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Ketogenic diet for endurance athletes



More and more athletes swear by them ketogenic diet. This type of diet is almost entirely devoid of carbohydrates; Instead, the macros fat and protein are preferred on the menu. The goal of the ketogenic diet is to reach the state of ketosis, in which the body obtains energy from fat. How does such an extreme form of nutrition fit in with endurance sports? Is it possible as an endurance athlete – a triathlete, marathon runner or cyclist – to live a ketogenic lifestyle? We reveal that in this article.

Topic overview

carbohydrates fed up and pasta party before the marathon – Endurance sports in combination with Low carb diet was unthinkable for a long time. If you want to perform for a long time, you have to have well-filled ones Store glycogen It was thought for a long time that we would be starting. But as is often the case with nutritional trends, they become more and more popular over time and are now also common among triathletes. Cyclists and marathoners, athletes who want to get the best out of themselves with the ketogenic diet. Unlike weight loss, there is often one here Improved performance in aerobic metabolism in focus.

What is the ketogenic diet anyway? The basics

How useful is a ketogenic diet for endurance athletes? To answer the question, you first have to know what exactly is a ‘ketogenic diet‘ is understood. With the ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are greatly reduced (around 10 to 50g/day), and instead more protein and fat are consumed. The goal is to bring the body into a state of ketosis, in which it draws energy from fat.

ketone bodies, which now serve as an energy source, can be used by the body in the same way as carbohydrates – both for sporting performance and for mental tasks. As the body learns through the ketogenic diet, Ketone bodies efficient as an energy source (the body can obtain up to four times more energy from ketone bodies than from glucose combustion), athletic performance can also benefit by changing the metabolism.

Benefits of the ketogenic diet

So radical the ketogenic diet For a world in which pasta, rice and potatoes are considered staple foods, this may sound at first, but this diet is so natural. After all, our ancestors in the Stone Age also had to hunt, gather and keep moving without constantly being able to fill up on starchy grains and the like.

Die Ketosis Seen in this way, it is a natural state that is said to have a variety of advantages. The ketogenic diet has these advantages:

  • reduced oxidative stress
  • Stabilization of blood sugar levels and insulin levels
  • lower formation of free radicals
  • less hunger and craving for sweets
  • improved brain performance
  • has an anti-inflammatory effect (especially in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatism, asthma, etc.)

With the right conditions, the combination of endurance sports and a ketogenic diet can significantly improve fat metabolism.

Endurance sports and a ketogenic diet – can that work well?

athlete must carbohydrates eat – this assumption was held for a long time. In fact, the classic diet for athletes also has its disadvantages. Anyone who constantly eats carbohydrates, fills up on pasta before a competition and later sets off on the course with oatmeal in their stomach and an energy gel in their hand is also dependent on foods containing carbohydrates. The Carbohydrate storage in the liver and muscles are limited, which is why you need to refuel after a certain period of sporting performance.

Disadvantages of a carbohydrate-containing diet for athletes

  • If you constantly eat carbohydrates, you have to have one Ups and downs in blood sugar levels accept.
  • Loss of performance in sports as a result of a carbohydrate deficiency
  • possible damage to the intestinal mucosa

Endurance sports and ketogenic diet: These are the advantages

One high-carbohydrate diet As it is still common among athletes in many places, it definitely has its disadvantages. At the same time, for the Ketogenic diet in endurance sportst have positive effects that suggest trying the ketogenic diet at least temporarily:

In a study on cyclists it was found that relative values ​​of the maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max) and the Oxygen absorption at lactate threshold (VO2 LT) improved by a ketogenic diet. This is probably due to the reduction in body mass. In this study, the cyclists’ heart rate rose significantly lower than usual during the exercise phase.

A well-known example of success in endurance sports ketogenic dietis the cyclist Chris Froome, who has won a total of three times Tour de France gewan. So a ketogenic diet combined with endurance sports can’t be that bad.

The ketogenic diet also has the following advantages for athletes:

  • are athletes less dependent on food – as soon as ketosis works, the body is supplied with its own fat
  • In strength athletes, ketosis increases endurance and maximum strength because more ATP is produced, which is considered an energy source for muscle cells
  • This increases due to high fat consumption Testosterone levels and muscles can be built more easily

Endurance sports and a ketogenic diet – this is what you should keep in mind

If you are training for the first time without having consumed carbohydrates beforehand, you should start slowly and not immediately overdo it. Start with an intensity in the regenerative range and slowly work your way up. One too intensives Training means Stress for the body and you risk getting sick.

How should endurance athletes train while on the ketogenic diet?

Ketogenic diet is also suitable for endurance athletes,” says PRIME TIME training coordinator Tim Suchland, who has already gained experience with the ketogenic diet, “but the training is not easy at the beginning. Especially in the Transition phase It is most likely not possible to achieve full performance.” The effort required for the body to obtain energy is more difficult on the ketogenic diet than when carbohydrates are available to the body. Side effects such as headaches, tiredness or dizziness are also possible during the changeover phase, which is why it is better to take it easy. “In the Strength training “You can push the limits with the ketogenic diet,” says Tim Suchland. However, it is important to pay attention to the composition of the diet. “Many eat too much protein and too many sources of Omega 6. With the ketogenic diet it all depends on the ratio so that the Ketosis works properly.”

Should refeed days be held?

Endurance sports and ketogenic diet As you now know, they are not mutually exclusive. Quite the opposite: with a ketogenic diet, endurance athletes can even get the last bit out of themselves. For a final boost, so-called Refeed Daysdays when you have your Carbohydrate storage refill, worry. “Refeed Days are not cheat days and must be planned well,” says PRIME TIME training coordinator Tim Suchland, “on these days the carbohydrates are ramped up in order to Glycogen stores “Full glycogen stores provide additional energy during intensive exercise. It therefore makes sense, for example Refeed Day ein to two days before a competition makes sense. This ensures that you can start with your storage full. However, refeed days should be the exception and not carried out too often, as it can take up to a week before your body returns to normal Ketosis reached. So let’s say you run one once a week Refeed Day If you do this, you no longer give your body the opportunity to switch its metabolism to ketosis because the interval between the refeed days is too short.

What can I eat as a ketogenic endurance athlete?

You want to be at the ketogenic diet Try and now ask yourself what you can eat as an endurance athlete? A whole lot! “One of the most famous examples and a great one Pre-Workout Meal is the Bulletproof coffee“says training coordinator Tim Suchland.

Bulletproof coffee recipe

Mix for the coffee

  • 1 cup of filter coffee
  • 2 EL Butter
  • 2 tbsp MCT oil (e.g. coconut oil or rapeseed oil

The coffee wakes you up and has a strong satiating effect. If you still want something to bite into, try adding eggs and salmon, enriched with a low-carb vegetables like for example spinach, lettuce or broccoli.

Side effects of endurance sports and ketogenic diets

Endurance sports with one ketogenic diet can improve your performance – but it can also make it worse. This can be the case if your body fat percentage is already very low, you are training too hard and are stressed. The quality of sleep often decreases and you can get digestive problems and infections more easily. You can avoid these side effects by listening to your body and when in doubt Refeed Days carry out.


The ketogenic diet is said to have a variety of benefits metabolism and Cardiovascular health said. There are also more and more fans among endurance athletes who replace pasta and oatmeal with high-quality fats. In endurance sports, the ketogenic diet is often used as a means of improving aerobic performance. In fact, there are studies that show that… ketogenic diet improve performance in endurance sports. If you with the ketogenic diet If you start, you should still proceed carefully: if you press the gas too hard, you risk injury and end up worsening your performance instead of improving it.


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