Keto Exercise Plan | Working Out on a Low Carb Diet

Exercising on Keto Diet
Workout Plans & Routines for Low Carb Gym'ers

keto workouts and exercise plans

When it comes to exercise and the keto diet plan, people's concerns tend toward the "all or nothing." They either fear they're going to have to exercise constantly in order to keep the weight off or that they won't be able to workout at all and will just sort of wither away. The fact is that, how much you do or don't exercise on keto is up to you. Although, as is the case for anyone whether on a diet or not, there are definite benefits to working out on a low carb lifestyle.

Below we’re going to take an objective look at the subject of exercising on the keto diet. You will then be able to determine for yourself how much and what type of exercise you believe to be right for you.

What are the Benefits of Exercising on Keto?

The fact is you don’t have to have a keto workout plan in order to lose weight on the diet. Simply by transitioning into a state of ketosis and following the dietary guidelines, you are going to lose weight and be able to keep it off if you maintain it. That said, there are definite benefits to exercising on keto, and first among them is that you'll feel better inside your new, trim physique. If that by itself is not enough, here are some other benefits to working out on a low-carb lifestyle.

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    You’ll boost your immune system - By attaining a higher level of cardiovascular health and physical strength you’ll be able to enhance your immune system and ward off a slew of potential health problems that tend to plague those who lead sedentary lifestyles.
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    You’ll enhance your insulin sensitivity - Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise can increase the body’s insulin sensitivity in those with Type II diabetes. Other studies conclude that even moderate aerobic workout can lower blood sugar levels.
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    Your brain will work better - There’s really no other way to put it. Whether you are combining a keto diet and exercise or not, working out will increase blood flow and pump more oxygen to your brain. You’ll be more alert, think more clearly and suffer less confusion and indecision. Pumping oxygen into the brain through a gym session has also been shown to help ward off neurodegenerative diseases.
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    You’ll improve bone density and strength - As people age, their bones lose mass. This is particularly true for post-menopausal women. Regular workouts can help preserve bone loss and strengthen the supporting musculature which will help you avoid debilitating injuries later in life.
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    Your heart will thank you - Just about everyone knows (or should know) that regular workouts is good for your heart and will help stave off a variety of potential heart conditions as you age.
girl with abs
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    Your brain will work better - There’s really no other way to put it. Whether you are combining a keto diet and exercise or not, working out will increase blood flow and pump more oxygen to your brain. You’ll be more alert, think more clearly and suffer less confusion and indecision. Pumping oxygen into the brain through a gym session has also been shown to help ward off neurodegenerative diseases.
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    You’ll improve bone density and strength - As people age, their bones lose mass. This is particularly true for post-menopausal women. Regular workouts can help preserve bone loss and strengthen the supporting musculature which will help you avoid debilitating injuries later in life.
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    Your heart will thank you - Just about everyone knows (or should know) that regular workouts is good for your heart and will help stave off a variety of potential heart conditions as you age.
girl with abs

Ketogenic Diet and Exercise: Can You Speed up Weight Loss?

The bulk of available evidence tends to support the idea that exercise can speed up the process of weight loss (especially vigorous aerobic workouts). However, no matter how much jogging you do you won’t be able to outrun a bad diet. What you eat or don’t eat is the single biggest determining factor in your ability to lose weight and keep it off. That is doubly true if you are on the keto diet plan.

Is it True That Bigger Muscles Burn Fat?

bodybuilder

The myth of muscles being able to melt away the calories has been circulating for some time. The story goes that each pound of muscle you add will burn up to 50 calories a day all by itself even if you do nothing but watch TV all day. Wouldn’t it be a great world if that were true? You could just bulk up with the weight training and then coast the rest of your life while your muscles did the hard work of melting away the calories for you.

bodybuilder

The myth of muscles being able to melt away the calories has been circulating for some time. The story goes that each pound of muscle you add will burn up to 50 calories a day all by itself even if you do nothing but watch TV all day. Wouldn’t it be a great world if that were true? You could just bulk up with the weight training and then coast the rest of your life while your muscles did the hard work of melting away the calories for you.

Unfortunately, while there is something to the notion that bigger muscles burn calories even while they’re at rest, the number of calories they burn is fairly insignificant and won’t by itself compensate for sitting around and eating too much. The bottom line is that if you are thinking you’ll lean on a keto workout as a way to either speed up weight loss or bulk up and let your muscles burn the calories for you, it's probably wise to take a step back and reevaluate. The primary reason you should want to exercise while on keto is because you'll feel better and be able to maintain better overall health if you do. 

Keto And Cardio: What is the Deal?

You may be thinking that, because vigorous aerobic exercise can help burn calories (as mentioned above) that you'll combine it with rigorous adherence to the ketogenic diet and really kick your weight loss into high gear. Here's the problem with that. While some aerobic training is no doubt good for you overdoing it can lead to some real-world complications, including:

  • The law of diminishing returns - If you are an aerobic animal you'll soon discover that the more you do, the less weight you lose. It's called the law of diminishing returns. If you push things too far you'll find yourself actually losing muscle with your physique taking on an emaciated profile rather than a toned one. 
  • You look soft even though you're slim - People assume that if they use aerobic exercise to burn fat it will eventually expose their naturally toned physique. If you do too much however what you’ll wind up with is a slimmer you that still somehow manages to look soft.
  • You’ll always be sore - Running puts enormous pressure on the bones of the legs and feet. If you pound the pavement too much you’re going to wind up with perpetually sore hips, knees and ankle joints and are more likely to develop chronic joint problems that may even require surgery.
man lifting kettle weights
man lifting kettle weights
  • The law of diminishing returns - If you are an aerobic animal you'll soon discover that the more you do, the less weight you lose. It's called the law of diminishing returns. If you push things too far you'll find yourself actually losing muscle with your physique taking on an emaciated profile rather than a toned one. 
  • You look soft even though you're slim - People assume that if they use aerobic exercise to burn fat it will eventually expose their naturally toned physique. If you do too much however what you’ll wind up with is a slimmer you that still somehow manages to look soft.
  • You’ll always be sore - Running puts enormous pressure on the bones of the legs and feet. If you pound the pavement too much you’re going to wind up with perpetually sore hips, knees and ankle joints and are more likely to develop chronic joint problems that may even require surgery.
  • Perpetual fatigue - While a balanced approach to exercise will make you feel more alert and vibrant, too much cardio can make you feel perpetually fatigued. That’s because the body’s ability to deal with the stresses brought on by working out (cardio) has its limits. So if you overdo it with cardio in an attempt to bolster your weight loss, you’re going to feel drained all the time. You then might be tempted to blame how you feel on the keto diet when in fact it’s a matter of too much cardio.

Exercising on Keto: A Better Way To Do It

Now that we have a more complete picture of the importance of working out and have dispelled some of the myths and misconceptions regarding exercise and weight loss in general, let’s take a look how keto and exercise can be made to work with each other instead of against each other. But before we get into the types of exercise that are likely to yield the best results for your workout let’s reiterate a point we made briefly above: no amount of exercise will adequately compensate for a poor diet. Therefore, the quality of your keto diet and the degree to which you are committed to it is going to determine the type and scope of the benefits you see from your keto workout plan.

4 Types of Exercises for Your Keto Workout Plan

There are four basic types of exercise to consider for your keto workout routine:

  • Aerobic - Also called “cardio” aerobic exercise as we described above will not be the fuel injector to rocket your weight loss to the next dimension. What it will be is a good way to get the blood flowing and improve cardiovascular health.
  • Weight training - Also called "anaerobic exercise," weight training is not a necessary component of a keto workout routine. However, many people on the low-carb diet choose to take up bodybuilding, and weight training is the only viable way to pursue that interest.
  • Flexibility - Flexibility training can include before and after workout stretching, or you may want to concentrate on yoga, which not only produces greater flexibility but greater strength and endurance. Yoga will also help you tone your physique. 
  • Stability - Stability workouts aren't discussed much, but they can play an important role in helping you strengthen your muscles, improve your balance and gain greater control over your physical movements.
screaming while in the gym
female exercising
  • Aerobic - Also called “cardio” aerobic exercise as we described above will not be the fuel injector to rocket your weight loss to the next dimension. What it will be is a good way to get the blood flowing and improve cardiovascular health.
  • Weight training - Also called "anaerobic exercise," weight training is not a necessary component of a keto workout routine. However, many people on the low-carb diet choose to take up bodybuilding, and weight training is the only viable way to pursue that interest.
  • Flexibility - Flexibility training can include before and after workout stretching, or you may want to concentrate on yoga, which not only produces greater flexibility but greater strength and endurance. Yoga will also help you tone your physique. 
  • Stability - Stability workouts aren't discussed much, but they can play an important role in helping you strengthen your muscles, improve your balance and gain greater control over your physical movements.
screaming while in the gym
female exercising

Because of the fact that you’re fueling your body with fats instead of carbs during your keto workout, the intensity of your workout as well as the particulars of your food intake will play important roles in determining any benefits you get from the exercise you do. This is because different workout intensities typically call on different types of fuel and your keto diet must account for this. When you're engaged in low-intensity exercise in ketosis, your body will be quite content to use available fat stores. However, with a high-intensity keto workout plan, your body is going to want carbs, which are obviously a no-no. So what to do?

How to do Targeted Exercises on Keto?

If you are determined to perform high-intensity intermittent exercises (HIIT) like weight lifting as part of your keto workout routine there is no way around it; you're going to have to adjust your diet to accommodate it. That's because your body is going to be searching for carbohydrates to fuel this type of exercise and you're going to have to provide them. That doesn't mean you'll need to go out and eat a pizza before working out, but it does mean you'll have to engage in a targeted keto diet where you use certain types of carbs strategically to give your body what it needs during HIIT exercise. 

targeted
targeted

If you are determined to perform high-intensity intermittent exercises (HIIT) like weight lifting as part of your keto workout routine there is no way around it; you're going to have to adjust your diet to accommodate it. That's because your body is going to be searching for carbohydrates to fuel this type of exercise and you're going to have to provide them. That doesn't mean you'll need to go out and eat a pizza before working out, but it does mean you'll have to engage in a targeted keto diet where you use certain types of carbs strategically to give your body what it needs during HIIT exercise. 

For instance: On days when you plan to lift eat 20 or 30 grams of fast acting carbohydrates like fruit half an hour before your weight lifting session. This way you are essentially ‘filling the tank’ that you will empty during the workout. If you overdo it with the carbs you’ll have a bunch still circulating in your system after the workout and they will likely have an adverse effect on your state.

Cyclical Keto for Exercise?

An alternative route to targeted keto intake is putting yourself on a cyclical diet. With this type of keto workout plan you consume greater amounts of carbs for 1 or 2 days then return to rigid keto adherence for 4 or 5 days. Then back to high carb then back to low carb etc. This provides a cyclical boost in carb levels you can tap into for your HIIT workouts. You must, however, be sure to follow up high carb intake with HIIT exercise or carbs will build up in your system and bump you out of the state.

What is Adaptation?

fit model body during adaptation

When you first go on a low-carb diet you’re going to go through a transitional phase where your body is gradually being weaned off of carbs and introduced to fats as its fuel source going forward. During this period you are likely to feel fatigued and unable to summon the energy necessary to institute your keto workout plan. Do not despair, however. This is normal. You many even experience flu-like symptoms but again, they will pass. The longer you remain on the low-carb diet the more completely your body will adapt to burning fat instead of carbs. As that happens the keto flu symptoms will dissipate and your normal energy levels will return.

fit model body during adaptation

When you first go on a low-carb diet you’re going to go through a transitional phase where your body is gradually being weaned off of carbs and introduced to fats as its fuel source going forward. During this period you are likely to feel fatigued and unable to summon the energy necessary to institute your keto workout plan. Do not despair, however. This is normal. You many even experience flu-like symptoms but again, they will pass. The longer you remain on the low-carb diet the more completely your body will adapt to burning fat instead of carbs. As that happens the keto flu symptoms will dissipate and your normal energy levels will return.

Our Final Advice...

Exercising on keto is not going to make the difference between weight loss and no weight loss. That will be determined almost exclusively by how closely you adhere to the new low-carb, high-fat diet. What exercise during ketosis will do is help you enjoy more fully the benefits of your new slimmer profile and set the stage for years of healthier, happier living. Just keep in mind that it's going to take your body a while (exactly how long will vary from person to person) to adapt to the new reality of burning fat instead of carbs, so any attempts to get into a rigorous HIIT exercise routine a few days after adopting the keto diet will likely be fruitless. That said working out on keto once your body is adapted is something you will likely never regret.

Exercising on keto is not going to make the difference between weight loss and no weight loss. That will be determined almost exclusively by how closely you adhere to the new low-carb, high-fat diet. What exercise during ketosis will do is help you enjoy more fully the benefits of your new slimmer profile and set the stage for years of healthier, happier living. Just keep in mind that it's going to take your body a while (exactly how long will vary from person to person) to adapt to the new reality of burning fat instead of carbs, so any attempts to get into a rigorous HIIT exercise routine a few days after adopting the keto diet will likely be fruitless. That said working out on keto once your body is adapted is something you will likely never regret.

And lastly, one thing that we have found that has helped us improve the whole process is to use Perfect Keto's Pre Workout. If you are feeling a little bit low and you just need some pick me up before a light or an intense workout session, then this is the perfect product for you. It gives you the energy that you will need to go through your exercise routine without all the carbs, and unnecessary chemicals that you get from other products. It's is surely a must-use keto-friendly supplement before a trip to the gym.

About the Author

Ryan is a personal trainer, athlete, health enthusiast, and entrepreneur. He is researching and expanding his knowledge about the ketogenic diet. He spends most of his time writing content about his new learnings of the ketogenic diet.