Keto and exercise go hand in hand. Unfortunately, many people struggle with exercise motivation. The aim of this article is to invite you to reframe how you perceive exercise, and by sharing with you some of the immense benefits, encourage you to add it to your new keto lifestyle.
If you are one of the millions of people who do not find exercise exciting, or worse, think of it as a painful chore, you are not alone. The humiliation some kids experience during school sports damages how they perceive exercise as adults. Maybe you were the kid who was always picked last during physical education. If you had traumatic experiences of exercise there may be a residual fear or dislike of moving your body.
However, if you already get moving on a regular basis then you may not need persuading but I am sure you will still find this article enlightening as we look at how to get the best out of exercise on keto. There are loads of good reasons to exercise, which we will look at in a minute, but if you have resistance to getting moving then you need to tackle your thoughts first.
The biggest obstacle to exercise is the mind. If you are overweight, unfit, or had negative exercise experiences then you need to start here. Experience as a child can get ‘stuck’ in our brain and we assume our adult experiences will be the same. Reflecting on why you don’t want to exercise can be very revealing.
Try asking yourself these questions and see what the ‘automatic’ answer from your mind is:
I don’t like exercising because……..
I don’t want to exercise because…….
I don’t need to exercise because……..
I’m not going to exercise because………..
What did your mind say? Did it reveal any clues? For example one answer may have been: “I don’t want to exercise because everybody will laugh at me.” This would point to an early humiliating experience. As a child this can be upsetting and damaging to self-esteem, so, as adults, we learn to avoid similar experiences by not exercising.
But, holding on to the belief you will be humiliated is much more damaging. Untested beliefs formed during childhood often hold us back in life. We rarely peer into the darker parts of our minds that were programmed when we were still very young and lacking understanding of the world. Yet these parts control us much more than we realize!
We really encourage you to spend some time poking about in your own mind to look for past trauma, fear, expectations, and other assumptions about exercise. Once you have found the old patterns and beliefs you can choose to insert some new ones!
Affirmations are an extremely effective way to reprogram the mind. They’re like a form of self-hypnosis which literally changes the connections between neurons in the brain. Choose a positive statement to repeat to yourself often about exercise, for example:
- “I am learning to enjoy movement”
- “I appreciate movement is good for me”
- “I am finding fun ways to move my body”
- “My body appreciates movement”
By changing the way you think about exercise, how you frame it in your mind, you will naturally want to do more and as you do more it gets easier and more enjoyable. There is a huge list of reasons to exercise and get your body moving, we will highlight the five most significant to whet your appetite for exercise:
Reason #1 – Use It Or Lose It!
The body is a very efficient machine – it does not put effort into things that are not needed. So, if you stop using your muscles and spend more time in front on the TV, your body will adapt. Sitting in the same position causes postural problems as muscles waste and tighten. Moving your muscles will prevent physical problems like joint and back pain in later life.
Regular movement will ‘tell’ your body that you need your muscles and support you to enhance them. The more muscles you have the more you will burn calories, which speeds up weight loss. The heart is also a muscle: the more you stretch it, when you work it out, the stronger it will be. Strong hearts last longer and are less prone to disease. Adding exercise to your life can improve your health as much as quitting smoking can!
Reason #2 – More Energy and Better Nourishment
Often people use tiredness as an excuse not to exercise, but, exercising actually creates energy. The more you move the more your body will energise you by breaking down fats and mobilising ketones. When you exercise your heart also pumps faster and moves blood around the body more efficiently. The increased circulation increases oxygenation and removal of toxins and waste products. When muscles move they also massages cellular fluids helping nutrients get to where they are needed. Increasing oxygenation and improving cellular nutrition will energise both the body and mind.
Reason #3 – Increased Confidence and Better Sex
Exercise will naturally increase your confidence as you increase the connection with mind and body. As you take responsibility for sculpting the body you desire it will increase your confidence. Setting exercise goals which you meet increases self-reliance and self-esteem.
LGN (looking good naked) can be a persuasive motivator when it comes to exercise. Seeing your efforts pay off and your body becoming more attractive will massively boost your confidence. Regular exercise also increases blood flow to the genitals, increasing arousal and reducing impotence. Looking and feeling sexy and confident are some really awesome benefits, we’re sure you’ll agree!
Reason #4 – Reduced Stress and Improved Sleep
Stress is a huge contributing factor to disease and weight gain. Just one stressful event per day, like being cut up in traffic, can put on 11lb of weight in a year. When we get irritated, angry, or outraged we experience emotions which are meant to make us take action. Unfortunately, in many situations action isn’t possible. You may imagine punching your boss, but this rarely happens!
When we experience stress which is not acted upon, it gets kind of stuck in our bodies. Our levels of the stress hormones epinephrine and cortisol go up and stay elevated. This puts the body into a constant state of stress which is damaging in many ways. An effective way of ‘burning off’ the stress hormones is to get moving. You can even use exercise as a way to channel stress and reduce it even quicker.
Punch bags are an excellent distressing resource (just imagine the face of that person who’s annoying you as you pummel that bag hard). When we are stressed we also sleep less and this impacts our well being even more. Sleep is a time of healing for the body as repairs are done and new cells are made. When we are pumped full of stress hormones the body wants to fight not sleep. Exercise will reduce stress hormones, channel emotions, tire you out and help you sleep.
Reason # 5 – Improved Immunity and Happier Mood
The immune system uses a network of glands and fluids, called the lymph system, to carry specialist cells to where they are needed in the body to protect it from invading pathogens. Unlike the blood which relies on the heat, the lymph system does not have an pump to move fluid around. The movement of lymph fluid is manual and it relies on your movement to move it.
Stagnating lymph fluids means toxins build up and the immune cells can’t get transported round the body. Studies suggest that you can reduce the risk of getting a cold by 50% by exercising a few times a week.
Mood is another area which can massively benefit from some regular activity. When we stretch ourselves to move, and get out breath, the body releases a cocktail of feel good chemicals. A mixture of endorphins, neurotransmitters and hormones all make us feel good when we exercise. They also help balance out moods in the long run making us more able to cope with life’s ups and downs. Once you start moving regularly you will start to feel the positive mental difference it creates.
Now you know some more of the benefits, does it make you want to move more? Exercising during keto has all these benefits and more. Let’s look at some of the different types of exercise you could consider:
This is getting your heart pumping. Also called aerobic exercise as you take in enough air, or oxygen, to fully nourish the muscles, aerobic exercise can include gentle jogging or even fast walking for just a few minutes to increase your heart rate. You can increase the effort with an incline or additional resistance with weight. This lower-intensity of exercise is great on keto and it will increase fat burning.
This is quick bursts of effort, like weightlifting or high intensity interval training. This is great for putting on lean muscle mass and excellent for hormones and general wellbeing. High intensity training burns more calories in less time and increases production of HGH (human growth hormone).
But, the way the body responds to intense energy demands makes anaerobic exercise harder on keto. Fortunately, there is a way round this problem! Consuming small calculated amounts of carbohydrates before, during or after exercise will ensure the body has sufficient rapid fuel to perform this exercise effectively. For intense body building a targeted or cyclical keto diet is more appropriate as you need to eat enough carbs to ensure your energy needs are met and get the best athletic performance
Flexibility and Stability
Includes stretching muscles, moving joins and improving your range of movement and balance. These are typically low intensity exercises, including stretching after training or specific exercise like yoga or pilates, which are excellent for improving core strength preventing hernias, back problems and postural pains.
From a ketosis perspective you need to be aware that intense workouts, like lifting heavy weights or sprinting, require a rapid fuel in the form of carbohydrates. You will find performance slightly reduced and effort increased if you rely on fats alone. Eat 15-30g of fast acting carbs (like a banana) within half an hour before AND after working out. This will provide your muscles with the fuel they need to perform, and recover. The workout will burn off the carbs, so you will remain in ketosis.
When you first start exercising on keto you may find your performance is less than usual. This is due to the time it takes for your body to adapt to burning fat. After 3 to 4 weeks when you are fully fat adapted you will find your performance gradually increases.
One of the best ways of getting even more benefits from ketosis is to move your body more! Introducing a few simple and fun ways to move your body can have immense health benefits, not just for those on the keto diet. How are you going to overcome resistance and find more ways to move?
Exercising is a powerful way to get even more benefits from ketosis
If you have resistance to exercise then examining your beliefs will help
You can consciously choose to change your perspective on exercise
Exercising reduces the risk of disease, gives you more energy and better nourishment, increases your confidence and improves your sex life, reduces stress and improves your immunity and mood