What does physical exercise produce on ketone levels?
- Low intensity endurance activity
- This activity increases ketone levels.
So if you follow a ketogenic diet and exercise with low- or moderate-intensity exercise, blood ketone levels will increase and blood glucose levels will decrease (3). This is because you are using up your body fat stores to fuel your physical activity, and some of that fat is being converted into ketones.
This happens when you can count on enough fat reserves.
For example, professional runners were found to burn 2-3 times more fat than their high-sugar counterparts at their peak (4,5).
And this guarantees excellent physical condition and enough energy to guarantee it for the necessary time, even a very long one.
- High intensity activity
- This activity, on the other hand, temporarily lowers ketone levels in favor of sugar.
- For example, if we increase physical activity by 75% or more, ketone levels will decrease and blood sugar will increase.
And this is temporary and normal.
This happens because by increasing the intensity, you demand more ready-to-use energy from the body, and you do it very quickly. Because glucose burns faster than fat, you start using a higher percentage of glucose.
It’s a fuel switch that your body does naturally, by managing its stores as needed, if it’s metabolically flexible, that is, if its mitochondria are used to burning fat for energy, producing the small amount of sugar it needs, starting with proteins, vegetables and little carbohydrates consumed.
So, even if you rely less on fat for fuel during more intense training, you’ll still be consuming more fat at the same time.
This is both because the overall need has increased and because the body is able to produce the sugar it needs on demand without putting you back into a sugar-based metabolism.
What are the benefits of the ketogenic diet for athletes and sportspeople?
The benefits of a ketogenic diet for sports are numerous.
Here are the 4 most important:
More Stable Energy Ketogenic diets allow athletes to rely more on fat than sugar (which has a quick effect but wears off immediately).
This is especially useful for low- or moderate-intensity efforts. Since fat is our most abundant and efficient fuel source, this may allow keto athletes to train for longer and recover from exertion sooner.
- Glycogen saving
- Another advantage when burning fat is the ability to save glycogen.
By sparing glycogen (the form in which glucose is stored in the muscles and liver), more is available for short but intense efforts where needed and necessary.
Thus, the athlete has fat fuel available to perform moderately low sustained efforts and to regenerate while conserving glycogen useful for performing short but intense efforts.
Better recovery from underlying chronic inflammation
A well-designed ketogenic diet significantly reduces chronic inflammation, which is an important factor that prevents proper recovery after intense training (6,7).
Ketogenic diets may promote better recovery due to their anti-inflammatory properties.
The best way to achieve this is to use filling, healthy and nutritious foods that do not stimulate insulin, their consumption respecting all the needs of our digestion and taking care of the intestinal ecosystem.
4. Normalized appetite
The ketogenic diet involves rebalancing the appetite that is reduced.
Why is this point so important for athletes?
A properly functioning appetite allows athletes to eat the right amount of food, at the right time, and more importantly, not be tempted by junk food that would hinder their efforts.