The Ketogenic Diet and Exercise.
What about exercise and working out on a ketogenic diet?
I was about one week into the ketogenic diet and I was continuing with my regular workout schedule although I was definitely feeling fatigued during my workouts. I remember one day we were doing a workout outside where we ran a lap around the pond at the Cummings Center, did 300 burpees and then another lap. I am pretty sure I was the last person to finish…I was tapped. Regardless of supplementation or any other techniques, I knew that this was just something that I was going to have to deal with until I became fat-adapted. Once I became fat-adapted, I felt like I was getting back to my old self at the gym. That said, anytime you’re starting a program like this it is best to limit your high-intensity training and focus more on Zone 2 heart rate training which can easily be achieved on a brisk walk, a bike ride, or on a rowing machine. In Zone 2, you are at about 60% of your max heart rate, which feels like you’re working but are still able to carry on a conversation. Heart rate monitors are the best way to keep track of your heart rate and, personally, I use a MyZone.
Once you become fat-adapted on the ketogenic diet and you get back to your regular training, it really gets down to what your goals are with respect to your workouts. If you are a CrossFitter or somebody who likes to lift heavy in the gym, you’ll have to make some modifications to the ketogenic diet. There are four basic variations of the Ketogenic diet. The standard ketogenic diet consists of a moderate daily intake of protein (around 20 carbs a day) and a high fat intake. The cyclical ketogenic diet which works well for people who want to eat a little bit more on the weekends/socially. This is what that looks like: eat the standard ketogenic diet on weekdays and on weekends increase your carbohydrate intake to between 50 and 150g. During the cycling of your ketogenic diet you just want to make sure that you’re paying attention to your calories by reducing your fat intake calories by the amount of increased calories you are getting in the form of carbohydrates. The targeted ketogenic diet is perfect for people who like to push it hard in the gym. On the days you are not working out, follow the standard ketogenic diet. On days when you are working out (I’m talking HIIT workouts), about 30 to 60 minutes before a workout you’ll need to consume about 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates. More than likely, during that intense training, you’re going to burn through that glycogen store so those carbs will not push you out of ketosis. The high-protein ketogenic diet is another variation which, as the name implies, you consume a larger amount of protein than you would on the ketogenic standard diet. Keep carbohydrates between 0 to 20 g per day and consume a moderate amount of fat. Again, keep an eye on calories. This diet can be great for elite athletes, people with gut imbalances, and can also be used as a plateau-buster. Often, people find if they are stalling at a certain weight (and still trying to lose), switching up the diet a little bit can break through some of those plateaus.
Because I have diabetes, and I wear continuous glucose monitor, I know exactly how different types of exercise affect my blood sugar regardless of my food intake. If I’m going to do some Zone 2 heart rate training I know that I need to start my blood sugar at around 150 because I know it’s going to go down…absolute fact. For most people this should be your goal. Zone 2 heart rate training puts you into the “fat burning zone.” In this zone, even if you are not in ketosis, your body goes straight to fat for energy as opposed to using your glycogen stores. The good thing about this is, that at any one time, we have between 2000 and 3000 calories of glycogen available for energy but most of us have between 20,000 and 30,000 calories of energy available in the form of fat. With high intensity interval training, such as CrossFit, I know that my blood sugar will go up during exercise. This is a normal stress response, and this is why stress, in general, is so damaging to our health. Most of us walk around our daily lives with a moderate level of stress. Whether the source of our stress is a crappy job, a bad relationship, or whatever, the effect on our body is the same: increased blood sugar and increased insulin resistance which are some of the hallmarks of metabolic syndrome. This might cause someone to think that high-intensity interval training is bad for you (because it causes stress) but, in a controlled state, it does more good than harm. High intensity interval training is great for your heart, your joints, your bones and muscles. Because I am a diabetic, leading up to this type of training, I will give myself a little bit of insulin just to combat that high I know is coming. Thankfully, most of you without diabetes, will not even have to worry about this because your body’s own innate intelligence will regulate this for you.
Here’s what a typical, weekly exercise regimen looks like for me. I work out at CrossFit 5+ on Mondays and Thursdays. I typically do at least one more CrossFit-like work out that I take from their weekly programming. The other three days of the week are my Zone 2 heart rate training days. I will usually do a combination walk/jog to keep my heart rate up, row or cycle. This way I am getting a good combination of the things that help me burn fat and lower blood sugar along with the things that help my heart, joints, muscles and bones. I do take 1 rest day per week.
It is always a good idea before you start an exercise program to speak with your chiropractor. Everybody is different, but thankfully there are a million different variations of things we can do to get the results we are looking for.
Exercise is one of the cornerstones of good health along with good diet, plenty of rest and stress reduction.
I look forward to following your progress as you reach for your goals during our FREE 30-Day Keto Challenge!