After reading Lars’ interview with Valerie Peterson in last week’s newsletter I did a little research with two scientific organizations.
A position paper on Nutrition and Athletic Performance by the American College of Sports Medicine, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Dietitians of Canada says, “Although there has been historical and recently revived interest in chronic adaptations to high-fat low carbohydrate diets, the present evidence suggests that enhanced rates of fat oxidation can only match exercise / performance achieved by diets or strategies promoting high carbohydrate availability at moderate intensities, while the performance at higher intensities is impaired.”
Put simply, a high-fat low carb diet is no better than a low fat high carb diet for endurance riding and a high-fat low carb diet is worse for harder riding such as weekend hard club rides.
You can download the full Position Paper here.
The Mayo Clinic says, “While the ketogenic diet may be recommended for some people with uncontrolled epilepsy, the high fat content — and especially the high level of unhealthy saturated fat — combined with limits on nutrient-rich fruits, veggies and grains is a concern for long-term heart health.” A high-fat low carb diet does reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures. With very careful food choices you can minimize saturated fats; however, the Mayo Clinic still isn’t recommending a ketogenic diet for the general population.
With nutrition and many other aspects of cycling we’re each an experiment of one. A ketogenic diet might work for you.
A footnote: Peterson is a certified Bulletproof nutritional coach. Bulletproof is a company selling food and drink supplements, proteins, coffee and more. Bulletproof promotes a ketogenic diet to sell products and make a profit.
For more information see my 17 page eArticle Nutrition for 100K and Beyond, which cites a dozen sources. It is one of three articles in the bundle Nutrition Training and Riding. The other two articles are Beyond the Century, training for long rides, and Mastering the Long Rides, what you need to know in addition to training and nutrition.
Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written over 40 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John’s full bio.
“of unhealthy saturated fat ” – it is really funny that Mayo Clinic continues to promote this statement, which, as became clear recently, doesn’t not have any solid scientific background and which should be demoted to the “urban legend” status.
Exactly. That information is increasingly behind the curve of developing evidence. IMV, the only way to know if LCHF will work is to try it yourself. Give it time, as adaptation can take around 30 days, and for full athletic performance, a few months, depending on the person. I’m one year in, it’s great in more ways than I can count, and I’m not going back.
Ever since the Harvard sugar research debacle…I don’t trust anyone’s research on anything.
All you have to do is watch netflix docs and you will see that keto peeps say this, and the veggie peeps say that, and the mainstream peeps say this…meat causes cancer, plant based diets cause cancer, etc. Noone agrees on anything. They all have their “research” that they claim backs them up.
I don;t think humans can get to the bottom of nutrition. Throw in corrupt researchers and you will never know what the truth is.
Will Haltiwanger says
Per Michael Pollan: Eat Real Food, Not Too Much. I cut back on carbs and sugars when I am not exercising and have lost 35 pounds without hunger. (210 to 175, 6’3″) Also skip breakfast most days to create a mini-fast. My blood sugar is much more stable and energy level is higher. When riding longer rides I add whatever fuel is appealing at the time.
John Hughes says
As I said in the column we’re each an experiment of one!
Scott Ethington says
Thank you Coach Hughes for your perspective. It seemed evident from last week’s article that Valerie uses a ketogenic diet to prevent Alzheimer’s and stabilize energy levels – not for peak cycling performance. I think it’s fair to point out that she is a Bulletproof coach as long as it is also clear you have financial incentive to continue backing your nutritional approach. Perhaps you could change “For more information see my 17 page eArticle” to “For more information, pay $4.99 for my 17 page eArticle.”
Arthur Vincent says
Unfortunately, the Mayo and many other “respected” medical facilities still think the food pyramid establish by the government back in the 90’s depicts an healthy diet…….And America keeps getting fatter.. Someone up above reminded us that the lady writing the article is not a high level competitor. It also notes that if the riding is difficult then added carbs is a good thing. But, fat is almost an inexhaustible source of energy were as carbs need to be constantly feed in to the system because all they do is spike insulin. The keto diet is used by many diabetics so no long have to use drugs to control diabetes. They just use food. High fat food. Bad science is bad science regardless of the source. I would suggest that a person on a ride across America would be well advised to consider a Keto eating plan. .