Skip to main content

Working out on keto: Maximize your fitness plan with this handy guide

Here are the best exercises to maximize your potential on keto

a close up of a shirtless man running outside
Savvas Stavrinos / Pexels

There’s a known synergy between exercise and a healthy diet, and the same applies to the ketogenic diet. If you’ve taken the low-carb leap or you’re considering it, keeping up with your fitness is beneficial. Certain types of exercises maximize the positive effects of ketosis. Research has also shown that going keto can improve athletic performance. Here’s what you need to know about working out on keto.

Why is it a good idea to exercise on keto?

burn fat words on blue plate grey background
Total Shape / Unsplash

Of course, exercise is always a good idea to complement your healthy diet. A ketogenic diet involves eating high-fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrates. People who aren’t following the ketogenic diet are primarily burning carbohydrates to fuel their workouts, but when you switch over to keto, your body turns to fat as your main fuel source instead. Dietary fat gives you more calories per gram compared to protein and carbohydrates, so it can keep you satiated for longer. Eating more dietary fat while in the metabolic state of ketosis could help fuel you for a longer workout.

When you reduce your carb and sugar intake and enter ketosis, your body begins producing advantageous molecules called ketones. Some studies show that exogenous ketones can improve athletic performance. Interestingly, research reveals that a ketogenic diet can enhance performance for endurance athletes. 

A ketogenic diet has also been shown to ramp up fat burning during exercise, which is excellent news for those wanting to trim body fat. Impressively, several studies concluded that the ketogenic diet could speed up muscle recovery after workouts and lower inflammation.

Can you build muscle on keto?

Shaped and healthy body building man holding a fresh salad bowl,shaped abdominal
FS Stock / Shutterstock

With the popularity of carb-loading, some people wonder if you can build muscle on a ketogenic diet. It turns out you don’t need lots of carbs to build muscle, and research concluded that ketogenic diets are effective for muscle growth, likely thanks to protein and fat.

What are the best exercises for the ketogenic diet?

keto diet picture knife and fork word block
Total Shape / Unsplash

Ultimately, the best exercises to optimize your ketogenic diet depend on a multitude of factors, including your general health, physical activity levels, metabolism, and age. The results of plenty of studies highlight that keto is optimal for lower-intensity exercises like restorative yoga and swimming, as well as endurance exercises, such as marathons and long-distance running. Even so, you might feel you have lasting energy on keto that enables you to better perform high-intensity workouts that were more difficult when you were on the sugar and carb-loaded American diet.

Endurance training

man distance running
Chander R / Unsplash

Any exercise that hikes up your heart rate for a prolonged period is called an endurance exercise. As the studies suggest, if you’re consuming a healthy ketogenic diet and burning fat for fuel, you might be able to run or cycle longer distances. It’s known that eating too many carbs can make you tired. Most of us know the feeling after gorging on pizza or a carb-heavy meal. You might be surprised by your athletic potential when you aren’t dealing with carb crashes and grogginess, and you’re feeling satiated with healthy fats, protein, and fiber. 

Resistance training 

man wearing red shirt and shorts in gym weight lifting dead lift man with tattoos
Alora Griffiths / Unsplash

Resistance training involves exercising muscles using some type of resistance, such as bands, weights, or your own body weight. Resistance training is also commonly referred to as strength training or weight training. Exercise enthusiasts often start resistance training to increase muscular strength and endurance. 

A study on athletes reported that the metabolic state of ketosis improved physical endurance thanks to the body’s ability to use fat as an alternative fuel source. Another study showed that going keto for just 12 weeks improved performance, body composition, and fat-burning during exercise and resistance training.

Lower-intensity exercises

Man swimming in a pool.
Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

Jogging, walking, rowing, swimming, and restorative yoga are examples of lower-intensity activities. Especially while your metabolism adapts to burning fat for fuel instead of sugar, you might want to start with lower-intensity workouts. Some people experience the keto flu and flu-like symptoms while their bodies transition into ketosis. You might need to experiment to find the best type of exercise for you, which could change over time as you become more metabolically adapted.

Switching your metabolism takes time

A man in gray sleeveless top eating a vegetable salad in the gym.
Getty Images

Remember that it takes time for your body and metabolism to get used to being in ketosis, producing ketones, and burning fat for fuel. This is especially true if you’re coming from a high-carbohydrate diet. You could find that while following a ketogenic diet, your exercise performance improves over time.

Top tips:

Gradually work your way into ketosis and try scheduling the carbs you are eating around your resistance training and higher-intensity workouts. Another option is to start with a cyclical ketogenic diet where you eat low-carb keto for five or six days of the week, followed by one or two days of a high-carb diet. Make sure you’re getting enough protein to promote tissue repair and muscle synthesis.

Editors' Recommendations

Steph Green
Steph Green is a content writer specializing in healthcare, wellness, and nutrition. With over ten years of experience, she…
Include these 10 foods high in b1 in your diet to reap the benefits of thiamine
Get your vitamin B1 from these ten healthy foods
seaweed salad wakame with avocado on white square plate with chopsticks

A nutrient-dense diet plays a pivotal role in your overall health and wellness. You’ve probably heard about the importance of the B vitamins. Thiamine is one of these B vitamins, and your body can’t produce it, so you have to get it from foods. Certain foods are packed with thiamine and provide all the benefits, from protecting your eyes to promoting brain health. Here are the ten foods high in thiamine to include in your balanced diet.
What is thiamine?

Thiamine is also called vitamin B1 and it’s one of the eight essential water-soluble B vitamins found in both plant and animal foods. Unlike vitamin D and some other nutrients, it’s fairly easy to obtain enough thiamine from foods, especially if you’re consuming enough calories and a balanced diet. Your body stores thiamine in the liver for up to 20 days at a time. Thiamine-rich foods include certain whole grains, green vegetables like asparagus, legumes like mung beans and peas, seeds, and fish. Lots of food manufacturers also add thiamine to food products like cereal via fortification. You can also find B complex or B1 supplements.

Read more
The 28-day calisthenics challenge: A complete guide
How to build muscle and burn fat
man wearing shorts no shirt working out exercising on bars calisthenics

Calisthenic workouts use your body weight as resistance, requiring little to no equipment. This means that you can exercise from the comfort of your home, while traveling, or outdoors. Whether you have heard about this exercise form before or are hearing about it for the first time but do not know what it entails, chances are you have already seen it in action.

Besides the fact that you can avoid gym fees by doing calisthenics, it also has other benefits that make it an excellent addition to your fitness routine. So, if you are looking to try it out, this 28 day calisthenics challenge guide is a great start, as we will explore a range of information, including the benefits, equipment needed, and even tips to help you get the best results. 
What are the benefits of calisthenics?

Read more
Sound therapy to improve your workouts: does it really work?
Can listening to this sound improve your workout?
Man running

In the quest for maximizing workout performance, athletes and fitness enthusiasts often explore various strategies, from adjusting their nutrition to fine-tuning their exercise routines. But what if the key to unlocking your full fitness potential lies not in the weights you lift or the miles you run but in the frequencies you listen to?

Enter sound therapy, a strategy that is quickly gaining traction in the fitness community. Promising to enhance sports performance and optimize workouts, sound frequency therapy is generating buzz as a game-changer in the realm of working out. Among the pioneers in this industry is the Soaak app, which claims that just a few minutes of exposure to its Exercise Enhancement Sound Frequency Therapy module can turbocharge your gym sessions. 
The science behind sound therapy for workouts
Sound therapy has been said to optimize workout performance through its effects on the mind and the body. Research suggests that specific frequencies can influence brainwave activity, promoting states of focus, relaxation, or energized alertness, all of which are conducive to exercise.

Read more