Written by Emily Jones
We’re all familiar with the basic macros needed to sustain life; Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats. The Low-Carb diet, as evident from its name, entails a reduced consumption of carbohydrates. You can do this by marginally reducing your daily carbohydrate allowance or eliminating them almost completely (ketogenic diet).
People choose to follow the low-carb diet for a multitude of reasons. They might want to shed a few extra pounds efficiently and eliminate the grogginess that comes with consuming carbs. Maybe some people want to keep their glucose levels in check or control diseases like Fatty Liver, Metabolic Syndrome, and Diabetes. Whatever the reason, the low-carb diet has proved beneficial when done in a balanced manner.
We’re here to investigate the intricate relationship between carbohydrates and your workouts. We’ll be going over all the different implications of a low-carb diet and how it will affect your ability to perform at a high level in the gym. After all, carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for your body.
How to Mix Low Carb Diet and Exercise
Initially, when you’re starting out with the low-carb diet, your body will need time to adjust to burning fats instead of carbs for fuel. This adaptation period may cause you to experience bouts of lethargy, fatigue, and overall performance loss. Moreover, your body will experience intense cravings initially that need to be overcome to sustain a low-carb diet.
Your metabolism will start to adapt to your new diet within a few weeks, but until then, it’s better not to put your body under too much stress. You should stick to low-intensity workouts like slow jogs, yoga, stretches, and conditioning until your body fully gets used to the low-carb diet. You’ll start to feel better and better as time progresses; that’s when you can slowly begin incorporating higher-intensity workouts into your routine. You must listen to your own body because everyone is different, and it’s essential to work at your own pace for optimal results without risking injury or health issues.
Various studies have shown that athletes who transitioned to a low-carb diet experienced decreased efficiency during the first few weeks but recuperated shortly after the transition period. Moreover, other studies showed that athletes experienced improved performance and efficiency after starting the low-carb diet. Remember, these studies are conducted on professional, highly conditioned athletes; hence the results might vary for the average human being.
Intermittent fasting can help supplement the results of your diet, but it’s essential to break your fast effectively and not ruin your ketosis. Let us look at a few efficient ways to break your fast if you’re on the keto diet:
Firstly, you should start slow and not dive into a binge, break your fast with a nutritious liquid like broth to get those digestive juices going. Secondly, try consuming leafy greens and fibrous vegetables to break your fast, and try to consume your food slowly in small bites. Finally, avoid breaking your fast with carbs, cruciferous vegetables, dairy, eggs, and nuts since these can potentially cause digestive distress in the initial phase of breaking a fast.
Restructuring Your Training
If you start following the low-carb or ketogenic diet, you’ll have to adjust your training routine to cater to the absence of carbs as an energy source. As most of you would know, glycogen is the most readily available source of energy in our bodies. When in ketosis, these glycogen stores get quickly depleted, having our body rely on fat as its primary energy source. The problem lies in the fact that fat isn’t as easy to break down for energy as glycogen; hence, the need to restructure our training routine.
Since your glycogen stores are compromised, and you’re already in a hypo-caloric state due to your diet, you’ll need to structure your workouts to be brief, heavy, and intense to maximize output. You must utilize the fresh ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and glycogen in your muscles as efficiently as possible. This means you’ll have to go as hard and heavy as possible after your warm-up to build muscle strength while not wasting calories.
Low glycogen stores make it challenging to exert effort with sustained intensity. Hence, it’s paramount to stick with short, intense, and heavy workouts that will consume energy and calories efficiently without negatively impacting your strength and muscle mass.
An Ideal Weight-Training Session on the Low Carb Diet
Now let us take a muscle group like the biceps and see how you can have a brief, high-intensity workout at the gym or at home.
Begin with a mass-building exercise like the dumbbell curl with a heavyweight. Do two sets of 10 reps each on low weight to warm up. Proceed to crank up the weight to where you can only manage 6-8 solid reps with ideal form. For your second set, drop the weight by 10% and churn out 6-8 reps. For the third and final set, drop the weight by another 10% and go to failure till you can’t manage another rep. Rest for 45-60 seconds between each set; this will bring the total time for this exercise to 5-6 minutes.
An isolation movement like the dumbbell concentration curl is ideal for the second exercise. Set the weight to where you can’t manage more than 6-8 reps. Reduce the weight by 10% for the second set and bang out another 6-8 reps. Go all out till failure for the third and final set. This exercise will take another 5-6 minutes, bringing the total to about 12 minutes.
For the third and final exercise, finish off your biceps with a movement focusing on a different part of your muscle. For instance, dumbbell hammer curls will focus on the brachialis and brachioradialis. Pump out three heavy sets of 6-8 reps, with the final set going till failure. With another 6 minutes elapsed, your total workout will be done in about 18-20 minutes.
Remember to focus on your form for optimal results and muscle stimulation. Try to limit your rest periods as much as possible to maintain a high-intensity workout that will supplement your low-carb diet. Moreover, it’s crucial that you push yourself to the limit and go all out to leave no energy in the store for the best results. Apply the same principles applied here to other muscle groups throughout the week.
If you’re looking for a set of dumbbells or other equipment to work out at home, Ativafit has some excellent adjustable dumbbell options that will take up very little space and serve you well in achieving those gains!
Cardio on the Low Carb and Keto Diet
You can double up on the fat-burning effects of ketosis by adding cardio to your workout routine. You can do cardio in various ways, depending on what suits you. Jogging, skipping, and cycling are some of the popular ways to do cardio. Low-intensity steady state cardio (LISS) for 30-45 minutes 4-5 times a week has been proven most effective for fat loss and cutting.
The ideal time to do cardio on a low-carb diet is in the morning before breakfast. This will lead to maximum fat burning since you’ll be in a fasted state from last night, meaning all of your glycogen stores will be depleted by the morning. Your body will be automatically forced to utilize fat for energy.
Another fantastic time for cardio is right after your workout. With your strength training, you’ll have depleted almost all of your limited glycogen stores, meaning when you get to the cardio, your body will start breaking down fat for energy. This will accelerate the ketogenic process and enable you to burn fat more efficiently.
Supplementing your low-carb diet and workouts with cardio will do wonders for your fat loss and shredding journey. You’ll start noticing definite results within weeks and notice your energy levels to be much better throughout the day if you follow these regimens.
The best thing about cardio is that you can do it anytime with Ativafit’s amazing, sleek, foldable bikes and the under-desk elliptical that will enable you to burn those stubborn calories even while working! Check out the fantastic cardio equipment at Ativafit for your home workouts.
Words of Wisdom
With everything being said, the most essential part is keeping your health as the foremost priority. You must remember that no set rules or guidelines apply to all of us. Every person is different with unique genetics; what works for someone else might not work in the same way for you. Just focus on listening to your body and doing what feels right for you. In the initial weeks, you’ll have to adjust the number of carbs and the intensity of your workouts to fit your biology.
It’s wise to keep a professional on board with your fitness journey who can guide you with your diet and workouts and keep you on track. With the low-carb diet, it’s very easy to fall into the yo-yo dieting cycle and develop unhealthy habits.
We hope this article helped you understand how to navigate your workouts while being on the low-carb or keto diet. Remember to track your progress and have fun with what you’re doing. Don’t make fitness a chore; treat it as a lifestyle, and you’ll never look back again!