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Low-carb high-fat diet led to decrease in performance

World-class vegetarian long-distance triathlete had a decrease in performance and well-being while on low-carb diet

Everyone eats, and what you eat has a huge impact on your performance as an athlete. A 2018 case study in the Human Kinetics Journal revealed that “a long-term low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet impaired the performance and subjective well-being of a world-class vegetarian long-distance triathlete.”

This is another interesting and well-done case study on the contested topic of low-carbohydrate high-fat diets in endurance athletics. The study has received a lot of praise from well-known physiologists and scientists.

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The study examined a world-class triathlete for 32 weeks who has suffered from gastrointestinal distress in Ironman competitions. He switched from a high-carbohydrate intake diet to a low-carbohydrate intake diet. While on the low-carbohydrate diet, he participated in three professional races. The athlete did, however, increase carbohydrate intake during both his pre-race meals and his competitions.

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21 weeks into the diet, the athlete had his worst-ever half-Ironman. He also continued to suffer gastrointestinal symptoms. Performances continued poor for the remaining 11 weeks of the trial. The athlete regained his usual performance level after five weeks of his previous high-carbohydrate diet.

Interestingly, the athlete also reported poor mental wellbeing while on the diet. While this is entirely subjective, the athlete’s “irritability, bad mood and feelings of depression” are important to note.