I get asked how to boost energy on keto… here’s a question I received recently (it’s a good one).
… I lost 70 pounds doing keto a few years ago and was fat adapted. I started working out three days a week about a year ago.I got off the keto track because I was craving carbs as I was working out a ton. I’ve noticed that I’ve been starting to gain weight and would like to get back on keto but I’m worried about not having enough energy. What would you suggest I do? …
Getting into Ketosis means you’re not going to have the same glycogen stores that come in handy when working out. That’s okay… Keto provides optimal energy (via ketones produced by your liver) in the absence of glucose. However, if you’re working out (for some) ketones aren’t enough to get you to an optimal energy level for power output.
Your Body’s Response to Energy Needs
Wearing a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) I’ve extensively tested fasted workouts. Some shorter fasts (18 hours) and some longer fasts (3 days) have produced an interesting glucose response. Note: a long term fast will guarantee a low blood sugar level (for me: 50-70 mg/dl). This low blood sugar level (if not fat adapted) will feel terrible. For someone who is keto (or: fat adapted) -it feels great (Ketones are present providing necessary energy).
What’s interesting about working out after a fast (for me, when fat adapted), my body produces glucose (endogenously) to help with power output. Meaning: my blood sugar goes up (without carbs) in response to my muscles being taxed. Then: blood sugar quickly regulates. This means (in theory) that I don’t need carbs for high intensity workouts or heavy lifting. That’s me… might not be true for you.
Let’s assume you’re fat adapted (KETO) and want to maximize energy for working out…
Fast Acting – Micro Carb Loading on Keto Diet
If you really want to go hard… eat honey 20-30 minutes prior to working out. 20-40 grams will work great (depends on your body composition – add more for more muscle mass).
Why is eating honey okay if you’re doing Keto?
You can consume carbs if you’re going to immediately use them. Yes, you’re going to produce a glucose response… and then your body’s going to gobble up those carbs and help you with your power output needs. If you have insulin resistance, are type 2 diabetic, test this (you might have varying results). If you’re generally healthy, this will be a solid response you’ll appreciate.
Should I always consume honey before a workout?
No. Let your body naturally produce the glucose it needs for extreme power output. Use the honey method on occasion, listen to your body. You’ll know.
Balance Your Electrolytes
This might be the biggest culprit to fatigue on a Keto diet. Keto is a natural diuretic (you’re losing water weight) – balance your body with proper electrolyte consumption. This is one of the most important things you can do (regardless of working out or not).
Learn all about what electrolytes are, why you need them, and how to best consume them via this blog post.
Consume Ample Fat for Energy
Your body needs protein for: muscle repair and growth, internal and external organ management, creation of enzymes and hormones. It’s vital. However, protein isn’t providing you energy unless you’re truly starving or are consuming too much (Gluconeogenesis).
Fat is what you NEED to produce energy (via ketone production). Balance your fats appropriately via tracking in the beginning. You need fat to feel energized if you’re not consuming moderate to high amounts of carbs (you’re eating low carb, keto diet, attempting to reverse type 2 diabetes, or pre diabetes).
Rule of thumb for many people is 70% of your caloric intake coming from fat (saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats are your friend). Amount of dietary fat varies, each body is different, especially when it comes to how much fat is right for you.
Avoid these Fats
Trans fats are NOT your friend, avoid these:
- Vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
- Hydrogenated anything
- Interesterified oils
- Partially hydrogenated anything
Vegetable oils are NOT your friend, avoid these:
- Rice bran
Consume Exogenous Ketones – it Boosts Energy on Keto
Exogenous means: you consume it. Endogenous means: it’s naturally created in your body.
When you limit carbs, or fast, your body will produce energy via ketones. If you’re starting the keto diet, it’s a great time to introduce exogenous ketones. This process is kinda like you making the introduction to your body: “oh hey, these are my friends, Ketones. I think you guys will really get along.”
You can also supplement with ketones when you’re in need of more energy. Combining ketone consumption and carbs may provide a frenzied energy boost for game or race day. If your body is used to endogenously providing energy for all your daily needs, a boost on the day you really need it, might make you feel amazing! Who doesn’t want that?
I do not recommend regular ketone consumption. Let your body handle it, it’s natural. I do recommend ketone consumption at the start of your keto diet experience and when you want to really capitalize on energy.
Let’s start off with the negatives: it’s addictive, it may negatively impact sleep.
The positives are obvious for some: it boosts your energy levels. Caffeine also stimulates thermogenesis (heat production). Caffeine (in and of itself) is generally good for those seeking to lose weight. Energy will peak at about 30-60 minutes and will have a half life of 3-6 hours. Half life basically means that your body will eliminate half during that period.
If you can handle it, use caffeine during a fast (to stave off hunger and provide energy).
Make Sleep a Priority
This one is pretty straightforward: get proper sleep. There’s so much to discuss on this topic, I’ll save that for a future blog post. Get sleep, it’s not only important, it’s the foundation.
What am I missing?
Let me know in the comments if there’s something that helps you manage high energy on a Ketogenic diet.
I'm so tired, I just wanna sleep - I thought Keto was supposed to bump my energy. Alright, let's talk about how you can boost energy on keto. When your body gets in to ketosis, say goodbye to excess glycogen stores. It's only natural. It's okay, once your liver starts producing ketones endogenously (meaning, your body is making it's own ketones) you're not going to have the highs and lows like you did when you were a sugar burner, eating all those carbs. But as you adapt to ketones you may lack energy (at the start). Let's go over exactly what you can do to boost energy on Keto. First though... If you're fat adapted and want a healthy bump for a workout, eat honey 20-30 minutes prior. 20-40 grams, that's all you need. You can consume carbs if you're going to immediately use them. Don't stress. Should you do this all the time? No. But when you need it, do it. Next. Biggest reason for fatigue on the Keto diet? Electrolyte imbalance. I'll link to more on that below. You need balanced electrolytes. No question. Biiig game changer. Macro energy... Your body needs protein for: muscle repair and growth, internal and external organ management, creation of enzymes and hormones. It's vital. But protein isn't a great energy source unless you're truly starving or you're consuming too much (Gluconeogenesis). But really... don't worry about consuming too much protein. There's debate to be had here but... don't worry. Fat is what you NEED to produce energy (ketone production). Balance your fats appropriately by tracking them in the beginning. You need fat for fuel IF you're not consuming carbs. Don't go overboard, pay attention to how you feel. Use fat as an energy lever. Next, Exogenous Ketones have a place... Exogenous means: you consume it, you're not asking your body to produce ketones. One of the best times to consume ketones is when you're starting keto. It's kinda like making the introduction to your body: "oh hey, these are my friends, Ketones. I think you guys are really going to hit it off." You can also supplement with ketones when you're in need of more energy. Combining ketone consumption and carbs might just provide a big ole fancy boost of energy. I'm not recommending regular ketone consumption. Let your body handle it, it's natural. But when you need it, go for it. Next, caffeine. I think this one is pretty obvious. Caffeine can actually stimulate thermogenesis (good news). Be careful. You know this. And last, the very most important way to boost energy on ANY diet. Sleep. You need it, it's non negotiable. Make it a priority. Everything is better, everything... when you're getting the sleep you need. Well there you have it, no excuses. Get out there and make effective habits that last. You got this!