A new study shows that athletes who turn to ketogenic diets to help their performance in high-intensity, short duration sports should reconsider it
The new research from Saint Louis University examined the exercise performance of 16 men and women.
These people followed either a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet or a high-carbohydrate diet for four days.
The researchers then tested the anaerobic exercise performance of the participants.
They found that after following the ketogenic diet, the participants did not perform as well at the exercise tasks.
In popular culture, the term ‘ketogenic diet’ often is used as a broader term for low carb diets, including Atkins.
But the researchers explain that low carb and high protein diet is related, but different, as protein can only be at normal levels for a true ketogenic diet.
The goal of a ketogenic diet is to starve the body of carbohydrate.
If there is too much protein in the diet, the body will use the protein to make carbohydrates, which defeats the purpose.
When the body is sufficiently deprived of carbohydrate, it manufactures ketone bodies as an alternate fuel.
It’s an emergency backup system that allows us to survive when we are at risk of starvation. But, it has side effects.
It could affect the energy metabolism system, which is in turn change the anaerobic performance.
In the summer Olympics, the 100-meter sprint and the triple jump depend on this system.
For someone with low fitness, they use this same metabolism to get up the stairs. Everyday people use this kind of metabolism without realizing it.
Therefore, if you are on a Keto diet, you may compromise this energy system and cannot perform some daily activities as well as before.
Of course, the diet can benefit some people. For example, patients who have epilepsy could benefit from this diet.
For those with abnormal cell metabolism that causes seizures, causing cells to feed on ketones instead can be helpful.
The researchers think their finding has implications both for those who turn to ketogenic diets for weight loss and for athletes who aim to improve their performance.
“This diet is especially hot among people who are trying to optimize their health. What this study tells me is that unless there are compelling reasons for following a low-carb diet, athletes should be advised to avoid these diets.” one author said.
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