Exercising on the Ketogenic Diet – Is it Safe?


As we are now well into the New Year, those of you looking to undo those weeks of overindulgence will hopefully now be well on your way to getting things back to how they were pre-festive season. If, however, you’re looking to take things to the next level, you may wish to drastically change your dietary and exercise habits by embarking on a new exercise regime, accompanied by a new nutritional plan.

Ketogenic diets, sometimes simply called ‘keto’ for short, are now hugely popular amongst people looking to burn fat, build muscle, and keep their energy levels sky high.

The main issue that some people seem to have with ketogenic diets however, is that (thanks to ignorance and misinformation) people often think that exercising whilst on keto can be unsafe. In reality, if done correctly, exercising on keto is not only safe, it is very beneficial. Here’s a more detailed breakdown to help make things a little clearer for you.

What are Ketogenic Diets?

If this is the first time you’re reading the Ketoship blog, or you’re new to the whole concept of ketogenic dieting, then here’s a very basic description of what keto is all about;

Ketogenic diets greatly restrict carbohydrate consumptions and instead place an emphasis on moderate protein consumption, along with high healthy (high) fat intakes. When you restrict carb intakes, after a few days your body will enter a state known as ketosis. Normally, our bodies find it easier to use carbohydrates for energy, but when we take these away and enter ketosis, the body instead uses its own fat supplies for fuel.

So very simply, you eat fat to burn fat – get it? If you’re curious to hear more, we recommend reading our simple guide to ketosis.

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Myths about Exercise Whilst on a Low-carb Diet 

As stated, there are a few common misconceptions and myths about low carb diets – but in particular, myths relating to exercise whilst on keto. Some of the common ones to watch out for (and subsequently ignore) are as follows:

1) You Need Carbs for Athletic Performance

One of the most common low carb diet myths involving exercise is that we need carbs to enhance athletic performance, and without them won’t be able to train or perform as effectively. This is not true!

Once your body is in ketosis and is adapted to using fat for fuel, evidence suggests that performance can actually increase! Numerous studies have shown that low-carb, high-fat diets are especially good for endurance-based exercises.

2) Most of the Weight You Lose Is Water

Again, this is not true – but it does lead to people worrying about becoming dehydrated whilst exercising on a ketogenic diet. However, studies have found that whilst low carb diets eliminate excess water from our bodies, they also work to exponentially increase fat metabolism, meaning that we burn more fat than usual. As we are literally burning fat to fuel our workouts, this is not surprising.

How to Safely Exercise on Keto 

Though proven safe if done correctly – it’s still an idea to take a little extra care when exercising on a ketogenic diet. This goes for all diets, and is actually more about common sense than any scientific backing. It all comes down to one simple thing; listen to your body. If you’re struggling with low energy, don’t push yourself to extremes.

If you feel like you can work a little harder, go for it. The best person to gauge your limitations is you!In addition to being smart and listening to your body, it’s a good idea to do the following, too.

Image Via Flickr

Image Via Flickr

1) Drink Plenty of Water 

Water is essential at all times, especially during exercise. Water hydrates you and helps improve athletic performance and cellular health and function. When you exercise you lose fluids via sweat, so make sure you drink plenty of water.

2) Use the Right Supplements

We’ve already spoken about supplements for a low-carb diet here on Ketoship, but its worth mentioning again. Supplements can play key roles in health and performance during keto, so use them wisely. Healthy fat supplements like omega 3s are great, as are low carb protein powders and amino acids.

3) Consider Low-impact Exercise

If you’re struggling with your energy levels then it might be an idea to start off by doing low impact exercises and activities such as Yoga.  Yoga is great for ketogenic dieters, as it helps to burn fat and increase muscle mass, and the fact that it isn’t high-intensity exercise means that it’s great for the early stages of ketogenic dieting.

So in closing – there’s no reason for concern when it comes to exercising on a ketogenic diet. Despite the myths, it’s actually totally safe. However, if you have any concerns – please do consult a doctor.

Do you have any tips for exercising on a ketogenic diet? Please share them with us in the comments section!

 The 3 Week Diet

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