how to manage workouts when going keto

How to manage your workouts when first “going keto”

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The ketogenic diet can be a daunting prospect for first-timers. Completely shuffling your diet and lifestyle to suit a specific set of macronutrient allowances is tricky. Throw a workout plan into the mix and the apprehension mounts!

Never fear. You can absolutely continue to workout and enjoy your fitness while on the ketogenic diet, but there are a few things to be aware of.

Read on for some tips and tricks to help you to thrive in the gym, as well as maintain the ketosis sweet spot.

Give yourself a break during keto flu

When you first start keto, you’re going to feel a little under the weather for a week or so. This is called “keto flu” and the symptoms are varied. Most people experience fatigue, headaches, and even nausea during this time. You just have to go with it and know that it will end and you’ll be feeling better than ever in no time.

But one thing you shouldn’t do is go to the gym and attempt a hardcore workout session. You’ll only end up feeling sick, dehydrated, tired and sore. If you really can’t be without the gym for a week or so, you could go and do some gentle incline walks on the treadmill or a calming stretch class.

Just prepare to have a break from heavy workouts for a while, but know that you’re not going to lose your gains or fitness so don’t stress! Your body is going through a major change, and you’re doing something great for your wellbeing so just breathe and give yourself a break.

Workout at home

When you’re going through the first stages of keto, the tiredness and general under-the-weather feelings can make the gym pretty undesirable. Don’t forget about at-home workouts using your body weight as resistance! You could stay at home, throw on some old workout gear and do a light workout in your bedroom or living room.

Find a YouTube workout from Blogilates or Fitness Blender and just go at your own pace, taking breaks whenever you need to. If you do start to feel a bit dizzy or weak, you’re already in the safety of your home so you can take a shower and curl up on the couch ASAP.

Eat enough fuel

Once the keto flu has passed and you’re feeling sprightly again, no doubt you’ll be bouncing back into the gym. Great. BUT you must remember to eat enough to support your body during and after your workouts. It can be easy to undereat on keto, as it can suppress the appetite. If you don’t eat enough, you won’t have the fuel to feed your muscles to push you through the workout and repair afterward. Add a few more keto-friendly snacks such as nuts seeds, fat bombs, or canned fish.

Opt for low-intensity cardio instead of HIIT

This is an interesting, much-debated area of the “exercising on keto” question. It’s generally agreed upon that high-intensity exercises with short, hard bursts of strenuous activity aren’t so great on keto. To properly fuel your muscles to get the best out of these exercises, you do need a decent amount of carbohydrate. Therefore, performance during HIIT or explosive workouts can suffer while on keto, and the muscles can struggle to gain or even maintain themselves.

However, there are some ways you can keep your HIIT exercises while on keto, and it involves strategically eating carbs to fuel your workouts. But we won’t get into this here, because I think that when you’re first starting on keto, just leave the HIIT until your body adjusts to the new fuel supply.

So, turn to some steady cardio to make the most of the fat-burning nature of ketosis. Cycling, treadmill jogging, the cross trainer or even a fast incline walk will keep your heart rate high. But mostly, these kinds of cardio workouts are fat burning as opposed to carb burning.

Don’t forget the weights

If you don’t already lift weights, start now. Strength training is important for a variety of reasons including bone density and posture. However, it also helps to burn more fat. The more muscle we have, the more calories our body burns.

When on keto, you don’t want to risk losing lots of fat but also losing your muscle definition. So…lift! You can start small with body weight exercises and some light free weights. You’ll burn more fat and your muscles will be able to maintain or even gain. But remember to eat enough protein!

Take a supplement

Keto-friendly supplements such as MCT and Collagen powders are fantastic for supporting your workouts. They boost your energy and help your muscles to remain fueled and firing during your workouts. Sometimes we just need a little extra help when on keto.

Chat with your trainer or gym pros

If you’re unsure about how to go about using the gym during keto, just ask! Ask the staff at your gym to point you in the right direction, or even request a keto-friendly program. Chances are, they’ll have loads of knowledge about working out on keto and can guide you face to face. It can also be really motivating when someone at your gym knows your journey and your goals, it keeps you accountable and encouraged.

Hydrate and rest

Ketosis can cause your body to lose fluids and therefore become dehydrated. Add exercise on top of this and you’ve got a headache waiting to happen. Keep your body hydrated by sipping water all day, and up the intake during and after your workouts.

And finally, sleep. Your body is going through changes so you need to give it time to repair and readjust. If you’re exercising as well as starting keto, you need even more rest. You don’t want to end up with a prolonged keto flu or general exhaustion, so go to bed early and rest those muscles.

To Conclude

You can absolutely exercise when in ketosis. But when you’re first starting, you do need to adjust your workouts as your body adjusts. If you’re feeling really bad keto flu symptoms, stay home, hydrate, rest. The gym can wait for a week or so. If you’re feeling okay, get some steady cardio and light weights under your belt but take it easy. Chat with your trainer or nutrition expert about strategically adding more carbs if you want to get back into HIIT training.

Good luck!

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