As an athlete for a long time (college and beyond) I still compete in intense activities and sports like soccer. When not playing sports, I use HIIT or high intensity interval training to stay in shape. I love HIIT workouts because they get me to an intensity level that I don't get to on a normal run (although incorporating sprints and hills do help get that heart rate up).
The issue is that a ketogenic diet is not meant for those doing high intensity workouts. When I started the keto diet the first four weeks of workouts could be simply summarized as hell. I had not felt that fatigued during a workout ever! The ketones just did not work at high intensities, especially during the first 4 week adaption period. I was ready to quit keto.
But, because of the benefits I saw during the day, especially that of increased focus, I stuck with it. But I learned more and more about how ketosis works in the body and what your body requires.
I was not ready to give up keto, but definitely not going to give up the HIIT workouts and intense sports I loved so much. I knew I was not the first person to have this problem, which is what led me to the Targeted Ketogenic Diet.
The Targeted Ketogenic Diet Can Be Used for High Intensity Interval Workouts
A TKD incorporates sugars just around intense workouts to get your muscles the energy source they need to perform. If you don't want to go out of ketosis, then you want to monitor the TKD correctly.
The Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD) is explained in a separate post. In this post I want to simply list out the products I use to help with the TKD.
TKD Products We Use
Quick List of HIIT/TKD Products
- Blood Ketone/Glucose Monitoring - NovaMax Plus Monitoring System
- Intensity/Heart Rate Monitoring - Polar H7 Monitor and Chest Strap
- Pre-Exercise Sugar - Dextrose Powder
- Post-Exercise Nutrition - Whey Protein Powder
Scroll down for more detailed information of why we use these products and how to use them around your intense workouts.
Monitoring Blood Glucose and Ketone Levels
If you don't already monitor your ketone levels and you are incorporating a TKD, we suggest you start. Monitoring urine ketones will not be accurate enough, you will need to purchase a blood ketone monitoring system. You can test your glucose and ketone levels on the same device.
We use the NovaMax Plus Blood and Ketone monitor. There are a lot of separate items you'll need if you want to use it more than a few times, so we've summarized those in a separate piece.
Monitoring Your Heart Rate
Before beginning the Targeted Ketogenic Diet, I wanted to know just how often I was at high intensities. Of course, I knew when I was on a jog and I began sprinting that I would be at a "higher" intensity, but what percentage of my heart rate exactly?
Besides going into a sports clinic and doing a study on my VO2 Max, the best way to understand my intensity was to monitor my heart rate with a good monitor. Although they claim to be, I do not find the wrist/watch monitors accurate. My best purchase was the Polar H7 Monitor and Chest Strap. I only purchased the heart rate monitor and chest strap. It then requires the use of a smart phone and downloading their free app "Polar Beat" to read your heart rate during exercise. Or, you can make an additional purchase and use a Polar watch.
Above 70% of your maximum heart rate you begin to use glycogen as your energy source. The higher your intensity, the more glycogen and less ketones you use. You can begin to get an estimate of the glucose required pre-exercise and during exercise if you monitor your heart rate and track your ingested sugars.
Dextrose is the preferred sugar source when using a Targeted Ketogenic Diet. However, it's not easy to find unless you know where to look. Sucrose (table sugar) is a mix of dextrose and fructose and it is NOT the same. Don't use it unless you want to make it even harder to get back into ketosis.
If you're doing a short workout (10-30 minutes), you can probably get all you need by eating candy like Smarties or Pixie Stix, which are primarily made up of dextrose (read the label). However, eating this much candy when you're not used to eating sugar at all anymore can make you feel sick.
I recommend purchasing a cheap dextrose powder and mixing the required amount into your water bottle and drinking before and throughout your exercise.
You can purchase a dextrose powder at your local sports nutrition store, or try out the Dextrose Powder we use online.
Whey Protein Shake
After intense workouts I ingest a small protein shake immediately after. When you intensely workout your muscles, then need protein to repair themselves. (This is not bulking, this is simply maintaining muscle.) The muscles want the protein quick, which is why there is about a 30 minute-1 hour post-exercise window that is best. Whey protein is one of the fastest absorbing proteins, which is why we recommend it. It is also easy to find in stores without added sugar or fat.
This is the simple Whey Protein Powder we use.
One scoop, or about 20 grams, is all that is required to help your body maintain muscle. Above that and you're ingesting an unnecessary amount of protein that hasn't been proven to help muscles.
Have you tried a Targeted Ketogenic Diet? What products do you use?