When we go “Keto” we exponentially decrease our carb intake, and since our primary source of fuel for the body is carbs, one may wonder “What are my options when it comes to exercise while trying to maintain ketosis?” Well, there is some great news, exercise is totally possible while on the Ketogenic diet and it also has some great health and energy benefits as well. So while you are debating all of the misconceptions surrounding a low-carb diet and working out, there are some great benefits to remember.
First and Foremost
Our traditional views and ideals of traditional weightloss are- to simply eat less and exercise longer, often adding long groups of cardio exercise–this way of thinking is outdated and very unsustainable. What we eat really matters when you are looking to see real results when it comes to losing weight and achieving a leaner body. So you may ask “Where do I start?” A great place to start is to check out where you meat, dairy and seafood are sourced. By paying attention to the quality of your ketogenic diet itself and by cultivating a steady state of ketosis, you have already achieved the most important first step towards healthy keto weight loss. It is also very important to see if you are in a metabolic state of ketosis, so I suggest testing your ketone levels. You can purchase testing strips on line, I suggest these from Amazon Keto Strips
As we all know exercise has awesome benefits for your heart, building muscle to keep your body lean and tones and it helps to strengthen your bones. Thankfully, while you are maintaining a Keto diet, exercise can fit into your daily routine. You just need to keep some simple considerations in mind:
Types of Exercise
Nutritional needs will vary based on the exercise performed. There are typically four types of workout styles; aerobic, anaerobic, flexibility and stability.
Aerobic exercise: This type of exercise is also referred to as cardio exercise and usually lasts over three minutes. These types of exercises are lower intensity, keep you in a steady state of cardio which is a fat burning state. This type of exercise is very friendly for the person on a keto diet.
Anaerobic exercise: This type of exercise uses shorter bursts of energy in the form of weight training or high intensity interval training. For this type of exercise carbohydrates are the primary fuel source, and fat by itself can’t provide enough energy to sustain this type of workout.
Flexibility exercises: These exercises are great for stretching your muscles, supporting joints and improving range of motion. By increasing your flexibility injuries are prevented. An excellent example of this is Yoga and simple after workout stretches.
Stability exercises: These exercises include balance exercises and core training. By doing these exercises you develop your strength muscles, alignment, and have better control of movement.
When you’re in ketosis, the workout intensity matters as well:
During low-intensity aerobic exercise, the body uses fat as its primary energy source.
During high-intensity aerobic exercise, carbohydrates are normally the main energy source.
When you’re in ketosis, you’re using fat as your primary energy source. This can make high-intensity exercise, namely anaerobic exercises, more difficult at the beginning of the diet. But there’s a solution:
If you do exercise that is more intense, such as working out more than three days a week and at high intensity, like sprinting or weightlifting, you’ll need to adjust your keto diet to fit your carb needs for your amount of exercise. Simply sticking to the standard ketogenic diet likely won’t be enough in this case.
A good rule of thumb is to eat 15-30 grams of fast-acting carbs, such as fruit, within 30 minutes before your workout and within 30 minutes after. This will ensure you provide your muscles with the proper amount of glycogen to perform during the training and also recover. It allows the carbs to be used exactly for this purpose and prevent any risk of leaving ketosis.
Types of Ketogenic Diets
The difference between each ketogenic diet type depends on carbohydrate intake.
Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): 20-50 grams of net carbs per day
Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): 20-50 grams or less of net carbs taken 30 minutes to 1 hour before exercise, best for athletes with high-intensity activities
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): Eating low-carb keto for several days, then eating higher-carb for a couple of days
Other than this change, you can continue with the standard keto diet ratios during the rest of the day, and a normal keto diet should be fine for low or moderate aerobic, flexibility, and stability exercises.
Health Benefits of Exercise in Ketosis
It might seem like ketosis is a hindrance to long-term exercise, but it actually has shown to provide significant benefits:
In one recent study, during a three-hour-long run, 2-3 times more fat burn was seen in ultra-endurance athletes who ate low-carb for an average of 20 months versus those following a high-carb diet.
In the same study, the low-carb group used and replenished the same amount of muscle glycogen as the high-carb group.
Being in ketosis might also help prevent fatigue during longer periods of aerobic exercise.
Plus, ketosis has been shown to help with blood glucose maintenance during exercise in obese individuals.
As mentioned above, the power of keto-adaptation helps low-carb dieters perform better in all forms of exercise with less carbs over time.
Historical Evidence for Ketosis Benefiting Exercise Performance
Besides what we know today, we also have records showing the power of ketosis for movement and peak physical performance.
For example, demographic verification of European cultures from the past has shown us people were living as mostly hunters, meaning they had very little dietary intake of carbs and were still functioning without any physical hindrances.
Before the diets of the Inuit people were altered more, their traditional diet was virtually devoid of carbs with a heavy emphasis on animal foods and no known problems. They also were hunters, meaning prolonged steady movement was required for survival.
Although ketosis might get a bad rep in terms of exercise due to popular carb-heavy philosophies, the truth is the diet has a healthy place within a regular low or moderate exercise routine and can easily be adapted to fit the lifestyles of those who are more active. It just takes a little tweaking to find what works best for you.