BACKGROUND: Exercise efficiency and economy are key determinants of endurance exercise performance. In this cross-over intervention trial, we investigated the effect of adherence to a low carbohydrate, high fat (LCHF) diet versus a high carbohydrate (HC) diet on gross efficiency (GE) and (OC) during exercise, both after 2 days and after 14 days of adherence. METHODS: Fourteen recreational male athletes followed a two-week LCHF diet (<10 energy % carbohydrate) and a two-week HC diet (>50 energy % carbohydrate), in random order, with a wash-out period of three weeks in between. After 2 and 14 days on each diet, the athletes performed a 90-minutes submaximal exercise session on a bicycle ergometer. Indirect calorimetry measurements were done after 60 minutes of exercise to calculate GE and OC. RESULTS: GE was significantly lower on the LCHF diet compared to the HC diet, after 2 days (17.6±1.9 vs. 18.8±1.2%, P=0.011, for the LCHF and HC diet respectively), not after 14 days. OC was significantly higher on the LCHF diet compared to the HC diet, after 2 days (1191±138 vs. 1087±72 mL O2/kCal, P=0.003, for the LCHF and HC diet respectively), and showed a strong tendency to remain higher after 14 days, P=0.018. CONCLUSIONS: Although LCHF diets are popular strategies to increase fat oxidation during exercise, adherence to a LCHF diet was associated with a lower exercise efficiency and economy compared to a HC diet.
- Athletic performance
- high-protein low-carbohydrate