I have many many opinions on ketogenic diets for ironman and endurance athletes. I will expand this blog at some point with all the why’s about how I believe there is a better way to become your optimal in health and performance without having to go the full keto.
We call the approach I recommend metabolic efficiencyTM (ME), and it incorporates nutritional periodisation of carbohydrates and an overall lower but not no carbohydrate intake while slotting this into the principles of healthy eating for an athlete and taking their training, racing and individual response into account. Its is all about efficiency, fat adaptation, strength AND performance at high intensities. Not just about efficiency in the lower aerobic zones.
I believe this (ME) works without having to go and do the full keto, the latest extreme after high protein, low carb, low-fat and so on and on.
But hey, athletes like extreme and plough straight in before asking questions. Ask yourself this; do you know any ironman podium finishers doing keto diets? I don’t.
We don’t know all the facts about keto, we don’t know the impact on hormones, the adrenals, the incidence of fatigue in high volume training athletes, or how high intensity performance might be affected, or immune cell function in high volume training athletes, or the impact on anabolic processes for example is keto the best strategy for big gear big work on the bike, or strength and hill running sets? I don’t take risks for my athletes when I already have a strategy that works to not only enhance fat adaptation but also encourage strength, power and speed.
No one has compared a healthy periodised nutrition approach (like Metabolically Efficient eating) to a keto approach. Each has only ever been compared to a carbohydrate containing processed food containing diet (which isn’t that healthy and so you are normally going to see a response). Until I have seen a straight head to head I wont be shifting from the more balanced approach.
And FYI most keto diets show reduced power; not what you want either.
However, if you did want a good article to consume, this is good. Is it technically perfect? No. Do they make big claims? Yes. And is it a little one-sided? Yes. Can you achieve what they claim and more without going keto? Yes. But every diet is going to be promoted this way so don’t hold it against keto. For many athletes with genuine pre-diabetic or blood sugar/ insulin problems or metabolic issues like cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome or polycystic ovaries keto may actually be recommended; diet is never a one size fits all. It is about finding what works and generally extreme measure are only needed for extreme cases.
This article is also technically more accurate than others so knock yourself out.