The advantages of ketogenic diet on an athlete
A carbohydrate limiting and fat-focused ketogenic diet are quite well known in the sports circles. The everyday experience is that it’s useful for even hard-working athletes. In addition, the ketogenic diet has been extensively studied. Here are some experiences and research evidence about the benefits of this diet on athletes.
The meal rhythm changes
When an athlete follows a carbohydrate-rich athlete’s basic diet, they notice an instruction to eat “every 2-3 hours”. When the energy is mainly taken from carbohydrates, you spend a lot of time in front of a dinner plate. Also, you have to get used to snacks at regular intervals.
When an athlete switches to the ketogenic diet, he notices the changes in the meal rhythm at a convenient level. Meal times get cut in half, and a lot of people can eat less often than they could have ever imagined. Some keto-athletes eat every 5-8 hours and get everything out of training!
It is individual on how the meal rhythm changes, but an excellent rule is to “eat when hungry.” A carbohydrate-eating athlete has to learn to anticipate his feeling of hunger because he is warned, that an athlete shouldn’t train or compete while hungry. Rarely do you hear a keto-athlete complaining they’re hungry while training?
Saving time is a significant incentive to switch to a ketogenic diet. When eating is rare, you get more time for many other things in life, other than the obligatory meals. An athlete that has gone through the keto-adaptation can without problems go from day to day eating 3-4 meals a day without snacks. An athlete’s whose body is used to the fat-metabolism can easily withstand 5-8 hours without eating.
The possibility to give up snack-based eating, to which an athlete often drifts to, is transformed into a lifestyle that highlights high-quality main meals. No one should have anything bad to say about this. If often expensive, synthetic, and enslaving snacks are replaced by natural food, an athlete does wisely. Switching into the group of wise athletes is a very encouraging act!
The ketogenic diet brings freedom
The ketogenic diet can be implemented in many different ways and levels. It’s not obligatory to maintain ketosis by forcing yourself to eat only 20 grams of carbohydrates a day. Lely MacDonald, a long-time defender of the ketogenic diet, wrote in his early production in the 1990s that due to individual differences, an athlete should take the ketogenic diet casually.
According to Lyle, the ketogenic diet can be targeted if necessary (targeted ketogenic diet), which means that getting carbohydrates from the diet is timed around training. During training, the carbohydrate-reservoir gets depleted, and an athlete can stay in ketosis while eating even large amounts of carbohydrates just before exercise.
Another way to take the ketogenic diet casually is the cyclic ketogenic diet, recommended by Lyle. In this, for example, the athlete switches to a more carbohydrate-rich diet for harsher training seasons but drops the number of carbohydrates for the duration of a break week. This is what you have to try for yourself. It’s impossible to predict if it fits just for you.
I just wanted to point out that the ketogenic diet brings relaxation into the meal. Straight-laced eaters can be found elsewhere!
A well-documented feature of the ketogenic diet is that it keeps infections at bay. It’s typical for sports that post-training infections occur. A small inflammatory condition is useful when getting rid of broke muscle tissue and building new, intact muscle to replace it. I’m mostly referring to an infection that is caused by a harsh stress state, which is a disadvantage to training.
A researcher Eric Westman talks about a protective mechanism which protects ketosis’ muscles. So there’s no fear that the ketogenic carbohydrate-poor diet would obstruct the muscles. On the contrary, research shows that the energy-rich, good fats containing food help to create the right space for muscle growth. In many cases, keto-athletes also enjoy at least enough the protein, whereby muscle growth is stimulated by amino acids. In more fat-exposure, fat-soluble vitamins are better absorbed and play an essential role in tissue regeneration.
Christer Sundqvist, biologist, FT