“Sleep-Low” Carb Diet Boosts Endurance

Nighttime carbohydrate restriction (“sleep-low”) following an intense workout improved endurance performance during a 10K run, compared to a group with free access to carbohydrates (control)— according to a study led by Laurie-Anne Marquet and Christophe Hausswirth from the French National Institute of Sport in Paris. Four days per week during a three-week diet trial, the sleep-low group trained vigorously in the afternoon, restricted carbohydrate intake at night, exercised moderately in the morning and then consumed a high-carbohydrate breakfast. The control group followed the same workout, but could eat carbs in the evening. Both groups consumed the same amount of carbohydrates in a 24-hour period. The sleep-low group improved 10-kilometer race time by three percent, while the control group did not change. Sleep-low carbohydrate restriction also improved submaximal cycling endurance time by nine percent. Carbohydrates are the main fuel at exercise intensities above 65 percent of maximum effort. Restricting carbohydrate intake at night several times a week, while maintaining total carb intake, might improve performance by improving fat use during exercise or enhancing carbohydrate storage in the muscles and liver. (Medicine Science Sports Exercise, 48: 663-672, 2016)

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