Exercising & the keto diet – all you need to know

You’ve probably been waiting like a child on Christmas morning to finally start following a keto diet, just to watch those results over time. And yes, while the keto diet does promote weight loss and fat burn, it’s also important to understand a couple of things before you take the leap.

For starters, you must know that following a keto diet is not a substitute for undereating! If you aren’t eating enough food and are way too hard on yourself with those calorie counts, you aren’t doing yourself any favours. Your body requires energy in order to function and cutting down on calories by a lot is not going to help. In fact, you’re going to end up feeling sick.

Next comes exercise. If you think that all you need to do is get in a couple of nice, intense workouts and stick to your diet plan to lose weight marvelously, it’s not that simple. Exercising while on a keto diet is a little more complicated because your body’s going through a significant number of changes. Some of these may just end up affecting your performance because when you restrict carbs, your muscles don’t have access to its fastest fuel source – sugar. Without that, high-intensity workouts can tire you out and put a strain on your performance levels.

So, it’s essential to know the right way to exercise while on keto. The first few weeks are going to be tough, especially if you’ve got the keto flu, but if you exercise in moderation and maintain a proper diet with enough protein, moderate carbs and a good fat intake, you should be okay.

Say yes to cardio

If you aren’t used to high-intensity training or lifting weights at the gym, cardio is a great option. If you’re feeling up to it, squeeze in some cardio. Because of its low to moderate intensity, it’s relatively easier to do and the diet won’t even affect your performance, since all you need to do is keep your heart rate up for a while. While you can start off with 10-15 minutes of cardio, try to bring it up to at least 30 minutes, with time. Some good forms of cardio would be cycling, jogging or running, brisk walking, swimming (a few laps), aerobics or Zumba and even circuit training.

How to weight-lift

If lifting weights is your thing, you can still continue to do it when on keto. You can improve your muscle mass and boost your strength by doing sets for no longer than 10 seconds. Think five reps or even less than that with lighter weights, in order to help increase power.

Say no to…

All forms of exercise aren’t recommended for when you’re on the keto diet. High-intensity workouts can have a negative impact on your performance. So, it’s best to not indulge in heavy, intense sessions of Crossfit, HIIT, sports that have a very tiny rest period and/or sports that are super high-intensity.

In a nutshell

When you first begin the keto diet, it’s best to take it easy for the first month or so, instead of exercising from the get-go. Give your body time to adapt to the changes it’s going through. Your focus should be on eating the right kinds of food so that you can resume all your regular activities without feeling groggy, ill or tired.

What’s equally important to understand that every individual is different. We all burn fat differently – some faster or slower than others and that is okay. Be patient with yourself and listen to your body. Don’t jump into long, tiring workouts or challenging treks and hikes in the first few weeks. Understand that your body is still getting used to switching to ketones as its source of fuel.

When you begin exercising, check in on yourself. See if you’re feeling tired or dizzy. If you’re past the keto flu phase and are still feeling exhausted, exercising may not be the right choice for you. So, always focus on your own health and wellness and speak to your nutritionist about how you’re feeling before you proceed with this diet and with your workouts.

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