Exercise And The Keto Diet: How To Fuel Your Workouts

If you’re determined to lose weight and be healthy, an exercise routine is an integral part of your weight-loss plan. Exercise has so many benefits; from losing excess weight and building strength, to better mental health. Weight loss can only happen when the amount of energy your body consumes is less than the amount of energy it uses, so exercise goes a long way to balancing this in your favour.

Being active is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and can perfectly complement a Ketogenic diet. Your exercise routine will need to be well planned alongside the Keto diet, to allow maximum performance and results. Workouts in combination with a Keto diet can vastly improve your weight loss and help you achieve your goals faster.

The Keto diet changes the way your body fuels activities; it’s crucial you understand how this works and how it impacts your workouts to make sure you get the most out of your exercise routine. If you want to maximise your performance, weight loss and health benefits, read on to learn the best ways to exercise to complement your Keto diet.

The Science Behind Your Exercise Routine

Your body needs different types of nutrition depending upon the type of exercise you take part in:

Anaerobic exercise is characterised by the need for quick and immediate energy, and is fuelled by the breakdown of glucose without oxygen. Carbohydrates are usually the main source of energy for anaerobic exercise because carbs (processed and stored as glycogen in muscles), can be quickly converted into glucose for quick-burst, high-intensity workouts. Examples of high-intensity workouts include Crossfit training or High-Intensity-Interval Training (HIIT).  

Aerobic exercise tends to be lower-intensity but higher duration (more than 30 minutes), and uses fat for energy rather than glucose.  This is the slow-burn exercise that requires a steady and consistent release of fuel to maintain endurance.  Types of aerobic exercise include swimming, cycling, walking and rowing.  A great workout option for those aiming to lose weight and a fantastic choice for those following a Keto diet.

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How Does Keto Affect Exercise?

When you begin a low-carb, high-fat Keto diet, your body moves away from burning glucose for fuel to burning fat. This will impact the way your body powers through a workout. 

A Keto diet drastically reduces the glycogen stores in your body, meaning that very few are available as energy to power immediate and intense workouts. Any kind of anaerobic exercise will prove to be exhausting and extremely challenging on the Keto diet, if you don’t know how to optimise the Keto diet for your exercise plan.

If you enjoy aerobic exercise such as swimming, walking and rowing, this is great news.  You can continue to enjoy your workouts alongside your Keto lifestyle; the combination will greatly improve your health and quickly deliver fantastic weight loss results.

If you prefer high-intensity training such as sprinting or weight-lifting you may find the standard Keto diet doesn't suit your exercise preferences.  This doesn’t mean you can no longer enjoy your favourite workouts, but it does mean you have to adjust your Keto lifestyle to suit your exercise routine.

How To Adapt Keto For High-Intensity Workouts

On the Ketogenic diet you will eat little to no carbs, but moderate protein and high amounts of fat. This means your body will burn fat for fuel instead of glucose; brilliant for low-intensity, high-duration exercise and losing weight quickly.

But what if you like to include some high-intensity workouts into your exercise routine too? Maybe quick, powerful workouts are your go to training sessions. Do you have to give up high-intensity workouts on Keto? Thankfully, no. But you will need to adapt your Keto diet to suit your high-intensity workouts.

The Targeted Ketogenic Diet

The targeted Ketogenic diet specifically outlines when you should eat your carb allowance. Instead of eating your carbs minimally throughout a day as with the standard Keto diet, you will eat your carbs within a small window of time to fuel your high-intensity workout.

Eating your carb allowance within 30 minutes either side of your exercise, provides your body with the right amount of glycogen it needs to perform during and after your high-intensity workout. This time frame for eating your carbs means the carbs are specifically used to fuel your quick-burst exercise. For example, you might choose to eat your fruit allowance for the day within 30 minutes of your workout.

The benefits of the targeted Keto diet are that you remain within your Keto macro allowance so you’re not kicked out of ketosis, yet have the right energy source for your preferred workout - so you can train hard too.

The Importance Of Macros For Keto And Exercise

If you’re new to Keto and not yet fully aware of macros and their relevance to your Keto lifestyle, check out What Are Macros And How Do I Calculate Them?

In short, calculating your macros is the best and most reliable way to find out your personal macronutrient needs. You will learn exactly how many carbs, protein and fat you ought to be consuming each day - to the gram. Rather than working with a general percentage which can leave room for error, especially if your activity levels increase.

Working out your specific macros will take into consideration your size, activity level and weight loss goals, to make sure you’re eating the right amount for you and your desired outcome.

If you’re training several times a week, your macros allowance will differ to those only exercising once or twice a week. You will need to be eating enough fat to fuel your workouts, and the right amount of carbs for you to stay in ketosis but not become exhausted when exercising.

Armed with this info you can continue to train hard and fast if you like, with high-intensity workouts, by being clever with your carbs. By choosing to eat your unique carb allowance within a 30 minute window of your training session, you can fuel your anaerobic exercise without waning or stepping out of Ketosis.

Essentially, calculating your macros is vital to let you know exactly how much fat, protein and carbs you need for your body and personal exercise routine. Once you’ve discovered your macros allowance, you can eat exactly the right amount to keep you in ketosis, lose weight, and energised for your workouts.

Make Keto Work For Your Workouts

In summary, exercise is a crucial part of being healthy and hugely contributes to weight loss results. However, eating a Keto diet changes the way your body converts energy, and this affects how you feel and perform during workouts.

On Keto your body is better suited to low-intensity, high-duration exercise such as walking and cycling because fat fuels this style of aerobic exercise. The high-fat Keto diet is perfectly suited to low-intensity endurance workouts, and combining the two can see weight loss targets smashed in very little time.  

If you prefer high-intensity workouts such as running or weight-training, going Keto may cause you to feel fatigued during your regular exercise routine, since anaerobic exercise needs quick-release fuel in the form of  glucose to power you through.

Going Keto doesn't need to mean the end of your high-intensity workouts though. Calculating your macros, and being clever with your carbs, can keep you energised through your toughest training sessions - all while you remain in Ketosis and lose weight fast.

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