Is The Ketogenic Approach Ok For CrossFit?

As a CrossFit athlete, you’ve probably considered experimenting with how food can alter your body composition while also allowing you to perform at your best while training. 

Then in steps the Ketogenic approach, which, I’m sure you’ve heard about by now, for it’s fat shredding, mental clarity giving, endurance adding, and performance-enhancing abilities. 

So I figured I’d take some time to break it down, just a little bit incase you may be interested.

I was on keto for about 2 years and I have to say, it wasn’t nearly as bad as some people make it out to be. If you are interested in trying this out just let us know at your next Nutrition Consultation and we will get you started on that path. But please know ahead of time, there is no half in and half out of ketosis, you’ve got to commit to it, and stick with it, for it to work.

The basics of the ketogenic approach are too load up on quality fats, then get a decent amount of protein, and limit the amount of carbohydrates to less than 20g per day. In affect the ketogenic diet alters your body from burning glycogen, which is energy from carbs to burning fat, in a process that is known as ketogenesis.

What we dont want is for you to hop on it and see the weight fall off for a couple weeks to a month then get discouraged. The first drastic drop in weight is mainly water weight, so we need your expectations to understand that. 

What a CrossFit Athletes Should Know About Going Keto

Be Mindful Of Your Electrolyte Intake

You sweat a lot as a CrossFitter. So, you need to stay hydrated. When you start with the keto you will lose a lot of water weight. To help prevent the dreaded KETO FLU (which doesn’t even have to happen) make sure you are replenishing your electrolytes. Salt is a good way to help you retain water but you will also notice that you may need to supplement magnesium as well to keep a good balance of electrolytes in you body to prevent things like cramps and fatigue. But be warned, oral magnesium supplements can be tricky to get the correct amount of because too much and you won’t be able to leave the bathroom. I use a magnesium spray and haven’t had that issue since.

Not All Fats Are Created Equal

The fats you choose are important. You have to realize that even though you’ll be using fats for fuel, you can’t just throw down on a few sticks of butter and call it a day. You want to choose fats that come from natural whole foods. But even then, not all fats are created equal because they differ in how they are structured. 

There are many types of fats and what I usually tried to look for was a ratio of 2:1 Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids: 

  1. Saturated fats which are the most stable structure (Higher in Omega 3)
    1. ghee, grass-fed butter, cream, coconut oil
  2. Monounsaturated fats
    1. olive oil, avocados, almonds, cashews
  3. Polyunsaturated fats, which are the least stable (Higher in Omega 6)
    1. fatty fish, grass-fed meat, pastured eggs, pine nuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, seeds, vegetable/seed oils, algae

Be Patient It’s Worth It

You don’t want to go keto just before a competition. You may see a bit of performance drop at the beginning, as your body begins to initiate the metabolic pathways responsible for fat metabolism. It can take a day, or it can take a month for your body to switch to burning fat instead of carbohydrates for fuel. 

Keep Your Calorie Intake Up

Crossfit WODs require a high level of energy, so don’t skimp on the calories. The good thing is that fats carry more than twice the energy (calories) as protein or carbs 9:4:4 respectively per gram. The not so good thing, fats are also great at satiating us. 

So The Big Question.

Is The Ketogenic Approach Ok For CrossFit?

Short answer is yes, but you have to be able to be flexible in the amount of carbs you intake on training days as opposed to non training day (which is called Cyclic Keto). And you should do it if you only plan to do it for a very short time. It takes work and dedication, but I know y’all already have that because you’re CrossFitters.

If you have any questions about this or anything else please feel free to reach out. We are always here to help anyway we can.

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