* While stocks last
Authors : Jeff S Volek, PhD, RD & Stephen D. Phinney, MD, PhD
In The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance, we specifically address how a low carbohydrate diet can be used by athletes. In ‘The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living’, we made a strong case for low carbohydrate diets as the preferred approach to managing insulin resistance (aka carbohydrate intolerance). However, on the continuum of insulin resistance, athletes as a group cluster on the side of insulin sensitivity. Thus most athletes do not have anywhere near the same level of carbohydrate intolerance as someone who is overweight with metabolic syndrome or diabetes.
Why then would we recommend a low carbohydrate diet for athletes? After all, the current majority group-think in sports nutrition holds that all athletes have an obligate need for carbohydrate. But despite having the best intentions, the majority view does not always represent the truth. Besides exacerbating insulin resistance, a high carbohydrate diet also locks a person into a dependence on carbohydrate as the dominant fuel for exercise. And every endurance athlete knows what happens to performance when their carbohydrate tank (at best holding 2000 Calories) runs dry – performance goes down in flames. It’s an unfortunate reality that the human body is unable to promptly switch from carbs to fat as its predominant exercise fuel, so once the former is gone, you can’t power your performance with fat (even though a carbohydrate-depleted body still has tens of thousands of fat Calories on hand).
The key fact underlying this book is that you can train your body to burn fat by simply changing your diet over a period of a few weeks, thereby turning blood sugar and glycogen into secondary fuels. Once you make this transition, you can then train harder, perform longer, and recover faster. So the simple answer to why we endorse a low carbohydrate lifestyle for athletes is that this strategy has worked for us and many people we know. More importantly, we have both conducted and published human research that supports this approach, adding to a growing body of literature that now points to the merits of reducing dietary carbohydrates to optimize fat metabolism. We have thus accumulated a unique knowledge base that we want to share so you too may experience it for yourself.