Low Carb Athletes

For years we have been told the benefits of eating a high carb diet, not just as athletes, but the for the average Joe too. But anyone who hasn’t had their head buries in the sand for the past couple of years would have seen a rise in the promotion of the opposite. This really goes against the grain and has many people worried or calling this style of eating completely crazy and unsustainable. After all, where do you get you energy from?

Low carb athlete Tim Olsen, record holder of the Western States 100, is probably the most predominant name thrown around by the low carb supporters, but more recently, other athletes from different sports are choosing to give the low carb diet a go and it doesn’t get any bigger than this name, LeBron James.

The reason LeBron decided to do such a dramatic switch in his nutrition was due to team mate Ray Allen who went low carb in the Sumer of 2013. Allen reportedly lost 10 pounds, was in far better shape than previously, had improved his stamina and post workout recovery. The loss of 10 pounds (or a bit over 4kg’s) is not significant by any standards, but who would want to carry that around in a long run when they may not need to.

LeBron himself had not reported on how much weight he had lost, with many experts suggesting somewhere between 10-20 pounds in his 67 day low carb trial. LeBron told Sports Illustrated “I had no sugar, no dairy, no carbs. All I ate was meat, fish, veggies and low sugar fruit”.

I think he may not have explained that correctly as veggies and fruit do contain carbs/sugar, but are obviously not refined. He probably would have been more correct in saying he ate no processed carbs.

Dr Jeff Volek, one of the worlds leading researchers in low carb/high fat, stated that many athletes are now favouring the paleo/ketogenic lifestyle due to the fact that “it can enhance stamina, boost performance and aid post workout recovery. There are benefits related to recovery and even cognition and mental clarity [for athletes],” said Volek. “The brain is very efficient at using ketones as a stable fuel source.”

While these athletes may not be runners like we are, but running around a Basketball court for a full game can be quite intense and you can’t deny the fitness of these individuals.

Paleo is definitely my preferred lifestyle. While I have tried the Keto diet on occasions, I just find it hard to stick to with a young family and not being able to have the occasional treat (which most importantly keeps the wife happy). If I was single and had no other outside influences, I would consider going keto full time as it just makes sense, but for now, paleo will do just fine.

Run Well

Chris O’Driscoll

Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)


  1. Ian
    3 years ago

    Thought it might be beneficial to mention that initial weight loss when switching to a reduced carbohydrate diet is usually fluid loss – muscle glycogen depletes, releasing fluid.

    I’m also a big fan of a moderate to low carbohydrate diet, I tend to eat mostly low carbs and have planned re-feed/replenish days. Something I also find beneficial is a once-per-week prolonged fast (18-24 hours) which is aimed at assisting my metabolic flexibility.


  2. Chris
    3 years ago

    Great points Ian. Yes, the initial kg or two is generally related to fluid loss as the body stores water with glucose molecules. I would imagine someone like LeBron wouldn’t have too much to lose anyway.
    Glad to see you are seeing the benefits of the lower carb lifestyle. Keep it up.
    Chris.

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