Exercise on Keto: Everything you Need to Know

  • Date: August 30, 2021
  • Time to read: 8 min.

There are many benefits to exercise when following a ketogenic diet. The importance of exercise cannot be overstated as it not only provides a great avenue for potential weight loss but also has the potential to improve mental health. Some people are afraid that they will not have enough energy to work out whilst eating such a low-carb diet, but never fear, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about exercise whilst eating a keto diet!

Can I exercise whilst on the Keto Diet?

A ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, is a low carbohydrate, high-fat diet. It causes the body to switch from using sugar for fuel, to using fat.

Keto dieting has been shown to help with; obesity, diabetes, epilepsy, and some cases of heart disease. Whether you’re a runner, cyclist, or walker, you may be wondering what effect keto dieting will have on your physical performance.

It is not uncommon to hear people say, “I can’t do keto and exercise at the same time.” But this statement is misleading.

Doing exercise on keto is not only possible but is actually recommended.

That is because exercise helps to;

  • reduce cravings
  • improve muscle tone
  • increase the weight loss
  • improve mood

So, as you can see, it’s not only possible to do exercise on keto, but it’s actually recommended for both physical and mental health.

What are the benefits of exercise on a keto diet?

Exercise is a great way to increase weight loss because it burns calories. A decrease in calories can lead to weight loss.

In addition to the benefits outlined above, some additional benefits of exercise on the keto diet are that it can promote weight loss, improves muscle mass, and improves cognitive function.

These combined, will not only make your body feel and look better, the mental health benefits are numerous. When you can feel your body is improving, be it in size or tone, it will keep you motivated on keto and with the exercise.

Should exercise before I’m fat-adapted on keto?

So, you’ve been on a ketogenic diet for a while, and you’re ready to start working out. But should you exercise before you’ve become fat-adapted? How much time should you wait?

The answers to all of these questions depend on your goals, and your own personal preference, but there are a few things to consider which we shall go through here.

Before you are fat-adapted, you may still be feeling some of the side effects of transitioning onto a keto lifestyle. Some days, you may feel fantastic, as if you can take on the world.

Other days, not only are you super tired, but you feel dizzy and lightheaded. This is all due to your body transitioning from burning sugar to fat as its source of energy.

Listen to your body ?

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this. You will need to listen to your own body.

If you have previously been a keen exerciser and used to regular exercise, you will probably be fine doing all of the activities that you did before, just work at 70% exertion of what you would have previously. Depending on the types of exercise or physical activity you are used to doing will depend on how you need to adapt.

For example, if you are a runner, run a little slower, if you run to music, purposely chose a running mix with lover beats per minute to slow you down. 

Likewise, if you are doing cardio workouts/ aerobic exercises, you may have to purposely slow yourself down or moderate how intensely you are performing the exercise at first until your body is in its fat-burning mode fully and then you will be ready and raring to go.

If you are used to doing HIT (high-intensity training / high-intensity workouts) like cross fit, you may want to try some moderate-intensity exercise like a brisk walk on the treadmill, or a spin class where you keep the resistance on the bike low.

If you are used to strength training, either by using body weight or lifting weights, adapt your workout routine and swap out the heavy weights for lighter ones (by around a 1/3 initially). 

If you are used to doing yoga or something alike, be mindful that you may feel lightheaded if you are doing downward facing dog, etc.

Please don’t worry, you will soon be back to your old performance, and from my experience, you will have so much energy on keto that you will soon outperform what you were doing previously.

Do I have to exercise in order to lose weight on keto?

The standard ketogenic diet is built on the concept that fat is an important body fuel—especially when you’re trying to lose weight. But what happens if you don’t exercise? Does it matter? Will ketosis still work for you? The answer is yes!

You DO NOT need to exercise on a keto diet in order to lose weight. However, exercising will speed up weight loss as well as there are a number of health benefits to exercise, even on a keto diet.

As with all things in life, moderation is key to success, and this goes for exercise as well. Exercising too much can actually hurt your health. Exercise also releases endorphins that make you feel good, which will improve your mood, as we have discussed above.

This feeling, combined with all of the ‘feel good’ benefits of keto will make you feel like you are on cloud nine.

If you have not exercised before, some gentle low-intensity exercise,  combined with the benefits of keto will make you feel amazing. This feeling is more likely to keep you going on a keto lifestyle.

What is the best exercise on keto?

Exercise for Keto Beginners

For someone just beginning to exercise, it can be hard to know where to start.

You may feel overwhelmed by all the choices available. If you want to lose weight, then exercise combined with the keto diet will certainly help speed up your weight/inch loss.

Exercise helps to increase your energy levels and provides a more even blood sugar level, which both help to control your weight.

Is walking good exercise for beginners on keto?

Walking is a great way to get exercise!

You can walk for five minutes every hour you’re awake. You could also walk for 30 minutes at some point during the day. If you are looking for a keto exercise plan, try a 30-minute walk each day, whichever suits your lifestyle.

Start slowly by increasing the distance and/ or speed each week. You will soon start to see your body composition start to change, you will notice that you are more toned than previously.

If you are new to exercise, walking really is the best place to start. If you are not confident enough to go out and start walking around your neighborhood, there are a number of ‘walking at home‘ videos on YouTube.

This one is great for beginners, or if you want something with a bit more pazzas, check out this walking workout.

You will soon see your fitness level improve.

Most effective exercise on a keto diet?

To burn fat effectively the best type of exercise for keto is a high-intensity, short-duration workout. Doing intense exercise will soon reduce body fat and build lean body mass.

When on keto your body turns to fat for energy instead of carbs so you need to use your fat for fuel which you can do by exercising.

The low glycogen levels and elevated levels of adrenaline from the high-intensity workout will help make the workout more intense.

Can I run long distances on a keto diet?

One of the most common keto-related questions I get asked is whether or not you can run long distances on a keto diet.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to be able to run with the keto diet for a fair bit and I’m happy to report that yes, you can.

There are a few minor considerations when running on a keto diet.

Running on keto may increase the risk of dehydration. Since most ketogenic athletes would be exercising during the day, they need to be sure to stay hydrated.

Hydration is important on any diet, not just keto.

Can I do a High-Intensity Workout (HITT) workout on a keto diet? ?‍♀️

If you are into your HITT workouts like Body Attack or similar, you will be pleased to know high-intensity workouts can be done on a keto diet. You can still do high-intensity workouts whilst eating a low-carb keto diet.

If you did high-intensity activities prior to transitioning into a low-carb or keto lifestyle, you will be able to continue with this type of exercise.

As I have discussed above, you may want to slightly reduce the intensity with which you do your HITT as you may not have as much energy as you normally have until you are fat-adapted.

Once you are fat-adapted, you will soon be back to your previous exercise performance levels and beyond.

Can I lift weights on a keto diet? ?️‍♀️

Can I lift weights on a Keto Diet? This is another very common question we get asked a lot. Lifting weights is an important part of staying in shape and getting fit.

Thankfully, it is possible to lift weights on a keto diet. As with cardio exercise, as discussed above, be prepared to lift a little less, or do fewer reps until you have become fat adapted.

Due to an injury, I had a period off lifting weights when I first started eating keto.

When I went back to weight training, I was anticipating being able to lift a lot less than previous. In reality, I was able to match what I was lifting previously, and my performance soon improved rapidly.

Keto + Exercise = Winning Combo ?

What is the best time to exercise on a Keto diet?

There are many opinions on when to exercise. Some experts say that there really isn’t a best time to exercise, others claim that the morning is the best time. I am not an expert, but for me, this is a very individual thing.

There is no ‘best time to exercise on keto, exercise regularly, when it fits into your routine. Personally, I like to exercise first thing in the morning. There are two reasons for this;

1. It sets me up well for the day. I feel better physically and mentally.

2. If life throws you a curve ball and you don’t get the opportunity to exercise later in the day, you don’t feel guilty for not exercising.

How often should I exercise on Keto?

Many people who are keto-dieting, go through a transition period of three weeks where they barely work out because their body is going through some physical and hormonal changes.

After a few weeks, keto-dieters usually find themselves wanting to exercise more often and at least twice a week.

Eating a keto lifestyle does not alter how often you should work out. If you exercised previously, continue with your previous exercise schedule.

If you are new to exercise, set yourself some realistic targets, say, working out 2-3 times a week and building up from here in terms of frequency and intensity.

In Summary: Yes you can exercise on the Keto Diet

Whether you are a seasoned exerciser or new to exercise you will have the energy to exercise on a keto diet. You may have to adapt the intensity of your workouts initially, but you’ll soon be exercising like a pro!

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