Is the ketogenic diet bad for exercise? Some say it's not and may even help athletic performance. But not all the evidence shows it works and some evidence suggests keto is a bad choice if you workout regularly. In this video review, I'll present the other side of the argument by showing studies whose results indicated the ketogenic diet may be contraindicated for athletes. This review looks at only the human clinical research – no mouse, rat or test tube studies- so you can best see if this nutrition program is right for you.
Video Review: Ketogenic Diet And Exercise
Here is the video or hit play in the box below:
Problems With The Research
The research investigations highlighted in the video suffer from problems such as:
- There's not a lot of keto-exercise studies (yet)
- Most studies contain small numbers of people
- Not all studies had a control group
- The foods eaten were not tracked as well as they could be
- The author of one of the studies has since written a low-carb book. Conflict of interest? Maybe not but just something to consider.
Keto Diet Side Effects
Aside from the studies appearing to show reductions in athletic performance, the investigation of people doing CrossFit noted a 35% increase in LDL bad cholesterol levels. That study was small (only 12 people) but its something to look at if you already have high LDL levels. While the participants in that study were educated on how to do keto, not everybody returned food diaries. This makes it difficult to know if they were eating dirty keto or clean keto. That study also appeared to show reduced muscle mass in the legs.
So Is Keto Bad For Exercise?
It's hard to say due to the lack of and quality of the research. There's no doubt that following the diet short will promote short-term weight loss. Whether or not that's a benefit or a problem would vary by several factors including the sport/activity we are talking about. The finding of muscle loss during keto is concerning and deserves more research. That said, one thing appears to be certain: most people can't maintain a ketogenic eating plan long term. Consider this when deciding to add the nutrition plan to your exercise program.
- The Three-Month Effects of a Ketogenic Diet on Body Composition, Blood Parameters, and Performance Metrics in CrossFit Trainees: A Pilot Study
- Low-carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet Impairs Anaerobic Exercise Performance in Exercise-Trained Women and Men: A Randomized-Sequence Crossover Trial
- Ketogenic Diet Benefits Body Composition and Well-Being but Not Performance in a Pilot Case Study of New Zealand Endurance Athletes
- Efficacy of Ketogenic Diet on Body Composition During Resistance Training in Trained Men: A Randomized Controlled Trial