The Targeted Keto Diet vs. Other Keto Diets: How Does It Measure Up?

Steph Lodge is a writer, competitive weightlifter and nutritional consultant.

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This might come as a surprise, but there isn’t just one type of keto diet.

There are four common approaches to the ketogenic diet:

  • Standard
  • Targeted
  • Cyclical
  • High-protein

Each one can help you lose weight, burn fat, and balance blood sugar levels, but they all differ in its specific objectives and benefits.

Below, you’ll learn about the targeted keto diet (TKD), an approach where you eat carbohydrates around the time of your workouts for better performance. The TKD is meant for endurance athletes, weekend warriors, or those who work out for extended periods of time.

Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll find in this guide:

The Four Keto Diet Types

Before you dive into the specifics of the TKD, it’s important to know the basics of all four approaches to the keto diet. This way, you can make an educated decision on which approach aligns with your lifestyle and goals.

The four keto diet types are:

The Targeted Keto Diet vs. Other Keto Diets: How Does It Measure Up? - Keto diet types

#1: The Standard Ketogenic Diet

The Targeted Keto Diet vs. Other Keto Diets: Standard Ketogenic Diet

The standard ketogenic diet is the most common version of the ketogenic diet. It’s best for beginners, anyone who wants to lose body fat, or those with insulin resistance. When you read articles on keto, they are usually referring to the SKD.

On the SKD, your macros would look something like this:

      • Adequate protein intake (0.8 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass)
      • Consumption of 20–50 grams of net carbs per day, or less than 5% of total calories
      • High fat intake, or roughly 70–75% of total calories

#2: The High Protein Ketogenic Diet

The Targeted Keto Diet vs. Other Keto Diets: High-Protein Ketogenic Diet

The high protein ketogenic diet is similar to SKD, but with additional protein. The goal is to consume extra protein to build muscle. On the high protein keto diet, your macros will follow these guidelines:

      • 60% of calories come from fat
      • 35% of calories come from protein
      • 5% of calories come from carbohydrates

This is a popular method amongst bodybuilders, weightlifters, or those who need more protein in their diet.

Is Too Much Protein Bad on the Keto Diet?

There is a misconception about the keto diet that eating too much protein can put you out of ketosis because of gluconeogenesis (GNG).

That’s just a myth. Gluconeogenesis (making glucose from non-carbs) doesn’t work at the same rate as carbohydrate metabolism (making glucose from carbs). GNG is an extremely stable process.

When you eat chocolate cake, your blood glucose spikes in response to that sugar in a small window of time. When you eat extra protein, your blood glucose doesn’t spike the same way because GNG remains stable.

Protein will not turn into chocolate cake in your bloodstream.

#3: The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)

The Targeted Keto Diet vs. Other Keto Diets: Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

The cyclical ketogenic diet involves eating a low carbohydrate, keto diet for several days, followed by a day or two of eating a high carb diet.

On the CKD, you alternate between two phases: a standard ketogenic diet phase with a carb-loading phase. The high-carb phase can last anywhere from 24–48 hours. During the carb-loading phase, roughly 70% of your calories will come from carbohydrates. Over the course of one week, your diet will resemble this:

      • Standard ketogenic diet phase (five days):
        • 70–75% of calories from fat
        • 20–25% of calories from protein
        • 5% of calories from carbohydrates
      • Carb-loading phase (two days):
        • 70% of calories from carbohydrates
        • 20–25% of calories from protein
        • 5–10% of calories from fat

This type of ketogenic diet is best for bodybuilders and other athletes to help maximize fat loss while building lean mass.

#4: The Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)

The Targeted Keto Diet vs. Other Keto Diets: Targeted Ketogenic Diet

Now that you understand the other three approaches to the keto diet, it’s time to examine how the targeted ketogenic diet measures up.

The targeted ketogenic diet targets your carbohydrate consumption around your workouts.

This type of ketogenic diet is ideal for maintaining exercise performance, fueling your muscles with glycogen during exercise.

If you are looking to try TKD, aim to consume 25–50 grams of net carbs 30 minutes to an hour before exercise. This would make up your carb intake for the day.

The TKD is a hybrid between the standard ketogenic diet and the cyclical ketogenic diet. It allows you to train at higher intensities at the gym, but doesn’t force you out of ketosis for extended periods of time (as with the CKD).

What to Eat on the Targeted Ketogenic Diet

People experimenting with TKD typically eat 25–50 grams of carbohydrates half an hour before their workout. They consume easily-digestible, high glycemic carbohydrates which are easily absorbed.

“Absorbed where?” you ask. Excellent question. Dextrose, glucose, galactose, and fructose are all absorbed differently in your body:

      • Fructose and galactose should be avoided, as they go directly to your liver (not your muscles) to be converted into glucose, lactate, glycogen, and lipids[*]. High-fructose foods include fruit, fruit juice, and honey[*].
      • Dextrose and glucose are the best type to eat, as they go to your muscles to replenish glycogen stores[*][*]. You can also supplement your carbohydrate intake with protein.

You cannot generally supplement with fat, because it slows the digestion of carbohydrates. The one exception to this rule is medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), because it’s easily digested and can help boost ketone levels (whether eaten with carbs or not).

Consider supplementing with MCT oil or MCT powder before a training session.

The Advantage of the Targeted Ketogenic Diet

If you’re already doing a standard keto diet, is it worth switching?

The answer: it depends on your goals.

If you’re exercising at high intensities, the TKD can aid high-level performance. Giving your muscles the glucose they need right before a workout allows them to perform at high intensities for longer periods.

Worried about losing muscle on the keto diet? There are a few mechanisms you need to understand in order comprehend how to maintain muscle on keto.

During ketosis, your liver produces ketones in the absence of carbs. These ketones contain protein-sparing properties which prevent the breakdown of muscle. The main ketone, beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), has been shown to promote protein synthesis[*].

Protein synthesis is the process of rebuilding your muscles after they’ve been broken down through exercise. To aid protein synthesis, always consume a post-workout protein.

If you follow the macro guidelines outlined in the targeted keto diet — consume adequate amounts of protein — you should be able to maintain lean muscle mass. Research indicates that while the keto diet requires only 15–25% of your caloric intake be from protein, you can continue to build muscle in ketosis, even during a caloric deficit[*][*].

Is the Targeted Ketogenic Diet Right for You?

There’s no straightforward answer to which type of keto diet will give you the best results or quickest fat loss.

If you’re just starting out on keto, begin with the standard ketogenic diet. If you feel your athletic performance suffer, consider switching to the TKD and test your results.

Keep in mind, the goal is to consume enough carbohydrates prior to exercise to fuel your muscles with glycogen. After your body becomes fat-adapted, you may not need the extra boost of glycogen to fuel your workouts.

Some people follow the TKD for several weeks, then transition back to a more standard approach.

For the best results, closely monitor your gym performance, test your ketone levels, and pay close attention to your energy levels. Only then will you be able to see if the targeted ketogenic diet is right for you.

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Responses (8)

  1. Hello! first of all awesome information on your website and podcasts! I just bought some of your Exogenous Ketones.. looking to implement EK (exogenous ketones) into a current health plan I’m on called Optavia (formerly Medifast/TSFL).. Daily rules are
    Carbs: 80-100 grams (40%)
    Protein: 80-100 grams (40%)
    Fat: ~ 22 grams
    atleast 100 oz water daily..
    Meals are setup to eat 6 times a day (every 2-3 hours) with eating their provided foods which are balanced to have 90-110 calories and 25 grams protein.
    The science behind this is suppose to put you into nutritional ketosis. I just want to know how to further optimize this with EK’s if possible or are the Macro’s completely against body utilizing EK’s? I know “keto diet” is high fat/mod protein diet.. Thank you!!

  2. I am vegan.
    how can I get the protein/ carbs I need and maintain muscle? I am 66/ 194 pounds!
    I want to just maintain being strong and fit. I am on no medicine.

  3. Hi Veronica, you can consume plenty of fats if you stick to healthy oils, nuts/any kind of nut butter, avocados, seeds/any kind of seed butter, and coconut as your sources while making sure you get enough protein too.

  4. Hello, received my bundle and Keto bars, have not received the book , been looking for email, to see if it was sent separetley- can you please forward thank you! LOVE THE BARS!

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