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Keto Athletes


One question I get asked often is, “I’m an athlete. Can I do keto?”

As I work with clients, I meet people with a variety of lifestyles. Some clients prefer not to exercise, which is just fine and they do wonderful on the diet (proof that weight loss is 80% diet). Then there is the other extreme, where I get clients who are training for a marathon and are wanting to increase carbs now because they need to “carb load.” I often get asked “My high school son is in football and if you don’t recommend Gatorade, what should he drink?” Um, how about water?  There is a much better way to fuel our bodies for performance than carbs.

I am an athlete. I have been running marathons for many many years eating keto. I do not drink Gatorade or “carb up’ before a race. I drink water and for energy, I love LMNT.  LMNT is an electrolyte mix that finally gets things right! They use the proper amount of sodium, potassium, magnesium as well as use the proper form of magnesium that won’t upset the stomach or cause diarrhea. 

Any person training for a marathon or endurance race MUST read the book The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance. But if the idea of running until your big toe nail falls off (which mine did on my first marathon) doesn’t appeal to you, this book is still a fantastic read on how to increase energy on the ketogenic lifestyle.

It is especially interesting when Dr. Volek points out that he thought with all the data in the studies they conducted (him and Dr. Phinney have over 60 years of research combined) and low carb approaches, he thought they would change the world of performance.  Yet, we have been so brain-washed that these studies came out with a “thud.” (not to mention our government driven high carb industry that doesn’t want you to know this). The idea that you can run marathons on coconut oil (which is what I do) is still considered crazy! It does take a few weeks to become “keto-adapted” with a very low carbohydrate approach, but if you give it time, I promise you, your energy will be “through the roof!”

So, if you are like me and it took about 6 months to sit and read a book cover to cover because cute little toddlers are demanding your attention instead, here are some awesome things that I highlighted in the book:

Myth: You need carbohydrates for fuel

1. Our bodies store over 40,000 calories as fat, but we can only store 2,000 calories of carbs, which when “carb-burning” is why marathoners “hit-the-wall” and constantly need Gel Packs and Gatorade, yet still are low in performance at the end of races due to the depletion of carbs in their muscles/liver.

2. Carb-fueling tactics and sugar-based fuel sources create a body that fuels on carbs while simultaneously inhibiting fat burning. “This suppression of fat burning lasts for DAYS after carbs are consumed, not just the few hours following their digestion.” (pg. 7)

3. Even in athletes who have very little body fat are able to work out 20 times longer at their max level. Vigorous exercise fueled on carbs depletes the athlete in a few hours, but burning fat for fuel you can exercise for days. (pg. 10)

I love this chart; fat release plummets with a moderate increase in insulin; this is why I am so extreme… even a banana will cause fat burning to stop and you are no longer “keto-adapted.” Is a banana the “devil?” No, but for what we want to accomplish, it is going to stop your efforts.


The chart below demonstrates why I LOVE weight lifting, not only for myself, but for my clients. For example, one man who was training for a triathlon started a very low carb diet. He was 57 years old, 180 pounds with a BMI of 25. After the first 2 weeks (which his training intensity was decreased) he had the best training and energy of his life! In only 12 weeks, he lost 23 pounds of FAT and gained 6 pounds of muscle!



1. It improves insulin sensitivity and speeds recovery time in-between training sessions. Low carb diets are anti-inflammatory. This produces less oxidative stress while exercising, which speeds recovery time in between exercise sessions. This is why I was able to run every day while training for my marathons.

2. It spares protein from being oxidized, which preserves muscle. Branch chain amino acids are considered essential, because your body can’t make them, so you need to consume them for proper muscle building and repair (as well replenishing red blood cells). What I found so interesting is that BCAA oxidation rates usually rise with exercise, which means you need more if you are an athlete. BUT in keto-adapted athletes, ketones are burned in place of BCAA. Critics of low carb diets, claim that you NEED insulin to grow muscles; however, a well-designed ketogenic diet there is less protein oxidation and double the amount of fat oxidation, which leaves your muscles in place while all you burn is fat!

3. It decreases the build up of lactate, which helps control pH and respiratory function. A myth of low carb diets is that it puts you in a state of acidosis.

This stems from the unfortunate fact that many doctors confuse nutritional ketosis (blood ketones at 1-3 millimolar) with keto-acidosis (blood ketones greater than 20 millimolar). In nutritional ketosis, blood pH at rest stays normal, plus sharp drops in pH due to CO2 and lactate buildup during exercise are restrained. By contrast, in keto-acidosis, blood pH is driven abnormally low by the 10-fold greater buildup of ketones. Suggesting these 2 states are similar is like equating a gentle rain with a flood because they both involve water.” (pg 35).

4. It improves cognition. Ketones aren’t just fuel for our body, but they are also great for our brain. They provide substrates to help repair damaged neurons and membranes. This is why I really push a ketogenic diet for clients who suffer from Alzheimer’s (type 3 diabetes) and seizures.

5. It doesn’t damage our immune system and less free radical damage in our cells. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules produced in the mitochondria that damage protein tissues and membranes of the cells. Free radicals happen as we exercise. But ketones are a ‘clean-burning fuel.’ When ketones are the fuel source, ROS (oxygen free radicals) is drastically reduced. Intense exercise on a high-carb diet overwhelms the antioxidant defenses and cell membranes which explains why extreme athletes have impaired immune systems and decreased gut (intestinal) health. A well-designed ketogenic diet, not only fights off these aging antioxidants, it also reduces inflammation of the gut and immune systems are stronger than ever. After reading this, I am no longer concerned about taking all the anti-oxidant supplements that I do! I also don’t worry about getting as many anti-oxidants in my food like with veggies and definitely not with fruit!

What to Eat?

So what does the suggested diet look like? Focus on getting carbs low enough (below 20g total carbs a day). Then get enough protein for your lean mass (0.8 times lean mass). When your body switches over to ketosis, the liver releases a lot of sodium (and the water associated with it) so you actually need more salt in your diet when in a ketogenic state. Even the very lean subjects had double the fat oxidation rates on low carb versus when they did the same exercise on their typical high carb diet. (see chart below).


I want to also emphasis that the faster you switch your diet, the faster you will become keto-adapted. I use to think that in order to succeed, you should do “baby steps”. I know that if you do something 16 times in a row it becomes a habit. Habits are hard to break in the first place, so changing a habit of eating oatmeal and bananas at breakfast is hard enough.

In the past, I would have clients aim for 3 things to change a week, once you have those habits in place, add in and focus on 3 new goals to change. BUT after reading this book, I think you need to “pull off the band-aid” and go all in! The faster you do this, the faster you will stop being a sugar-burner and become a “fat-burner”. It will still take a few weeks to become a significant fat burner, this is referred to keto-adaptation.

There are some supplements that also help anyone who wants to burn fat for energy (or weight loss), which are discussed in this book as well as my book KETO ADAPTED. The best one would be l-carnitine. I take this in a capsule form before my runs in the morning, but you could also get the powder form and add it to the “gel pack” recipe below.

If you find yourself also needing more electrolytes, this is the only supplement drink I found that is the best: LMNT. I like the unflavored.

Gel frozen in mini ice cube trays.  Easy to grab one before a run!

1/2 cup coconut oil
2 TBS Swerve (or a drop of stevia glycerite)
1 tsp strawberry extract (or extract of your choice)

1 teaspoon Redmond Real Salt

OPTIONAL additions:
3 tsp l-glutamine powder (helps repair muscles faster)
3 tsp l-carnitine powder (increases body’s ability to become keto-adapted)

Melt the coconut oil in a small bowl. Mix in additional ingredients. Pour the coconut oil mixture into gel pack (which I found HERE) or ice cube trays (preferably metal trays… you don’t want to put hot stuff in plastic).  This recipe also works great as “Magic Shell” over my “healthified” ice cream (which I also eat almost every day!).

NUTRITIONAL COMPARISON (per 1.3 oz serving)
Honey Stinger Gel = 120 calories, 0g protein, 0g fat, 29g carbs, 0g fiber (29g effective carbs)
“Heahlthified” Gel = 288 calories, 0g protein, 33.6g fat, 0g carbs, 0g fiber (0g effective carbs)


 Can you believe in high school I couldn’t do a real push up? I am now 33 and feel the best I ever have!


Maria Emmerich

Maria is a wellness expert who has helped clients follow a Ketogenic lifestyle to heal and lose weight for over 20 years. She has helped thousands of clients get healthy, get off medications and heal their bodies; losing weight is just a bonus. She is the international best selling author of several books including "Keto: The Complete Guide to Success on the Ketogenic Diet.".


  • Maria , I attended your webinar Sunday and loved it! I am so excited to book a consult with you in the near future. I know as someone with PCOS, I need to get my carbs back undercontrol. Why is it so hard to do that when breastfeeding though? I feel like I have to have carbs or I get shaky!
    Anyway, so excited to work with you once I get my little 14 month old weaned! God Bless you Maria! Love the blog, keep up the great work!

  • Wenchypoo says:

    I have yet to meet a 50,180 lb. man with a BMI of 25. You must see all kinds of people in this business! 🙂

  • Wenchypoo says:

    Serious question now: would 5-HTP be as effective as l-carnitine for speeding keto adaptation? It seems to be helping me with keeping hot flashes at bay–I take one every night before bed, and sleep at least 5 solid hours uninterrupted (except maybe by my bladder).

  • Blondee says:

    I saw this on Fb, this is what you were wanting packaging ideas for, right? I was wondering if since this is primarily coconut oil, if it stays solid once chilled? If so, could it be packaged in a ‘candy bar’ form, maybe 8-10 ‘bricks’ to a bar and package in foil/paper like a chocolate bar? If it’s too soft, keep it refrigerated. Just break off a ‘brick’ for a serving. Sorry, brick doesn’t sound too appetizing, does it? lol Not sure how to better explain. 🙂

    • Yes, as you can see above, I made some in a mini ice cube tray. This will melt on your run when you hold it in your hand so that is why I used a pouch to then squirt into your mouth. 🙂

  • Amanda N says:

    Hi Maria- Thanks for this! It is so frustrating explaining to people that yes, I run, and no, I don’t eat carbs. They look at you like they cannot process what you are saying!
    Anyway, lately I’m loving a concoction I came up with based on your energy bars in the kids book. I’m subbing 1C of coconut oil for the zylitol honey, taking out the whey crisps but adding chopped macadamia nuts and unsweetened coconut. I also added 1/2C of coconut flour and 2 eggs. I bake them for 1/2 hour, cut them, individually wrap them, and freeze them. They are my FAVORITE on the go food and they come in at almost 88% fat. Heavenly. Thank you for your work!

  • Anonymous says:

    All the kinds of coconut oil is confusing. What’s best for people who are not running marathons (or running at all)? Virgin, expeller-pressed, organic, refined, unrefined………

  • Samantha says:

    Hi Maria! I always read your blogs at just the right time! Its so coincidental! What do we do if we eat something that takes us out of ketosis? How do we counteract it? With exercise? Fasting? I ate gluten free bread today because Ive had diarhea for a week and my urine is toxic coloured :/

    • Just go back to eating less than 30 grams of carbs a day and you will go back into ketosis. 🙂

    • Hi Maria,
      could you write a template of such eating plan with 30 carbs per day?
      Its a little bit confusing: so no veggies at all?

      Thank you. I love your blog!

    • My next post is called “What I eat”. Stay tuned! 🙂

      • Janet t says:

        maria, I searched and searched your blog for this post, but I can’t find it. can you point me in the right direction. thanks so much

    • Blondee says:

      Maria- AWESOME! Have been waiting for a post like that! Also if you could please do one that explains how you began running (how far, how often) and your current workouts now that you are juggling kids in the mix would be fantastic!

    • I started just fast walking and then built up to running a mile, then two. I now run 5-6 miles every morning (because I love it, not for exercise), do BodyPump classes at the YMCA 3 days a week, yoga 2 days a week and walk or bike ride about 2 hours every night. Yes, I love to be active! 🙂

    • Blondee says:

      You rock! Thank you!!

    • Brianna says:

      I am very interested to find out what you eat also… I read the “carb nite solution” by John Keifer which was based on eating under 30g of carbohydrates everyday but for one night time meal a week where you “spike your metabolism” and eat what you want. The 30g of carbs per day seemed really low(even though he didnt include fibre as part of the count), I love my veggies and occasional handful of berries + nuts, so looking forward to your next post!

  • Anonymous says:

    Congratulations for your new book Maria!
    I am training for my first marathon and I found fascinating that you use coconut oil instead of gels. Could you please give us some insights? How often do you take them, just like regular gels? I read your ‘Secrets for a healthy metabolism’ book but after one week of following your advice, the change is so amazing that I would like to give it a try.


    • NikiSupy says:

      How soon before a race do you eat and how much? I have my first 10k in June. Thanks.

    • To be honest, I only drink water during long runs (10 miles or more). Even in elite athletes (ones that run 100 miles), their bodies have over 20,000 calories stored as fat. If you are in nutritional ketosis, that can supply you with energy for a long time (like days)! This is just a better option if you want to have something during a very long run (like a marathon or longer). I eat normally during the day, don’t do anything different really. 🙂

  • NikiSupy says:

    Maria, I’m doing my first 10k at the end if June. What high fat/low carb meal or snack would you suggest? How soon before the race? Thanks!

    • If you are in nutritional ketosis (eating less than 30 grams of carbs per day on a well formulated low carb diet), you won’t need to do anything special for that short of a run. Your body will have plenty of fuel stored up. You can have one of these gels before the race if you like. 🙂

  • MetmyGoal says:

    I don’t know where else to ask this…How do you do low-carb when you are sick, especially stomach things/loose bowels, and especially with kids? My old way would have been gatoraid, pedialtye, popsicles, saltines, rice, diluted juices. I think now it would be bone broth and water and probiotics, but I am not sure b/c my kids’ health books say protein and fats are harder to digest and should be avoided when the intestines are irritated from a virus or bacteria. What would you do for your kids and family?

  • lovelykati says:

    Maria, thank you for the all the information you put out on your website. I have in the past year purchased Volek and Phinney ‘s work on Low carb performance also. I think I need to reread it now! A couple things: I recently read that ketones are ideal fuel for candida. Please comment on this, as I’m slightly confused about it. I wasn’t aware of gut disbyosis on a vlc/keto diet. Also, when getting started in ketosis, how does one overcome volatile shifts in moods? Every time I start on a ketogenic diet, I feel very angry after about a day and a half. Lastly, what type of caloric restriction is needed to drop fat? I suspect that maybe I not eating enough, as I can easily gain while counting calories on a vlc diet. I’m 27 and 5’ 6″ and 172 lbs. I used to be 136 lbs until I burnt my adrenals out. Thanks for your insight. 🙂

    • Hi,
      Nope Candida loves sugar and starch. As for the transition phase, increase your salt intake (when you go into ketosis your liver stops holding on to salt) and lighten up on your exercise. As for calories, I only watch my carbs. Portions are still important, but only eat if you are hungry. Craig only eats 2 meals a day and a small snack (handful of almonds around 6PM). 🙂

  • Brianna says:

    How do you get enough protein to prevent muscle disintegration in only 2 meals?? I find myself not as hungry but worry about getting protein and vegetables…I am still large and supposedly need at least 83 grams of protein! I cant wait for your ‘what I eat’ post lol! Also my husband wants to start making green smoothies to get more vegetables. Is vegetable quantity important on a LCHF diet? He says “live vitamins” are better than suppliments. Im hitting a lot of walls.

    • Please read bullet #2 under “BENEFITS OF KETO-ADAPTATION” above. A high fat low carb moderate protein diet is very protective of muscle mass. I get about 80-90 grams of protein per day which is about 0.8 grams per pound of lean body mass for me (which is in the range of 0.5 to 1.0 stated above). My next post is what Craig eats in a typical day. That should show you a good example. 🙂

  • Caroline says:

    Awesome post Maria!! You know my high school boys are athletes and I am always trying to help them fuel their bodies correctly, as well as myself! I bought and read Jeff’s book but am a bit confused – in some of his recipes he uses honey?? I thought that was not a good thing?

  • Della says:

    Thank You!!! for all you do!! I have to tell you I get simply giddy every time I pull a batch of Sub rolls out of the oven, having them to replace bread is beyond awesome! I just logged on to my local library and put in a request for them to purchase your books so they would be available to all!


  • LoveMariasBooks says:

    Do you have book(s) with very specific exercises for stay at homes mom to do at home? I have an exercise bike and free weights. I can’t get to a gym at this point in my life…I have a pull up bar, too. I would like a list of exercise with pictures….Can you pick some and put them in your Amazon store?

  • Mizzsingbabe says:

    Very interesting article. I have been toying with the idea of trying this diet to enhance running endurance. I am currently on Paleo and noted that there are difference between the two diet. Fruits and honey are ok on Paleo but a big NO NO here. Dairy such as cheese and heavy cream are no no in paleo but it seems to be a source of fats for this keto diet? Am I right ?

    A few qn:

    1. How long do you have to back down from your normal activities during transition phrase. I am currently running 50 miles a week and hate to back it down. I know different people are different but it will be nice to hear your story

    2. What is your main source of fat ? WIll be interesting to see what your daily meal is like.

    • Thanks! Yes, if you don’t have a dairy sensitivity, I think it is a good option. I don’t think sugar of any kind is good so thus no fruits of honey. Sugar is going to act very similar in our bodies no matter the source.

      1) This depends on the person. If you are coming from a very high carb diet, then you might have to back down more the first two weeks.

      2) I eat lots of coconut oil. I use it whenever a fat is needed (baking, frying, etc). I usually have 3-4 eggs fired in lots of coconut oil with some protein bread in the morning (spread with butter or coconut oil), a big salad with lots of cheese, my ranch dressing, sunflower seeds,tomato, etc. for lunch. For dinner I might have a burger with a lettuce wrap in place of a bun with a couple pieces of bacon, onions fried in the bacon grease, tomato, my homemade ketchup. Then I have a dessert (my ice cream, etc). I am pretty active and this keeps me going all day (I usually eat in about a 5-6 hour window from 10AM to about 3 or 4PM). 🙂

    • martyann says:

      Oh thank you for this. I loved reading what Craig eats and wanted to know what and how you do.

  • Ken says:

    Hi Maria,

    Thank you for this very insightful entry! I am an Olympic distance triathlete and training for a 1/2 IronMan next month. I have to say that I agree with what you bring up from a long distance perspective and the use of fat burn during a long race. The question I’d like to add has to do with differences in application of fat energy between slow (long distance tempo pace) and fast (sprinting) twitch muscle contractions. Could you explain whether or not simple and complex carbohydrates can be replaced with fat stores as energy when fast twitch muscle contractions (sprinting) are engaged?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Ken,
      This is a pretty complicated and great question that I could easily devote an entire post to. I may do that in the future but will try to summarize here. High performance like sprinting relies on two main things, oxygen and fuel. On a ketogenic diet the fuel (fat) is favorable as fat has much better energy density, it yields more ATP and thus energy per unit than glucose. This also helps the oxygen part of the equation because you produce more energy per unit of oxygen. But, it is a bit more complicated as the availability of the fuel source comes into play, especially in sprints and high intensity exercise. Glycogen is readily available for high carb diets. On a ketogenic diet these are depleted. But, there is considerably more intramuscular tryglycerides to replace the glycogen.

      Also important is what happens when oxygen can no longer be delivered to the muscle cells quickly enough to keep up with demand. At the start of a sprint this isn’t a problem, but at some point an anarobic system takes over which burns fuel without oxygen. If the fuel is glucose, cells use lactic acid fermentation to extract energy without oxygen. This results in the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, which contributes to fatigue and the soreness associated with high intensity workouts. But when burning fat in the fuel source, this lactic acid doesn’t build up. (which allows for faster recovery as stated in the above book) So it is my belief that a ketogenic diet can be beneficial to high intensity workout also. 🙂

  • Mizzsingbabe says:

    What is the best way to store the bread? Can I leave it out for a few days? I just put one in the oven. very excited.

  • LindaCC says:

    I would like the fat burning and energy boost properties of l-carnitine however need the neuropathy and brain stimulating function of Acetyl-L-carnitine. So which would cover both or do I need to take both? (my Mother has Alzheimer’s and T2 diabetes).

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi Maria,
    I am eating the ‘Maria way’ but now my sweat smells like ammonia while exercising… is this normal?

  • David M says:

    I am new at low carbing but have not backed down my excersises routine. I run half marathons and read the performance book you suggested. Here is my question/ issue. During the week I run 4 to 5 miles in the morning without eating. I feel fine. On the weekend I do my long run (over 7 miles). I take a whey protein drink before my run along with l-caratine. At about 4 miles into my run I start to feel a little sluggish. It takes a few more miles to start to feel better. Is the protein drink the problem? If so, what would you recommend? Also what would be the pre-race meal/snack on the day of the event when there can be hours in the staging and race corrals before the start? FYI. I purchased most of your books and love them. Thanks for all the great insights on health and nutrition.

    • cemmerich says:

      The protein could be the culprit. Too much protein can turn into glucose through gluconeogenesis. I would eat something with a lot of coconut oil before the run. Lots of ketones for energy. (this above gel would work, or my easy almond joys)

      Thanks so much for the support! 🙂

  • Natasha says:

    This is great info for endurance sports – but what about body building?

    My husband recently started a program and it calls for a ton of carbs in the first two phases for muscle building/growth/repair. It keeps him from feeling as sore, keeps his recovery time much faster, and of course provides energy.

    Traditionally (from what I have found) body builders bulk up, then lean out for competition and their training routines all revolve around that basic principle (that’s why when you see a body builder not yet competition ready he might just appear to be a ‘fat guy’). Is there any reliable information on doing body building low carb? The general consensus is that it will cause too much muscle cannibalism in the body.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on it! =)

    • cemmerich says:

      I highly recommend reading this book. (it is short and an easy read) They had studies that show low carb actually protects muscle mass better than high carb diets. It also helps with quicker recovery times. 🙂

  • at says:

    Hi Maria, what do you eat after your morning run? Thanks for such an insightful article!

  • This book changed my life. I seem to have an auto-immune response to carbohydrates, and adopting a ketogenic diet has been the only solution for getting and keeping me symptom-free. I’m still adjusting (keto flu), but I’m so much healthier now! Thanks for this post. I never would’ve learned about the book without it. Also, thanks for your protein buns! They’ve been the only bread substitute I can tolerate (nuts flours and coconut seem to upset my stomach), so thanks for that recipe, too!

  • Melinda says:

    Maria…Just went through your Maximize Metabolism class online and have a question about how much protein I should have in a day, being on a low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet? Thanks for ALL that you do and teach us!

    • cemmerich says:

      I try to stick to less than 30g of carbs, 50-100g protein (depending on your lean body mass, most people 60-75g is good), and 70-80% of calories form fat. 🙂

  • Melinda says:

    follow-up to question above….How many grams of protein, please….thanks!

  • kelly says:

    Hi Maria,
    Going to make these coconut oil bombs and see if it helps my 12, pre soccer game.
    I have been following your blog and advise for about 6 mths now, saw a fantastic change in my body. I have read all the books, including the two Volvek and Phinney. I have been VERY low carb high fat for about 3 weeks now. My weight has not changed, nor did it need too (106 lbs at 5ft 2). I cant seem to get past the moderate rating with the keto sticks, and i almost feel like I’m getting a little soft, not as tight as I was a month or so ago. Trying really hard to get my fat grams up, usually hitting 100, protein around 60, carbs 10. I work out hard, any suggestions?

  • kelly says:

    My goal is to become fully adapted and possibly drop 2-3% body fat. Im pretty lean now, but would like to be able to refine things a bit more for optimal health, and performance/endurance. By soft, i meant that, i almost feel like im gaining fat instead of burning it, is that possible? Is that something that can happen if my numbers are off. Should i continue and see what the next few weeks brings? I absolutely love how i feel! Increased energy!No hunger, no cravings! Thanks for all of your help, love the almond joys, delicious!

    • cemmerich says:

      I would keep at it for another couple weeks (it takes 2-4 weeks typically to become fully keto adapted). Also, are you strength training? In a ketogenic diet resistance training is very useful at maintains and building muscle mass.

  • Cynthia says:

    So, regarding keto adaptation, could weight loss be slow or non-existant UNTIL keto-adapted? And what is your recommendation to test? I’ve used keto-stix in the past but have read that they aren’t accurate.

    • cemmerich says:

      Everyone is different. In the keto adaption phase you can lose water weight (the liver releases salt and the water associated with it). The blood ketone strips are OK (the urine strips are not very accurate). 🙂

  • sjanette says:

    Hi, I just read this whole post! Very interesting for me! Every morning I go outside for a ride on my footbike for 30 kilometer before I go to my work . Before I was on low carb I took 4 caps of BCAA, 3 before my ride and one after for protecting my muscles. In the afternoon I sometimes (2 or 3x a week) go to the gym for lifting weights. So, I’ve I’m understanding it right I don’t have to take the BCAA’s anymore? In May of next year there is a very long ride (230 km or more) on the calendar. So I don’t have to take extra carbs, just more fat like the above and LC meals?

  • Carol says:

    Hi Maria, love your recipes and books. I’m a long distance runner. I’ve been following your keto diet for one month now. With the last several runs I’ve been feeling extreme muscle weakness, like the way it feels when you have lactic acid. I currently do not take any supplements. Do you think I’m lacking something that would cause this? I really want to keep up with the keto diet as I had been feeling good and lost 7 lbs.

  • Susan says:

    How much fat is too much?

    • cemmerich says:

      At some point calories will matter. But in my experience it is really hard to consume that much fat (without carbs). Unless your goal in weight loss, then you can get too many calories if you are used to eating a SAD diet and larger volumes of food.

  • Lior says:

    Hey Maria! First want to say I’ve been following your blog and facebook page for a year now and i love every minute of it, you are a great inspiration!
    I have a question.. I’ve been eating low carbs for 2 years now, most days i’m under 10g carbs a day, and its very easy for me. workout 5-6 times a week, both power training and cycling.never in 2 years ate anything out of my “allowed foods”.
    However in the last year i’m slowly but surely keeps on gaining weight (not a a lot, but still). my body fat is around 20%.. and with all the workouts I do, I fail to gain any muscle weight, just more fat.
    Trying hard to figure out whats wrong, everyone around saying i’m not eating enough and I have to increase my carb intake, but I doubt it! is this normal?

    Thanks, Lior

    • cemmerich says:

      What are your fat levels? You might be getting too much protein. Shoot for 0.7 times you lean body mass in protein (0.5 if metabolic syndrome).

      • Lior says:

        Im at 20% body fat (weight 55 kilo, hight 167 cm)
        could it be too much fat??

        • cemmerich says:

          No, I’m thinking it is not enough fat. Try getting you fat intake to close to 80% of total calories (1 gram fat is 9 calories).

  • at says:

    Hi Maria, I was wondering whether going more than 80% on fat would help weight loss. Thanks!

  • at says:

    Also, does it make a difference whether you get the calories of the day in eg 5 meals versus 2 meals?

    • cemmerich says:

      I think it is more important to eat in a window. So you get an intermittent fast as well. So start eating at 9-10am and stop at 3-4pm. Something like that. 🙂

  • Jodi says:

    Hi maria i am just wondering, a few years ago i lost about 40 lbs in ketosis and walking/strolling my baby up about 5 miles of hilly terrain everyday. Then my weight loss plateaued. Not long after i went back to a “real” job and incidentally started consuming carbs again via work lunch dates etc and then the weight started rapidly falling off again? Just wondering why u think that would happen? Why would i plateau then rapidly start losing again when i added carbs back in? Thanks for any ideas I’m perplexed! Lol

    • cemmerich says:

      What were your ketone levels? Also, have you had your thyroid checked? In a small percentage of people that have a t4 to t3 conversion issue, a little more carbs a day or so a week can help.

      • Jodi says:

        Wow thanks so much for the reply! I had an endocrinologist tell me i had hashimotos in the past but when i went back yrs later to have it monitored while i was pregnant, the labs said it was gone. ( didnt know that was possible…) Maybe its back :/ ill have that rechecked thanks Maria your blog and knowledge base is awesome! Im hoping it will help my daughter with autism as well 🙂

        • cemmerich says:

          Yes, it can be very helpful. I recently got this from a client:
          “We just went GFCFSFSF and there was an immediate shift in behavior. I honestly thought that we would have a grieving period over cake pops from Starbucks. In the past we had an upset little girl every time she saw that dang green mermaid. I honestly think yanking the processed sugar out COMPLETELY was way bigger for our child. She is 4 and has an ASD diagnosis. It’s mostly speech and language we are dealing with so explaining the changes to her was not gonna help a thing. She’s on a whole new protocol, but this diet was the first step. Very impressed by the removal of sugar. She takes one simple no for an answer now. It’s crazy. – Heather”

  • at says:

    Hi Maria, after my 20min morning run (no breakfast before) I start getting dizzy. Based on your book, it seems that at this point my glycogen gets depleted. I was wondering what could I do to keep going. Shouldn’t I be using my existing fat at this point? My goal is weight loss. Thanks for any insights!

    • cemmerich says:

      Are you keto-adapted? (eating 70-80% fat, 15-20% protein, 5% or less total carbs for at least 2-4 weeks) If you are keto-adapted, you should get a big ‘bonk’ as you body is always using fat for fuel. Try to get more water and salt (and potassium).

      • at says:

        Maria, I think I am keto-adapted. I have no sugar cravings any more and no brain fog during the day. Can it be the case that I’m out of ketosis when I wake up? Or am I simply dehydrated/missing some nutrients? Thanks!

  • Heather says:

    Question to the April 2 post of 70-80% fat, 15-20% protein, 5% carbs to become keto-adapted (following for 2-4 week): what do you shift your precentages to after becoming keto-adapted? Or do you stay at that level always?

    • cemmerich says:

      I stay that way (as does my whole family) forever. I write in my book Keto-Adapted about all the long term health benefits of eating this way. For maintenance you just add more food but keep the ratio. 🙂

  • at says:

    Hi Maria, I read in one of your books “During the Anabolic Phase it’s important to eat some protein and carbohydrate”. Could that be a slice of regular bread and cheese or you meant something else? Thanks!

    • cemmerich says:

      That must of been from an older version of one of my books. I have learned a lot over the years (and continue to learn a lot!) and don’t beleive that anymore. Once keto adapted fat is your fuel and that is what you need for energy. Protein needs to be moderate to maintain muscle mass. Carbs aren’t really needed (your body can produce all it needs when keto-adapted). 🙂

  • Joy says:

    Is there a fish oil supplement that you would recommend? I don’t think I could swallow actual fish oil! Thanks.

  • Katie says:

    I just found your website, and am so excited to start this new way of living! I’ve been researching a low-carb lifestyle for a long time, but as an endurance athlete, I’ve always been very wary of cutting them out altogether. After reading your article above, I’m all in!
    2 questions:
    1. How often do you suggest taking your “gel” on a long run?
    2. What do you think of this product:

    Thanks so much for your work!

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      Thanks! I would take as needed for energy. MCT oils (like coconut oil) will rapidly go into the blood stream as ketones generating fuel source for the body. Personally, I have run marathons with just water. But you can have 1 or 2 of these as needed in a race like that. 🙂

      I am still on the fence with superstarch. I think it only provides a big benefit for really long activities (100 mile race, very long bike/rowing, etc). Fat is your fuel source when keto adapted and your muscles will become insulin resistant so they use their preferred fuel source (ketones) not glucose. 🙂

  • Melinda says:

    Hi Maria. Is it common for some people to experience high cortisol levels when starting a ketogenic diet? I am at the two week mark and I have had high cortisol levels almost since the start. I have a stronger and more rapid than normal heartbeat, a sore back and difficultly sleeping. I was so exhausted this morning when I woke up that I could not go to work. I don’t want to stop trying to become keto-adapted but it is now detrimentally affecting my life. Will this pass or do I need to stop and go back to eating carbs? For nearly a week I have been taking blackmores executive stress formula, l-carnitine and have been forcing myself to eat every few hours and have upped my calories in an effort to reduce my cortisol levels. Is there anything else I can do or should I just give it more time? I have read that dhea has an opposing effect to cortisol. Should I try a supplement of that?

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      First, make sure to get lots of water (at least half your bodyweight in ounces a day) and salt and potassium. This will help with energy. Also, make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep. Are you falling asleep and then waking up 2-3 hours later? Or just having trouble falling asleep?

      • Melinda says:

        I think I am getting enough potassium and salt as I am supplementing with both. The blackmores has potassium and I am making sure I eat foods that are rich also ie avocados, salmon etc. I am drinking water with Himalayan salt and sprinkling it on all my food. I am finding it hard to get to sleep and are also waking up at 5.30 (my heart racing) on the dot every morning so sometimes only getting 3-4 hrs sleep. My blood ketones are generally around the 3 mark and my urine reads as high as 8 sometimes during the day. It’s seems as if my body is really fighting having to use ketones?

  • Dagny says:

    If you have not actually checked your cortisol levels, please do not assume your symptoms mean your levels are high. The symptoms are ALSO the same when your cortisol levels are low…

  • Maya says:

    I transitioned into keto in December and so it’s been 2.5 months of high fat, low carb. Initially, I had a difficult time sleeping being on keto and experienced extreme fatigue/brain fog during the day. This continued on even during the second month of ketosis. I found that adding a little bit of sweet potato, 2-3 ounces, every night helped tremendously! Even though I’m still under 20-30g of carbs will eating that small bit of sweet potatoes kick me out of ketosis? And will I eventually be able to ween off of that little bit in the evening ? Is this all due to coritsol/adrenal fatigue?

    Also, I played around with IF from 6pm-10am and it messed up with my hormones. I am currently IF from 3pm-6am and I feel so much better and my hormones feel more balanced. Is there a reason for this?

    Thanks so much!

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      Yes. Sweet potatoes will. I suggest adding 1/2 teaspoon Progest cream an Hour before bed

      • Maya says:

        Thanks so much! I’ll give it a try. How long would you suggest doing this?
        Our family has been strict Paleo for the last 5 years. I am not on keto for weightloss since I’m already slender and fit (lifting heavy weights regularly with the barbell and short HIITS occassionally). However, I wanted to give keto a try because I read other’s testimonies that switiching over to keto from Paleo was what made a marked difference in overall energy and well being. I started having autoimmune reactions and have been AIP for several years now (no eggs, dairy, most nuts, grains and gluten) and felt there had to be something missing. I’m glad I stumbled across your website. I’m amazed what keto has done for my body already! I’ve been constantly reading your blog posts and this “athletes and low carb” post really caught my attention and your current, http://mariamindbodyhealth.com/skinny-and-diabetic/. It’s nice to have an athletics women’s perspective on keto especially when there are so many opinions on women on keto messing up their hormones. My husband is a fan of Dominic D’Agostino. Thank you again!

        • Maria Emmerich says:

          I have been keto for over 12 years. And know a bodybuilder who has been keto for over 15. Craig over 10 years. This is a lifestyle. 🙂

  • Amy says:

    Recently green tea extract has been in the news as being dangerous to the liver. Have you heard of this? What is your take on green tea extract? I see that it is in your Amazon store

  • Melissa says:

    Hi Maria,
    I just signed up for my first marathon, I’m 6.5 months out and wondering about nutrition during these long runs and the marathon itself. My longest distance so far is 10 miles, I usually run fasted and don’t require water or food while I’m out. It’s really hard (impossible) to find training advice from someone who is truly low carb/keto, runners who are usually low carb, seem to carb cycle for races. I’m not interested in doing this. I’m curious to know at what point I should expect to require nutrition intake while on a long run and what that would look like. I do hydrate daily with LMNT and Ultima, but haven’t felt the need to have anything while running. I have been following keto, mostly your recipes but not much macro or calorie tracking, for almost 5 years, so I’m not new to keto. However I am newer to the running lifestyle. I have only been running since June. Along with your book recommendation above, any more advice, links or information you can point me to would be wonderful. Thank you!

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