For anybody with zero knowledge on keto diets, the first answer you will get when you ask them what the best way to lose weight is would be to “engage in exercise.” Truly, this was the norm before the discovery of the weight losing potency of keto diets - a diet initially recommended for the treatment of epilepsy.
Keto diets achieve this by starving the body of its primary source of energy (glucose) and forcing it to use fat as the first-line source of fuel.
Can you now combine the two to get the optimal result for your keto journey? Or to what extent can you engage in exercises while practicing a keto diet? And what types of exercise can you engage in while on keto diets? These and more are what we have discussed in this article to increase your knowledge on exercise and keto diets.
Exercise and keto dieting
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 improves cardiovascular health, helps build lean body mass, strengthens your bones, and has an incredibly positive impact on your mental health. In fact, in keto dieting, one of the ways you can suppress the effect of the keto flu at the early stage of your keto challenge is to engage in exercise. However, combining the two has always been a subject of argument among health practitioners and nutritionists. Some suggested that combining exercise with a low-carb diet could cause exhaustion, fatigue and poor muscle growth while some were of the opinion that training the body to use fat as its primary source of energy can increase the time spent on exercise and endurance during intense exercises.
Meanwhile, studies have revealed that the two opinions are correct. This indicates that exhaustion occurs because your body system relies on glucose for energy by using a metabolic pathway called glycolysis instead of the phosphagen system for all short term exercises. And for this reason, when you restrict carbs intake, you deprive your muscle cells of the sugar it needs to fuel activities that require a high-intensity effort for 10 seconds to 2 minutes. But, activation of energy loaded fats and ketones can provide enough energy needed for long term exercises.
What is the Implication of Combining Exercise with Keto Diets?
Traditionally, you are meant to believe that eating less and exercising longer will fast track your weightloss journey. But, let me burst your bubbles ! This belief is outdated, unsustainable and incompatible with keto dieting, as it requires controlled calorie consumption based on body physical activities. If you are a subscriber of this philosophy, you would have noticed that you become physically and mentally exhausted with no real weight loss. The more you stick to this approach, the more likely you will over exercise and/or overeat, put an increasing amount of stress on your body and harm your body system by accelerating the ageing process of body cells and increasing the level of chronic inflammation.
Therefore, how do you combine the two in moderate levels to maximize your benefits? The best solution is to speak with your doctor or a certified personal trainer or nutrition expert to make sure you are selecting the best workouts to go along with your restrictive low-carb diet. However, due to the COVID-19 lockdown, a good rule of thumb you could abide by if you are the type that engages in high intensity exercises pending your next appointment with your keto dietician 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.
Types of Exercises in Keto Dieting
Basically, anything that requires you to exert short bursts of energy does not belong in your exercise regimen if you are a new adopter of the keto diet. However, below are the classes of exercise that you can engage in while on a keto diet.
1. Aerobic Exercise
You have probably heard of ‘cardio’. This is also called Aerobic exercise. It is any type of cardiovascular conditioning exercise that requires pumping of oxygenated blood by the heart to deliver oxygen to working muscles. This can include activities like rope jumping, hiking, dancing brisk walking, swimming, running, cycling or any Low-intensity, steady-state cardio workouts that can lead to an increase in fat burning.
2. Anaerobic Exercise
Anaerobic exercise is any activity that breaks down glucose for energy without using oxygen. Generally, these activities are of short length with high intensity. The idea is that a lot of energy is released within a small period of time when you engage in this type of exercise, and your oxygen demand surpasses the oxygen supply. They are mostly calorie-torching, endurance-building type of exercise that involves quick bursts of energy and are performed at maximum effort for a short time. Examples include jumping, sprinting, or heavy weight lifting.
3. Flexibility Exercise
This is also called stretching exercises. They are classes of exercise that require you subjecting your joints and surrounding muscles to move through a specific range of motion with ease and without pain. Your early morning yoga is a perfect example for this class of exercise as it increases your flexibility, thus helping to prevent injuries caused by the shortening of your muscles over time.
4. Stability Exercise
Core training and balancing exercises that help in controlling your movements, strengthening your muscle and improving your posture fall in this category of exercise. Examples include; Supine Toe Taps, Marching Hip Bridge, Stability Ball Deadbugs and Single-Legged Deadlift.
Which Exercises Are Best to Pair with Keto?
As a keto adopter that depends mainly on low carb food as a source of energy, cardio exercise is a great choice for you as it burns fat- which is the primary calorie source in a keto diet. It also provides your body with numerous other benefits like improved brain function, skin clarity, muscle workload adaptation, relief of anxiety and stress, and a better night’s sleep. You can also pair cardio with stability and flexibility exercises.
Keep in mind that any of the exercise you stick with must start with low intensity which can be increased as your keto journey progresses. It is also not advisable for you to start with energy draining aerobic exercises