So you have decided to give Keto a try! Along with figuring out the diet deets, there are a few things to consider to make the transition to ketosis go smoothly and to keep you moving towards your health goals. When you first start keto, you might feel a bit off as your body adjusts, making your normal workout feel abnormally hard. And while this isn’t the time to make big changes to your routine, adjusting your workout plan to be comfortable in the early ketosis process and then sticking with moderate intensity exercise provides the best fat-burning benefits. So be keto-kind to yourself and make the most of your body’s fat-burning potential by choosing moderate intensity exercise.
It takes a couple weeks…
It takes a little time for your body to adjust to the keto diet and move into ketosis. Ketosis is the process that happens when your body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to burn for energy and instead burns fat (and makes ketones) to use for fuel. This is the backbone of the keto diet but getting there can be a bumpy transition that requires some lifestyle adjustments.
In the first couple of weeks of keto your body is working hard to create a new pathway for energy (using fat rather than sugar) and this is a lot of work! If you have ever heard the term “keto flu” this is referring to the side effects that some people feel in the beginning of adopting a keto diet. Symptoms vary from person to person — and some people don’t feel many — so take cues from your body when planning your exercise. One thing that experts agree on across the board is that the this is not the time to try new workouts or go for a personal best, but rather a time to do what your body (and brain) already knows and keep it in the moderate zone.
You should know that when you first start keto, your workouts won’t feel like they usually do and your response times, strength, power and agility may take a hit. That’s because glucose and glycogen (sugar), the fuel source our body naturally turns to for fast-paced, higher intensity activities, is not readily available. And converting fat to use as a fuel source takes the body more time and energy than these high-intensity activities allow. More moderate-intensity workouts give your body space to adjust to a new energy source plus they burn more fat — rather than sugar — as fuel.
Doing your best to balance appetite and energy the first couple of weeks will help you manage some of the side effects from shifting into ketosis. And managing your exercise intensity will help you stay in touch with that balance and feel your best in the process.
How should I adjust my workouts?
Studies show that ketogenic diets enhance the body’s ability to burn fat, both at rest and during low- to moderate-intensity exercise. And it may help you to know that keto or not, high-intensity, cardio-heavy exercise leans on glycogen as a fuel source, burning less fat and more sugar. So no matter your diet, moderate-intensity exercise — which includes resistance, endurance and weight training — provides the most fat-burning rewards.
Planning your exercise to make the most of your keto diet efforts is a bit of an individual choice, much like choosing what you put on your plate. And like healthy food choices, exercise needs to be a regular part of your routine. Experts suggest three to five days of low-moderate intensity exercise and as fitness allows, slowly increasing time spent exercising (endurance), upping the cardio intensity while staying in that moderate zone. This is particularly important if you’re doing keto for weight loss. For some workout ideas and inspiration, below is a menu of sorts featuring exercise that lives in the moderate-intensity zone and has muscle-building (and fat-burning) payoffs.
Pilates is a low-impact exercise that works to strengthen muscles while improving postural alignment and flexibility. While pilates targets core stability, the exercises work other areas of your body as well. You can do Pilates on a mat or with a machine, with or without equipment. Whatever kind you choose, expect slow, precise movements and breath control that zeros in on abdominal strength and core stability.
Walking + Jogging
Brisk walking and steady jogging will both get you in the moderate-intensity zone. Aim for at least 30 minutes for the most benefit. You can continue fitness gains by gradually increasing your time, adding in hills and stairs or picking up the pace.
There are many types of yoga but research shows that a Vinyasa or “Power” yoga class builds both lean muscle and endurance, important factors for the moderate fat-burning zone. These types of yoga classes take you through a variety of movements, changing levels between standing and seated, with a focus on integrating your core, alternating weight-bearing between hands and feet, and building flexibility along the way.
Cycling is an accessible form of exercise –available indoors and out — and puts you in the position to really manage your zone of effort from your bike seat. Steady, moderate cycling keeps you in the fat burning mode and as your fitness increases, you can build the intensity or the duration of your cycling for continued benefits.
Swimming is a low impact, total body exercise that’s easy on the joints and can be a great starting point for people who want to begin an exercise program. It’s a form of resistance training that’s easier on the body and, like cycling or jogging, puts you in control of building your fitness by increasing pace or duration to build endurance.
Lifting weights is linked with boosting your resting metabolic rate as well as the maintenance of muscle mass. While you’re on the keto diet, big gains in muscle mass is harder to achieve but strength training can help you both maintain your muscle mass and provide that metabolic after-burn. Experts suggest heavier weights at lower reps to stay in the moderate-intensity zone.
Even if you’re not going full keto but just want to get stronger and feel more fit, you can adapt the keto principles to your lifestyle by cutting back on sugars, carbs and processed foods, eating healthy fats and exercising in the fat-burning moderate zone. There are many ways to support your health and keto is one that’s having its moment — and offering up real results for many people. Ultimately you should consider your personal health goals when making any changes to your diet and exercise, and make sure those changes are lifestyle changes that will serve you and your health in the long run.
What’s your favorite moderate-intensity exercise? Share your ideas and experiences in the comments below. Be sure to come follow Blendtopia on Facebook to stay connected, and follow us on Pinterest to get even more ideas for maintaining our mental, physical, and emotional wellness.