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The Best Keto Recipes for Endurance Athletes (High Fat + Low Carb = No Bonk?)

collage of keto diet recipes as prepared dishes

You’ve probably heard the claimed benefits of a ketogenic diet – burn fat, lose weight, never run out of energy. Pretty much everything you’ve ever wanted!

It’s not for everyone, and I’m certainly not advocating that you try it right away. I might not recommend you try the keto diet at all! However, for some athletes, it could work. (And some will try it despite my warning…)

There is always one big question when you talk about low-carb diets and endurance athletes:

If you’re someone who is used to eating lots of carbs – i.e. most endurance athletes – what do you even eat?

Well, I have some keto recipes for you!

Continue reading to see why you might want to consider the ketogenic diet – and what to eat if you do.

The Ketogenic Diet: An Introduction

Let’s begin with a quick primer about the keto diet and how it works.

The basic idea of ketosis

The critical piece to the diet is to put your body into ketosis, which is when you’re low on glucose and instead, your body is primarily burning fat for energy.

So, you cut out carbs, and in turn, your body burns fat and produces ketones, and those fuel your muscles and your brain. (The process is known as ketogenesis.)

It’s like an extreme version of a low-carb diet and basically the opposite of what we’ve been taught most of our lives!

Why do athletes try a keto diet plan?

The promise is that by becoming an efficient fat burner, and using ketones for energy, you aren’t reliant on carbohydrates. That’s quite useful because your body can only store so many carbs, while you have virtually unlimited fat supplies.

That means there is no need for sugary sports drinks, and you won’t bonk if you don’t have multiple energy gels each hour! (In theory, you’d have virtually endless energy, so you never bonk!)

To top it off, you’ll lose fat and get ripped, and then easily maintain your physique year round (which has always been difficult because you have to balance diet alongside training).

The drawbacks of a ketogenic diet

Unfortunately there are lots of them.

First, nutrient deficiencies are a thing. Any time you start eliminating food groups (e.g. carbohydrates), you might be eliminating your sources of vital nutrients.

The scarier one is that the keto diet results in decreased athletic performance. Ketosis can wreak havoc on your performance!

Sure, casual rides on flat ground will likely be fine. But if you’re racing or riding hard (and encounter hills that push you to your limits), your performance won’t be there any more. Those are situations where you need carbs.

While the keto diet is very problematic for road and mountain bike racers, it can be perfect for some triathletes and ultra marathoners. It’s up to you to determine if the diet is compatible with your particular sport and personal goals.

There are drawbacks, but good, tasty meals should not be one of them! Here are the recipes!

Keto Recipes

I have found compatible recipes for all occasions, so I put together a collection of easy keto meals. (Because training is hard enough! Dieting should be easy.)

At the very least, preparing these meals will help you to avoid processed foods.

Keto Breakfast Ideas

Start off the day with some of your favorite foods – bacon, eggs, sausage, and more.

caprese omelet on table

Caprese Omelet

Soft mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, and fresh basil, yes please! In an omelet — even better! This super-easy, low-carb dish works for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and is sure to be a new fave. [Vegetarian]

Full recipe: www.dietdoctor.com

Keto Breakfast Sandwich (Like a Sausage Egg McMuffin!)

Two sausage patties comprise the bun. Then egg, cheese, and avocado in between.

Full recipe: www.heyketomama.com

Keto Zucchini Patties

Zucchini patties, fritters, whatever you want to call them. They may look like hash browns, but there are no high-carb potatoes here! Mostly just grated zucchini, with some egg and cheese for the coating. [Vegetarian]

Full recipe: www.myketorecipes.com

Bacon Egg and Kale Cups

Three ingredients and a muffin tin – and you’re all set. Put bacon, kale, and an egg in each slot. Bake. That’s it. You can also try ham instead of bacon.

Full recipe: www.myketorecipes.com

Keto Snacks (For a Quick Lunch)

Be ready to make these snacks so you always have something keto-friendly to snack on.

plate of zucchini nachos grande

Zucchini Nachos

Enjoy these disks of crisp zucchini slices topped with spicy beef, olives, green onions, and cheese. (Goes great with the guacamole recipe linked above.)

Full recipe: www.healthfulpursuit.com

Cheesy Keto Stuffed Mushrooms

Take some big mushroom caps, fill with cheese, and bake. Yum! [Vegetarian]

Full recipe: www.myketorecipes.com

Keto Guacamole

This is a wonderful, full-flavored guac recipe for anyone, regardless of diet! [Vegetarian]

Full recipe: www.myketorecipes.com

Bacon Jalapeno Poppers

These are essentially a party appetizer, but they’re comprised of healthy, natural ingredients.

Full recipe: www.ketoconnect.com

Keto Kale Chips

This is how you turn kale into an easy, anytime snack. [Vegetarian] [Vegan]

Full recipe: www.myketorecipes.com

Keto Dinners

You can have a hearty keto dinner featuring chicken, steak, or fish for the main course. Or heck, make a keto pizza! (This section has my favorite keto diet recipes – they’re so good, it doesn’t matter what type of diet you’re on, you’ll want to make them!)

zucchini pasta dish with chicken and pistachios

Zucchini Pasta with Chicken & Pistachios

Replace typical pasta (which has no place in your diet) with zucchini noodles, add chicken and spices, and have a delicious dinner. It’s like a trip to Italy on your dinner plate!

Full recipe: www.happybodyformula.com

Deconstructed Pizza Casserole

If pizza crust is the enemy of a low-carb diet, what do you do? Replace it with a casserole dish! Then fill that dish with tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese, sausage, and pepperoni, and you have this for dinner. Perfect for the weekend, after your long, hard workouts.

Full recipe: www.kalynskitchen.com

Salmon with Bacon Tomato Vodka Sauce

For seafood lovers, you can prepare this sauteed dish in just 20 minutes! (Did you see it combines salmon with bacon! Yes!)

Full recipe: www.lowcarbmaven.com

steak kebabs with grilled veggies

Steak Kebabs with Chimichurri

If you ask me, it doesn’t get better than steak tips and vegetables on the grill! These amazing kebabs look extravagant yet are ready in just 30 minutes.

Full recipe: www.skinnytaste.com

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Remember tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas? You can still have your favorite Mexican foods on the keto diet! Enjoy this low-carb remake of the enchilada.

Full recipe: www.730sagestreet.com

Reuben Stromboli

Delicious buttery keto pastry dough wrapped around the fillings of a classic Reuben sandwich. Wow! And feel free to swap out the ingredients to create your personal favorite type of Stromboli – sometimes I do ham and cheese, sometimes barbecue chicken, sometimes pepperoni and salami.

Full recipes: www.alldayidreamaboutfood.com | www.uplateanyway.com

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin with Bacon

Re-live your favorite memories of potatoes au gratin with this low-carb version. It’s based on spaghetti squash to cut out the carbs.

Full recipe: www.peaceloveandlowcarb.com

Keto Desserts

Dessert is actually easy on the keto diet! Especially if you like chocolate and peanut butter.

keto-friendly fudge brownies and milk

Keto Fudge Brownies

These taste like real fudge brownies! (Don’t bother with avocado brownie or black bean brownie imposters. These are so much closer to the real thing.)

Full recipe: www.ketoconnect.com

Peanut Butter Fat Bombs

They look and taste like peanut butter fudge, but they’re part of a ketogenic diet! (All you need is coconut oil, coconut milk, and peanut butter.) Any time you need some extra fat in your diet, just toss one of these in your mouth.

Full recipe: www.myketorecipes.com

Raspberry Smoothie

Yes, it’s possible to craft a low-carb fruit smoothie! Here’s how.

Full recipe: www.yummyinspirations.com

Pumpkin Cheesecake

This yummy pumpkin cheesecake is low carb, sugar free, and keto approved!

Full recipe: www.myketorecipes.com

How to find a keto cookbook

Need more recipes? Maybe it’s time to invest in a keto-specific cookbook.

If you’re searching for the best keto cookbook out there, here are three points to consider:

  • Is the food good?
  • Are the recipes simple to prepare?
  • Does the book include color photos?

I’ve come across three keto cookbooks that meet my criteria:


the keto diet by leanne vogel book cover


The Keto Diet: The Complete Guide to a High-Fat Diet, with More Than 125 Delectable Recipes and 5 Meal Plans to Shed Weight, Heal Your Body, and Regain Confidence

Leanne Vogel promotes a whole-foods-based approach to keto that I appreciate. She’s a well-known author, creator of HealthfulPursuit.com, and is no stranger to being on camera. Her book is the first one I recommend.

Purchase on Amazon. ($22.81)

 


the wicked good ketogenic diet cookbook cover art


The Wicked Good Ketogenic Diet Cookbook: Easy, Whole Food Keto Recipes for Any Budget

Amanda C. Hughes is a ketogenic chef with nearly a decade of experience in developing and cooking popular low-carb and paleo recipes. Her ketogenic food adventure blog, WickedStuffed.com, has been described as “life-saving,” “hilarious,” “delicious,” and “nonsense free.”

Purchase on Amazon. ($14.84)

 


the ultimate ketogenic diet cookbook cover art


Bacon & Butter: The Ultimate Ketogenic Diet Cookbook

I don’t know much about this cookbook, but I saw a picture of bacon on the cover, so I had to share! 🙂

Purchase on Amazon. ($12.50)

Note: Some of these were just published in 2017. We’re right in the early years of the keto diet’s popularity, so keep an eye out for new cookbook releases!

 

 

keto diet recipes for athletes

 

 

Have you attempted the ketogenic diet? Have you prepared any keto-friendly meals?

Please share your experiences – and favorite recipes – in the comments!

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4 Comments
  1. Funny, I just started this diet a few weeks ago. From what I’ve seen from other keto adapted cyclists is really good performance. As I understand it you will suffer from worse performance until you adapt which could take a few months.

    Anyhow, you should also check out the receipes here: http://peaceloveandlowcarb.com/

    I think they will meet your criteria as well. The flourless chocolate chocolate chip cookies are really good. 🙂

    • @Bryant

      Yeah, the adaptation can be a rough time! How do you like it so far?

      Thanks for sharing that link – I remember visiting that site often a while back, but haven’t been there lately. I got a lot of good gluten-free recipes there. It’s a great resource!

  2. what is the difference between Atkins, low carb, primal, paleo, and keto? c’mon. give me a break. oh and pass the buttered coffee!

    • @Sam

      Dude, I am right there with you! There are so many versions of very similar diets, you have to sit back and laugh.

      Sure, all those diets you listed do have slight differences. That’s why I ended up with separate pages for low-carb, primal, paleo, keto (right here), and more. But it’s hard to not get lost in all the information!

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coach levi
Hi, I'm Coach Levi. I'm a USA Cycling Certified Level 3 Coach as well as Level 1 Certified with Precision Nutrition. Want to feel better, ride faster, and look great? Let's work together!

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