Keto Diet Plan For Athletes


Keto diet plan for athletes The keto diet plan is one of the most effective means to lose large amounts of fat on a shorter time frame. Athletes have reported great results with this particular diet plan  and it is an optimal choice for those looking to do some weight loss. Improve your performance and health by keto dieting. There are a multitude of benefits associated with this diet.

If you are already an athlete or someone who is active, you do not want to lose the muscle you’ve worked so hard for. The keto diet is an effective way to burn fat and still keep your muscle mass.

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic, or “keto,” diet is what, exactly?

A ketogenic diet is a style of eating that will cause your metabolism to switch from predominantly burning glucose (from carbs) to burning ketones, which are formed from the breakdown of fat. By the way, when your body breaks down fat from your fat storage, it creates ketones, which are energy molecules. You enter a state known as “ketosis” when you undergo this metabolic change.

In order to enter ketosis, or “fat-burning mode,” you must limit your carbohydrate consumption to the point where your body becomes aware that it needs to find other fuel sources. Once this occurs, your body starts using stored fat as fuel, which triggers the generation of ketones.

Although the ketogenic diet has been popular more recently, this manner of eating has been around for a while. In reality, the ketogenic diet was created to treat children with epilepsy control their seizures about 100 years ago. Since then, other low-carb diets have been developed, with the Atkins Diet being the most well-known.

However, one key distinction between the Atkins method of low-carb and the keto approach is the purpose of the diet. Whereas the Atkins diet focused on restricting carbohydrates for rapid weight loss, advocates of the keto diet describe it as a lifestyle choice rather than a temporary fix. Keto can help you lose a few pounds quickly, but unless you stick to this diet for a long time, the weight will probably come back.

For some people, adopting a ketogenic lifestyle can result in some very remarkable health advantages. This is particularly true if you adhere to a “clean” ketogenic diet rather than a “dirty” ketogenic diet (more on that below). But let’s keep things simple for the time being.

The macronutrient composition of a ketogenic diet is high in fat, low in carbs, and moderate in protein. Although everyone will have a different ideal ratio, the general recommendation for daily intake of macronutrients is:

  • 55–60% fat
  • 30–35% protein
  • 5–10% carbohydrates

How precisely does this operate? While there are applications that may help you keep track of how much protein, fat, and carbohydrates you consume each day, most individuals prefer to just limit their carbohydrate intake to 50 grams per day or less as this is usually all that is needed to enter the ketosis state.

What is keto for athletes?

The keto diet plan for athletes is a low-carb, moderate-high protein, and high-fat eating plan. It might vary from the percentages used in a regular keto plan.

  • Carbs: 5-10%
  • Protein: 20-30%
  • Fats: 60-70%

When discussing athletes and their macronutrient intake, there is a unique consideration. Consuming protein is extremely crucial. Although it can be expressed as a percentage, in terms of sports nutrition, protein consumption is expressed in terms of grams per kilogram of body weight. As a result, the typical protein recommendation is 1.4–2 g of protein per kilogram of body weight.

The ketogenic diet might not be the best option for all athletes or individuals. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for strenuous activities like Crossfit, sprints, and tennis. So, for some people, a low-carb diet may have a negative impact on their performance.

However, fats are the main energy source for endurance sports like long-distance running, triathlons, and rowing. A ketogenic diet may be more suited for these kinds of sports.

Benefits of a keto diet for athletes

There are several benefits of following a ketogenic plan, especially if you are an athlete. First, you get all of the commonly known benefits of a keto lifestyle:

  • Weight loss
  • Reduced food cravings
  • Improvement in insulin sensitivity
  • Reduced risk of certain health conditions

Having fewer cravings may help you keep your weight loss under control if you compete in combat sports like boxing, wrestling, or martial arts that have weight categories. Since keto may not be as restrictive as other eating plans during cutting season, you might find it more enticing.

If you’re an athlete, there are additional advantages to a ketogenic diet that you may experience:

  • Improved athletic performance
  • Enhanced recovery
  • Higher energy levels during the day
  • Less lactate accumulation after exercise
  • Reduced gastrointestinal issues

It must be noted that most of the studies done where benefits are achieved following a low-carb diet are in endurance sports.

Drawbacks of a keto diet plan for athletes

The process of adaption is this meal plan’s primary disadvantage for an athlete. During the first few weeks, the keto flu may make you feel lethargic and affect your performance. If you choose to live a ketogenic lifestyle, start it off-season and avoid starting it just before any major events or contests.

Athletic performance may suffer in those who engage in high-intensity exercise. You might feel your heart rate rise and your power decline while you train.

The ketogenic diet might not be the ideal option for athletes trying to put on some weight. Although it is feasible to grow muscle when on a ketogenic diet, the high level of satiation may make it more difficult to reach a calorie surplus.

Last but not least, if you are careless, this style of eating may deprive you of some vitamins and minerals that an athlete requires. After a workout, electrolytes must be restored, so it’s critical to eat foods with enough potassium, magnesium, and salt.

How to start a keto diet for endurance athletes

Before you begin the ketogenic plan, it is crucial to be honest with yourself and consider specific questions to see if this is the correct type of lifestyle for you.

  • Can you see it as a sustainable lifestyle?
  • Are you willing to monitor your ketones?
  • Are you able to cut back down on high-carb foods?
  • Do you like high-fat foods?
  • Can you take sport-friendly snacks?

If you believe that following a keto plan may be for you, it is time to speak with your doctor so they can determine if it can be a healthy option for you.

Once you get approval from a medical professional, here is a list of steps for you to begin your keto journey:

  1. Talk to your sports nutritionist. They will guide you better according to the sport you practice.
  2. Calculate your calories.
    • Weight loss. If you are off-season and want to lose some weight, it may be appropriate to reduce calories.
    • Weight gain. If you are in training and want to gain some weight, you might find it appropriate to have a calorie surplus to increase muscle mass.
    • Pre-competition. You might want to have the exact calories for their weight, height, age, and activity levels. This means having a calorie intake adequate for maintenance.
  3. Which type of keto do you want to follow?
    • Standard ketogenic diet for consistent low-carb eating.
    • Cyclical ketogenic. Here you have 1-2 days high in carbs according to your training.
  4. Calculate your macros. Once you have the number of calories in mind, you need to calculate your macros.
    • Carbs: 5-10%
    • Protein: 1.4-2 g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight
    • Fats: 60-70%
  5. Prepare your food. Plan your meals according to your daily life, training sessions, and any special events.


A recent essay by Coach Kevin compared high fat and high carbohydrate diets (or ketogenic diets). By the time we were done, maybe you knew more about whether you should go with the standard (high carb) or think about attempting a high-fat choice. In this essay, Kevin will discuss the pros, cons, and how to go about doing keto properly from the standpoint of an athlete utilizing both his personal experiences and scientific research.

Perhaps you are open to the idea of a ketogenic or low carb diet but are still unsure whether to take the plunge. These questions should help you decide:

  1. Do you seem to struggle to digest carbs? Either during typical meals or while training/racing (this will be experienced via bloating, stomach / intestinal pain or cramps)
  2. Do your energy levels seem to fluctuate wildly during the day, perhaps needing to take naps after meals or crashing out after steady endurance efforts? If you can’t snack / eat at regular intervals, do you get irritable or tired?
  3. Are you a long or ultra-distance athlete who can’t seem to get the nutritional side of things right after many attempts, despite having considered carbohydrate loading rates, hydration, & practising/validating race nutrition plans in training?
  4. Does your weight fluctuate based on how much or little you are training?
  5. Are you trying to balance losing weight while maintaining training?

I would advise you to attempt a ketogenic or low carb diet (I’m using both names for now, but I’ll explain the differences later) the more of the above questions you answered yes to (and they are in order of priority).

What time of the training year is it, if by this point you have determined that you will give the keto diet a try? I’d recommend delaying your plans for a little while longer if the response is anything other than “off or pre-season” or “base training.” This kind of adjustment can mess up your training and make it take anywhere from 3 to 6 months or longer to (literally) get back up to full speed (depending on how dependent you are on carbohydrates). Furthermore, severely reducing carbohydrate intake can be difficult for certain people, and only for those who are highly determined. I can personally attest that switching to a low-carb diet for the first two weeks requires a significant amount of willpower. Sugar has frequently been compared to an addictive substance.

For those of you who are still with me, let’s quickly review the advantages you might be able to anticipate following an adequate period of adaptation:

  • Stable (i.e. not excessive but with no dips either) energy levels all-day
  • The ability to skip meals without consequence if required
  • Less hunger if trying to lose weight
  • Improved fat oxidisation rates during exercise


Why is that advantageous if you’re an athlete and I assume you’re interested in the last point? To put it simply, the less glycogen you burn for a given effort, the longer you can theoretically maintain that level. This is because glycogen supplies are frequently a performance-limiting factor (it’s typically challenging to replenish glycogen at the rate it is burned, and the quicker you are, the more often this is the case). By defining two points, FatMax (the power at which you burn the most fat) and Max fat oxidization (MFO), the maximum rate at which you burn fat, we can further split this down:

The closer you can function at race intensities without significantly depleting your glycogen reserves, the higher your FatMax or MFO. If you could increase your FaxMax from 150 to 225 watts for a fictitious IRONMAN athlete with an FTP of 300 watts, your IM power (assumed to be 75% of FTP, a plausible figure for a well-trained triathlete) would suddenly be in line with your maximum rate of fat burning. That is an additional 75 watts of power production that does not require carbohydrate fuel, allowing you to consume fewer carbohydrates (if you have trouble doing so) or save more glycogen for the run, where it is frequently even harder to maintain fuel supply and demand. Be aware that FatMax does not imply that no glycogen will be used. Therefore, it would still be necessary to consume some carbohydrates while competing.

How do you go about doing this, therefore, if you chose to try it? I won’t go into specifics about how to start the switch to a ketogenic diet. There are a ton of additional publications and websites that can offer assistance with that. However, as the majority of keto articles are frequently written with less active persons seeking weight reduction or health advantages in mind, there are a few things you should keep in mind if you’re an athlete. Therefore, the following are the key topics for athletes to think about:

Keep in mind that this is not a calorie-restricted diet. 

High-fat diets may make you feel comparatively satisfied. As a result, there may be a propensity for athletes to undereat (especially if you have not yet established the enzymes and bacteria to help you quickly digest fatty meals). It is feasible to count calories, but I advise against it. Instead, go with your gut and err on the side of overeating; this is preferable to excessively cutting calories.

Low Carb or Keto?

Ketosis is typically understood to include consuming fewer than 50g of carbohydrates per day, sometimes even as little as 20g. We have more leeway with this value as athletes, who burn more glycogen than sedentary persons. I would advise you to follow the keto rules at first (20 – 50g of carbs per day at most), at least for the first few weeks. However, as time passes and you appear to be entering a ketosis period, consider reintroducing a few extra carbs on the days when you are training more (especially if this is higher intensity, but see below!). This method is typically referred to as Low Carb, but there isn’t really a set number of carbs for it; it’s just a laxer kind of the keto diet. But be careful not to do this too fast, as your body might quickly switch back to burning carbohydrates (you may detect this by experiencing the “keto flu” symptoms again or by feeling as though your energy levels fluctuate throughout the day).

Should I keep training?

I believe you should take it very easy with any activity and keep it low intensity for the first week or two, when most people suffer the most with the change (understandably, as you deny your body its preferred fuel source). Consider indoor training as well; if you feel bad, it’s simpler to stop/call it a day. You can add more training back in as time goes on and you become more accustomed to the diet, perhaps even attempting some higher intensity workouts. The best strategy is to have very little carbohydrate on days with easy workouts and a tiny quantity during or just after the harder exercises.

Sodium levels

Anyone following a ketogenic diet would do well to stay well hydrated and up their sodium intake. This is due to the fact that a decrease in carbohydrate intake causes a drop in blood sugar and, consequently, insulin levels, which causes the body to retain less salt (more comes out in urine). Because of this, it’s important to remember that even on a standard diet, athletes typically need more sodium. If you’re unsure of how much salt to add to your food, rely on your gut instinct. If you pay close attention, your body is quite adept at communicating what you need! Cravings are a prime illustration of this.

My FTP has dropped; what should I do?

If the drop is significant, this is a common occurrence and could mean the end of your keto experiment, but I would still suggest patience. This is also the key argument in favor of attempting this diet during the off-season, when there is less immediate pressure to resume your previous level of performance. Because you have removed the fuel that your body almost entirely used to generate this level of power, this reduction may be higher the more dependent you are on carbohydrates. Another way to look at it is that this is merely demonstrating how dependent you are on carbohydrates. If you persist, though, your systems for using fat should eventually become more efficient and make up the majority of the difference. Once this has occurred, you should hopefully expect to start seeing your prior FTP numbers return after adding some carbohydrates back into your diet and during exercise. If not—with the exception of long-duration athletes, for whom FTP intensities are simply not that relevant—then perhaps this diet is just not for you, and you should return to something more similar to what you were doing before.

What do athletes eat on a keto diet?

Now that we know how many calories and macronutrients we should consume each day, we need to translate that information into actual foods. It can be overwhelming to begin a new lifestyle in terms of your food habits. The easy list of things to eat and stay away from is provided below.

Fats are going to be your primary energy source. Thus, they must be added in large quantities. Include some of the following products.

  • Avocado
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olives
  • Olive oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Coconut milk
  • Coconut oil
  • Ghee or butter

Vegetables of a wide range should be included. Eat the rainbow since each color contains a unique nutrition. Your plate need to be vibrant! Add the following: tomato, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and With regard to the vegetables you can include, the list is vast. The ideal ones are high in fiber and low in carbohydrates.

Lean mass, which is crucial for athletes, must be maintained, and protein is essential for this. To keep your muscle mass, add a source of protein every two to three hours. The following are some of the most popular sources of protein.

  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Red meat
  • Pork
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Tofu

High-carb foods should be avoided since they may cause you to lose your ketosis. Avoiding highly processed foods that are low in nutrients and heavy in sugars is advised. Bread, pastries, cakes, cookies, sugar, ice cream, and candy all fall under this category.

You can include some carbohydrates as long as you watch the portion sizes.

Fruits, beans, lentils, chickpeas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and maize are a few examples of nutrient-rich foods that include carbohydrates that you can consume in moderation. Just be sure to include them in your total consumption of carbohydrates.

An athlete may need ergogenic support.

You can include dietary supplements like salt tablets, creatine, protein powders, and electrolytes. Gels and other carbohydrate sources may be employed during a protracted competition if you need quick energy.

Shopping list for athletes on keto

Starting a new eating pattern requires preparation, especially if you are an athlete. Here is a shopping list to make your life easier when you go grocery shopping now that you know which foods to add and which to avoid.

First, we’ll start with your primary energy source — fats.

  • Avocado and avocado oil
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Flaxseed and flaxseed oil
  • Nut butter
  • Chia seeds
  • Cashews, almonds, peanuts, and walnuts
  • Coconut milk or cream

Proteins are important to maintain a good muscle mass. Ideally, you have a protein source every 2-3 hours.

  • Chicken
  • Red meat
  • Ground beef
  • Pork
  • Organ meats
  • Fish and seafood
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Tofu

Now, let’s go into our sources of vitamins and minerals.

  • Berries
  • Eggplant
  • Zucchini
  • Leafy greens
  • Celery
  • Tomato
  • Carrots
  • Mushrooms

And, last but not least, sport aids.

  • Sports drinks without added sugars
  • Salt tablets (runners)
  • Sport gels (for emergency fuel)

Sample 5-Day Keto Meal Plan


Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with avocado and side of sliced tomatoes
Lunch: Romaine salad with blue cheese, bacon, and grilled chicken with olive oil and vinegar dressing
Snack: Beef jerky (sugar-free)
Dinner: Grilled salmon with side of roasted broccoli and cauliflower mash (with butter, salt, and pepper)


Breakfast: Full-fat yogurt with crushed almonds, blueberries (small handful), and sunflower seeds
Lunch: Tuna salad wrapped in lettuce with mayo and tomatoes (one or two wraps depending on level of hunger)
Snack: Handful of almonds
Dinner: Grass-fed burger patty with cheese and mushrooms and side salad


Breakfast: Omelet with cheddar cheese, ham, and tomato
Lunch: Keto charcuterie tray with olives, macadamias, cheese cubes, salami, and red peppers
Snack: Celery sticks with almond butter
Dinner: Spaghetti squash with meatballs


Breakfast: Chia seed pudding with hemp seeds and blueberries (just a small handful)
Lunch: Greek salad with walnuts, avocado, and feta cheese
Snack: ⅓ cup macadamias
Dinner: Pork chops with cauliflower rice


Breakfast: Keto pancakes made with almond flour
Lunch: Bacon, avocado, and tomato lettuce wrap
Snack: Smoked salmon pinwheels (salmon rolled up with cream cheese)
Dinner: Steak stir-fry with bok choy, broccoli, and cabbage over cauliflower rice

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