Whether you do it alone, join a class at the local gym, or work with a personal trainer, exercise is critical to a well-functioning and healthy body. It also helps speed up weight loss and keep it off.
But what about keto and exercise? Since both keto and exercise are great ways to burn fat and accelerate your metabolism, then together they can become a powerful fat-busting regime that gets results.
However, you may want to start slowly to counteract the changes already happening in your body as you move into ketosis.
What Happens When You Eat Keto and Exercise?
The science behind the keto diet is based on achieving and maintaining a state of “ketosis” where your body is deprived of carbs (its favored source of energy) and instead burns fat or ketones for fuel.
Your body enters this place called ketosis when you are eating 50 carbs or fewer per day and getting the rest of your diet from high fat mixed with some protein foods.
By drastically lowering your carb intake and consuming fat instead, your body naturally transitions into a metabolic state of ketosis.
This can take anywhere from two to four days and for some people even a week or longer.
Now you want to add exercise as a way to jumpstart and accelerate your weight loss but be gentle with yourself and don’t overdo it.
How You’re Going to Feel with Keto and Exercise
One of the main benefits of the keto diet is weight loss, but it also curbs your appetite leaving you less hungry so there’s less chance of overeating or excessive snacking between meals.
When you add physical activity into the mix, you want to come up with a good keto and exercise plan.
Since carbs are the main source of energy for high-intensity workouts, a low-carb ketogenic diet may leave you feeling lackluster in the first several weeks. That’s just your body adapting to this new source of energy.
Those that are new to keto, typically experience a drop in strength or performance and experience some initial side effects like what’s commonly referred to as the “keto flu” which includes fatigue, irritability, and sometimes nausea or insomnia.
While this is only temporary and will correct itself naturally, it happens because you and your body are adjusting to relying on ketones for energy. Take it easy while your body settles in before resuming intense workouts.
Types of Exercise
Exercise can be split into four basic groups:
- Flexibility Exercises — Yoga and stretching to increase your range of motion and support your soft tissues
- Stability Exercises — Core training and Tai Chi to improve balance and control while supporting alignment
- Cardio or Aerobic Exercise — Cardio (long duration with low intensity) for fat burning
- Anaerobic Exercise — Weightlifting and circuit training (more intense for shorter periods) for carb-burning
So, What’s the Best Keto and Exercise Plan?
The best keto and exercise plan will be something that combines stretching, flexibility, and balance control with low-intensity/steady-state (LISS) exercise.
Most people find that this works better than weightlifting or circuit training which requires high energy for short, intense bursts of activity.
This means focusing on jogging, swimming, hiking, rowing, biking, and fast walking, as well as ellipticals, treadmills and stair-step machines if you’re in the gym or want low-impact options.
What are Some Benefits & Drawbacks of this Type of Exercise Plan?
By incorporating a LISS exercise plan with your keto diet, you may experience some or all of these benefits in addition to weight loss (and whether you’re a beginner or seasoned pro):
- Speedy muscle recovery — LISS exercise is much easier to recover from than high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and especially when aided by a keto eating plan that is higher in protein and healthy fats.
- Boosts fat burning — A keto diet is shown to increase your metabolism and, when you add this type of exercise, your fat-burning capabilities expand even further.
- Enhances endurance — Increases cardio and blood flow over longer periods of time which improves endurance.
- Promotes stress relief — By bringing down cortisol levels through LISS, you are more relaxed and focused.
On the downside, at least at first, you may experience reduced energy levels and slower performance. Also, the keto diet restricts your carb intake which can limit muscle growth.
How? While the keto diet and exercise is great at helping you maintain muscle, it reduces the release of insulin that helps to send nutrients to muscle cells that promote muscle growth.
What to Eat Before a Workout on the Keto Diet?
It’s important to be well-hydrated and full of energy before you start your workout. But how is that different on the keto diet?
Partly, it’s timing! Try to eat between 30 minutes and one hour before your workout to be at your maximum efficiency.
Pre-workout eat plenty of protein and include lots of healthy fats. Options might include hard-boiled eggs, keto fat bombs (made with nut butter, coconut oil or MCT oil, and monk fruit sweetener), or fat-enriched protein shakes.
This loads you up on fuel for the workout and will help you recover even faster.
Can Exercise Kick You Out of Ketosis?
No, this myth was probably started by someone measuring their ketones after a workout.
With low carb intake, your body is burning ketones during your workout, and they tend to be naturally low following exercise.
It would be better to give your body a few hours to recover and some nutrition (preferably fat-rich, like nuts) before measuring again. All things being equal, your measurement should come out just fine.
Helpful Tips for Pre- and Post-Workout on the Keto Diet
Just like any exercise program, you want to succeed with your stated objective. So here are a couple of tips to help you accelerate your keto diet and exercise program:
- Track your intake of carbs — this tip is really for any time, but before and after exercise people tend to load up on calories. Just make sure they are the right mix of fats, proteins, and carbs.
- Drink more water than you think you need — with fewer carbs, you are storing less water and sodium in your body. Post-exercise your body will need water and lots of it. Your body may also need some electrolyte supplementation. While you can try keto-friendly sugar-free sports drinks, we recommend you try this keto electrolyte supplement drink recipe:
- ½ teaspoon of Kosher salt (Diamond Brand) or Pink Himalayan salt
- ½ teaspoon of monk fruit or 1 squirt of stevia liquid
- 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup of water
- Beware of hidden carbs — especially protein powders, protein bars, supplements (anything chewable, flavored, or coated), and sports beverages.
- Test your ketone levels regularly — people try to guess or think they can gauge it from memory or past experience. Trust us, it’s better to be accurate and sure. Why put that much energy, hope, and commitment into something and not reach ketosis because you were constantly sabotaging yourself and didn’t even know it?
- Get plenty of sleep — your body needs to rest to recover from exercise. Try to get seven to eight hours of restful sleep each night.
Additional Health Benefits of the Keto Diet and Exercise
Originally formulated (in its present iteration) to support children with epilepsy in the 1920s, doctors are finding a low-carb, high-fat/protein diet helps control blood sugar levels and may reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as Type II Diabetes, MS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and some cancers.
To Sum Up
A keto diet and exercise plan work in perfect harmony. Just remember to be kind in the beginning as your body is getting acclimated to a whole new energy source.
It may leave you with low energy and without the gumption to get out there and active.
That’s ok. Your energy levels will rise, and you will have more “get up and go” than before once your body is accustomed to burning ketones instead of glucose.
Just start out slow and add activities as your body is able to absorb them. Before you know it, you’ll have plenty of energy and can tackle the exercise needed to jump-start your weight loss.
Choose the right forms of LISS exercise, stretch, be consistent, and remember to drink plenty of water. Here’s to your health!
Check out our low-carb keto-friendly pantry essentials at NuTrail.com.