Fat free, low carb, high protein… every few years a new diet trend comes along, eliminating one major food group while promoting another, touting the miracle health and weight loss results. What goes around comes around, and the cyclical nature of what to eat and what not to eat can get very confusing. The diet and nutritional trends we feature on STYLE of SPORT are a trickle-down from elite athletes and what they eat for sport performance. Carbohydrates used to be considered the go-to fuel source, but in recent years that has shifted to fat, which as it turns out is great for weight loss too. But the latest trend lets you have it all!
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source, generally because that’s what we feed it. The body converts carbs into glucose for fuel. What it doesn’t use, it stores as glycogen. But there is a limited capacity to how much glycogen it can store, 2400 calories in fact, and after that the excess glucose is stored as fat. Carbs are easier to access for fuel than fat, and what the body will turn to first for energy. “Carbo loading” used be the norm for endurance athletes, with bowls of pasta consumed the night before a long race, and sugary gels during the race.
When carbohydrates are not available however, the body will tap into other fuel sources, namely fat. If you think of your metabolism like a fire, carbs are the kindling. But kindling burns fast, as opposed to those slow burning logs underneath which you can compare to fat. As such, many endurance athletes have discovered that fat is actually a better source of energy, and trained their bodies to be fat burners instead of sugar burners. The low-carb, high-fat Keto diet is a popular reflection of that trend. Gone are the bowls of pasta before a race, replaced the body’s own supply of fat, something many of us have handily stored in places we don’t want it. Read More