Ketogenic Diet And Sports Performance

Ketogenic Diet

1. What is ketone?

Alternative or secondary fuel for the body.

2. What is the primary fuel?

Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and can be used as immediate fuel for physical activities. When there is no immediate use, it is stored in the liver as glycogen.

3. What is ketosis?

Ketosis is a process of making ketones the primary source of energy.

4. How to achieve that?

By consuming high-fat, low-carbs diet. The carb intake should be around 50 grams or below. 75% of daily caloric intake should come from fat, 20% from protein and 5% from carbs.

5. Why do people follow a ketogenic diet?

It doesn’t disappoint you if your goal is to lose weight (fat).

6. Any side-effect?

You’ll feel lethargic for a week or two. During this period, blood glucose levels are maintained through the process of gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is a process of generation of glucose by breaking down fat and protein.

7. Does body adapt to the ketogenic diet?

Yes, it does. And you don’t feel lethargic after that.

8. Are there any other ways to get in shape?

Yes. Of course. Most of the athletes don’t follow a ketogenic diet. Sprinters and MMA fighters, for example. And they are always in top shape.

9. Most of them don’t. So there are some athletes who do. Who are they?

Ultra-endurance athletes sometimes follow the ketogenic diet. Almost all the bodybuilders and fitness models do. Though, bodybuilders and fitness models are not technically athletes (performing athletes).

10. How does it help the endurance athletes?

The human body has a greater store of fat than glycogen. And if a body is trained to rely on fat instead of glycogen through the ketogenic diet, the performance of endurance athletes can get better because of higher reserves of fat. It can help delay fatigue during prolonged training sessions or competitions like marathon or triathlon.

11. If it can delay fatigue why don’t other athletes follow the ketogenic diet?

This is the most important question. Because it kills every other aspect of fitness and performance including power (explosive strength), speed, agility because of lower muscle glycogen stores and the reduced activity of glycolytic enzymes according to NCBI research. An athlete involved in sports like MMA, rugby, football, basketball that demand a high anaerobic energy component can’t produce enough energy for maximal performance if they are using ketones to supply energy. To get a better grasp of this, it is important to have a good understanding of the three energy systems, i.e., the Anaerobic System (ATP-PC System, Glycolytic System), and Aerobic (Oxidative) System. Explaining the ‘Energy Systems’ is beyond the scope of this article. Maybe I’ll cover that in a different article.

12. Can our brain work on ketones?

It can work just fine on ketones provided you have crossed the lethargic phase. In fact, it is used to treat epilepsy.

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