It’s a known secret that endurance athletes load-carbs before competitions for top performance. Many runners and endurance athletes whom I’ve been speaking with acknowledged it and if I even dare suggest that there are better alternatives they normally stick their fingers and their ears and start whistling the national anthem.
But throughout the world, many athletes are beginning to get wind of an alternative to
carb-loading; High Fat / low net carb (total carbs minus fibre content) diet. Many ‘converted’ athletes are now opting for eggs and avocado instead of the traditional spaghetti and bowls of oatmeal. But this alternative is often kept secret to give those athlete a competitive edge.
I’m not sure how many of you have seen the movie Cereal Killers, now Cereal Killers 2 – Run on Fat is out and you can see the official trailer here.
I highly recommend it to all my friends and clients who are runners and endurance athletes.
The film features a world class tri-athlete (Sami Inkinen) who tells his story first-hand how he switched from burning sugar to burning fat as fuel and how that improved his performance. The concept of carb-loading is based on saturating yourself with carbs so the muscles will have ample supply of glycogen (which is stored in the muscles and liver) to utilise as fuel whilst exercising. Once this fuel is exhausted, fatigue starts and performance diminishes. Carb-loading is meant to extend performance by having more fuel in ‘storage’.
However, if you’re doing a lengthy activity like a marathon you are likely to run out of this type of fuel (known as ‘bonking’ or ‘hitting the wall’) and you will need to refuel. I would also like to mention that although carb-loading may temporarily increase athletic performance, it can also be counterproductive because of the weight gain caused by the fact that our body stores carbs with water. Carb-loading can also bring about some digestive discomfort. Well, why continue carb-loading when there’s a far better fuel – fat. Suitable for endurance event as well as casual exercise.
So without being too technical (you see Heidi, I’m taking your advice) let’s see how it works.
The body will start using fat as fuel once its glycogen (from carb-loading) is depleted. If you load carbs prior to activity you might temporarily increase your performance but you will inhibit fat burning and many of the metabolic benefits of exercise.
When the body is using fat as fuel and is in a fat-adapted state, the results are improved energy utilisation as well as stem-cell regeneration, tissue repair reduction of body fat and inflammation and increased insulin sensitivity.
You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from using fat as fuel and your body will thrive when you are doing it (as it is well demonstrated in Cereal Killers).
My next blog will be about Low Net Carb Diet and its benefits for athletes as well as ordinary people. I hope you benefited from this blog and you would share it with your friends.