The Ketogenic Diet is the latest way to lose weight quickly, but a new study has found that it may not be a great option for athletes looking to improve their performance.
Researchers from Saint Louis University compared the performances of 16 men and women who had followed either the Keto diet or a high carb diet for four days. They found that those athletes who had restricted carbs did not perform as well.
The Ketogenic Diet works by limiting the body’s intake of carbs. Often people balance a low carb intake by eating more protein but for the Keto diet to work both need to be restricted. This is because if the body has excess protein, it will convert that into carbs.
When the body has neither carbs nor protein, it then manufactures ketone bodies as emergency fuel. According to lead researcher, Dr. Edward Weiss, this is an “emergency backup system that allows us to survive when we are at risk of starvation.”
He is concerned that a body running on empty may not be able to work at full capacity, which is especially important for athletes competing in high-intensity sports.
“A typical diet is 60 percent carbohydrate,” Dr. Weiss said.
“So, if you limit carbs, you might find yourself just not eating that much. If you eliminate most food options, you may just be losing weight because you are cutting calories.”
He does believe that the Keto diet can be helpful for those who have epilepsy as research has shown that ketone production limits seizures but concludes that “unless there are compelling reasons for following a low-carb diet, athletes should be advised to avoid these diets.”
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