Nate offers some practical applications and fundamental concepts behind low carb training

Show Notes


  1. Full-time coach in Sacramento, San Francisco, and Online.
  2. Two other great coaches at DDA
    1. Matt Chatlaong
    2. Sam Bassetti

Check out a condensed version of this presentation at our blog.

Off the bat: Practical Applications

  1. Master high-carb availability first
  2. Advanced, athletically mature, mentally tough
  3. High margin for error, must be tightly planned within periodized approach
  4. Test and experiment if conditions met

Presentation Outline?

  1. What is it?
  2. Does it work?
  3. Practical application?

Nutrition is Tribal

  1. Who do you listen to?
    1. Experts who seek consensus among colleagues
    2. Participate in consensus statements
    3. Have an academic and sporting background

Defining Terms

  1. Have to understand terminology of different dietary manipulations before exploring whether or not a particular strategy is worth your time.

Case for Carbs

  1. Classic studies demonstrate that carbohydrate demand goes up with exercise intensity.  Higher intensity exercise equals greater percentage of muscle glycogen and plasma glucose used for energy
  2. Crossover Concept
    1. Model of substrate supply
    2. Our best guess at a general picture of how metabolism changes across wide sampling of athletes
    3. Does not capture individual differences, only our best guess
    4. Glycogen and glucose utilization scales exponentially to relative exercise power output
  3. Higher power demands more carbohydrate.  Race winning efforts are fueled with carbs
  4. Current consensus statement on high carb availability.  Read more details on approach at our post on getting lean. 
  5. Take home message.  “Carbohydrate offers advantages over fat as energy source because it is more efficient fuel source”.

Why Low Carb?

  1. Definition
    1. “General term to describe training with low-carbohydrate availability”
  2. Case for restriction.  Low carb training might:
    1. Activate key signaling proteins
    2. Increase cell oxidative capacity
    3. Increase fat metabolism
    4. Improve cycling performance
  3. How is it done?
    1. Train low (glycogen)
      1. “completing a ride that starts or finishes with lower than optimal glycogen stores”
      2. Research highlight
        1. Untrained subjects trained each leg differently
        2. One leg trained two a day (low glycogen), then day off
        3. Other leg trained every day (train high)
        4. 10 weeks, resting muscle glycogen and TTE increased in low leg
    2. Train low (fasted)
      1. Completing a ride fasted (< 6 hours without carb) and without consuming carbs during ride”
      2. Research highlight
        1. Well trained triathletes 3 week “train low (TL)”
        2. TL did high carb HIT in evening, overnight carb restriction, low carb session in AM
        3. Control group same but no carb restriction
        4. TL greater improvements efficiency during submax cycling, supramax TTE, 10k run performance

Should you do it?

  1. Strategy comes with potential risks
    1. FOrces reduction in training intensity
    2. Increases RPE
    3. Susceptible to illness
    4. Loss of muscle mass
    5. Impair ability oxidize carbs

Periodized Nutrition

  1. If you do take on strategy, make sure it lines up with a “planned, purposeful, and strategic” overall training design

Practical Applications

  1. Master high-carb availability training strategy first
  2. Reserved for advanced, athletically mature, mentally tough athletes
  3. High margin for error, must be tightly planned within periodized approach
  4. Test and experiment if conditions met

Check out our Blog

Head over to our website and check out our blog for more training and sports nutrition related content

Further Reading

  1. Diet Cults by Matt Fitzgerald 
  2. Check out all referenced studies in presentation at our low carb blog post

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