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Can a Carnivore Diet Improve My Athletic Performance?

3 weeks ago
Can a Carnivore Diet Improve My Athletic Performance?

The carnivore diet is gaining more attention in recent times. Most well-known athletes are choosing the carnivore diet as their lifestyle for better performance and endurance in training. Can a carnivore diet really improve your athletic performance? This article helps understand the role of the carnivore diet in athletic performance. 

Carnivore Diet

A carnivore diet is a zero-carb or low-carb diet; it includes only meat, seafood, and water.  It excludes all the plant food; some salt, pepper, and butter are allowed in the carnivore diet. It is a restrictive diet in which you are allowed to eat from only one food group. The whole idea of a carnivore diet is to eliminate the carbs completely from your diet. 

The carnivore diet has all the essential nutrients required for your body’s metabolism. To get the maximum benefits of this diet, you have to follow head-to-tail eating methods; you should be hydrated and avoid plant sources. Reduce the use of processed meat during this diet because they contain unwanted preservatives which are not good for your health. 

If you are on a carnivore diet, your breakfast would be egg and bone broth, lunch is chicken or meat, snacks would be fish and prawns, and dinner would be again meat. You need not count on your calories or fat intake in the carnivore diet because fat is the source of energy in this diet. 

Carnivore Diet Boosts Your Athletic Performance

The carnivore diet is the best choice for weight loss. Experts suggest that the carnivore diet has helped with mental clarity. Although the carnivore diet was followed by ancestors when there was no habitat, there is very little research that supports the safety and benefits of this diet. 

The carnivore diet is a protein-rich diet containing all essential vitamins such as A, D, K, and B12. According to a study, consuming dietary proteins and red meat can enhance your muscle mass, strengthen muscles, and make you feel strong. This also helps to reduce fractures in old age. Hence the carnivore diet is good for bone and muscle health. 

Basic nutrition is essential for good health, growth, building immunity,  providing energy, and overall physical and mental growth. But if you are a sports person, you need extra nutrition to enhance your athletic performance by reducing the risk of injuries and diseases. Your diet should help you to boost your training and recover fast from any injuries. 

Balancing energy intake is very important to prevent energy deficit or excess energy.  Energy deficits can cause several health problems such as menstrual dysfunction, loss of muscle mass, short stature, delayed puberty and increased susceptibility for fractures, illness, and injury. However excess energy may cause overweight and obesity.

According to a study, three to four weeks of adaptation of a keto diet or low carb diet in endurance-trained athletes resulted in a maintained 63% of moderate and 90% of vigorous-intensity endurance exercise. It was observed that intensities at 70% and higher would aid in fat oxidation and decrease oxygen consumption. Hence it was seen that a low carb diet or carbs restricted diet would not affect the intensity of training; in fact, it supports your body for easy weight loss, increases your stamina, and gives you better results. 

Nutritional Requirement For an Athletic Performance

Athletic performance and physique have been linked with nutrition and diet for ages. Low carb diet is one of the most preferred diet styles among athletes. Even though the carnivore diet has maximum benefits for athletic performances, it is not recommended because of high variability in performance results. Consult your trainer and physician before taking up the diet. 

Carbohydrate

Carbs are known as a traditional fueling source. The carnivore diet is gaining popularity due to the benefits of reducing carbs availability and increasing fatty acid activation as the fuel for exercise. In a carnivore diet, fat intake will be more than 80%, protein is 15%, and carbs will be less than 5%. Once the glucose in the reserves gets depleted, ketone bodies act as a source of energy. 

According to a study, the effects of high-fat and high- carbs diets on metabolism and athletic performance were observed. It was seen that high fat dietary conditions increased fat oxidation and enhanced ultra-endurance cycling performances better when compared to a high-carb diet. 

Proteins 

Proteins are the macronutrients that are required to repair and build the new cellular structure. If you are an athletic person, you might need a significant amount of protein in your diet. 

The quality of protein is evaluated by essential amino acid content (8-12g) and PDCAA (primarily digestible corrected amino acid) scores (1.0- 1.2). Animal foods are the best source of protein and have the highest content of amino acids when compared with plant sources. 

According to the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), people who perform exercise regularly would require more protein than a normal person. Hence for athletic performance, one would require 1.2-1.8 g protein per kg body weight per day

A high-quality source of proteins is recommended for athletes. Complete protein source can be defined as the source, which provided all the essential amino acids in sufficient amounts as per human metabolic requirement. 

Animal sources such as beef, turkey, red meat, dairy, eggs, fish, prawns, and seafood, etc., are considered complete protein sources and highly recommended for athletes’ performance. Plants sources do not have all essential amino acids; few of them go missing; hence animal source is the best source of protein

Fats

A low-carb-high-fat diet is gaining more importance because it helps to control body weight and fat mass while maintaining lean body mass, which is very important for athletes in weight-sensitive sports. 

In a Low-carbohydrate-high-fat (LCHF) diet, the fat oxidation rate is approximately 1.5g/min. The elevated fat oxidation rate and glycogen sparing effect will help improve the performance in ultra-endurance events. These metabolic changes will prevent the decline in performance in later stages of repeated high-intensity movements. In aerobic, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) metabolism, consistency of the diet effect becomes more important. 

Hence carnivore diet would be the best choice for athletes to maintain their performance in the long term. 

Final Words

The carnivore diet has many advantages; it is the best lifestyle change to boost your athletic performance. There is limited evidence available to support the carnivore diet’s role in athletes or sportsperson. However, the available data clearly suggests the carnivore diet has a positive impact on athletes. 

The carnivore diet is a safe diet but may not be suitable for everyone. Consult your trainer or physician before following this diet if you are looking for a sport nutritive diet. 

Dr. Rashmi Byakodi is a health and wellness writer who aims to spread awareness about health through her words. With her medical background and a passion for writing, she has been creating health content on various platforms. Dr. Rashmi believes that with the right knowledge and a healthy lifestyle, we can combat many health issues, and she strives to spread the same through her blog posts. 

Find her on LinkedIn, Quora, and Pinterest.

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