Many people have heard about the Ketogenic Diet, but did you know it is a viable solution for athletes as well?
The Ketogenic Diet has been gaining popularity over the past couple of years, and it is one of the healthiest ways for many people to lose weight. However, many athletes shy away from it because of the concern it will reduce their performance and ability to exercise properly. After all, the human body does require regular carbohydrate consumption as a primary source of fuel.
So, how can we maintain our muscle gains and athletic performance ability while being on an extremely low-carb diet?
Although it seems challenging, it’s completely possible!
There are many ways to get the energy you need for working out without compromising your Ketogenic Diet, even if you are a professional athlete!
The Ketogenic Diet is one of the best ways for athletes to build an aesthetic physique and maintain their athletic function.
Keep reading below to find out the best way to exercise while in ketosis and use the Ketogenic Diet to your advantage!
Keto for Athletes – How to Get into Ketosis
The ketogenic diet has gained immense popularity in the recent past. It is not just beneficial for you to lose excess body weight; it also provides several health benefits. Once your body enters the state of ketosis, it automatically converts the stored fat into ketones.
These ketones are used as the primary source of energy by your body. According to several studies, diets promoting ketosis are extremely good when it comes to weight loss simply because it can effectively suppress your appetite. There are several studies that also claim that ketosis is rather helpful for people suffering from Type 2 Diabetes and any neurological disorders.
Nonetheless, achieving a state of ketosis takes a lot of planning and hard work, especially as an athlete
Here are some tips that can help you get into ketosis easily!
Lower You Carb Consumption:
The most crucial factor in achieving ketosis is reducing your intake of carbs drastically. Under normal circumstances, your body cells choose sugar or glucose as its primary source of energy. Thankfully, most of the cells in your body can also use other sources of fuel. One of the best examples of this are the ketones that are available in ketone bodies.
Your body normally stores glucose in the form of glycogen in your muscles and liver. When you reduce your daily intake of carbs, this glycogen level goes down along with the hormone insulin in your body. As a result of this, fatty acids from the stored fat get released in your body.
Your liver converts a part of these fatty acids into various ketone bodies such as acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone.
Include Coconut Oil in Your Keto Diet:
If you include coconut oil in your daily diet, it can assist you in getting into the state of ketosis. Coconut oil contains MCTs or Medium-Chain Triglycerides. It is not like any other fat and it gets absorbed fast and is directly taken to the liver. Here, the MCTs are converted into ketones or used for energy.
According to studies, coconut oil can boost the level of ketones in people who suffer from various nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
My favorite way to use coconut oil is in Bulletproof Coffee.
Increase or Maintain Physical Activity:
There have been studies on ketosis that claim that it can prove to be rather beneficial for certain groups of athletic performances, such as endurance training. At the same time, if you can boost your level of activity, it will help your body get into ketosis faster. When you indulge in a hardcore workout routine, your body automatically depletes its glycogen stores.
Under normal circumstances, this depletion is easily replenished by consuming carbs.
These carbs are broken down into glucose that get stored in your body in the form of glycogen. However, if you reduce your intake of carbs, the glycogen level remains low and your liver is forced to produce more of ketones, which is used as an alternate fuel.
How to Exercise When You’re In Ketosis
One of the most common keto diet mistakes is halting your regular workout routine while on the diet, and foregoing going physical activity overall. You don’t need to quit exercising just because you are on a low-carb diet!
Exercising, even when in ketosis, has many excellent health benefits! Exercising while in ketosis will help you to burn more calories while also maintaining your muscle mass.
But, how can you stop feeling groggy and sluggish when working out in ketosis?
If you are an athlete and interested in the Ketogenic Diet (for weight loss or other reasons), controlling the timing and type of carbohydrates you eat is the key to successfully training well in ketosis.
Check out these three effective methods to increase your carbohydrate limit without kicking your body out of ketosis!
Exercising While in Ketosis: Increasing Your Daily Carbohydrate Limit
Even when you are in ketosis, there isn’t an exact carbohydrate limit for everyone. Just because you went one gram over your daily carb consumption doesn’t mean you’re automatically out of ketosis, and it isn’t the end of the world!
We each have a different carbohydrate limit that triggers ketone production, and the key is to stay under your limit.
In fact, the number of carbohydrates you are eligible to consume on a keto diet can even change by the day!
Some people can get into ketosis with higher carbohydrate intake, while there are others who need to restrict carb consumption to below 35 to 50 grams a day. Most athletes can successfully use the Ketogenic Diet with more carbohydrates than others, making it a very useful diet strategy for both athletic function and health purposes.
If you would like to exercise while you are in ketosis, you’ll need to figure out how many carbohydrates your body needs per day and find your limit to stay in ketosis while staying energized.
The average Ketogenic Diet carb limit is 35 grams of total carbs per day, and 25 grams of net carbs. You can get into ketosis quicker if you limit your carb consumption to 20 grams per day, but to exercise better, you can start off with 35 grams to find out what works best for you.
If you just began the keto diet, focus on exercising to deplete your body’s glycogen stores to get into ketosis quicker! Here are a few tips to use exercise to promote ketosis
- Perform 1-Hour of High-Intensity Interval Training in the Morning
- Perform Fasted-State Cardio
- Rehydrate and Recover with Proper Mineral Supplements
- Avoid Blood-Sugar/Insulin Raising Foods Until Dinner
If you are not an athlete, you can modify your workouts to fit your physical fitness level. Athletes can certainly do HIIT while in ketosis, and the results are better than if you use low-intensity exercises.
How Athletes Can Use the Ketogenic Diet: The Targeted Keto Diet
A targeted Ketogenic Diet is recommended for those who exercise daily and at a high-intensity for longer periods. If you are a college or professional athlete, this is the Keto Diet for you!
The targeted Ketogenic Diet involves the dieter consuming 25 to 50 grams of carbohydrates right before their workout, fueling their muscles for the duration of their training session.
I recommend that you consume something high in carbohydrates approximately 30-minutes before working out for the best results.
Not only do you want to consume a large number of carbs at this time, but you need to be wise about the carbs you choose as well. The best option is to consume simple and easy-to-digest carbohydrates before your training sessions, such as fresh juices or smoothies and high-glycemic foods.
Consuming high-glycemic index carbohydrates is a better option before training sessions because they absorb into your body quickly and supply energy without weighing you down.
Although technically you can have white bread, candy bars, or sweets that contain up to 50 grams of carbohydrates, choosing fruits or natural high-glycemic foods is a better option for your overall health.
Exercising on a Ketogenic Diet: The Cyclical Keto Diet
For those who do very high-intensity workouts daily, the cyclical keto diet is best for you.
The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet involves having one or two full days of high-carbohydrate consumption (refeeding days) throughout your week. Through doing this, you’ll be able to refill those muscle and glycogen stores for better energy overall!
You will be out of ketosis temporarily, but this is the best option to ensure maximal performance.
Even though you can consume a lot of carbohydrates overall, focus on lower-glycemic-index foods for better health and results. When re-entering ketosis, use this easy method after the refeeding days:
- Day 1: Don’t eat anything after 6 PM
- Day 2: Exercise (High-Intensity) and take in a very limited amount of carbohydrates
- Day 3: Exercise (moderate-intensity) and go back to a normal Ketogenic Diet
Keto Friendly Shopping List for Athletes
If you’re an athlete looking to use the ketogenic diet, there are very many keto friendly foods which are delicious and nutritious. As an athlete using the ketogenic diet, you will need to take advantage of the benefits of keto supplements.
Here are keto friendly items that all athletes on the keto diet should add to their shopping list today:
Shellfish and fish are well endowed with nutrients such as vitamins, selenium, and potassium. On the other hand, shellfish and fish have either no carb content or little levels of carb content. As asserted by Eco Watch, all species of freshwater fish and marine water fish do not have any carb content. Also, crustaceans such as clams, squids, oysters, and mussels have little levels of carbohydrates. Shrimps have no carb content.
Shellfish and fish have higher levels of omega three fats. These fats aid in the reduction of insulin levels in persons suffering from diabetes and obesity. They will also improve your mental health condition; which is one of the critical benefits of keto supplements.
Therefore, make sure that you incorporate seafood into your diet for at least two times each week.
Cocoa Powder and Dark Chocolate
Cocoa powder and dark chocolate are foods richly endowed with antioxidants. These foods contain a high level of flavanols which can reduce the risk of you suffering from heart diseases. Flavanols also help in the maintenance of your arteries. They will also lower your blood pressure from an optimum level to a standard level.
Cocoa powder and dark chocolate contain about 3 to 10 grams of carb content. These two foods are keto friendly. You should consider including them in your diet.
Vegetables such as spinach and kale, cauliflower, and broccoli have lower levels of carbohydrates. On the other hand, such vegetables have higher levels of vitamins, antioxidants, fibre, and minerals.
Therefore, non-starchy vegetables should form part of your everyday diet. These vegetables can act as excellent substitutes for foods rich in carbohydrates.
For instance; you can have cauliflower instead of rice and mashed potatoes and spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti.
Olives are rich in antioxidants. Oleuropein is the primary type of antioxidant in olives. This antioxidant helps to reduce blood pressure. It will also prevent you from losing your bones.
Olives generally have a low carb content. However, their carb content varies since they come in different sizes. A one-ounce serving of olives will have a carb content of two grams and a fibre content of one gram. Therefore, olives are keto friendly. You should definitely buy more olives the next time you go shopping for your grocery.
There are many types of cheese, and they are all delicious and nutritious. Cheese contains little levels of carbohydrates and higher levels of fat. Due to this, cheese is keto friendly.
A one ounce of cheddar cheese will contain one gram of carbohydrates and seven grams of proteins. Calcium will make up to 20% of cheddar cheese.
Although it is said that cheese contains high levels of saturated fats, these fats will not endanger your health. In fact, these fats will help you to lose weight much faster!
A one half of a medium-sized avocado contains about two grams net carb content. Due to their lower levels of carbohydrates, avocados are keto friendly.
Moreover, avocados are enriched with vitamins and minerals. In fact, they have high levels of the potassium mineral which is one of the significant benefits of keto supplements. Avocados also have high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
Seeds and Nuts
Seeds and nuts such as almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, chia seeds, and wall nuts are keto friendly. This is because they have a high-fat content and a low carb content.
When you frequently incorporate seeds and nuts into your diet, you lower the chances of you suffering from heart disease, depression, and cancer. Seeds and nuts also have a high fiber content.
This fiber content inhibits your digestive system from absorbing more calories than your body requires.
You can read more about low-carb nuts and seeds here.
Although almost all types of fruits have high levels of carbohydrates, berries are an exception to the general rule. Berries have little levels of carb content and high levels of fibre content. Moreover, they are also enriched with anti-oxidants which will protect you from heart diseases.
A one hundred gram of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries will have a five, twelve, six and four-grams net carb content respectively.
Therefore, you should have these fruits as part of your day to day diet.
Poultry and Meat
If you are on a ketogenic diet, then poultry and meat should form one of your staple foods. Chicken and meat have no carbohydrate content. However, they are endowed with high levels of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. The most prevalent types of minerals found in poultry and meat include potassium, zinc and selenium.
The healthiest type of meat is grass-fed meat. This type of meat is concentrated with omega three fats, antioxidants and conjugated linoleic acid. These nutrients will help in the reduction of your blood pressure levels.
They will also make your muscles and your bones to be stronger.
As I mentioned previously, you must add coconut oil into your daily diet if you want to reap all the benefits of a ketogenic lifestyle. Unlike other foods which may have long-chain fats, coconut oil has medium chain fats.
These fats will be directly absorbed by the liver and converted into ketones. The converted ketones will serve as your primary source of energy.
Concluding Thoughts on How to Use the Ketogenic Diet for Athletes
You don’t need to be kicked out of ketosis solely to improve your athletic performance; you can remain in ketosis and workout out as intensely as you want!
Through the right type of food choices and proper carbohydrate consumption and timing, you’ll be able to reach your goals for both overall health and athletic performance.
Hopefully, this article on how to exercise when you’re in ketosis gave you an idea of what will work for you, and what you should avoid. Use these tips as a starting point to find out what you can do to improve your physique now!
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