Is it possible to train while following the keto diet and doing Intermittent Fasting?
I am a keen mountain biker, I train for hours everyday on dirt tracks, single tracks and steep climbs. Some days I ride up to a 100 miles. I have managed to go from beginner to advanced in only 3 years.
But I have broken the rules.
In the cycling world there are many unwritten rules, some of them are: you must shave your legs, you should buy a really expensive bike and you must eat sugar every two hours.
I reluctantly accepted the first two rules but refused to follow the sugar binging in the form of bars, gels or energy drinks. I’m not a doctor but I’m pretty sure that’s not healthy.
So I went the opposite way. No sugar, Keto Diet and total fasting before and during the ride, even if it takes more than 5 hours, even on racing day.
And what are the results you might ask?
Well, so far so good. I have improved my endurance, i have lost 5 kg and kept it down and I feel more alert, with more energy and less dependent on snacks.
Before and after
I must admit that when I was training with a conventional diet my results weren’t bad. But I felt dependent on sugary based snacks that run out very quickly plus, despite the considerable amount of exercise, I was not losing any weight. I remember feeling really weak when the sugar run out so I have to keep feeding myself every two hours. Sometimes you don’t have enough snacks to carry you around which gives you another thing to worry about.
The reason I started the keto diet was unrelated to my performance, it had more to do with a healthier choice and weight loss. When my body became adjusted to keto I became having less cravings even after a long session.
At the beginning I was having a keto breakfast, coffee with butter, eggs, avocado, tuna and then went for my ride. After a couple of weeks I notice that I wasn’t hungry in the morning so I gradually reduced the amount of breakfast until I had nothing.
I started intermittent fasting just because I wasn’t hungry.
The reason I started fasting was again health. There are a number of studies that show how the body does a self cleaning process, called autophagy, when we are in a state of fasting. This process has a number of benefits among which, the anticancer properties is the most prominent.
That’s why I decided to go for it. It didn’t cost me any extra effort, it didn’t interfere with my fitness and it’s really good for you. It’s win win win situation.
All three combined
I have been doing keto and fasting for the last 2 years and it has been easy to adjust. Doing exercise, keto diet and fasting complement each other in many ways and the research shows it’s all good for you.
The only caveat is that when you are out is not always easy to find healthy keto options but thanks to my increased ability to fast, that is not normally a problem.
So Why is not everybody doing the same?
Well it’s not that easy. Old habits die hard. It’s not easy to change your lifestyle overnight especially when the world is not catered for it. Besides, most competitive bikers are slim, despite the amount of sugar they ingest, so they don’t see the need to change their diet. Also, even in an endurance race (40 miles and more) there are moments in which the sugar gel can help for a short sprint, giving them a competitive edge.
But mainly for long distance runners, cyclists and triathletes I think there are many benefits of going keto, being the main one the weight loss and also the health benefits for the long term.