The Best Pre-Workout Supplements for Keto: Stay in Ketosis

Struggling to turn all that bacon into extra reps at the gym? Busting your butt on the elliptical but never moving the scale needle left? You need a keto pre-workout supplement. Forget all of the fancy brands.

These 6 basic pre-workout supplements are all you need to BOOST ENERGY, IMPROVE ENDURANCE, and BURN FAT faster. Careful, the wrong pre-workout can kick you out of ketosis, making it tougher to burn that belly fat. Stick only to proven science.

Best Pre-Workout Supplements for Keto

[READ FIRST] Is a Pre-Workout Good for the Keto Diet?: YES... Sometimes

Bacon, peanut butter, and chocolate-dipped candied peanut butter bacon might be good for your six-pack (*HEAD EXPLODES*) but they are not necessarily the best for the gym. Fats are slow to digest and stick around in the belly for a long time. And, if you’re just starting out, fatigue from the "keto flu" can make even the lightest workouts feel like the last leg of the Tour De France (sans HGH).

It doesn’t help that almost every pre-workout is full of sugar and additives. One dentist-enriching sip and your ketosis is as gone as Blockbuster.

So, how do you get that boost without loading up on carbs and ruining ketosis?

ENTER: Ketogenic pre-workout supplements.

If you’re struggling in the gym, the right supplements can give you more natural energy, longer endurance, and nutrients to burn fat instead of carbs or muscle. In the gym, that means more reps at higher weight. In the mirror, that means a trimmer waist, bigger muscles, and a 6-pack instead of that keg you’re carrying around.

It’s keto time.

#1) L-Carnitine - Burn Fat & Build Muscle

L-Carnitine is one mega-supplement that can help you get results in the gym, work, school, and bedroom all at once. This Renaissance man of keto pre-workout supplements has many talents, but they all come down to helping transport fats into your mitochondria (the powerhouses of your cells) where they are oxidized (“burned”) as energy to fuel your workout.

That means L-Carnitine is responsible for making sure all that candied bacon ends up in your biceps and not your belly. If you’re deficient in carnitine, it’s next to impossible to achieve ketosis.

How does it work? Basically, fat jumps on the carnitine shuttle and is taken into your cells where it’s turned into energy that invigorates your muscles and increases your endurance. Since keto is so high in fat, it becomes even more important to make sure your body has enough L-Carnitine to process it.

Carnitine compounds may alleviate the effects of aging on your cells while increasing their ability to turn fat into gym, brain, and love (wink wink) fuel.

What Does Science Say?

Carnitine has been proven in the lab to help you get results.

  • More Ketones: One study showed that L-Carnitine drastically enhanced the production of BHB (a ketone body) and NAD+ (basically, a compound that keeps you alive) [1].
  • Go Harder, Longer: If you’re struggling to get that last rep, L-Carnitine can help you train harder and recover faster. Just 2 g per day reduced markers of muscle damage and favorably affected recovery in two separate studies. #DoYouEvenCarnitine? [2] [3].
  • #2) Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) - The 0-Calorie Muscle Builders

    How would you like to have big, bulging biceps? How about a The Rock-esque set of pecs? What about starring in the Fast and the Furious 10: Keto Zone?

    EAAs won’t get you an action movie gig, but they are vital to building pythons. They’re the building blocks of protein, the nutrients that are going to make up those cannons on your upper arms (they’re known as the “metabolic switch” for protein synthesis [4]).

    They’re also critical for endurance. High levels of amino acids mean your muscles can keep going toward the end of a hard workout instead of shutting down. And, if you’re trying to slim down so you don’t look like a baby seal at the beach this summer, EAAs protect your muscles from being burned off while you’re burning fat. That means you can build out those guns while slimming that waist.

    And, unlike BCAAs or other pre-workouts, EAAs contain 0 calories! This means they don’t spike your insulin or kick you out of ketosis.

    #3) Electrolytes - Sodium, Potassium, and Magnesium

    Leg cramps, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue? It could be your electrolytes.

    These electrical salts regulate a few somewhat-important functions in the body. You know, things like your heartbeat, energy production, and muscle movement (no big deal).

    A killer workout burns electrolytes, which is why you’re fatigued, sore, and wondering just why the hell you torture yourself for superficial approval from the opposite sex. The problem is that the keto diet already depletes your store of these electro-minerals (which is why people suffer the “keto flu”), and working out low on electrolytes is like running your car on fumes: you putt around instead of burning rubber and riding off into the sunset.

    Consuming electrolytes during a workout has been directly linked to leg cramp prevention and improved endurance [5]. In fact, if you’re exercising for more than 90 minutes, they might even be necessary [6]. They’re also recommended for recovery [7].

    Carb-heavy drinks like Gatorade are not an option, so you’ve got to look elsewhere.

    Best Electrolyte Sources

    best electrolytes for keto 

  • Pink Himalayan Salt
  • Broth
  • Leafy Greens
  • Mushrooms
  • Avocado
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Seafood
  • NOTE: It’s way easier to get your recommended magnesium intake via capsules rather than carrying a Mackerel with you to LA Fitness.

     

    DID YOU KNOW?: When you restrict carbs, your body produces less insulin and starts burning glycogen (stored carbs). Since 3 grams of water are stored for every 1 gram of glycogen, you start secreting a lot of water, too. That’s why you lose electrolytes so fast… and are always making excuses for running to the bathroom during dinner.

    #4) Coffee (Caffeine) - Boost Your Workout, Fat Burning, and Ketosis

    Good news - there’s a good excuse for that 9th cup of coffee.

    Just kidding… but at least there’s a good excuse for a cup of Juan Valdez’s revenge before you hit the gym. Getting your fix before a workout can actually lead to major gains in the gym (and sleepless nights). Especially if you’re on keto.

    Each bitter cup of Seattle’s Worst electrifies your brain and invigorates your muscles. You benefit from longer, more productive training sessions (and much more. Check below), which lead to more stares at the beach.

    And we aren’t just saying all this because Dunkin Donuts paid us handsomely to defend their slow takeover of New England (Give me Dunkin or GIVE ME DEATH).

    In one study, rats were divided into groups and given a swimming regimen for 9 weeks. The rats that took 5 mg of caffeine before swimming weighed 22% less than those who didn’t by the end of the study [8]! In another fascinating study soon to appear in D&D ads, cyclists who chewed caffeinated gum were 5.4% less fatigued during sprints [9]. Their testosterone also increased.

    Coffee also aids your metabolism [10], increases training volume [11], and can even boost testosterone and power [12]. Do you even caffeine, bro?

    Is Coffee Good for Keto?

    YES!

    That sweet liquid gold actually helps produce more ketone bodies [13]. It could even fight some of the effects of aging.

    #5) Exogenous Ketones - Instant Ketosis (Maybe…)

    If you’re ever in need of a quick keto “pick me up,” exogenous ketones could provide instant ketosis and fast energy, creating a synergy in your body that unleashes more oomph, more ughhh, and great RAAWR as you hit your 3-rep max (congrats, you just benched 20 pounds).

    Most exogenous ketones contain beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), the active ketone in your blood. It has a slew of benefits including natural, clean energy and even improved cognitive function (increased neurotransmitter release is directly linked to BHB consumption) [14].

    If you’re an active person that struggles to stay in ketosis, exogenous ketones can “kick start” ketosis and get you back in it fast by causing a “rapid and sustained elevation of BHB” [15].

    That means if you cheat on carbs one day by mistakes (2 bananas and a buffalo chicken pizza was not a mistake, BEN!), you can get right back into ketosis and get a killer workout. That’s way better than waiting 3 days. There is evidence that the body can achieve ketosis without strict dietary regulation just from ingesting BHB [16]. It’s not a cure-all, though, and it’s NOT a license to carb load every day!

    What Kind of Exogenous Ketones Should I Take?

    Exogenous ketones come in 3 forms:

  • Salts - the ketones are bonded to a salt for rapid absorption.
  • MCT Oils - MCT oil powder provides long-term energy.
  • Esters - Raw ketones. You won’t like the taste, but you’ll love the energy.
  • Personally, we use salts. Keto BHB salts are specially formed keto pre-workout supplements that also come with caffeine for an added gym boost. They actually taste good, too!

    HONORABLE MENTION

    Taurine

    WARNING: DO NOT START SLAMMING RED BULLS BEFORE WORKING OUT

    Shake it up baby now (Shake it up, baby)

    Twist, and scream, and shake, and fidget (Twist and scream, and shake, and fidget)

    Come on come on come on come baby now (come on baby)

    Come on and drink that red bull down (Drink that red bull down whoooo)”

    OK, it tears us apart to ruin a Beatles classic, but anyone who’s had the Red Bull shakes knows what Taurine is.

    There is some preliminary research that taurine can spare carbs, meaning your body is encouraged to burn fat. Instead of taking in all that sugar, 2 g of taurine supplements will do just fine.

    References

    [1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3663232
    [2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3663232
    [3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12930169
    [4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10720160
    [5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1150229/
    [6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1895359
    [7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10410838
    [8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7132651
    [9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20737165
    [10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2333832
    [11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16540848
    [12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18458357
    [13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/28177691/
    [14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4915811/
    [15] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4743170/
    [16] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5902005/

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