10 step HOWTO guide: TrainerRoad & Ketogenic diet

I do not recommend a ketogenic diet for cyclists

However, if you should choose to ignore this advice, then you might find my current approach interesting. I’ve been doing keto for ~3.5 years for medical reasons.

First, let’s hear from Coach Chad:

Ketogenic adaptation is a lifestyle which dictates which sort races you can then do.

Figure out how you can tailor you athletic lifestyle to work with your keto adapted dietary practice.

Ask a Cycling Coach: Episode 140: https://youtu.be/-EYWZFelBeI?t=1980

Given Coach Chad’s advice above, I have tailored my TrainerRoad experience to work to suit.

First of all, here (in my opinion) is the keto adapted TrainerRoad user’s hierarchy of needs (most to least important):

  1. Ketogenic diet/lifestyle.
  2. Regular & consistent TrainerRoad workouts
  3. Compliance with TrainerRoad workouts
  4. Becoming a faster cyclist

Or to put it another way, you must accept the following truth if you wish to be a cyclist doing structured training whilst following a ketogenic diet:

I am choosing to prioritise a dietary practice over becoming a faster cyclist. If I can make both happen at the same time that is a nice bonus, but it’s not my expectation.

Now that we understand where our priorities lie, we can then start talking about how to make a ketogenic diet and TrainerRoad work together. Here is my approach in accordance with the hierarchy of needs outlined above:

  1. Optimise for consistency, not volume. Yes, this applies to all TR users but it’s worth repeating (and it’s number 2 on our hierarchy). You want to do the lowest volume plan that will give you the most consistency. For me that is the LOW volume plan with an added outside ride and a Baxter if I can squeeze it in because Nate is awesome.
  2. Sweet spot base 1 & 2 on repeat. I have found it difficult to comply with any of the build or speciality plans. Compliance is number 3 on our hierarchy so I choose to optimise for that over doing build or speciality for the FTP gainz.
  3. Replace threshold workouts with equivalent sweet spot workouts. Another modification for compliance. Threshold workouts are difficult to comply with and tend to throw my plan off course if I do too many of them. Instead I find the equivalent sweet spot workout. For example, Lamarck is a 4x10 threshold workout, I replace with Antelope -5 which is a 4x10 sweet spot workout.
  4. Recovery week every 4 weeks instead of 6. There’s a TR thread about this.
  5. Keep the Tuesday VO2max workouts. Be fresh. No workouts on Mondays. This is perhaps the most important workout of the week.
  6. After your VO2max day, have a day off or if feeling good do Baxter for LOLs
  7. Electrolytes are important. 1 stock/bouillon cube in boiling water 30 mins before each workout. Stir in a teaspoon of coconut oil if you are wanting/needing to increase dietary fats.
  8. No fasted workouts. I tried it. I lost too much weight. They might work for you. They don’t for me.
  9. Test regularly with a blood ketone meter. If you do this then you can start experimenting with taking on small amounts of carbs. The gym-bro’s call it “targeted keto”.
  10. Let your outside ride be as fun and as much of a smash-fest as you like. Going all out is your reward for keeping a lid on things during the week.

AFAQ (Anticipated Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. You’re doing SSB on repeat, how do you expect to “become a faster cyclist”?
    • See hierarchy of needs above. Becoming a faster cyclist is last on the list.
  2. You are not doing any threshold workouts, how do you expect to “become a faster cyclist”?This text will be hidden
    • See hierarchy of needs above. Becoming a faster cyclist is last on the list.
  3. Keto sucks. Carb TFU. Durianrider for life.
    • See first line of this post. I don’t recommend keto for cyclists. If you choose to do keto anyway, then the above blueprint may give you a headstart on your TR journey.
  4. Sean Sako says keto is awesome.
    • That’s good for him, but I personally can’t wait to get the hell off this diet one day.
  5. I do keto and I don’t have to modify the TR plans.
    • That’s great, I’m jelly. Please share your blueprint or any tips you have.

Great post. Thank you for sharing. :+1:

I’m sure a lot of folks will gain good experience from your experience and have a better shot at mixing keto and TR than had they tried to figure it all out on their own. Congrats on your success and consistency. Perspective matters.

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Useful post - thanks!

I was on a keto diet for about 4 months last year and it was certainly an interesting experience. No health drivers behind adoption, just interested.

My n=1 is that up to sweetspot was fine, above that and I felt blocked.

I wouldn’t go back to it, but glad I did it to see how it would work for me.

Ditto, kind of. I did 4 months of HFLC + Z2/low HR training, like the OP, for health reasons. The first couple of weeks were a bit sketchy as the rides got longer (3+hrs) but didn’t take long to be able to do carb-free/fat-fuelled back-to-back 5hr jaunts.

But yeah, unfortunately repeatedly smashing out Z5+ intervals successfully does require carbs.


I would ditto all 10 for anyone in a heavy calorie deficit trying to maximize weight loss

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Great post, wish I had seen this much earlier! My experience is very consistent with the recommendations and conclusions described. In some cases (mine) the Keto-diet is not a voluntary choice, but forced by GI issues. And realize some will think it is all BS, but can tell you that after eating carbs all my life, it suddenly changed and became very unpleasant. And it took a long time to figure out carbs were the root cause. After trying to fix this for quite a while I have given up, and accept point 1. of the hierarchy as a given, while still pursuing points 2-4. A couple of points worth sharing:

  1. Think twice about the ramp-test. In my case it results in a number that is too high. Suspicion is that the relatively short test is doable on the energy storage from a keto-diet. But a 60 or 90 min sweet-spot or threshold workout puts different demands on energy systems, and I typically crash halfway. Using the average output of a long climb at max intensity has given better results. So avoid a mismatch in duration between the FTP test and workouts.
  2. Blood ketone meters are accurate but also really annoying. The Biosense breath-analyzer has given me a decent proxy without the hassle.
  3. The smell of ammonia under the shower is a good indicator you went too far.
  4. Experimenting with carbs has been the name of the game more recently, and the GI tract does not always agree. What has worked to a certain extent as fuel is ‘Elemental Heal’. It is a powder-meal-replacement that is intended to cure GI issues (which it did not for me) but it does contain carbs and can be used to fuel rides. Expensive and off-label use, but one of the few things with carbs that is tolerable.
  5. But wait, if you eat carbs you are not keto! Well, first of all that is not my goal but a practical necessity. Second, using the Biosense or blood ketone meter I typically see a strong spike up in ketone levels after a ride, even after consuming (some) carbs.

Hi geekylucas, thank you very much for your precise insights in your keto lifestyle. Are there any important changes to your plan after this post or any new insights over time? I would be glad to read an update because I can’t hardly find any user experiences with keto and TrainerRoad. Best, Holger

keto = death, stay awy

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Not going for ketodiet but asking what happens to lactate when someone is in ketosis? How is it produced? Is there less lactate etc

Lactate is one of the substrates for gluconeogenesis

There are no differences in muscle glycogen levels between fat adapted and high carb athletes after a proper adaptation. Also fat adapted athletes can continue burning fat at higher intensities than non-fat adapted athletes