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Does a low-carb diet help runners lose weight effectively?

No, research has not shown any evidence that a low-carb diet boosts energy expenditure or results in more fat loss. In fact, for fanatic runners, it may yield undesirable performance outcomes.

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Written by: The Athlete’s FoodCoach, on 12-02-2024
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Why does low-carb NOT help runners to lose weight effectively?

  1. Decreased performance: Carbs are the body's primary source of energy during exercise, especially during moderate- to high-intensity activities like (endurance) running. Cutting carbs too severely the body may shift to using a higher proportion of fats for energy. This can result in reduced performance and slower recovery times.
  2. Inadequate nutrient intake: Reducing carbs can lead to insufficient intake of essential nutrients, such as fibers and certain vitamins and minerals, which are crucial for overall health and performance.
  3. Only temporary weight loss: When your body stores carbohydrates in the form of glycogen, it binds water to these glycogen molecules. This is a normal and natural process. A low-carb diet can therefore lead to rapid initial weight loss as it restricts the intake of carbs, which retain water. However, this can provide a psychological boost for athletes looking to shed pounds quickly, science is clear that the effect is temporary.
  4. Increased fat utilization is not the same as increased fat loss: Although low-carb diets can encourage the body to use fat as a more predominant energy source and therefore aiding in fat burning, this does not automatically mean you will lose fat mass. In the end energy balance plays a key role in weight loss.

How do I get my carbs on point?

While a low-carb diet may help athletes lose weight initially, it's essential to consider the potential drawbacks, particularly in terms of performance and overall health.In many cases, a moderate and balanced approach to nutrition, including appropriate carbohydrate intake to support training needs, can lead to sustainable weight loss without compromising performance.

As individual responses to dietary changes can vary, the FoodCoach app can help you create a varied nutrition plan tailored to your individual needs.

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