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Is Keto Good for Athletes?

 

The keto health craze is here!

And if you’re wondering whether you should try it or not (especially if you’re an athlete), you need to read this!

The idea behind the diet’s popularity is that it can literally train your body to burn fat as fuel. This means your metabolism actually changes. You stop burning carbohydrates (your body’s preferred fuel), and start burning fat (and ketones) as fuel.

You become “fat adapted.”

How is this possible? What are the risks and benefits? And how does this apply to athletes?

I hash it all out in this post.

NOTE: Before we go on, know that the whole topic of ketosis is a hotbed of scientific research now. More studies are being published regularly, so keep on the lookout for new information.

Metabolism 101 – Carbohydrates vs. Fats (and Ketones)

How to get into ketosis

The first way to “Go Keto” – The Classic Ketogenic Diet

The second way to “Go Keto” – Modified Ketogenic Diets

Who should avoid ketogenic diets?

The third way to “Go Keto” – Keto supplementation

Ketogenic diets for athletes

Ketogenic supplements for athletes

Summary

References

Burke, L.M. (2015). Re-Examining High-Fat Diets for Sports Performance: Did We Call the “Nail in the Coffin” Too Soon? Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.z.), 45(Suppl 1), 33–49. http://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-015-0393-9
LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4672014/

Chang, C.-K., Borer, K., & Lin, P.-J. (2017). Low-Carbohydrate-High-Fat Diet: Can it Help Exercise Performance? Journal of Human Kinetics, 56, 81–92. http://doi.org/10.1515/hukin-2017-0025
LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5384055/

Cox, P.J., Kirk, T., Ashmore, T., Willerton, K., Evans, R., Smith, A., Murray, A.J., Stubbs, B., West, J., McLure, S.W., King, M.T., Dodd, M.S., Holloway, C., Neubauer, S., Drawer, S., Veech, R.L., Griffin, J.L. & Clarke, K. (2016). Nutritional Ketosis Alters Fuel Preference and Thereby Endurance Performance in Athletes. Cell Metab. 24(2), p256–268. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2016.07.010.
LINK:  http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(16)30355-2?_returnURL=http%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS1550413116303552%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

Cox, P.J. & Clarke K. (2014). Acute nutritional ketosis: implications for exercise performance and metabolism. Extreme physiology & medicine. 3(1), 1. http://doi.org/10.1186/2046-7648-3-17
LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4212585/

Evans, M., Cogan, K.E., & Egan B. (2017). Metabolism of ketone bodies during exercise and training: physiological basis for exogenous supplementation. J Physiol. 595(9), 2857-2871. doi: 10.111
LINK:  https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Brendan_Egan2/publication/309885871_Metabolism_of_ketone_bodies_during_exercise_and_training_physiological_basis_for_exogenous_supplementation/links/587495fb08ae8fce49267998/Metabolism-of-ketone-bodies-during-exercise-and-training-physiological-basis-for-exogenous-supplementation.pdf

Luat, A.F., Coyle, L. & Kamat, D. (2016). The Ketogenic Diet: A Practical Guide for Pediatricians. Pediatr Ann. 45(12):e446-e450. doi: 10.3928/19382359-20161109-01.
LINK:  http://www.healio.com/pediatrics/journals/pedann/2016-12-45-12/%7Bc18fc6b4-746f-446b-8f6c-9cdc046eed9e%7D/the-ketogenic-diet-a-practical-guide-for-pediatricians

Martin, K., Jackson, C.F., Levy, R.G. & Cooper, P.N. (2016). Ketogenic and other dietary treatments for epilepsy. Cochrane.
LINK:  http://www.cochrane.org/CD001903/EPILEPSY_ketogenic-and-other-dietary-treatments-epilepsy

Pinckaers, P.J.M., Churchward-Venne, T.A., Bailey, D., & van Loon, L.J.C. (2017). Ketone Bodies and Exercise Performance: The Next Magic Bullet or Merely Hype? Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.z.), 47(3), 383–391. http://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-016-0577-y
LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5309297/

Precision Nutrition, The Ketogenic Diet: Does it live up to the hype?
LINK:  http://www.precisionnutrition.com/ketogenic-diet

Schoeler, N.E. & Cross, J.H. (2016). Ketogenic dietary therapies in adults with epilepsy: a practical guide. Pract Neurol. 16(3):208-14. doi: 10.1136/practneurol-2015-001288.
LINK:  http://pn.bmj.com/content/16/3/208.long

Volek, J.S., Noakes, T. & Phinney, S.D. (2015). Rethinking fat as a fuel for endurance exercise. Eur J Sport Sci. 15(1), 13-20. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2014.959564.
LINK:  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17461391.2014.959564

Volek, J.S., et al. (2016). Metabolic characteristics of keto-adapted ultra-endurance runners. Metabolism. 65(3), Pages 100–110.
LINK:  http://www.metabolismjournal.com/article/S0026-0495(15)00334-0/fulltext