In the world of fitness, athletes are always trying to reach their maximum potential. With the help of coaches, personal trainers, and doctors, athletes are trying tons of new diets, exercise programs, and supplements to get an edge over the competition.
And one of these new diets has been taking the fitness world by storm: the ketogenic diet. Promising higher energy levels and easier weight loss, the keto diet has become increasingly popular over the years. But the keto diet is very different from other diets and can affect your exercise. You need to know how exercise and keto work together to get the most out of it.
In this article, we’ll cover the basics of ketogenesis and show you to exercise properly on the keto diet.
Ketogenesis: The Basics
As you probably already know, the keto diet works by intentionally sending the body into ketosis. Ketosis is when your body switches from using carbohydrates and glucose for energy and begins using fat for energy. The body releases ketones, a type of acid, from your liver into your bloodstream, which help burn the fat for energy.
This process usually happens during a survival situation when carbs are scarce and the body must use its fat reserves to survive. But athletes can intentionally trigger this process by limiting their carb intake. This allows athletes to exercise at a lower intensity for much longer than usual. It also makes it easier to lose fat since your body relies on it for energy.
Exercise and Keto
When you move your body, your muscles use ATP, which is synthesized from creatine phosphate stored in the cells. ATP is what powers the cells, which cause your body to move.
But when you engage in high-intensity exercise, your body switches from using ATP to glycogen. Glycogen is stored in the muscles and is more easily converted to energy the creatine phosphate. This usually happens after 10-30 seconds of all-out, high-intensity effort.
This is important because people on the keto diet will not have large stores of glycogen to burn. Glycogen is made from sugar, which is processed from carbs.
This means that people on the keto diet may experience a decrease in performance during sustained, high-intensity exercise. But for athletes who engage in endurance sports, the keto diet can help them exercise at a consistent level for longer. It can also help them save energy for the moments where high-intensity exercise is needed.
Cardio On the Keto Diet
Cardiovascular exercise is one of the best forms of exercise when you’re on the keto diet. A good cardiovascular workout doesn’t require high-intensity. It only requires that you get your heart rate up and sustain that heart rate while you exercise.
If you’re just starting on the keto diet, you need to give your body time to get keto-adapted. You want to train your body to rely on fats instead of glycogen during exercise. You also want to train your body to not use glycogen for as long as possible so you can save that energy for high-intensity exercise.
Developing A Routine
When it comes to cardio, you should always have a target heart rate in mind. This will help you track your performance and help you improve over time.
To find your maximum heart rate, take your age and deduct it from 220. For example, if you are 30 years old, your maximum heart rate should be 190 beats per minute (BPM).
For the first few weeks, do your normal cardio exercises, but aim for a target heart rate that is 50% of your maximum. So in the above example, a 50% heart rate of 190 BPM would be 95 BPM. This will help your body get adapted to the exercise while in ketosis. It will also prevent your muscles from burning up all your glycogen and leaving you feeling exhausted.
Once you have adapted to ketosis, you can start increasing your heart rate to 70% of your maximum. This will further train your muscles to use fat instead of glycogen and will allow you to exercise longer while saving more energy.
You can also incorporate sessions of high-intensity cardio in your routine as well. But be careful; burning up your stores of glycogen can make you feel tired and weak, which can prevent you from training. Make sure to space them out so you do not burn up all of your glycogen stores, and replenish your carbs if you do any high-intensity workouts.
Weightlifting On the Keto Diet
While most people might think that the keto diet wouldn’t work for weightlifters, it can actually be very beneficial. With a high-protein and high-fat diet and a proper exercise routine, most weightlifters will be able to gain muscle on the keto diet.
Developing a Routine
When it comes to weightlifting on the keto diet, you need to develop a routine that allows you to lift heavy weights without burning glycogen. You want to rely on the ATP in your muscles for most of your weightlifting. Otherwise, you will burn up your glycogen stores and be left feeling exhausted and depleted.
While many weightlifting routines recommend sets that range between 8-12 reps, this isn’t ideal for athletes on the keto diet. 8-12 reps will probably take longer than ten seconds to execute, which means you run the risk of burning glycogen.
Instead of using higher reps, use higher weight and lower reps. You can also increase the number of sets instead of increasing weight. Aiming for 5 reps per ensures that you don’t engage in an all-out effort for longer than ten seconds, which will utilize ATP instead of glycogen.
High-Intensity Exercise On the Keto Diet
When it comes to high-intensity exercise on the keto diet, it is more about good nutrition than exercise techniques.
Since high-intensity exercise burns your stores of glycogen, you need to make sure you have adequate stores of glycogen saved. If you plan on playing soccer, tennis, or other high-intensity sports, make sure to supplement your diet with carbs the night before. This builds up your glycogen stores and will allow you to operate at a higher intensity for longer.
Just make sure not to indulge too much on the carbs. You don’t want your body to stop using fats as energy, and limiting your carb intake to 35 grams will prevent that.
The Keto Diet: More Energy, More Weightloss
Now that you know a little more about exercise and keto, you can start your keto diet. With its ability to give you more energy and help you lose weight, the keto diet is perfect for anyone and any activity level.
If you have any questions about the keto diet or need some keto-friendly recipes, please visit our blog.