Exercise & Keto: Working together for a healthier you

The Keto Diet – it’s all the craze right now and there are a lot of people who are enjoying the physical benefits that accompany a change of diet; benefits that can be seen through a loss of weight, but also an increase in energy.  

Going keto basically means giving up most of your carbs – something that is the body’s primary source of fuel – so how does exercise fit in to this equation?  When you are avoiding eating your body’s primary source of fuel, it’s important to change your exercise routine so that you are benefitting from it as much as possible and using your body’s energy properly so that you will not only lose weight, but also build muscle and keep your heart healthy at the same time. 

In addition to utilizing a diet that works for you, exercise has equal benefits for your health. It’s good for the heart, builds muscle to keep you lean and toned, and strengthens your bones. It’s important to remember that every person’s nutritional needs will vary depending on the type of exercise that he or she is performing. Whatever fitness routine you are focused on, there’s definitely a method to the madness of exercising while eating (or not eating) the foods that are noted in a ketogenic diet. However, here’s one great trick to getting the most out of your keto diet AND your fitness routine. 

If you are working out more than three days a week like sprinting on the HSHS Cardio deck or weightlifting on the Atlantis weights in the MetroRecPlex weight room, you’ll need to adjust your keto diet to fit your carb needs based on your amount of exercise. Simply sticking to the standard ketogenic diet likely won’t provide you with enough energy in this case.

It’s a good idea for this person to eat 15-30 grams of fast-acting carbs, such as fruit, within 30 minutes before your workout and within 30 minutes after. This will allow you to make sure that you provide your muscles with the proper amount of glycogen to perform during the training but still recover afterwards. This allows the carbs to be used exactly for the purpose of exercise and will prevent any risk of leaving ketosis, should you have reached that point already. 

It might seem like the keto diet is a deterrent to long-term exercise, but it actually has shown to provide noteworthy benefits. In one recent study, during a three-hour-long run, 2-3 times more fat was burned by those who ate low-carb for an average of 20 months versus those following a high-carb diet. In the same study, the low-carb group used and replenished the same amount of muscle glycogen as the high-carb group. Being in on the keto diet might also help prevent fatigue during longer periods of cardio. Plus, this diet has been shown to help with blood glucose maintenance during exercise in obese individuals. 

Overall, the keto diet can help low-carb dieters perform better in all forms of exercise with less carbs over time.