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Low Carb Performance – Book Review

For those of you who have heard of the Ketogenic Diet, this is a great book.

The diet involves reducing your carbohydrate intake to the point where your body becomes “fat adapted” and burns more fat as fuel. This is a nutritional strategy employed by a lot of triathletes and ultra-marathon runners, as you can fuel your body in a more sustained way.

It’s also an option for dieters (if they can handle it!)

My fifth recommended read is…

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance by Jeff Volek

PRO TIP: Take notes! When you read a book, use a blank sheet of paper as a bookmark. Write down any interesting facts and information from the book. This condenses a whole book into 3-4 pages of key notes that are important and relevant to you.

My Notes

  • Exercise doesn’t improve resting metabolism that much, so it’s more important that obese people diet.

  • There’s a Danger Zone between 50 and 150 grams carbs per day. This is an insufficient supply of carbs for the brain to run on glucose but too high for your body to produce adequate ketones. For that reason it’s best to jump in to a very low carb diet. The “middle zone” will likely result in muscle burned as fuel and eventually lead to a binge of carbs.

  • Subcutaneous adipose tissue is around 55% Mono-, 18% Poly- and 27% Saturated fat.

  • Most American diets get TEN TIMES the RDA of Omega 6, which interferes with the 3 to 6 ratio.

  • Try to buy Omega 3 rich eggs if your supermarket stocks them.

  • A high carbohydrate diet “locks” a person in to relying on carbs for performance.

  • Low carb diets are anti-inflammatory, producing less oxidative stress, and accelerating the use of saturated fat as fuel.

  • Your body can store around 2000 calories in fuel from carbohydrates in the form of glycogen. Our body fat stores contain around 40,000 calories for fuel.

  • Using carbs as fuel inhibits fat mobilisation & utilisation (for days after, not just hours).

  • “Keto-adaptation” means to use fat efficiently. The process involves conversion of fat to ketones in the liver, which supply the brain with fuel when glucose level falls.

  • Glycogen storage capacity of the average man is 400-500g (700g if muscular and eating regular high carb diet).

  • Carbohydrate requires several grams of water per glycogen (stored carb) gram.

  • If insulin levels are high, fat usage is low.

    ketogenic diet

  • You need a consistent 2-3 weeks of low insulin to keto adapt.

  • The “Fat burning zone” relates to % contribution of carb/fat as fuel, and not to peak grams burned.

  • Studies found high variability in subjects, between 10g and 6g fat burned/hour. Peak burning ranged from 25 to 77% VO2max.

  • The brain can only function on glucose or ketones.

  • Keto-adapted athletes can still make gains via resistance training in a week of <10g carb, 1.75g/kg protein and the rest fat. This diet led to 90g/hr fat burning with similar performance output to before the intervention.

  • Keto adaptation spares protein so preserves lean tissue, decreases lactate, better pH. This not only improves endurance but also strength/power & cognition.

  • “Bonking” is when muscle and liver glycogen reserves are low, muscles and brain compete for sparse fuel.

  • Keto diet increases the amount of Branch Chain Amino Acids in the body.

  • Too much protein has an anti-ketogenic effect as it can spike insulin.

  • Keto adaptation increases your lactate threshold.

Nutrition Notes

  • To preserve unsaturated fatty acids, consume adequate Omega 3 Highly Unsaturated Fatty Acids. Also eat enough natural meat, fish and veg, take vitamin E in gamma form (not alpha-tocopherol) and avoid iron supplements (even a daily multi-vitamin).

  • Ketogenic diets are typically below 50 grams/day of carbs.

  • Fast digested carbs are counter-productive post-exercise.

  • Replace your carbohydrates with fat, not additional protein.

  • Glycogen storage capacity of the average man is 400-500g (700g if muscular and eating regular high carb diet).

  • Carbohydrate requires several grams of water per gram of glycogen (stored carb in muscle).

  • Use broth/bouillon for sodium and low carb vegetables for potassium.

  • Allow yourself 5-10 grams of carbs from each of protein, nuts/seeds, fruits, misc. and 10-15 grams from vegetables.

  • Avoid potatoes, corn, carrots, beans, peas and fruit juices.

  • Eat broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower, aubergine, green beans, kale, mushroom, onions, peppers, spinach and courgette.

  • Nuts & seeds should be limited to 50 grams per day.

  • Use a 100 gram limit of berries, tomatoes, olives or avocado.

  • Look to get 0.6 to 1g of protein per lb of Lean Body Mass.

  • Emphasize mono-unsaturated and saturated fat as fuel.

  • Be sure to balance your intake of Omega 3 & 6.

  • Low carb diets increase loss of sodium and water by kidneys. Failure to replace these salts and electrolytes results in fatigue, headache and loss of lean mass.

  • Most muscle cramps are due to muscle depletion of salts.

  • You will need to take on 1-2g sodium per day more than you normally do. Also take an additional one gram around 30 minutes before a workout.

  • If you boil meat or vegetables it loses potassium. It is better to steam or saute these foods.

  • If following a ketogenic diet, consume 250ml pf water 5 minutes before your workout.

  • Consider supplementing with Magnesium to avoid cramps.

  • Intense exercise, tiredness or lack of fuel causes twitching/cramps.

  • The range of carbohydrate intake in which ketosis was achieved was between 30-100g per day.

  • Avoid the supplement beta-alanine after exercise (or at all on keto).

  • See Page 100 for a list of ketogenic foods and Pages 101-120 for ketogenic recipes.

Since reading this book i’ve become much more interested in the ketogenic lifestyle. As a strength and power athlete it’s not beneficial to me, but I was interested in the mental clarity which could help my career. By relying on fat there’s a much steadier energy source and no spikes in insulin which can cause brain fog. The Ketogenic Diet is very popular and effective in obese people looking to lose weight. This is a great book for those who also want to consider exercising as part of the Ketogenic lifestyle.