Can You Exercise Your Way to Weight Loss?

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Does all that exercise really help with weight loss when you’re eating keto? 🤔

The answer to this question isn’t as straightforward as you might think. For years, we’ve been told that our weight is determined by “calories in, calories out.” If you just eat less and exercise more, you will be able to lose weight, right?

Well, it doesn’t exactly work that way.

While exercise definitely plays a role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, our bodies are much more complex than the oversimplified calories in/calories out model when it comes to losing weight!

sliced steak on cutting board

Current research is showing that the types of foods you eat matter more than exactly how many calories you eat. Yes, calories do matter, but the quality of the calories is much more important than the quantity.

Carbs and protein both have four calories per gram, but your body processes carbs much differently than protein. Carbs are easy for your body to digest, while protein takes a little more effort. In fact, including adequate amounts of protein in your diet can actually help improve your metabolism!

woman holding beef

Your body burns quite a few calories digesting protein and sending that protein out to wherever your body needs it. Some of that protein does make its way to your muscles, and when you’re trying to lose weight, you want to support your lean muscle mass. After all, the goal is to lose fat and keep muscle. The more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism!

man on exercise bike

If you’re following a keto diet, your body is going to be burning fat for fuel instead of carbs. But protein still plays a key role in weight loss. When you hit the gym for a 30 – 60 minute workout, you might burn anywhere from 200-600 calories. Total calorie burn really depends on your weight and how high you spike your heart rate during the workout.

woman wearing apple watch

For those of you who wear fitness trackers, you might have noticed that you only burn about 200 – 300 calories during a 30-minute super intense workout. Sometimes, after a hard workout, it feels like you should have burned so many more calories for the amount of effort you put into exercising!

And then, if you think about it, you can very easily eat 200-300 calories just from one or two spoonfuls of peanut butter! While we’ve seen varying percentages, it’s estimated that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise. A person can pretty easily undo a workout simply by eating an extra snack. It’s easy to have the mindset that you “get to” or “need to” reward yourself with food after exercise. That habit can easily prevent or stall your weight loss efforts.

woman doing ab workout at home

For sustainable weight loss, it’s better to focus on your eating habits than spending hours and hours at the gym. Think of exercise as a way to support your weight loss efforts, along with quality sleep, and stress reduction. If you are exercising, make sure to include some sort of strength training as part of your routine to support your lean muscle.

close up of bar with weights at gym

Exercise does have many health benefits and it definitely plays a role in weight loss, but what you eat is much more important for losing weight. Many people on keto diets are able to successfully lose weight without exercising because following a keto diet can help your body become a fat-burning machine!

woman holding up sign that says "eat"

Eating keto can also reduce inflammation in your body and give you the energy you need to optimize your workouts. Even though you’re eating keto, be sure to keep your body moving so that you can enjoy all of the health benefits exercise has to offer outside of weight loss, like heart health, decreased stress, improved mood, better sleep, and so much more!


Learn how to pair exercise with keto for optimal health!

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