#1 It can help you lose weight
If one of your goals for exercise is to manage your weight or improve body composition then low carb can be a great tool. In our previous blog post about weight wellness, we described how reducing carbs can help you feel less hungry and burn more calories. A lot of sports become a lot more enjoyable and fun when you’re at your optimal weight.
#2 You become better at burning fat
The human body is very adaptable. When you start eating more fats instead of carbs it will also quickly adjust and start burning more fats for energy. This process is called fat adaptation and it’s very useful for exercise. It unlocks an extra energy source for you. One study showed that ultra-endurance runners who followed a low carb diet were able to burn 2,3 times more fat during a long run compared to runners on a high carb diet (1). Having this ability to burn more fat any time you exercise can also be helpful for weight loss and several other reasons too.
#3 You can enjoy exercise without sugar
The best thing about fat adaptation is that your body doesn’t need much sugar. When you exercise on a high carb diet, your body switches to burning sugar as the main source of energy around 50 % of your maximal effort. That happens even at a very slow jog or bike ride. When you are fat adapted your body uses fat as the main source of fuel all the way up to 70 % of your max effort (1). That means you can work out hard or run fast and still keep your sugar intake low.
#4 You get tired later
Having this extra source of energy in a form of fat turns out to be very helpful when your activity lasts a long time. Studies show that endurance athletes on a low carb diet get tired later than those eating a high carb diet (2). It can help marathon runners avoid “hitting the wall” which is when they run out of energy with many kilometres still left in the race. But it can also come in handy on longer hikes or bicycle trips.
#5 It is easy on the stomach
It’s always good to bring a snack when you set out on a long bicycle trip or hike. But too many sugary drinks and snacks can be hard on the stomach, especially when you’re on the move. Another benefit of being fat adapted is that you don’t need to eat that often. We all have plenty of fat stores to keep us going even when snacks are running low or when the stomach refuses to digest more.
How to best fuel your exercise with less carbs?
You can start small. Try having a low carb breakfast and see how you feel when you exercise after. When you’re ready to commit fully check out our 5-day low carb meal plan to get started. Having 3-4 nutritious low carb meals every day will give you the best chance to enjoy all of the benefits mentioned in this article.
The next step is to think about exercise specifics. We go over what to eat before exercise and after it in our previous blog posts. You can find tips for meals, snacks, and sweat treats along with recipes in there.
Eating low carb is a great choice for anyone who wants to stay active and enjoy exercise. Now you know that it’s not only ok to do sports without sugar but it can even have benefits in certain scenarios. Explore our recipes and blog for more inspiration for your healthy lifestyle.