On a keto lifestyle, you try to limit your consumption of carbohydrates, your body’s ‘normal’ fuel source. In the absence of those carbs, your system turns to fat as its number one source of calories and therefore energy.
Most people are surprised to learn that fat is actually more efficient as far as fuel sources go. Fat metabolism activates ketosis, a natural process which mimics the effects of fasting and triggers immediate weight loss.
A lot of keto beginners have questions about training and exercising when the body is in ketosis and rightly so. Indeed, weightlifting and exercising on a keto look a lot different than it does on a low-calorie diet.
People on low-calorie diets have to put in hours of gym time every week just to maintain their weight. Many do cardio every single day, often for long stretches of 45 minutes to an hour. Though feeling that post-workout rush of endorphins is amazing, it can also leave you exhausted and hungry. What’s worse, once your body gets used to working out so much, you have to work even harder to lose more weight. That’s why losing those last five pounds always feels so darn difficult.
HELLO, WEIGHT-LOSS PLATEAU
If this is something you’ve experienced before, where you might have wondered why eating less and working out more didn’t make much of a difference when you stepped on the scale.
The reason has to do with the fact that we human beings have developed survival mechanisms in order to survive even when food is scarce. The more you restrict your calorie intake, the more your body will try to hold onto its fat stores in the eventuality that carb stores run out. You end up having to exercise more and eat less—and it’s easy to take it too far and do damage to your health. It’s simply unrealistic to keep that up.
Ketosis restarts your metabolism, allowing your body to start burning body fat, as it would if you depleted all your carb stores. But in this case, since you keep putting more fat in, you don’t have to worry about constantly fighting deprivation. What’s more, you’ll find you’re less hungry on a high-fat lifestyle. Most people find they naturally eat less on a keto lifestyle.
SO, DO YOU EVEN NEED TO EXERCISE ON KETO?
You don’t need to exercise on keto to lose weight. With that said, there’s a case to be made for regular, moderate exercise, which has been shown to have widespread health benefits.
Exercise has a positive effect on mood as well as heart, brain, and bone health. One-hundred and fifty minutes of moderate exercise per week can significantly lower your risk of a number of age-related illnesses, including cancer. So yeah, you probably should exercise.
KETO LIFESTYLE & EXERCISE
Of course, if you’re on keto and you want to both burn fat and build muscle even faster, adding regular workouts is the best way to do that.
There’s a common misconception out there that keto has a negative impact on performance, but studies have shown that’s actually not the case.
It is, however, important to make sure you’ve given your body a week or two to adjust to relying on fat as its main source of energy before you start exercising. Always start small and up the intensity, giving your body enough time to recover between workouts.
KETO WEIGHT-LOSS EXERCISES
You don’t need to train intensely on keto to notice the difference. In fact, you can easily get away with exercising three or four times per week—though you can exercise more if you wish—and you definitely don’t need to exercise for as long as you normally would see results.
It’s a good idea to intersperse weight training with cardio sessions so that you’re keeping up both your aerobic health and toning and strengthening muscles. Interval training is the most effective form of cardio if you want to lose weight quickly.
Weight training, also known as strength or resistance training, is one of your best bets for long-term weight loss on a keto diet. Of course, you’ll also be building lean muscle and protecting your bones. Stick to weight training one to three times per week, and cut down on the amount of reps you do. In most cases, you can get away with 8-10 reps and two or three sets. Always rest between sets.
If you decide to weight train more than once per week, switch up the muscle groups you target with each workout. For instance, if you work on your arms on the first day, focus on your legs or core the next time you work out. After a training day, take a rest day or work on your cardio the day after. Always allow your muscles enough time to rest between workouts.
CARDIO & INTERVAL TRAINING
Interval training is the easiest way to build your endurance, maintain your cardiovascular health, and of course, shed any excess weight. This technique involves interspersing longer, more intense bursts of exercise with shorter, less intense periods meant to give you time to recover.
With interval training, you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time compared to prolonged, medium-intensity cardio. In addition, because you have those moments to rest and recuperate within your workout, interval training is less likely to leave you feeling exhausted and energy-depleted afterward.
Interval training can be applied to many different types of cardiovascular exercise. You can choose the types of exercise you find most convenient or enjoyable. Some examples include:
- Swimming. Swimming laps are the perfect interval training. It’s also low-impact, and won’t wreak havoc on your joints. Depending on the length of the pool, you’ll want to swim one to four lengths at a high intensity. After, swim half the lengths at a low intensity. Repeat this for 20-30 minutes.
- Stationary cycling. The same principles apply with stationary cycling. The starting intensity will depend on your fitness level. The average range is between 50-110 rpm. If you’re a beginner or occasional rider, start with a lower goal, between 60 and 75 rpms. Keep your rpm’s above your goal for one to two minutes, and then take half that time to rest. Alternate between high-intensity and low-intensity for 15-30 minutes.
- Running. Running interval training involves running or sprinting for a timed period, then resting for half that time. Repeat for 15-25 minutes. Alternatively, you can use stairs or a hill to make sprints more intense.
OTHER KETOGENIC WORKOUT TIPS
- Regular exercise is good for you, but don’t overdo it. You should be taking at least one or two rest days per week and getting enough sleep.
- Always start small and work up to larger goals. Patience is key when building strength and endurance.
- Consider a modified ketogenic diet, such as the cycle ketogenic lifestyle if you find yourself struggling to go without carbs on workout days. But keep in mind that unless you’re working out really intensely, this shouldn’t be necessary.
Check out our Keto Athletes below to read their helpful tips & ticks on losing weight & keeping it off!
- Ray Pirello- A 41-year-old financial marketer wasn’t seeing the results he wanted. “I tried everything, including a visit to the doctor as I thought my testosterone levels were off,” he says. “The doctor simply said that my testosterone was fine, but I just had really bad genes.”
- Jane Downes - a personal trainer & health and fitness coach who has found success for herself & her clients using a keto based lifestyle.
- Ben Davis- ble to not only lose 150lbs using the keto diet but go against what his doctors thought possible & compete in 5 ultramarathons