How to Eat Carbs on Keto

Siim Land

The ketogenic diet is a low carb diet. What they don’t tell you is that you’d greatly benefit from some strategic carb consumption. This article shows you how to eat carbs on keto.

Eat Carbs on Keto?!?

You know, when it comes to nutrition, then we’re definitely in the movie The Matrix.

Morpheus asking you:

  • What if I told you that the ketogenic diet is one of the healthiest diets out there?
  • What if I told you that you don’t need to be in ketosis all the time?
  • What if I told you that you don’t lose your keto-adaptation by eating some carbohydrates?


People have been eating carbs for thousands of years and all of a sudden they’ve become the devil. El Diablo

Aren’t Carbs Bad for You?

Don’t get me wrong – most people would benefit dramatically by lowering their carbohydrate intake because their physiology isn’t in such demand of it.

For instance

Would you really think that Michael Scott from the TV show The Office should follow the same diet as the 4 time Crossfit Games Champion and the Fittest Man on Earth Rich Froning?

Could you imagine how their individual pancreas and intestines would react to the same types of food?

Let me help you with that

  • If a person is sedentary the majority of the day and they’re staying within quite a low respiration rate, then they’re burning mostly fat for fuel. Their glycogen remains unused and full.
  • If a person is working out at both high intensities and aerobic activities several times per day, while still working around the house, then they’re almost always tanked and they’re using a ton of glucose for fuel.

When Is It a Good Idea to
Eat Carbs on the Ketogenic Diet?

Your body can store only a certain amount of glycogen – 100 to 150 grams in the liver and up to 300-500 grams in muscles.

Giving someone carbohydrates who aren’t burning it off still creates the same metabolic reaction by flooding the bloodstream with glucose. What follows is a surge of insulin that tries to re-establish normal blood sugar levels.

The difference is that Rich Froning’s muscle cells are so insulin sensitive and they’re eager to draw in that glucose for recovery. Michael Scott’s muscle cells are full already and they can’t keep up with the high amount of supply.

Over the course of many carbohydrate meals, your cells lose their ability to respond to insulin. This leads to insulin resistance, which happens when the cells don’t open up their door to the intake of insulin anymore.

Insulin Resistance Played Out


  • Muscle Cell: „Who’s there?“
  • Insulin: „Yo, it’s me Insulin, I got you some more of that glucose“
  • Muscle Cell *looks behind and sees a ton of glycogen stores*
  • Muscle Cell: „Nah, man…we’re full already. Better find another place to sell your crack.“
  • Insulin: „Come on, man… I really can’t carry it for much longer.“
  • Muscle Cell *shuts the hatch* „Don’t show your face around here anymore“
  • Insulin goes from cell to cell looking for somewhere to deposit the glucose
  • Neighbouring Muscle Cells all tell the same story
  • Insulin sticks his own eyes out with his fingers and begins to wonder the barren wasteland of your bloodstream until you become diabetic

That’s the main cause of diabetes – insulin resistance induced by eating too many carbohydrates and sugars.

Too much is a matter of context and the amount of carbs Rich Froning needs to eat is more than enough to make Michael Scott diabetic back-to-back several times.

Do You Need Carbs on Keto

Therefore, how many carbohydrates your body can handle and how much you should consume them depends primarily on your individual physical demands and goals.

The state of ketosis yet again changes the context of the situation greatly, as even high-level athletes can greatly enhance their performance by consuming no carbs at all.

Nevertheless, it’s not necessary nor beneficial to be doing strict keto for the rest of your life and that’s why it’s a good idea to occasionally dip in and out of ketosis.

You Take the Red Pill or the Blue Pill

There are 2 ways of consuming carbohydrates on the ketogenic diet

  • Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) – you eat keto for a given period and then have a carb refeed
  • Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD) – you eat keto all the time and have a small dose of carbs during workouts

Both the CKD and TKD are viable ways of boosting your performance, improving your metabolic flexibility and upregulating the metabolism.

Which one should you use?

I’ve experimented with both quite extensively.

  • I did CKD with massive carb refeeds for 8 months and it was glorious. It was a period where I was focusing more on athletic performance like explosiveness and agility.
  • I’ve now been focusing more on TKD because having these high carb days had their negative consequences. My training goals have also shifted towards more longevity.

In reality, you can use both the CKD and TKD for promoting any physical endeavor, whether that be ironman triathlon, bodybuilding, Olympic weightlifting, or Crossfit.

How to Eat Carbs on Keto

No matter the situation, you can definitely boost your performance by having even just a very small amount of carbohydrates around your workouts.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to walking, jogging, yoga, disc golf or something else that doesn’t really tax your glycogen stores.

Therefore, you want to be using these methods only as tools for becoming stronger, faster, more enduring or resilient, not as an excuse to simply eat some carbs.

Let’s go through some scenarios where you can indeed use these strategies.

Carbs on the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

  • Training 5 or more times per week with mostly resistance training.
  • Examples: bodybuilding, powerlifting, weightlifting, Crossfit, obstacle course racing
  • Goals: build muscle, increase strength and power, have your cake and eat it too
  • Have your harder training days either on or after your carb refeeds
  • If you feel like you’re feeling sh#t the entire following week because of keto flu then dial down on the number of carbs you’re consuming and have less frequent refeeds
KETO CARB CYCLE Meal Plan Siim Land
KETO CARB CYCLE Meal Plan Siim Land

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Carbs on the Targeted Ketogenic Diet

  • Training 4 or more times per week with mostly resistance training or ultra long endurance
  • Examples: bodybuilding, powerlifting, weightlifting, Crossfit, obstacle course racing, Ironman, rowing, marathon running, swimming
  • Goals: build muscle and lose fat while improving your performance, increase power and endurance
  • Have small amounts of easily digestible carbohydrates with protein during your workouts
  • Adjust your carb intake according to your performance requirements and how you feel. Start off with just 5 grams and slowly keep adding an additional 5 grams per 30 minutes of intense physical activity. Hard training athletes can consume up to 30-50 grams of carbs during training while staying in ketosis
  • If you’re training twice a day then have a larger shake during the first workout and a smaller one during the second one. Still, eat keto in between training sessions
  • Eat low carb keto when you’re not exercising and in the post-workout scenario
Target Keto the Targeted Ketogenic Diet Book
Target Keto the Targeted Ketogenic Diet Book

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Carbs on The Standard Ketogenic Diet

  • Training 3-4 times per week with either resistance training or cardio
  • Examples: powerlifting, fitness, weightlifting, endurance, jogging, cycling, yoga
  • Goals: lose fat, build strength, stay fit, improve health, battle diabetes, reverse insulin resistance
  • If you’re not feeling tanked or feeble during workouts then you don’t need to be consuming carbs. Also, if you’re not planning on pushing yourself extra hard at the gym at that particular day, then you shouldn’t feel the need to eat carbs either.
  • If you’re feeling hypoglycemic and are about to pass out during exercise then it’s a sign of not being keto-adapted. You’re simply in a state of still running on a sugar burning engine and you need to build up your fat burning pathways through diet before trying the TKD or CKD.
  • Eat low carb keto the entire time with enough protein and healthy fats.

Get Keto Fit for Life

Whatever the case may be, you can gain some benefits from using these strategies outlined here.

It doesn’t matter what diet you follow in general – you want to stay in a fat burning ketogenic state for the majority of the day, as to maintain stable energy levels, mental clarity and promote longevity.

When you’re exercising intensely, you’re inevitably burning glycogen, independent of ketosis, which makes it a good idea to strategically consume some carbs.

Never be dogmatic and give your body the fuel it needs according to the situation.


If you want to know how to start the ketogenic diet, how to workout to become a fat burning machine and in so doing improve your health, youthfulness, and performance, then check out the KETO FIT PROGRAM.

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