Fat-adapted Athlete: Is the ketogenic diet the future of Sports Nutrition?

Endurance champions of the future will possibly be full keto or at least cyclic keto to gain a performance and recovery boost
— Mark Sisson

Whether you are new to the ketogenic diet or just starting out, I'm sure you've heard of the low-carb high fat movement taking place. Banting, keto, LCHF, whatever you call it...they all follow the same premise -- eat little to no carbs, consume more fat and moderate protein.

The following post is adapted from Mark Sisson's blog, Mark's Daily Apple -- if there is one blog you should be reading on health and fitness, it's this one.

Mark introduces Sami Inkiden's amazing story from a carb-dependent athlete to a full keto inspiration -- ah, I love the power of great stories.

Let me introduce Mark's bit first...

Yup. thats Mark at 64 years young.

Yup. thats Mark at 64 years young.

Robb Wolf told Joe Rogan on his podcast: keto was “likely the default human metabolic state” over the past 2.5 million years of human evolution.

I've listened to this episode on Joe Rogan's podcast and it's epic...do it. Now. Wait...not now. When you've finished reading.

When our ancestors were starving, they needed to keep working hard, and concentrating hard, to find food!

The key word here is concentration. When I am in a fasted state or have ketones in my blood, my brain feels like it's on fire -- in a good way. I can concentrate with ease, I get less distracted and feel so energetic. It literally feels like you've taken drugs if you're not used to ketones.

You can expect not only the efficient reduction of excess body fat, but a profound anti-inflammatory effect that can correct assorted autoimmune and inflammatory conditions; improved cognitive function and protection against the disturbingly prevalent conditions of cognitive decline (that are being increasingly connected to high carb, nutrient deficient diets); and assorted anti-aging benefits such as enhanced autophagy (the natural cellular detoxification process) and apoptosis (the programmed death of dysfunctional/pre-cancerous cells).

So you get reduced body fat, improved performance and anti-cancer benefits? Could keto be synonymous with superman?

Keto has also been touted as potentially improving athletic performance for both endurance and strength/power efforts.

Subjectively, I can tell you I feel stronger than ever and I am lifting better than ever in the CrossFit box. I am experimenting with Paleogenic Ketogenic -- fancy name for carnivore diet -- however, the same principles largely apply.

...by making athletes virtually bonk-proof—able to perform for hours on end with a dramatically reduced need for carbohydrates as a fuel source.

Personally I can tell you that there is no worse feeling than "bonking." I always thought it was your body...I was dutifully wrong -- it's literally your brain starved of energy. Thats when your muscles start getting broken down and thats when you die...not literally but it feels like it.

If you think this only applies to endurance athletes, you need to think again. Luis Vallasenar is a powerlifter and bodybuilder of 16 years that has established a force of individuals defying the norms at KetoGains.com.

Luis is a living, breathing example that you do not have to destroy your health with massive overconsumption of carbs and protein to maintain a bodybuilder physique.
...fasting and ketogenic eating have been shown to have a remarkable protein-sparing effect. It makes evolutionary sense that your body would initiate assorted mechanisms to preserve lean muscle mass when you are starving. Unfortunately, in the carbohydrate dependency paradigm, your body routinely converts lean muscle tissue into glucose via gluconeogenesis to meet your energy needs, especially for the brain (only two percent of body weight, but consuming 20-25 percent of total calories!)— a ravenous consumer of glucose.

When you're are carbohydrate dependent, you are essentially telling your body again and again, every time you consume carbs, this is my preferred fuel source.

Say hi to Sami...

Sami moving his theoretical “time to bonk” value from 5.6 hours while carb dependent to 87 hours when fat adapted?!

Sami essentially adapted his body to primal living by getting into keto state. Imagine moving from needing an energy bar every 30min to running for hours on end with no bonk?

Even the most lean athlete has tens of thousands of fat calories on hand
Here are 3 of what I believe to be the most compelling reasons for an endurance athlete to make the switch from a high-carb to a high-fat nutrition plan:

1. You can become virtually bonk-proof

Even a very lean and small (~120lbs) athlete with low 7% body fat still carries about 30,000 calories of fat. Imagine being able to use that during a race!

But becoming a fat-adapted athlete takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. Just like training for an Ironman doesn’t happen in a week or two, neither does training your body to more efficiently burn fat.

2. You can recover faster

well-formulated ketogenic diet reduces inflammation levels.

3.  Your health may not be what it appears

The appearance of physical health and “fitness” can hide serious medical issues. Even if you are fit, strong, and lean, you may not be metabolically healthy.

It turns out you can’t exercise enough to outrun bad nutrition advice

The bottom line is that sustained nutritional ketosis has allowed me to:


1. Increase my endurance capacity by providing me access to a larger fuel tank

2. Reduce post-workout inflammation and thus recovery time, increasing valuable training time

3. Reverse my prediabetes and improve my metabolic health

I hope sharing these two insights with you shed some perspective on why I think the ketogenic diet is the future of, not only endurance sports, but even strongman and powerlifting.

I will say this: if you're an athlete and you're not at least experimenting with keto, you will fall behind.

Even if you are just doing a cyclical keto diet -- it will allow you to use carbs in a more efficient and powerful manner.

Please go read the full blog post Mark wrote over at https://www.marksdailyapple.com/can-keto-actually-work-for-hard-training-endurance-or-powerstrength-athletes/

If you would like to know more about keto or even carnivore, please send me an email at coach@joshsnyman.com -- I can guide you to feeling your greatest, perform at the highest and live to the fullest -- that's the power of being fat-adapted.