Carb Loading vs Fat Burning for Endurance Athletes

Posted on 17 January 2016
Carb Loading vs Fat Burning for Endurance Athletes
According to recent research out of The Ohio State University, endurance athletes who 'go against the grain' are incredible fat burners.

The common practice of consuming a heavy carbohydrate meal before your long run or bike in order to perform your best is being challenged by new scientific data. Eating fats and protein leading into your event can be an effective way to double your fuel efficiency. Fats provide 9 calories per gram of fuel compared with carbohydrates which provide 4 calories of energy.

In The Ohio State University study, athletes who were adapted to a ketogenic diet (low carb, high fat) over at least 6 months developed into "awesome fat burners" and so were able to effectively draw on fat sources in their body as their primary source of fuel. Furthermore, despite their low intake of carbs, they were  able to maintain normal muscle glycogen (the storage form of carbohydrates)  levels at rest.  This meant that these athletes were able to tap into their glycogen stores during a long race and then afterwards during recovery, after having first relied on their fat stores. That makes for a lot of fuel available for use, more than what athletes on high-carb diets are able to access.

Jeff Volek, Lead Researcher and Professor of Human Sciences at The Ohio State University, proposed that  these findings represent a real paradigm shift in sports nutrition.

For more information, read The Ohio State University news, 'Endurance Athletes Who Go 'Against the Grain' Become Incredible Fat-Burners'.

Another useful article is one by Marc Bubbs, ND, 'Are Fats the Optimal Primal Fuel for Endurance Athletes?'

Photo source iStock: STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN AUG 23, 2015: Ron Darmon and a group of triathletes cycling in the Men's ITU World Triathlon series event August 23, 2015 in Stockholm, Sweden
Veterinary Specialist ServicesAuthor: Kara Gilbert
About: Kara Gilbert is a medical and health writer and the Founder and Principal of KMG Communications, a medical and health writing consultancy that produces high quality content for a variety of communication applications in medicine, health and sport health. Kara is also the creator of Heart Health for Athletes,where she publishes commentary on a range of sport health matters for recreational and professional athletes.
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Tags: Sports nutrition

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