Training in a carb-depleted state: pros and cons


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This week’s Jockology column in the Globe and Mail takes a look at some of the benefits and risks of working out in a carbohydrate-depleted state:

For decades, sports nutritionists have been devising ever more sophisticated ways to ensure your body is perfectly fuelled before, during and after every workout. With gels, bars and belt-mounted drink bottles, you can have calories within reach no matter where you are.

But what if quaffing fewer carbs and calories – or even none – resulted in a better workout?

At a recent sports nutrition conference at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, researchers and coaches were buzzing about an emerging practice they refer to as “train low, compete high.” The idea is to do some of your workouts in a carbohydrate-depleted state – the nutritional equivalent of training while wearing a weighted vest – then race with a full tank of carbohydrates.

With initial research showing the technique boosts fat-burning, as well as other metabolic responses to exercise, elite athletes aren’t the only ones taking note. It remains a controversial approach – but it’s relatively easy to give it a try… [READ ON]

For more on this topic, including the idea that low-carb training might be suitable during base training but not other times of year, check out this blog entry from last month.

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