What to Eat before Workout on a Keto Diet?

Posted by Wen Dan Jiang on

What to Eat before Workout on a Keto Diet?

Since ages, people have regarded exercise as a key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Following a keto diet may help you in your journey to weight loss with some additional health benefits. What would happen if you try to incorporate both strategies into your routine? Most probably, the answer may be yes; it may do wonders. However, in reality, things can be somewhat complicated when your body is in ketosis. 

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Ketosis and Exercise Performance: how are they related?

Ketosis is the stage when you have deprived your body of carbohydrates, leaving no other choice than to utilize fat to yield energy. At this stage, your liver starts to convert fats into ketones. Through this transformation in the mode of energy intake, the body undergoes various changes, like how it affects a person’s exercise performance. 

There are two different types of workouts. Both are healthy and very different from one another. 

  • Aerobic exercises involve cardiovascular conditioning, resulting in increased heart rate and breathing. These include cardio, running, dancing, triathlon, jogging, cycling, and swimming.
  • Anaerobic exercises demand a maximum boost of energy before and during the activity. These include weightlifting, sprinting, and jumping. Your body gets this energy from breaking down glucose.  

Is it Crucial to take Carbohydrates before a Workout?

If you are doing cardio while in ketosis, there is no need to worry about taking carbs. For people who think they need to carb up before their workout, this is not true. While doing cardio, your body uses beta-oxidation, which is the metabolism of fats for fuel. A study on endurance athletes who were in ketosis observed no change in their performance, whether they were in ketosis or not. So they concluded that the low-intensity aspect of endurance training needed no carb intake. Moreover, it also enhances ketosis. 

As far as the anaerobic workout is concerned, ketosis will affect the performance of the anaerobic activity. People doing anaerobic exercise on a low carb diet may experience some consequences as

  • The body may get fatigued quickly.
  • There is less weight lifting endurance. 
  • Strength standards may change.
  • Their body will take a longer time to recover. 

However, some people are least bothered by it as they prefer their body to be in ketosis rather than performing well during workouts. Contrary to this, some may find it discouraging to accept the change in their strength. Those who don’t want to put their performance on a stake can adopt any of these two strategies to get their desired results. Belly, Body, Calories, Diet, Exercise, Fat, Female, Fit

Targeted Ketogenic Approach

This approach is about consuming carbs right before workouts. Having enough carbs to kick you out of ketosis temporarily enables you to get instant energy required for a high-intensity workout. The obvious benefit is you perform well during an exercise, and your body recovery may be better. Your body goes back to ketosis before you finish your workout. The distinct disadvantage is, kicking your body out of ketosis decelerates your benefits of staying in ketosis for a more extended period.

Cyclical Ketogenic Approach

cyclical ketogenic is a more advanced approach for people who want to enjoy ketosis benefits for longer times before having their carbs refill. It means taking adequate amounts of carbs every 10 to 12 days, filling your muscles with glycogen so that you have enough glycogen stored for the next few days even after going back to ketosis. For this, you have to understand your body as the amount of carb refeed helps you sustain your muscles. The need for workout carbs may vary from person to person. Some may need to refill their muscles after five days; others may burn out after 12 to 14 days. People sticking to this approach for a couple of weeks, gradually stop craving these pre-workout carbs.

Protein Intake before Workout

It is always good to include protein in your pre-workout diet. It provides your body muscles with the amino acids required to perform and repair.

Mostly, people hesitate to eat protein on a keto diet. The reason is that it converts to glucose, kicking you out of ketosis. No doubt, this is true, but what you should consider here is that this conversion is demand-driven. Your body converts protein to glucose when it needs glucose for uses such as in cells that only need glucose for energy or top-up glycogen after exercise.

In addition to this, another reason why people fear eating much protein is our standard recommendations. These recommendations suggest us to get 20 to 25 percent of the calories from the protein source. Although this guideline was meant for epileptic children, people still regard it as an ideal baseline for going into ketosis.  

Listen to your body. Every individual has a different requirement. If you exercise, your body needs more protein. Researches show that consuming only 20 to 25 percent protein while doing workouts can cause muscle loss. Choosing the right protein source is crucial, before and after workouts to boost muscle recovery.

People who want to improve exercise performance or maintain muscle may eat around 2.2gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass. If you want to achieve deeper ketosis levels, it is advisable to divide your protein intake equally between meals.

Fats Intake before Workout

On a keto diet, your body is already burning fat to yield energy. Eat something high in healthy fat before a workout. Your fat consumption should be no less than 70 percent of your daily calorie intake. Fat fuels up your body for less intense and extended workouts. Also, while using fat as a pre-workout meal, you should consume it 2 to 3 hours before exercising. Healthy oils include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from whole food. Some examples are fish, avocado, coconut oil, cheese, nuts, nut butter.

Pre-Workout Meal Ideas

A pre-workout meal should include the macronutrients. Here are some options you can adjust and add according to your requirement.

  • A cup of cottage cheese with berries.
  • A smoothie with Greek yogurt and strawberries.
  • Almond flour bread with avocado.
  • Egg with some spinach and feta cheese.
  • A low-carb, nutty homemade protein bar.
  • Low carb hummus-like cauliflower hummus with cucumber. 
  • Avocado pepperoni salad.
  • A bowl of non-starchy vegetables like broccoli and green leafy veggies.
  • One or two hard-boiled eggs. 

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When and What to Eat?

For keto athletes, nutrition starts before exercise. The timing is crucial for planning pre-workout nutrition. Eating a complete meal with all the three primary macronutrients; 2 to 3 hours before the workout is considered the best time to get maximum benefits. 

In case you are eating 45 to 60 minutes before a workout, your meals should be simple and easy to digest to prevent stomach issues during exercise. 

Keep yourself Hydrated

Always try to stay hydrated. Water intake helps you to enhance and sustain your performance while exercising. Studies recommend drinking 2 to 3 glasses of water at least four hours before and 1 to 1.5 glasses of water 15 minutes before workout. It maintains food balance and prevents fluid loss. Lemon water is best for hydration.

Supplements before Workouts

In an attempt to choose an appropriate pre-workout supplement, look at the ingredient label for any of these ingredients mentioned like

Creatine monohydrate: It can increase muscle strength and muscle mass and may also improve exercise performance.

Beta-Alanine: it is an amino acid that promotes muscle strength, endurance, and decreases fatigue.

L-Citrulline: It also improves strength, endurance, and blood flow.

Things to be Careful About

You need to consider certain things if you are planning to do a workout: 

  • If you are pregnant, then heavy workouts like cardio workouts are not suitable for you. The only exercise according to the instructions shared by your doctor. Be considerate of the number of calories you consume before doing even light exercises. Don’t go for any kind of nutrient or calorie restriction when you are expecting a child. 
  • Do not go for intense and long sessions of a workout without taking any carbohydrates. Give your body little breaks by breaking up your workout schedule into small portions and have some healthy but light intake of easily digestible carbs. Get glucose drinks and maintain your supply of electrolytes to prevent yourself from heatstroke.
  • Be highly careful if you have Diabetes Type 2 as it can interfere with the way your body responds to extreme physical activity. Most of the time, such people have high insulin levels that can deplete the brain from energy, which is critical. To avoid hypoglycemia, take moderate carbs after 10 to 15 minutes. Also, make sure you don’t follow long hours of workouts. 

Final Word

These were some tips regarding what to eat and which things you need to be careful about while doing a workout in terms of nutrition and supplements. It is highly essential to be cautious about getting your food in the best levels to optimize your nutrition results. Without taking care of diet, you cannot attain the desired results for a workout, so don’t ignore it. 


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