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August 20, 2017
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  • jules

    interesting Jose. what about cupcakes? the ones with buttercream icing, 100s and 1000s and those little ball bearing looking things on them. what does the research say about eating those?

    • Sam Young

      High Carb, High Fat. You’re onto a winner.

      • Michele

        I’ve perfected that diet.

        I’ve also given it a moniker; ‘Der Kaiser’.

        • jules

          now just start going out all night flying on the disco biccies and you’ll be in the form of your life!

  • John

    Good article Jose – thank you.

    What are your views on Dr Peter Attia who presents the view that CHO and ketones can co-exist within limitations of the athletes? Like you, he has a scientific background as a doctor and is an endurance cyclist, http://eatingacademy.com/sports-and-nutrition/ketones-carbohydrates-can-co-exist

    • Matt

      The writings of Davis Phinney and the collection of studies called Principia Ketogenica as well.

    • Katya

      Hey John, I’m not Jose, but would like to respond. Peter Attia is an MD (medical practitioner), not a PhD (Doctor or Phylosophy). José looks like he is well acquainted with the literature and everything that’s been done, thus having an objective view and is simply reporting what is know and what are unsupported claims. I would be more skeptical if someone made claims and was unable to support them via referencing well conducted experiments, such as ‘presenting views’, as you mentioned. :)

      • Katya

        Next time I’ll also spell Philosophy correctly

  • Steve

    Interesting article Jose and for the most part I agree. Here’s an interesting link to a recent and comprehensive study using running as the performance measure http://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com/2014/05/how-much-fat-can-you-burn-2/
    What about a combination of being ketogenic but back loading with CHO during and after intense exercise or while racing? Weight loss and health benefits without the drop in performance?

    • mouse

      I agree with Steve.

      Based on what I’ve read on Cycling Tips over the years, I’ve adopted a modified HFLC diet where I limit my carbohydrate intake as much as possible during the day but as my training is usually on weeknight evenings, will eat a small high carb meal about an hour beforehand. Over this period of time, I’ve been able to ascertain the appropriate amount of CHO that will get me through the 2-2.5 hour session without going hypoglycemic.

      For me, the benefits are that I’ve achieved a stable weight as well as avoiding the massive insulin spikes and associated binge eating that a high CHO diet presented for me.

      It’s a fascinating topic, and I look forward to reading more.

      Could it be that a methodology that is less polarised could be suitable?


      • choppy

        Yep, agree with this line of thought. Train low carb, race (or hard training days) on high carb. You need both systems. Making sure that you have the enzymes that burn fat activated means that your body will save some glycogen for the attacks and sprints (and more endurance). It would be good to hear from Alexander Kristoff’s step-father on this. All signals from the Kristoff camp indicate that this is what he does.

      • brucegray

        mouse, there’s a lot to read in between the lines of your experience. You imply you were overweight and plagued by unstable blood sugar and binge eating. To get those insulin spikes you would have to have been smashing in quickly absorbed energy sources, like refined complex carbs and simple sugars. And this underscores why many who have success on LFHC diets do so. It’s because they were making bad food choices before. People who binge on carbs usually binge on starch, and don’t get the requisite 5 cups of fibrous carbs and 2 cups of fruity carbs per day.

        when these same people go on Paleo HFLC diet, they suddenly take in more water and more fibrous carbohydate….which contains dense concentrations of nutrients.

        so it is not HFLC that settles insulin spikes and makes one feel great, it’s the increasing portion of fibrous carbs.

        • mouse

          Nope, not overweight as in obese. More like hovering around 75kg where now I’m hovering around 68. I had a good diet that included lots of vegetables and meat and grains but critically was low in fat. Thus with no fat, I felt the need to eat more to reach satiety. Hence larger portion sizes. Now, as I do eat more fat, (more like allow fat into the equation with the primarily protein diet with plenty of leafy vegetables) I find that I am able to eat smaller portions.
          Anyhoo, the last thing I want to do is sprout dogma that my way is best. I’m simply relating my experience where by my own personal measure I’m finding successful.

      • Karsten Walker

        Unfortunately as Louise Burke et al have mentioned- every “train low, race high” strategy study has still shown that intensity and glycolysis are significantly impaired with such a strategy. My guess is that spending 4-6 days a week low carb changes the respiratory quotient over time enough to where glycolytic activity is impaired and a simple 1 day restoration is not enough to bring things back to that side of the pendulum. Changes in respiratory quotient and substrate utilization happen over weeks, not hours.

  • Brendo

    I hope this doesn’t entice anyone to start eating 30 bananas a day…..

    • OliviaDCaylor

      ♥✿✉⚓▼ 98$/hour@mk7



    • larry sarni

      but I cycle everywhere, faster than anyone with my beautiful girlfriend on 30 bananas a day save the world
      Jackfruit Durian
      Banana Cyclist

  • Shiffon

    These sorts of diets scare the bejeezes out of me. The language around the HFLC and Paleo “lifestyle” is so dogmatic- carbs are bad, grains are bad, sugar is bad, for god’s sake, even fruit is bad! I can appreciate that people want to live a more healthy life and some find it difficult to achieve this, but the demonisation of some foods, and indeed, whole food groups, is an express lane towards eating disorders, particularly for us weekend warrior athletic kind. The desire for that ideal “race weight” is the top of the iceberg and I fear that those of us who have pre-existing vulnerabilities with food, body image and image perception are in such danger of being mislead by the visionary claims of these fads diets. I’ve been there, done that, and hate to think of others suffering something similar because they get drawn in the false claims and pseudo-science of the “tribes”.
    So thank you for this article! Very much with the zeitgeist as always CT!

    • Matt DeMaere

      The dogma exists in both camps, I’m afraid. Thinking it is only one sided, leaves one with blinkers.

      The fact of the matter is that medical science is only a little ways along when it comes to understanding multi-cellular physiology. We’re not even finished explaining isolated single-cell physiology — of cell types we’ve had in the laboratory for decades — let alone if we add a varied mix of single-cell life-forms to a closed environment. Now, remove the strict “closed” constraint from that environment, and place it inside a multi-cellular creature. Draw the box around that whole she-bang. Hmm, we’ve ended up with a human and their associated microbiome. Now adjust what flows into the big box, for instance diet and behaviour. Can present science spoil the ending? That’s a big no.

      That is not to say progress isn’t being made. The work is currently being done, but this is a developing science and a long way from discussions of nutrition, diet and exercise.

      The reality is, short sessions of physical activity (60-90 min) are not going to challenge your energy stores; so long as there was no deficiency in the first place. Making arguments that a high carb diet is essential for race winning moves, ignores — what nearly followed in the next sentence — that your body relies primarily on what it has already prepared well ahead of time. The particular ratio of fat to carbs that your body used to derive its glycogen store doesn’t matter, just that the is ample. The differing timescales for replenishment can matter, but how much (or at all) will depend on age, frequency of training, or even physiological differences from person to person.

  • Dale Smith

    I got interested in lchf since the articles here on CT. I looked into it more and decided to give it a go. 3 weeks into it now and it’s funny, I’m experiencing all the stuff you talk about Jose. I’m training for the Peaks Challenge Gold Coast and would put myself in the ‘serious’, but not competitive, category. I lost 2 kg in the first week and nothing more since (ie water). I have a riding mate and we’re very similar in fitness and ability, and last weekend on a 160km ride I felt fine until the road went up, at which point I would be fighting tooth and nail to hang on. I just couldn’t seem to get the energy quick enough (running on diesel!). At 120km I was knackered, although I didn’t feel like I ‘bonked’ – I could still maintain a decent pace on the flats but just had nothing up the climbs. So in my case the science is matching my experience.
    However, Jose, before I throw lchf out the window and adopt Jules’ and Michele’s diet (mmmm), I’m interested to know if you can have your cake and eat it too? Can you go lchf and actually increase the ratio of fat to carb that you burn at 62-64% VO2max so that you run out of carb slower, and therefore not need to eat as much on the bike and extend the range you have on those carbs? ie get ‘fat adapted’ and then carb up for a big hard ride?

    • Matt

      Folks like Peter Attia and other studies claim that it takes 8+ weeks to become ‘fat-adapted’ on the ketogenic diet (the biggest issue in many of the popular studies bashing the lchf diets don’t go farther than a couple weeks adaptation for trained athletes). You still won’t lose weight on the diet if you don’t eat at a deficit and I certainly wouldn’t be eating at a deficit if I were riding 160km. If I were training for an event like this, I would look into the cyclical ketogenic diet, or CKD – more carbohydrate are ingested to store glycogen in the muscles for use.

      Regardless, any serious athlete attempting to compete on this diet must do their research – required reading from sources such as Davis Phinney, Peter Attia and a collection of scientific studies called Principia Ketogenica. Peter Attia used himself as a study on his performance from high carb vs keto adapted here (http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/the-interplay-of-exercise-and-ketosis-part-i). Athletes have competed at a high level on this diet. I agree that no one on a ketogenic diet will compete for the Tour, but for those of us who are insulin resistant or have other genetic issues, a lifestyle low in carbohydrate is necessary for long term health.

      It’s unfortunate that most of the evidence folks use for and against this diet is anecdotal. I feel that it’s a by product of the high carb low fat diet that my government has pushed for since the 1950’s (I’m American) and the lack of long term studies on LCHF. Most folks are incredulous when they learn how I eat, even though I’ve lost over 28 pounds in the last 8 weeks.

      • Dale Smith

        Thanks Matt, appreciate the response. Just checked out Peter Attia’s video – cheers. I’ll look into ckd too, but clearly I need to persist with the change in nutrition and give my body a chance to adapt.

        No, I’m not using carb free electrolyte mix – just water.

        Thanks again.

  • Nick Liau

    Great article! Good to see something cutting through the pesudoscientific rubbish out there.

  • Wenqi Zhang

    The author has missed the concept of this diet completely, with all due respect the point of high protein diets is that they offer a SLOW release of energy, and here he’s damming them for offering a slow release of energy?

    You’re also damming LCHF diets for low glycogen levels… Funny, since that’s by definition of a LCHF diet.

    IIRC Rohan Dennis trains on a LCHF diet, so it clearly works for some folks. I’m not trying to say it works for all folks but I think this article is slightly misguided. As a PhD student I’d expect you to know about the importances of referencing so please reference your articles for greater credibility. Your articles have no more credibility than the opposing ones so please reference your articles with scientific sources. Also, I wouldn’t classify the Australian Catholic University as a recognised research university, it’s not even ranked in terms of research, so cyclingtips I’d also avoid trying to fluff up your articles with “background” don’t omit the fine print.

    I’m sure there’s more wrong with this article, but since only the target audience are going to bother reading it I’m going to end my rant here.

    • jules

      “the point of high protein diets is that they offer a SLOW release of energy, and here he’s damming them for offering a slow release of energy”

      I think the point Jose made is that you need a fast release of energy for competitive cycling. A slow repease may be fine for someone gently lifting their beer stubby up to their lips every 30 secs. while watching Game of Thrones Series 1-6, but to respond to an 800w attack by an A grader at the 3 Day Tour – not so good.

      • Wenqi Zhang

        Actually I think you’ll be surprised. Your body will always have carbohydrate stores so I wouldn’t be too concerned about that.

        What I’d be more concerned about is being able to follow that attack after 5 hours in the saddle, three days into a tour. If you’re running on carbs you’d need to eat regularly which can be a problem in racing situations: hence hitting the wall.

        • jules

          I agree. I’ve ridden with a guy who did the LCHF thing and after hours of riding, he didn’t need to eat a thing. While I was stuffing energy bars down my throat. But apart from the inconvenience, it’s unclear* that not having to eat (w/LCHF) offers any performance advantage.

          * based on what I’m reading, not my assessment – I’m a lay observer

          • Wenqi Zhang

            Agree, that’s why I try to keep things in balance. Maybe my bike handling skills aren’t up to scratch, but there are some scenarios where I really should eat but I can’t because I’m not confident enough, that’s the benefit I see.

            My problem isn’t with the diet, its just the questionable academic reputation of the research, I just thought cyclingtips was better than those blogs which would spit out unreferenced junk.

            • jules

              it does sound like Jose has a PhD on the topic. I can understand why he may have been asked not to write the article in an academic format, littered with journal references and in the third person.

              • Wenqi Zhang

                It is just his opinion laced with pretty graphs though. And having a few links at the end might help…

                I’ve just been doing a background check on him, he’s with RMIT and his supervisor is with the Australian catholic university, neither of which have high academic reputation. Sure it’s not the end of the world but just a word of caution. I’d consider both sides of the argument before I change my diet, and I’d be very inclined to see a trusted doctor if I had any concerns.

                • jules

                  i think he’s a foreigner too

                  • Wenqi Zhang

                    I know you’re being sarcastic, things like that don’t matter, but there’s a reason why they rank university performances. Why do you think some “scientists” refute climate change despite the overwhelming majority of the scientific community agreeing. That’s why you have academic credibility.

                    Sorry for being critical about your articles, I understand criticisim isn’t welcome here. Pity.

                    • jules

                      there’s nothing wrong with challenging climate change science, which is inherently based on a lot of uncertainty. well, there is when you’re Andrew Bolt and your challenge amounts to insults and mistruths, but your criticism appears closer to Bolt’s than academic rigour. dismissing someone’s work based on the perceived standing of their university is unconvincing. obviously a good or bad university can have good or bad academics. I’m taking this too seriously now :)

                    • Wenqi Zhang

                      There is uncertainty in the degree of the effect, but that’s just good science. What is not OK is doing a full 180 and trying to scientifically deny it for political reasons.

                      You’re point is true, really only for outliers. A university’s ranking is determined by its publications, which are created by the academics. You won’t have a good university full of bad academics. Would you have a good cycling team full of bad cyclists?

                      I think I’m taking this too seriously too, time to ride my bike :)

                    • Brad

                      I would take the article seriously only if a multivariate regression correlation analysis was conducted, which from the loose data & lack of actual cross reference data provided in the article it appears it was not done, or maybe it was and there was not enough room to provide this after the editors decided to fluff it out with sweeping statements about how you need carbs for energy to ride like Wiggans, late night infomercial journalism that will sucker in the majority of readers right there.
                      I understand that the real data will bore most readers and will not make interesting reading, but do not insult the more knowledgeable and intellectual by providing articles like this one, or follow it up with a factual scientific post.

                    • Good grief; where to start?! The Wiggins anecdote that leads the piece was written entirely by the author, and not at our request to “fluff it out with sweeping statements”.

                    • jules

                      multivariate regression models can be made to say whatever you want them to. by definition they require manipulation and you’re trusting the modeler not to skew the manipulation to show what they want it to.

                    • jakub

                      I’d suggest you to wake up from this dream that what “best” academic institutions produce equates to high quality rigor research. there is plenty of good research done at relatively unknown universities and vice-versa. there is plenty of bogus research being produced today by top-tier universities, misusing statistical methods, drawing bizzare conclusions based on “statistical significance” and assuming that everything follows normal distribution. having MIT, Harvard or Princeton on title page in affiliations doesn’t mean anything at all. even having Nobel prize and tip-top academic resume doesn’t assure that your research is of high quality. to name few, Merton and Scholes who got their Nobel’s in economics for derivative pricing saw their financial portfolios blown up using the same techniques they invented. Joseph Stiglitz assured of close-to-zero probabilities of US state-owned mortgage agencies that went bust first when crisis started (and he is now claiming that he foresaw the crisis coming!). anyway, discussion went a little bit off-topic on site as this ;). PS – I am a PhD student at institution with “good academic reputation” ;)

                    • Stompin

                      Sorry Wenqi Zhang, but what are your qualifications?

                    • Wenqi Zhang

                      I’m studying for my PhB at the ANU.

                      Granted, I’m not in this field, but anyone involved in research has a degree of critical reasoning.

                • Ross

                  No its not just his opinion. Expert as it may be.
                  And there are plenty of links throughout the piece.
                  Go and do an epistemology lesson before you criticise someone elses excellent work.

                  • Wenqi Zhang

                    The links I’ve checked are not recognised scientific journals (I’m happy to stand corrected about this).

                    I’m just doing a standard source analysis, just because you agree with it doesn’t make it excellent.

                    Yes, I may sound harsh, but as with all scientists, we’re lazy so why use many words when few words do trick?

                    • Weiliang Chung

                      As Matt said, all references are embedded into the text and are from PubMed. These journals are recognised sport science journals (considered good within its field). One has to be aware that sport science articles are not going to be featured in high impact science journals just like some of us will not make it to the Tour de France.

                      Your judging of the reputation of RMIT and ACU according to their reputation is akin to judging the rider for the bike they ride. Putting my grandma (researcher) on a Cervelo (institution) does not make her a champion rider. However, the opposite may be true if you put Contador on a Reid. Point being that this is the sport science market today, institutions sign up established researchers so that their publications reflect their employer’s name.

                      Fair enough, Jose Areta (17.46 on ResearchGate) may be a early career researcher but Vernon Coffey (31.46 on ResearchGate) and John Hawley (41.54 on ResearchGate and 76 h-index on Google Scholar) have metrics that some academics can dream of.

                      And so what if Jose is a foreigner? I am a foreigner too.

                    • jules

                      that was a joke

                    • Weiliang Chung

                      Oh. Awkward.

                    • Wenqi Zhang

                      No, the institution is more like the team you put the rider on. The institutions choose their employees, not the other way around.

                      Also I said being a foreigner had nothing to do with anything. It was a lighthearted joke from Jules.

                    • Weiliang Chung

                      Exactly right, so what has the institution got to do with the work written here?

                    • Wenqi Zhang

                      A bad team of cyclists also needs cyclists to ride, except all of the good cyclists are taken by the good teams. Same with universities (not to the same extreme)

                      I’m just giving a word of caution, that’s all.

                    • Weiliang Chung

                      How would a bad team improve if they don’t start by signing good people? I’m redirecting the attention to the science and writing, not who or which institution the researchers were from.

                      All good.

                    • Wenqi Zhang

                      I’d say its a time thing. They could stay stagment and be a “development” team or something similar, or they could improve over time.

                      The rankings aren’t stagment. If a uni does good research consistently they’ll move up. If they continue to do what they’re doing then they’ll remain where they are.

                    • mv1in20

                      Wenqi, If this was your area of academic knowledge you would realise that the supervisor for Jose, John Hawley, is world-class exercise physiologist. A quick google scholar check shows the mountain of research and academic books Hawley has published together with other world-class researchers in the endurance sport field including Asker Jeukendrup, his partner Louise Burke and the now LCHF proponent Tim Noakes (both are South African iirc). Hawley moved across from RMIT several years ago to ACU. I fail to see any logic in your argument that ACU is a small Australian university renders Areta’s article ‘fluff’.

                    • Wenqi Zhang

                      There’s nothing wrong with a small university, I was merely commenting about how low it sits on the rankings of published papers by citations.

                      A quick search on Scopus does indeed turn up a couple hundred articles, but few of his recent works have been cited by other academics.Take what you want from that.

                    • mv1in20

                      Yes, there is nothing wrong with a low ranking university – it’s not all relevant in assessment of the individual piece of research. What do you imply when you state his recent works haven’t been cited? I would guess its to do with the multiple years it takes for a phd candidate to produce their research which Hawley supervises or collaborates on with other academics internationally. If you are implying he is seen as out of fashion by his area of academia, then I would be surprised to still see him as an editor of several physiology, exercise and sport journals and a speaker at the 2014 International Sports + Exercise Nutrition conference. This academic area is hardly a huge area of research, even the most famous articles of exercise sci research aren’t going to get millions of citations.

                    • Sean

                      go for a ride.

                    • Stompin

                      Wenqi, the earth is not flat, sorry to tell you.

                    • Sean

                      I’m pretty sure Wenqi is actually paleo Pete.

                • Wendy: Jose presented the article to us with the references at the end. We embedded links to all of those studies in the piece, where they are relevant.

          • mouse

            Anecdotally, I can confirm that this is the case. I’ve been doing hflc with carb eating immediately before training for about 18months now. I find that I can do a high intensity training ride in the 2-2.5 hour range with the need to eat a muesli bar at about the 2h stage. Prior to this I’d usually need to eat something after an hour.
            I did find however that I was underfuelled at the Philip Island GP this year due to the massive race intensity. I’d been planning my eating during the race based on the timing indicated above. Unfortunately, due to the intensity, I missed that window by about half an hour. It was a pretty lonely second half of the race as a result.

    • velocite

      Thanks for that comment. Soapbox of an article, not up to the previous discussion of the topic, or at least a very much related topic on CT.

      • k.

        Lol, José has a PhD in exercise physiology and you have the audacity to question how reputable his article is based on the university he went to? Get off the crack pipe, Wenqi.

        • velocite

          Not sure if you meant to reply to me k. But I would comment that questioning doesn’t require audacity, just independence. Some tribal behaviour going on here IMHO.

    • k.

      Lol, José has a PhD in exercise physiology and you have the audacity to question how reputable his article is based on the university he went to? Get off the crack pipe, Wenqi.

      • Wenqi Zhang

        Did you read anything I wrote? And yes, we believe everything people with PhDs tell us.

        • crackcaffeine

          I stopped reading your posts the moment you chose to pull an ad hominem attack on the author rather than offering your own evidence that a LCHF diet would provide sufficient energy for a sustained Z4/Z5 effort. ‘Enough’ energy isn’t a convincing argument for individuals who are trying to be competitive and not merely cycling to lose weight.

  • Wesley Hurrell

    I concur with Steve’s comments/questions. I’ve blogged about my experience of going LCHF for Ironman triathlon (http://nutriscience.com.au/fat-burning-capacity-after-keto-adaptation/), which I think the diet is much more suited to. I took the step of getting tested to confirm fat oxidation rate etc. I think there is potential for a cyclical ketogenic diet (which is what I employ now mostly) for high-intensity sports like cycling. The key is to refine strategies that increase fat oxidation rate, while preserving carbohydrate oxidation capacity. Unfortunately, there is just so little published research on this, but a lot of anecdotal reports.

  • Luke

    Doesn’t discuss the health problems associated with high carb. Gut health, brain health, diabetes and many chronic diseases. If you scratch below the surface of mainstream research there’s stacks of evidence. Do yourself a favour and spend some time digging. Start with “Cereal Killers” with Donal O’Neill.

    Carbs promote inflammation (again, scratch below the surface). Low carb high fat reduces inflammation and therefore you recover better and absorb the work faster! Stacks of empirical evidence on this (look up Cereal Killers 2 if you think this is BS).
    Yes you do need some carbs around/during “intense training days” or blocks. Focus on choosing real food carbs as opposed to Gels, sports drinks, bagels, cereals etc that ruin your guts & spike your insulin. Think bananas (during ride), sweet potatoes (dinner) etc. Look up Dr Allen Lim, he’s been doing this stuff on the tour de france.. If you’re still adamant on gels, using sparingly ie before a big climb. Funnily, gels work SOOO much better on a HFLC diet because your insulin works as it’s designed to rather than being maxed out 24/7 and developing a “tolerance” to it.
    Fun fact… you find some world tour teams will train low carb to boost their rate of fat metabolism and then during racing they up the carbs (real food not junk).
    The longer you do HFLC for, the better it works. After 6-12 months your rate of fat metabolism starts to get seriously high, so that even those “intense efforts” are being fueled by fat.
    Should be noted with HFLC there is a risk of adrenal fatigue, so read up on that if you’re considering. Basically it’s caused by too much “life stress” in combination with going too low on the carbs.
    Also if you’re thinking about starting HFLC, do it post season!!! Some hormonal changes will occur but if you combine with high training volume it’s not pretty. And for the first 3 weeks you will get a drop in performance due to the aforementioned hormonal changes. Your body has used 1 source of fuel for 20-40 years and if you change that overnight it will take a while for the body to readjust.
    It takes a bit of persistence to get right (give it 6 months), but once you achieve HFLC everything works better – training, health, sleep, mood, mental alertness & concentration, relationships etc.

    • Bert

      Great post, Luke! This is basically the approach that I take. I’ll do pretty strict HFLC in winter, and switch back to carb cycling during the riding season. It takes time to get it right, but it’s worth the effort.

    • Massimo

      This hits the mark in so many ways, key point is time for the body to adjust.
      Most studies conducted are over a 4-6 week period and are subjects based on carbohydrate eating habits before the studies.

    • Matt

      Check out the collection called Principia Ketogenica. A good amount of referenced articles that study long term low carb performance to help bolster your points.

  • Ross

    I’m just going to get out the popcorn and watch the comments here for the next couple of days.

    I’ve always been amazed at how a well qualified, published academic talking common sense that is backed up by almost endless amounts of peer reviewed scientific evidence can be questioned and ridiculed by people whose strongest qualifications are “I reckon” or “Tim Noakes said”.

    Great piece from Cyclingtips. Thanks for not buying in to bullshit and continuing to publish quality journalism.

    • chop

      just saying, but there is a fast growing amount of (yes maybe just for the moment) anecdotal evidence that’s supporting HFLC, as well as lots of work being done on producing studies. As someone above said, the healthy eating pyramid has been adjusted now that “we know better” – don’t be surprised if it needs to be adjusted more in the future as we learn.

      • Ross

        The plural of anecdote = no data

        Give it ten years, the fad will pass.

        • Matt

          In ten years, the landscape of sports nutrition will change, just like from ten years ago ’til now. I’ll get my popcorn and watch, too.

      • Sean

        Tim Noakes is pretty sick these days.

    • mouse

      I think that the issue that some are having with the article is the polarising nature of it. The studies that support the argument suggest that hflc diet is detrimental to high intensity athletic endeavours. Most would agree with that premise to a degree. The suggestion that it should be rejected outright in favour of a high carbohydrate diet is where some take issue.
      There are many who are discovering through personal experience and experimentation that there may be a middle way that can be quite successful.

      • Ross

        You can improve your fat metabolism by doing 5 hour rides at low intensity.

        Its a long conversation to be had. I just dont think its fair for anyone to try and tear down Jose’s article.

      • Neil

        ‘Most are discovering a middle way through personal experimentation’ is a load of crap. Here you have a reputable expert, with peer reviewed studies, with evidence and data, and people dismiss it on the basis of ‘but my experience.’ Anecdotes do not equal data.
        Dr Areta’s suggestion is not for everyday lifestyles. It is for competitive cycling with physiological facts to back it up.

        • mouse

          Hi Neil.
          Nice to meet you. Mind if I take a crap on your doorstep?
          Firstly, you misquote me. I didn’t say most, I said many.
          Secondly; how do you live your life? Do you wait for a PhD paper to confirm your life choices?
          You could do it but you sure waste lots of time.

          The premise of Jose’s article is as follows. High intensity excercise requires high levels of blood glucose, most efficiently provided by simple and complex carbohydrates.
          HFLC diet does not provide this as fat oxidation has been scientifically shown not to be as efficient in the body’s system, thus the fuel required for these high intensity training and race efforts is not present.
          Ergo, HFLC diets are not suitable for high intensity athletes. That’s the rub. I think that’s a very long bow to draw as it simply doesn’t consider that there may be an alternative way.

          I once read a newspaper headline in Canada in the 80’s as follows: SEX CAUSES CANCER!
          The article went on to say that an epidemiological study of a cohort of nuns had a lower incidence of cervical cancer than the general population.
          I’m not saying the science is wrong, I’m saying the conclusions and the headline is up for debate.

          Which is what we’re doing, yeah?

          • Ross

            Im interested in your middle ground. Do go on.

  • Roger That

    Can someone please tell me if I should keep my almonds activated, or not?

    • John


    • DrDon

      Laugh out loud, like literally.

    • Sean

      You could always ask a fully qualified pizza cook.

      • pete

        Thats got nothing to do with eating bone broth and selling a scam.

        • Sean

          I use vegan bone broth in my biddon.

  • Marc Evans

    For what it’s worth I’ve been on a low carb high fat diet for 7months now. I switched to help with my Type 1 diabetic control mainly, as that was/is priority for me over peak performance on the bike. However after an adjustment period of around 6 weeks I now feel amazing on the bike. Much better than I used to in my carb loading days. I no longer race but still like to go as fast as I can and can report that I can ride for 6+ hours on water alone (with some electrolytes). No gels, no bars. Ive not suffered the knock since I switched my diet. I currently ride around 1000km a month and feel fantastic. The loss of weight has made me a better climber. I’ve yet to test myself on climbs longer than 30minutes (as there are none around here!).

  • Aaron DC

    “Provided that the fat stores are unlimited (when compared to the body’s
    CHO stores) this would allow exercise to continue without the risk of
    running out of a ‘critical’ fuel. However, the main study used to support this idea has shown that time to exhaustion when exercising at 62-64% of VO2max
    (a moderate-low exercise intensity), was on average 151 minutes for
    keto-adapted individuals, vs. 147 minutes for the non-keto adapted.”

    The study linked in this paragraph is available online. I had a quick read, and then did a quick search. I also downloaded the PDF. Nowhere on the page or in the PDF do the words “keto-adpated” appear.

    Can someone please explain to me how the conclusions of the paragraph relate to the linked study? My non-PhD brain is failing to see the connection.


    • Katya

      Good pick up. It doesn’t state it, but if you read the methods, each group was on distinct diets for 4 weeks. LC and HC. Keto-adaptation is rightfully implied, at least for that period of time. Although people are saying that it should be 6-8 weeks. Would be good for someone to study that.

      • Aaron DC

        I could not find mention of 151 vs 147 minutes or 62-64% VO2max either.

        The very first sentence of “Experimental protocol” says the following: All subjects performed a random order of four 60-min experimental rides ?7 days apart. (They were 60 minute rides at 45% and 70% of VO2max).

        The paragraph and its summary have nothing to do with the study linked.

        • Katya

          Agreed. what you said below re link.

          Although in this study also, it does say that they were mainteined on controlled diets. But you’re right about the link being the wrong one anyway.

    • Aaron DC

      This is the study that should have been linked: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6865776

      • Aaron DC

        There looks to be a good summary of the studies relevant to this topic on the page where I found the link above: http://highsteaks.com/forum/principia-ketogenica/exercise-and-performance-studies-645.0.html

        I think the thrust of the study as more that sub-maximal endurance was not affected by lack of glycogen, not that high fat was a better diet. The study title includes “preservation of submaximal exercise capability with reduced carbohydrate oxidation.”

    • Wesley Hurrell

      Keep in mind the study was published in the 1980’s when the trendy term ‘keto-adapted’ probably didn’t even exist.

      • Aaron DC

        The study they incorrectly linked to was conducted in 2004.
        The study they should have linked to, but did not, was conducted in 1983, and called the keto-adpated diet, “eucaloric ketogenic diet” (EKD).

      • William Wightman

        I have to agree. In the 80s keto adapted was probably after 2 weeks of LCHF. That is meaningless. Adaptation for the sedentary lifestyle can take 4 weeks and for the strongest racers take 3 months. You will know you are keto-adapted when the only thing that limits you are heart rate, oxygen deprivation, or leg fatigue/strength. Bonking is magically off the table. I do not understand how my body did this but I have not been able to bonk (in a 12 hour state fasted on water only) for any ride intensity and for distances up to 67 miles (so far). Maybe if I could push up in the 300 watts range it might happen but I do not seem to have the strength for that.

  • BW

    Too much talking, not enough bike riding CTFU and get out there!!!!

  • Skinny fit cyclist

    Fruit smoothy for breakfast, fruit and rice/pasta for lunch, pasta for dinner, Coke and maple syrup on the bike, salt tablets for epic rides in the heat, sleep and drink lots of water and ride at highest intensity you can as much as possible. Avoid fat as much as possible. It’s pretty much impossible not to have a BMI of 22 or less doing this.

    • Billy

      I have a BMI of 20 and follow a high grass fed fats and healthy complete proteins diet. I gave up carbs especially toxic sugar, I eat a lot of fruit and veg and some cake. Grains (inc. rice and sand from st kilda beach) gave me grain brain, pasta caused me to suffer wheat belly. I fed my kid bone broth it nearly died and follow a strict diet where I eat from the nose to ass of animals I hunt in the paleo produce section of the supermarket. I make about as much sense as the whack jobs preaching here who love their fad diets.

      • Sean

        We are designed to eat paleo.

  • Petersvero

    I think I need to give up riding…or reading. I don’t do LFHC, HSBC, HFLC, Paleo, lemon or grapefruit diets. Heck I don’t even do the washing. If I manage to squeeze in a ride between the usual committments we all have then good luck to me if I bonk. At least i exerted my slow ass on a bike. Eat something. Drink something with a % value. Rejoice.

  • Derek Maher

    Just a little person story regarding diet.
    It was found that I had 3 blocked heart arteries last year and stents were put in,My previous diet was low fat high carbo/sugar.My colesterol was way up around the 8.9 mark.I am a regular cyclist and raced when I was younger.Anyway the hospital rehab kept me on a low fat diet with anti colesterol treatment.After 6 month my Col level was still in the 8 region and the tablets were killing my muscles with cramps.I stopped them went on a fat/ low sugar diet and my present colesterol is down to 3.0 after 8 weeks and the muscle pains are gone and strength is returning.Makes one wonder.

  • Shawn Smith

    I suggest you take a good hard read at The China Study.

    • Derek Maher

      Hi Shawn,The China Study ?.Lost me there.

      • Shawn Smith

        Generally speaking, too often when it comes to nutrition I think we look at things in isolation and not at the whole picture. Therefore, in isolation, things like this article will makes sense.

        My comment about The China Study is referring to a published book by that name, The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell.

  • Chris

    The doc says the idea is “poorly supported” but my evidence is 2 dudes I know who have been on it for a few years now. All I can say is both look fitter and healthier than they ever have, they are lighter, they ride faster, and say they feel better than in the past. They are doing it and they are happy.

  • AD

    The LCHF diet I have always seen as being the territory of ultra endurance events such as iron man, or other events over 6 hours duration. The regime seems to have drifted into cycling racing circles but I have never heard anyone following LCHF diets to help in the high intensity efforts critical to shorter cycling races, or using LCHF to help them in a sprint.

    How does the evidence stack up for these longer events?

  • disqus_ax7qut9jL1

    The reality is Bradley Wiggins will likely end up with type 2 diabetes, just like Steve Redgrave!

  • Frances Lilian Wellington

    Thank you Jose for your article. At 51, I am returning to an athletic level of fitness (cycling, rebound tennis, swimming) after a decade of recovery (2003 stroke, 38% BMI obesity 2010, mid 2015 T2DM diagnosis). Very Low Carb (counted) Paleo diet for 6 months sorted out the obesity and the T2 (self managed nil meds). The food groups omitted (grains, dairy, legumes) in Paleo relate to inflammation, as these are unsuited to T2’s (100% have porous gut lining until GAPS syndrome is healed). Now that weight is shed, insulin sensitivity and gut restored I can process carbs again (within reason). Now that I have built muscle I am comfortable exercising across all heart rate zones. I appreciate your charts and explanations here. These have helped me to understand (and to explain to others) how energy expenditure can shift as one sheds unwanted fat stores, gains musculature, increases performance… aiming for optimal diaita. There is a role for “all of the above” in cases such as mine (presently 75kg, shed 35kg)… with still a way to go to get to precisely where I want to be fitness wise. I could not have achieved all of this without the VLC Paleo (as high post meal blood glucose peaks have to be kept within safe limits, or organ damage occurs at 7.8mmol/L concentration).

  • Michael Sencenbaugh

    Well written article. However, I’m disappointed in the narrow view presented. To refute LCHF diet without providing a denser context of the complexity of the issues surrounding the issue is just creating greater confusion. Bottom line is that LCHF being ridgidely adhered to at times is plane foolish but there certainly is an element of truth to the LCHF. Perhaps, the diet has been taken to the extremes. Not everything is black and white, good or bad. In general, most athletes are probably to carbohydrate dependent, and poor fat burners. As an elite athlete, I’ve repeated experienced the benefits of metabolic efficiency training. A combination of less calories, through little less carbs then normal, and a little more fat can really help aerobic performance gains. Also fasted state training has shown (according to a study) to cause greater adaptations from doing vo2 efforts. This all makes since as the body responds to stress by providing positive adaptations. The more stress the greater the adaptation until the stress is to greater for the bodies resources to respond positively. Being an athlete, find the edge of what you can recover from is key.


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