Can high protein, low carb or Paleo regime benefit runners?

Has anyone experienced increased performance/speed/race times by drastically reducing carbs?

21 to 39 of 39 messages
24/04/2014 at 20:23

Big G: I realise this means that I'm a lost cause as far as your concerned  

24/04/2014 at 20:29

I agree with cutting out processed crap, yes, but that isn't really a paleo diet. 

my food is virtually all homemade. Except the very odd pukka pie including homemade pasta, bread etc.. but, I think that's not a paleo diet.

if I give my dog shop made bread she turns her nose up at it and refuses to eat it, as it's full of crap, if I offer her homemade bread milled at a local mill, she will wolf it down.

that does say something to me also have rescue hens so eat lots of eggy things. 


Oh... With regards to gels, I purchased a pack of 24 gels, so yeah I do gels. full of crap, I buy them to do a job, and they do it.

Edited: 24/04/2014 at 20:32
24/04/2014 at 20:40

Well, it's degrees. I'm not 100% sold on the "all grains are bad" thing just yet, which is why I'm giving it a try to see. Obviously for you, eating grains and plenty of refined carbs works. You feel fit and healthy and full of energy, which is great. I have found that despite all the exercise I get, despite feeling much better and fitter, I haven't really shifted loads of flab and I think my running suffers as a result. The likelihood is, if I do find it works for me, I won't stick with it religiously and get ridiculously anal about it, which no doubt some proponents do, but would probably stick to the main ideas behind it for most of the time. We shall see.

24/04/2014 at 20:58
Cotswoldrunner - good luck with it.
24/04/2014 at 21:26

I followed a paleo style diet whilst marathon training last year and was amazed at the results.  Its the first time I have been able to lose weight and train hard without having huge crashes and feeling like I have run out of fuel.  I am following one now as i have baby weight to lose and i really rate it.  I eat so much natural food which is probably a big reason why i feel good on it.  Loads of eggs, veg, fruit, quality meat, avocados, salmon.  Works for me.

24/04/2014 at 21:32

I lost a lot of weight doing a paleoesque type eating - which was fine for the mild cardio and strength training i was doing.  Now I do tri and the amount of endurance has increased I find I need to eat more slow release carbs or I run myself down and become a nightmare of a wife.  I eat a snot load of quality food, a little bit of processed stuff - I try my best to stay away from gluten as my tummy isn't a fan and I have to think of the husband being quietly gassed in his sleep  

24/04/2014 at 22:00

I did try the no carb approach, and did one marathon on cheese and nuts. It was OK. I did another 2 weeks later and nearly ripped someone's arm off for a gel. I eat quality food but just so much of it, even doing the low/no carb thing I can't shift the timber as I'm so hungry all the time. Carbs are also booze's best friend, and I love my wine, so until that changes I am going to have to get involved in the occasional pitta bread.

24/04/2014 at 22:25

I have moved to a paleo diet and have been following it for a few months.  it's not a no carb affair but more focused on 'clean eating' ie no processed food.  So far I've lost 32lb, and ran my fastest marathon for five years (possibly down to the weight loss). I mostly fuel longer training runs and rides with eggs, bacon and nuts but since I'm now training for an Ironman I'm struggling to stay truly paleo during those longer sessions.

as an aside I've also noticed a significant reduction in my fibromyalgia symptoms, skin flare ups and low blood sugar episodes. 

24/04/2014 at 22:38

The paleo diet really is a misnomer, a true paleo diet would be whatever you could forage + hunt so lots of squirrels and wild garlic at the moment. All farmed food would be out as that didn't exist in the stone age, no chicken, no carrots, no clementines.

Is there any evidence that cutting carbs benefits runners? Matt Fitzgerald in his book on marathon nutrition argues many runners suffer poor performance because they eat too few carbs. His nutrition advice is hardy groundbreaking, eat mostly vegetables, some fruit, nuts and seeds and (unless you are a vegetarian) fish and lean meat, whole grains etc these are in order of decreasing quantity. He does cite some studies but the evidence is hardly exhaustive.


24/04/2014 at 22:53
From what I hear it seems to be that it's more a case of working out which diet works best for you.
24/04/2014 at 23:34

Big_G: Kendal mint cake is a lot less processed than gels and I've yet to hear of anyone getting gut problems from it. For longer runs I like malt loaf, fig rolls etc.

Scott Jurek won Western States 100 seven years in a row on a vegan diet.

I'm vegetarian and have been trying to base my diet less on dairy and more on a wide variety of plant foods - including various whole grains but trying to minimise refined carbohydrates and highly processed foods. At least 15 different plant species per day, most days - which is easy if you snack on fruit, seeds and nuts (seven ingredients in my home-made muesli for a start).

25/04/2014 at 07:39

Velloo - I am not aware of any real evidence but there seems to be a lot of anecdotal evidence. I asked about paleo on my club's Facebook group last night and was overwhelmed with people saying that they follow a 'broadly paleo' diet and that it's vastly improved their running.  I'll try and check out that book you mentioned and I agree that this stuff shouldn't be complicated.

Debra - thanks for the tips. 

Pudge    pirate
25/04/2014 at 07:52

Big G - I echo what I said last night on FB, but you will probably find once you start delving deeper into it that you end up following some hybrid version of paleo/atkins/keto.  As long as you're sensible and apply common sense, this ought to work (IMHO of course!)

25/04/2014 at 09:36

Big_G what is a broadly paleo diet? 

If they've cut carbs, and therefore calories and are losing weight then their running will improve. It would also improve if they lost weight doing whatever.

From my own anecdotes all the fast skinny runners I know eat carbs, some from vegetable sources, some from grains, some from nuts etc. I have never read any convincing study to back up the theory that cutting carbs in itself (not any associated weight loss) benefits running. 

25/04/2014 at 09:49

velloo - one chap still ate potatoes but ditched all other carbs. One chap still had milk, but other than that followed paleo.  I'm not saying this is right/wrong but (to me) seems  a reasonable compromise. 

I agree about the weight loss probably being the main reason for running improvement but to be honest I'm not looking at it from a weight loss point of view and don't really want to lose weight (I've lost a lot of weight anyway). I am very interested in potentially running a marathon without using gels though.....

25/04/2014 at 10:19

Lots of fruit and vege - not so much potato if I can - meat and quorn and fish - almond milk and some dairy.  I have GF oats in the morning, maybe some rice/rice noodles in my lunch or tea (along with vege etc) and gluten free buns and pizza every now and again

When I was trying to loose weight I cut out all refined wheat/flour products and refined sugar - ate a little bit of rice but it was mainly fruit, vege and various protein sources.  

25/04/2014 at 14:23

A diet with loads of meat and veg and no cake sounds a bit rubbish to me.

25/04/2014 at 14:32

12/07/2014 at 12:58
booktrunk wrote (see)

What has natural got to do with it? Do you all wear leather shoes scrapped from skins of dead animals, with no plastic or rubber in their construction at all and how about your clothes, natural has nothing to do with it. 

Sorry! But until you answer yes to all of those then there is no natural argument, held together by natural glue, and not of course a machine in site for any of the construction.  



Nature has everything to do with it booktrunk, it takes millions of years for humans to adapt to food change - we have not adapted to our over-indulgence of carbs. The idea behind paleo diets is to return to the default diet of our ancestors which is very low carb. For me this is a very good "natural" argument and is scientific if you sample the research

Short Version:

Carbs = unessential nutrient

Protein = essential nutrient

Fat = essential nutrient

Longer Version

If the Endurance theory is true (the lieberman theory that we changed to a protein diet when we came out of the trees) THAT took aeons of of evolution, we can't expect the human body to suddenly adapt to eating sugar by the lorry load as with the modern processed food diet, and (in many cases) the runners diet

. If you stuff your body full of sugar (rice, pasta, potaoes) when you run your body will use the easiest source of fuel (carbs/sugar) but the prefered source of fuel for a runner is FAT - fact not fiction. We have inadvertently trained our bodies to run on carbs which it doesn't actually need, remember their is no such thing as essential carb, it's a luxury.

Just  my opinion but this information is backed up with lots of evidence already talked about on here.


Give this a whirl booktrunk, might change your approach in years to come. Worth a listen if your a runner!

I had always been a CARB crucher but I'm starting to switch to lower carb currently. the evidence for high fat, high protein not only healthier than high carb low fat, but also good for us runners if the right strategy is used.

I live in hope

I'm not 100% converted on the idea of low carb because I haven't finished my experiment of one yet but things are looking good so far. The research my wife and I have been reading the last month or so has meant a re-thing on what we used to believe and a shift in our diets. Call it a fad if you wish...




Edited: 12/07/2014 at 13:09

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