Photograph Credit score: Shutterstock
Every runner has an optimum racing weight. I outline this as the burden at which a runner performs greatest in races. As a result of runners are extra usually above their optimum racing weight than proper at it, they have a tendency to affiliate shedding weight with gaining efficiency. This affiliation leads some runners to make weight reduction their major focus and to push efficiency into the background.
The issue right here is that it’s doable to reduce weight in a means that unnecessarily limits and even sabotages efficiency. Certainly, the dietary and coaching strategies that produce essentially the most weight reduction are solely totally different from people who maximize efficiency. In the event you follow the strategies which might be simplest for weight reduction, the very best final result is that you’ll enhance extra slowly and to a lesser diploma than you’ll in any other case. And within the worst-case situation, you’ll find yourself under your optimum racing weight and slower than you have been once you began the method.
In different phrases, in case your aim is most efficiency, you could keep targeted on efficiency. Eat and prepare to get sooner and belief that your weight will maintain itself. Don’t eat and prepare to get lighter and depend in your efficiency to enhance because the quantity on the toilet scale comes down.
Let’s get particular. The best option to reduce weight is to take care of a low-carb weight loss plan and comply with a principally high-intensity coaching program. The best option to achieve health is to take care of a moderate- to high-carb weight loss plan and comply with a principally low-intensity coaching program. However don’t take my phrase for it—let’s have a look at the analysis.
Operating on Empty
Plenty of research have proven that well-trained endurance athletes who change from a moderate- to high-carb weight loss plan to a low-carb weight loss plan get even leaner than they have been to start with. The latest research of this type was performed by a workforce of Polish researchers led by Adam Zajac. Eight aggressive mountain bikers have been positioned on every of two diets for 4 weeks in random order. One weight loss plan was excessive in fats and low in carbohydrate, consisting of 15 p.c carbohydrate, 70 p.c fats, and 15 p.c protein. The opposite weight loss plan was balanced, consisting of 50 p.c carbohydrate, 30 p.c fats, and 20 p.c protein.
The low-carb weight loss plan made the athletes considerably leaner. After 4 weeks on the low-carb weight loss plan, their physique fats proportion was 11.02. Examine that to a mean physique fats proportion of 14.88 after 4 weeks on the balanced weight loss plan. However the fats loss that the athletes skilled on the low-carb weight loss plan was related to a major decline in efficiency. On the balanced weight loss plan, the themes generated 257 watts at lactate threshold depth and 362 watts throughout a 15-minute maximal effort. On the low-carb weight loss plan, these numbers dropped to 246 watts and 350 watts. In response to the research authors, the reason for the decline on the low-carb weight loss plan was impairment of the muscle tissues’ potential to burn carbs, which is vital to efficiency at greater intensities.
Practice Slower to Get Quicker
For causes that stay a thriller to me, many specialists who unwisely advocate low-carb diets for runners additionally advocate a coaching strategy that’s primarily based on high-intensity intervals. This advice is equally misguided, as a result of coaching applications which might be biased towards velocity work fail to enhance operating efficiency as a lot as conventional applications biased towards low depth although they stimulate better fats loss.
This was proven most not too long ago in complete research performed on the College of Salzburg. Forty-eight endurance athletes, a plurality of them runners, have been assigned to 4 totally different coaching teams: a high-volume group that did a lot of coaching at low depth and none at excessive depth, a threshold group that did a stability of labor at low and average intensities, a high-intensity group that did 57 p.c of its coaching at excessive depth and the remaining at low depth, and a “polarized” group that did 68 p.c of its coaching at low depth and 24 p.c at excessive depth. The entire athletes accomplished a battery of efficiency exams each earlier than and after 9 weeks of coaching.
The high-intensity protocol had the strongest impact on physique weight, by an extended shot. In reality, it was the one coaching program that had any impact on physique weight. On common, members of the high-intensity group misplaced 3.7 p.c of their beginning weight whereas members of the opposite three teams stayed proper the place they have been firstly.
However efficiency was one other story. The athletes within the extra conventional, polarized coaching group skilled a mean 17.four p.c enchancment in time to exhaustion in a graded train check, or precisely double the development seen within the high-intensity group. Enhancements in cardio capability and in peak velocity or energy in the identical graded train check have been additionally considerably better within the polarized coaching group.
It’s Your Selection
Analysis evaluating the consequences of various diets and coaching applications on runners current a transparent selection. If you wish to look quick, eat a low-carb weight loss plan and comply with a high-intensity coaching program. No different strategy will make you leaner. However in case you’d reasonably be quick (whereas nonetheless wanting the half), comply with a moderate- to high-carb weight loss plan and do most of your coaching at low depth.