Get Your Keto Macronutrients Right!
Getting the correct fuel for your workout is pivotal for success. As discussed there are three main fuel sources, fat, glucose, and creatine. But another key requirement for optimal exercise is making sure we don’t lose the muscle we currently have. Read on for how to adjust your macros for exercise:
Muscle loss can be a real concern for people going onto any type of diet, and it’s for this reason that protein is usually the first of the macros to consider when calculating the ratio of what you should eat. You can fuel your workout with fats or carbs but you need protein to rebuild and maintain your muscles. This is why it’s critical to get enough protein into your diet if you’re planning on exercising regularly.
How much is enough? Well, prevailing advice on the subject is that for athletes or those who exercise regularly you should be aiming to consume between 1.4 and 2g of protein per kilogram, or between 0.6 and 0.9 grams per pound of bodyweight.
Where should you be on that scale? Well, that depends on what type of exercise you do and whether your goal is to lose weight or to gain muscle.
- If you’re doing light cardio regularly and looking to lose weight but not lose muscle, you may want to be around the 1.4g per kg mark (0.6 per pound).
- If your a serious weightlifter looking to gain a lot of mass you’ll need to be at the top end of the range, or even higher for bodybuilding.
One concern to take into account when looking at protein consumption on a keto diet is that it is possible to convert protein into glucose. This can occur if you eat large quantities of protein in a short space of time and is called ‘Gluconeogenesis’. If you are exercising regularly this excess protein may be a good thing as if it’s converted into protein, it can help to fuel your workouts.
The issue to be aware of is that too much glucose will kick your body out of ketosis. If you are trying to lose weight it is therefore important to be mindful of your protein intake as this could slow your fat burning. Try to distribute your protein intake throughout the day to avoid spikes, whilst consuming a little more immediately after any workouts to reduce muscle loss.
What are some good foods for protein on a ketogenic diet?
- Meats like grass-fed beef, chicken, pork;
- Eggs and high-fat dairy;
- Fish and shellfish;
- Low-carb protein powders (truly no-carb can be hard to find).
Carbs are generally seen as the villain on a keto diet, all that sugar, and those insulin spikes. But if you exercise regularly then limiting your carb intake to the general keto recommendation of 20-35g per day may be putting you at a disadvantage.
If you are highly active then it’s very likely you will be able to increase your carb intake above this base range without significantly affecting your state of ketosis. If your activity needs high intensity such as soccer, rugby or short distance running then upping your carb intake will likely help you in these activities.
The key to upping your carb intake though is to manage the time at which you consume it. There are two general approaches taken to consuming more carbs without disrupting ketosis.
The Targeted Ketogenic Diet
As the name suggests, this approach involves targeting when you eat carbs to your workout times. Try consuming 25-50g of easy to digest carbs immediately before working out, around 30 minutes before is ideal. This should give the boost of energy needed for the exercise, by immediately making use of the glucose as it enters the bloodstream.
The hope is that by the time you finish working out, the glucose you consumed beforehand will have all been used up by your muscles. Meaning that once you finish working out your body can continue straight back into ketosis.
This may suit your typical person exercising on keto, but for elite athletes and those doing extensive high-intensity workouts, an alternative approach is needed. You can try a FREE trial on a personalized Keto meal plan here
The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet
This approach consists of 5 or 6 days of strict keto, with very low carb intake, with 1 or 2 days of refeeding carbohydrates, cycling between the two. This replenishes stores of glycogen in the body’s tissue, rather than only the bloodstream. This glycogen then needs to be used for high-intensity exercise, using up the stores before the next refeed. This approach allows for days of high-performance training fed by carbs, along with days of ketosis for weight control, making this an ideal approach for gaining muscle without gaining fat.
These two approached are really meant for those who do a lot of high-intensity workouts. If you prefer to do endurance type training such as jogging or cycling which is lower intensity then you shouldn’t need to worry about getting carbs in around your workouts or refeed days. For these types of exercise, fats will be your main fuel source.
As we know fat is the main macronutrient to be consuming on a ketogenic diet. The vast majority of your calories will be coming from fats so if you’re training with a particular goal in mind, eg: weight/muscle gain, or weight loss, then it pays to be aware of your fat consumption.
There’s a misconception that on a keto diet you can eat all the fat you want, and not gain weight. Unfortunately, that’s not strictly true, if you eat 5000 calories a day of fat, some of it’s going to stick!
With your protein intake calculated it’s now important that around 70% of your daily calories are coming from fat. This assumes a maintenance diet neither gaining nor losing weight.
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