When it comes to weight loss and endurance performance, dietary ketosis is a strategy everyone asks about. On the surface, ketosis or a ketogenic diet offers everything an endurance athlete could dream of: endless energy, freedom from bonking, and an efficient pathway to weight loss. So, is it time for cyclists, triathletes, and runners to go Keto? First, a refresher course on what a ketogenic diet is. Ketones are produced from fat, which is why nutritional ketosis is so appealing to sedentary people as a weight loss solution. Dietary ketosis for athletes is a hotly contested subject. Proponents point to the metabolic advantage of relying on fat instead of carbohydrate, and critics point out the physiological limitations of eliminating carbohydrate as a fuel for performance. I recognize my historical bias toward carbohydrate, but have tried to look at the science objectively. Both dietary ketosis and the use of exogenous ketone supplements have limitations that make them difficult to recommend to most athletes.
As athletes, many of us are willing to try just about anything if it means shaving a few minutes off our PRs. It comes as no surprise then that a low-carb diet has been gaining traction within the athletic community. Originally a diet that was heavily promoted for weight loss and diabetes management, it seems to have also caught on as a trend in the fitness world. Athletes wanting a lower body fat percentage, wanting to shave time off their PR, or even athletes who are simply interested in improving their overall health are giving low-carb eating a try. This only adds to the confusion and conflicting information we see when it comes to low-carb diets for athletes. Low-carb diets also vary in how they handle dietary fibre, which is a carbohydrate that we are unable to digest. This means fibre provides us with very few calories. Carbohydrate goals are based off of this lower number. The remainder of calories from protein and fat can also vary between different types of low-carb and ketogenic diets. Utimately this can have a huge impact on the results people experience, and our athletic performance.
No matter how you slice it, low-carb is the diet trend du jour: The keto diet restricts your carb consumption to an almost negligible amount, a gluten-free diet—though not intentionally low-carb—forces you to look closely at your carb intake, and the Paleo diet tends to be lower in carbs since you omit sugar, grains, and processed foods. Cardiologist Robert Atkins, M. By the 90s, an updated version of the book became a bestseller as people started to question the virtues of eating low-fat-everything. The first version of the diet was essentially the Atkins 20, noted below, but a modern-day Atkins diet falls into three, more flexible categories. That means that the macronutrient percentages of a keto diet are aggressive: about 85 percent fat, 10 percent protein, and 5 percent carbs. When it comes to the Atkins diet vs. Other macro and micronutrients, fiber type, food consistency, and the overall health of your digestive tract also play a role. For that reason, she still suggests sticking to the carb recommendations above. And unlike Atkins, the above recommendations are based on your body weight, which matters.