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Here's Why I [Don't] Like Ketogenic Diets

posted Mar 31, 2017, 11:44 AM by Sound Training   [ updated Mar 31, 2017, 11:46 AM ]
[Hint: Read to the end for a 10% discount!]

There's always a fad diet that's being pushed on us from one diet camp or another...
... Low Fat
... High Protein
... Low Carb
... Low Carb (except for training, all rules go out the window during hard workouts)
... High Fat
... Vegetarian
... Paleo
... Whole30

And the latest craze, which actually seems to stem from the athletic & health / fitness world....

... A Ketogenic Diet

If you haven't heard of it, the summary of a Ketogenic Diet is that you want to eat very few carbohydrates (like... only 5% of your calories coming form carbs), and lots of fat (60-75% of your calories)! Because your body won't have carbs and sugars to break down, it will become super efficient at burning fat - that's right, you're body will become a FAT BURNING MACHINE! (Yeah, you've heard that lots of times before)

But... if you truly follow the diet, it actually DOES WORK!

A Ketogenic Diet

Ketogenic Diets Are Awesome!

Ketogenic Diets have long been used to help diabetic patients lose weight, get off their insulin, and get their blood glucose levels back under control!

It's also a nearly ideal diet for endurance athletes, who simply cannot consume enough calories during a race to be able to counterbalance the number of calories they'll burn, but who have plenty of fat stores full of energy that they could tap into for their long duration aerobic efforts. There have been numerous world champions who have followed a very similar diet (before it got named and became more popular).

Ketogenic Diets Are Impossible!

However, I've recently had a bit of a mind-shift about this incredible fat-burning "metabolic efficiency" diet. And I think you'll come to agree with me...

.... eating SO FEW carbohydrates is incredibly difficult in today's world, and the ketogenic diet is even more challenge for an athlete who's training hard to get better for shorter & faster events. I've had athletes in the past who felt like they couldn't go out to eat with friends because they didn't want to be perceived as being picky about their food, but were also clearly committed to sticking to a ketogenic diet. It shouldn't and doesn't have to be that way!

We literally had a talk with one of our athletes THIS MORNING about this very same topic. She was feeling a bit drained in a recent workout because life has been busy and she's been accidentally missing one of her ketogenic meals here and there.

How The Body Fuels Your Workouts

You see... when you're relying on fat stores for energy, your body needs a little more time to break down the fat into ATP (energy), that's why low - moderate intensities are considered your "fat burning zone" - you are breathing heavier than normal, but not yet out of breath because your body needs more oxygen to break down the fat.

If you start working harder, you start to get out of breath, and at some point (your aerobic threshold) you simply can't get in enough oxygen to support your body's ability to break down fat into energy, and you start to transition into breaking down more carbohydrates (which can happen much more quickly, but is less efficient, doesn't produce as much energy, and causes waste by-products).

But if you don't have any carbohydrates available, you literally don't have the right energy available to perform at a higher intensity. That was exactly the case of the athlete we were talking to this morning (we talked over coffee & breakfast to make sure she got her calories in!). When running a marathon, this situation is called having "hit the wall" - where you've burned through all your carbohydrates stores and are now depending on fat stores for energy. Most people don't do enough training in this aerobic zone, and so the wall really exists for them. But, if you've been training AND eating properly, you can eliminate the wall and not have to worry about it!

So... is it possible to get the best of both worlds? Can we be efficient at burning carbohydrates for those high-intensity workouts, and efficient at burning fat for longer aerobic efforts?

I'm happy to say the answer is YES!

Metabolic Flexibility To The Rescue!

Having "metabolic flexibility" is an ideal situation for our body to be in, but does require some additional attention to our nutrition. We have to recognize what kind of activities we are doing (or will be doing soon) and timing WHEN we eat, with WHAT we eat, so that our body gets trained to use the right fuel for the right intensity.

We all have different eating habits and preferences, so I won't go into specifics about what to eat when. However, if you're one of our personal coaching clients, we'll be happy to schedule a time to discuss recommendations.

But one thing that I can recommend to everyone, is to check out a product called Generation UCAN. UCAN is a unique super-starch powder that you can mix with water to make a perfect energy drink that will give you a slow absorbing carbohydrate so you can power through your workout, and allow you to continue to process fat for energy so that you can stay energized right through to the end. There's no sugar, so you never get that energy crash that you would with typical sports drinks. You can also mix it to any consistency you want (shaker bottle or blender is recommended) - Use 1 scoop for a 1 hour workout, 2 scoops for 2 hours, etc. Super simple. Then, throughout the workout continue drinking water to maintain your hydration. No need to fuss with gels, gus, waffles, etc!

Check out UCAN's bars as well. They're a great option to hold off hunger throughout the morning, or as a mid-afternoon snack. That's right, this the first sports drink and bar that I would actually RECOMMEND you to eat in the mid-afternoon, regardless of whether or not you have a workout in the afternoon. This product will HELP you become "metabolically flexible" so that you can benefit more from your workouts, and perform better on race day.

In fact, we here at Sound Training & Racing believe enough in Generation UCAN that we brought them on as a sponsor last April and are happy to be able to offer you a 10% discount on their products if you purchase through any of the links here. Generation UCAN is the #1 training and racing fuel source that we recommend to our runners, duathletes, and triathletes who are looking for a healthier way to fuel their fitness.

To Finding Your Potential!