Most runners will swear by the importance of carbo-loading for top performance. They insist it will help you perform at your best by giving you more energy. However, new studies suggest that low carbs and running may be a more suitable match, when it comes to athletic performance…
Fat and glycogen are the two ways in which energy is stored in the body. Glycogen occurs in limited quantities but is easily accessible energy for exercises of an intense nature. Fat is stored in large amounts in the body, however, the body has a harder task of converting it into energy – it’s a slow release energy. Glycogen levels are tapped into for energy and soon after, the body opts to convert fat into energy.
Typically, runners start to increase their carb intake in a bid to boost their energy levels. However, this method can be detrimental to your health and well-being. It will wreak havoc with your blood sugar levels and can promote a host of nasty ailments.
Despite the historical allegiance to carbing-up, expressed by runners, there is a new wave of runners who are switching to low-carb diets and this is translating to improved results, in terms of performance. It is important to note that we are not saying that low carbs entails cutting out carbs completely, as this would be foolish. Your body still needs to function at an optimal level and the right carbs are essential.
A good low carb diet will give you the right kind of carbs that your body requires for energy and not the type that will make you sluggish or fat. Runners on low carb diets experience better long-term recovery. This can be attributed to a greater intake of micronutrients as opposed to a starch rich diet. In this regard, the athlete can train at a higher intensity and still cope.
Even if you are the type of runner who is accustomed to utilising a high-carb intake to boost your energy levels, your body will be able to adjust in accordance if you can make the switch to low carbs as the body will learn how to train their working muscles to make use of more fat stores. This will assist in the evening out of your blood sugar.
And for hefty runners there is good news, this type of diet can help jump start your metabolism and assist with your weight loss/management. So, this will also boost your motivation to run more and give off your best effort.
Bad science, inaccurate research and misinformed “sports gurus” can be attributed to the high-carb advocates for running and other sports. You can still keep your energy levels up if you follow a calculated good low carb diet, not unlike the Paleo Diet. Give it a bash and see for yourself…
What low-carb diets have you tried? What were your results?