Is keto good for cycling?

This question is about Nutrition and Cycling

Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, Freelance Writer

No, the keto diet is not as effective as higher carbohydrate eating approaches for cycling performance


The keto diet is a high fat, very low carbohydrate diet, where carbohydrate intake is typically restricted to 30-50g per day. Glucose is the preferred fuel for working muscles, and cyclists following a keto diet have less glucose available to fuel high-intensity exercise and increased oxygen demands. Consequently, research suggests that keto negatively impairs maximal performance


However, if you’re cycling below maximum effort, the ketogenic diet may be less detrimental to your performance. A multi-study review found keto-adapted endurance athletes were able to maintain moderate-to-vigorous intensity endurance exercise while adhering to a keto diet


High fat foods such as salmon, nuts and avocado on a green background

[1] Kerksick, C.M., Wilborn, C.D., Roberts, M.D. et al. ISSN exercise & sports nutrition review update: research & recommendations. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 15, 38 (2018).

[2] Burke, L. M., Sharma, A. P., Heikura, I. A., Forbes, S. F., Holloway, M., McKay, A., Bone, J. L., Leckey, J. J., Welvaert, M., & Ross, M. L. (2020). Crisis of confidence averted: Impairment of exercise economy and performance in elite race walkers by ketogenic low carbohydrate, high fat (LCHF) diet is reproducible. PloS one, 15(6), e0234027.

[3] McSwiney FT, Doyle L, Plews DJ, Zinn C. Impact Of Ketogenic Diet On Athletes: Current Insights. Open Access J Sports Med. 2019;10:171-183,