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The combination of ketogenic diet and sport can be valid but only in some cases!
Are you an athlete who wants to gain muscle mass and burn fat faster? The answer is offered by the ketogenic diet or keto diet. It is a meal plan that is high in protein and fat, but low in carbohydrates.
However, ketogenic diet and sport are not always a combination that works: recent studies show that this diet can have really interesting applications on some types of workouts but that it is not recommended for others. The necessary premise is that a correct diet for those who play sports is essential because it can significantly influence both the quality and the level of performance.
What is the ketogenic diet
Ketogenic is a diet characterized by a reduced intake of carbohydrates, a normal protein intake, and a significant increase in the consumption of fats. Adopting a diet of this type causes some important changes in the use of energy substrates. Here’s how it works:
- Inserting fewer carbohydrates and thus reducing their availability forces the body to deplete its glycogen stores to start using fatty acids and ketone bodies produced in the liver.
- The body needs a short period of adaptation to respond effectively to this diet, which varies from person to person and typically ranges from 2 to 4 weeks. In this first phase, there is no significant weight loss.
- After 3-4 weeks of a ketogenic diet, fatty acids become the preferred substrate in the muscles, while the ketone bodies are responsible for meeting the energy demands of the central nervous system. This leads to a series of adaptations that involve various organs and tissues, but there is no loss of muscle mass thanks to the continuous well-calibrated protein intake.
For whom it is good and for whom NOT!
The ketogenic diet is used to treat a number of conditions and has recently become popular as a weight-loss diet. Many athletes are attracted to this type of diet due to the fact that it is high in protein, but this does not mean that it is suitable for all disciplines. This premise could lead us to believe that the ketogenic diet and sport are two antithetical concepts, however, it has been shown that this diet can favor the use of different energy substrates in the muscles. There are many exercises to lose weight, but here is when this diet is recommended and when not:
- Endurance sports. In athletes engaged in endurance sports, during the adaptation period, there is a reduction in maximum speed, aerobic power, and also in stamina. But these values are reset again after the adaptation period. Some studies even testify to an improvement in aerobic power and also in the duration of endurance. However, this diet is not recommended in the case of endurance sports for which the primary source of energy remains glycogen.
- Power sports. As for power sports, on the other hand, studies show no negative effects on the performance of athletes who adopt a ketogenic diet.
Can ketogenic diet and sport coexist?
One of the effects of the keto diet on sports performance is to increase aerobic capacity, but decrease power: it can therefore be recommended for those who practice martial arts, gymnastics, bodybuilding. It is good to remember that this diet can only be adopted for short periods, it would therefore be advisable to follow it only in relation to certain objectives to be achieved and always followed by a nutritionist.
Watch Video: Athletic performance on the keto diet