Saturday, December 17, 2011

High carb or high fat diet for athletes?

Many athletes believe that a diet high in carbohydrates is the key to success when exercising and competing in sports.  I remember as a cross country runner our coach would tell us to load up on pancakes and syrup before a race.  We were taught that high carbs before a race would help our bodies be stronger and increase our endurance.  This may not be the case after all.  A study out of State University of New York raises serious questions about the appropriateness of of high-carb, low fat diets for those who engage in strenuous physical exercise.  "Subjects ate diets of 15%, 30%, and 45% fat respectively.  Those on the high fat diets had greater endurance- up to an 11% increase.  NO adverse changes in blood chemistry were observed in the subjects on the high fat diet, and they did not gain weight.  The authors conclude: The results suggest that a low fat diet may be detrimental to performance and that a higher fat diet may result in more energy substrate availability with a lower lactate to pyruvate ratio" (Nourishing Traditions p178-179).
Obviously, if you increase your fat intake without decreasing your carb intake, the results may not be the same.  This may not result in better endurance and this may result in extra weight gain.  If you are already eating a high carb diet, you must cut back on the carbs as you replace the carbs with high quality fats.  That is how you achieve the positive results talked about in the study.
"The primary nutrient in animal fat is Vitamin A, needed for a host of biological processes including the assimilation of protein and minerals.  Strenuous physical exercise depletes vitamin A.  Does the current practice of high-carb, low-fat diets explain the prevalence of injury and burnout in modern athletes?" (Nourishing Traditions p 179).  I wish I knew then what I know now!

Examples of good fats:
1. Grass-fed, raw/organic butter
2. Grass-fed Meat
3. Pastured Eggs
4. Grass-fed, Organic dairy products: cheese, yogurt, kefir
5. Raw/organic whole milk
6. Coconut Oil
You can buy high quality, grass-fed, organic cheese, dairy products, and meat here

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