After making the decision to go on a ketogenic diet plan, the next thing you need to consider is how this will influence your health and well-being – AND your performance.

There are many tips out there on how to avoid the ‘keto flu’

The Keto flu is a period of time where your body is adapting to being on a very low carb diet.

In such cases, you can experience things such as energy lows, feeling foggy minded, and just a general sense of not being well.

If you side-step that, you may think you’re set. But are you? Well, there are also some performance related factors you should consider as well.

If you hope to engage in strenuous exercise during your time on keto, it will help if you keep a few additional points in mind.

Let’s look at what these are so that you can begin incorporating them into your program plan!

Stay Hydrated!

One of the most common mistakes people make when going on the ketogenic diet is not bumping up their water intake enough. When you first begin the ketogenic diet, it’s normal to drop quite a few pounds of water weight.

A sure sign your body is dehydrated.

Drinking more water will ensure that you maintain optimal hydration status. You should aim for at least 8 glasses of water a day, if not more on those days you are exercising with intensity.

Dehydration can severely limit both endurance [1] and strength [2] output.

Use Electrolytes!

It’s also helpful to monitor your electrolytes.

It’s not abnormal to see a decline in potassium intake when one starts a ketogenic diet plan [3]. This is because the ketogenic diet does limit fresh fruits and vegetables; two primary sources of potassium.

Along with this, beans, potatoes, and lentils also are great sources of potassium, but clearly those won’t be part of your meals either…

Couple this with the fact that it is quite easy to get a high amount of sodium while on keto if you are not making wise food choices. You could end up with greatly skewed ratios of important electrolytes.

Using an electrolyte replacement product can be a great solution for those who exercise with intensity as well as those who need to maintain optimal muscle contractions and blood pressure.

Common symptoms of low potassium intake are:

  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • cramping in the leg or arm muscle

This can put a real dent in your exercise plan!

Check Your Fats & Proteins!

If you are trying to get those workout sessions in but you’re feeling sluggish, it may be time to check your total dietary fat intake.

Just like with any standard diet plan, when someone lowers their food intake too drastically, it’s going to result in low energy.

This is no different.

The only difference is now is the fact that the primary source of fuel is now fat. In contrast, standard diets rely on carbohydrates (starches/glucose) for fuel.

If you aren’t eating enough total fats each day (and therefore calories), this can prove to be problematic as far as your energy levels go.

One mistake some keto dieters make is eating too much protein and not enough fat. If you base most of your meals around protein and few vegetables, it’s quite easy for this to happen.

In fact, it can actually prevent you from moving into ketosis in the first place.

Remember that protein should not go above 30% of your overall calorie intake per day.

Example:

For someone who weights 175 pounds, approximately 157.5 grams of protein assuming a moderately reduced calorie intake of 2100 calories.

On the flip side, if you aren’t eating enough protein, this too can be problematic.

Protein is necessary in rebuilding and repairing muscle tissues. So without it, you will face fatigue and poor performance.

Both of these macronutrients will be key in delivering optimal success.

Time Your Carbs Wisely!

If you are someone engaging in intense exercise during the week, you should be looking at doing either the targeted ketogenic diet or the cyclic ketogenic diet.

Both of these plans allow you to introduce more carbohydrates to your diet plan at specific times in an effort to fuel intense exercise.

For those who want to maximize performance and energy, the targeted ketogenic diet usually allows you to fare a bit better.

Taking in some carbohydrates right before you do your workout session gives you that boost that you need and can dramatically increase muscular contraction force.

In addition,

It ensures that each day you are feeling good going into your workout session.

With the cyclic approach, typically you’ll feel best during the early half of the week following your large carb-up period. As the week carries on and you get into depletion training (which prepares your body for the next carb load) you start feeling less than optimal.

By timing your carbohydrates wisely, you can work around this!

Consider Exogenous Ketones!

Finally,

The last thing that you might consider doing if you want to optimize how you feel while on the ketogenic diet and boost performance is:

When on the ketogenic diet, your body goes from using glucose as a fuel source to using ketones.

So, by supplying ketones directly, you are essentially giving your body the fuel it needs to continue on exercising.

For those who are doing endurance training, this can be very helpful in maintaining intensity as available energy begins to run out. This is similar to a marathon runner using energy gel for an instant fuel source.

The difference?

The gels are carb-based/glucose-fueled whereas YOU are supplementing using ketones.

There you have it!

some of the best ways to ensure your performance doesn’t take a dip while embarking on the ever-popular ketogenic diet.

By putting these strategies in place, you should be able to seamlessly transition to the ketogenic lifestyle.

References:

1. José, González-Alonso, et al. “Dehydration markedly impairs cardiovascular function in hyperthermic endurance athletes during exercise.” Journal of Applied Physiology 82.4 (1997): 1229-1236.

2. Barr, Susan I. “Effects of dehydration on exercise performance.” Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology 24.2 (1999): 164-172.

3. Ballaban‐Gil, Karen, et al. “Complications of the ketogenic diet.” Epilepsia 39.7 (1998): 744-748.

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Shannon Clark holds a degree in Exercise Science from the University of Alberta, where she specialized in Sports Performance and Psychology. In addition to her degree, she is an AFLCA certified personal trainer and has been working in the field for over 12 years now, helping others lose weight, build muscle, and improve their athletic performance. She’s worked with people of all ages and helped them find the right fitness path for themselves. She is a regular contributor to Bodybuilding.com and has also contributed well over 400 articles to a variety of different websites dedicated towards muscle building and athletic performance. For more about her, find her at ShannonClarkFitness.com.

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