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Friday 11 December 2015

Sports scientist finds eating fat might help you get fitter

Will O'Connor's high-fat, low-carb diet has got him through numerous triathalons and Iron Mans.

Berries, coconut cream and butter in a smoothie – it may not sound like a delicious or healthy meal, but it's all part of one triathlete's low-carb diet to healthier living.

Massey University PhD student Will O'Connor has been investigating the benefits of increasing the amount of fat in his diet, and substanitally dropping carbohydrates.

O'Connor has followed the high fat diet for about four years, picking it up in Australia while training to be an elite triathlete, and has now put it to the test.

Studying 10 male and two female endurace athletes, O'Connor has been looking at metabolic flexibility by placing them onto a diet where they only ate 2 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of their weight, per day.

O'Connor said most of the athletes found it hard for the first two weeks, but after that their mood returned to what it was before. 

While endurance athletes often eat high carbohydrate diets, full of pasta or bread, O'Connor's diet-change called for athletes to eat bacon, eggs, limited fruit, a lot of vegetables and meat, as well as adding cream to their coffee.

He found when athletes had been adhering to the diet they were burning more fat during exercise. 

This meant they were more metabolically efficient, had a greater ability to carry oxygen to their muscles and were able to mentally push through an endurance event.

O'Connor said that was because there was only so much carbohydrate that could be stored in the liver or muscles. The diet could actually benefit those with lower fitness levels more.

"This research shows that changing your diet can totally change how your body runs. You can literally increase your fitness by changing your diet."

His parents have been eating the same as he has, since he moved back from Australia, each losing about 10kg over the course of that year. 

"When you're eating a high carbohydrate diet, particularly if you're eating a lot of sugar, your insulin levels can spike. Insulin causes the body to store fat and also stops it from burning fat while it deals to the sugar.

"This causes the 'energy crash' that people experience and means you're putting on more fat."



Gingi said...

Ive been looking into this for some time now!! I used to be all into no and low far EVERYTHING... -

Lowcarb team member said...

Thank you for your comment Gingi

chris c said...

Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney among others have done a bunch of studies on high fat athletic performance, principlly endurance athletes. Volek used to be a champion powerlifter so knows whereof he writes.