Does Keto Work Without Exercise? (Updated 2019!)

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When you think about it, does keto work without exercise isn’t such a difficult question.

Surely, the whole point in planned nutrition and “dieting” (though, as we’ll explain in this article, that word comes with lots of problematic meanings) is that you should see the benefits regardless of your physical activity.

And while this is largely true, it has also become common knowledge that a more holistic approach to lifestyle changes, balancing wellbeing, exercise and nutrition, is far more beneficial than crash dieting or radical change.

So, does keto work without exercise?

Short answer, yes – if you abide by the rules and are strict with yourself, it should absolutely help you lost some weight.

Long answer: if you really want to see the keto work to its maximum capacity, then you will want to know how it works, how it affects your energy levels, and what kind of training regime works best on a keto diet.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to tell you in this article!

Interested in a career in nutrition? Go check out our Level 4 Advanced Sports Nutrition course before you carry on reading! 

How do Keto diets work? Or more simply…what is Keto?

As opposed to Paleo diets, where fitness enthusiasts subscribe to a certain outlook of how to eat, Keto is a lot more scientific.This can be a good thing and a bad thing.

The good news is that there is plenty of research as to why and how a keto diet actually works (which, of course, we’ll come to in a minute). The bad news is that the scientific terminology and slightly scary descriptions of what happens to your body on a Keto diet are often more than enough to put some people off before they’ve even given it a go.

So, as opposed to looking straight at the question does keto work without exercise, let’s look slightly to the left and look at what is Keto?


What is Keto?

Put simply, Ketogenic diets look to cut carbohydrates, sugars, and processed foods from your diet.

That isn’t necessarily surprising for anyone who’s ever focused on their nutrition, or even anyone who’s ever dabbled in diets.

The interesting thing about Keto is that, while other movements like Paleo look to reduce your carbohydrate intake (with the knock-on effect that you’ll eat more lean meats), the whole point of the Keto diet is to eradicate your carbohydrate intake.

Now, as we’re about to see, this process of eliminating carbs constitutes a radical way to approach nutrition.

In fact, a lot of the stuff you’re encouraged to eat on a keto diet in order to boost your energy levels is wholly counter-intuitive to standard nutritional advice.

Does Keto work without exercise - Ingredient List

So, why on earth would you want to swap non-fatty meats and whole foods for heaps of bacon and cheese (aside from the obvious, of course…)?

It’s all about Ketosis

To put this in its most basic terms: the reason you may be tempted to eat the foods below and cut out grains, fruit, and most carbohydrates from your diet, is to achieve ketosis.

Now, if you’re looking to answer the question does keto work without exercise, you need to understand how ketosis works.

This is because many people get frustrated with the keto diet because they half commit. The problem here is, where on some diets you may still see results if you cheat every now and then, the keto diet really punishes you if you let your food regime slip.

Let’s take a quick look as to why this is the case:

Does Keto work without exercise - Flow Chart

Now, there’s a couple of important facts to keep in mind here.

“Restricting carbohydrate” is pretty vague. In actual fact, most keto diets suggest that you should stay below a total of 35g of carbs per day (or, below 20g in terms of net carbs, which are the total amount of carbohydrates minus the total fibre).

Obviously, this figure may differ slightly, depending on your body size, level of exercise, and overall food consumption, but the basic rule remains the same: scale down your carbs so it is the food group you see the least in your day-to-day nutrition.

This relates to point two: tracking your macros is standard fair for most fitness enthusiasts, but for anyone on a keto diet it is crucial.

This is because, in the early days you really have to focus on getting the right amount of fat and protein, and limiting your carbs. And, as we mentioned before, most modern diets are fairly carb heavy, so this can be a challenge to start off with.

As a general rule then, here are the percentages you need to stick to in order to stay on track:

Does Keto work without exercise - Pie Chart

Of course, the hard bit to all of this is sticking to these rules.

And we’ll be the first to tell you that, for the first few weeks of Ketosis, you are going to be feeling sluggish.

Which brings us neatly onto our next chapter…

How keto diets affect energy levels…

As we mentioned earlier, the whole point of the keto diet is to encourage your body to enter into a state of ketosis.

What’s ketosis again?

Well, to put it in its most basic terms, ketosis is the process of your body turning from a sugar burner to a fat burner.

Okay, so how does that relate to the question of does keto work without exercise?

It’s directly related!

The way your body transforms nutrition into energy drastically affects how you lose weight.

And, as we’re about to find out, this is the key as to why keto is a fantastic tool for weight-loss, but a problematic nutrition programme if your undergoing intense training.


Does Keto work without exercise? The short take

In the shortest possible terms: yes.

Keto diets definitely work without exercise.

In fact, many personal trainers and nutritionist would not recommend the keto diet if you were about to embark on a hard training programme.

This is due to the things that happen to the body when it starts to burn fat as an energy source, rather than sugar.

Does Keto work without exercise - Fat vs Sugar

As we can see above then, there are plusses and minuses to the keto diet.

An important advantage is that keto diets are often linked to longer-lasting satiety between meals. This is because fat is a more sustainable source of energy, and, once the body adjusts to fat-burning, it needs less quantity of that raw source than when compared to a carb-based diet.

Keto diets are also great for anyone suffering high blood sugar levels, or anyone who has a condition related to type 2 diabetes.

But, as you may have already spotted, there are some drawbacks to the keto diet as well.

Key Keto Drawbacks

In fact, this relates to our main question: does keto work without exercise.

The fact that Keto diets work so well without exercise, indicates that they may not be best suited to a lifestyle that includes hard training.

When you’re training, you often need quick energy over short periods of time. Think about it…

There are whole industries dedicated to fast-release energy supplements to be taken immediately before and after exercise.

You simply don’t get these food sources when following a strict keto diet.

The slow-release energy from burning fats also means, while you may feel energised for longer, during intense periods of exercise you may feel sluggish and lacking in performance.

This can be an absolute killer for an athlete who prides themselves on performance and personal bests.

There is another, oft-cited drawback as well...

Does Keto work without exercise - Keto Flu

What we would say is, while keto flu is a definite issue when it comes to the Keto diet, it’s nothing to be worried about.

In fact, more often than not, many of the symptoms can be prevented by staying hydrated, and gradually moving from your normal diet to a keto diet, as opposed to attempting something akin to shock therapy.

What kind of training regime works best on a Keto diet?

So, what do we know?

Well, we know the answer to does keto work without exercisethat is, keto definitely works without exercise, and might actually work better if intense exercise isn’t part of your day-to-day lifestyle.

We also know what kind of foods you’ll be allowed to eat on a keto diet, and exactly how that’s going to affect your body.

So the last question to answer is, if you were to train while on a keto diet, what’s the best training regime to adopt?

Gym training on a keto diet: some considerations

Before we dive straight into the nitty gritty of what to do when you hit the gym on the keto diet, let’s take a step back.

See, on the keto diet, you are changing how your body creates energy from nutrition. As such, you can’t just change what you eat, but must look at how and when you eat.

This is because fat is slow-burn energy compared to sugar, and if you don’t optimise your meal times around your workout times, you’re going to feel sluggish, and you’re going to drastically underperform when it comes to your sport or workout of choice.

As we’ve already said in this article, the question is not so much does keto work without exercise – because we already know that is does, to an incredibly effective level – but, how do I make keto work alongside my exercise.

While we don’t doubt that changing to a keto diet is going to be tough (especially in the early weeks), here’s a few of our tips to help you keep the worst side effects at bay when it comes to gym time:

Does Keto work without exercise -  Preparing for your workout

OriGym’s suggested gym regime for the first few weeks of your Keto diet.

Now for the biggie…

What kind of workout should you be doing if you’re on a keto diet?

As we’ve mentioned a couple of times, these workouts will be aimed at a beginner who’s just started partaking in a keto diet.

That doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t be scaled up for someone who’s further down the line. What we want to try and get across are the thought processes behind planning your workout: namely, conserving your energy and making sure you don’t burn out too early.

What we’ve done is provide a list of suggestions for types of exercise, and how to approach them in the first few days of your keto diet. This will allow you to customise in terms of reps and combination of exercise stations, depending on your fitness levels and available resources.

So, without further delay, here it is!

Does Keto work without exercise - OriGym Guide

Does Keto work without exercise - Avoid

Before you go!

So, now you know the answers to does keto work without exercise! (It does!).

If you were interested in this article, you might also be interested in learning more about nutrition and personal training.

Did you know that there is a higher demand for qualified personal trainers than ever before, and that the fitness industry is one of the fastest expanding sectors in the UK?

If you’re interested in learning more, go download our free prospectus or check out our Personal Training Diploma here to find out more about what you could be learning! 

Written by George Aird

Fitness Professional & Marketer

Join George on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

George Aird is a content writer and marketer with specialist knowledge of health and fitness, online marketing, and start-up businesses. In his spare time, he is a keen climber, and a (reluctant) runner. 

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