The first step to starting a well formulated Keto diet is to understand how and why Ketosis adds benefit to your training and racing. Research suggests Endurance athletes have much to gain from going Keto due to the benefit of allowing your body to utilise fat stores in lower heart rate levels while being carbohydrate sparing for the high heart rate efforts.
It needs to be understood that there is no one system works for all approach, most people will achieve improvements in performance and body compassion quickly on a standardised approach. To achieve top level results a certain level on understanding needs to be achieved and understanding of your own body to manipulate the diet to give you great results, fast recovery and excellent general health.
As a intro in the Keto approach we need to understand a few concepts and physiological facts. One of these being that humans can store approximately 2000 – 2500 calories of carbohydrates where as even a very lean athlete would have upwards of 40 000 calories of fat (70kg athlete at 10% body fat = 7kg fat , 9cal per gram = 63 000 cal). It is simple to agree every athlete would prefer a 63 000 cal fuel resource vs 2500 cal. The question is how do you access these calories?
Becoming Keto adapted is much like running a marathon, you can’t deiced on Thursday to run a marathon on Saturday and be any good, or even complete it! It take weeks of training to prepare you body to achieve this goal. Keto adaption is no different, fat metabolism in the ‘modern’ diet is understandably low, as we eat mostly carbohydrates on a high frequency basis daily, this means we don’t need to convert fat into energy and you conversion is around 200 – 300 cal per hour, which is fine for sitting on the couch, but would not be near enough so sustain any physical effort. So how do you improve the rate of conversion? The same as training for a marathon, each day you eat and train while eating a low carb diet. This teaches your body to use your fat as energy. The more you practise the better you become to the point of being able to convert fat into Ketones at a fast enough rate to sustain very long efforts and moderate to moderately high heart rate levels, while conserving your glycogen for when you really need it.
You also need to consider is that in the time that your body is taking to ‘re learn’ its energy systems you will not be in the position to train extremely hard or be competitive in races. The time needs to be taken to allow your body to change from High Carb to High Fat for fuel. This can take anywhere from 4 weeks to 4 months dependent on the individual and the level of competitiveness.
5 Steps to go low carb
1. Reducing the total Carbohydrate intake to 30g – 50g per day
2. Reduced training intensity to 70% max heart rate
3. Increase salt and water intake during exercise
4. Include short 2 minute intervals at 80% HR , increase number of intervals until failure.
5. Monitor energy levels and increase training duration and intensity based of fatigue. In most cases there will be a feeling of reduced energy for the first week or two, then a gradual and excellerating increase in general energy throughout the day and in training.
* Blood Ketones can be measured using a Glucometer and B-Cell measurement strips bought from a pharmacy. The ideal is 1 mmol/l of ketone production for Athletes.