The ketogenic diet is a great way to improve your health, brain function, and energy levels all while burning fat and improving muscle mass.
But what can you expect starting out?
How The Keto Diet Impacts Exercise
When you’re first starting the keto diet, there’s a chance your energy levels will suffer. Depending on the type of workouts, your exercise may take a back seat as your body learns to use fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. For example, some high-intensity exercises that typically rely on glycogen stores might be more challenging in the beginning.
On the other hand, low-impact workouts can help with fat burning, body composition, weight loss, and overall health as you slowly lower your carb intake.
During exercise, your body relies heavily on carbs for energy. So, what happens when your body doesn’t have carbs to run on?
When you deplete yourself of carbs, your body resorts to using fats. This transition can take up to 2 or 3 weeks. While you may feel fatigued for the first few weeks of keto, the good news is you can still benefit from exercise while this adaptation occurs.
Once you transition to a ketogenic state, there are a number of ways you can work out and improve your keto muscle mass while burning fat.
Keto Muscle-Building Tips
If you’re new to the keto diet and looking for an exercise routine to go along with your health goals, these muscle building tips are for you. Whether you’re new to working out or a veteran in the weight room, these are workouts for all levels.
I get it, the weight room can be extremely intimidating. We’ve all been there. I remember my first time going to the weights section. But with confidence and experience, you’ll start walking in without a second thought. However, your workout doesn’t have to include weights to be productive. This beginner workout is perfect to do in the comfort of your own home.
This quick high-intensity workout is meant to get your blood pumping.
In 15 minutes, complete as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) of:
20 jump squats
50 jumping jacks
50 high knees
One round means you’ve completed all of the repetitions for each exercise.
You can perform this workout two to three times a week. Record the number of rounds you complete each workout to compare your results and see if you’ve improved from the week prior. This is a great way to track your progress and help motivate yourself to stay on track.
If you have more experience with weights and want a more challenging workout, this kettlebell routine is for you. As a sports performance coach, I recommend kettlebell work to my clients all the time. I also utilize them myself as they’re a great tool for speed and strength work. One of my favorite circuits to run through is 4 or 5 rounds of the exercises listed below:
Kettlebell Goblet Squat: 10 repetitions
Kettlebell Russian Swing: 15 reps
Kettlebell One-Arm Row: 8 reps each side
Kettlebell One-Arm Press: 5 reps each side
Kettlebell Reverse Lunge: 10 reps each leg
Kettlebell American Swings (above head): 15 reps
Simple, but effective. You can grab a weight you feel comfortable performing all the exercises with or grab two or three different weighted kettlebells, if you want to switch up the weight depending on the exercise.
This HIIT dumbbell workout is meant for individuals who are already in somewhat primed physical shape and get their heart rate pumping daily.
You will have 20 minutes to complete this workout, completing as many reps as possible per exercise every minute. There are 10 exercises, so 2 minutes per exercise.
For example, the first exercise is a one-arm overhead reverse lunge. You’ll want to start the clock and perform as many reps as possible until the clock reaches 1:00. Then you’ll repeat with the burpees and so on.
One-Arm Overhead Reverse Lunge (as many as possible for the first minute)
Lateral Broad Jumps
Burpee Over Dumbbell
Dumbbell Clean and Press
Dumbbell Renegade Row
You’ll want to choose a weight (or weights) that you know you can perform for a high number of reps. Feel free to grab different weights for different exercises as your strength levels might be different depending on the movement.
Now that you know the workouts to perform, how can you help supplement them?
How to Supplement Your Training
While it’s no secret that exercise and the ketogenic diet complement each other, you can always add in some supplements to enhance the benefits. Some supplements I constantly recommend to clients following the keto diet include exogenous ketones, MCT oil, and electrolytes.
Exogenous Ketones: Not only do exogenous ketones help you maintain a ketogenic state, but they can also be a great pre-workout supplement if you’re feeling sluggish or lacking energy for your workout. The main ketone body, beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) kicks ketosis into first gear.
You see, BHB gets carried into your blood and cells, turning into acetoacetate (another ketone). Acetoacetate turns into acetoacetyl-CoA, which splits into acetone (another ketone) and acetyl-CoA. This induces a series of events that produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate). You can think of ATP as the energy you get from your cells. So, the more BHB, the more energy you have for your workout.
MCT Oil: MCT oil is great for cognitive and physical health, but did you know they’re easily converted to ketones as well? Similar to exogenous ketones, MCT oil provides you with the energy you need to burst through a tough workout or clear up any brain fog for a long day at the office.
Electrolytes: Electrolytes are minerals in the body that play a role in heart health, bladder regulation, physical energy, brain function, and proper muscle function. The key electrolytes to pay attention to are sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
When starting the keto diet, your carb stores are emptied and your body switches from retaining water to excreting it through urine and sweat. This means not only is your body losing water, but it’s excreting essential vitamins and nutrients (electrolytes) along with the water.
Building Keto Muscle
Have you recently started a muscle building program on the keto diet? How are your results coming along? Have any questions that we can help with? Let us know in the comments below!
Steph Lodge is a wellness writer with a passion for health, nutrition and fitness. Steph is a competitive weightlifter and lover of the outdoors. She's taught a number of meal prep and nutrition courses at different events around the country. She is also the founder of The Athlete's Kitchen, a site dedicated to all things health and wellness.
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