Certain athletes follow a healthy, balanced diet even when competing, while others go to extremes to achieve their goals. I will be profiling a range of eating plans over the next few months, my advice is to consult your doctor before changing how you eat and to listen to your body in the quest for peak performance.
A look at the Ketogenic Diet
This eating plan drives your body into a state called ketosis, where fat is utilised as its primary fuel source. Pros include enhanced cognitive and physical performance, rapid weight loss and increased glycaemic control, while cons can range from raised LDL cholesterol (if you are genetically predisposed) and the need to take both a fibre supplement and a multivitamin to counteract digestive issues and nutritional deficiencies.
The body’s shift towards burning fat instead of glucose will undoubtedly enhance your performance on the field. This is because the brain operates better on ketones than it does on glucose; the former are a slow-burning fuel-source that provide longer periods of focus and power, and can prevent athletes from “hitting the wall”. Ketones also feed the mitochondria more efficiently, leading to more rapid recovery and less lean-muscle breakdown. It seems a win-win if you can give up all your favourite carbohydrates.
Celeb athlete: Professional basketball player Lebron James. He followed the diet strictly for 67 days to achieve his weight-loss goals and says, “I had a cookie monster chasing me in my dreams.”