Working Out on Keto: How to Exercise When You’re In Ketosis (2023)

  • Exercising in Ketosis
  • Targeted Ketogenic Diet and Athletic Performance
  • Working Out on Keto: A Healthy Combination

Going keto means significantly reducing carbs. Since these macronutrients are the body’s primary fuel source, you might be wondering about your best exercise options for working out on keto.

Working Out on Keto: How to Exercise When You’re In Ketosis (1)

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The good news is that exercise is one of the most beneficial lifestyle choices you can make to complement your high-fat ketogenic dietand overall health.

Working out on keto can deliver great health benefits. To help you discover the advantages of a keto diet — and to debunk misconceptions — this guide offers the facts on low-carb diets and working out, especially when it comes to muscle building and carb intake.

Exercising in Ketosis

First, it’s important to note that the traditional view of fat loss — eating less and exercising long er, often with long bouts of cardio — is outdated and unsustainable.

To see real results when it comes to losing weight and getting leaner, what you eat matters.

A great place to start is learning how to choose meat, dairy, and seafood. Paying attention to the quality of the foods you’re consuming on a keto diet — and maintaining a steady state of ketosis — is the most important first step you can take.

(Video) Working Out on Keto: How to Exercise When You’re In Ketosis

Exercise is not only one of the crucial pillars of optimal health, but it also plays a vital role in your ketogenic way of living. It can improve cardiovascular health, help build lean body mass, strengthen your bones, and have an incredibly positive impact on your mental health[*][*][*].

Thankfully, working out on keto is possible and even advisable, especially when trying to avoid “keto flu” symptoms. You just need to keep in mind the next simple considerations.

Type of Exercise

Nutritional needs vary depending on the exercise type performed. Workout styles are typically divided into four types: aerobic, anaerobic, flexibility, and stability.

Working Out on Keto: How to Exercise When You’re In Ketosis (2)

Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio exercise, is anything that lasts over 30 minutes. Low-intensity, steady-state cardio workouts can lead to an increase in fat burning, making it a great option for those whose main goal is weight loss[*].

Anaerobic exercise is characterized by shorter bursts of energy, such as strength training, CrossFit, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Carbs are the primary fuel for anaerobic exercise, so fat alone might not completely provide enough energy for this type of workout[*].

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(Video) How do You Work Out in Ketosis? This May Change It!

Flexibility exercises can stretch your muscles, support your joints, and improve your muscle range of motion. Yoga and simple after-workout stretches can increase your flexibility, thus helping to prevent injuries caused by the shortening of your muscles over time[*].

Stability exercises include balance exercises and core training. They can help improve your alignment, strengthen your muscles, and promote better control of your movements[*].

Carbs, Exercise, and Keto

When you’re working out on keto, the intensity is vital:

  • During low- to moderate-intensity workouts (aerobic exercise), the body uses fat as its primary energy source.
  • During high-intensity workouts (anaerobic exercise), carbohydrates are usually the main source of energy.

When you’re in ketosis, you’re using body fat as your primary energy source. This can make high-intensity exercise a bit more challenging at the beginning of your keto journey. As such, it might have some side effects on your physical performance.

However, there is a solution for those who make anaerobic exercise the core of their activity plan. It’s called the targeted ketogenic diet.

Working Out on Keto: How to Exercise When You’re In Ketosis (4)

Need extra help?

Get our top 3 supplement recommendations for getting (and staying) in ketosis

(Video) What Type of Workout is Best on a Low Carb or Ketogenic Diet

Targeted Ketogenic Diet and Athletic Performance

If you prefer higher intensity exercise (like sprinting or weightlifting) and enjoy working out more than three times a week, you may want to consider adjusting your keto diet to fit your carb needs. Sticking to the standard ketogenic diet won’t likely be enough in your case.

The best and most reliable way to figure out the optimal carb intake to support your lifestyle and health goals is to use a ketogenic calculator.

A keto calculator can help you figure out your macronutrients, support your weight loss journey, and give you an accurate value of how many carbs you should be eating.

How to Use a Targeted Ketogenic Diet for Exercise

While on the standard keto diet(SKD) you’d be sticking to 20-50 grams of net carbs per day, on a targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) these net carbs would have to be taken 30 minutes to one hour before high-intensity activities.

A good rule of thumb is to eat 15-30 grams of fast-acting carbs, such as fruit, within 30 minutes before your workout and within 30 minutes after. This will ensure you provide your muscles with the proper amount of glycogen to perform during the training and also during recovery.

Sticking to this time frame allows the carbs to be used exactly for this purpose and prevent any risk of getting kicked out of ketosis. Apart from this, you can continue with the standard keto diet ratios during the rest of the day.

For those who prefer low or moderate aerobic, flexibility, and stability activities, following a normal keto diet meal plan should be a good fit. Again, using a keto macro calculator is crucial to ensure you’re picking the right diet version to support your health goals.

Health Benefits of Exercising in Ketosis

It might seem like ketosis is a hindrance to long-term exercise performance, but it has shown to provide significant benefits.

In one recent study, during a three-hour run, 2-3 times more fat burn was seen in ultra-endurance athletes who ate low-carb for an average of 20 months versus those following a high-carb diet. In the same study, the low-carb group used and replenished the same amount of muscle glycogenas the high-carb group[*].

Another study conducted in Australia showed that being in ketosis might help with blood glucosemaintenance during exercise in people who suffer from obesity[*].

(Video) Ketosis: Post Workout Carb Timing: Thomas DeLauer

Plus, being in a state of ketosis has been shown to help prevent fatigue during long periods of aerobic exercise as well as help athletes recover after high-intensity workouts[*].

Working Out on Keto: A Healthy Combination

If you start following a low-carb, high-fat diet and have a passion for high-intensity training, it’s important to fully understand which keto diet version is best for you.

Ketosis might get a bad rep in terms of exercise due to popular carb-heavy philosophies. But the truth is that it has a healthy place within a regular low or moderate exercise routine, and it can be easily adapted to fit the lifestyles of those who are more active.

It’s critical to arm yourself with the best information possible about adopting a keto lifestyle and how you can reap all the amazing health benefits that it can bring.

The beauty of the ketogenic diet is that it’s not a one-size-fits-all model. It just takes a little tweaking to find what works best for you.

This adaptability makes keto one of the most popular and sustainable diets. When combined with your preferred workout, it goes a long way towards a healthy and long-term lifestyle.

To learn more about keto and exercise, don’t miss these informative articles:

Working Out on Keto: How to Exercise When You’re In Ketosis (5)

Need extra help?

Get our top 3 supplement recommendations for getting (and staying) in ketosis

(Video) Does Keto (Ketogenic Diet) Kill Your Exercise Performance?: Dr.Berg

  • The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet: Strategic Carb Intake for Keto Athletes
  • Low-Impact Exercises for Weight Loss
  • Complete Keto Exercise Plan for Keto Beginners
  • Keto Gains: How to Build Muscle Without Carbs


Will exercising stop ketosis? ›

Combining exercise with the keto diet will maximize the health benefits and weight loss benefits of the keto diet while still maintaining lean body mass. Exercise helps maintain blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity, all of which helps increase the efficacy of the keto diet.

Can I eat more carbs if I exercise on keto? ›

Depending on your activity levels, you might be able to increase your carb limit without keeping you from ketosis. If your exercise performance relies on high-intensity bouts of muscle activity that lasts longer than 10 seconds, then you may require some extra carbs to improve performance.

Does exercise speed up weight loss on keto? ›

Does Exercise Speed Up Weight Loss in Ketosis? Yes, low to moderate-intensity exercise is a fantastic way to speed up weight loss by raising your metabolism. Exercise boosts your ability to get into ketosis quicker by burning up glycogen and creating a caloric deficit.

What happens if you exercise with ketones? ›

The presence of ketones indicates that your body doesn't have enough insulin to control your blood sugar. If you exercise when you have a high level of ketones, you risk ketoacidosis — a serious complication of diabetes that needs immediate treatment.

What exercise is best on keto? ›

Jogging, biking, rowing, and doing yoga are just a few examples of physical activities that may be especially beneficial on keto. While you can also include any other activities that you enjoy as part of your workout routine, you may find some high intensity exercises a bit more difficult on the ketogenic diet.

Should I lift weights on keto? ›

Giancoli, MPH, RD, while it's possible to train on a ketogenic diet, your body will need carbs for serious bodybuilding activity, something obviously lacking during ketosis. "You need five to seven grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight for weightlifting," she says.

How do you fuel workout on keto? ›

The Targeted Ketogenic Diet

Try consuming 25-50g of easy to digest carbs immediately before working out, around 30 minutes before is ideal. This should give the boost of energy needed for the exercise, by immediately making use of the glucose as it enters the blood stream.

Do you burn more fat exercising in ketosis? ›

"They have shown that ketogenic diets enhance the body's ability to burn fat, both at rest and during low- to moderate-exercise intensities, so your weight-loss efforts may be maximized while training in these zones," she explains.

How do I know keto is working? ›

Here are 10 common signs and symptoms of ketosis, both positive and negative.
  1. Bad breath. Share on Pinterest. ...
  2. Weight loss. ...
  3. Increased ketones in the blood. ...
  4. Increased ketones in the breath or urine. ...
  5. Appetite suppression. ...
  6. Increased focus and energy. ...
  7. Short-term fatigue. ...
  8. Short-term decreases in performance.
2 Aug 2018

When should I start working out on keto? ›

Exercise during the first 2 weeks
  1. Stay inactive during this phase. As your energy levels may be lower during the first few weeks, you might want to consider avoiding exercise altogether. ...
  2. Take brisk walks daily. You can accelerate your transition to ketosis by taking brisk walks for between 30-60 minutes per day.
14 Apr 2019

Can muscles work on ketones? ›

Building Muscle on Keto and Ketones

While a high-carb diet has typically been considered the gold standard for better performance and replenishing muscle glycogen stores, ketones function as another fuel source. As a source of energy, ketones can amp up everything from heart function to muscle performance.

Does drinking water reduce ketones? ›

Drinking more water

This is because the body expels more ketones in urine rather than as a breath. By drinking water, people will produce more urine, which will help expel many of the ketones from the body.

How long can you stay in ketosis? ›

While some people have success staying on keto for an extended period of time, “the long-term research is limited,” says Jill Keene, RDN, in White Plains, New York. Keene recommends staying on keto for six months max before reintroducing more carbs to your diet.

Do ketones go up after exercise? ›

These studies have found that ketone body concentrations in this fasted state can go up to 0.5–1.0 mmol/L after a two hour workout done in an overnight fasted state. Interestingly, after that workout, ketone levels can go up to 1–4 mmol/L in the post-exercise recovery phase.

Does cardio speed up ketosis? ›

Does Exercise Speed Up Ketosis? The short answer is yes; exercise can accelerate your transition to ketosis. Moderate-to-high intensity exercise will help deplete your glycogen stores, so you achieve ketosis more quickly. Glycogen is excess glucose (sugar) your body stores in your liver and muscles.

Should I exercise when starting keto? ›

As your energy levels may be lower during the first few weeks, you might want to consider avoiding exercise altogether. Ride it out and wait for your energy levels to return once you are producing ketones and become keto adapted. Take brisk walks daily.

Why am I not losing weight on keto and working out? ›

One of the main reasons people don't lose weight on the ketogenic diet is that they're consuming too many carbs. To reach the state of ketosis — a metabolic state in which your body burns fat for energy instead of glucose — carbohydrate intake must be drastically reduced.


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