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TOPIC: Cardio on low carb diet?

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March 20, 2013 8:56 AM
I was wondering if anyone had some tips for maintaining their cardio- running, elliptical, etc. while on low carb? I am eating under 20g net carbs currently and I feel good for day to day stuff but my cardio is a strain. I am currently in ketosis.
March 20, 2013 10:15 AM
When I ate that few of carbs, I didn't worry about exercising. I focused on ensuring I was eating right. There's an adjustment period for your body when switching to low carb. As I bumped up my carb intake I added in exercise and bumped it up along with my carb intake. If you're doing atkins, your induction period (20 net carbs or less) is only suppose to last 2 weeks.

I currently eat about 45 net carbs a day and have plenty of energy for exercising. Are you eating enough fat and calories?
March 20, 2013 10:23 AM
I was on a Atkins forum about a year ago, and one of the gentlemen on there was a marathoner, and he ate less than 100g of carb a day. He said that the good thing about it is that, being in ketosis, he never "Hit the wall," which is the point in a marathon where all of the body's carb stores are burned up, and it has to transition into fat burning. Being in ketosis, he was in fat burning the whole race, and never had to make the transition. His times for the race actually improved on the low-carb regimen.

OK, that's just some general info for down the road. In "New Atkins for a New You," they recommend backing off on the exercise (if you're not exercising, don't start, and if you already are, take it easy) for the first 2 weeks, to give your body time to adjust. Then you can ease back into it.

My experience bears that out. Last time around, I didn't even try to exercise until about 4 weeks in (not because I was following directions, but because I was being lazy) wink and it was no problem. This time around, I got on my elliptical, and told myself that if I went really slowly with no resistance, it would be no big deal. And I was wiped out Wednesday and Thursday night, just physically exhausted. So I've stopped any exercise, and will try to start up again the week after next (that will be after 3 weeks of lo-carb eating). We'll see how that goes.

If you've been eating the low carb longer than 2-3 weeks, I'd recommend backing off a bit, and slowly building back up. Your body will get there, just needs time to make the adjustments.

Hope that helps at least a little! And of course, I'm always open to correction by the long-termers on the site!

March 20, 2013 10:26 AM

If you're doing atkins, your induction period (20 net carbs or less) is only suppose to last 2 weeks.

I seem to remember, in New Atkins for a New You (NANY) him saying that induction should last a MINIMUM of 2 weeks, but can go on longer, and in fact many people do. Am I remembering wrong? (I haven't read NANY for a couple of years, have it and DANDR both on reserve at the library now).

Thanks for any clarification you can offer to my some-times frazzled memory!!!

March 20, 2013 10:38 AM
Make sure you have enough CALORIES to get through exercise! My MFP calorie goal is 1510 before exercise, and 2000-2200 with exercise included. If I don't have at least 1000 - or even better, 1200 - calories in me before I exercise, I can't get through. I get light-headed and dizzy. It's never been an issue as to how many carbs I have, just calories.

If you do feel sick before you go, then yeah don't go. But try to see if having more calories helps you.
March 20, 2013 11:29 AM
Thanks for pointing that out Daddybyday. You're probably right. My memory has been slightly amiss these last two months too, but from a concussion. I'm going off information my doctor told me. I remember I only needed to do it for 2 weeks. I lost over 12 lbs in two weeks on induction, which may be why my doctor told me induction for 2 weeks only. I figured she meant 2 weeks for everyone. However, that was years ago and don't remember her calling it New Atkins, just Atkins. I totally could be forgetting something. I imagine situations will vary from person to person. My doctor also told me I didn't have to do the induction phase, as the 1st phase is simply a jump start for weight loss. Phase 2 is very effective.
March 20, 2013 11:45 AM
I'm also doing a ketosis diet (though it's not a book/program -- I'm working with a certified nutritionist). I am able to remain in ketosis and eat up to 50 g carbs a day. If I were you, I would try increasing your carb level -- and make sure you're getting at least 1200 calories a day. While getting into ketosis might make you feel a bit tired, after a few days in that state you should experience a high level of energy!

I have heard over and over that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise, so I am trying not to go overboard with the exercising (in the past I did P90 along with other workouts). Once my body acclimates to ketosis, I find I have plenty of energy for 30-60 minutes on the treadmill plus some Jillian Michaels, Brazilian Butt Lift, or other at-home workouts.
March 20, 2013 11:47 AM
If in ketosis, calories consumed shouldn't really matter. I recall reading that even the leanest athlete, when keto-adapted, has something like 10,000 calories available for energy in body fat (as opposed to far less in glycogen reserves, which is why non-keto athletes have to carry gel or other sugary substances for energy).

Cardio should be fine, but perhaps you're not keto-adapted yet? It takes about four weeks in ketosis to get there.
March 20, 2013 3:29 PM
I do at least an hour cardio a day (I haven't missed a day since December 26th - before that my exercise was part of my routine, but more sporadic). It's usually all on my elliptical, but sometimes I use my bike. I'm actually on my bike right now, but I plan do also do elliptical later (it's better workout). I don't do anything intense on my bike I just watch my shows, browse the Internet and talk on the phone as I do it. With the elliptical, I can't really do anything other than watch my shows. When I'm following my diet I'm typically between 25-45 net carbs per day with the occasional bad days (like this weekend going into Monday, ugh), but even when I do have a bad day I add additional exercise to do damage control and to be at least under on calories after exercise, though I prefer to be under on calories before exercise. For calorie estimates, I go by what my machines say which is lower than the default MFP estimates on calorie burn. I just make a no excuses, no exception rule for myself that I don't skip a day. Even if I don't feel good I can at least do a slow hour on the bike. Now it's just a routine and I don't ever feel like skipping a day. I usually drink two big glasses of water during that hour time and that also really helps.
Edited by Kyanca On March 20, 2013 3:32 PM
March 20, 2013 4:13 PM
Thanks for all the advice! I really appreciate your experiences because it goes beyond something you can get in a book. I think I'll just go easier on myself exercise wise the next week, something I'm not used to but then I have been a carb loader for awhile now :(
March 20, 2013 4:18 PM
Have you tried interval training (HIIT, or sometimes referred to as "Tabata")? That may work better for you than a long, steady state cardio program. I've been sprinting for about 10 minutes total (30 second work/rest intervals) lately and love it. I eat more than 20g carbs most days, but I workout pretty hard (lift heavy weights, train with kettlebells and sprint) and manage to stay low carb. Been doing it since July and it's worked out well.
March 20, 2013 4:39 PM
My hubby does HIIT and swears by it. Maybe I should try it... I've read that you burn less calories than if you we're to work out for longer but hat it ups your metabolic rate to burn more overall.
March 20, 2013 4:43 PM
I didn't know that, Witeowl! Are you keto adapted? If so, how long did it take you for your energy levels to stabilize?
Edited by Kate1217 On March 20, 2013 4:44 PM
March 20, 2013 6:53 PM
No, I don't think I'm there yet. This is based on information I read in The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance. As an avid cyclist when I'm small/fit enough, I was concerned about multi-hour rides while on a ketogenic diet. It's a great book.
March 25, 2013 8:42 AM
Very interesing! Back when I was in ketosis, I had absolutely no problems with energy. It's just the first few weeks you feel a little rough, due to the switch in fuels your body is using for energy. I plan to keep working out through the beginning phase of ketosis, just less intensely. I have been exercising continuously for the last year, though. Further proof that you can't out-exercise a bad diet! If all the cardio I've done really worked, I'd be a stick by now! ;)
March 26, 2013 9:54 AM
cardio on a machine or extended periods of exercise is no problem as long as it doesn't throw your progesterone/estrogen out of whack with the elevated cortisol levels you get from too much cardio.

If you do resistance exercises and keep the cortisol down you will have no problem. Keep your omega 3 EFAs high. I personally stay off the cardio machines and wear a hrm when I zumba to keep my heart rate below my 50% max intensity. Spiking hr is fine, keeping it elevated is not, when in fat burning mode.

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