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Keto anyone?

Has anyone done Ragbrai fully (or almost) in ketosis? I’ve done all my previous rides on carbs and am planning on riding on fat in 2019 (with a bit of liquid carbs on the side…)

Any observations? Thought? Experiences? Suggestions?

20 Replies

Bob Amlie, December 8, 2018 at 9:15 pm

It should work for you, I guess. Just carbs might be better, if you only can choose one. I eat mainly carbs and fat on RAGBRAI, plus a can of tuna & 1/2 gallon of orange juice, per day. . I avoid those cuts of pork & vegetable fiber. Not because I’m a fanatic about diet, but because you really just need the readily digestible foods that are rich in calories, and hydration. Fat is just harder for me to digest, than carbs.


Dennis Pasek, December 15, 2018 at 1:38 am

To see how to implement Keto for endurance activities, get the book “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance” by Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney. They have proven that Keto is far superior to carb metabolism for endurance athletics. It will take you a couple of months for your body to reach optimum conditioning for ketogenic endurance activities. Good luck! I am considering joining the ride for this coming season. I’ll have to get back into biking condition to do it. If there is enough interest, maybe a keto group could organize to ride together.


Brian Wallenburg, January 4, 2019 at 11:01 am

My wife did it last year. She had no problems at all. Her Keto coach had her adjust her diet a little bit. Ate more frequently than she normally would have, increased the amounts of the Keto foods she had previously been eating to compensate for the high caloric demand.


Tim TenClay, January 4, 2019 at 7:15 pm

Great book. I hadn’t seen that one. thanks for the recommendation!


Tim TenClay, January 4, 2019 at 7:16 pm



David Jensen, February 8, 2019 at 2:45 pm

I hope there are more entries in this post in the future. I’m 67 and this would be my first RAGBRAI. I’m currently on keto, and plan to be fat-fueled for this ride. The huge advantage, from my research, is that one can be duel-fueled if necessary, since the body will rapidly accept the glucose input.
Keep talking, y’all!
See you in July.


Bob Rausa, February 10, 2019 at 9:10 am

Try as I may, try as I might, at 63 I simply cannot resist the fire roasted corn once/thrice during the week…….. Other than my shear lack of willpower for sweet corn, going keto all the way is not an issue…


Tim TenClay, February 10, 2019 at 9:14 am

Lol! I’m fortunate that, at this stage, an occasional carby beverage and a handful of carbs don’t automatically kick me out of ketosis any more… Ragbrai may push that to it’s limits!


David Jensen, February 10, 2019 at 9:46 am

I’m 67 and adapting to keto with 1.5 hr rides at zone 2 HR (fasting), and a couple 1 hr rides/week using intervals at my FTP 5 min x 5 with 3 min rest (zones 3-4) – an hour after a meal.
As I told my sons, who have done RAGRAI 5-6 times – this is my first – I may WANT to eat carbs, just there’s such great food there!


Bikingaddict, February 11, 2019 at 4:30 pm

I’ve ran three half-marathons on Keto and done lots of bike riding on it as well. On keto I’ve increased my cycling FTP by about 25% in the past couple of months and done a number of long rides (both mid- and fast-paced). So I’m confident that you CAN ride RAGBRAI on keto.

But I’m not planning to do it. I like my Iowa Craft Beer Tent two-a-days and all the pizza, pancakes, and breaded goodness that is RAGBRAI food. And while I PROBABLY would burn off all that extra glycogen during each day’s ride and not kick myself out of ketosis, I don’t want to risk spending a day riding with the “keto flu”.


Bikingaddict, February 11, 2019 at 4:35 pm

One thing I’ll add. If you decide to ride keto, look into electrolyte supplements because you’ll almost certainly need them. I personally like Hammer Endurolytes for a pill format, and ZipFizz for a Gatorade-style drink mix. You’re not likely to find much in the way of low/no-carb electrolyte drinks on the route.


Tim TenClay, February 11, 2019 at 11:10 pm

I use Genius electrolytes. What’s the carb count on ZipFizz? Does it taste decent?

I like Genius a lot, but I feel like they’re pricey and they use stevia (which I generally don’t care for, but in this case don’t mind… The real problem is that it makes my wife feel sick).


Low Rider, February 12, 2019 at 11:38 am

I can understand asking about taste, I know of 12 different flavors, 6 of which I like, the others not so much. I find the names for the flavors are accurate, the flavors I like are one I like in other forms. The flavors I don’t like I don’t like in other forms as well. The reason I don’t understand asking about taste is it’s a matter of taste. I know people who love the flavors I don’t like, and hate the flavors I favor. I have seen ZipFizz at marathon expos where you can try various flavors or buy individual tubes.

Carb counts are things in which The Google Machine specializes. 0 sugars, 2 carbs. I believe the nutrition information is the same across all the flavors, the only difference is the natural ingredients used to generate the flavors.

During RAGBRAI I do two tubes a day, one before my start, and another about 4 hours in. YMMV.


Steve Pasquarette, February 16, 2019 at 3:52 pm

I haven’t rode RAGBRAI yet, but will be registering this year and hope to get in via the lottery. Having said that, you can totally do the ride on a ketogenic diet if you want (not sure if I will or not). I say this after doing a 3 day ride from Rochester, NY to Pittsburgh last year over Labor Day (118, 128 & 64 miles/day). Day 1 was done on 2000 calories and 20g carbs with a 16.5mph avg. Day 2 & 3 I didn’t count calories and they were slower but I had a strong headwind for 90+ miles and more climbing on those days.
My advice:
1. Get fat adapted months prior to the ride. My legs felt dead for the first 2 weeks, after a month I could apply some power but not sustained. At 6 weeks I could sustain prolonged efforts (and performance increased with more time in the diet).
2. In addition to adapting ahead of time, try cycling off keto occasionally (not a carb bender but maybe a slice of pizza or a beer). Learn how your body reacts. If your version of keto is low fiber / closer to carnivore, deviations can lead to intestinal distress the next day. Not good for long duration bike rides.
3. Agree with a prior poster that electrolytes can be a concern. My wife takes electrolytes daily or she gets muscle cramps. The ride to Pitt was 90+ each day and eating salted almonds and every other bottle fill with PowerAid Zero (sucrolose) without additional electrolytes worked for me.
4. Don’t worry about it. If you like you could eat 1000 calories of pure sugar (you’ll go out of ketosis for a period of time) but once those carbs have been utilized (assuming that is your sole food intake for the day) you’ll kick back into ketosis as your body is in a caloric deficit for the day. Endurance athletes will often systematically take 25-50g of dextrose pre workout to fuel their muscles (and then return to ketosis within 1-2 hours).
Good luck!


Sharon Foster, May 1, 2019 at 3:26 pm

The Ragbrai media coordinator told me to post in these forums to offer my product to riders.

I’m with a company that promotes a clean, healthy, Keto-friendly energy drink.
We offer a coffee or Keto-friendly cocoa. Drinking only one cup each morning will give you all-day, clean energy. Our nutritionally balanced supplemental coffee or cocoa offer not only all-day energy, but also helps promote enhanced physical endurance, helps regulate blood sugar, helps with focus and increase mental clarity as well as it can help you shed those unwanted pounds BEFORE the ride while maintains muscle mass!

I would love to send a FREE 2-3 day sample of either product to try the taste or you can place a 30 day order and take advantage of our 100% 30 Day Money Back Guarantee! There’s still time to give these amazing products a try, but Ragbrai 2019 will be here before you know it. So contact me ASAP.

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