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Celebrity fitness guru talks low carb and Paleo diets, health and endurance

Get tips on the right diet for an athlete.
Get tips on the right diet for an athlete.
Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images

Remember when all athletes were advised to consume pancakes and pasta prior to competing? Now, the race to finish first more often is won by athletes on variations of low-carb diets, including the high fat ketogenic plan and the Paleo diet. We asked celebrity fitness guru Ben Greenfield for his input. He's authored a new book that includes information on low carb high fat (LCHF) ketogenic diets: "Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health & Life" (click for details).

Ketogenic or very low carbohydrate diets can be useful for lowering inflammation, enhancing mental function or improving endurance (since ketones are used by tissue such as the heart and diaphragm as a primary fuel). But an 80-90% fat-based ketogenic diet is difficult to maintain and not necessarily superior for weight loss compared to, for example, a 50-60% fat based diet.

In terms of Paleo diets, Ben applauds the move to eliminate processed foods but doesn't agree with cutting out all forms of dairy and other natural foods, saying: "As far as Paleo is concerned - anytime you remove processed and fake foods from your diet you’ll see positive changes, but I don’t think it completely necessary to eliminate foods such as legumes and dairy as long as they are prepared properly."

Choosing the right supplement requires customization, Ben told us. He offers details in his book. However, he notes that "there are specific compounds that nearly everyone tends to be deficient in. Specifically those are: Vitamin D, magnesium, Omega 3 Fatty Acids (aka fish oil) and Alkalinizing Greens."

For those who tend to be weekend warriors in the gym, Ben recommends "staying physically active every day through things like standing workstations, work breaks, walks, and very short 5-10 minute workouts."

Also included in Ben's book are recovery tips, mental performance tactics, training essentials and stress relief weapons. If weight loss is on your list, you'll get the answer as well in "Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health & Life" (click for more information).

Worth noting: Ben is not alone in advocating a shift to using lower carb diets to enhance athletic performance. Two experts have crafted a guide to the science of increasing fat and reducing carbs in "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance." And for more on making low carb diets work for weight loss and health, click here for "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable." The authors also contributed to "New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great."

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