The Canadian Cycling Magazine has recently taken a look at what the ketogenic diet does to the cyclists’ bodies. Basically, a keto diet is used to restrict the carb intake and it works by replacing the calories from carbs with the ones from fat. By doing so, your body enters a ketosis state, meaning that it begins to burn fat due to a lack of glycogen (or stored carbohydrates).
People use it more and more because they want to lose weight and it works, apparently. However, you can imagine that such a shift would come with side effects and, of course, the keto diet has them. At least for most endurance athletes, the keto diet is probably unwise to be used.
The proponents of this kind of dieting are talking about varying the degrees of fat adaptation and because of this, a debate has started. There are some people who believe that endurance athletes must have plenty of carb intakes because they need to burn glycogen as fuel for long races or workouts. The other side feels that by reducing your carb intake would result in your body becoming more adept at burning fat and by doing so, it can go longer without constantly refueling.
Let’s see what fat adaptation means. Traditionally, Western diets are made by combining protein, carbs and fat (these are known as the three macronutrients). The majority of people focus mainly on carbohydrates, including sugar, pasta, bread, grains or cereals. By doing this, they have primed their bodies for carb burning.
However, your body is able of storing more fat than carbs and if you manage to train your body to start burning fat instead of carbs, the theory states that you will be able to ride longer without having to take a snack every now and then. Also, it seems that you would also reduce the risk of bonking, which occurs when you run out of glycogen.