Lifting Keto: Tips for Lifting on a Ketogenic Diet

Posted by Gabriel Wolff on May 23, 2017


Let me preface the rest of this by stating very clearly: My wife (Mrs. Wink) thoroughly does not enjoy the keto diet, and is happy using a more balanced carbohydrate lifestyle. I on occasion go full keto when I feel out of whack with my blood sugar.


The Ketogenic diet is an eating plan that revolves around making fat the primary macronutrient you consume. Ideally, you're taking in 70% or more of your total daily calories from fat, while protein and carbohydrates take supporting roles to comprise the other 30%. As a result, your brain no longer breaks down glucose for energy, but instead use salt (calcium hydroxybuterate).

While the ketogenic diet has been linked to favorable body composition (body fat to muscle ratio), I do find that while on a purely ketogenic diet, my focus is sharpened, and my energy levels are higher. However, I tend to be slightly hypoglycemic 

Here are some tips on living an active lifestyle while trying the ketogenic diet.

1. Get past the "keto-flu".

You cannot expect your body to perform well if you're going through glucose withdrawal. After beginning a ketogenic diet, you're body has to burn through the glycogen (stores of converted sugar used in case of a sugarless diet) before it can start burning salt for energy. This process SUCKS. You will feel sluggish, low and almost "sick" for about a couple of days.

Trying to workout while your brain is trying to convert it's engine from sugar burning to salt fueled is like attempting to sprint underwater - you just won't get anywhere. Take the couple of days to get past the "flu". When you begin converting salt into energy, you will definitely feel it - in a good way. At that point, working out will feel great.

2. Fuel up with MCT Oil

Most MCT Oil out in the marketplace is from coconut. They're praised for being rapidly absorbed and utilized for energy.

For my pre-workout routine, I make "vegan-proof" coffee: 1 tablespoon MCT Oil, 1 tablespoon cashew butter, and 1 cup of coffee blended on low in the blender.

Within 5 minutes of drinking this, I am on FIRE. I knock out 1/2 a day's work in 1 hour, knock out my morning errands and am halfway to the gym before I even realize what day of the week it is.

Anyway, MCT's are great for kickstarting your day, just be sure to limit the portion to 1 tablespoon, or else your kickstart will end with multiple toilet visits...

3. Lift Less Often with More

By working out without loads of glucose flooding your body, you will not recover as fast. However, this does not mean you will not recover. I found that I definitely get stronger, and ironically, have more intense workouts while on a ketogenic diet.

The key is to lift smarter and for a shorter duration of time. If your goal is to lift more in a specific exercise, then focus your workout around that in the beginning 15-20 minutes and take the second half to work on accessory exercises that will build around that heavier lift. 

All-in-all, when I'm on a keto diet, I usually cap my workouts at 45 minutes and lift heavier than I am able to when eating a normal diet.

Pros and Cons

I love being on a ketogenic diet, but definitely miss sweets from time to time (ok, maybe all the time). Resisting the urge to indulge does get easier as I'm further into the regimen, but using products like Wink (plug, plug) and other sugarless sweets help. Super dark chocolate (90%) has become a staple in our household. Take a few squares with some hazelnuts and you're in business.

Another thing to consider about the diet is dining out-navigating menus can be frustrating, as most meals are designed to put carbohydrates/protein ahead of fats. 

However, the sustained energy levels, lack of hunger pains, and results definitely make up for this. At least in my experience.