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Will A Keto Diet Help Me Run Faster?

One of the current buzzwords to hit the diet world seems to be keto. With its claims of being an effective way to lose weight, we investigate what following such a diet will mean for your running. 

First up, what is the keto diet?

Ketogenic or keto for short is a low-carb diet. You consume 70-80% of your calories from fat,15-25% from protein and only 5% from carbs (usually 20-50 grams). This is not a new diet but has been around for many years as a diet for sufferers of epilepsy. But it is only recently that it has become more of a mainstream way of eating.

Typical foods you can eat on the keto diet

Fish & shellfish; vegetables (except starchy ones like potatoes, yams and beets); cheese; avocados; meat and poultry; eggs; coconut oil; greek yoghurt and cottage cheese; olive oil, nuts and seeds; berries; noodles and dark chocolate. 

This may seem like a wide list however there are some foods we all love which are forbidden on the keto diet – bread, pasta, fruit (except berries) and alcohol. Other foods you’re not allowed include bean and pulses; root vegetables; low fat dairy and juice. Also 20-50 grams of carbs per day is not much, that's why most people find it hard to follow the keto diet for any length of time.

Will A Keto Diet Help Me Run Faster?Ketogenic or keto for short is a low-carb diet. You consume 70-80% of your calories from fat,15-25% from protein and only 5% from carbs.

How it works

The idea with the keto diet is that – when your body no longer has access to fuel from carbs - your body goes into a state called ketosis. This means that your body looks for the next best fuel source: fat. And it uses the available fatty acids to produce a compound called ketones, which is why people who are in keteosis and eating more fat, will start to burn more fat. 

Will it help me get faster?

There have been a handful of studies, admittedly with small numbers of participants. However, they’ve all reached the same conclusion. And that is that harder effort needs carbohydrates. Runners on a keto diet actually experienced lower energy, reduced running speed and a difficulty in undertaking high-intensity exercise. 

Those who may benefit are ultra distance runners. Once you’ve run 30+ miles your body needs to start tapping into fat stores. So if you’ve done any sort of fat-adapted training, your body can adjust better to this. 

So unless you’re an endurance runner, think twice about following the keto diet.

Keto versus Atkins

You may also be wondering what is the difference between the Atkins and keto diet. While they are are both low-carb diets that may help you lose weight they are different. The main difference is that you gradually increase your carbohydrate intake on the Atkins diet. With the keto diet carbohydrate intake remains very low, allowing your body to stay in ketosis and burn ketones for energy.  

Keto versus Paleo

And the difference between the keto diet and a paleo diet is that the keto diet requires a precise weighting of fat, carbs and protein. The paleo diet is about the food choices. You eliminate some of the same foods as keto (eg. dairy, grains, sugar, alcohol and processed foods) but balance the nutrients any way you want. 

So the conclusion for most runners is that you’re better sticking to a healthy and balanced diet rather than switching to keto – unless you specialise in ultra-distance.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our blog about the keto diet. Please let us know your views by emailing claire@iffleyroad.com

Please note that Claire is not a nutritionist so these tips are based on tried-and-tested methods and may not work for everyone.