Does Peloton Work With Keto? (Explained)


Doing peloton every day is just one part of the weight loss equation. Another part is getting your nutrition dialed in to achieve a calorie deficit. In this article I will explain does peloton works with keto and what are the alternatives.

Overall, the peloton does work with keto because it adds up to total energy expenditure, which helps to create a calorie deficit, improve body composition, and fat oxidation. Also, studies have shown that low-carb diets help to improve the performance of endurance cyclists.

However, keep reading because most of the people I’ve spoken with don’t follow a ketogenic diet while using the peloton because they feel it lowers their performance.

Which Diet Do You Follow on Peloton?

Losing weight is all about creating a calorie deficit. This can be achieved by either adding more physical activity, reducing calorie intake, or doing a combination of both.

Which diet is best for the peloton? Overall, the best diet for the peloton is the ketogenic diet, Mediterranean diet, Plant-based diet, paleo diet, or any type of intermittent fasting. Each of those diets should include protein rich-sources for optimal muscle protein synthesis and high-fiber foods for satiety and gut health.

Should I diet when starting peloton? Overall, you should only diet when starting peloton if your goal is to improve body composition and reduce excess weight. However, if your goal is to improve your power output and get stronger, your diet should include enough calories to support that goal.

Can I do a peloton without dieting? As a whole, you can do peloton without dieting because exercise is enough to create a negative energy balance. However, to stay in a calorie deficit, you would need to exercise all the time. And once you stop, you’re back in the calorie surplus.

In other words, it is possible to just do a peloton without dieting and still lose weight. This is durable, however, not sustainable because you would need to train every week for hours to burn all the calories.

On the other hand, dieting without any form of exercise leads to metabolic adaptations like lower muscle protein synthesis and higher muscle protein breakdown (losing muscle). This is called the metabolic slowdown.

I’ve already written an article where I explain what is “metabolic slowdown” and how to avoid it.

Initially, the results look promising because you burn a lot of calories and lose bodyweight. But after few months, the lean body mass goes down, the resting metabolic rate crash, and the weight loss plateau.

Bottom line: The most realistic and sustainable approach is to combine a peloton with the right nutrition plan.

Peloton and Keto for Weight Loss

You can do keto while doing peloton because it helps to maintain an energy deficit, without restricting too many calories. It also allows doing different types of workouts apart from cycling including strength, cardio, yoga, and power training.

Can you lose weight from peloton and keto? In general, you can lose weight from doing peloton and keto, as long as you implement a variety of training methods and control calorie intake. The combination of both creates a 250 – 500 calorie deficit, which is realistic and sustainable over a long time.

Historically, most of the evidence has shown high carbohydrate diets are better for endurance exercise. That’s because the body is efficient in using glucose for energy in aerobic conditions. Many nutrition plans for endurance athletes would include even up to 70% of carbs in their diet.

However, new research shows that ketogenic diets also work well for endurance sports (Bailey 2020). Here are some of the benefits of combining keto with the peloton.

  • Improved body composition – Physiological ketosis helps to reduce lipogenesis (fat storage) and increased lipolysis (fat breakdown) and fat oxidation.
  • Reduce lactate accumulation after exercise – Strenuous exercise stimulate excessive lactic acid production. Some research shows that eight-week ketogenic diet have the potential to prevent muscle damage by lowering inflamatory creatine kinase and improving lactate clearance (Zajac et al. 2014).
  • Enhances exercise capacity – Reduction in lactate accumulation leads to improved endurance capacity, which means you can train with higher intensity, or maintain the same intensity but for longer distances.

But wait!

Here’s the caveat. Most of those studies were done short term. Plus, in terms of weight loss, most evidence on Keto shows mixed results when comparing to different diets.

Bottom line: Weight loss happens because of the calorie deficit only, despite what diet you choose.

Peloton Output and Keto

I’ve surveyed over 20 people who consistently use peloton and asked them about their dietary approach.

Most of the people (80%) said that they prefer to eat a high to moderate carb diet because it significantly helps them to maintain their performance and power output.

On the other hand, only 20% of people (4 out of 20) reported they do peloton with ketogenic or low carb diet and feel good about their numbers.

In the graph below you can see how many people prefer the ketogenic diet vs the carb diet on the peloton.

By the way, some people said they started from keto in the beginning, but after 2 months or so it wasn’t working for them anymore. So they switched back to carbs.

As you can see, there are a couple of lessons we can learn from this survey:

  • Keto and peloton is working, but not for everyone – The best way to know if something is working well is to find a way to rack the indicators that shows you’re making progress (energy levels, sleep, mood, performance), not just the number on the scale.
  • What works now may not work later – Our metabolic system flexible and adaptive, which means following one diet for 21 days will have different effect than doing it for 180 days.

How long can I do keto with peloton? In general, combining peloton and keto for a long time isn’t the best approach if your goal is to have a higher output and improve your performance. Reducing carbohydrates limits glycogen storage in the muscles, which has an impact on the energy and exercise economy.

Overall, if your goal is to work on your performance and strength, adding more carbs helps to maintain energy. You can also use keto or intermittent fasting on the non-peloton days to ensure you’re hitting the calorie deficit.

Bottom line: You need to use a dose-response relationship on your own and pay attention to how your body feels. I recommend using a food journal where you can track what you eat and how it works for you.

Peloton During Keto Adaptation

One of the main obstacles that people had was the initial keto adaptation period. This is the time when the body acclimates to use ketone bodies as a primary fuel, instead of relying on glucose.

It can take anywhere between 4 to even 12 weeks, depending on the individual. In this period, almost everyone felt lethargic, sluggish, and unmotivated to exercise.

Does keto make you feel weak? As a whole, the ketogenic diet does make you feel weak in the adaptation phase, depending on your physical activity level. Studies have shown that elevated blood ketone concentration induces fatigue in overweight people, but not in the athletic population.

According to Dr. Andrea M White “Blood ketones are directly related to fatigue and perceived effort during exercise in overweight adults adhering to low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss” (White et al. 2007).

On the other hand, most of the studies done on athletes show the opposite results.

Bottom line: Keto adaptation process can lower energy levels and performance, especially in people who want to lose excess weight and are just getting started.

Peloton Classes and Keto Adaptation

If you choose to do keto while training on the peloton and you want to avoid feeling weak and sluggish, I recommend adjusting your workout plan.

Overall, exercise on the peloton helps keto adaptation because its increases energy expenditure. The best peloton class for this time are steady-state and low-impact rides because they are low-intensity and require less physical effort.

On the other hand, high-intensity interval training is more strenuous, which can lead to overtraining and poor performance.

Also, keep in mind that being in the calorie deficit and ketosis increases stress levels by elevating cortisol. And if you add that to high-intensity interval training it’s easy to overtrain and drop the ball.

By the way, I wouldn’t recommend avoiding peloton HIIT on keto completely, as long as you reduce the class duration.

Here is the list of the best peloton classes that don’t require strenuous effort and are suitable for keto adaptation.

Peloton classDuration
Strength20 minutes
YogaAll classes
HIIT cardio20 minutes
Low-impact rides, Recovery ridesAll classes
HIIT, Tabata, Power Zone Max ride20 minutes
WalkingAll classes
Running20 minutes
Peloton classes and keto

I would also recommend adding more steady-state classes within the week, and if you choose to add HIIT reduce to 1-2 sessions per week.

Can peloton put you into ketosis? Overall, the peloton can help put you into ketosis faster by using up glucose stores. Low-impact aerobic exercise requires oxygen and use fat as a primary source of fuel. The best peloton power zones for aerobic work are active recovery, endurance, and tempo.

What I like about the peloton is that you can directly control your intensity by unlocking the power bar.

To unlock the power bar, you need to perform a “peloton FTP test“, which then saves the data into the software and calculates the effort level based on your results.

Is it bad to do cardio on keto? As a whole, it is not bad to do cardio on keto, as long as you exercise below your aerobic threshold. This helps to facilitate lipolysis and use fat as a main source of energy.

Bottom line: Lower intensity and long-distance workouts help to use more fat and enhance keto adaptation.

Peloton Strength and Keto

Another important component of sustainable weight loss on keto using the peloton is adding an efficient amount of resistance training. Weight training not only helps to maintain lean body mass but also helps with muscle protein synthesis during the calorie deficit.

Doing peloton strength and keto help to preserve muscle mass, especially during calorie restriction. Calorie deficit lowers muscle protein synthesis (muscle repair) and enhances protein breakdown.

Adding regular strength training, together with progressive overload, helps to not only preserve muscle mass but also build muscle while dieting.

Bottom line: Adding strength training helps to maintain a high metabolic rate and burn more calories at rest.

Peloton and Keto What To Eat

When you combine peloton with keto it’s important to include high-protein sources. Adding protein (as well as strength training) helps to maintain lean body mass and ensure you’re losing fat, not muscle.

Protein cannot be manufactured by the body so it has to be delivered from the food. It is important for several functions like muscle growth, enzyme production, tissue repair, and more.

High protein intake also helps with satiety and lower hunger.

To learn more about how much protein you should eat on a peloton, check out my article “peloton diet“.

Can you eat more carbs on keto If you do peloton? Overall, if you do peloton on keto you should have around 15 to 30 grams of carbs, even if you exercise. Adding more carbs can reduce the number of ketones in the blood and slow the progress. However, if you need more energy try to add some carbs during or immediately after the aerobic exercise.

Should I count calories on peloton and keto? Overall, you should not count calories on a peloton while doing keto because the estimates for calorie intake can be inaccurate. Also, studies suggest that counting calories may lead to eating behavior problems, being attached to numbers, and losing the joy of eating.

Conclusion

As you can see, the peloton is good for keto because they both enhance lipolysis and drive calorie deficit. The best classes on the peloton for keto are steady-state and endurance rides because of the low-intensity and low effort level.

I know several people who use keto with the peloton. However, the results are mixed because ketogenic diets require an initial adaptation period.

This means in the beginning the body may feel weak and lethargic. Most of my clients who do peloton and keto say that their performance is lower.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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