Is keto good for long distance running?

This question is about Running

Sarah Achleithner

Limited research to date shows no clear performance benefit to endurance athletes following a ketogenic diet [




]. Despite increased fat burning potential, endurance capacity in keto-adapted athletes still appears to be limited by glucose availability [


]. A keto-adapted runner will simply have less glucose available to fuel a long run than a carbohydrate-fed competitor, and research to date suggests that this impairs speed and performance, even if carbohydrate is temporarily restored pre-run [



Additionally, keto may hinder performance benefits due to the fact that ATP (energy) production from fatty acids requires more oxygen than glucose does [




]. These greater oxygen demands decrease efficiency during exercise and thus limit the potential performance benefits for athletes following a strict ketogenic diet. 

Man running on a grassy hill


  1. Kerksick, C. M., Wilborn, C. D., Roberts, M. D., Smith-Ryan, A., Kleiner, S. M., Jäger, R., Collins, R., Cooke, M., Davis, J. N., Galvan, E., Greenwood, M., Lowery, L. M., Wildman, R., Antonio, J., & Kreider, R. B. (2018). ISSN exercise & sports nutrition review update: research & recommendations. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15(1).

  2. McSwiney, F. T., Doyle, L., Plews, D. J., & Zinn, C. (2019). Impact Of Ketogenic Diet On Athletes: Current Insights. Open access journal of sports medicine, 10, 171–183.

  3. 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.