Five Compelling Reasons for Athletes to Try the Ketogenic Diet
- Sharper Mental Acuity
- Increased Lean Muscle Mass
- More Energy
- Improved Overall Health
- Added Convenience
The ketogenic diet has captivated the attention of health-conscious people all over the world in the past few years because it offers the promise of healthy, sustainable weight loss and improved athletic performance. Athletes can use this diet in combination with regular endurance training to become lean and muscular for a competition. The number of calories consumed under the ketogenic diet plan is the same as the number consumed under a typical diet plan with carbohydrates.
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1. Sharper Mental Acuity
Many of the toxins in refined carbohydrates are eliminated when you switch to a ketogenic diet. Most people who completely stop eating carbohydrates experience greater alertness and sharper focus as a result of the lack of toxins in their diet. After the first few days of your new diet, when your body has gotten used to deriving energy from fat, you may notice sharper mental acuity, among other benefits of eliminating carbohydrates. Other positive side effects may include improved sleep and clearer skin.
2. Increased Lean Muscle Mass
One of the most important considerations for athletes is the amount of lean muscle mass they’re able to build and maintain. One major advantage of a ketogenic diet is that it provides a high level of complete protein, so muscle loss typically won’t be an issue. Athletes need to consume more protein than other people, especially when training for a competition. After several hours of physical exertion, glucose in the blood is completely depleted and muscle mass is broken down for energy, sometimes from vital organs such as the heart or kidneys. The ketogenic diet eliminates this risk by training the body to burn fat instead of glucose.
3. More Energy
The reason the ketogenic diet works so well for weight loss and endurance sports is that it forces the body to use dietary and stored fat for energy. Under normal conditions, blood glucose is used for energy, so the amount of fuel available for exercise is limited by the amount of lean tissue available to store glucose. Blood glucose is a product of carbohydrates in the diet. When all of the body’s glucose stores have been depleted, extreme fatigue can make it impossible to continue working at the same level of intensity. Fat is a much more abundant and available source of energy, so fatigue is less likely to occur under a ketogenic diet.
4. Improved Overall Health
While the ketogenic diet doesn’t cause hunger, making the switch to a no-carb diet can cause temporary discomfort as the body and mind get used to burning fat for fuel instead of blood glucose. After the first few days, dieters have several benefits to look forward to. One of those benefits is improved overall health. In some cases, people switching to a zero-carb diet sleep better, experience an improvement in mood and suffer fewer aches and pains.
5. Added Convenience
Eliminating carbs from the diet may sound like a burden, but most people find the opposite case to be true. Virtually all calories in a ketogenic diet come from fat and protein sources, so meat, dairy, vegetables, and some fruits are all allowed. According to Train Right, meals should consist of whole, single-ingredient foods such as avocado, egg, steak, yogurt, nuts, cheese, and even some treats like 90% dark chocolate, so hunger and indecision shouldn’t be a problem.
As people become more health-conscious and knowledgeable about their dietary choices, they often choose to eliminate carbohydrates from their diets altogether. Athletes are naturally at the forefront of this dietary transition. The benefits of the ketogenic diet are attractive to many athletes who need to draw from deep energy reserves over a long period of time.