Is A Low Carbohydrate And High Fat Diet Better For Performance?

Is A Low Carbohydrate And High Fat Diet Better For Performance?

How do diets compare for athletic performance?

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There are lots of opinions regarding diets and how best to metabolize fats, eating clean and counting macros.

Yet, many people do not really go through any vital experiments to get a real clinical and tested insight into how one diet may affect performance.

However, there are studies whereby the participants are ultra distance runners and thus their food intake needs to be carefully monitored for optimal performance.

One such study is documented whereby an ultra-running athlete was put on a high fat and low carbohydrate diet. ¾ of his diet was fats and ¼ carbs.

READ: See how to burn fat safely and quickly

The idea is that your body will teach itself to utilize the fats for energy and as such burn more fat overall for energy rather than carbs. The theory was that this may increase his performance.

The results were not promising, not only did he feel bad, his performance was markedly slower, much slower. Certain aspects of the run such as the hill climbs became almost impossible as he felt drained of energy. To worsen matters, his blood samples were noting a massive increase in his LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

Other studies have shown that this is not a particularly effective diet for most.

However, thanks to the improvements in science it has been noted that athletes who are placed on a high carbohydrate diet day to day but then don’t eat carbs for their evening meal and perform exercise perform better than athletes who have carbs in their evening meal.

The following morning, the athletes were instructed to lightly exercise before their breakfast. Those who had no carbs in the evening, again replicated a better performance than those who had eaten carbs.


It seems rather than specifically reducing carbs completely, timed carb fasting can increase performance.

These tests were carried out over a three week period and those who were on time specific carb fasting posted large improvements in their performance. Those who were fed a regular high carb diet with no timed fasting periods posted no changes in performance whatsoever.

What is interesting is that there have not been any studies that show a high fat low carb diet actually increases performance.

What is worth noting is that the Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes both eat in timed fasted states for training whereby they run before breakfast in the morning when they are deprived of carbs but then they actually eat and extremely high carb diet throughout the day, moreso than any other nation.

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Ben BA(Hons), PGCert

Ben established this site to be a free resource in 2015. Since then it has gained over half a million visits. He has always been interested in sport and he started playing rugby at the age of 6 represented his town, county and school. Ben also enjoys cycling, has started skiing and is in the Army Reserve representing his Regiment as part of the 150 Regimental Shooting Team. He holds a bachelor's and postgraduate degree in sport exercise & nutrition.

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