The science of a low-carb ketogenic diets is finding a role in the area of Endurance and power sport, previously the sole playground of the Carbohydrates. Take up the Keto-adaption challenge and we will expose you to why carbohydrate diets leave most fitness enthusiasts physically broken after an endurance event or are unable to finish due to ‘hitting the wall’. Many people despite following a strict low-fat diet and training many hours can’t lose the belly fat and in some cases develop type 2 Diabetes.
The Keto approach will give you
- An improved power to weigh ratio by reducing body fat
- Decrease in lactate build up
- Improved endurance capacity using Ketones
- Faster recovery
- Sustainable eating plan for life and sport
Reason to consider Keto adaption
Who should consider a Low-carb, Keto-adapted diet? Most people would and do benefit from a Keto-adapted diet, there are many benefits to your health and wellbeing as well as improving your endurance and power sport capacity. By teaching your body to burn fat a process known as fat adaption we become less reliant carbohydrates for fuel and thus refueling during exercise. This has substantial benefits to all levels of sports enthusiasts, while a high carbohydrate diet locks in the dependence of carbohydrates as the dominant fuel for exercise.
Our bodies have the ability to store carbohydrates in our liver and muscle tissue in most cases 400-500g of carbs resulting in 2000 – 2500 cal of stored energy, as each g of carbs holds 4 calories. When this supply is depleted performance suffers to the point of “hitting the wall” with nothing left in the tank. A well planned carb refueling program needs to be worked out to ensure peak performance, but often this is hit and miss as many factors play a role on race day. Typically the body stores >40 000 calories (5kgs of Fat) so even in very lean athletes, giving you a far superior ‘fuel’ tank to draw on.
The key element is to train your body to become fat-adapted by changing your diet over a period of a few weeks to burn fat not carbs as a primary fuel.
Why we stay fat even during hours of exercise per week?
There are two fundamental reasons why many runners and cyclist remain overweight despite many hours training and competing in endurance events. This should not be the case as we would all tend to believe and understand the exercise is the best way to lose weight and improve our total health? Improving total health is a perception as we generally judge this from the outside, ‘they look healthy so must be healthy ’…. . The topic is why we remain overweight. When you start a new exercise program running, gym or cycling you tax your body cardio vascular system considerably, as a response to exercise. As we continue to train over a period of time, and over days and weeks our body gets used to the exercise and responds by recruiting less muscle to do the work, reducing heart rate and burning less calories to do the same amount of work, thus reducing the required calories to do the same amount of work. This is known as homeostasis, using the least amount of energy to do the work.
What people tend to do is react to the way they feel, perceived excursion, I feel shattered therefore I must have burnt thousands of calories and need to ‘re-fuel’ and common practice is to re-fuel with carbs. The first problem is that most people new to exercise generally don’t or can’t train for long enough to burn thousands of calories, the second is that the large amounts of ‘fuel’ sugar and carbs consumed causes blood sugar to spike and insulin to be released. The release of insulin stops fat burning in its tracks, and lastly calorie consumption out strips calories used by many times. The combination of these three elements means many people starting an exercise plan gain weight, get despondent and stop.
The comrades marathon is a unique example of this phenomenon as many many runners who perform very well and make the distance some with great times as by all means overweight, how is this possible with the time spent training, and running qualifiers!. The repetitive nature of running together with the high carb diet counts against them. As an athlete gets fitter they become more fuel efficient and indeed need less calories to do the same work, but they tend to run further and thus the perception expenditure is higher than the actual and over eating with high carb foods tends to be the order of the day. The common thinking is that refueling needs to be made up from Carbs, some carbs are required but very few by comparison to common practice. The high carb high volume intake means that once the glycogen stores are full, max of 2000 cal if completely depleted! Then the surplus carbs need to be stored as fat. It is not uncommon for people to eat 4 – 5000 calories a day or more when training leaving the body no choice but to store this surplus carbs as fat, in addition to eating high sugar foods while exercising prevent the stored fat being used during exercise so we have the product of the overweight runner!
Keys to success
Understanding the process is Key to success. It is fundamental to follow a well constructed low carb eating plan and to follow a well-planned exercise plan. It is not necessary to be ‘scientific’ about everything you eat or do, but there are some ground rules for success.
- Eat 50g of carbs per day
- Train at 70% of max HR for at least four weeks. Adding 1 HIIT session to the week thereafter
- Increase salt intake to 2- 4g salt per day with increased water intake.
- Start slow and be patient.
Racing or training at a high intensity will lead to burnout and a lack of energy. The appropriate time needs to be taken to allow your body to adapt to using fat as a primary fuel source, if you rush the process or train at a high intensity during the adaption phase, results will be poor.
Flip flopping between low carb and high carb will keep you out of Ketosis and result in weight gain and fatigue. This is due to the insulin blocking fat metabolism and Ketone production, in addition elevated blood glucose causes insulin to be release and all fat will be stores, while insulin works to reduce blood glucose levels to normal.
Salt intake must be increased to allow for normal sodium potassium balance. If you struggle with headaches, bloating or cramps this is normally due to low sodium levels. Additional sodium should be added to your water or hydration formula while riding to maintain a good balance.
Not eating enough fat from quality sources like, coconut oil, olive oil, meat fats, butter, cheese nuts etc.
Common terms to know
HIIT – High intensity interval training. These could be sprints, hill repeats or short sharp bursts of high intensity training, with intervals of short recovery. Ideal for improvement of anaerobic threshold and top end speed
Heart rate zones
Heart rate zone are based on a Theoretical calculation of 220 – age. This is a broad based guide and a starting point. If actual max is known then a more accurate measure can be used. Five primary zones are used.
Percentage of Max heart rate
Zone 1 – 50 -60%: Very easy breathing
Zone 2 – 60 70%: Comfortable, easy breathing, light sweating
Zone 3 – 70 – 80%: Light fatigue, easy breathing, moderate sweating
Zone 4 – 80 – 90%: Muscular fatigue, heavy breathing
Zone 5 – 90% – eye popping max : Very exhausting, hard breathing.
Zone calculations: 35 year old
220 – 35 = 185
50%: 185 x 0.5 = 93 bpm
70%: 185 x 0.7 = 130 bpm
90%: 185 x 0.9 = 167 bpm
Marco nutrient splits
Protein = 1.3 – 1.5g protein per kg per day
Carbs = 50g per day until goal weight is achieved
Then 50 – 100g carbs per day based on physical workload and requirements.
Fat = balance of calories required 60 – 75% of calories.