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Keto, or the ketogenic diet, has gained significant popularity in recent years for its weight loss benefits. However, with the rise of the diet, the question arises: how does the ketogenic diet affect the performance of runners and endurance athletes? In this article, we'll dive into what a keto diet is, how it affects your performance, and who should consider it.
WHAT IS A KETO DIET?
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb, and sufficient protein diet that forces the body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. This results in rapid weight loss, but it also means giving up foods such as bread, pasta, and potatoes. Instead, keto-friendly options like low-carb vegetables and fruits are recommended.
HOW DOES A KETO DIET AFFECT PERFORMANCE?
The body burns and uses carbs differently than it does fats, depending on the intensity of the training. While this approach has been proven to be highly effective for weight loss, it may not be the best option for endurance athletes or runners looking to perform at their maximum capacity. A 2019 study conducted by 'Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise' analyzed the difference in performance levels of runners on a regular carbohydrate diet and a keto diet. The study found that when performing at below 60% VO2-max, there was no significant difference in performance levels. However, at a higher intensity level, the body switches to burning carbs for fuel, which the body can break down and convert to fuel much faster than it can fats. This means that at a higher intensity level, the body will have a difficult time keeping up on a keto diet compared to a sustainable intake of carbs. The study found that runners on a keto diet had a decrease in performance levels of 5%.
WHO SHOULD CONSIDER A KETO DIET?
If your goal is to beat your personal bests and reach new milestones, a keto diet may negatively impact your results. The diet does not provide a sustainable amount of carbs to fuel the body effectively. The body cannot sustain the fat and convert it to energy at the same rate as carbs when performing at maximum capacity, making it harder to push yourself to reach your performance goals. However, this negative impact only applies to athletes and endurance runners who need to push their bodies intensely. Casual runners looking to stay fit and healthy, and possibly lose weight, may benefit from following a keto diet.
In summary, the ketogenic diet may not be the best option for athletes or endurance runners looking to perform at their maximum capacity. However, casual runners may benefit from following a keto diet for weight loss and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Ultimately, it's essential to determine your goals and decide what works best for your body.