3 Tips to Optimize Exercising on The Keto Diet

By: Joe Martinez, RPh, PDE, CMS, Founder and CCO, HMS

Contributor: Stephanie Wu

The keto diet is essentially a high ‘good’ fat and low-carbohydrate diet,  where grains, sugar, fruits, and starchy foods (like potatoes) which normally comprise most of your meals and snacks are no-nos.

The focus of this diet is on high-fat and protein intake–roughly 75% – 80% is fat to be more exact!

The idea is that when you eat mostly fat and low or no carbs, your body will enter a state of “ketosis”where your body metabolism changes and burns fat as an energy source, and therefore stores less fat.  

That’s exactly what we want – less fat! Right? Well…yes, kinda and to a point.  Ketosis will indeed affect your exercise performance and you need to plan for this ahead of time.  

Allow me to explain.  

When we restrict carbs and sugars, we limit the ability of our muscle cells to access glucose. Glucose, as we know, is the preferred fuel source our bodies use to function at high intensities (anything longer than 10 seconds).

Without that quick source of energy from sugars and starches, high-intensity activities are harder for our bodies to achieve. Activities that normally require quick sugars to metabolize include lifting weights for more than 5 reps using heavy weights, sprinting or swimming for longer distances, playing highly intensity sports with minimal breaks like soccer or basketball, and high-intensity interval training.

So, when you are in a keto-state, what are you to do?  No worries, here are 3 Tips to help you optimize your workouts while on the keto diet.

1) Moderate intensity exercise in order to optimize the body’s fat-burning potential.Focus on body composition rather than on performance.  Moderation is the key!

2) Be very aware of the amount of nutrients you’re eating and make sure you eat enough.  The keto diet has an appetite-suppressing effect, so you might not ‘feel’ hungry, when in reality your body is craving nutrients. Think whole food and rainbow. The more whole foods you eat with a wider variety of color produce, the more likely you are able to meet your body’s daily needs for vitamins and minerals. Remember that every shade of color in your food tells a different nutrient story.

3) Choose healthy fat sources like grass-fed meats, fish, avocado, and coconut oil as well as fruit. The additional fiber from the whole avocado and coconut will help with the much dreaded constipation side effect of the keto diet.  In addition, if you are a little hungry and need something to tide you over, a spoonful of coconut oil should do the trick! If that seems a little difficult to get down, try adding it to a smoothie, on top of some keto bread or try some keto protein balls. You can read more about this in my blog:  4 Simple Tips to Have Success With The Keto Diet.

Finally, listen to your body. Adopting new habits in any way, shape, or form affects your body. Patience and awareness is key. You aren’t going to get optimal results from rushing into a diet and crashing within the first week. Doing your research in combination with listening to how your body responds will lead you to the greatest heights of success.

Take it slow and remember that you are not in competition with anyone. Whether you are looking to lose weight, better manage diabetes or just feel better about yourself, this is really about overall health and well-being and any transformation in diet and lifestyle should be looked upon from this perspective.


* Always check with your doctor or healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.


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