Category: Exercise

Why does Exercise feel Bad and How can I Incorporate it into my Life?

Why does exercise feel bad and how can i incorporate it into my life

If you are reading this article, I assume you started a ketogenic diet and know that exercising will be a good addition to your ketogenic lifestyle, but you are struggling to get going.

You may be asking yourself: Why does exercise feel bad and how can I incorporate it into my life?

Firstly, take time to adjust to your new keto life. If you don't feel ready to exercise yet, then don't and read this article about keto and exercise.

​Here we discuss the physical reasons why exercise feel bad. Then we have a look at how to successfully add it to your life and we consider a few easy exercise routines that you can start with today.

Why does exercise feel bad?

This resistance to exercise is not all in your head. Even though a lot of people will tell you that exercise will feel really good, your previous experience may tell you differently. And even though eventually you may feel really good after exercise, you can't expect that from day one.

When you first start trying to exercise on a regular basis it is far from fun. Sure, there might be some "runners high" effect, but most of us have never lasted long enough to encounter it. Instead, we get the feeling of sickness, the "burn", muscle cramp and more.

Why does this happen?

The Burn

Let’s look at the "burn" sensation first. You will often hear bodybuilders talking about this sensation as though it were magical and highly desirable. Some even go as far as to say it’s highly pleasurable. Whether or not this is true is somewhat debatable but where exactly does it come from?

Specifically, the burn is caused by the build-up of metabolites in the muscles. This is partly the result of blood and oxygen being pumped into the muscles to provide fuel and nutrients. The more you use your muscle, the more this build-up occurs. Simultaneously, the contraction of the muscle also traps blood in that area, causing it to pool.

Meanwhile, by-products are created as a result of the glycogen lactic acid system. All this can eventually result in a painful sensation that some people believe is a key indicator that you have done enough to trigger growth.

Feeling Sick

It often happens that when you start with cardio workouts (especially with HIIT) you may feel somewhat sick. When I try to start an intense exercise routine or haven't trained for a while, this always happens to me. 🙁

This again is the result of the build-up of metabolites and lactate, but this time in the bloodstream. It is thought that the body responds to this increased lactate by feeling sick and that this might even be a signal that the body uses to force you to reduce the intensity of your workouts.

Lactate is only really created during very intensive training sessions, so it is most likely to occur when you push yourself. Eventually this leads to the "lactate inflection point" which is the most lactate you can manage in your bloodstream. When this happens, you’re ready to slow down and return to an aerobic state.

Get up and exercise

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

​Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and is the pain you feel the day after intense training. There is some debate over what precisely causes DOMS, but the general view is that it is the result of micro tears in the muscles. These small tears in the muscle fibers trigger subsequent repair and thus growth and cause delayed muscle discomfort.

Regular Old Pain…

And of course workouts can also just hurt. When you’re curling weights, you’ll find that you rub the skin on your hands painfully.

When you’re jogging, you’ll jolt your joints and also your feet inside your shoes. And as we get older, we have more pains and aches. Our hips and knees hurt.

In fact training hurts when you start… But the more you do it, the less it will hurt!

So, I suppose the question is where to from here? How do we get through the hurt and into a regular exercise routine?

To lose weight on keto you don't have to exercise, but exercise is an important component to be healthy.

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How can I Incorporate Exercise into my Life?

Let's start exercising today

​It is easy to say that we should exercise. For those of us, who have become sedentary over time or were never that much into exercise in the first place, this is tough.

Whilst looking ​for motivation on how to start, I came across an article at BuzzFeed where they asked their community what motivated them to exercise regularly.

The first person said that she only washes her hair on the days that she exercises. So she uses ridicule to motivate herself. Now that won't work for me, but we are all different. So, let's look at some ideas and then you need to figure out what will work best for you.

Steps to help you get started

These steps should get you started. If you have any suggestions or advise for our readers please share it in the comments below.

Step 1 - Assess your Fitness

You need to take stock of where you are right now. You need to know exactly where you are so that you can set realistic goals and create a doable plan. You want to set yourself up for success, not failure.

  • How much do you currently exercise, if any?
  • When last did you exercise and what type of exercise did you do. Did you like it?
  • How overweight are you? The more overweight you are, the slower you should start.
  • Do you have any health conditions that you should consider before embarking on an exercise regimen?

Don't judge yourself, your only objective here is to find your starting point so that you can give yourself the best possible chance at success.

Obviously it goes without saying that when you make major changes in your life, like materially changing your diet or exercise regime that you should consult with your doctor.

Take stock of your fitness level, set realistic goals and create a doable plan.

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  • Be realistic, we can't get somewhere we want to be without knowing where we are starting from.
  • Action 1 - Make some time, sit down somewhere quiet and get clear on your starting point.

Step 2 - Raise your Standards

Tony Robbins says that we don't get what we want, we get our standards. So if you believe obesity is just in your genes, you are just big boned or exercise is just not what people in your family does, then you will not succeed.

Our beliefs about ourselves will always win out as will power can only take us that far. So, for lasting chance we have to change our subconscious believes about ourselves.

Ultimately we always follow through with who we believe we are. The strongest force is the need to stay consistent with how we define ourselves. We live who we believe we are.

To change your life, you have to change your inner game. When you start to shift identity everything start to shift.

To incorporate exercise into your daily life, you need to move it from a want to a MUST.​

Evan Carmichael has a video channel where he puts together his take on the top ten rules of success​ from all kinds of people. These videos include people like Tony Robbins, sport starts like Michael Jordan, Oprah, business and thought leaders.

The first ten minutes of this video is all about raising your standards. Once something "clicks" for you, it is so much easier to make the changes we need to live a healthy and fulfilled life. Watch now and please share your comments below...

  • Recognize that years of conditioning has brought us where we are. To change, you need to create a voice inside of yourself that says you can do it, rather than listening to the one that says you can't.
  • Action 2 - Watch the first ten minutes of the video a few times. Then work out how you can change your inner game to get what you want.

Step 3 - Get clear on your WHY

Hand in hand with raising your standards, is getting clear on your why. It is the "big picture" that is going to keep you going when you don't necessarily feel like getting up.

Sometimes we give up on our dreams in the daily grind of life. Reconnect to your higher self and your purpose in life.

Be very clear what you want, to say I want to exercise because I want to lose 20 pounds is not very effective. What is the big picture? Why do you want to get fit or lose weight?

It is your WHY, that is going to help you to keep moving when you don't really feel like it.

When your WHY is Clear the How is easy
  • Think big here, move beyond the limits your current body has placed on you.
  • Action 3 - Take the time to figure out and write down exactly what it is what you want and feel how having that will make you feel.

Step 4 - Set your Goals

​Decide exactly what you want to achieve and by when. Set your main goal and smaller milestone goals along the way so that you can measure them.

Something that many people find a good motivator is to choose a date to run a 5k or 10k race and to book. Or maybe there is a charity fitness event in your area, in which you can partake. This gives you a very specific date and target to achieve.

  • Set specific goals. Be realistic​, but also set goals that will challenge you. 
  • Action 4 - Write down your main and milestone goals - Exactly what you will achieve by when.

Step 5 - Create the Habit

​This step is in many ways more important than setting your goal. If you set a goal without setting up the system or process for achieving it, you are most likely going to fail.

There was always the believe that it takes 21 days to change a habit, but research shows that this is more like 66 days and this depends on person to person.

Assume that it will take you at least 2 months to create a new habit, but that it is not an all or nothing process. If you miss the odd day, it does not negate the process of building a new habit.

Start creating your plan with these three questions in mind.


What activities do you like? Or maybe the question is what did you like to do when you were still active?

Be open minded, exercise have changed and short interval training bursts may just be what you need.

Consider your available time every day. So consider short interval training sessions 2 or 3 time per week and a longer hike or even jog on weekends.​


For many people first thing in the morning is the best time. It sets them up for the rest of the day.

But don't set yourself up for failure. If you know that you are not a morning person and just won't get up first thing in the morning to exercise, then find time during your lunch time or early evening.

Another benefit of exercising in the mornings is off course that then it is done and you have the benefit of heightened endorphins all day.​


Outside is best. We need to get outdoors more. Not only is it good for the soul, but we also need the vitamin D and running or walking outdoors is way more interesting than walking on a treadmill.

However, being outside is not always possible. It may be too cold or rainy or not safe. So try to create a routine where you train outside, but it that is not always possible also have an indoors plan.

  • Get excited! You are building your future here.
  • Action 5 - Set up your plan for the next three months and then just go for it!

Step 6 - Set yourself up for Success

Start slow, but deliberate and build up your fitness over time.

It may be easier to train with a friend. If that is not possible, find an accountability partner. Someone you can feed back to about your progress.

Measure your results. Get a Fitbit and connect it to your phone or journal your results and compare your progress over time. ​

Keep it simple. When we start to complicate our exercise routines, it becomes harder to stick to it.

Enjoy what you are doing.​ If you really don't enjoy what you are doing. Find a different form of exercise.

Change things up, if you get bored with one type of exercise try another.​

Find the most time efficient way to exercise. Something like HIIT that you can easily fit into your routine and therefore have a better chance to stick with it.

  • Keep Motivated
  • Action 6 - Measure your results and celebrate your successes.

Easy Exercise Routines to start Today

​The easiest and best way to start an exercise routine is to start with short interval training sessions. Today we know long cardio sessions are not the best form of exercise.

If you are very unfit, but want to start with interval training then check out our article on how to get started with interval training.

I like interval training because it takes anywhere from 4 to 20 minutes for a really good workout. Just make sure that you warm up and down before and after your intense workout.

It is also easy to do at home and there are some amazing videos to follow on Youtube.​ No equipment is needed and it is a great way to see for yourself whether this type of training is something that you want to get into.

​High intensity interval training (HIIT) is tough. I find it very effective, but not necessarily easy to get into. In this beginner set Lindsay Brin takes you through a 10 minute routine. These routines are great, because you are in complete control on how hard you push yourself. If you are really unfit, just follow along at your own pace, you may be surprised at how invigorated you feel afterwards.

​Here is another great starter HIIT video. It is 20 minutes to follow along with. The 20 minutes are broken down into 4, five minute sections. When you start out just follow along the first 5 minutes and then as you get fitter build up to following along for the full 20 minutes.

​With both of these training videos make sure to warp up and down.

This is a great way to get started with a new exercise routine. You'll be finished before you get bored and when you are ready for new ideas, you can find videos to follow along where you can train with weights or work your upper or lower body.

Where to from here?

As we said before, you don't have to exercise to lose weight on a ketogenic diet, but in the big scheme of things you want to.

Most of us don't have a lot of extra time, so finding a way to get the maximum from exercise in the shortest possible time is the way to go.



Interval Training – How to Get Started

Interval Training How to get Started

When you adopt a ketogenic lifestyle, what you eat is crucial as you can never out exercise a bad diet. Exercising or moving is still important and the most effective exercise to add to your routine is High Intensity Interval Training.

If you are not sure whether you should be training while on a ketogenic diet, then read - Should I exercise on a ketogenic diet?

Before we look at the easiest way to get started with high intensity interval training, let's first have a quick look at what it is and the benefits.

What is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

With HIIT you alternate between bursts of intense exertion where you give 100% effort and then alternate it with low intensity exercise.

One example is to sprint for 30 seconds to a minute intervals and then to jog or power walk for some minutes in between.

The beauty of this type of exercise is that you use up any glycogen energy stored in the body and can then burn body fat. This process continues even after training.

The beauty of HIIT is that you use up any glycogen energy stored in the body and can then burn body fat.

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If we consider that when we follow a ketogenic diet, our objective is the same in that we exhaust glycogen stores and live of ketones or clean fuel. My logic then tells me that this type of training was almost developed with the ketoer in mind.

Benefits of Interval Training

  • By burning up any glycogen stores, it helps the body to get into or to get back into ketosis
  • HIIT burns more calories than steady state cardio
  • It is quick
  • It increases metabolism
  • No equipment is needed and it can really be done anywhere
  • It improves overall fitness
  • HIIT sharpens the mind

Interval Training - How to Get Started

How to start very much depend on h​ow active you already are, how fit you are and how healthy you are.

Before You Start

HIIT training really is just as easy as it sounds and simply involves alternating between periods of high exertion and relatively low intensity exercise. There are a few caveats however and it is important to approach this in a sensible and structured way in order to avoid injury or disappointment.

Note: Before beginning an intensive training routine, it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor and to ensure that you don’t have any underlying heart conditions!

Most people will begin their HIIT with running as this is a very straightforward form of cardio training that doesn’t require access to any specialist tools and that anyone can understand and use.

There are countless HIIT protocols however and these vary in length and intensity.

The key thing to recognize here is that high intensity training of any kind can be highly dangerous if you have never done it before, if you’re very overweight or if you’re in very poor physical health. It may also  be dangerous if you have any pre-existing heart conditions.

Interval Training where to start

In short, you need basic heart strength before you start pushing it to 100%. Thus, it is a good idea to build up at least a basic level of fitness before you start your HIIT training. If you’re still gasping for breath whenever you ascend the stairs, then you’re not ready for HIIT.

But here’s the thing: even if you’re used to exercising regularly and you’re in good shape, switching to HIIT will still come as a very big shock if you’ve not used it before. This is a whole new ball game in terms of the demands it places on your body and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you end up in a gasping heap on the floor!

If you’ve never exercised before or are unfit, then read the next section on how to first build up a basic level of fitness. If you’ve not used HIIT before, but you’re generally in good shape then go straight to the gentle introduction to interval training.

Build up a basic level of fitness

Before you start pushing yourself to your cardiovascular limit, it’s a good idea to first build up that basic level of fitness that will prevent you from shocking your heart too much.

Start slowly with HIIT

Right now, you might be thinking that you don’t need to worry about this and that it’s not likely you’re going to suffer heart problems. Even if you’re not worried though, building this basic level of fitness is important for your ability to stick with an intense HIIT workout.

Rushing into it is the mistake that too many people make – they launch straight into their training and hope that they’ll be able to keep up a pace that is far above what they find "comfortable".

The belief is that you need to be pushing beyond your comfort levels in order to lose weight.

You really don't, start slow. The important thing is to start.

But what actually happens is that you end up hating exercise and dreading your workouts. The result is that you’ll find yourself putting it off and unable to take part unless you’re feeling your very best. In no time at all, your training falls by the wayside and you give up!

So don’t aim to start losing weight or transform your fitness right away. Rather, focus on gradually improving your fitness so that your workouts are never outside the realms of comfortable to begin with. You’ll find that as you do this, you learn to do more and eventually this allows you to take on more challenging workouts and actually stick with them.

How do you build up this basic fitness?

The answer is to start with steady state cardio, using a gentle pace to begin with and then build up.

Begin with running but don’t aim to run a long distance or to run quickly to begin with. Instead, just aim to enjoy running. Set out with comfortable running shoes and jog carefully and slowly for up to half an hour. When it becomes painful, go home.

Do this once a week and over time, you’ll find that you start running faster and further without even trying. Importantly though, you won’t risk exhausting your body, you won’t damage your knees, overtraining or learning to loathe your training.

This can be very frustrating at first if you were hoping to get into great shape right away!

But what’s very important here is to be disciplined with yourself.

A lot of people think that getting into great shape is all about being disciplined enough to keep training.

Just as important though is to be disciplined enough to be patient and to build that basic level of strength before you approach the more intense types of training.

Start interval training

Build up your strength and stamina slowly and then you can look at adding HIIT workouts. And again, you’re going to start gently…

A gentle introduction to Interval Training

A lot of people will read the words HIIT and assume that this is one type of workout. In reality though, high intensity interval training is a very broad and flexible term that can encompass a great many different types of training and a great many different protocols.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make then, is to start HIIT and dive in right at the deep end with an intensive program aimed at the incredible fit. One of the most popular choices for instance is "Tababta". This is a brutal, punishing, fast and highly effective method of training that will leave you gasping for air and covered in sweat in just 4 minutes. But it’s also far too intense to start with and especially when running.

how to get started with interval training with running

​For most people the easiest is to start with simple running sequences. So let’s begin with a very easy beginner routine.

Easy Beginner Interval Training Routines

The Starting Point
  • Stretch and warm up for a few minutes
  • Jog for 2 minutes
  • Sprint for 10 seconds
  • Repeat this five times
  • Finish this with a 10 minute cool down (walking and stretching)

It sounds very easy but you’ll quickly find that just 10 seconds of sprinting is more than enough to completely exhaust you. By the time you’re finished, you’ll be completely exhausted and you’ll feel as though you can’t perform another 2 minute jogging session.

The workout itself will take you 12 minutes but you’ll find you’re easily as tired (if not more tired) than you would have been after jogging at a steady state for 30-40 minutes!

Moreover, this is enough to trigger the after burn effect and to leave you burning calories for hours afterward.

Because this type of training is so fast, you can afford to do this 2 or 3 times a week. Once you start to become more confident, you can then move on to the next step up.

  • If this is still too intense, start with 3 sprinting sessions and work up to the six over a few weeks.
​Next Level
  • Stretch and warm up for a few minutes
  • Jog for 2 minutes
  • Sprint for 30 seconds
  • Repeat this five times
  • Finish this with a 10 minute cool down (walking and stretching)

You can also increase the number of sprints to 8 and then to ten.

  • This is a really good level and unless you are a serious athlete, then don't push beyond this point.

Eventually, you might be able to work all the way up to...

​Super Fit
  • Stretch and warm up for a few minutes
  • Jog for 1 minute
  • Sprint for 30 seconds
  • Repeat this 8 times
  • Finish with a 10 minute cool down (walking and stretching)

Again though, you should only move on to these harder difficulty levels once you have built up the basic fitness and heart strength to be able to cope relatively easily. You should be exhausted at the end but not to the point where you can’t do anything for the rest of the day, or where you’re unable to train again for days and days on end.

  • Wow, if you train at this level, you are super fit. Still, always listen to your body.

​Next Step

If you feel you are ready to start interval training, then follow our simple how to get started guide. If you want to know more about interval training, then why not download our HIIT It Hard guide here.

Keto diet and Exercise – Should I Exercise on a Ketogenic Diet?

Keto diet and Exercise - Should I Exercise on a Ketogenic Diet?

Should I Exercise on a Ketogenic Diet?

Yes and No!

If you are just starting out on a ketogenic diet and you don’t normally exercise, then NO.

When you just start out, you are likely to have some keto flu symptoms. Get through this period first.

Then YES, definitely incorporate exercise into your life!

Once your body becomes fat adapted, you may find that you have much more energy anyway and actually want to exercise. 🙂 I know this may sound hard to believe if you normally don’t have the energy or the desire to exercise.

If you have always exercised, then YES!

You definitely want to continue to exercise. If, however you initially feel a little weaker than normal, just listen to your body and slow down for a bit. Your energy will return.

We all know exercise is important no matter what eating plan or lifestyle we follow. However, exercise can be way more efficient when following a ketogenic diet compared to a high carb diet. As a sweetener, the results achieved from exercise whilst fat burning can be much better.

Just remember, that you cannot “out exercise” bad eating. Eating good healthy and nutritious food always has to be the starting point if you want to change your life. It is your diet that essentially supply the building blocks for your desired outcome.

Are you interested to know exactly how exercise can support you while on the ketogenic diet? Then read on and find out…

Exercise Improves Insulin Sensitivity

Unfortunately, for many of us, insulin sensitivity decreases as we age and many of us become less active. Inactive people are more likely to have elevated levels of blood glucose. They tend to have higher levels of insulin secretion over the course of a day and as result have excess body fat.

This is also the first step on the way to metabolic syndrome and may lead to pre-diabetes. Or ultimately diabetes.

And unfortunately in today’s world, these problems are no longer limited to older people. Insulin sensitivity and resistance starts younger and younger.

Exercise, especially weight bearing, anaerobic activity has been shown to improve the efficiency of insulin in response to blood glucose.

When following a ketogenic diet, blood glucose levels and glycogen stores are lowered. This supports the body to better handle small bursts of glucose either from ingesting them or produced through the krebs cycle.

Fat Burning is Amplified

One of the biggest benefits of a ketogenic diet, is its noticeable effect on fat metabolism.

In the absence of carbohydrates, insulin’s activity is markedly decreased, paving the way for significantly increased levels of lipolysis.

When insulin levels are high, fat burning slows down and fat is stored. If you exercise when insulin levels are high, the body will utilize carbohydrates for energy. If however your insulin levels are low, your body can use the fat stores as energy.

We have way more fat stores, so when your body efficiently burns fat for energy, you should always ave enough energy during moderate exercise.

It is therefore obvious that exercise is more effective if your body is in a state of ketosis and burning fat or ketones rather than glycogen.

Exercise Promotes Muscle Gain

Why is muscle growth important?

We need muscles to burn fat. The more muscle we have, the more fat we can burn even when we are not active.

So, it is important to keep exercising to maintain muscle mass as the old adage, “use it or lose it” is very much true.

Not following a strict ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet is really different for every person and even if you follow a version that is not as strict, you will still reap the benefits.

There are also types of keto diets that are friendlier towards endurance athletes and bodybuilders.

READ –  Ketogenic Diet for Bodybuilding

One way to make sure that you exercise when your glucose levels are low is to exercise first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Before breakfast your body is forced to burn fat for energy, as glucose levels are depleted following 6 to 10 hours of fasting during the night.

No wonder then that this is the preferred time that many athletes perform cardiovascular exercise as it amplifies fat metabolism.

Tweaking Keto

There are keto adaptations for endurance athletes, bodybuilders and others who prefer to carb load before or during exercise.

The two main options are a cyclical ketogenic diet and a targeted ketogenic diet. What are they?

  • Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

Sport stars on this diet follow a normal keto diet for 5 days and then they carbo load for two days. For a complete cyclical ketogenic diet plan, check out our detailed guide.

  • Targeted Ketogenic Diet

With this adaptation, athletes carbo load shortly before workouts and then follow a standard ketogenic diet for the rest of the time.


Want to get the maximum benefit from your ketogenic lifestyle, then exercise is a vital addition.

Combining exercise and a ketogenic diet, can significantly improve your insulin sensitivity and glucose and lipid profiles as well as your overall body composition.

Obviously both exercise and a ketogenic diet supports your mental well being.

I know, exercise may be the last thing you want to do during the first two weeks or so of adapting to a ketogenic lifestyle, but once your body efficiently begins producing ketones – fat loss, strength, and muscle gains will happen.

So, unless you are used to training regularly don’t push exercise when you start out. But be sure to incorporate it into your keto life as soon as possible and REAP the BENEFITS!

So to the question should I exercise on a ketogenic diet? The ultimate answer is yes.





Ketogenic Diet for Bodybuilding

Ketogenic Diet Bodybuilding

A ketogenic diet is one high in healthy fats, moderate in protein, and very low in carbohydrates. The keto diet forces the body to burn fat for energy, instead of carbohydrates, which is its default energy source.

In a normal diet that contains high amounts of carbohydrates, the body converts carbs into glucose, which is used by the body, as well as the brain, for fuel and any leftover glucose that is not used is then stored as fat.

In a ketogenic diet, also referred to as low-carb, the body has very little amounts of carbohydrates to turn into glucose, so it does the next best thing: it turns to the liver.

The liver, then, takes the body’s fat supply and turns it into fatty acids, which are converted into ketones and so begins the metabolic process known as ketosis, which uses the body’s fat stores for energy.

​This is great for weight loss, but can a bodybuilder or a high endurance athlete follow a ketogenic diet and derive the energy needed to perform at their peak?

The concern is that when you lower the amount of carbohydrates in your diet, you’re also lowering your glycogen levels, which is the default energy source for muscles during workouts, and when glycogen is lacking, so is performance.

Is there a ketogenic diet for bodybuilding and endurance athletes? ​

The good news is that strength trainers, bodybuilders, sprinters or anyone doing intensive training do have options in following a low carb lifestyle, so they can enjoy the numerous benefits it offers without sacrificing the performance needed for training. 

By the way, ​if you have any questions about ketogenic diets, then check out our keto FAQ or if you want to know what foods you can eat, you will find our shopping list here.

There really are two options for bodybuilders or ​endurance athletes to approach a ketogenic diet. The first is a cyclical ketogenic diet, the second a targeted ketogenic diet, However there is some support for endurance athletes training only with fat as fuel.

The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

How CKD works

With a cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) you follow a basic ketogenic diet.

Then you re feed your body through a cycle that lasts either 1 week or 2 weeks.

In the refeeding cycle you add certain amount of complex carbohydrates, limited amounts of fat and protein to your diet.

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

Cyclical ketogenic diet for bodybuilding - Option 1

Follow a normal ketogenic diet for 5 days and then 2 days of carb loading with high to medium GI (glycemic index) foods.

On the 2 days when you do a carb-load, you increase your carb intake by 50 to 60%.

This high amount is typically above a person’s usual dietary intake, but the reason behind this increase is to immediately refill the glycogen levels in the liver and revamp muscle energy, but leave nothing behind to be stored as fat.

This way you increase your carb intake significantly during the cyclical “re feed,” also known as carb-load.

Ketogenic diet bodybuilding - Option 2

With this second option you follow a bi-weekly cycle where a ketogenic diet is followed for 10 to 12 days, followed by 3 to 4 days of carb loading.

​Which is best for you?

Both of these options can yield good results, but it mainly depends on your own training schedule, goals, preference and results.

The Goals of CKD

  • The first goal of this type of ketogenic diet for bodybuilding is to provide you with a break of sorts from going with barely little or no carbohydrates at all as in a standard ketogenic diet, to eating a high carb load in line with your workout needs.
  • The second goal is to modulate your hormone levels and thyroid gland, which becomes suppressed during dieting.
  • The third goal is to replenish your body’s dwindling supply of glycogen right when your body needs it the most so it’s used as energy, rather than being stored as fat.

Who Benefits from Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

Anybody who engages in bodybuilding, strength training, athletics and endurance athletes.

Athletes and bodybuilders use the refueled glycogen levels for high-intensity training, as a way of increasing endurance and maintaining muscle mass.

Implementing a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet Plan

This sort of training would be extremely hard, if not impossible by only eating low carb.

For this reason, the time between carb-loads is very important, as well as the kinds of foods you eat during the carb-load is critical for the success of this diet and the continued health of your body.

It mainly depends on how intense your training is, as well as your overall fitness goals.

Some Pointers

  • For starters, you will need to start a carb-load once a week. Adjusting the intervals between carb-loads is the trick and it will take some time to get it just right, as individual results will vary.
  • The key is to implement carb loads, but not allow the body to slip out of ketosis.
  • Measure how much your carb intake is during a load then gauge ketone levels in the urine in the following couple of days. Remember to give your body time to adjust to this new diet and metabolic state.
  • Limit your fat intake while you’re loading up on carbs but keep the amount of protein intake the same, or maybe even increase it slightly in line with the intensity of your training.


The first step will be to make sure you’re getting the right amount of nutrients during the low-carb part of this diet.

You need to calculate how much fat, protein and carbs you need to eat to stay in ketosis. 


This calculation is based on:

  • A lean body mass of 150 pounds. To compute your lean body mass you can use this calculator.
  • A 2 000 calorie per day diet.

Therefore your food intake should be:

  • Protein at 1 gm/lb. of lean body mass = 150 gm of protein daily.
  • Carb at 0.1 - 0.2 gm/lb. of lean body mass = 15 – 30 gm daily. 
  • Fat to make up the balance.

Proteins and carbs have 4 calories/gram which means the total amount of calories so far is (150 + 30 {or less}) x 4 = 720 calories.

Given that this calculation is done for an athlete, we assume the higher carb ratio. For a non-athlete, work with the 0.1% to achieve an effective 5% carb intake.

Fat intake will be measured according to how many calories are leftover to reach the 2 000 calories/day goal (2000 – 720 = 1280). As 1 gm of fat has 9 calories, 1280/9 = 142 gm/day is the amount of total fat intake for one day.

keto diet plan bodybuilding

Therefore, your daily nutrient intake would be as follows:

  • 150 grams of protein
  • 30 grams of carbohydrate
  • 142 grams of fat

Starting your Carb load

  • Begin roughly 5 hours before your final workout of the week, and eat about 25 to 50 grams of carbohydrates in addition to some protein and fats. This will help commence the production of liver enzymes.
  • Then 1 to 2 hours before the workout, eat anywhere from 25 – 50 grams of both glucose (brown rice, yogurt, oats and milk) and fructose (fruit) to replenish the liver glycogen levels.
  • The next 48 hours will mainly be based on your own personal preferences and body needs, but a basic guideline of the carb-load is as follows:
  • 1st day: 70% of your total caloric intake should be nothing but carbs (4.5 grams/lb. of lean mass), mainly those with a high GI such as white bread and rice, bagels, potatoes. Protein and fats should be evenly split, with each taking only 15% of your total caloric intake.
  • 2nd day: 60% carbohydrates (2.25 grams/lb. of lean mass), preferably those with a bit lower GI (raisins, bananas, pita bread, basmati rice all have a medium GI of 56 - 69; beans in all its forms, seeds, walnuts, cashews, certain fruits have a low GI of 55 or less). Increase the amount of proteins to 25% with fat remaining at 15%.

​Returning to Ketosis

Remember that the longer you’ve been following a low carb high fat diet, the easier it will be for your body to re-enter ketosis and readjust.

Make sure you pick your carbs wisely because those with a lower GI will make it easier for you in the long run.

Additionally, the more you train, the easier it is to enter ketosis because depleting glycogen supply will be quicker.

Consistency is key!

The fool proof method of emptying your liver’s glycogen supply in order to re-enter ketosis is by following these simple steps during your first three days after a carb-load:

  • Day 1: Refrain from eating after 6 pm
  • Day 2: Wake up and do a high intensity interval training workout or an intense weight-training workout before you have breakfast. Start your ketogenic diet with only 0 to 2% carb intake.
  • Day 3: Wake up and do a medium intensity workout or a medium intensity weight training workout before breakfast. Begin a normal ketogenic diet of about 3 to 5% carb intake.
  • Days 4 & 5: Same as day 3.


The Cyclic Ketogenic Diet is designed for professional athletes, sprinters, bodybuilders and really anyone who is engaging in high intensity workouts or power lifting. It is a strict regimen with carefully measured carb intake.

It features periods of higher carb eating called refeeds, typically one time per week in order to supply the body with the muscle glycogen needed to perform well during high intensity workouts.

The cyclic ketogenic diet supports intense workouts, bodybuilders and athletes by providing them with the carbs they need to perform, and is a strict regimen with carefully measured carb intake, well planned out depletion workouts along with strict adherence to very low carb eating for the rest of the week.

If you are looking for a ketogenic diet for bodybuilding and this sounds like something that would benefit you, consult a fitness or nutrition expert to make sure you’re on the right track in order to successfully reap in the rewards of your hard work.

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

The targeted ketogenic diet is another option to maintain high levels of training performance while also following a keto lifestyle.

The Targeted Ketogenic Diet

What is TKD

A targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) means following the typical very low carb keto diet on the days you don’t work out, then increasing intake of carbohydrates by 25 to 50 grams prior to your exercise routine on the days you exercise.

What this does is boost your blood sugar (glucose) levels during the time you’re physically active to supply vital glycogen to muscles that supplies the optimal amount of energy to get through the workout.

It also allows your body to go right back into ketosis once the workout is completed.

targeted ketogenic diet

Benefits of a Targeted Ketogenic Diet

You get the benefits of being on a ketogenic diet while, at the same time, providing your body with the energy it needs to train at a higher intensity level.

The trick is that it allows you to consume a certain amount of carbohydrates 30-60 minutes before your workout session and right after your weight training session.

This way, you’re raising your blood glucose levels on a temporary basis in order to perform at an optimal level during your workouts but the intake of carbs occurs at a time they are least likely to turn into body fat.

In other words, you’re providing your body with a stock of energy so you can perform your workouts at optimum, high-intensity levels.

Who is TKD for

This maybe ideal for those who lift weights to build lean muscle mass, or engage in high intensity interval training where carbs are needed to fuel a workout.

Implementing a Targeted Ketogenic Diet Plan

Experts recommend experimenting to identify what works best for you, but typically, in TKD you will eat 25 to 50 grams of carbohydrates about twenty to thirty minutes before a workout to enhance performance.

The types of carbohydrates you choose is not very important and you are encouraged to experiment with different foods to evaluate your results.

Many prefer easy to digest carbs in the form of liquids such as sports drinks or high Glycemic Index foods as they absorb quickly in the body and prevent stomach upset while training.

Candy, bagels, oatmeal, milk, cereal, and natural maple syrup are widely used.

If you choose a low GI carb then eat it 1 to 1 1/2 hours before the workout. If you choose high GI carbs eat 30 to 45 minutes before the workout.

However, you need to adjust this amount according to your own personal goals. For instance, if you’re trying to build muscle, you should increase your carbohydrate intake. If on the other hand you’re trying to shed pounds, then you should lower it.

The key is to experiment to identify what works best for you!

Glycemic Index

If you plan to follow a targeted ketogenic plan, it is important to understand which foods have a high, low, and moderate Glycemic Index (GI).

The Glycemic Index is a number from 1 to 100 that is a direct reflection of how a certain type of food affects one’s blood sugar (glucose) level.

It’s good to bear in mind that eating foods with a high GI will digest fast and will give you instant energy. Here is an informative infographic if you want to understand the glycemic index and glycemic load of food.  

Also keep in mind that glucose-based carbs like brown rice, oats, yogurt and milk will raise glycogen levels in the muscle, while fructose-based carbs (fruit) raise glycogen levels in the liver.

After Your Workout

What you eat after your workout is also important.

​After your workout your meal of smoothie should be low in fat. It is true that fat is good for you in keto, but after exercising foods high in fat may impair the absorption of nutrients and the time needed for your muscles to recover.

Post-exercise foods should be low in fat but high in protein.

On the days when you’re not working out, it’s a matter of personal choice whether to keep the carb intake at a slightly lower level or simply remove it altogether.

Returning to Ketosis

Research for the most part has shown that consuming carbs before exercise should not negatively affect ketosis, but again results may differ from person to person.

You should experiment and find what works best for you. Check your ketone levels with one of the many ketone test kits available.

There will be a short period of time following a workout where blood insulin levels will be elevated and free fatty acid availability needed for ketone production is decreased, but as blood glucose is pushed into the muscles, insulin levels will drop allowing ketogenesis to resume within several hours.


TKD is especially suitable for those who take part in high intensity exercises. If you’re a sprinter, for example, or lift weights or even participate in high intensity interval training, then this diet may be ideal for you.

If you feel that you do not have enough resources on a classic ketogenic diet, then try this approach.​

It will provide your body with ample levels of glycogen to support you during your workouts while allowing you to maintain a low carb lifestyle otherwise for optimal fat burning.

This type of diet may also be a good fit for those who want to maintain stable blood sugar levels and gain muscle at the same time.

If you don’t want the complexity of a cyclical ketogenic diet and don't want to completely eliminate carbs, but still want to benefit from the combined power of ketosis and intense exercise, then this approach may very well be for you.

Ketogenic Diet ONLY

Can endurance athletes compete on LCHF?

It would seem that more and more endurance athletes are challenging whether to carb load or not. Nutritionists, doctors and athletes are investigating whether it is possible and in fact advantageous to train and compete with fat and ketones as boy fuel rather than carbs and glucose.

As more evidence becomes available, I will continue to update this post, but for now check out the trailer of Cereal Killers 2 - Run on FAT.

In this film producer Donal O'Neill charts world class triathlete Sami Inkinen’s transition from pre-diabetic sugar burner to a faster, healthier, fat fueled endurance athlete under the guidance of New York Times bestselling author Dr Stephen Phinney.

Sami and his wife Meredith embarks on an epic anti sugar crusade. They row unsupported for more than 2400 miles from California to Hawaii. All this on a ketogenic diet, with no extra sugar of glucose. Their remarkable journey shows what is possible in endurance races with a fat fueling strategy.

“Run on Fat” challenges the very foundations of sports nutrition. Watch the trailer below and let us know your views in the comments below...