Still unsure whether a low-carb diet can coincide with an athletic lifestyle? Last month we talked with CrossFit Endurance founder Brian MacKenzie extensively about using fats as the body’s primary source of fuel and turning on PGC-1α, the gene responsible for the efficiency of the body’s fuel system. Brian shared with us his experiences with his own athletes and how they’ve benefitted from low-carb diets. If this wasn’t enough, we’ve recently caught wind of even more proof that you don’t need extra carbs to fuel for performance.
Ultra-marathoner Tim Olson recently won the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run, and he did it on a low-carb/high-fat diet. Not only did he finish the race 15 minutes before the next competitor, he beat the course record by 21 minutes! Many people were shocked to hear about his diet, and hopefully performances like his will inspire more people to activate their fuel efficiency gene.
Some of the benefits of a low-carb/high-fat diet for endurance athletes include:
- Training your body to use fats as fuels allows on-going use of the body’s stored fat. For example, Tim Olson has about 7% bodyfat. This equates to at least 30,000 calories of fuel. Compare this to the maximum 2,000 calories you can store in your body from carbs alone.
- Endurance athletes on high-carb diets often have digestive problems in the middle of long events.
- Runners racing off of carbs and sugars often encounter ‘bonking,’ where blood sugar and glycogen stores become too low. If they don’t stop at this point, they can slip into a coma.
Steve Phinney and Jeff Volek, authors of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance, witnessed Tim Olson’s feat while studying how athletes perform on different diets. Shelley over at Me and My Diabetes interviewed Steve about his study, the benefits of a low-carb/high-fat diet, and how Tim Olson was able to stay ahead of the pack. Check it out using the link below: