Do you need to workout while on a keto diet? If you’re following a ketogenic – or ‘keto’ – diet, you are most likely aiming to reap some of the promised health rewards such as steady energy throughout the day, more even blood sugar levels, and weight loss.
When your body is in ketosis, this means you’re burning fat as your primary source of fuel instead of using carbohydrates.But do you want to work out while on a keto diet? Should you, even?
Some say that a keto diet can enhance endurance, while others say that it drains your energy while exercising and can make it more challenging to build muscle.
Here’s what you need to be aware of before deciding if you should be exercising while on a keto diet.
7 things to know about working out on keto
1. Take it easy at first
When you first change your diet to keto, you may not feel like exercising because you might feel a bit foggy mentally. Some people also experience what’s known as the ‘keto flu,‘ with stomach upsets and low energy.
There’s a reason for this: your brain is used to using carbohydrates as its primary source of energy. When you start eating way fewer carbs and more fats, your brain will switch over to getting energy from fat, but this will take time. In most cases, any symptoms tend to go away after a few days.
In the meantime, you can still workout if you want to, as long as you avoid anything where you might require split-second reactions, such as cycling on the road or doing challenging endurance hikes.
Floor exercises can be a good idea – you can add resistance bands, such as Victorem booty bands, if you want to build strength gently. When we were locked down due to coronavirus, I started using all sorts of home workout gear like bands and simple dumbbells. That’s all that was required for the photo above 🙂 Ok, I lied. I did some running too.
2. Stick to your current workout routine
Your first few weeks of a keto diet are not the right time to try new exercise routines, mainly because you are likely not to feel so great. The other reason is that you will want to know how your new diet is working, and if you change your exercise routine at the same time, you won’t know which change is bringing your results. I’m all about tracking variables so only change one thing at a time and track how you feel.
3. Eat enough food if you’re working out
Make sure that you provide your body with enough fuel while on keto. This is even more important if you are working out. Some people think that by eating fewer calories than recommended, they’ll lose weight faster, but this is not the case. Sometimes it is (put down the KitKat bar sir) but not always.
Because the keto diet can have an appetite-suppressing effect, you may find yourself eating fewer calories than you need. If you don’t eat enough calories while working out, this can negatively impact your performance and your results.
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4. Know what kind of exercise works best on keto
Some types of exercise are actually less efficient on a keto diet. Types of activity where you need bursts of energy such as HIIT, weightlifting, spinning, or sprinting will be less efficient on a keto diet. This is because your body is used to burning carbs for fuel rather than fat, and the fat-for-fuel process just isn’t as efficient. Your results in these types of exercises will not be as good as if you are eating carbs.
For other types of low-intensity exercise, however, a keto diet is fine. Types of exercise that require more sustained efforts such as distance running or steady cycling are acceptable. Your performance won’t be enhanced on a keto diet, but it won’t be worse, either.
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5. A keto diet won’t increase your muscle mass
Do you have to workout while on a keto diet to build muscle? If you aim to keep the muscle mass you already have, a keto diet can work for you. If, however, you want to increase muscle mass, a keto diet won’t do the job because you’re eating fewer calories and less protein. Your body also stores extra carbohydrates – not fat – as part of the muscle-building process.
6. Give your body the fat it needs while eating low carb
Working out while on a keto diet means that your body will need the right amounts of fat to burn as fuel. If you aren’t eating enough fat, you’ll be extremely hungry, and you can actually lose muscle mass. You will also feel tired and will miss out on going into ketosis, which is what you are after in the first place. Losing muscle mass is why some people think that the keto diet and exercise don’t go together, whereas it’s more about giving your body the food it needs to be still able to work out.
Your calories on a keto diet kitchen should should have healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, fish, and meat.
7. Track your progress
It’s always good to track your progress. This is true of your diet and foods, your weight and your workouts. Simply grab a notebook and write down notes each day. Record your weight, and idea of what you ate for the day and notes about your workout for the day. The information you will record will be invaluable in pinpointing what works and what doesn’t.
Closing thoughts on Keto & Weight Loss
Now you know the best ways to have exercise work with a keto diet. Do you have to workout on a keto diet to lose weight? No, but it will be a big help! Want to know how to get enough exercise? We cover my 19 min workout plan to make sure you get the required amount of exercise per day. If you’re exercising and NOT losing weight, stop doing these 13 things.
Need some help?
I’ve got YEARS of experience with the keto diet and working out. I’m happy to help guide you through!
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