How the keto diet and intermittent fasting boost sports peformance

  • Many experts think that by eating a high-fat or keto diet, it’s possible to become a more efficient fat burner and get more energy from ketones.
  • Intermittent fasting may have a similar effect, helping people become better at fueling themselves from fat.
  • Ultramarathon world-record holder Zach Bitter recently explained how changing his diet helped improve his performance.

Our bodies might work better when we’re burning fat as fuel.

From a health perspective, burning fat rather than primarily getting fuel from carbs might help stabilize blood sugar. From an athletic perspective, being a fat-burner might help some people recover more quickly and perform at a higher level.

Zach Bitter is an ultra-marathon runner who holds the world record for the longest distance run in 12 hours (101.77 miles). On a recent episode of his new podcast, Human Performance Outliers, Bitter discussed his decision to switch to a keto-like diet designed to turn him into a more efficient fat-burner.

In 2011, Bitter said, he’d been eating what most would consider a healthy, whole-food, high-carb diet that might be expected of someone running 50-mile races. But he was hurting, waking up throughout the night, seeing his energy levels fluctuate, and dealing with chronic swelling in his ankles.

Instead of cutting back on racing, he changed what he ate, embarking on a whole-food, high-fat diet. He cut out most carbohydrates, relying instead on foods like stir frys, bacon, eggs, nuts, and seeds. He often cooked with coconut oil or duck fat.

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