Pushing your way through the bush up and over rocks and down the side of mountains to why you get up in the morning! With extended adventures faster racing and more challenging trails the importance of nutrition increases. We all want to go further and faster but this also means heavier packs, and trying to get in enough fuel to avoid ‘hitting the wall’ hours from home!
A shift in the way your body prioritises and uses fuel could be the answer to improved speed along the single track while also reducing the amount of fuel you need to carry with you. With a shift to allowing your body to effectively use fat and ketones as a primary energy source while sparing carbs for when you need them most.
Most gut distress is caused by the large number of sugary products runners are attempting to consume while running. This unnatural state of trying to digest food while at the same time perform physically causes distress on the gut that leads to a buildup of sugar in the stomach, causing issues that can at best slow you down at worse end your day. While taking on some carbohydrates during long days and races is required it does not need to be your only source of fuel.
Two iconic Trail racers Jeff Browning and Zack Bitter have found amazing benefits to switching to Keto.
NWDC: How has it affected your races?
Jeff: I definitely don’t have major bonks anymore and I recover way faster than my previous high carb self. I have steady energy and consume half the calories in long runs and races compared to how much I consumed per hour as a high carb athlete. I also don’t take calories on runs under 2.5 hours. Only in long runs and races. I also lost 8 pounds when I made the shift to LCHF, which made my strength to weight ratio go up and increase my VO2 Max. I also noticed a marked decrease in inflammation post-races (especially post-100 milers). – Jeff Browning
Men’s Journal: How did your diet change when you started to compete again?
When I’m racing, I’m able to cut my calorie intake in half. Because my body is so much more metabolically efficient at burning fat, I can rely on that a lot more readily than I would’ve been able to in the past. – Zack Bitter
If you suffer cramps, GI distress or frequently hit the wall it might be time to investigate, becoming more metabolically flexible and using both fat and carbs to power your way through your next event.