journal

Tips for Cycling & Training on a Ketogenic Diet

When it comes to planning a long bike ride or hike, meal and snack preparation is absolutely crucial. You don't want to run out of energy halfway through a 10-mile hike, or stall out on your bike after only half a day of riding. And for those of us who work out on a ketogenic diet, it's especially important to plan ahead of time. Let's take a look at how you can still enjoy long trips, hikes, and bike routes while eating keto.

When it comes to planning a long bike ride or hike, meal and snack preparation is absolutely crucial. You don't want to run out of energy halfway through a 10-mile hike, or stall out on your bike after only half a day of riding. And for those of us who work out on a ketogenic diet, it's especially important to plan ahead of time. Let's take a look at how you can still enjoy long trips, hikes, and bike routes while eating keto.

What is Keto?

For a quick overview of the ketogenic diet, it's important to understand how the body creates energy from the foods we eat. Our bodies are fueled by glucose, which is generally synthesized from carbohydrates like potatoes, bread, pasta, and fruit. Many athletes ingest a steady stream of carbs to produce energy. When carbs can no longer be burned for energy, your body turns to a different way of producing energy: ketogenesis.

In the absence of glucose-carrying carbs, our liver starts the ketogenesis process to break down the fat in our bodies into ketones — which are then used by the body as an energy source. At this point, your body is in a state of "ketosis" and you are actively burning fat stores for energy.

What Can you Eat on a Ketogenic Diet?

In general, a keto diet is a super low-carb diet that relies on fat sources for energy. Those following a keto diet establish their macros early on, which basically means figuring out how many calories they're going to get from various sources. So in a typical keto diet, you might wind up eating a diet composed of 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrate. This depends on factors like your weight and unique needs, but it's important to establish your macros in a healthy keto diet.

So, what can you eat on a keto diet? First of all, you'll severely limit the amount of carbs you get from potatoes, bread, fruit, and starchy vegetables like carrots. Instead, you'll focus on getting nutrients and energy from sources like:

  • Avocado
  • Leafy greens
  • Coconut Oil
  • MCT oil
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Almond Butter
  • Nuts

Benefits & Challenges of Keto for Athletes

You've probably heard the phrase carbo-loading before, like eating carb-heavy foods like pasta the night before a marathon. But can eating keto actually have some benefits over carbo-loading when it comes to athletic performance? According to Perfect Keto, some benefits of the keto diet for athletes include:

  • Reducing fatigue for endurance athletes
  • Increased fat loss during exercise
  • Keeping blood glucose steady
  • Helping body preserve glycogen stores in muscles, which can help improve physical performance

When your body can tap into fat stores for energy, you're less reliant on constant snacking to keep your glycogen levels high. This can be a definite advantage when you're out on the trail.

Why is Keto Challenging for Long Distance Training?

Athletes have unique needs when it comes to nutrition. And most nutrition needs for athletes who spend a lot of time outdoors — like cyclists or hikers — are geared towards people that eat high-carb diets. This means that a lot of protein bars and electrolyte drinks are loaded with the types of sugars and carbs that you're trying to avoid on your ideal keto diet.

So as a keto athlete, you're going to need to accept the challenge of thinking outside the box to meet your nutrition needs. In addition, you need to pay extra attention to your hydration needs and take some time to plan your meals a little more carefully.

Our Top Tips for Keto Athletes

Following a keto diet doesn't have to interfere with your training, as long as you follow some common-sense guidelines. Let's take a closer look:

Hydration is King

One of the most important things to keep in mind if you're going on a long cycling trip or hike is that hydration is essential on a keto diet. When eating keto, the body naturally expels more water than usual.

Make sure you fight back against possible dehydration by staying hydrated. If you've done long trips before you were on a ketogenic diet, keep in mind that you may need to bring more water than you have in the past.

Remember your Electrolytes

Unfortunately, losing these fluids also mean that you lose important electrolytes at a faster rate.  These electrolytes — sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium — are essential for keeping your muscles functioning optimally and regulating all your bodily functions.

You can either take supplements to regain mineral balance, or eat foods that naturally restore minerals. For example, nuts have tons of magnesium and adding salt to your pre-cycling meal can help provide you with sodium. It may also be a good idea to bring keto-approved electrolyte packets with you so that you remain balanced.

Start your Day with Keto Coffee

Good news for those who a cup of java in the morning: coffee is perfectly acceptable on a keto diet. If you have a big trip with tons of exertion up ahead, you can amp up your coffee so that it's not just giving you a caffeine boost — but also providing you with the fats you need to keep fueled up during your day. To make this energy-enhancing morning brew, all you need is a cup of coffee, a tablespoon of MCT oil, and a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil. Mix it all together and you have yourself a fat-packed start to your day of exertion.

Pack your own Snacks

One of the benefits of a keto diet is that, unlike those who rely on carbs for a constant supply of glucose, you won't need to eat as frequently as others while you work out — so you'll be able to travel relatively lightly. However, you need to make sure that you're meeting your macros and staying prepared. Before you travel, make sure you're packing some keto snacks:

  • Packaged hard cheeses or string cheese
  • Packets of almond butter
  • Jerky and cured meat
  • Nuts and trail mixes
  • Canned fish/pouches of fish

Keep in mind that you can also bring along powder packets of micro greens and protein powder to further meet your nutritional needs. Just mix them with water in a pinch, and you'll have a boost that keeps you going.

Know Your Needs

If you just started a ketogenic diet yesterday, it's probably not a good idea to eat keto on that 30-mile bike ride today. At this point, your body still hasn't had time to become fat-adapted, which takes around three weeks. Plus, you probably haven't had the chance to calculate the macros that you need for your body weight and athletic condition. Before embarking on any epic quests, it's important to be aware of your needs while eating keto.

Keep Healthy on the Trail

Whatever your sport of choice — cycling, hiking, skiing — it's possible to flourish while on a ketogenic diet. In fact, some people even report higher energy while eating keto — so it can definitely boost your game. As with any lifestyle choice, just make sure you're preparing: drink tons of water, pack snacks, eat good fats, and know your limits.

Tags:
No items found.
Latest Posts