The KETO DIET | Good or Bad for Runners?

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Should runners go on the Keto Diet if they want to improve performance? Coach Elizabeth teaches us what ‘ketosis’ is and does a deep dive into the research.

Ketosis Study

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61 Comments on “The KETO DIET | Good or Bad for Runners?”

  1. In my opinion being a fat adapted athlete isn’t a fad diet – it is how humans evolved. As a sub 3-hour marathoner some big changes I noticed when fat-adapted were: (1) much better recovery after long runs (less oxidative damage and systemic inflammation), (2) sharper mental focus and better spirits at the end of long runs with no “bonking” (brain running on plentiful keytones instead of scarce carbs), (3) freedom from gastric distress from trying to maximize carb intake during long-hard runs. I do agree this stuff is N=1, and so your mileage may vary.

  2. Wait! You don’t tell us until almost 10 minutes into the video that this just doesn’t apply to HALF THE POPULATION?! wtf! And even as it is spoken by one of said half. How dismissive and old school and a waste of time.

  3. I always thought of carbs as a performance enhancing drug. Yes it will increase your performance now, but at what cost down the line? The studies now show without a doubt that low carb diets are by far healthier in terms of inflammation, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, and reduces nearly every indicator of metabolic syndrome.

  4. Great video! Thank you so much. I’ve been struggling with my weight despite the fact that I’m a recreational runner who averages about 55 miles a week slow running (about 11:00min/mi). I walk a lot to. And do some weight lifting but not much. I’ve been so afraid to eat fat but despite a very healthy whole food plant based diet my weight is creeping up. I think for my type of running I’d do best eating less carbs more fat, and probably focusing my carb consumption after my runs. Oddly enough. I feel best running fasted.

  5. Chiming in for any runner with calf issues!! I was an avid runner in youth, but as I aged I started to develop calf issues from running that eventually got to the point it wasn’t worth even trying because I knew the result. At 47 and at the start of 2020 I changed to Keto and have been running 5 to 6 days a week ever since (don’t start running and keto in the same week. Lack of knowledge made it hell). In the beginning I would feel the tender spots trying to emerge, but then it would heal through strength training and stretching. *Side note: I never realized the amount of garbage that I was eating until keto forced me to read labels.

  6. I just did keto for 4 days with 0 carbs, but only ate 900 calories a day. I did eat 3 eggs as part of that and a lot of protein. I did not feel hungry and was fine doing weights, but running was joke. I run fasted and only eat in a 2 hour window. Was the problem the lack of calories? I normally eat 1600-1900 calories and am not fond of fat.

  7. Which study are you referring to in this presentation please? The linked study is a “narrative review” and doesn’t speak about the different groups you talk about.

  8. At 01:20 – the ratios are outdated. A 1g fat to 1g protein ratio is just fine if you have little to no carbs.

  9. Thank you so much for this information. I’ve been looking for this information with respect to distance running and Keto

  10. I don’t want to win races . . . I just want to hold off *bonking* while ultralight backpacking and do more miles. I want to be able to go longer hrs on the trail. Not trying to lose weight while hiking because I’m losing it no mater what. I want to hike 350 miles in 15-17 days at high elevations on the PCT through the High Sierras. Right now I’m 195 pounds and 6’2″ tall and 65 years old. If I can burn my own fat I will not have to carry so much weight in food supplies on my back so far from my center of gravity. My BIG question is – how many of my own calories in body fat can I burn per day. Is there a limit to what the body can burn of it’s own fat? I dont what to reach the very limit but I would like to know what it is. How can I find this out? Backpacking is a 12 – 15 hr a day event for. At this point I’m carrying about 1 pound of food per day of hiking which is 2,000 calories. I would like to get that food weight down to half of that if I can. I’m already doing Keto Diet for the last year. I was 220 pounds. Now 190, Have gotten down to 175 after a backpacking trip and felt great. I dont get hungry while hiking but I’m hungry all the time after I get home.

  11. Interwting video. Ketodidnt work for me, got very breathless as I run fast 13.6-9 kph. Im not sure my training levelTake 150-200g carbs daily. I’ve also had issues with intermittent fasting. The triad. I battled it and wont go near it. Anecdotally approach with care.

  12. I’m doing keto for a couple months just to shift a few pounds prior to marathon season. In the first few weeks my speed suffered massively and even now, I don’t feel as explosive as I have done. I am not finding that it is beneficial to my training at all but i’m sticking with it as I have dropped about 8-10lbs so far in 4 weeks. I am hoping that the extra leanness will pay off.

  13. Great video Coach Elizabeth, I have had to make some adjustments in my diet recently as I have had some weight gain whilst my training hasn’t been as intense as in past winters, I’ve always wondered about the Keto diet but I guess being vegan doesn’t help with it. Thank you for the information though.

  14. I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life and it’s safe to say that I’ve tried a LOT of diets… The Keto diet is the only one I’ve managed to stick to and the weight is literal55ly melting off my body.

    Unlike other diets where I am feeling hungry all day and food is constantly on my mind, the keto diet has completely eliminated this, I actually NEVER feel hungry with this way of eating!

    I would definitely recommend anyone struggling to lose weight to try these custom keto meal plans as they really have been a godsend for me.

  15. There’s a thing called “Science”. Humans all work alike. We burn mostly carbs when we exercise. Sorry if this offends you paleo/keto/fat lovers. Carbs should be 85+% of our diet. And please don’t talk about cake and ice cream as carbs, these are junk food. Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lentils, and drink plenty of water.

  16. Wrong.

    The average keto person will adapt in a week. Athletics take longer for the transitions. For super athletes, it takes 2 to 5 weeks for them to get back to their previous levels and strength. They can then have better endurance almost immediately. They can have more speed or power.. because their endurance training would be prolonged or enhanced by the ketones.

    Zach Bitters does keto or carnivore with all of his training. However, he sometimes adds extra carbs a few days before a race to promote faster running recovery and healing. It’s hard for you to give keto advice since you have no real experience with it. In general, a super athlete can add a lot of carbs and still bounce back into ketosis, faster and more efficiently than the average person.

    It’s possible if you did a test yourself that it did not go well. But you may not yet be an expert on how to get keto done well. Many super athletes are customizing and you could not possibly get it customized for multiple athletes having very limited experience.

  17. If you are a male recreational runner and want the cleanest, healthiest, most sustainable energy- KETO all day. Trust me. Especially if you’re overweight. Fight through the two to three week adaptation phase. Once you break through…. indescribable. My first long run fat adapted had me laughing out loud at mile 10. Felt like I could have maintained that effort for a hundred more miles (again- RECREATIONAL runner effort and pace).

  18. wow great video! i think you are maybe the smartest person on youtube. my DW is keto but she doesnt run ultras, i do but have a hard time on keto. even DW says it’s not for everyone…plus there are other drawbacks for gut health at least for me…and eating a lot of meat is not good for me, the animals or the planet

  19. How about doing a video on a recommended diet for runners who are diabetic or pre-diabetic? Would it be similar to a keto diet since diabetics are required to limit their carbohydrate intake?

  20. Another thing with the keto diet is to make sure you are eating the healthy fats. If you are not watching what kind of fats you are eating it can really affect your LDL chloresterol.

  21. I’ve done keto for 1 1/2 years and been running half marathons for the same. I have found that for me, I find keto easier to stick to, than other ways of eating. It does require very specific and focused electrolyte planning for longer runs in the heat. My body simply sweats out too many electrolytes on runs over 10 miles to be able to replace them with typical runner nutrition options. For the Walt Disney World marathon, I went fully off of keto after looking at the weather forecast & seeing how hot it would be. Electrolyte replacement is the biggest, most under discussed part of keto running. At least in my opinion.

  22. Awesome information! Loved the video. As mentioned, every diet and lifestyle is individually based. What works well for others may not work for you and vice versa. You should always do your research based on your needs, health and with the help of a physician. Good resources for this type of information especially and active lifestyle while on keto. Definitely a must is Dr. Anthony Gustins Podast, Luis Villasenor of Keto Gains, and Thomas DeLauers YouTube channel. For the ladies you have to check out Leanne Vogel. Thanks again, keep feeding great information.

  23. Very accurate explanation from my experience. Went keto for a month and my pace suffered, doing 3 to 4 days low carb now and more carbs two days before race days.

  24. A ketogenic diet is a diet that puts you into ketosis and its much more than what you are putting in your mouth. If one is inactive getting into ketosis requires carb restriction. If you are engaging in endurance excersize one can get into ketosis by simply running. Adjusting carb intake based on activity is one strategy to stay in a ketogenic state. There is also debate on if one needs to be in ketosis all the time if you don’t have a medical reason to do so. There are some that believe that being in prolonged ketosis may not be the best for everyone.

    I am on a low carb high protein diet & I am able to stay in ketosis despite my high protein intake. Going out for a 10-20km run is a great way for me to get into ketosis.

    I would agree with finding what works for you. I like the point that you make that you don’t have to be consuming sugar at every opportunity in order to run.

  25. Liz!!! You’re the best. I experimented with Keto while training, and I almost died. Well, I felt really sick and energy depleted anyway. I think more research needs to be done on ancestral nutrition such as how your body has adapted depending on the region of the world your ancestors came from. Is it possible that people in cold climates where grown food is more scarce function better on animal products vs. people in temperate climates adapting their bodies over time to more grains, fruits, and vegetables. Individualized dieting is the next evolution. Great research Liz.

  26. I’ve lost 38 lbs. since July on Keto. Along with running 2 miles three times a week and weight lifting. A regular diet with that same exercise only got me down 15 lbs. then nothing more for months on end.

  27. As someone who ran and trained for a marathon on Keto … I felt good and I ran a PB! I feel good on carbs too and as a woman have an easier time when incorporating SOME healthy carbs in my diet. But I wanted to try Keto and it definitely had its benefits and can work for many people. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from trying it out for themselves. My skin never looked better than on Keto 😉 I am glad people finally stop preaching that you NEED carbs as a runner. The average Joe definitely doesn’t need to run on bagels and ice cream. For me it was a great way to lower my sugar intake long term, even though I did add healthy carbs back. Interesting topic, thanks for the video.

  28. I love TRE videos showing beautiful landmarks of San Francisco 😍 and today, at Fine Arts, there is no exception 👌🏼😎

  29. Cool if this works for some people. I’m old school and like loading carbs for my fuel source. You explain this really well as I wasn’t sure what the Keto diet was in any kind of detail before your video. You’re the best !

  30. For anyone starting keto please do listen to this false information. Yes if you are an athlete you need carbs. But how many athletes are watching this Thomas delauers channel and be real with yourselves. If your fat, go keto and exercise.

  31. Insulinimia contributes to the fast majority of metabolic syndrome diseases (heart disease, Alzheimers and dementia, arthritis, diabetes, insulin resistance etc. The inflammatory effects of repeated and sustained insulin spikes are corrosive to arteries, joints, gut health, hormonal regulation, lipid profiles and much. more. We’re not there yet as a society as we’ve been misled for so long worrying about fat and cholesterol when in fact sugars and grains are the drivers disease. Hard for folks to wrap they’re head around the fact that youre6better off with eggs and bacon than cheerios and a bagel. I found out the hard way as a former vegan/low fat athlete. It does not make you bulletproof. You can’t run enough miles to counter the lifelong damage from eating refined foods, grains (of all kinds) and sugars. To the extent you eat carbs, get them from from copious vegetables, nuts and seeds, low fructose fruits (moderate).

  32. So here’s the truth on keto. As I’m on it and training for a half on keto with no ill effects. You never loose glucose ever. Your body will make glucose from breaking proteins down if needed. Now most keto goers are using 20 net carbs a day. Which will give you more then enough glucose. So to burn fat you do need glucose as well. So to say a keto racer doesn’t need glucose is wrong or that it’s gone in the body. Now to make it more sensible for marathon or ultra you train in low hr build the aerobic base. As this happens your aerobic speed will increase. Many runners on keto are running sub 5’s easily and have gone sub 4’s close to 3’s.

  33. This is excellent explanation. I’m a triathlete and was using keto diet for 9 months. Exactly how you explained what happen to test subjects is exactly my experience. I did good at low intensity, but higher intensity stuff I bonked out almost every time. I did get leaner and maintain good muscle mass, but sprints and Olympic distance triathlons my performance suffered. I eventually went back to eating more carbohydrates. I would definitely eat that way again when I ever stop high intensity events and activity.

  34. Agree that Keto yes or no is not relevant for non-elite runners regarding performance, but do not initiate Keto adaption just before a big race since it can risk flushing out minerals big time. That side-effect is called Keto flu – and it is a real thing. Not for all but for some. It is a risk of temporary brain-fog. Not fun at all. You need to know how your body reacts. That will be quite individual. If you wish to try Keto – expect a month of adaptation regarding your running performance. The Keto-engine takes time to rev up….
    Key question here is also – As a runner – why even consider Keto ? unless you would like to loose weight or has some kind of blood sugar issue.
    If you would like more performance as a runner try beet juice. But that has carbs – so not Keto.

  35. Don’t need carbs for glucose. In the paper you cited:
    “In the study conducted in keto-adapted ultra-endurance athletes, after a 3-h submaximal exercise, muscle glycogen decreased in both KD-adapted athletes and un-adapted athletes, with no difference between them [59]. In another study, keto-adaptation contributed to a slower glycogen drop during 1 h of submaximal exercise [51]. These results imply the metabolic flexibility of muscle glycogen regulation via gluconeogenesis and the conservation of glycogen, thus potentially contributing to the prevention of fatigue.”

    You cited to a paper. This is not a scientific experiment. For real science, read Volek and Phinney.

  36. Interesting topic. Note: John Kelly (Barkley finisher and recent Spine winners) according to him in recent Ginger Runner interview fuels with nothing but sugar – Mo Debbie cakes! 😆🏃‍♂️🏃‍♂️

  37. Good Morning!😃 I am watching this video and I am coming into it as a skeptic of fad diets… I am firmly based in a common sense approach of eating a balanced diet with portion control coupled with exercising to maintain weight and overall health… I cannot wait to hear your whole video!

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