Jeff Volek of the Ohio State University Department of Human Science has long been studying low-carbohydrate diets, and focuses on the role of ketogenic diets in athletic performance and recovery.
In a recent New York Times article discussing the long held belief that high-carbohydrate diets are preferable for athletes and new research that suggest high-fat diets might actually be better. If you yourself are an athlete or know one you’ve probably heard the term “carb loading” before. Recently this traditional wisdom has been challenged by scientists like Dr. Volek who was quoted in the article:
“From an evolutionary standpoint, a high-fat performance diet makes sense. Early humans, the hunter-gatherers, who were quite physically active, primarily ate fat. It’s been the main fuel for active humans far longer than carbohydrates have been.”
In agrarian societies carbohydrates were hard to come by and took a lot of energy to gather while not providing as much overall benefit as the protein and fat from meat.
The New York Times article also discusses the fact that exercise scientists have known for a long time that endurance training adapts the trainee’s body to better metabolize fat and use it as fuel.
While the scientific jury is still out on which is better for athletes, fat or carbs, the continued work of Dr. Volek and others should lead to some interesting results and possibly completely change what training athletes eat.