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    On Low Carb / Keto Diets for Track Sprinters

    I was reminded of this because of a comment Quinn made in the creatine thread, recommending a Paleo/Keto calorie cycling diet. (Disclaimer, I didn't check out the link)

    There seems to be some controversy amongst the recommendations for sprinters regarding carbs. The Up!Up!Up! book/site says stick with steak, sprinters don't require carbs like our enduro friends, and that's certainly a recommendation I've seen elsewhere.

    However, the AIS nutrition recommendations, and a french review study about nutrition requirements for track and field sprint athletes both recommend pretty high amounts of carbohydrate intake (like 5g per kg of bodyweight). Both these resources comment that most athletes get enough protein just by virtue of the high volume of food they are consuming.

    I can't find the citations for the second paragraph right now, I'm running out the door and will post in a few hours. But I'm curious of y'alls opinions, both anecdotally and in terms of research.

    Personally I think Keto probably works great for weightloss, but is not ideal in terms of performance for sprinters. (We do need those glycogen stores too, even though we won't use them as quickly as enduros) However, I guess there are times where weightloss is more important than maximal performance, so these techniques could be useful. Personally I decided on an approach that cycles carb intake with volume of training. (So my two off/spin days are zero carb, and my gym/track double days have the recommended 5g per kg)

  2. #2
    Italian Stallion mcafiero's Avatar
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    Here's my personal opinion. If you are heavy... it will do you some good to get lighter, even if it means a loss in power. This is true, the heavier you are (fat heavy). There are old school gym rats who will tell you that losing fat and gaining muscle is impossible. Well the Keto diet proves this wrong IF your body fat percentage is high (not if you're at 12% or lower). So if you are above 12% body fat, you can burn it and gain muscle at the same time by following a Keto or very strict carb-cycling diet. But once you hit that 12% bfp in my opinion, that's when you have to weigh your options: Do you want to lose a little muscle, too? You'll start burning 75% fat and 25% muscle in your weight loss efforts using Keto or carb cycling.

    Currently I'm following a pretty strict diet of pretty much a lot of meat (about 180g per day), a lot of veggies and the only carbs I consume is right before strength training (and right after). And by carbs I mean 1 banana. That's it. I'm still losing weight. Lost 20 lbs so far since October. I hope to lose 10 more. Once that happens (hopefully by Feb 1), my diet changes and I'll consume more calories, more carbs immediately before my workouts and for the two meals following my workouts. And I'll be at a 200 calorie surplus.

    Shoot to lose no more than 2lbs per week. If you are already lean, eat more carbs and still lots of protein.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Quinn8it's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcafiero View Post
    Currently I'm following a pretty strict diet of pretty much a lot of meat (about 180g per day), a lot of veggies and the only carbs I consume is right before strength training (and right after). And by carbs I mean 1 banana. That's it. I'm still losing weight. Lost 20 lbs so far since October. I hope to lose 10 more. Once that happens (hopefully by Feb 1), my diet changes and I'll consume more calories, more carbs immediately before my workouts and for the two meals following my workouts. And I'll be at a 200 calorie surplus.
    I think thats a pretty solid nutritional plan-
    I follow similar Carb Targeting, and almost identical for weight days- (ie: 25g carbs pre workout and 10g carbs post via protein shake)
    on longer bike days i am playing around with how much carb i need.. looks like 25-40g per hour..

    one thing to note about bananas (which i have always used for pre/post carbs) i've read some stuff recently that says Glucose is much better at topping off glycogen stores in muscles than Fructose, which apparently focuses more on liver glycogen.. i've switched to a maltodextrin based drink for pre/during workout carbs..

    Quote Originally Posted by amybikes
    (So my two off/spin days are zero carb, and my gym/track double days have the recommended 5g per kg)
    That is massive compared to what i am doing! that would put me at 450g of carbs! thats more than a weeks worth of carbs for me right now in weight loss mode..


    i dont think Keto is Sustainable for athletes- its more just a way to get your weight in check. one big benefit that comes from doing a super strict keto run is that you really figure out just how much less carbs you can function on.. i found i need way less that i thought i did..

    to maintain Ketosis and fat loss during heavy training- i used a hybrid of Cyclical Keto and Targeted Keto.. it works for me..

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    Quote Originally Posted by amybikes View Post

    However, the AIS nutrition recommendations, and a french review study about nutrition requirements for track and field sprint athletes both recommend pretty high amounts of carbohydrate intake (like 5g per kg of bodyweight). Both these resources comment that most athletes get enough protein just by virtue of the high volume of food they are consuming.
    http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrit...orts/sprinting

    http://portalantigo.cefid.udesc.br/l...e-sprinter.pdf

    Here are the two things I was referring to. Don't know why I thought the second one was french, looks like the lead author is from the UK.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Quinn8it's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcafiero View Post
    Do you want to lose a little muscle, too? You'll start burning 75% fat and 25% muscle in your weight loss efforts using Keto or carb cycling.
    where are you getting that from?
    everything i've read about Keto seams to point towards it sparing muscle. I thought that was why body builders use it to cut-weight??

  6. #6
    Senior Member Quinn8it's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amybikes View Post
    http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrit...orts/sprinting

    http://portalantigo.cefid.udesc.br/l...e-sprinter.pdf

    Here are the two things I was referring to. Don't know why I thought the second one was french, looks like the lead author is from the UK.
    Pretty old school nutritionally speaking... low fat high carb..
    i can tell you that this does not work for me..
    This is best achieved by including a wide variety of nutrient-dense carbohydrate sources such as bread, pasta, rice, cereal, fruit, starchy vegetables and sweetened dairy products

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quinn8it View Post

    That is massive compared to what i am doing! that would put me at 450g of carbs! thats more than a weeks worth of carbs for me right now in weight loss mode..
    That's what I thought too! And I don't think I actually hit that much, but after a bout of research earlier this year, I started thinking I was probably habitually training with not adequite carb intake. It seems like a MASSIVE amount, (and actually, if you take 5g/kg of carbs, and 1.5g/kg protein, it's too many calories for me to eat on any day other than a REALLY heavy training day).

    I'm trying to find good studies, this (http://cardinalscholar.bsu.edu/handle/handle/187119) one showed 'significant' decreased maximal power after a six week keto diet. I've read the same conclusion elsewhere. I'm not at school, nor do I have access to our VPN right now, so I can't read the whole article to know how significant the 'significance' was.

    But basically, I think ketosis is really not ideal for sprint athletes (there's more of an argument for long distance enduros), however losing weight is a total b*tch and (as I've recently been reminded) can provide huge performance gains. So I guess if keto diets are the way that works for you, then it might be worth it.
    Another point is that anything that causes weight loss isn't *ideal* for performance, so yah.

    I realize that I'm just presenting an argument with myself here. Haha. Thanks for any thoughts!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Quinn8it's Avatar
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    The study in the link you posted was based on performance data at the end of a 6week SKD (strict keto diet)... i recently did 10 days of SKD and i can confirm to you that it will pretty much destroy your ability to do anything athletic..

    Most of the weightlifters who are on Keto diets are doing CKD (cyclical keto diet) a 10-14 day SKD followed by weekly Carb-Ups that last 36hrs..

    most of the studies involving endurance athletes using Keto were using TKD (targeted keto diet). A normal SKD is maintained- with the addition of carbs 30min pre workout / during long workouts/ and post..

    Since i feel track sprinting is i basically a combination of the two- i do my own little hybrid.. I add low doses of carbs pre/during/post workout and do a shortened carb-up.. mine is only 4hours..

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    Italian Stallion mcafiero's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quinn8it View Post
    where are you getting that from?
    everything i've read about Keto seams to point towards it sparing muscle. I thought that was why body builders use it to cut-weight??
    You are correct until you hit a certain body fat percentage. Even the Keto diet won't spare muscle loss after you dip below 12 or 13% body fat.
    "Go out hard. When it hurts... speed up"
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Quinn8it's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcafiero View Post
    You are correct until you hit a certain body fat percentage. Even the Keto diet won't spare muscle loss after you dip below 12 or 13% body fat.
    Don't tell this guy!

    one of the strongest raw powerlifters of all time- big advocate of variations on the keto diet- and always under 10% BF..

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    Senior Member VanceMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amybikes View Post
    But basically, I think ketosis is really not ideal for sprint athletes (there's more of an argument for long distance enduros),
    That is the bottom line. I think anyone needing anything close to explosive bursts of speed or power will benefit from carbs in the ways mentioned in this thread. There is some promising data for the true Ultra crowd (steady state forever), but even track enduros are nowhere near that category.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quinn8it View Post
    i've switched to a maltodextrin based drink for pre/during workout carbs..
    Maltodextrin is fantastic. I switched to it when I was doing long road miles because it was the most efficient (read: cheapest) fuel on 4-8 hour rides, with an extremely high glycemic index. I use a lot less now that I don't do those crazy rides ("Volume is a speed killer." Ha), but it's a great tool to have on the shelf.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quinn8it View Post
    Don't tell this guy!
    Yeah, though I'm not sure his program makes him a relevant data point for most of us.

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    Senior Member Velocirapture's Avatar
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    Has anyone here who is trying to lose weight, tried to keep a balance of the old 3rd of a plate complex carbs, 3rd of a plate protein, 3rd of a plate veggies, but just with smaller portions? I know we live in a world of Magic Potions (and magic diets etc), but gradual weight-loss from a sustainable life-style change is far more long-lasting than any rapidly lost weight, and especially from a diet strategy that you'll go off of eventually. When I left home, I managed to put on 25% of my starting body weight, in three months. it took me another five years to get my eating right so that it came off again. I tried a lot of diets. i needed to eat less refined stuff, and less. Cut out the high GI food (except during or immediately after exercise), the colas, cookies, white breads, pizzas and hamburgers, and replace it with steamed veggies, sweet potatoes, steaks etc. and eat small meals, often. And when you get that right, as an athlete, you certainly dont need to starve yourself. I eat a lot - people comment on it. and ive maintained my current weight for several years.
    I wont go into the risks of refined food here, as thats a whole new thread, but to keep this one thread relevant; a couple of studies have been done on endurance athletes (maybe not totally relevant, but still relevant) and fat-loading vs carbo-loading. Although they found that they could successfully get the body to burn more fat than glycogen for fuel, the same power output had a harder perception of effort, than when the athlete's energy systems were tapping more into sugar stores. It was determined not to be beneficial, because although there is more energy in fat, and more fat stores in the body, who wants to feel lousy?

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    Quote Originally Posted by amybikes View Post
    The Up!Up!Up! book/site says stick with steak, sprinters don't require carbs like our enduro friends
    I personally know the author and he is a fan of the Paleo diet. He reads up on a lot but isn't a nutritionist...
    http://climbinglama.blogspot.com.au

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    Italian Stallion mcafiero's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quinn8it View Post
    Don't tell this guy!

    one of the strongest raw powerlifters of all time- big advocate of variations on the keto diet- and always under 10% BF..
    Right, but he's probably not trying to lose fat anymore and is not putting himself into a caloric deficit. I have been speaking on the Keto diet in terms of leaning out. He is already lean, so he is not on the Keto diet for that reason. If you're trying to lean out, Im an advocate of Keto+caloric deficit which allows you to burn fat and keep power and strength to a certain point of bf%. If you're lean, I'd be an advocate for Keto+slight caloric surplus.

    All that said, there are a lot of people who will argue that no matter what, you'll always lose muscle whenever you put yourself on a caloric deficit, no matter what diet you choose. I don't agree with that 100%. I think keto and carb cycling and paleo done smart will allow you to lean up to a certain extent without muscle loss.

    In my own experience, I'm at about 12% body fat right now and still losing weight and so far my squat and DL has not gone down, in fact yesterday I felt strong, like I could have gone heavier than usual.
    Last edited by mcafiero; 12-20-13 at 09:25 AM.
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    Senior Member Quinn8it's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalai View Post
    I personally know the author and he is a fan of the Paleo diet. He reads up on a lot but isn't a nutritionist...
    This IS the sprinter Diet IMHO... Cycling in Ketosis and Calorie modulation on top of Paleo is just how you drop weight when you need to...

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    Ok, don't knock it before you try it, right guys?

    I've been curious about this, and I've now seen enough studies going in both directions to convince me it's personal. I want to try! It's kinda close to what I was thinking of moving to (with the cycling of calories, etc.), so why not. My attempt at 'eat more rice' landed me 4 lbs lighter over the last 2 mos, but considering I gained 10 lbs when I started.... Not great.

    I'm co-opting my own thread into a support group. What do you guys say? Carleton, you said you were trying Keto again, and Quinn just finished the two week lead in phase, yah?

    I'm doing the version with carbs before and after working out, and my goal is to drop 20 lbs... Coincidentally I've already done about a week of pretty low carb (<80g) - so we'll call that an adjustment week.... you know, gradually leading in. Any tips from the experienced of the group?

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    Senior Member Impreza_aL's Avatar
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    so my steady diet of fast food isn't good for racing?

    i might be down for a weight challenge.
    fried chicken and waffles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Impreza_aL View Post
    so my steady diet of fast food isn't good for racing?

    i might be down for a weight challenge.
    Me too, but how do we structure it, considering that everyone probably has a different amount to lose? I'd say percent change in body fat?

    Haha we could make a little calculator very similar to the flying 200 one that spits out goals. Then first person to their goal?

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    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amybikes View Post
    Ok, don't knock it before you try it, right guys?

    I've been curious about this, and I've now seen enough studies going in both directions to convince me it's personal. I want to try! It's kinda close to what I was thinking of moving to (with the cycling of calories, etc.), so why not. My attempt at 'eat more rice' landed me 4 lbs lighter over the last 2 mos, but considering I gained 10 lbs when I started.... Not great.

    I'm co-opting my own thread into a support group. What do you guys say? Carleton, you said you were trying Keto again, and Quinn just finished the two week lead in phase, yah?

    I'm doing the version with carbs before and after working out, and my goal is to drop 20 lbs... Coincidentally I've already done about a week of pretty low carb (<80g) - so we'll call that an adjustment week.... you know, gradually leading in. Any tips from the experienced of the group?
    It's worth a shot.

    But, as you wrote, diet is such a personal thing. We all respond differently. So, it's hard to say what should work.

    I had a reading of "trace" amounts of ketones on my ketone test strip last night. So, it has started for me. We'll see how it goes from here...

  20. #20
    Senior Member Quinn8it's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    I had a reading of "trace" amounts of ketones on my ketone test strip last night. So, it has started for me. We'll see how it goes from here...
    Carleton- i suspect you and i have similar difficulties getting into Ketosis. For me the only way to turn the strips anything resembling dark purple is to really up my fat intake..
    Check out this Keto Percentage calculator:
    http://keto-calculator.ankerl.com

    Even if i am quite conservative with my entries i still get a daily fat requirement of 200g

    200g of fat is nearly a 1/2lb… that is the equivalent of an entire block of Kerry Gold butter- every day- day after day.. its a lot of fat and i suspect the "I'm eating lots of bacon and butter" diet doesn't get us close- maybe some days, but not week after week..
    Im trying to track down the study- but there is some solid data that says that when you put people on Atkins and tell them to eat "all the fat they want" they end up limiting themselves to quite low daily calorie intake.. we are not accustomed to eating that much fat..

    I have found that the only way for me to stay in ketosis (and keep the sticks purple) is to consume well over 100g of Medium Chain Triglyceride fats on their own throughout the day.. so spoons of Virgin Coconut Oil and shots of Olive oil.. thats in addition to fatty meats, bacon and avocados..

    The counter to this whole thing is- I'm not totally convinced being in Ketosis is even necessary.. I am playing around with it to try to lose a big chunk of bodyweight fast, so i can "Make Weight" at a powerlifting meet (think Vision Quest)- but if i was looking for a more gradual weight loss id just do my normal Non calorie restricted Paleo..

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    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quinn8it View Post
    Carleton- i suspect you and i have similar difficulties getting into Ketosis. For me the only way to turn the strips anything resembling dark purple is to really up my fat intake..
    Check out this Keto Percentage calculator:
    http://keto-calculator.ankerl.com

    Even if i am quite conservative with my entries i still get a daily fat requirement of 200g

    200g of fat is nearly a 1/2lb… that is the equivalent of an entire block of Kerry Gold butter- every day- day after day.. its a lot of fat and i suspect the "I'm eating lots of bacon and butter" diet doesn't get us close- maybe some days, but not week after week..
    Im trying to track down the study- but there is some solid data that says that when you put people on Atkins and tell them to eat "all the fat they want" they end up limiting themselves to quite low daily calorie intake.. we are not accustomed to eating that much fat..

    I have found that the only way for me to stay in ketosis (and keep the sticks purple) is to consume well over 100g of Medium Chain Triglyceride fats on their own throughout the day.. so spoons of Virgin Coconut Oil and shots of Olive oil.. thats in addition to fatty meats, bacon and avocados..

    The counter to this whole thing is- I'm not totally convinced being in Ketosis is even necessary.. I am playing around with it to try to lose a big chunk of bodyweight fast, so i can "Make Weight" at a powerlifting meet (think Vision Quest)- but if i was looking for a more gradual weight loss id just do my normal Non calorie restricted Paleo..
    I think you are on to something with me not eating as much fat as I think I do. Actually my GF mentioned it to me. She eats more fat than I do. I got my "trace" reading after eating lots of heavy whipping cream.

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    Well I put the percentages from that Keto calculator into MFP, and had my first day under 30g of carbs today. Which, considering I had a 3 hour ride, was challenging.

    Seems like the main advantage to actually being in ketosis (aside from the hypothesis that it might actually raise your RMR), is the increased feeling of satiety on a low calorie diet. Seeing as before this adventure I was already planning on spending a month or two on a pretty reduced calorie diet, (which will mess with my sprinting anyway), I figure it's worth trying. I HATE being hungry.

    Taking a baseline weight tomorrow. A month (or so) straight keto (experiment), then moving into the carb/calorie cycling.

    This is awesome, cause I get to eat the things I crave. Like, for example, ribs. Mmmm Dinner.

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    Senior Member Quinn8it's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amybikes View Post
    considering I had a 3 hour ride, was challenging.
    .
    if you do a strict 14 day keto run- anything much above LSD rides are pretty tough.. its just a hard 2 weeks and you will suffer through your training.. it will get a lot better once you do a cheat meal and start targeting carbs at workouts..
    what fats were you eating for fuel?

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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    I think you are on to something with me not eating as much fat as I think I do. Actually my GF mentioned it to me. She eats more fat than I do. I got my "trace" reading after eating lots of heavy whipping cream.
    Carleton, and others, have you checked out this site:
    http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/k...d-state-part-i
    This guy does a ton of self experimentation, and is really well educated and researched in terms of nutrition and ketosis. An interesting thing he mentioned is that keto and other low carb diets are actually more beneficially for individuals who start out with insulin dependence, statistically. (There was a really good study done comparing low fat, and low carb diets, and basically they found that the responses of individuals to the diets were pretty well correlated with beginning insulin resistance, and other markers. It's far from conclusive, and Stanford is currently doing a 3 year clinical trial to shed more light on this. [aside: I just signed up to take that PI's nutrition class next quarter! Psyched])
    Anyway, doesn't sound like insulin resistance would make keto more challenging. One thing, is you probably eat much more protein than your GF? It seems like to get into Keto, (efficiently/quickly) you have to kind of limit your protein intake too. Excess protein can be converted to glycogen in the liver, which reduces the need for ketone bodies. According the guy I linked to above, the higher your caloric need, the higher percentage of fat you need. I'm assuming you need more calories than your tiny girlfriend, so actually eating the same macros as her (aka the same foods just larger portions) wouldn't work. So maybe it's not that strange?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quinn8it View Post
    if you do a strict 14 day keto run- anything much above LSD rides are pretty tough.. its just a hard 2 weeks and you will suffer through your training.. it will get a lot better once you do a cheat meal and start targeting carbs at workouts..
    what fats were you eating for fuel?
    So I didn't actually eat anything on that ride (other than a protein shake) -- I don't usually for a 2-3 hour ride, and it kind of escaped me that might be more painful than usual. I enjoyed some eggs, creamed coconut, and peanut butter when I got home. (Suprised at the carb content of PB. The creamed coconut is great -- 3g of carbs, 10g of fat). But basically, I got through the day by virtue of passing out for a few hours in the middle of the day.

    And trust me, I understand about training going to ****. Last time I tried something like this, I timed a 14.7 flying 200 at the end of the week. Yah, you read that right. 14.7, that's literally worse than the first flying 200 I ever did, on the rental bike with an 81 inch gear when I didn't know how to get out of the saddle. The worst part? It felt fast/hard. Lolz.

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