Wednesday, December 28, 2016

FAT for Workout Fuel? High-Fat/Ketogenic Diets: Do They Work for Power & Fast-Twitch Athletes?

Often times in this digital world of regurgitated, anecdotal social media & bro-science information-dissemination we live in, one needs to pause every now & then and break out their Exercise Physiology text book and review the basics:  Ketones are a back-up/emergency energy source.  Just a friendly reminder: Ketosis for energy production is not optimal or ideal.  Ketoacidosis, should your 'Ketogenic-Diet' (75% daily calories from Fat & very Low net-Carbs), dieting attempt go wrong, (since you're just a bro and not a Dietitian), is seriously bad for your kidneys and health.  Sure, fat for fuel is great - just as are carbohydrates...the way biology designed us.  Most times we are simultaneously using both glycogen & fat for energy production, and it is all automatic and synergistic.  Why mess with this perfect physiology, unless you have an underlying clinically-diagnosed medical issue, like insulin-resistance, type-2 diabetes, obesity, epilepsy, or perhaps are trying to take advantage of the acute fat-burning/longevity-boosting affects & benefits of a controlled fasting strategy, like Intermittent Fasting?
Max Wettstein is a Fitness Professional: Cover-model, published fitness author, supplement consultant & Trainer,  He is also a Captain for JetBlue Airways.
Recently, (after a week of laying off playing all my sports due to a head cold & stitches that couldn't get wet), I was reminded of what it feels like to strength train w/ your glycogen (stored carbs) levels topped actually feel strong again w/ full muscles & a real pump. Hadn't had that gym-high in a while, because basically these days I'm always over-trained & glycogen depleted. If I lifted it would be after surfing, or only a 'Bulletproof Coffee' for breakfast. That was another perk..All my nagging injuries healed, even w/ my head cold. I also gained 2 pounds for once.  Also I realized I have been over dabbling in high-fat/low-carb eating..not dieting..just been reading so much about all these (endurance/slow-twitch) athletes swearing by their ketogenic diets & thriving off of ketones & fat as fuel for their workouts..I was starting to fall victim to all the regurgitated anecdotal hype & cut out too many carbs!

I mean I know ketones can serve as a great weightloss fuel & ketosis an emergency back-up metabolic energy system, and are even great brain fuel for clarity, but make no mistake: When you want to train at VERY high intensity or purely anaerobic strength, (fast-twitch) the primary energy system and preferred fuel is glycolysis/carbohydrates repectively. Yes creatine supplementation can help the ketogenic athlete w/ fast-twitch power, but only for up to 30 seconds before ATP production needs more glycogen.  While doing research on the Ketogenic Diet, I did come across this expert Trainer from Bodybuilding dot com who was very informed about the Ketogenic (Very High-Fat) Diet and how it was working so well for him - he was more than your typical Brofessor or Bro-ologist.  What's more, is this guy was actually buff looking and a working PRO Fitness Model as well.  So I was could this guy look this way without eating any (insulin-impacting) carbohydrates?!  How could he possess the fast-twitch fiber strength to lift heavy enough weights, I had to find out?!  Well, 45 minutes into his discussion, he finally let's the audience know that not only does he supplement with Creatine daily (to maintain and boost his ATP stores), he also Carb/Glycogen loads once a week, during the weekends so his wife won't hate him when they go out and socialize in the presence of normal human food!  He claims he then burns of all his glycogen the next day with a Tabata high-intensity workout, and is back in ketosis by Monday morning.  So just as I thought:  This Ketogenic Diet 'expert' and advocate Trainer, was not 100% purely ketogenic himself.  What's more, is the Ketogenic Diet also dictates that it is low-protein as well, so even Paleo-loving athletes are shut out.  (Because dietary protein also triggers an insulin response.)

Max Wettstein is coauthor of the holistic-approach to fat-loss book, 'How Much Fat are YOU Carrying?'

I mean think about it:  Do you suppose that Olympic Gold Medalists Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt would stake their fast-twitch muscle fiber-created, sprinting power on only fat for fuel?  I don't think so.  There are some anaerobic activities only carbohydrates can supply energy for.  Please understand that the benefits of Coconut oil and the MCT fat it provides is undisputed and widely accepted as a healthy part of any diet, and is a great tool for those strategic times of fat-loss dieting, especially for fitness models and bodybuilders.  But to only exist on (fat 75% of daily macronutrients), fat as a long term diet, is a very risky decision, that should only be done under the recommendation and supervision of a medical or dietary, certified professional - not some bro-ologist from your instagram feed.  Don't forget to consider that many if not all environmental toxins farm animals are exposed to on a daily basis, are stored in their adipose tissue indefinitely:  Toxins are stored within body-fat in all animals.  Do you really want to be eating additional animal-fat, even if the animal was supposedly free-range raised, or Organic?
Max surfing in Encinitas.  For long surf sessions in cold water, Max prefers both stored carbs (glycogen) & stored fat for energy.

So be careful my fitness friends because it's a slippery slope into skinny depletion as your new norm: First it was Zone, then Atkins, then Paleo, then Bulletproof coffees, and now full on Ketogenic..why must we hate the carbohydrate?!  I get it if you are insulin-resistant or type-2 diabetic, or obese, or perhaps even if you are ONLY a slow-twitch, endurance athlete..but for the rest of us, let's get back to carb-sanity!  In reality with most exercise we are ideally burning both glycogen & fat simultaneously, as we blur the energy line between aerobic & anaerobic, cardio & strength, slow-twitch & fast-twitch fibers. Why ignore either food/fuel?  So next time you find yourself stirring a teaspoon of coconut oil (MCT fat) into your coffee with good intent just remember:  You are one step away from skipping carbs at breakfast, or skipping breakfast altogether - which may be ideal for you but just be aware that it could be your gateway into a failed ketogenic diet attempt.  And don't forget the alleged 'Keto-Flu' you will have to experience the experts say, as you transition into long term ketosis!...their description, not mine.  Gee, the Keto-Flu - yeah that makes a lot of if my body and physiology wasn't already born well equipped and "knowing" how to burn fat for fuel...hmmm.

- Max Wettstein
Follow Max on Instagram: @maxwettstein #pilotfitness #abcarverPro #qorkit 
"Optimum health is a method of life."
Some bursts of anaerobic power can only source energy for fast-twitch muscle fiber from ATP & stored glycogen.

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