Keto, exercise and age


Was talking to an older friend who is on Keto and she said the literally gained weight her first 6 months on keto until she joined the gym and started exercising. She said the thinks it’s because her older metabolism was so slow, it needed a boost that it wasn’t getting. The first month she exercised she alternated treadmill and exercise bike at a moderate pace 6 days a week for 30 minutes and lost 8 lbs. She’s consistently lost at least 1-2 lbs. a week in the past 6 months, and is down two pants sizes.

I got an unexpected windfall of $300 last week, so I’m thinking of joining the YouFit gym down the road, because if I’m not paying, I won’t exercise.

I was an exercise instructor and trained female body builders in my 20s, but now at 70 I actively avoid exercise. I didn’t have a car for 10 years, so I had to walk all the time and am living where I’m living now because it was within walking distance to shopping and has buses close by for the summer. I think my mind associates exercise with that time, which was very hard for me. Still, I can see that since I got my car in Jan. 2021, I feel much less fit. Of course, COVID lockdown didn’t help at all because so many things were closed.

How do you feel about the older metabolism theory? I’ve been on a lot of other diets, and found older people saying the same thing. Also, some said that after about 6 months of steady exercise, their metabolism increased dramatically.

(A fool and his bacon are soon parted) #2

Dr. Stephen Phinney reports that in one of his studies, all the subjects lost 14 pounds of fat, and one woman was upset that she only lost half that much. A body composition scan showed that she, too, had lost 14 pounds of fat, like all the other women in the study, but had gained 7 pounds of lean mass.

It is worth remembering that a ketogenic diet is not a weight-loss diet, but a weight-normalisation diet. This is why we tell people not to make the scale their only indicator of progress. After my initial loss of about 80 lbs. (36.3 kg) of fat, I continued to lose inches over the next twelve months, even though my weight remained stable. Given that fat is less dense than muscle and bone, the only conclusion I can come to is that I added an equivalent amount of lean mass while continuing to shed fat mass.

(Robin) #3

68 here. I began keto with zero exercise. Wanted to see what was doing what.
I eventually added a home rowing machine. I am such a fan! No stress on any of my major joints, just keeping agile and flexible and strong. 300$ would get you a basic rower. But no reason to get fancy, really. Unless you like the bells and whistles.

(Marianne) #4

I don’t like to exercise, although I should do it for strength and balance as I am very weak from years of being so sedentary. I am 63. I joined Planet Fitness which is $10/mo., and I still don’t go. I just don’t like to exercise, and I have a social anxiety that makes me feel like I am in a fishbowl. My husband has worked out daily for over 40 years. He has a full gym of high end equipment in the basement, which he uses, so I have no excuse. I just don’t want to do it.

(Edith) #5

I believe it is important to say fit as we age: keeping a strong core to prevent falls and all around muscle to provide cushion if we do fall. With that being said, it is also important to find something you like to do.

For years I worked out in my basement because I was more likely to go down there to workout than have to drive to a gym. I have tried all kinds of videos, weights, body weight… It didn’t matter because at least I was doing something.

I’m 56 and really enjoyed jogging a few times per week for my aerobic exercise. Something changed in my body (I believe due to perimenopausal changes) and my feet no longer like running. I also got bored with the basement. I recently joined a 9Round Kickboxing Fitness gym that’s only five minutes from my house. It’s a blast! I found out that I really enjoy kicking and hitting stuff. Lol. My body really likes it, too. Will I keep doing that forever? No. I’m sure I will get bored after a while and need to find something else. But, that’s okay.

As far as metabolism is concerned, I do believe that is true in that exercise helps us build muscle and the muscle needs to be fed. Thus, higher metabolism.

The other thing that could have happened with your friend is that in the first six months of keto there was metabolic healing going on. Once her body achieved enough healing and decreased insulin levels her body could start tapping into her fat/energy stores and that started the weight loss.

I heard or read somewhere once that when insulin is always high, the body is always in the process of storing energy. That is why people with metabolic disease just don’t have the energy for exercise: their bodies are constantly in storage mode. Once those insulin levels drop the ability/desire for exercise or at least some sort of movement goes up.

I would image that it is a self-fulfilling cycle. Insulin goes down, exercise commences, muscle gets built, metabolism burns even more calories due to more muscle. :grinning::woman_shrugging:

(Joey) #6

@anon24984088 You’ve gotten great feedback on your thread so far. No point in me belaboring by adding my n=1 experience to the mix.

But as a 65 yr old boy, I’ll simply attest that your body is the only one you get. Use it or lose. The choice remains yours, at least as long as you’re around to make it. :vulcan_salute:


But my friend GAINED weight the first six months. If you’re following the diet strictly, you shouldn’t gain weight, should you?


I live in a 500 SF apartment. I don’t have room for a rowing or any other machine. I’d kill for enough room for a stationary bicycle, but I live on SS and a little supplemental income, so with rents skyrocketing everywhere, that isn’t going to happen.


“I just don’t want to” was my excuse for years for not giving up sugar. Once I made up my mind to do it, it took a year, but I did it. I didn’t want to give it up because it was HARD. If I didn’t do everything that was hard in my life, my poor children would have starved to death at an early age, because I did not want to get up at 5 a.m., get them off to school, shower, go to work, come home, cook supper and get the them to bed 5 days a week, but I did it. I don’t accept that excuse. I bet if a doctor told you that if you didn’t exercise, you’d die in 3 months, you’d do it.

(Edith) #10

Your friend is not the only person this has happened to. There was a 2 Keto Dudes episode, probably almost four years ago at this point, where a husband and wife were being interviewed. The husband lost weight right away, but the wife gained weight at first. I don’t remember how long it was before she started losing. Anyway, if your friend was a lifelong dieter, her metabolism most likely needed adjusting before she could start losing. I’ve seen posts here on the forum where people had to undo damage from years of reduced caloric consumption by having to eat more.

(A fool and his bacon are soon parted) #11

What kind of weight did she gain? Was it fat or lean mass? And if the latter, can you honestly say she would have been better off if she hadn’t strengthened her bones and muscles? (To me, a healthier body composition trumps the number on the scale, sorry.) Keto is not a weight-loss diet, it is a weight-normalisation diet. People who have been starving themselves for years in order to keep the scale number low often add muscle and bone density on keto, and try as I might, I simply can’t see that as a bad thing.


I don’t think she had her fat/lean ratio measured, or would even know how. I surely wouldn’t. I’m on Medicare and it doesn’t pay for that kind of testing unless you’re diabetic or morbidly obese, which I am neither, thankfully.

(A fool and his bacon are soon parted) #13

It’s often possible, depending on where one lives, to get a DEXA body composition scan done. If you really care. For myself, I assume I’m still about 30% fat and go from there; I’ve never actually tried to measure.


I’ll ask about it. Right now, I’m probably a lot more fat than lean, but I’d like to know.