low carb diet and athlete performance Essay

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Low carbohydrate (carb) diets have been used as a weight loss treatment for many years. Recently low carbohydrate diets are being used with athletes as a performance enhancement method by changing training adaptations. This essay will examine the health risks and benefits of a low carb diet, as well as the effects of low carb diets on the endurance athlete in regards to their training and performance. There are many short term benefits of low carb diets. However there are also many long term risks that outweigh the benefits for the general population. Evidence shows that exercising on a low carb diet has positive adaptation to training for aerobic athletes. However there is not enough evidence on what the long term effect of this could be, and so the net health benefits for a low carb diet cannot be determined for athletes.
A low carb diet is associated with many short term health benefits. Most of the research for this has been done with overweight people as a way to lose weight or for people with diabetes as a treatment method. Low carb diets are good for you in the short term because they reduce cardiovascular risk indicators and do not have any effect on your kidneys.
One study found that low carb diets reduce markers of endothelial function. (Davis, et al., 2011) Endothelial function is associated with an increase in cardiovascular disease. (Davis, et al., 2011) Also low carb diets show a short term improvement in cardiovascular risk factors such as insulin resistance and HDL cholesterol. (Friedman, et al., 2012) These studies indicate that short term low carb diets are beneficial in reducing cardiovascular disease.
Another benefit is that low carb diets do not have any effect on the kidneys. It was found that being on a...

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...xercise carbohydrate availability on selection and perception of effort during prolonged cycling. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 98(1), 62-70. doi: 10.1007/s00421-006-0243-4

Lagiou, P., Sandin, S., Lof, M., Trichopoulos, D., Adami, H. O., & Weiderpass, E. (2012). Low carbohydrate-high protein diet and incidence of cardiovascular diseases in swedish women: Prospective cohort study. Bmj, 344, e4026.
Philp, A., Burke, L. M., & Baar, K. (2011). Altering endogenous carbohydrate availability to support training adaptations doi: 10.1159/000329279
Russell, W. R., Gratz, S. W., Duncan, S. H., Holtrop, G., Ince, J., Scobbie, L., . . . Flint, H. J. (2011). High-protein, reduced-carbohydrate weight-loss diets promote metabolite profiles likely to be detrimental to colonic health. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 93(5), 1062-1072. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.002188

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