If you’re just starting the keto diet and want to find an exercise routine that will support your health and fitness goals, this complete routine is for you.
When you first start keto, some high-intense exercises aren’t ideal because your body needs time to adjust to a new fuel source: fat.
Other exercises however, such as low-impact workouts, are perfect for keto newbies.
Low-impact workouts can help with weight loss, fat burning, strength, body composition goals, and recovery as you lower your carb intake.
Today you’ll learn about keto-adaptation, the health benefits of exercising in ketosis, and the best exercises for keto beginners.
Plus, you’ll get a keto exercise plan that you can start using today.
But first, a little explanation on adapting to ketosis.
To power your cells, little organelles called mitochondria burn two primary energy sources: glucose and fatty acids.
Going keto shifts your body toward burning fatty acids (fat) — a process called beta-oxidation — and away from using glucose for energy — a process called glycolysis.
This shift, however, takes about two to three weeks for most people.
During this adaptation period, you may experience the keto flu — a catch-all term for the sleep issues, irritability, and other side effects that you might experience in the early stages of ketosis.
The keto flu may occur for several reasons:
- Adapting to fat as energy naturally takes time
- Electrolyte or micronutrient deficiencies
- Carb withdrawal, which has similar symptoms as caffeine withdrawal
These factors are either within your direct control (you can take electrolytes and eat more vegetables) or resolve on their own within the first week or two.
Naturally, these symptoms will impact your exercise plan.
You may feel fatigue during the first few weeks on keto, or have a harder time recovering from workouts.
The good news is: while you adapt to keto, you can still benefit from exercise.
For optimal health, you need to get your diet right first.
If you’re just starting keto, you’ve taken a big step toward…
- Better body composition
- Lower inflammation
- Higher energy levels
But exercise is important too.
A regular exercise routine helps:
- Burn fat
- Build strength
- Improve body composition
- Boost your mood. The adrenaline released during a workout not only helps you burn fat, but also travels to your brain to make you happier[*].
The good news for keto-dieters is that ketosis can make your workouts more effective.
It makes evolutionary sense. Early humans didn’t always have access to carbs, and they needed to maintain high performance during long hunts.
Research shows keto enhances workout performance:
- Keto-adapted endurance athletes burned 2-3 times more fat on a run than high-carb athletes[*]
- In a recent study, endurance athletes lost more body fat and reported better recovery after 10 weeks on a low-carb, high-fat diet[*]
- After adapting to a keto, obese people walked on the treadmill nearly twice as long[*]
- Cyclists fed ketone salts burned more fat than placebo-fed controls[*]
- Young men added more muscle mass by lifting weights on a ketogenic diet than on a high-carb diet[*]
In most of these studies, the participants had sufficient time to adapt to a state of ketosis.
But what if you’re new to keto and still adjusting to using fat as fuel?
There are many kinds of exercises at varying levels of intensity.
Powerful, short-burst exercises are glycolytic — meaning they require glucose as fuel — and include high-intensity interval training (HIIT), Crossfit-style weight training, and “boot camp” classes at your local gym.
Once you’re keto-adapted, you should be able to handle and benefit from HIIT training.
That’s because keto-adapted people can preserve muscle glycogen — the storage form of glucose — for use during intense exercise[*].
But during your keto-adaptation phase, when you’re not quite ready to fully use ketones for energy, low-intensity activities like hiking, yoga, and easy weight lifting will be better for you.
Here are the top 3 exercises you can do while you’re transitioning to ketosis:
#1: Lighter Cardio
Some aerobic exercises are great for keto beginners, provided you keep them low-intensity (40-50% of your max heart rate),.
These cardiovascular exercises are great for easing into keto while you transition into keto:
- Lower settings on cardio machines
#2: Easy Resistance Training
Contrary to conventional wisdom, you don’t need carbs to build muscle.
Whether you’re fully keto-adapted or not, eating adequate protein and having ketones in your blood helps you maintain lean mass and build strength[*].
An easy, high-rep low-weight lifting program tends to work best for keto beginners.
#3: Balance and Flexibility
You should incorporate balance and flexibility into your routine to prevent injury, improve range of motion, and activate your core, such as:
To take the guesswork out of the equation, here’s your 7-day endurance strength program, with lighter weights and higher reps to help you stay out of the glycolytic (glucose burning) zone.
|Back Squat||3||15||1-2 mins|
|Reverse Lunge||3||10 each leg||1-2 mins|
|Split Squat||3||15||1 min|
|Glute Ham Raise||3||15||1 min|
|20 mins LISS|
|Strict Press||3||15||1 min|
|Pull Ups||3||15||1 min|
|Push Ups||3||15||1 min|
|Ring Row||3||15||1 min|
|20 mins LISS|
DAY 3: REST
|Glute Bridge||3||15||1-2 mins|
|Good Mornings||3||15||1 min|
|Step Ups||3||10 each leg||1 min|
|20 mins LISS|
|Bench Press||3||15||1-2 mins|
|Bent Over Row||3||15||1-2 mins|
|Plank Hold||3||1 min hold||30 secs|
|Reverse Hypers||3||20||30 secs|
|Hanging Knee Raises||3||15||30 secs|
|20 mins LISS|
DAY 6: REST
|40 mins LISS|
A Keto Resolution
Going keto is a big step. It means taking control of your health.
For more actionable meal plans and tips for starting keto, check out our comprehensive Keto Kickstart program.