Low carb ketogenic diets have been shown to help lower weight, reduce blood sugar, triglycerides and much much more. Yet athletes still think they need carbs to perform. Load up on carbs for optimal sports performance, especially for endurance sports.
There is a lot out there saying, ” you should start carbo-loading two or three days before your race and recommendations that include eating about four grams of carbs for every pound of body weight (for a 150 pound runner that’s 600 grams—or 2,400 calories—of carbs per day), including tortillas, oatmeal, bread, pancakes, waffles, bagels, yogurt, juice, white bread and skinless baked potatoes.” See a sample menu here: http://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-runners/fill-er?cm_mmc=NL-Nutrition-_-1538548-_-12262013-_-How-to-Carbo-Load.
When metabolically burning carbs as the primary source of fuel, glycogen helps produce energy and it helps access fat stores for long bouts of exercise/activity. A constant supply of energy, ie carbohydrate calories, is needed and they are needed intermittently during extended times of activity to prevent “hitting the wall”. Hitting the wall or “bonking” occurs when muscles are depleted of glycogen (stored carbohydrates). When this happens you just feel like crap. Muscles and mental acuity fail.
But WHY? Why would you do that? Why build up glycogen stores just to deplete them, hit the wall or “bonk” and go through all that mental and physical trauma? Why? It just does not make sense.
There is a better option, a choice that allows you to burn a different source of energy, not glycogen or ATP as the primary fuel. Instead, tap directly into fat stores and burn fat as the body’s primary fuel, seems prudent for anyone who wants to lose weight or for those who prefer not to have to constantly re-supply carbs (snack ) while exercising and to avoid bonking. Fat provides energy via ketones ( acetoacetate and β-hydroxybutyrate ).
When you maintain total carbohydrates in a range of 25-50 grams/day (for some it may be higher) as a lifestyle, you become keto adapted (your body adapts to burning fat as its main energy source).
There are athletes who use keto adaptation to train for sports events and improve performance, http://www.examiner.com/article/endurance-athletes-may-need-fewer-carbs-than-thought-says-sports-scientist.
- Ben Greenfield trained for the 2013 Ironman Triathlon World Championships http://live.smashthefat.com/high-fat-diets-for-endurance-athletes/.
- Sam Feltham used a 5,000-calorie-a-day high fat diet low carb diet lost a belly inch (and somehow gained 2 pounds) after putting on 16 pounds and almost 4 inches with a low-fat, high-carb diet, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBfgzEUMve4&list=PLZvITiygC4TbAMvSyTnG8d1fogchxlJTP
- Antonio Paoli studied 8 elite gymnasts, http://www.jissn.com/content/9/1/34, who ate a ketogenic diet consisting of beef, veal, poultry, fish, raw and cooked green vegetables without restriction, cold cuts, eggs, and cheese; while avoiding high carb foods: alcohol, bread, pasta, rice, milk, yogurt, soluble tea, and barley coffee. Results showed an increase in lean body mass (muscle) and a decrease in body fat.
- Peter Attia, http://eatingacademy.com/how-a-low-carb-diet-affected-my-athletic-performance
- Peter Brukner, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMuD4Z-Oxys
- Tim Noakes, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFxz7YFjycg
Truth is Stephen Phinney has talked about this for years. Here are a few good links that can help get you more comfortable with fat oxidation (ketosis) and physical performance:
- The human metabolic response to chronic ketosis without caloric restriction: physical and biochemical adaptation. “Metabolism.” 1983, Aug;32(8):757-68.
2. Capacity for Moderate Exercise in Obese Subjects after Adaptation to a Hypocaloric, Ketogenic Diet “J Clin Invest.” Nov 1980, 66(5): 1152–1161. http://www.jci.org/articles/view/109945
3. Ketogenic diets and physical performance “Nutrition & Metabolism.” 2004, 1:2, http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/1/1/2.
So what’s it going to be? Are you going to burn fat and take it (sports performance and body composition) to the next level?