Forced keto - how to maximize performance?

I’m new to TrainerRoad and really excited and impressed with the offerings so far. I’m finishing up the third week of my first sweet-spot base block and loving doing many of them outdoors in sunny California!

Anyways, my question is about nutrition. During the middle 30 years of my life I abused my body to the extent that I am no longer able to process blood-suger at any reasonable rate, aka type 2 diabetes.

Over the last year and a half I have done extensive experimentation with nutrition and measuring my blood glucose levels in a myriad of configurations. My conclusion is that from a health standpoint the ONLY way for me to keep my blood sugar level at a healthy level is to either dose up massively on a variety of drugs, OR, remain in nutritional ketosis as a way of life. I have picked the later.

I love the way I feel both mentally and physically when in ketosis, especially after the initial two month adaptation period (two months of uninterrupted ketosis as measured with daily blood samples).

So, rather than ask the usual question that will probably stir up a wasp-nest of strongly held belief systems and quoting questionable studies etc., I’d like to make this as straight to the point as possible.

Given that I AM in ketosis, and have NO PLANS of changing that, how can I maximize my performance both pre and post workout, and eventually pre and post racing? (cat 5 Masters here I come).

I am enjoying my sweetspot training and have absolutely no issues hitting all my targets with the expected perceived effort. Most of these rides are done in a fasted state, only because I’m running almost purely on fat so loading up on a meal of fat/protein before a workout doesn’t always make sense or even make a difference (depending on fasting period of course).

My concern is with the more intense workouts that will present themselves later in the winter, leading up to race season. Hitting VO2 max and beyond is going to put extra strain on my fuel availability.

Does anyone have experience with hard interval training while in ketosis?

I know that after a hard 2 hour group ride I can easily consume an extra 30-40 g of carbs to refill my muscle glycogen without going out of ketosis. This could be a possible solution to consider. Would it make more sense to pre-load those carbs instead? Consume them during the workout? Just leave them out and force my body to adapt at a whole new level of fat burning?

Also, just learning about the super carbs in UCAN which apparently barely register a BG spike. Anyone use this for workouts or racing?

Look forward to reading your thoughts!


There’s quite a few threads on keto if you search. I’ve been doing it for a number of years now. The short of it is you’ll be just fine. The long of it is it can take a while to train up your top end. I started keto in 2015 and started racing cat 5 CX at the same time. I started to get serious about training with TR last spring (2018), got a lot faster, and I’ll be upgrading to cat 3 here shortly. No doubt the VO2 stuff is the hardest, but it comes around, and you can get stronger.

Pre and post ride/race carbs are not necessary unless you’re going to race again in a few hours. Muscle glycogen is preserved just fine with keto, it’s the liver glycogen that is empty. I allow some carbage mid-ride in 2 circumstances: a) outdoor rides exceeding 2 hours (mostly because I have always struggled with hydration and sugar water helps keep me drinking) b) workouts around 1600kj+

I haven’t tried either, but a cheaper introductory attempt is to try plain old raw cornstarch in water first. If that helps, then UCAN might help more.

It’s always hard, just work into it. I find sweet spot pretty easy… enjoyable even, so I just remind myself everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. One thing I’ll add, if you have a glucose meter, you’ll notice your BG shoots up while doing HIIT and SIIT anyway. The liver is engaged in some serious gluconeogensis to pump glucose back into the system (lactate and the glycerol from triglycerides can be transformed into glucose, so that’s where it comes from) and it tends to stay high for a bit after the workout.

I largely agree. A great many of my workouts are done fasted and it’s fine. I’ve raced CX fasted, also fine. Pre-workout, I would advise salt loading as the single biggest thing you can do, especially if fasted and the workout is hard. 1/2 tsp of salt should do, or a bouillon cube in water.


Thanks for the great feedback and suggestions, gcarver! I’ve been reading a bunch of other threads from other ketonians. (I guess LCHF is the preferred term…) Great stuff.

I’m going on a 2.5 hour hard ride on Sunday. I’m going to bring a small amount of carbs to consume about half-way through and see how that feels. Probably diluted electrolyte drink in my second bottle.

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Skip or consume the chocolate peanut butter bar first. The chocolate doesn’t hold up to heat and melt easily (aka, big mess). I was doing LCHF & TRE while prepping for the LA Grand Tour double century from October 2018 to June 2019 and used it to fuel my rides over 4 hours and on the double century. It kept my energy level even throughout. On the double century I ate 1/2 bean burrito for lunch (~cup of refried beans and half flour wrap) for lunch, one scope pre-ride start, & 6 bars over the 12 saddle time. I normally consume one or two bars for rides 4-6 hours and another one or two for rides over 6 hours. Typically I would not need to eat anything up to 3 hours. A UCAN bar was typically my breakfast on weekends after 2-3 hours into a ride. On weekdays I normally breakfast with a protein heavy meal at noon and workouts 4-5 hours latter just before dinner. I don’t like the taste of the UCAN powder but find it useful as a pre-ride meal (three experience only: LA Grand Tour, Davis Double Century, and Chico Wildflower).

I never check if I was in nutritional ketosis and suspect I was far from it. Based on the few club rides (2 to 3 hours hammerfests, IF >0.85) I did during this period, I didn’t find that my top end had dropped much, 1-5s was down 30-20w, but the number of matches decreased by >25%(?). The club rides were done mostly fasted (capping off at 18 hours or so).

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I wonder if there is a way to overcome. Carbs the night before?

UCAN has worked really well for me (longer distance rides/gran Fondo/haute route multi-day riding and I really like it. My only issue with it is that it is like taking talcum powder out with you and the fine white powder easily gets into everything and goes everywhere even when being careful.
For this reason I now only really use it before rides and with maybe one made up in a bottle for during.

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If you are hitting interval targets while in ketosis, you are doing something right. I found it very difficult.

I found this to be one of those intersections of nutrition, medicine and exercise physiology where there is little trustworthy information (lots of N=1 stories).


I’ve been keto for about 2 years now. Before really hard workouts or races I’ll take in some carbs just to fuel that effort. Depending on the intensity/length I found I’d often be back in ketosis not long afterwards. After workouts I never do anything special other than make sure I get some protein in and stay on top of my electrolytes.

YMMV of course as you being in ketosis is a necessity rather than a choice. I’d ask your doctor If it would be ok for you to take in more carbs before/during intense workouts. If that’s not an option I think the best way to make it through is really stay on top of your salt & electrolytes

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another vote for Ucan. I had a long talk w/ one the head nutritionists there. Awesome customer service and interesting conversation. One thing she told me was that the concentration does not impact emptying rate from the gut. So it is possible to mix it really strong and use it more like a gel in a small gel flask. It does intensify the flavor, tho. I’ve done this in past two IM distance races and it worked well with no stomach upset. Looks like they have new flavors coming out too (my choice right now is the cranberry/raspberry). The bars are ok, but are high in fiber, so I use them more as back up. You can cut them up into bite sized chews (maybe 5 blocks per bar) and freeze them the night before. That helps w/ the melting, but unfortunately (as stated above) my favorite (peanut butter chocolate) just doesn’t survive Texas summer heat.

@Andrei_Tallent I know this is an old thread, but just checking in to see how the riding in ketosis is going?

I started ketosis a week ago for fat loss and oh boy, the increased heart rate and RPE is brutal. I’m hoping it all improves after a few weeks. I’m going to try adding a 1/4 scoop of ucan to my water tomorrow for an endurance ride and see how it goes.

Anyway, thanks!

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Increased HR is a big sign that your electrolytes are out of whack. Getting enough sodium?

I’ve been adding the potassium and sodium to the water I’ve been drinking throughout the day and taking a magnesium supplement.

But have I measured the amounts of electrolytes exactly, no. I should start doing that - thanks @CallMyLawyer

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Ucan is super :money_with_wings: Really not worth it for regular training use.

Alternative to tracking electrolytes, just slam a 1/4 or 1/2 tsp of salt before you ride. Odds are you’re not putting nearly enough in your drinking water to accommodate extensive aerobic work.

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@lokerola You will need like 5g of sodium (not salt) per day in addition to just whatever you put on your food is a good place to start. As @gcarver says slamming a little salt maybe 20 minutes before you ride will help. Also can experiment with a little bit of carbs pre-riding too.


Good idea @gcarver and @CallMyLawyer

I do put sodium in my water bottles, but I haven’t been measuring. I’ll be sure to do that starting tomorrow.


I have no specific evidence for or against the following:

My intuition is that you could do 30-40g/hr and start at the onset of training and not affect anything negatively health wise.

I am not a medical doctor or RD.

Finding an RD who is well-versed in cycling and triathlon might be quite useful.

This thread may have some specifically useful anecdotal information for you (thread deviated from title topic!)

Feel free to ask questions there or here. I may or may not have further helpful answers but can try!

Being LCHF, I don’t have problems with endurance rides and can fuel with protein bars but once the intensity increases then it might become a problem. I started to use UCAN a few weeks ago for my winter training and it has worked out incredibly. It is expensive but it help me maximize my training and stay in ketosis. But if BG is a concern, I have noticed that even without carbs. My BG will spike depending on the training session.

I suspect you will be able to do similarly with other carb sources.

Reason for increased blood sugar during training (you may already know so just explaining in case it’s of interest to the OP): increased circulating epinephrine, growth hormone, and glucagon all stimulate gluconeogenesis (production of glucose) in the liver, which kicks it out into the bloodstream to prevent a perilous drop in blood sugar as your muscles start to vacuum up what little is in your blood.


I have tried many brands of gel packs and bars but often resulting in GI issues a few hours later, especially when combined with zero carb electrolyte drinks. And everything is too sweet for my liking. Even the flavored UCAN is too sweet so I mix it 1:2 between flavored and non-flavored. I have tried fruits before, during and after but results vary and I kind of prefer a bit of consistency. And here in Holland, fruits are also not cheap.

I have not kept a log, though I should, there are times after the ride where my BG is up over 7 (as you have explained) and there are rides where my BG drops to around 4. I think once it was 3.8. I generally eat 2 meals, lunch and dinner and train before lunch, in a fasted state. I guess downing some UCAN, I am no longer… fasted.

Might want to rethink keto

Keto will lower blood glucose, but does not solve insuline resistance, the cause for too high blood glucose.

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