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Athletes and Keto: A Synergistic Connection?

Athletes and Keto

In its most basic form, the keto (or ketogenic) diet is a diet focused on high fat, high protein and low amounts of carbohydrates. The aim of the diet is to switch the body from using carbohydrates as its main fuel source to instead burning ketones found in fat sources. The body does this by entering into a state of ketosis, which can be achieved through a severe restriction in carbohydrates. More about ketosis later.

One of the main appeals of the ketogenic diet for athletes is that it gives a person a seemingly limitless potential amount of fat calories to siphon energy from, whereas with carbohydrates, the body is limited to the amount of energy it can store in the muscles and bloodstream. Recent studies suggest that a person's cognition and physical output are potentiated when they partake in a ketone-fueling diet, leading to a host of benefits for an athletic person on and off the field.

Pre-Workout Supplements for Ketoers

When you're on the keto diet, there are a variety of energy-boosting pre-workout supplements and foods that you can take to rev your body's metabolic engine and get you ready to engage in strenuous activity. For example, a complete amino acid supplement is important.

One popular supplement among ketoers is MCTs, or medium-chain triglycerides, usually in the form of oil. Coconut oil is one of the best sources for MCT, but there are more concentrated isolates one can take, sourced from coconuts themselves or palm oil. MCT has been shown to help the body remain in a state of ketosis.

Next are omega-3 fatty acids, particularly those rich in EPA and DHA. A high-quality fish oil supplement will help reduce inflammation in the body, which can speed up recovery and keep the body in an overall healthy state. Furthermore, maintaining proper levels of digestive enzymes and vitamin D is important, especially if a person has sensitivities to lactose and they choose to eat a lot of dairy products in their keto diet.

Creatine, caffeine and branched-chain amino acids can also aid in soreness, energy levels, and muscle gain. Lastly, electrolytes and minerals are very important to get enough of in the keto diet. When you transition to ketosis, a lot of sodium and potassium are expelled from the body, more so than someone carbohydrate-fueled. Couple that with the amount of sweat an athlete loses. It's recommended to take electrolyte supplements while on keto.

Athletes and the State of Ketosis

Using ketones as a primary fuel source can increase performance both mentally and physically. Furthermore, ketosis can increase a person's endurance. Because fat sources are slow-burning, it helps prevent athletes from reaching a plateau in their performance, leading to a long grind and better stamina, faster recovery times and a better cognitive outlook compared to those on carbohydrate-rich diets. Ultimately though, the choice of diet is a personal one, and there are right and wrong ways to do any diet; the ketogenic diet is no exception.

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