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What To Say When Your Friends Tell You That You Need To Eat Carbohydrates For Proper Endurance Fueling (Part 2)

Posted Nov 18 2012 10:17am

Carbs1 Objection #2: Isn’t all that fat you’ll be eating as a substitute for carbohydrate dangerous because of high cholesterol, heart disease, and weight gain?

Not only can a high fat, low carbohydrate diet perform better for weight loss compared to a low fat, high carbohydrate diet, but there is no evidence that a high fat derived from healthy, natural fat sources increases risk of heart disease – unless fat consumption is paired with high amounts of fructose and a moderate to high intake of starchy, sugary carbohydrate sources. It is at the point when high fat consumption is combined with high carbohydrate consumption that cholesterol in the bloodstream can become oxidized and lead to risk of heart disease.

As a matter of fact, the whole idea that high cholesterol causes heart disease is a flawed hypothesis, and entire books have been written on it. A very good place to start your journey into learning about the positive and healthy properties of fats would be THIS website.

Objection #3: Don’t you need to load with carbohydrate before a race? If you don’t carbo load you’re going to bonk.

Once you begin eating a low carbohydrate diet without cheating and including high carb reload days or meals, your body can, within 2 weeks, become extremely efficient at burning fat – a stark difference from the type of fuel utilization that occurs in the endurance athlete trained to eat a gel every 20 minutes during every single training session, or to constantly have sports drink on the edge of the pool and a bowl of pasta waiting at home to re-fuel after the workout.

Nocarbs This means that once you become “fat adapted” you will need relatively fewer carbohydrates during race week or the day before a race, since your body develops an enhanced ability to conserve storage carbohydrate (glycogen) and also an increased ability to utilize fat as a fuel, both during rest and on race day.

What this also means is that an entire week of traditional carbohydrate loading and high sugar intake will not be necessary before your race, and if your goal is weight loss, health, or longevity, may actually end up doing more harm than good if you repeat this “carb loading” scenario multiple times through a training year.

Since I have personally shifted to a lower carbohydrate intake, I have found that the 85-90% carbohydrate diet I was eating during those last few days leading up to a race is no longer necessary. The only increase in carbohydrate that is necessary during race week is A) a carbohydrate dense breakfast the day before and the morning of the race; and B) avoiding any fasted, carbohydrate depleting sessions in the last few days leading up to the race. Because of the natural reduction in physical activity during a taper, simply maintaining your normal carbohydrate intake would still be considered “carbohydrate loading”, but not in the common tradition of loading, which typically includes 7-10 days of high carbohydrate intake before an event.

For more helpful resources on a healthy race day nutrition plan that falls into the category of “low carbohydrate fueling”, check out this article I wrote after winning Leadman 125 earlier this year. For an actual meal plan and more specifics on low carb fueling for endurance, you may also want to check out my Low Carbohydrate Guide For Triathletes .

Whoisben Ben Greenfield is the Renaissance man of the sport of triathlon.

He's a fast triathlete, a coach, a personal trainer, and much more more.

We recommend that you surf on over to , for more great training advice.

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