If it were up to me, the advice I’d give people for their health and fitness goals would be to:
- Eat whole foods
- Get sunlight
- Prioritize your sleep
- Manage your stress
Being a healthy individual is simple. The fitness industry has taught people to believe that they must follow specific lifestyle rules, or they won’t succeed. Despite the number of followers fitness influencers have, they are not and should not be your most reliable source.
Let’s talk about a very popular diet in the fitness space… the ketogenic diet.
I’ll explain what the diet is and why it’s such a hot topic for endurance athletes.
The ketogenic diet is an extremely low-carb diet that tricks your body into thinking it’s fasting by getting rid of glucose (which comes from the carbohydrates you normally eat). When you eat a normal carb intake, your body burns energy through glucose. When you eliminate these carbs from your diet, your body no longer has glucose to use as energy. So, what does it do? Your body starts using your ketones to get energy. Ketones are produced from fat. Therefore, you often see weight loss results with people on the keto diet.
I know what you’re thinking. You see the words “weight loss,” and now you’re thinking about giving this diet a try. I mean, you could… if you want to suck the joy out of eating and eliminate carbs from your meals. But what if I told you that you can lose weight and still happily eat carbs? Yup… that’s right!
Okay, okay. If that’s true, then now you’re probably wondering why anyone would even want to follow the keto diet.
Here’s the bottom line. Following a keto diet may be beneficial for an individual who participates in low strength, high endurance activities. If you aren’t looking to improve your performance and endurance, then it’s probably not the most ideal diet for you.
These high endurance activities can look like:
Many scientists and coaches believe adhering to a keto diet may help endurance athletes perform better. They think the ketones produced in replacement of carbohydrates (and glucose) will give endurance athletes additional energy fuel. The idea that an athlete can rely on unlimited fat reserves is much more appealing than using carbs as energy. Maybe there is evidence that endurance athletes can perform better, but is this diet suitable for the average Joe? Probably not.
If your goal is to improve endurance and performance and you want to follow the keto diet, make sure you are consuming:
- Under 40 grams of carbs
- No more than 0.6 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight
- Healthy fats
Macro Guidelines for Improving Endurance/Performance
Protein: 30% - 35%
Fat: 55% - 60%
Carbs: 5% - 10%
If your goal is weight loss, the bottom line is you must eat in a caloric deficit. This doesn’t mean carbohydrates are the enemy.
If you want to feel good, focus on the tips I’ve mentioned above like eating real foods, exercising, getting sunlight exposure and sleeping for at least 7-9 hours every night.