The Keto Diet And Crossfit – Get The Facts

Does following a Keto diet hurt your Crossfit workouts? Will eating this way make you slow, weak, and tired like its opponents claim? Or, will going Keto help you lose fat faster and boost your performance more than carbs ever did?

My Personal Experience With Crossfit & The Keto Diet

Personal experience shows me that eating low carb and fasting to stay in nutritional ketosis does not hurt my workouts. Whether they include lifting weights, hill sprints, or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, my performance doesn’t suffer. They actually improved almost immediately.

Since I’ve adopted a ketogenic diet I experienced the following benefits, many of which are related to my Crossfit style workouts.

How Eating Keto Helps My Crossfit Workouts

  • I have more energy and don’t need to take naps.

  • I’m less sore after workouts.
  • I’m still getting stronger.
  • I recover faster between sets.
  • I can train more often.

  • I’m much less sore post-workout.

    While these results are great for me, the don’t necessarily mean everyone will experience the same things. This requires research to determine the pros and possibly, cons of eating Keto and doing Crossfit workouts for all of us.

    While I’ve written about doing high intensity workouts (weights, sprints, etc.) while you’re eating a low carb/Keto diet, there’s never been any published research using Crossfit workouts specifically.

    Fortunately, science is on top of things and recently had a group of Crossfit athletes follow a Keto Diet while sticking with their regular workouts. Their results were published in the journal Sports.

    Crossfit keto

    Crossfit And Keto Diets – The Research

    In this study 12 Crossfitters ate Keto or their normal diet for 3 months. This is important since it can take 30 or more days to fully adapt to a ketogenic diet and get your body to using fat as its primary source of energy.

    Until this switch occurs it’s not uncommon to have less energy, strength, and endurance while your body is making the switch from using carbohydrates to your body fat and the fat you eat for energy. Workout performance, whether it’s Crossfit or jogging can decrease a little during this time. This is one of the main reasons exercise related studies on ketogenic diets that last less than a month often produce negative results.

    Men and women both participated in the study. Everyone was experienced with Crossfit workouts and pretty strong with an average max squat equal to 1.25 times their body weight.

    Results After 12 Weeks Crossfit And Keto

  • The Keto group decreased their body fat by 12%. Those following their normal diet didn’t lose any.
  • The Keto and normal dieters muscle mass didn’t differ.
  • Eating a Keto Diet didn’t cause their endurance, speed, and recovery to suffer.
  • Markets of overall health including: blood glucose and insulin didn’t change.
  • Blood tests showed the Keto diet group was definitely in nutritional ketosis.

    While there were only 12 participants in this study the findings support what I’ve experienced and believed for a long time. That is, you can eat keto/low carb and do Crossfit workouts without a drop in your performance. You’ll lose fat faster too, which is nice.

    If you’re already eating Keto, the results from this study should encourage you to keep going. You’ll lose fat faster and – I believe – find that your strength, endurance, and recovery will improve too. I’m not sure why the athletes in this study didn’t experience these benefits but I know that I and others have.

    Keto crossfit
    Eating Keto doesn’t keep Jarrid from training hard.

    Crossfit And Keto – Real World Results

    I reached out to Jarrid Michel (link) who follows a Keto diet and does Crossfit workouts after finding his account on Instagram. I asked what has changed for him with regard to his health and workouts since he changed his diet.

    Below is what Jarrid has to say.

    “All I can say is that I’ve never felt anything like the way I feel from keto. My cardio has increased massively and I recover a lot quicker due to carrying a lot less weight.

    Since starting keto i have lost a total of 11 kg (24 pounds) and my body looks a lot leaner. Also I am sleeping better and waking up fresh ready to start the day and I have clearer thoughts, it’s like my brain has had the fog lifted from it.

    The one drawback I experienced when i first started keto is a loss in strength.

    But from doing my own research I found eating the correct amount of carbs from sweet potatoes I quickly got my strength back. On days I train I eat 50 grams of carbs. On my off days I eat 20-30 grams. Not only did it return back to normal but i started to beat my personal bests, all while eating Keto.”

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    How To Get The Most From Keto And Crossfit

    If you do decide to give a ketogenic diet a try, there are several things you can do to get into ketosis faster (link). The faster you get into nutritional ketosis, the sooner you can turn your body into a fat burning machine.

    Here a few things I recommend.

  • Take MCT oil for more ketones and energy.
  • Creatine monohydrate so you can always train hard.
  • Make sure you drink plenty of water.
  • Get enough electrolytes (salt, potassium, magnesium) from your diet.
  • Eat enough protein. Aim for 1 gram per pound of your desired weight.
  • Cut our carbs. Aim for 50 grams of carbohydrates or less every day.
  • Get the rest of your calories from fat. The more fat you have to lose, the less you need to eat.

    Following the tips above have helped me tremendously. I’m able to train every day, often 2 times a day when there’s time.

    If you’d like to get more tips, I recommend reading The Best Crossfit Supplements and How To Get Into Ketosis Faster.

    Crossfit & Keto – In Conclusion

    The results from this study, along with mine and others shows that you can follow a ketogenic diet and still put 100% into your WOD. All that’s left is for you to give it a try and experience the benefits for yourself.

    Kephart WC, et al. The Three-Month Effects of a Ketogenic Diet on Body Composition, Blood Parameters, and Performance Metrics in CrossFit Trainees: A Pilot Study. Sports (Basel). 2018 Jan 9;6(1).

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