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The Athlete's Kitchen- Fads, Facts & Fallacies


Brought to you courtesy of Nancy Clark, MS RD CSSD.


FAT: While fat has been shunned for years, it is now popular. Here’s what athletes want to know about dietary fat…

To lose undesired body fat, should I train my body to burn more fat?

Don’t bother! Burning fat differs from losing body fat. You might burn 800 calories doing two hours of fat-burning exercise, and then can easily replace it all by devouring a big meal. No fat loss there!

A wiser plan is to lose fat when you are sleeping (not when exercising), by eating less at dinner to create a calorie deficit for the day. That way, you can surround your workouts with fuel, and optimize your ability to train well. Weight is more of a calorie-game than a fat-burning game.

What about the high-fat keto diet for losing weight?

Keto advocates often rave they can lose weight without feeling hunger. True, a high fat diet is very satiating. But what happens after the diet? I’ve heard stories of keto dieters succumbing to carb-binges and rapid weight regain. My recommendation: Embark only on a food plan you want to maintain for the rest of your life. Meeting with a sports registered dietitian can help you learn effective weight management skills.

What about a keto diet for endurance athletes?

Some ultra-runners and ultra-athletes embrace a keto diet. By burning fat for fuel, they can eat less during long events and experience less intestinal distress. More research is needed on keto-athletes who have fat-adapted for several months (many studies are for less than one month): Can they perform better than carb-eaters? Current research suggests keto athletes might perform as well as carb eaters—but not better than. That’s a lot of dietary restriction for questionable performance benefits. That said, each athlete is an experiment of one and no one diet suits everyone..

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