Can you do HIIT workouts when you’re eating keto? I can tell you from first hand experience the answer is yes. As long as you follow the diet properly and train smart.
Recently published research supports the results I’m getting.
In this article I review the research behind ketogenic diets and HIIT. I’ll also give you several tips to help you get the most from diet and workouts.
Eating Keto Won’t Hurt Your HIIT Workouts
In this study, a group of recreationally trained men (i.e.. not elite athletes) were put on either a ketogenic diet (less than 40 grams of carbohydrates a day) for 12 weeks. A second group ate whatever they wanted.
Both groups of guys completed an average of 2 HIIT workouts a week.
Tests were performed to measure the men’s fitness levels at the start of the study and every 4 weeks thereafter.
Keto And HIIT – Results After 12 Weeks
Results from the study finds eating a very low carbohydrate, higher fat diet does not hurt your performance in HIIT workouts. Overall guys eating very low carb performed as well as those eating their normal diet.
Following a ketogenic diet also doesn’t hurt your cardio fitness either. The guys eating keto in this study actually improved their endurance level and the amount of time they can train intensely to exhaustion. Researchers think this is due to the body fat they lost.
Speaking of fat loss, the guys eating low carb lost 3 times as much body fat (7 lbs vs 2 lbs) than the control group. That’s awesome since they weren’t dieting to lose excess body fat. Even better, the keto group actually ate more and still lost weight. This is why experts recommend eating low carb and doing HIIT workouts to have a healthy body and metabolism.
Key Point – Let Your Body Adapt To Keto
Blood tests from this research find that the guys eating a very low carbohydrate (ketogenic) diet took between 2-4 weeks to begin adapting to their diet.
This means that for the first few weeks of the study, they were transitioning from using glucose to fat as their primary energy source. During this time it’s common for your energy, mood, and exercise performance to be a little low.
Once the guys eating low carb in this experiment got past the 2-4 week point their exercise performance improved.
Keep this in mind if you’re new to eating low carb or are struggling through the ‘keto flu’. It too shall pass and sooner rather than later you’ll feel better than ever. Using the tips in this article will also help you get into nutritional ketosis faster.
I also think that if the study last another 2-3 months they would’ve performed even better as their bodies became more acclimated to the diet.
Very Important Point Regarding This Research
An important thing to note from this study is it’s length. Since it lasted 12 weeks, the subjects were able to adapt and get themselves into ketosis.
Oftentimes, when research shows that keto or low carb diets hurt exercise performance it’s because the guys and girls eating close to 0 grams of carbs weren’t given enough time to really adapt to the diet. This can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks so you may have to be a little patient during this time since your energy, endurance, and workouts may suffer a little.
What does this mean for you?
Results from this study indicate that following a keto diet will not hurt your performance in HIIT workouts. Not only that but that your performance can actually improve when eating very low carb (less than x grams a day).
How To Get The Most From Your Keto Diet & HIIT Workouts
Like I wrote above, it takes 2-4 weeks to adapt to a ketogenic diet. So don’t be surprised if you do feel a little sluggish in the beginning.
Here are a few things you can do to help make the transition easier.
- Add More Electrolytes Into Your Diet
One of the reasons you may feel sluggish when you first start eating keto is due to the fact that you’re losing more electrolytes than you’re taking in through your diet.
This often occurs because when you’re eating very few carbs your body eliminates excess water weight via an increase in the amount you urinate. With this loss of water, you also lose electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium especially). This in turn leaves you feeling tired abs can rank your workouts.
All you need to remedy this situation is get more electrolytes in your diet or by taking a supplement.
This means eat more potassium rich foods like avocados and sprinkling a little extra salt on your food, and drinking bone broth or chicken bouillon cubes dissolved in hot water.
If your going to try an electrolyte supplement, make sure it’s free of carbohydrates since you’re eating keto. This means no Gatorade, Powerade, or other sugar-rich sports drink.
- Take MCTs To Get Into Ketosis Faster
You normally have to fast for about 2 days or eat very low carb (less than 30 grams a day) for 2-4 weeks to get your body into nutritional ketosis.
If you’re really looking to push your workouts and overall performance, it’s important to get and stay in ketosis.
During either of these transition phases from using carbs to fat for energy your workouts, work performance, etc. can really suffer.
One way to eliminate feeling so bad during this time is to take 1-2 tablespoons of MCT oil every day.
Taking MCTs – a fat your body uses as an immediate source or energy – puts your body into ketosis. Usually in less than an hour. This means instead of feeling sluggish and fatigued you’ll have the physical energy and mental focus you need to be your best.
Best of all MCT oil is tasteless and odorless so you can add it to your protein shakes, drizzle over food, or take it right off the spoon without any nasty tastes.
- Eat More Protein
Many articles about eating keto tell you to limit protein to help ensure you get and stay in ketosis.
In my, and others’ experience (name) if you’re doing HIIT and other intense workouts, eating more protein will help your performance and post-workout recovery, without kicking you out of ketosis.
I am to eat 1 gram of protein per pound of my goal body weight every day. This amount helps me keep off excess body fat, build muscle, and train hard every day.
Eating this much protein from food alone can be a little tough. I make it simple by drinking an all-natural whey protein shake almost every day.
Whey contains all of the amino acids our body needs to grow strong and stay healthy. A single scoop gives you 24 grams of protein and only 3 grams of carbs, making it perfect for us keto and low carb eaters.
Plus it mixes easily and tastes great. Give it a try to see for yourself.
- Take Creatine For Strength & Endurance
HIIT workouts are intense, with each round or interval lasting less than a minute. During these intervals, your body uses compounds called ATP and creatine phosphate for energy during the first 30 or so seconds.
Taking creatine monohydrate enables you to store more creatine phosphate for your body to use. This means you’ll be able to push harder, go longer, and do more sets at each workout.
It’ll also help you recover faster between sets. So much so that you’ll be adding more intervals to each workout faster than you’d ever imagine.
Plus you can’t beat creatine for its ability to help you get stronger and build muscle fast.
Now you know that it’s only possible to do HIIT workouts while eating keto and low carb but that it’s possible to thrive too. Give the tips in this article a try and see for yourself how powerful eating keto is for your health and workout performance.
Dostal T, Plews DJ, Hofmann P, Laursen PB, Cipryan L. Effects of a 12-Week Very-Low Carbohydrate High-Fat Diet on Maximal Aerobic Capacity, High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise, and Cardiac Autonomic Regulation: Non-randomized Parallel-Group Study. Front Physiol. 2019 Jul 17;10:912.