A concern of mine while trying the Keto diet was the impact it would have on my training. I track all my workouts and tend to go more for high volume weight training sessions. During this experiment I tried different protocols such as German Volume training, HIIT and Higher frequency (each bodypart 3x a week). I kept waiting for the strength drop to occur or for my endurance to be crushed, but surprisingly keto had zero negative impact on my training.
It’s important to note again that I was already well fat adapted. It does seem that if you’re not so well fat adapted there will be a period of 1-2 weeks where your performance will be negatively affected before returning to baseline. Towards the end of the experiment I also tried Cyclical Keto (1 high carb meal a week) and also Targeted Keto (10-30g of carbs pre-workout), but I didn’t really feel any extra performance benefit to either over the standard keto approach. However if I was doing keto long-term I would likely go with Cyclical Keto for sanity’s sake and also to maintain a better level of insulin sensitivity.
Something that is not well known about being Keto adapted and training is that your body is able to resynthesise muscle glycogen even without consuming carbs. Low carb athletes have higher lactate and glycerol levels and it is proposed that the body is able to convert these to glycogen when required. I’m assuming this is one of the reasons I didn’t have any performance drop and why I didn’t look as flat as expected. The body is an amazing survival machine and knows that some muscle glycogen is needed for maximum performance. As such the body is capable of preserving glycogen levels in times of low carbs.
Due to having more stable blood sugar, I felt like my energy was more consistent from start to finish of the workout. Consequently after training I felt less “stressed out” and even noticed I was sweating less during training.
The pump was harder to get and less significant. There is some evidence that the pump can help with muscle building, so this could be a negative over the long term in terms of hypertrophy.
When carbs are low your body is not able to store water and electrolytes as easy and one thing I did notice is that it is really easy to become dehydrated while on Keto. Adding electrolytes and drinking water more frequently is important to maintain energy / performance.
Multiple recent studies have shown that once keto adapted, keto does not have the assumed negative effects on performance in different training methods. In certain instances such as endurance events, being keto adapted appears to have better performance.
It’s very likely that individuals will vary in their training performance on Keto. Some will decrease, some will stay the same, and some will even improve.
The only way to know for sure is to stay unbiased and try for yourself.