Ketogenic Diet for Athletes | How to Exercise in Ketosis

Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet for Athletes

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Many people have heard about the Ketogenic Diet, but did you know it is a viable solution for athletes as well?

The Ketogenic Diet is based around the principle of eating a very low amount of both simple and complex carbohydrates, and a very high amount of protein and healthy dietary fat, which puts your body in a state of “ketosis.”

The Ketogenic Diet also often advocates for not always eating breakfast, which is also consistent with the diet strategy intermittent fasting. Further recommendations for those people on the keto meal plan include drinking lots of fluids and keeping your salt intake stable.

Furthermore, did you know one of the best ways for athletes to lose weight is Keto meal plans?

According to a study published in Nutrition Reviews,

“In short-term studies, dietary protein modulates energy intake via the sensation of satiety and increases total energy expenditure by increasing the thermic effect of feeding. Whereas these effects did not contribute to weight and fat loss in those studies in which energy intake was fixed, one ad libitum study does suggest that a high-protein diet results in a greater decrease in energy intake, and therefore greater weight and fat loss.

Additionally, according to a to a 2008 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,

“In the short term, high-protein, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets reduce hunger and lower food intake significantly more than do high-protein, medium-carbohydrate nonketogenic diets.”

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.

Increase Your Protein and Healthy Dietary Fat Intake:

If you are going to lower your carbohydrate significantly to get into ketosis, you still need to provide yourself with ample nutrition through the forms of healthy dietary fats and protein. According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, additional benefits of high-protein intake include:

  • Increased Satiety—protein generally increases satiety to a greater extent than carbohydrate or fat and may facilitate a reduction in energy consumption under ad libitum dietary conditions
  • Increased Thermogenesis—higher-protein diets are associated with increased thermogenesis, which also influences satiety and augments energy expenditure
  • Maintenance or accretion of fat-free mass

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

tips for exercising in ketosis

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

ketogenic diet options for athletes

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

Best Types of Exercise on a Ketogenic Diet

If you do the Ketogenic Diet for athletes correctly, you can do nearly any type of exercise alongside it. Here are a few examples:

Anaerobic Exercises

This concentrates on the physical and intense workout procedures that promote speed, power, and strength. It is popular among athletes and bodybuilders. For example, HIIT, push-ups, squats, weight lifting, sprints.

Cardio Exercises

Walking is the basic form of cardio workout. As the famous line says, “walking is good for the heart” is a true statement. In this exercise, it keeps the entire body in motion hence, it helps the entire body burn fat and get in good shape.

Other examples include: swimming, running, jogging, biking, climbing.

You could also try using a trampoline rebounder such as the Needak rebounder for a low-impact exercise that can burn a lot of calories.

Flexibility Workouts

Flexibility workouts involve stretching out the muscles, joints, and nerves to improve the range of motion. It relaxes the muscles to prevent injuries. Flexibility workouts can also be performed as warm-up exercises. Examples include yoga and body stretches.

Stability Workouts

This pertains to the balancing activity and core training workouts. In this exercise, it improves the muscle and control of the movement. It can be also classified as another form of Yoga technique. For example: Ab roll out, hamstring roll, side planks.

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:

Sea Food

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.

Low-Carb Vegetables

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!

Cheese also contains conjugated linoleic acid, a nutrient which will help you to strengthen your bones and muscles.


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.

Coconut Oil

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.


What is MCT oil, you ask? MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides, which are comprised of medium-chain fatty acids.

Without getting into too much of the science behind the chemical makeup, MCT Oil consists of strings of carbon and hydrogen and medium referring to the length of the chemical composition, having anywhere between 6 to 12 carbons.

This chemical structure is what makes MCT oil particularly advantageous because they are easy for the body to digest and absorb as energy. Unlike other fats, MCTs do not need bile or other pancreatic enzymes to help break them down.

Instead, they are smaller in size so they are readily absorbed by the small intestine and transported to the liver, where they are converted into ketones.

This means that MCTs are used by the body for fuel rather than being stored as fat.

Due to MCT’s molecular structure, they are often better for those with gall bladder issues or malabsorption problems like leaky gut syndrome or Crohn’s disease because they are easily digested and assimilated into the body.

MCT oil has numerous health benefits like supporting a healthy metabolism, maintaining healthy weight, improves digestion, balances hormone levels, and increases energy. Like coconut oil, MCT oil has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties so is helpful in maintaining optimal gut health by eliminating harmful gut bacteria.

Sources of MCT Oil include:

  • coconut oil
  • palm kernel oil
  • cheese
  • butter
  • milk
  • yogurt

One tablespoon of coconut oil consists of about 60% medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) whereas the remaining 40% is made up of other fats having their own benefits.

MCT again is made up of lauric, Capric, caproic and Caprylic acids. However, lauric acid cannot boost up your weight loss process much given its limited scope of action. Caproic acid also does not have a big role to play in boosting up ketone production.

Caprylic and Capric acids are the biggest enhancers of the nutritional process, but given its 30% constituency in coconut oil, its effect gets almost nullified and takes a lot of time to start the nutritional ketosis process in our body.

Alternatively, MCT Oil is made up of only Caprylic and Capric acid, both of which are present in sufficient volume to add inertia to the fat burning process initiated in our anatomy.

MCT Oil is the perfect supplement for adding with your smoothies, coffee, tea and protein shakes.

You can visit KetoaHolics for getting your hands on the best version of MCT Oil available.

The benefits of MCT Oil and Coconut Oil are both impressive, and you can freely use whichever you desire if you are on the ketogenic diet.

Perfect Keto Supplements – The Best Supplements for Athletes on the Keto Diet?

Perfect Keto is made from 100 percent grass-fed collagen peptides. They’re derived from cattle raised in the United States and only have real ingredients. That means nothing artificial, no chemicals, and no binding agents.

An important element of meal replacement shakes is protein, even though high-fat and low-carb is the focus. And Perfect Keto is, in fact, perfect for this scenario: all shakes from Perfect Keto includes a two-to-one ratio of grass-fed collagen protein to MCT.

That allows for your body to enjoy an immediate boost of energy while absorbing premium protein and undergoing an increase in ketone levels.

Every time you enjoy a serving of Perfect Keto, you’ll be doing so while taking in five grams of pure MCT oil powder. The powder is yet another way to increase blood ketone levels, helping your body reach and maintain its level of ketosis.

Oh, and the taste – we can’t forget about that. In short, it’s delicious. There are also a variety of flavors to choose from, including classics like chocolate, vanilla, and caramel. Or, you could simply choose to order your Perfect Keto as unflavored – you can mix it with any flavor you so choose.

If you want to buy some make sure to use the coupon code – CL20 – at checkout to get 20% off your order.

It would be a challenge to find a keto-friendly shake that checks all of the boxes that Perfect Keto covers.

Helps your body get into and stay in ketosis? Check. Fully natural? Check. Other benefits beyond keeping you in ketosis? Check. Easy to make and enjoy? Check. Delicious? Absolutely.

Obviously, before you commit to using a new dietary supplement, it’s absolutely paramount that you consult with your doctor and take all the necessary steps to work it into your regular diet.

Once you do that, it’s game on.

Additional Tips for Switching to the Ketogenic Diet as an Athlete

Although it might seem difficult to control your diet, making the Ketogenic Switch can significantly improve your health and performance as an athlete. Here are a few more additional tips which can help you make the switch to a Ketogenic Diet easier:

Be Creative With Recipes

If you’re doing the Keto Diet as an athlete, you don’t want your meals to get stagnate. Not only will you miss vital micronutrients that you get from eating a complete diet, ubt you’ll also get bored much quicker.

Do your best to be as creative as possible with your Keto recipes!

There are tons of website which posts lists of Keto recipes, so find them and eat a unique diet!

Drink Green Tea and/or Oolong Tea.

Drinking green tea and or Oolong tea is a wonderful way to improve your diet. It is no secret that tea drinking increases your body metabolism. It is also an effective stress buster and mental alertness enhancer.

Both Oolong and green tea are gotten from the same Camellia sinensis plant as black tea. The difference is in the processing. While black tea is fully fermented, green tea is unfermented. The oolong tea, however, is partially fermented. I love Oolong tea for its high nutritional value.

It contains carotene, calcium, manganese, potassium, Vitamins A,B,C,E, and K.

If you want even more results try drinking green tea before a workout to boost your metabolism even more!

Drink A Lot of Water

When your body is being starved of carbs, the body naturally stores less water. You’ll need to increase the quantity of water you ingest so that your body can stay hydrated. This is very important especially since you won’t be eating a lot of the watery fruits that provided your body with alternative sources of water.

Once you get on that keto diet, drink up!

Concluding Thoughts – How to Use the Ketogenic Diet for Athletes

Whether you are going to pack a keto lunch for work each day on your cyclical Keto Diet, or maintain a rigorous targeted Keto Diet, adding the Ketogenic Diet to your life is an excellent way for athletes to improve their health on many levels.

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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