The Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD), simply put, is nothing more than a regular keto diet – with the exception of eating carbs around your workout times. That means any day you exercise, you will be consuming carbohydrates.
If your goal is still fat loss, make sure to include the extra calories from the carbs in your totals. Assuming that you ARE reading this because you exercise, this means that fewer fats should be consumed on these days.
Benefits of a TKD
For most people’s purposes, TKD can withstand performance in high intensity exercise – although not as well as CKD. It’s most appropriate for beginner or intermediate strength trainers or for those who cannot use a CKD diet for health reasons.
As of now, there are no studies out that will show the limitations of weight training based on low sources of blood glucose. There are studies that give carbs prior to resistance and strength training, but have not found increased performance over the long run. However, many SKD keto-ers report strength and endurance improvements in high intensity environments if they consume pre-workout carbs.
Most people that are involved in anaerobic training on an SKD typically report improved performance with pre-workout carbs. The problem is that SKDs can even be as limiting to low intensity exercise performance due to the limited glucose and muscle glycogen.
If you’re an athlete, or in the process of training, I recommend that you experiment with carbohydrates around your training.
Although performance increase is a great benefit of a TKD, it is not the primary goal. The whole reason behind it is to maintain glycogen levels, so you are essentially setting yourself up for the next workout.
Most people experimenting with TKD find that 25-50g of carbohydrates taken 30 minutes prior to exercise gives them the best performance. Most suggest eating simple, easily digestible carbs, such as liquids or high glycemic foods that absorb fast into the body – sweet tarts, white bread, candy bars.
Some will find that they drop out of ketosis transiently for a few hours after their workout, due to the increased insulin levels. As blood glucose is absorbed into the muscles, insulin will drop and ketosis should resume. If you’re worried about this, or having problems with this, you can do some low intensity cardio to help lower insulin and increase the free fatty acids in your blood.
Post-workout carbohydrates will be more noticeable as insulin levels will be more elevated. It’s strongly recommended that you experiment first with only pre-workout carbs – adding post-workout carbs if they are truly necessary.
Should I Use a TKD?
If you’ve been into sports or lifting for more than 3-4 months, then you might want to try a TKD. Here is the middle ground – you transiently drop out of ketosis by consuming carbs around your workout times; but, you should go back into a ketogenic state after finishing.
The goal is to get JUST enough carbs to provide glycogen for the workout, where you can build lean muscle while keeping body fat down. That being said, you should be aware that muscle growth is much slower in TKD than it is CKD.
How Do I Start a TKD?
- If you’re on a SKD and want to perform high intensity activity, you will have to consume carbs at some point around your exercise. The way you calculate your macros will be exactly the same, except you must take into account the extra calories you’ll get from eating carbs – adjust your fats as needed.
- The best time to consume carbs is 30-60 minutes prior to your workout, where you will eat around 25-50g of carbohydrates. It’s suggested that you ingest quickly absorbing, high GI carbohydrates – best in liquid form or through simple carbohydrates.
- If you have to ingest more than 50g of carbs around your training, try to split it up – eat half of those carbs 30 minutes before the workout and half right before you start.
- If you are consuming post-workout carbs, 25-50g is the limit. Added protein can help muscle recovery. Stick to glucose, as fructose can refill liver glycogen and interrupt ketosis. Fats should be avoided at this time, as they slow the digestion process and could lead to fat storage if your insulin levels are high.
- If you are NOT consuming post-workout carbs, protein is recommended to aid recovery – as blood glucose and insulin should be elevated.