How To Exercise In Ketosis

When on the ketogenic diet, you’re going to enter a state called ketosis, where your body is running off an alternative source of fuel called ketones. Usually your body will utilize glucose as its primary energy source however this requires that carbohydrates be consumed in the diet.

Ketogenic diets

Since the ketogenic diet requires that you bring your total carbohydrate intake to or lower than 5% of your total daily calories, you aren’t going to have much glucose to run off.

This does impact the type of exercise that you are able to complete. Do keep in mind though there are three types of ketogenic diets that you can use.

  • Standard ketogenic diet (SKD) – where you are eating consistently low carb intakes
  • Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) – where you provide carbohydrates before an exercise session
  • Cyclic ketogenic diet (CKD) – where you have a much higher carbohydrate intake on the weekends and then go back to very low carbohydrate dieting during the week

The type of ketogenic diet you choose to use will influence the type of exercise you’re able to complete.

Here’s what to know.

Aerobic Exercise

With aerobic exercise, the good news is that your body can utilize fatty acids as a primary fuel source so you won’t really be restricted in performing this. Regardless of which variety of ketogenic diet you use, you should be able to get through the workouts without too much of an issue.

Do keep in mind though that this assumes moderate intensity aerobic exercise. We aren’t referring to anaerobic high intensity interval training here. You need to keep the intensity level lower as that is what promotes the use of fat as energy.

High Intensity Anaerobics

Which now brings us to those sprint sessions. Will you need to give them up if you choose to use the keto diet? Here it all depends on the type of keto diet you’re using. As soon as you push the intensity up a notch, the body is going to start utilizing glucose as a fuel source. Without it, you won’t be able to sustain optimal intensity levels.

This means that if you want to do your interval training, you need to either eat carbs before the workout (targeted ketogenic diet) or at the very least, have a higher carbohydrate weekend as with the cyclic ketogenic diet.

Most people will find the TKD does produce superior results as you’ll bring your blood glucose levels up immediately prior to the session, which tends to then give you a nice boost to your energy levels.  However. You may not like structuring your diet in this manner, in which case the CKD is a better choice.

Weight Lifting

Finally, we come to weight lifting. Everyone should have weight lifting in their workout program. Here again, weight lifting requires the fuel source glucose so trying to do any sort of intense weight lifting on a ketogenic diet is going to be very challenging.

You may be able to complete very low rep, low volume work without eating carbohydrates as you are still getting some carbs on a SKD (although we’re talking 20-30 grams for most people), but if you want to do a standard weight lifting workout program, the targeted ketogenic diet will produce the best results.

It will help the most with both performance as well as muscle glycogen recovery as you’ll have glucose before every workout you do. You can try doing it on the CKD and some people are successful in doing so, but you may find that as the week goes on, your overall intensity level drops immensely as your muscles become more and more depleted.

So keep these points in mind. You definitely can exercise while on the ketogenic diet but you do need to be mindful of the type of ketogenic diet you’re doing and the type of exercise you hope to perform. Make sure that these match up for optimal results.


Richard TaylorRichard Taylor

Richard is a certified Personal Trainer with a strong background in competitive team sports and athletics. He believes that exercise should be enjoyed and social, which is the approach he takes with his clients. Richard specialises in exercise for weight loss. He is available for 1-on-1 Personal Training, Small Group Training and Corporate Personal Training in the Lower North Shore area.  Book a FREE fat loss consultation to discover what he can do for your health.

Read more about Richard here

Richard Taylor
Richard Taylor

Richard is a certified Personal Trainer with a strong background in competitive team sports and athletics. He believes that exercise should be enjoyed and social, which is the approach he takes with his clients. Richard specialises in exercise for weight loss. He is available for 1-on-1 Personal Training, Small Group Training and Corporate Personal Training in the Lower North Shore area. Book a FREE fat loss consultation to discover what he can do for your health.