Low-Carbohydrate Diets Reduce Power Output

During the first six months of weight loss, low-carbohydrate diets are more effective than low-fat or mixed diets. This has encouraged some athletes to use low-carb diets to fuel their training sessions. This is a mistake. Research since the 1960s has shown definitively that carbs are the main fuel for exercise at intensities above 65 percent of maximum effort. Endurance decreases markedly during low-carb dieting, particularly during repeated training sessions. A Brazilian study showed that low-carbohydrate diets decreased high-intensity exercise capacity (max watts) and endurance in physically active men. However, the perception of effort was not different between low- and high-carbohydrate diets. In other words, you don’t feel any worse during exercise on low-carb diets, but you can’t exercise as hard. Eat your carbs when you’re training hard. (International Journal Sports Nutrition Exercise Metabolism, 24: 532-542, 2014)

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