Diet and exercise fit together like a hand to glove in the wellness community. You’ll probably be pleased to discover that going keto can actually complement your workout. Many people claim that the ketogenic diet can enhance endurance, fat burning, and athletic performance. Let’s discuss the research and some of the ways the keto diet could affect your workout and how exercise can be used to aid in fat loss.
Studies revealed the keto diet might boost performance for endurance athletes. For example, one study of 39 athletes reported that the metabolic state of ketosis improved physical endurance because of the body’s ability to use fat as an alternative source of energy. Another small study of endurance athletes reported that following a keto diet for 12 weeks improved body composition, performance, and fat-burning during exercise. More studies are needed to determine the effect of the ketogenic diet on athletic endurance and performance. [1,2,3]
2. Fat Burning
Research indicates that a ketogenic diet might help boost fat burning during exercise. For example, over a 4-week period, one study of 22 athletes showed that switching to a keto diet increased fat burning . Compared to carbs or protein, fat contains a significantly higher number of calories per gram. This could be one of the reasons why going keto helps you feel more satiated, which might also help your workout. 
3. Muscle Recovery
When it comes to working out, going keto might also speed muscle recovery. Several studies found the ketogenic diet could help accelerate post-workout muscle recovery. For instance, one study in off-road cyclists reported the ketogenic diet reduced levels of two enzymes used to measure muscle damage: lactate dehydrogenase and creatine kinase. A mouse study showed following a keto diet for 8 weeks increased muscle recovery after exhaustive exercise. [6,7]
Concluding Thoughts on Exercise for Fat Loss
If you experience more fatigue working out on keto, your metabolism might not be fully adapted to burning fat yet, and you might be experiencing what’s known as the keto flu. Read our article for more info on the keto flu and how to avoid or diminish it. Generally speaking, for most people the keto diet is a great choice to boost athletic performance. If you’re more metabolically adapted, you’re more likely to experience benefits when working out on keto.
Remember, protein is necessary to promote muscle synthesis and tissue repair, so it’s important you’re consuming sufficient protein on your ketogenic diet. You might also need to consume a higher number of calories than you expend throughout the day, especially if you’re trying to boost athletic performance and endurance and maximize muscle growth [8,9].
Most keto dieters who workout note that the diet is particularly beneficial for strength training and low-intensity physical activities, such as biking, jogging, rowing, and yoga. Many marathon and endurance runners also report improved performance and longevity going keto.
Does Working Out Complement Your Ketogenic Diet?
Do you exercise for fat loss? What did you experience working out on keto? Did stepping off the blood sugar roller coaster and shifting your metabolism to ketosis boost your athletic performance? Share your favorite exercises and exercise tips with the keto community.
Cox, P. J., Kirk, T., Ashmore, T., Willerton, K., Evans, R., Smith, A., Murray, A. J., Stubbs, B., West, J., McLure, S. W., King, T., Dodd, M. S., Holloway, C., Neubauer, S., Drawer, S., Veech, R. L., Griffin, J. L., & Clarke, K. (2016). Nutritional ketosis alters fuel preference and thereby endurance performance in athletes. Cell Metab, 24(2), 256-268. DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2016.07.010
McSwiney, F. T., Wardrop, B., Hyde, P. N., Lafountain, R. A., Volek, J. S., & Doyle, L. (2018). Keto-adaptation enhances exercise performance and body composition responses to training in endurance athletes. Metabolism, 81, 25-34. DOI: 10.1016/j.metabol.2017.10.010
Sansone, M., Sansone, A., Borrione, P., Romanelli, F., Luigi, L. D., & Sgro, P. (2018). Effects of ketone bodies on endurance exercise. Curr Sports Med Rep, 17(12), 444-453. DOI: 10.1249/JSR.0000000000000542
Durkalec-Michalski, K., Nowaczyk, P. M., & Siedzik, K. (2019). Effect of a four-week ketogenic diet on exercise metabolism in CrossFit-trained athletes. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 16, 16. DOI: 10.1186/s12970-019-0284-9
Zajac, A., Poprzecki, S., Maszczyk, A., Czuba, M., Michalczyk, M., & Zydek, G. (2014). The effects of a ketogenic diet on exercise metabolism and physical performance in off-road cyclists. Nutrients, 6(7), 2493-2508. DOI: 10.3390/nu6072493
Huang, Q., Ma, S., Tominaga, T., Suzuki, K., & Liu, C. (2018). An 8-week, low carbohydrate, high fat, ketogenic diet enhanced exhaustive exercise capacity in mice part 2: Effect on fatigue recovery, post-exercise biomarkers and anti-oxidation capacity. Nutrients, 10(10), 1339. DOI: 10.3390/nu10101339
Stokes, T., Hector, A. J., Morton, R. W., McGlory, C., & Phillips, S. M. (2018). Recent perspectives regarding the role of dietary protein for the promotion of muscle hypertrophy with resistance exercise training. Nutrients, 10(2), 180. DOI: 10.3390/nu10020180
Slater, G. J., Dieter, B. P., Marsh, D. J., Helms, E. R., Shaw, G., & Iraki, J. (2019). Is an energy surplus required to maximize skeletal muscle hypertrophy associated with resistance training. Front Nutr, 6, 131. DOI: 10.3389/fnut.2019.00131
You have signed up for the newsletter!Thank you for signing up for our newsletter. You may receive an e-mail shortly.
As a Member, you get instant access to personalized meal plans, exclusive videos & articles, discounts, a 1 on 1 Coaching Session, and so much more. As a member, you join our mission of empowering 1,000,000 people to positively change their lives throughout the world. Get started today.