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Ketogenic diet athlete talks protein-powered performance and high fat fuel

Find out about the best diet for athletes.
Find out about the best diet for athletes.
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

What happens when a ketogenic diet athlete and a high fat low carb diet guru team up? A discussion that ranges from protein-powered performance tips to weight loss biohacks, as revealed on Monday's podcast between Jimmy Moore and Ben Greenfield.

Ben and Jimmy agree that traditional carb-loading models are not the only solution for athletes who want to power through an endurance run or other endeavor. Author of "Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health & Life," Ben has used himself as a guinea pig for how high fat low carb ketogenic diets can actually improve both training times and competition results.

In contrast to traditional diet advice, Ben and Jimmy both say that eating a high fat diet does not make you fat. Instead, studies show it increases the amount of fat you burn as fuel at both rest and during exercise. As a result, you can exercise longer, improve your overall health and optimize your performance.

Jimmy also uses a high fat low carb ketogenic diet to achieve his health goals. He lost 80 pounds and improved measures of well-being such as his cholesterol levels, all of which he includes as well as how to follow a high fat low carb ketogenic diet in the upcoming book "Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet."

Both Ben and Jimmy agree that as a nation, we're only at the beginning in terms of universal acceptance of low carb diet benefits. Consider coconut oil and Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil, which more experts are embracing as healthy. Even Dr. Mehmet Oz has championed these fats for benefits ranging from weight loss to energy to the absorption of nutrients.

A question that frequently arises in terms of athletic performance and carbohydrate levels is fatigue. Several studies, however, have challenged the theory that athletes must load up on carbohydrates to stay energized, reported Dr. William Lagakos in a Monday blog.

Author of "The poor, misunderstood calorie: calories proper," Dr. Lagakos noted that keto-adapted athletes "had less glycogen to begin with, used less glycogen during exercise, and performed significantly better." And in the most dramatic study on the impacts of performance fueled by fat and ketones, "strength-trained athletes showed improvements in high intensity exercise performance after only seven days of carbohydrate restriction."

One of the studies cited by Dr. Lagakos was conducted by Dr. Stephen Phinney. He determined that ketogenic diets can improve physical performance for athletes while accelerating weight loss and even reversing conditions such as diabetes.

In an exclusive interview, Dr. Phinney,author of "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable," cited decades of research pointing to low carb diets as the optimal solution. Challenging the traditional grain-heavy food pyramid, he stated, "Everyone should markedly reduce their intakes of sugars (sucrose, glucose, fructose) and refined carbs."

Recently enhancing the dialogue about low carb diets is investigative journalist Nina Teicholz. After devoting years to researching the truth about low carb versus high carb and high fat versus low fat diets, she's authored a volume defending high fat low carb diets as the winners for weight loss and for health: "The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet."

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