Updated: Jan 6, 2022
People come to EHFix for many different reasons- some to lose weight, some to gain, but ALL to improve their HEALTH in general! ATHLETES are a different animal altogether!! How athletes can experience and benefit from going LOW CARB is QUITE different from the rest!
FAT adapted athletes are beginning to stand out from the crowd EVERYWHERE-- Tom Brady and Zach Bitter are great examples! Being FAT adapted has distinctive advantages in competition. But there are some BIG CAVEATS to be aware of as an athlete!
Here's a review of the main ADVANTAGES of FAT ADAPTATION from EVOLUTION:
steady fueling: no "hitting the wall"
improved body composition- strength: weight ratio increases
improved recovery from exercise - less inflammation/ less soreness
preservation of lean muscle- only FAT gets burned
improved endurance from decreased lactic acid production
improved respiratory exchange
improved mental clarity while performing- sharp decision making during the game
These are fantastic gains as an everyday athlete! But here are some of the things you need to know:
(1) The process of becoming FAT adapted takes several weeks to months. It is best to begin this process during your off season! Athletes as a whole tend to adapt more readily, but feel the change in their short term abilities most intensely. EXPECT to not feel like your normal powerful self in the beginning. Your heart rate and respiratory rate will rise dramatically, forcing you to slow down for safety. Your muscle power will diminish temporarily, requiring you to drop down in weight & decrease resistance to prevent injury. This is NOT the time to ramp up your workouts.
(2)Your gains in adaptation will build slowly over months. When your breathing begins to feel normal again in your workouts, you can start to ramp it back up.
(3)How much time you dedicate to your sport, what level you compete at, and the TYPE of sport you play ALL MATTER.
Let me expand on that 3rd point. My average client is a "regular" adult-- works a job, has family obligations, needs motivation to eat well, and (hopefully) tries to exercise a bit. Even if you manage to exercise everyday, you are in still in this average category when it comes to the nutrition needed to fuel your life. A Low carb lifestyle, without exceptions, is going to work great for you! This is the VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE!
If you are an "regular" person (by the above definition) who simply wants to appear maximally LEAN, make sure to complete SUPERHUMAN! Superhuman teaches you how to maximize a low carb diet for best LEAN results. ACCELERATOR is just the beginning!
Now let's say, you are a bit more EXTREME- perhaps you workout intensely everyday (I hope NOT- even professionals build recovery days in) OR have a physically intense job-- you will want to increase your healthy carbs to match your needs. This means go up (to say 30-50 or even 100) on days that are VERY intense. This will require a little experimentation on your part once you are a few months into the program.
Higher intensity still(extreme athletes read on!):
Now, let's say you are a SERIOUS high school, collegiate or greater athlete (frequent, intense practices/games lasting hours) , or have goals of BODY BUILDING or extreme heavy lifting in mind. These types of endeavors require extreme EXPLOSIVE POWER at times. REPEATED EXPLOSIVE actions REQUIRE CARBS!
Understand that the biggest advantage to burning fat for an athlete is the ability to fuel their muscles at MODERATE intensities almost exclusively with fat. This means that no carbs are necessary for long, grinding training sessions with intensity in the moderate range. You can RUN at low to moderate speed basically FOREVER! Increased ENDURANCE is the BIGGEST ADVANTAGE to being low carb.
Note what I DID NOT SAY! You will NOT be able to run at PEAK SPEED forever or have endless EXPLOSIVE runs toward the goal. Likewise, with weights- a low carb diet will not allow for EXPLOSIVE weight lifting such as seen in competition. (Most of us adults don't need these advantages anymore)
Extreme athletes and young athletes can benefit from CARB cycling. Carbs can be increased in the days before competition and pre-game and then subtracted out whenever possible for increased long term health.
For WEIGHT LIFTERS in particular: if you are looking to stack on a tremendous amount of LARGE muscle and BULK UP you will need to EAT MORE OF EVERYTHING (that's why it's called bulking) and combine this with HEAVY RESISTANCE exercise. You need carbs before and after weight lifting sessions in order to keep increasing in weight and provide for muscle growth. Doing this in a CLEAN way (with healthy carbs) is best. DIRTY bulking, with large amounts of junk food, is common for quick gains among weight lifters and awful for overall health. Of course, you will also need to eat a tremendous amount of protein MOST OF THE TIME-- about double your lean weight daily. AND YOU SHOULD EXPECT TO BE GAINING WEIGHT. The low carb diet I recommend for everyday is similar to the CUT phase that weight lifters use to get maximally lean and chiseled. GETTING BULKY and GETTING LEAN are opposite goals with opposite diet strategies. Contact me if you have questions about BULKING UP in particular.