longer periods of time go for TKD. If you are someone following a sedentary lifestyle, or someone not following an intense workout regimen, SKD will work fine for you. But if you wanna get a toned and defined body following an intense routine of exercise, then SKD is not the right option. If you make a mistake of doing as such, you may suffer from low blood sugar and exercise fatigue. It happens because, for HIIT workout, you need endurance and energy for which you need to consume carbs around your workout. This is where the targeted ketogenic diet comes into play. 

What happens is that when you consume carbs before a workout while on the ketogenic diet, you provide your muscles with glucose. The amount of glucose you get provides your body with enough energy to perform high-intensity exercises. Since the workout is intense, the amount of glycogen you consume is depleted quickly which keeps the ketogenic state of the body intact. 

Also, by following a targeted keto diet, you get to enjoy the benefits of SKD as well, ultimately leading to increased athletic performance. Here is a simple breakdown of people who the targeted keto diet benefits, and the people for whom TKD is not a good option. 

TKD might benefit you:TKD may not benefit you: 
If you are a professional athlete following a high-octane workout routineIf weightlifting is your target. As per some studies. Consuming carbs prior to a workout may not turn out to be beneficial. It is because unlike intense cardio, strength training doesn’t deplete glycogen stores the way the glycogen should be depleted to obtain energy. 
If you are a long-distance runner running 30 to 50 miles a week. If weight loss is all you intend to achieve. In this case, sticking to SKD is a better option. 
If you are a CrossFit athleteIf you are following a ketogenic diet for medical purposes. For instance, to treat diabetes or PCOS. SKD alone, in this case, can do the job. 
If you are someone who works out for long and at higher intensities to boost your performance. If you follow a light workout routine such as yoga or walking. 

How Can I Start A Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)?

Do not make a silly mistake of jumping right into following the TKD, when you decide to go on a keto diet. Everything has to be followed in a certain way and the same goes for TKD. It is important that you follow the necessary steps in order to make TKD beneficial for you. Here is your guide to starting a targeted keto diet:

Become fat adapted:

The first and the main requirement of the TKD is that you already have to be in a keto state before you start following it. This means that you need to follow a standard ketogenic diet for some period of time to undergo ketosis. Make your body fat adapted first. The targeted keto diet works best when your body has already gotten used to high-fat consumption. It is because it makes your body capable of shifting in and out of ketosis easily after you go on a TKD. It takes approximately four to six weeks for your body to become fat adapted. An important tip to remember: avoid shifting to a TKD unless you have recovered from a keto flu. 

Calculate your macros:

The way you calculate your macros on a targeted keto diet remains the same. The only thing you need to be watchful of is the extra calories you ingest from the carbs that you consume around your workout. It is essential to adjust the intake of fat. Every gram of carbohydrates means f4 calories whereas every gram of fat gives you 9 calories. So if your goal is fat loss, consume 11 grams of fat for every 25 grams of carbohydrates on days you do an intense workout. 

Time your carbs intake:

Time the daily intake of your carbs properly on TKD. Consume carbs 30 to 60 minutes before your workout to supply your body enough energy to kick start high-intensity workouts. The optimal intake of carbs ranges from 25 to 50 grams. If you are taking more than 50 grams of carbs, take them in two rounds. One 30 minutes prior to workout and the other right before you start your routine. It is recommended to absorb fast-acting, high GI carbohydrates such as crackers, sports drinks, gummy bears, candies, or white bread. If you do not prefer doing exercises on a full stomach, take a glucose gel or dextrose supplements prior to workout. 

Avoid fructose-rich sugary sources:

Be careful of the sugar sources you consume to obtain carbohydrates. Ensure that the sources you take are high in glucose and not in fructose. Avoid food sources rich with fructose as it can refill liver glycogen thereby ruining interrupting ketosis, something you should avoid at all costs. It is because interrupting ketosis means ruining the whole ketogenic diet and going back to zero and starting it all over again from scratch. 

Adjust post-workout carbs intake:

Ingesting carbohydrates after a workout is not necessary at all. Instead of consuming them, take high-quality protein shakes to pace up recovery. However, if you really have to consume keep in mind that 20 to 25 grams are the limit. Do not exceed that. If you follow various training sessions a day, divide your daily carb intakes as per intensity and the duration of the session. Higher carb intake for a tougher session and the rest for the other session. 

Adjust pre-workout fat intake:

Avoid taking most fats around your workout as they slow down the pace of the digestion process. Avoid as much as possible, but if you really want to have them, take an MCT supplement.

Take performance-boosting supplements:

Try out different supplements that have been proven to boost performance to discover the one that suits you best. Some of these supplements include taurine, creatine, L-citrulline, MCTs, and beta-alanine. Nevertheless, consult a physician or a certified nutritionist or dietitian before you use the pre-workout supplements for the recommended dosages. 

Get back in ketosis:

Do not stay out of ketosis for long periods of time. Get right back in following your workout. If you are already fat-adapted you won’t have a hard time getting back into ketosis. You can also try some other way-outs to quickly get back into ketosis. One of the ways includes the use of MCT oil. Take it after your workout as it helps increase the level of ketones inside your body. You could also incorporate a light workout into your workout regimen. Perform some light exercises following your intense workout outline to stay in a fat-burning mode. 

Stay hydrated:

Drink as much water as you can to keep your body hydrated. It is essential to maintain the balance of your electrolytes. 

Will The Targeted Keto Diet Kick Me Out Of Ketosis? 

It is obvious that with the influx of carbs, the level of ketones drops in the body whereas the blood glucose level increases. Both these factors ultimately lead your body out of a ketogenic state. Eating 12.5 grams of the carbs at once is found enough to kick anyone out of ketosis. However, it is not the case with the targeted keto diet because of the high-intensity workout it involves. You can consume twice as much while still being able to get back into ketosis some time after the workout or maybe right away. It depends on the ketone levels in the body, which depends on the following factors:

  • Workout intensity 
  • Stress levels
  • Workout duration 
  • Insulin levels 
  • How keto-adapted you are

What the intense workout does is it burns all the consumed carbs during the workout duration. This means letting your body get back to a state where it has low blood sugar levels and hence back to ketosis. The high-intensity workout basically makes the following two systematic changes that help bring your body back to a ketogenic state.

  1. Increase insulin sensitivity 
  2. Boost glucose transporters activity 

Working out on a targeted keto diet increases insulin sensitivity. The increased sensitivity implies that to manage 25 to 50 grams of the targeted keto diet carb intake, less insulin will suffice leading to decreased insulin levels. Moreover, the workout also triggers the cell membrane protein called glucose transporters making them more active. This process turns the muscles into glucose magnets that absorb sugar from the blood leading to decreased blood sugar levels. The combination of both of these changes ensures that the excess carbs are sucked up by the muscles. Also, there are lower insulin levels and that body will soon be in a ketogenic state with induced ketosis. 

Ketone Boosting Strategies

Besides working out, you could also make use of some ketones boosting strategies to get back into ketosis as quickly as possible. Some of these strategies employ natural ways to kick back in ketosis. Whereas, some strategies involve using supplements to fall back into the ketogenic state of the ketogenic diet. Let’s take a look at these: 

  • Natural ketone boosting strategy: 

To give you ketone levels an unprecedented boost naturally and to hit the ketogenic state again after the workout, pair your high-intensity workout with low-intensity cardio. What this does is that it further decreases the insulin level to an optimal amount. Apart from that, it also increases the free fatty acids in your blood. This is the real positive impact of the natural ketone boosting strategy because, the more the free fatty acids, the more the ketone levels.

  • Supplement-based ketone boosting strategy: 

Another way to increase the level of ketone bodies is to use supplements before, during, or after the workout. The best pre-workout supplement to be recommended in this regard is medium-chain triglycerides, commonly known as MCTs. These are the fatty acids that are later converted into ketone bodies to get your body back into the ketogenic diet-induced ketosis. The MCTs convert into ketones regardless of insulin and blood glucose levels. 

No matter the strategy, to maintain the ketogenic state of the body, what’s really important is that you stick to the ketogenic diet after the workout. Keep following the ketogenic diet plan as it is after the workout to be in a ketogenic state in no time. 

Benefits Of The Targeted Keto Diet

Benefits Of The Targeted Keto Diet

Following the targeted ketogenic diet has almost the same benefits as the standard ketogenic diet. The targeted keto diet (TKD) is a type of keto diet that lies between the standard ketogenic diet (SKD) and the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD). This means on TKD you can perform high-intensity activities without having to be out of ketosis for longer durations. While the benefits of all forms of the keto diet are pretty much the same, there are some benefits that are unique to TKD. These are:

Enhanced endurance: 

The targeted keto diet gives an incredible boost to endurance during the anaerobic exercises. The anaerobic exercises require glucose energy in the form of glucose that comes from carbs on TKD. Consuming carbs prior to the high-intensity workout replenishes the glycogen stores giving muscles enough energy during the workout thereby increasing the endurance. By giving muscles the amount of energy they require, you increase their capacity to work at higher intensities for considerably longer periods of time. There is no way you can achieve the benefits of the anaerobic or high-intensity workout when muscles do not have sufficient glucose. Hence to increase endurance, and to follow an intense workout regularly on a ketogenic diet, switch to TKD after you become fat-adapted.

Increased exercise performance:

This is another benefit of the targeted keto diet, pretty much the same as enhanced endurance. According to some studies, TKD can increase performance during the activities and tasks that last an hour or two or even longer. Some studies suggest that consuming a daily intake of carbohydrates at once before taking part in long endurance tasks such as running a marathon can have a great impact on performance. The pre-workout intake of carbs not only increases the performance during the particular task. But it also reduces the perceived exertions of the participants without interrupting ketosis. 

Improved lean muscle mass:

Another amazing benefit of following a targeted keto diet is the development of lean muscle mass. Following TKD can greatly impact the muscle mass making it leaner and leaner. The improved lean muscle mass, in turn, improves and increases the performance and power. Apart from that, the improved muscle mass also affects your metabolic system keeping it fast.

In addition to the benefits listed above, there are many other benefits to the targeted keto diet. These include:

  • Weight loss or weight maintenance
  • Improved appetite control (due to a decrease in hunger hormone and hunger-stimulating brain factor such as ghrelin and neuropeptide Y respectively)
  • Lower insulin levels 
  • Lower blood sugar levels
  • Increased cognitive performance 
  • Therapeutic benefits (for certain cancers)
  • Stable energy levels
  • Reduced systemic inflammation 
  • Cleaner energy production 
  • Glycogen enhancement (the ability of the body to burn less stored glucose)
  • Enhanced metabolic activity 

Should I Follow A Targeted Keto Diet?

If you follow a high-intensity workout and prefer it over aerobic exercise and light cardio, switching to TKD is the way to go. The reason why I have used the word “switch” is to emphasize the fact that your body needs to be in a state of ketosis before you follow TKD. This means you first need to follow a standard ketogenic diet until your body becomes fat-adapted. Once you have achieved ketosis, you can switch to TKD following the advice and instructions of registered dietitians or nutritionists.

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