Athletes who consume a low-carbohydrate diet burned twice the amount of fat than those who were on a high-carbohydrate diet, revealed a new study.
The study conducted by researchers at the Ohio State University analyzed the fat-burning rates among the athletes who were on a strict ketogenic diet, which comprises of low-carbohydrates and compared the rates with athletes who tend to consume high-carbohydrate diet before a workout.
‘Low-carbohydrate diet clearly allows athletes to force their body into burning much more fat than those who follow a high-carbohydrate diet.
Lowering carbohydrates in the body forces it to access fat stores, converting fats into ketones, which are used by cells as an alternative to converting glucose into energy.
Researchers analyzed 20 ultra-marathoners and ironman distance triathletes, half of whom consumed a traditional high-carbohydrate diet while the rest had observed a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet for an average of 20 months.
The athletes were tested for two days. During the first day, the athletes ran on a treadmill to determine their maximum oxygen consumption and peak fat-burning rates. On the second day, the athletes were asked to run for 180 minutes at 64 percent of their maximum oxygen capacity after consuming either a low- or high-carbohydrate nutrition shake.
The difference in fat-burning between the two groups of athletes was significant: The low-carb group had an 88 percent fat-burning rate, while the high-carb group was at just 56 percent. Although both groups were in peak physical condition, the low-carb diet clearly allowed the athletes to force their body into burning much more fat than the high-carb group.
"The goal was to characterize their metabolic response to a standardized exercise test. This is the first time we've had the opportunity to peek under the hood at what a long-term low-carb, fat-adapted athlete looks like," said Dr. Jeff Volek, a professor of human sciences at OSU.