How to Fuel Your Workouts on a Low-Carb Diet

A woman lifting heavy weights - Low carb diet workout

You may be thinking about starting one of the low-carb diets you’ve been hearing so much about lately. Many people have tried them and had great results with weight loss, blood sugar regulation, or general health improvement. But you might be wondering how carb restriction can affect your workout routine. You fear that consuming insufficient quantities of carbohydrates could halt your progress or even cost you hard-earned muscle mass. But there are ways to successfully combine a low-sugar diet with exercise and get excellent results. Here are some tips on how to fuel your workouts on a low-carb diet and get the most out of them.

Low-carb diet will help you with weight loss.

A few basic facts about low-carb diets

Adopting a low-carb diet can benefit your body in many ways. Effective weight loss, more predictable blood sugar levels, and available energy in the cells are some of the advantages. It is also an excellent way to prevent diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease. Low-carb diets range from somewhat extreme ones, such as zero-carb or keto diets, in which the allowed amount of carbohydrates ranges from 0 to 50 grams per day, to more moderate versions, like low-carb high-fat (LCHF), where you can consume up to 150 grams of sugar per day. We can divide them into two categories: those in which we take more extensive amounts of fats to replace carbs and those in which we replace them with proteins.

Burning proteins leads to losing muscle mass, so you need to make a balance in your diet.

Workouts on a low-carb diet

Our body needs energy to function. Sugar, fat, and proteins provide that energy. Carbohydrates are the preferred energy source for our cells because the body breaks them down most efficiently. Without sugar, the body switches to breaking down fats and proteins to get the much-needed energy. That is why you can fuel your workouts on a low-carb diet, which is effective in weight loss. We want to force our body to start burning fat to make energy. But simultaneously, the body begins to use proteins from our muscles to acquire energy, leading to a loss of muscle mass. And that is something that we want to avoid. So, how to accomplish that? The answer is balance.

Sugar intake

If you practice workouts like high-intensity interval training (HIIT), weight lifting, or circuit training, extreme reduction of sugar intake may not be the best solution for you. These exercises use the energy produced in anaerobic conditions from glycogen stored in the muscles. Spent glycogen, we can restore only by eating carbohydrates. Otherwise, our body will begin to break down protein. That is why we need to consume some amounts of carbs. But as their consumption is limited in a low-carb diet, we must wisely choose which ones to eat and when to eat them. Choose complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. Consume them two to three hours before or approximately one hour after training. It will provide the necessary amount of glycogen in the muscle for their work.

Fat intake

If you are on a low-carb diet, the energy your body requires, you have to provide from other sources. Fats are the most logical choice as the most energetically rich macronutrient. In addition, fats don’t affect blood sugar levels. A Low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet causes the body to switch to burning fat as its primary fuel source, just like a keto diet. At the same time, it is less demanding. Therefore it is a better choice if you exercise regularly. Give priority to healthy unsaturated fats from olive oil, avocado, nuts, pistachios, almonds, fish, and tofu. Avocados, pistachios, and nuts are excellent sources of fiber, often lacking in low-carb diets, causing constipation.


Proteins are the main building blocks of muscle cells, and that’s why it is very important to provide your body with sufficient quantities in order to maintain current muscle mass or build additional. Protein improves safety, stimulates muscle building, and allows you to burn more calories than any other macronutrient. If you exercise regularly and you are on a low-carb diet, the recommended amount of protein you have to consume is approximately 2.2 grams per kilogram of lean body mass (1 gram of protein per pound). It will help preserve muscle mass and promote fat loss. The best sources of protein on a low-carb diet are:

  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Low-carb protein powder

Also, we must mention the importance of intake of required micronutrients, minerals, and vitamins. That is why it is important not to exclude fruits and vegetables, as they are the major source of these significant chemical compounds. Try to avoid processed foods that contain a lot of empty calories and undesirable types of sugar. Preparing your meals from the fresh ingredients you have selected can be a great advantage when trying to live a healthy life. One of the first lessons you learn after you move out on your own, should be learning how to prepare your meals.

Make sure to include cardio after training.

Restructure your workout

If you plan to start a low-carb diet, you must adjust your training to accommodate the lack of carbohydrates as an energy source. As we have already said, glycogen is the most accessible source of energy in our bodies. The glycogen supply in our body quickly depletes, so our body begins to rely on fat as the central source of energy. But their breakdown is slower. Your workout must be intense, heavy, and, most importantly, short to achieve the best results. Keep the rest time between two sets of exercises to a minimum. If your training includes cardio exercises, make sure you do them after training.


A low-carb diet is beneficial for your health and general well-being. It is very effective if you want to lose weight, and it will cleanse your body. However, you need to adapt it to your workout routine to see the results. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy, so if you reduce their intake, your body will start burning sugars and, most importantly, proteins from your muscles. That will only make the muscles smaller. However, you can fuel your workouts on a low-carb diet. Follow these tips, and you’ll see the results in no time.