Keto Diet and Resistance Training

The ketogenic diet, known in short as the keto diet, is becoming more popular by the day.

It is a high fat, low carb diet known for its weight loss benefits. However, studies have shown that it has more advantages and weight loss effects.

But there’s some controversy surrounding its effect on athletic performance. There are claims that the ketogenic diet can enhance fat burning and endurance. However, other authorities claim that it can drain energy levels and challenge muscle growth.

In this article, we will review the ketogenic diet's effect on resistance training and workouts.

Benefits of a keto diet on resistance training

Several studies have shown that the ketogenic diet may benefit strength training in several ways. For one, it improves athletic performance.

1. It may improve endurance

It is important to note that the ketogenic diet isn’t suitable for high-intensity bursts of activity. However, some studies report that it may enhance performance by endurance athletes.

For instance, a study involving 39 athletes reported that ketosis significantly improved physical appearance owing to the body’s ability to use fat as a secondary source of energy (1).

Another study involving 20 endurance athletes reported similar findings. According to the study, a 12-week ketogenic diet improved body composition, performance, and fat burning during resistance training (2).

2. The ketogenic diet may boost fat burning

Studies have indicated that the ketogenic diet may boost fat burning during exercise.

A small study involving race walkers showed that a ketogenic diet increased the ability of the body to burn fat during resistance training and workouts (3).

Another study involving 22 endurance athletes found that taking the ketogenic diet for four weeks increased fat burning (4).

It is also worth noting that the keto diet is mainly a fatty diet, which explains why more fat is burned during workouts and exercises.

Also, the number of calories per gram of fat is significantly higher than protein or carbs (5). So, like any other diet, creating a calorie deficit via taking in fewer calories than you burn is of great importance if you want to lose weight on the keto diet (6).

3. It can enhance muscle recovery

Some studies have found that the keto diet boosts muscle recovery after a workout.

For instance, a study reported that the keto diet improved inflammation and post-workout recovery in five athletes (7).

Another study found that the keto diet reduced lactate dehydrogenase and creatine kinase levels in off-road cyclists. Both are enzymes that are used to measure muscle damage (8).

Any Drawbacks?

The ketogenic diet is beneficial to workouts in many ways. But it has a couple of drawbacks as well.

1. The keto diet may decrease energy levels

Here’s the thing — the ketogenic diet involves a very severe restriction of carb intake, and carbs are your body’s primary source of energy.

So, switching to a keto diet can harm your energy levels and athletic performance, especially when your body is getting used to burning fat for fuel rather than carbs. However, a process called gluconeogenesiscan create glucose from non-carb sources, which can lead to energy production.

2. The keto diet can impair muscle growth

The ketogenic diet is ok for those looking to maintain muscle mass. However, things become more challenging when you want to maximize muscle growth.

Why is this so? Well, to grow muscles, you need plenty of protein — a sufficient amount of it, which is essential for the promotion of muscle synthesis and repair of tissues (9).

Although there may be variations in the macronutrient ratios on the ketogenic diet, some versions of this diet may involve severe restrictions on protein intake.

It is also important to note that keto diets are low in calories, making it more challenging to consume adequate protein and build muscle mass.


Several studies suggest that the keto diet might enhance endurance, boost fat burning, and speed muscle recovery.

However, the keto diet can impair the growth of muscles and reduce energy levels, mostly during high-intensity fitness training.

The key to maximizing the many benefits of the keto diet is sticking to low-intensity activities during workouts.

Have you tried keto before?

Have you noticed any issues with your exercise?

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