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

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

11 messages
20/11/2012 at 11:33

I'm interested to find out whether any runners out there - particularly marathon or ultra runners have experienced improved performance and lower race times after adopting a low carb, high protein or Paleo diet? South Africa's Professor Tim Noakes is a great advocate of this, not just for running but for general health benefits - particularly for overweight or 'pre-diabetic' people.  It's a hot topic at the moment and we are all looking for that edge!

20/11/2012 at 12:05

There is nothing in this statement that suggests he runs quicker times from not eating carbs which is what most of us probably aspire to.

20/11/2012 at 12:35
There was some interesting chat around this on the Talk Ultra podcast a while ago might be worth listening to that.
20/11/2012 at 13:34

Yes, that was Professor Tim Noakes. There are many runners out there who have adopted this new eating regime and who are running better and faster - including 9 times Comrades champion Bruce Fordyce ...

seren nos    pirate
20/11/2012 at 13:39

personallyI would want to see how the studies show a  long term effect on the me thats more important than a short term gain of a few seconds speed

20/11/2012 at 13:44

I would imagine that its weight loss in general where the benefits come from - its much harder to eat excessive calories with low carb diets as you feel full earlier with protein...I doubt there is any benefit to the diet in and of itself other than the weight loss consequence.

Also, I dont think there are any issues with eating less carbs and training hard, but I wouldnt recommend dropping them off quickly as it tkes time for the body to adapt to new fuel sources.

However, personally both for cost and taste I prefer to just eat less and run more if I am trying to shift a few lbs to get that edge before race day!


20/11/2012 at 13:52

I've been following this with interest too, more of what Noakes has been talking about is linked to insulin/diabetes, and the running aspect has been something discussed alongside. What makes sense to me is that your body should be encouraged to burn your biggest energy store, fat, on long distance events. For me personally I haven't been brave enough to race a marathon yet without carb loading even though I am trying lower carb/no sugar. I don't fancy the idea of nuts and cheese whilst running either as opposed to the trusty gels.

20/11/2012 at 13:56

I dont eat on the run, I know Bruce Fordyce claims he doesnt eat during comrades (because he said as much when I met him at a talk once) dont need to be on a low carb diet to train your body to burn fat though.

You just need to run on an empty stomach, especially long runs and refuel normally afterwards.

20/11/2012 at 14:01

seren nos - It's not just about weight loss as many people with auto immune diseases such as fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis have seen benefits. Believe it or not, stuides have shown cholesterol levels and blood pressure to come down as a result, even though the regime recommends fat as a fuel source rather than carbs.

KateF - Yes, the fat burning thing does make complete sense but like you, I am retiscent to give up my gels. I have tried date-based fruit bars on long runs and they seem to have quite a good effect.

Curly 45 - I agree that anyone considering this should do it gradually. My diet for example is 'healthy' but very much carb based and I haven't yet tried to eliminate sugar as I think it would be incredibly difficult!

seren nos    pirate
20/11/2012 at 14:35

Karen G.......I am thinking of the long term efects on the body from cutting out one of our major food sources..........

I think that a lot of those who benefited in the trials would probably of benefited similary form a healthy all round eating regime where they ahve eaten a balanced diet than the unhealthy one they were on before................

i could give up the gels at any time because i rarely ever have more than 1 in a race......

20/11/2012 at 15:23

seren nos - according to ProfTimNoakes and the Paleo supporters our guts are not designed digest or absorb most grains hence why so many people have digestive and inflammatory problems from carb based foods. Plus you can still get carbs from green vegetables and fruit, you don't need bread, rice, pasta etc - apparently.

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