As a child, I would sit and watch my father training and preparing to run his marathons, primarily the then aptly named Two Oceans Ultra Marathon. He did it just like every other runner, the night before was spent at the closest Italian restaurant eating as much pasta as was humanly possible, meet the runners old friend, “carbo-loading”..
It worked for them, they would run a good race and that night the restaurants would be filled with men, proudly adorned in their post-race T-shirts, albeit with a great deal of moaning, groaning and hobbling going on.
While the debate around the benefits of carbo-loading is a long and no doubt in-depth one, the real question is how a ketogenic diet like Banting fits into a high-energy exercise regime. There is no doubt that exercise plays a pivotal role in any healthy lifestyle, but is it possible to lead the Banting lifestyle and still pursue an intensive exercise program?
The reality is that recent research has proven that the practice of “carbo-loading” can often negatively affect your athletic performance rather than enhance it. Never mind the affect that all of the excess carbohydrate will have on your waistline in the long term! The primary reason runners tucked into the pasta with such gusto the day before a big race was the belief that carbohydrate was the fuel that equated to performance, especially during extended exercise sessions, the rule-of-thumb being any session longer than 90 minutes. Runners firmly believed that an insufficient carbohydrate intake would lead to their muscles being exhausted of glycogen (i.e. energy) and they would then ultimately, “hit the wall”…
Banting and Carbo-Loading: Fact or Myth?
Modern research has shown that carbohydrate intake during the race is equally if not more important than carbo-loading the day before. Certain research has even shown that an increased carbohydrate intake should be avoided as this robs our bodies of the opportunity to burn fat, something which our body can convert into energy more efficiently than it can carbohydrate. So next time you are preparing for the big race, why not consider avoiding the usual pasta parties and instead try a fresh approach:

  • Avoid increasing your carbohydrate intake before and during the race, your body will tap into its fat reserves instead, a more abundant energy source. Rather try increase your intake of animal fat rich food as well as vegetables.
  • Unlike with carbo-loading, do not alter your exercise training plan to suit your diet, you should rather focus on having a consistent and well-balanced diet.
  • Avoid the plethora of sports drinks and energy bars, while proper hydration is critical, your body wants water, it is as simple as that…

A few simple changes could increase your rate of weight-loss as well as improve your health, you never know, it may even take your next finishing time to a personal best!

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