I believe (and the research supports this) that in order to efficiently lose weight that you need to choose low carb foods and follow some sort of carbohydrate restricted diet. The evidence supporting this statement is large and convincing. However, I still read and hear things like:
Low carb diets are the wrong approach to effective weight loss.
Exercise and low carb diets don’t mix.
In fact this could not be any further from the truth. Lower carbohydrate diets are essential for controlling insulin – a key factor in health and weight loss…but you probably already know that.
In regards to exercise and low carbohydrate diets – this is where many people can get confused. Exercising on a low carb diet can be tough if your body is not conditioned to use fat as its primary fuel source.
In the 2 videos above I talk about the different stages of a ketogenic diet (extreme low carbs) and how you need to give you body some time to adapt for not using carbs as a primary fuel source.
Now onto low carb diets and exercise. Two studies published in the early 80′s looked at how very low carbohdyrate diets ( as low as 3% of calories) effected the performance of endurance athletes. You would probably agree with me in saying that the ‘endurance’ community is OBSESSED with carbohydrates. So this should be interesting.
In one study (The Vermont Study) the subjects were put on a low carb diet for 6 weeks and in the second study (The MIT Study) the subjects were put on a low carb diet for 4 weeks. In both studies during the first week the subject complained of being lethargic but when the studies were over the participants did not have any decrease in peak aerobic performance. In the MIT Study is was also determined that essentially all the calories that the athletes were burning during their endurance workouts were from fat.
One of the key points here is that it takes some time for your body to adapt to functioning on low carbs. During that time you may feel lethargic but it goes away. The other point to consider is that the two studies above show that the claim “exercise and low carb diets don’t mix” is just incorrect.
In the Vermont study the subject actually experienced an increase in performance (basically the low carb diets made them better at exercising) but this may have been due to the weight loss that the subject had experienced.
The studies that I mentioned today are pretty old and provide valuable information for people – I have to wonder why their findings are not common knowledge? Any ideas?
Do you have trouble exercising on a low carb diet? Do you exercise better when your carbs are low? Post a comment and let me know what you think.