A lot of people are curious about the keto diet. They hear that it helps you burn fat without those lengthy workouts. It doesn’t have calorie-restrictive meal plans that leave you in a constant state of starvation. It lets you spend less time thinking about food, and more time living the life you want to live.
But what about people who love to work out and be active? Don’t you feel tired when you cut carbs out of your diet? It’s hard to work out when you’re feeling low energy.
Fortunately, we’re here to separate the fact from the fiction. Let’s explore what you need to know to get the most out of your workouts on a ketogenic diet.
How Keto Diet Impacts Performance
There is absolutely no scientific reason that you cannot work out at the same performance level on keto vs a higher carb diet.
We understand the apprehension.
Most people know that simple carbs give us instant energy. Complex carbs give a more subtle but extended boost. And protein takes even longer to break down, complementing the carb with a more sustained energy.
All of that is true.
So many assume that if you reduce carbs significantly and cut back on protein, there’s nothing left. How can you work out if you’re not “fueling up”?
Here’s the secret. Your body doesn’t have to have carbs to get energy or feel like working out.
Our bodies are amazing! They can adapt to changing food access. This has been important throughout history when famine, extreme temperatures or war limited access to certain food groups. But you can use this knowledge to get results.
Your body will burn what it has ample access to as fuel.
Studies Show Ketosis Enhances Performance
Scientific studies have actually turned the myth that you can’t exercise on its head. One such study looked at the performance of off-road cyclists on various diets, including the keto diet. They found that those on the keto diet significantly outperformed in this grueling, high-endurance exercise.
They also found that people who had been on the keto diet longer outperformed those who were newer to the diet. This demonstrates the compounding effects for people who choose to make keto a lifestyle instead of a short-term fat-loss solution.
Keto and Carbs: “Frenemies”, not Enemies.
We know you’re not completely new to the ketogenic diet. When you choose this lifestyle, you are choosing to eat/drink almost no carbs.
But the human body needs some carbs, especially during certain activities. Without some carbs, certain activities would be impossible. It takes longer for your body to turn fat into usable energy so you’d become exhausted fast.
Unlike most diet fads, a keto plan recognizes that you’re a unique individual. If you’re not a complete couch potato, you can and should eat more carbs on the keto diet. The tricky part is knowing how much.
To avoid losing progress, you need to stay in ketosis.
Staying in Ketosis While Eating Carbs
If you’re well into the keto diet, you’ve worked so hard to achieve ketosis. That’s is when your body switches over to burning fat as its primary fuel source instead of the sugar in carbs. It usually takes over a week for someone new to the diet to get their body to switch over.
But even when you’re in ketosis, your body burns sugar first if it’s available. Call it laziness if you like. We just like to think of the body as highly efficient.
Since you eat fewer carbs, that supply won’t last long. Your body will turn back to burning fat. But it uses those quick carbs to rev up and start burning fat.
If you’ve ever built a campfire, think of carbs like the kindling. You need some highly flammable twigs (carbs) to allow the fire to get going.
Those ketones that you make in ketosis will help you power through once the flame’s hot.
But if you ate those extra carbs, then didn’t work out, you’d lose your ketosis state and be back at square one.
What About the People Who Say They’re Tired
If you’ve just started the keto lifestyle, your body will be confused. Its energy source has been suddenly removed. It doesn’t know what to do. People do feel tired and even irritable during this transition phase.
Once that person powers through until they reach ketosis, their energy levels return to normal.
If the tiredness passes, why do you hear people talking about it? Because 40% of people who start a new diet, end it in fewer than 7 days. That’s any diet, not just the keto diet.
It takes 3-7 days to reach ketosis. Most people just don’t make it the point where they’re getting the benefits of being in ketosis.
If you want to lose weight, you have to be committed to it.
What If You Feel Like You Need to Eat More
If you’re very active, then you will have a higher metabolism. You burn through carbs and fat faster than other people. An active person should be eating more to stay fueled. And yes, that includes extra carbs and protein on the keto diet.
But there is a flipside to this. A lot of people over-estimate how much extra they need to eat when they work out. They end up overdoing it. They stop losing weight.
You may think you can just listen to your stomach. But as a general rule, if you have any excess body fat at all, the appetite has been hijacked by hormones called “cortisol” and “peptide YY”.
People who have more body fat, produce more of them. They feel hungrier because of it. It takes longer for them to fill full.
But if you’re adhering closely to the keto diet, your appetite will be less than someone who isn’t in ketosis.
If you’re on the keto diet, it’s so important that you’re keeping close track of your physical activity and your macros. “Macros” stands for macro-nutrients. Those are nutrients that we measure in large quantities like fat, protein, and carbohydrates. That’s the opposite of micro-nutrients like B12 that we measure in very small daily recommendations.
Each macro should be increased based on how much you workout. It’s just about finding that perfect balance.
How to Accelerate Fat Loss on the Keto Diet
The keto diet will help you lose fat. As you do, you notice your BMI and weight go down as well.
Working out while on the keto diet will accelerate this fat loss process. You don’t have to work out to lose weight on the keto diet. But it definitely helps you see results faster so you’ll stick with it to get where you want to be quicker.
Working Out on the Keto Diet
If you want to work out or are already working out, the keto diet isn’t an excuse not to exercise. You’ll burn more fat and be healthier overall if you do work out.
If you’re worried about losing energy or performance when you cut those carbs, know that studies show that the opposite is true. And the longer you’re on the diet the better performance becomes.
But you do need to adjust your macros based on physical activity to maximize results.
We can help you get the best results with the keto diet. We’ll create a custom-designed meal plan that optimizes your macro intake based upon your unique metabolic needs.
To get started, check out our easy personalized macro calculator.