Keto for Athletes

Keto for Athletes


Information provided in this
presentation is intended for your general knowledge only and does not
constitute medical advice. I am a medical physician at the Reno Orthopaedic Cinic
and the owner and developer of Dr. Ni’s OC2. OC2 is a combination of
vitamin D3, calcium citrate, magnesium and creatine monohydrate for total frame
support. There’s a lot of buzz about the ketogenic or keto diet. The keto diet is
a diet that is very low in carbohydrate intake and high in fat and protein. The
idea is that on a ketogenic diet it’s easier to lose and maintain weight by
using a fat source instead of a carbohydrate source for energy fueling
your cells. But for athletes, sports medicine has traditionally favored
carbohydrates. We’ve recommended for years that you get in carbohydrates
before, during, and after exercise or competition. This is because
carbohydrates are a fuel that’s readily available to our muscles and allow them
to contract. So what happens when athletes change their fueling from
carbohydrate or glucose-based, to fats or ketone based diets? Well it turns out
that the research is showing that a keto diet may help you if you’re an endurance
athlete but work against you if you do high-intensity or anaerobic sports. In
two recent studies athletes eating a high carbohydrate diet outperformed
athletes eating a low carbohydrate diet when tested in activities requiring
short bursts of energy. But interestingly, those same athletes taking in a high
carbohydrate diet underperformed against athletes taking in a keto-like or low
carbohydrate diet when tested in endurance activities. Plus, athletes on a
low carbohydrate diet also showed improved exercise training
and lower body fat content. So it seems pretty clear that if you’re not an
endurance athlete, eating a low carbohydrate diet may actually harm your
athletic performance. But if you are an endurance athlete does it make sense to
switch to a keto diet to gain the benefits that we see in the research? I’d
say the answer is “Not so fast.” For one thing there haven’t really been enough
studies to draw those concrete conclusions. The numbers of individuals
studies have been low and there have been some alarming effects that have been
seen in some of the research, including elevated LDL (cholesterol) levels and loss of lower
extremity strength in studies that have gone on for longer than 12 weeks. Plus it
appears that muscles may not recover as well when fueled primarily by ketones.
So the answer to the question “Will keto benefit me as an endurance athlete?” still
remains unclear. I hope I’ve answered some of your questions about the current
state of our knowledge about keto and athletes. And if you’re interested in
learning more about sports performance please check out my related topics on
exercise, nutrition, creatine and other topics.

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