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Keto for the Endurance Athlete

Published: May 2, 2019

Keto for the Endurance Athlete

As an endurance athlete, you’re always looking for that extra edge to perform a little bit better. Now you’ve probably found that edge in everyday life when it comes down to utilizing the ketogenic lifestyle, but today I want to talk about how you can get more out of your endurance sports but leveraging what you love most about ketosis. I’m Thomas DeLauer with Keto-Mojo, and let’s get into endurance and keto science.

Now you’re probably already in ketosis and you probably already know a lot of the benefits, but I’m going to start this video off by talking about a study that was published in the Journal of Metabolism that looks at how ketosis effects those that are endurance athletes. What was published in the Journal of Metabolism showed that when you are on a keto diet you burn approximately 2.3 times more fat for energy than those that are not on a keto diet. Now, we’re not talking about burning fat from a cosmetic perspective, we’re talking about burning fat as an energy source. When you are doing any kind of endurance activity, you are mostly using fat simply because it’s a process known as beta oxidation, where your body takes fat and combines it with the oxygen that you breathe at a relatively slow rate to create energy. When we look at the process of being in ketosis and endurance activities, it’s easy to see that we have an abundance of fuel. In fact, practically a never-ending source to fuel our endurance activities. This study also found that those on a keto diet ended up recruiting 88% of their energy from fat verses those that were on a carbohydrate filled diet ending up recruiting 56% of their energy from fat during activities. The interesting thing is, even those that are not on the keto diet still utilize quite a bit of fat during endurance activities, and that’s simply because while you are doing any kind of endurance activity your body is using aerobic metabolism which utilizes fat. But if you’re on a keto diet, your maximizing the true fuel source a lot more.

If you’re a traditional athlete that’s just consuming regular glucose rich foods, if you are going on any kind of run or endurance sport or endurance activity, you would have to constantly replenish your glucose levels. That’s why you see marathoners when they’re going on runs, they have to utilize those goo packs, those little squeeze packs to get extra glucose, or they have to sip on some Gatorade to get some sugar. The cool thing is, on a keto diet, you don’t have to do that because you have this never-ending source of fuel. As long as you have some body fat on you or you have sufficient calories that have come in beforehand, you have the ability to create energy. But you also have a unique mechanism within the body that allows you to be what I call dual fueled. When you are dual fueled, it means that you can not only utilize that fat as a fuel source, but when necessary, you can still tap into your glucose reserves and have a little bit of extra power, whereas someone who’s not in ketosis has to pick one or the other, they can’t really use both.

So really in a prime spot are those that are on a ketogenic lifestyle to get the most out of long duration endurance activities. What should you do when it comes down to testing and understanding your body with endurance sports? Well, if you’re on a ketogenic diet then you have to find when you’re at peak levels of ketones and that’s probably when you’ll perform your best, whereas with other activities that are not endurance related that doesn’t matter quite so much. But the interesting thing is, because you can still recruit glucose, you can still use carbohydrates when your body needs it. You may find that after your endurance workout, your ketone levels are a little bit lower and your glucose levels are a little bit higher. That’s what’s unique about Keto-Mojo is you can test both your glucose and your ketones and get a good idea of where you are.

One of the things that I wanted to make very clear in this video is that you should not be alarmed if your ketone levels drop and your glucose levels elevate after a workout. A lot of times people think that if they go for a long run, that their ketone levels are going to go through the roof because they’re burning extra fuel and it just means that they’re going to have more ketones. Not necessarily the case because, again, being that we can be dual fueled, we have this unique ability to still utilize carbohydrates without kicking us out of ketosis. One of the things that I recommend is testing throughout the day to find when your ketones are highest, and this should be the time that you try to go on your run, the time that you try to focus on your endurance training. What this is going to do is allow you to build the stamina that you need to for your race. Because we can’t always be the ones that are in charge of when we need to run or when we need to do endurance activities. Sometimes there’s a race that’s set at a specific time, etc. But if you can learn the best time to train by maximizing your usage of the Keto-Mojo Meter, then you can put yourself in a prime spot to get the most out of your training.

Let’s take a look again at aerobic metabolism and anaerobic metabolism. Someone that’s an endurance athlete that’s not on a ketogenic diet will tap into their glucose reserves quite frequently. For example, they’re using 50% fat and 50% glucose, which means the second that their heart rate has to elevate a tiny bit, they’re recruiting glucose. They’re using a lot more carbohydrates. But someone that is keto adapted or someone that’s in ketosis only has to tap into that glucose when they desperately need it. A good example is you’re going for a long run, you’re on a flat straightaway, you’re feeling good, you’re in the ketogenic groove. But then out of nowhere you hit a hill and that hill gets your heart rate skyrocketing. What’s going to happen? At that point, and only that time, is your body going to take glucose from your muscle or from your liver and turn it into energy. The second that you’re caught up and you’re at the top of the hill, that system’s shutting off and your back to ketones where you have an abundance of fuel and you can last a lot longer. So that being said, the more intense the workout, the less your ketone levels will be and the higher your glucose levels will be when you test, that’s something that you have to pay attention to. If you go out for a long easy run, you’ll find that your glucose levels probably didn’t change, and your ketone levels might even be a little bit higher. But if you go and do a high intensity interval training workout, don’t be alarmed if your ketone levels are lower and your glucose levels are higher. It’s simply an indicator of how much glucose you had to recruit in that given day.

Now the other thing that we have to remember is we do have a unique ability to still store carbohydrates. People have this thought that when they’re in ketosis, there’s no carbohydrates in the equation at all. The simple fact is, we absolutely still have carbohydrates and we don’t want to completely banish them from our bodies because our body uses them in a proper, structured way. For example, we have to remember that glycerol is the backbone of triglycerides, fats that we consume, and glycerol can actually be turned into muscle glycogen. Believe it or not, the fats that you consume can still be broken down and stored as muscle glycogen, which is the stored form of carbohydrates that are going to give you the energy when you hit those hills.

How do you get the most out of your training when it comes down to being a ketogenic athlete? Well, for one, you want to eat the foods that are going to create more ketones in the body about 90 minutes to 120 minutes prior to your activity. This way you have more ketones flowing through the body. The other thing you want to do is like I mentioned before, you want to find the natural point in the day where your ketones are the highest. Lastly, you want to make sure that you’re consistently measuring. You have to know that your body changes and sometimes you’re going to become a little bit more of an anaerobic machine than an aerobic machine. If you understand when your body is naturally wanting to gravitate to these different cycles by testing, you can get the most out of your training and cater your training slightly different. So as always, I want to make sure that you’re leaving the guess work out of the equation and leaving the measuring to the meter. I’m Thomas DeLauer and I’ll see you in the next Keto-Mojo video.

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