A Low Carb Diet For Athletes
A Low Carb Diet For Athletes
Staying energized, performing at your best, and cutting weight with a low carbohydrate diet.
With so much talk about what the best diet program is (Paleo, terrible fads, etc), cutting weight can be extremely overwhelming. But if you happen to be working out at high intensities regularly, it’s going to be even tougher. Why? Because many popular weight loss strategies don’t work if you’re trying to perform at your best on a daily basis.
As an athlete, you have numerous reasons to keep your body fat level down. You, for instance, may need to stay under a certain weight level to compete, or in other sports, the less body fat you have, the quicker you tend to be.
Knowing low body fat matters, what approach then will help you achieve your fitness goals while keeping your energy levels up? Enter the low carbohydrate TIMED diet...
Why Low Carb Diets Work
To begin, it makes sense to assess why low carb diets are effective. Generally, these diets work for a couple of different reasons.
First, they tend to blunt hunger levels. Hunger is prompted by the increase and decrease in blood sugar levels (which is discussed in this look at the glycemic index). Because low carb diets tend to control blood sugar very well, hunger is often non-existent. In that state, you’ll have no problem maintaining a reduced calorie intake for fat loss.
Second, low carb diets work because at the beginning they cause a high level of water excretion. Note that this doesn’t represent actual fat loss but rather simply water weight loss. Nevertheless, it does serve as motivation for those looking to see quick progress.
Finally, low carb diets work because you’re cutting out a variety of high calorie, usually processed, foods and are no longer storing carbs that you weren’t using for energy as fat. Both of these factors promote further weight loss.
The Problem With Low Carb Diets And Athletes
So sure, now you understand how low carb diets work. What then is the issue with following them if you’re an athlete? The biggest problem they present is carbohydrates provide the key source of energy the body requires for games and workouts.
While you can utilize fat as a fuel source when completing low intensity exercise, you simply cannot perform intense activity (like weight lifting or any HIIT training) without carbohydrates present in the diet. It simply won’t work as the body can’t derive fuel fast enough to maximize athletic performance.
So how do you overcome this obstacle?
Making the Low Carb Diet Work for Athletes
The best way to follow a low carb dietwhile maintaining your performance levelis to actually follow a low carb TIMED diet, also known as carb cycling. This means you won’t cut carbs out completely – you’ll just consume a good deal of them right before and right after your workout.The rest of the day you’ll focus on lean protein and fat based meals, keeping your carb intake as close to zero as you can.
This approach allows you to still supply your body with the carbohydrates it needs at the most critical times, but yield the benefits of the low carb approach throughout the rest of the day.
Depending on the length and intensity of the workout session you plan to perform, you’ll want to take in 30-50 grams of carbohydrates before the workout, and another 50-100 grams of carbohydrates immediately after.
During the rest of the day, focus on having plenty of lean protein and vegetables, i.e. foods to get you jacked. Vegetables are highly important for athletes, as they provide plenty of potassium, which is required in higher concentrations when on a low carb diet approach (to help balance out the sodium that you’re consuming).
And it’s as simple as that. Make these minor adjustments to the low carb diet and you’ll have no problem seeing excellent fat loss while continuing to perform at your best.
To help you find low-carb protein sources, take a look at these 1R-endorsed supplement options:
- Gaspari IntraPro - Pure whey isolate digests quickly to aid new muscle growth and faster recovery
- Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey - Made of high quality, fast digesting whey isolate, forming a high protein, low carb formula
- CytoSport Complete Casein - A low calorie, high quality casein to ensure you continue burning fat at all hours of the day
About the Author
Shannon Clark holds a degree in Exercise Science from the University of Alberta, where she specialized in Sports Performance and Psychology. In addition to her degree, she is an AFLCA certified personal trainer and has been working in the field for over 8 years now. She currently works with a variety of different clients with various goal sets, helping them reach whatever physique goals they have set for themselves. Shannon is a regular contributor to Bodybuilding.com and has also been named ‘Writer Of The Year’ two times running. She has been featured in the Iron Man magazine and has contributed well over 400 articles to a variety of different websites dedicated towards muscle building and athletic performance.For more information on Shannon, please see her website, www.ShannonClarkFitness.com
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