If you’re new to Keto or restarting Keto, you might be wondering if you need to exercise to lose weight on Keto.
Before you scroll to the end, below I’ve tried to answer any questions you may have regarding exercise on keto.
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The majority of people start Keto to lose weight and Keto has proven to be an effective way to lose weight quickly.
Many of us have tried other ‘healthy’ diets that demand heaps of exercise to be effective.
You may be looking for a diet that doesn’t need exercise to be successful and stumbled across Keto.
If you haven’t ever enjoyed exercise or it’s been years since you moved regularly, the thought of exercising every day might seem daunting or impossible.
In today’s article I’ll cover all the questions that come to the Aussie Keto Queen regularly about exercise and Keto, including:
- Do you need to exercise on Keto?
- What are the benefits of exercising on Keto?
- How long does it take to lose weight on keto without exercise?
- Does exercise speed up weight loss on Keto?
- Does Ketosis affect ability to exercise or strength?
- What is the best form of exercise for Keto Dieters?
- How do I get started exercising on keto if I’m a beginner
Do you need to exercise on Keto?
In short – no you do not need to exercise on Keto if your goal is weight loss.
Ketosis is a very effective weight loss tool.
If you are new to Keto, you would benefit from reading my quick guide on Getting Started on Keto.
By reducing your carbs very low, our bodies switch to burning fat for fuel.
You have no doubt seen hundreds of stories of dramatic weight loss on Keto, with and without exercise.
So if we keep the answer very simple, you can lose weight without exercise on Keto.
This can be great news for you if exercise isn’t your thing, or maybe it’s been years since you moved regularly.
It is also a huge relief if you have difficulty with movement due to a medical condition or have struggled with exercise in the past.
So if you’ve been putting off starting Keto because you don’t want to exercise, I can assure you it is worth starting anyway.
The great thing about quick weight loss on Keto is your energy levels start to improve and moving becomes easier.
Many people start Keto and lose some initial weight, and then want to start exercising which is awesome!
What are the benefits of exercising on Keto?
Now you know you don’t HAVE to exercise on keto – so why would you?
The benefits of exercise are so much more extensive than what many people realise.
Exercise in general – not even relating to Keto – gives you the following benefits;
- SLEEP: Exercise improves your sleep and can reduce insomnia and other sleep disorders. It also helps regulate our sleep cycles.
- MENTAL HEALTH: Exercising regularly helps you think clearly and improve your mental health
- HAPPINESS: When we exercise, our brains release endorphins that improve feelings of happiness and pleasure. This chemical boost can help lift your spirits when they’re low -even when you really don’t feel like moving.
- STRESS: Exercise reduces stress. Physical exertion releases endorphins that help reduce feelings of anxiety or tension.
- PHYSICAL HEALTH: Exercise reduces cholesterol, blood pressure, increases muscle mass, bone strength, lowers your risk of falls, improves your balance… the benefits of exercise go on and on!
The connection between exercise and mental health is particularly interesting.
Exercising releases endorphins and chemicals in the brain which can reduce feelings of depression and improve mental health.
If you feel like your motivation is low when starting Keto, or that following a keto diet makes you more stressed than usual – then exercise might be just what you need to get through this time!
Improving our sleep is also a huge factor in improving our overall health. It has been shown that those with poor sleep have poorer overall health as well.
So if going for a walk after dinner means sleeping more soundly, it all adds up to a healthier lifestyle overall.
How long does it take to lose weight on Keto without exercise?
If you understand the benefits of exercise on Keto above but are not able to, don’t fear.
You can still lose weight on Keto, but it will be slower without a doubt.
Most people start losing weight on Keto within the first week, although initially this is often water weight and inflammation from eating high carb diets previously.
As you get more weeks into Keto, it will slow down as your body starts burning fat – exactly what you want it do.
Adding exercise is a great way to break a stall on Keto as well. If you’ve been stalled for a few weeks, my article Why Keto Has Stopped Working (link) for you will help.
Once your body is using fat for fuel, exercising only means burning more fat each day.
If you are not exercising on Keto, one thing I would recommend is to take a break from weighing yourself.
You will likely lose weight without even noticing it if your focus is more on the quality of food you eat versus how much or little food.
Not being caught up in what the scales say can be really liberating. Measure your success with a tape measure, your favourite jeans or your energy levels.
Keep a short journal of how you are feeling each day, how you slept and waht you ate to help identify patterns.
You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet, but complementing Keto with exercise is a great way to speed things up.
Does exercise speed up weight loss on Keto?
Once your body is using fat for fuel by being in Ketosis, exercising means burning more fat each day.
Calories still matter.
The ‘calories in, calories out’ method has been debunked in recent years, meaning the quality of your calories matter as well.
What this means is if you burn 2000 calories a day, you can’t eat 5000 calories a day even if it is Keto and expect the health benefits and weight loss.
We need to balance carbs AND calories on Keto.
Exercise does burn calories, but usually much less than you think.
For example, you typically burn about 100 – 150 calories an hour walking at a fast pace.
This means if you walk for 30 minutes every day, you will have burned 700 – 1050 calories – or about the same as a large dinner on Keto.
So you can see over a week, the exercise will add up – but if you are regularly eating excess calories it can be hard to combat that with exercise.
The best approach is to eat at a calorie deficit of 5% – 15%, and add exercise for overall health benefits and energy.
Using exercise as punishment or to undo a meal you feel guilty about only leads to shame and over eating again in future – plus you may learn to detest exercise if it is punishment.
Does Ketosis affect ability to exercise or strength?
Ketosis is a natural state for the human body coming from our hunter-gatherer days.
In fact, we go into ketosis during fasting and strenuous exercise as part of our survival mechanisms.
It’s important to note that if you are not exercising or fasting on Keto, your energy levels will be lower than usual – but they should return once you become fat adapted.
Being fat adapted usually happens within 3 – 4 weeks of being in Ketosis.
There are many professional athletes who are turning to a Keto diet.
It seems particularly well suited to endurance athletes rather than those requiring quick, short bursts of energy.
In my own experience, I found I am able to run 5km on an empty stomach while in ketosis, but I struggle to lift as heavy weights or do ‘explosive’ movements like sprinting.
There are more studies being done into exercise and ketosis and the answer isn’t conclusive, so I recommend finding what works for you.
Here’s some tips about managing your exercise if you already have an exercise routine:
- Be prepared for a drop in energy at the start and lighten your load
- Increase load slowly
- Stretch more than ever to help your body adjust
- Supplement with low carb protein powders
- Include plenty of electrolytes to balance fluid loss
- If you are really struggling, include half a banana before a workout and half a banana afterwards in your protein shake. You’ll find you are still in ketosis within an hour or two, depending on how intense your exercise was.
What is the best form of exercise for Keto Dieters?
What is the best flavour of ice cream?
It’s the same question – it depends on YOU!
The best form of exercise on Keto is the one you enjoy and that you can sustain.
It also depends on your goals.
If your Keto goal is changing your body shape, exercises to build muscle are important and help improve metabolism:
- Weight training
- Resistance bands
- Swimming laps
If your goal is overall health and longevity, you can take it a little lighter with;
- Walking or jogging
- Gentle water aerobics
I think a mix of both is perfect – some form of resistance or weight training, followed by a lower impact, recovery exercise the following day.
Now let’s find out how you can get started if you’ve never liked exercise!
How do I get started exercising on keto if I’m a beginner?
If you haven’t exercised for years or ever before, don’t worry.
It doesn’t have to be difficult or painful to get started exercising on Keto.
You can use your current progress on keto as a great motivator to get started.
If you’ve been doing Keto for a few weeks or months and are starting to have increased energy, it might be time to supercharge your results with exercise!
Here’s my top tips for starting exercising if it’s been a while between situps:
- Start slow – you’ve probably heard the advice to start with walking and work your way up. I think this is really good advice. Even if it’s just doing a few steps around your living room while watching TV, that counts!
- Build movement into your day – this is all those little things like parking a little further away from the shops, taking the ramp or stairs instead of the escalator and even doing some quick stretches while waiting for the kettle to boil. Do a dance, lift your groceries like weights, you get the picture!
- Experiment with different styles of exercise. If you don’t enjoy something after 3 – 4 tries, move on to something else
- Make it fun! I love to dance like crazy to my favourite songs, walk to an interesting podcast or audio book and walk while chatting to friends on the phone. Find somethign you enjoy doing and pair it with exercise. I even lay on the floor in front of the tv and do stretches at the end of the day.
- Use free resources– The exercise world is our oyster with the likes of youtube at our finger tips! Things like Yoga with Adrienne are my favourite – put on a video for even just 10 minutes, give it a go in the privacy of your own home wearing whatever you want.
- Recovery is important -Make sure you have some time for recovery after each workout session so don’t try to do too much too soon. In the beginning, try exercise 3 times a week. Remember the best recovery is active though – sitting on the couch will make those glutes feel worse. A gentle walk will get the blood flowing and help repair the muscles to make them stronger.
- Break it up – your sessions don’t have to be an hour long! Start with 10 minutes a day and gradually increase depending on how you’re feeling.
- Get a friend or family member involved – setting yourself a mini challenge or some competition can be really helpful for some people
There is no one “right way” to eat and exercise on keto, it depends how you like to live your life.
The most important thing is that it’s sustainable for YOU!
If you’ve never exercised regularly, starting small and taking baby steps can help you overcome the assault on your body from jumping into something intense from the get go.
- You do not have to exercise to lose weight on Keto
- Exercise has a HUGE number of other health benefits
- Exercise can speed up weight loss and body recomposition (i.e changing your body shape)
- If you’re nervous or unwilling, start small and make it fun!
“Exercise is the key not only to physical health but to peace of mind” ~ Nelson Mandela
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Not sure how to start Keto?
Here’s some resources to help you!