So, What About Exercise On LCHF – Is It Even Possible

Short answer; Yes. Long answer; start reading some books, articles and research done on the topic. Medium answer; keep reading. I love reading books and articles. I’m lucky to be bilingual (and more actually) so I can read research in English, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish (I could brag about Spanish and German too, but let’s be honest here, there is NO way I will pick up a thick article with thousands of hard words in either of those two languages!). I reckon that’s a great thing, because often some countries are ahead of the world in different areas of research. I think Scandinavia in general are way ahead in the LCHF league. You have great books by people like Dr. Sofie Hexeberg, Dr. Annika Dahlqvist, Bjørn Ferry (Olympian), Dr Fedon Lindberg and the list goes on. Thankfully there are more English speaking authors around too, making it a little easier for the rest of the world, such as Christine Cronau, Gary Taubes and Mark Sisson. I have read quite a few books on the topic LCHF and many of them also talk about our ability to exercise and even compete in various sports when living on a LCHF diet.

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In Norway you have whole soccer teams eating LCHF, Strømsgodset and Odd Grenland. Last time I checked, you do a fair bit of training being a professional soccer player. Funnily enough, in 2010 both these teames where in the semifinals of the Norwegian Cup and Strømsgodset ended up winning that year. On LCHF that is. Let’s have a (quick?) look at what happened when they changed their diets from being very high in carbohydrates, to limiting their carbs and adding more fat. The whole team went from having an average of 34% of their energy intake from fat, to an amazing 60%. And they don’t have any carbohydrate drinks or gels during practise or games anymore. You would think their body fat percentage would become higher as a result of eating this much fat, but it actually went down. From 2008-2009 for Strømsgodset, the average body fat percentage had gone down by 1,5% (you got to remember these guys are pretty lean to start with), and if you compare these players to the elite players in Europe, they are amongst the very best when looking at body composition.

But what about the cholesterol? The players have all lowered their tri-glyceride levels by up to 20% and the overall cholesterol had minimal changes. The team is closely monitored by doctors and they are all astonished by the results (you know, conventional doctors still believe that fat is bad for you). Strømsgodset’s players also have the very highest VO2 Max in the Norwegian Soccer league.

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So, what does the players actually eat? Let’s have a look at a daily menu for one of these elite athletes who trains twice daily;

  • Breakfast; 2 eggs, 2 slices Jarlsberg cheese, 2 slices ham (like serrano or similar), water and coffee.
  • Lunch; 250grams salmon, 2-300grams vegetables, 2oomls high fat sauce
  • Snack (not every day); small bread roll, butter, Jarlsberg cheese and/or ham (like breakfast)
  • Dinner; 1/2 grilled chicken with the skin on, 200grams vegetables, 100grams fried mushrooms and 200mls high fat sauce.

Not much carbs there is it? But they seem to beat the rest of the soccer teams in Norway in the end. I am not going to go in detail about glycogen storage, insulin, blood sugar levels and how the different hormones in the body works (when eating, sleeping, training, stressing etc), but if you are really interested, send me an email (awesomeashild@gmail.com) or leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to recommend books and articles on the topic. For elite athletes (and think about how it would affect the rest of us) eating an excessive amount of carbohydrates will reduce the availability for fat as the primary energy source, it may lead to lower quality of sleep and a slower restitution process. A diet high in carbohydrate can lead to more inflammation in the body and you will get injured more easily. And of course, last, but not least, an excessive intake of carbs will lead to weight gain from fat (not muscle) and this again will lead to a higher risk of injury due to carrying to much weight and will reduce performance (i.e. you will run slower and be weaker). Many of these soccer players went from being in what they though was their peak performance abilities to becoming even better; just from changing they way they eat.

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LCHFLCHF7 LCHF6 LCHF5Not only Norwegian soccer players have tried and succeeded  with LCHF, Swedish cross country skier and biathlonist (you know, they guys that does cross country skiing and shooting in the same sport) Bjørn Ferry also changed from the traditional High Carb diet most athletes are on, to getting his energy from about 60% fat, 25% protein and 15% carbohydrates. After he did this, he managed to win gold in the Olympics (unfortunately he did beat a Norwegian dude doing this, but I guess thats’s ok). He did this starting the day with eggs and bacon. Not lots of wholemeal bread like everyone else in his team and all his competitors. All I can say is, I find it interesting. And for you Aussies Clint Robinson is another example of an Olympian who has competed in the Olympics five(!!) times in kayaking. After his first Olympics, his health started to decline. He investigated and changed his diet to LCHF. And the list goes on.

My point with all of this is, if they can do it – competing at an Olympic level and training twice a day on a low carb, high fat diet, why can’t you and I? Is it really necessary to carb load before doing long runs or rides. Do we need to eat carbs before or after a hard training session? Why don’t you try it for yourself? Change what you are currently doing, eat less carbs and more fat (and obviously some of your energy intake will come from protein) and see what happens to your body composition, strength, performance and energy levels. Remember, I am no doctor or nutritionist (98% of them would disagree with me anyway), I have just done my own research and tried for myself how it affects my body. I live by the rule “If it makes you feel good, it can’t be that bad for you right?!”

This was part two in articles about LCHF, the first one you’ll find here.

A lot of the information in this article comes from the book ‘Treningssuksess med Lavkarbo’ by Bjørn Ferry (yep, that same Olympian as above) and from Christine Cronau’s ‘Fat Revolution’. 

 

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20 Responses to So, What About Exercise On LCHF – Is It Even Possible

  1. thea says:

    Hei!
    Jeg har bladd meg litt gjennom bloggen din nå, og har lyst til å komme med litt ros 🙂 Du skriver godt, lettleselig men informativt, morsomt og med “glimt i øyet”, som man sier 😉 Og viktigst, for min del i alle fall, er at jeg ikke får denne “dette er den beste måten å gjøre det på”-følelsen jeg ofte får når jeg leser blogger om kosthold/trening/livsstil. Blæh! Og så virker du kul. 🙂 Jeg kommer til å fortsette å stikke innom! Ha en finfin søndag 🙂

  2. Jayde says:

    I have to mark “exercise” off my list of excuses to not do LCHF. Thanks! lol

  3. Regs says:

    I have a bit of a, uhm, scientific question, if you may. If excess carbohydrates go inside fat cells, where does excess fat intake go? Thanks!

    • The carbohydrates doesn’t go inside the fat cell, but triggers that reaction in your body like this:
      You eat something with lots of carbohydrates; Blood sugar spike from carbohydrate; Pancreas reacts; Pancreas creates Insulin, but too much insulin from carbohydrate overload or refined carbohydrate like cake or a cookie or white potato; This high insulin spike causes the liver to produce too many triglycerides. Triglycerides are fat in the blood; Triglycerides cause fat stores which cause the hanging fat on the body. They form fat cells.

      It’s literally impossible to overeat fat (natural fat), because it triggers our brain to send fullness signals to our stomach. When it comes to weight gain, it’ snot about the calorie in vs calorie out – because a calorie is not just a calorie. Your body reacts in different ways to carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Any type of carbohydrate will trigger the insulin response, but the simples the carbohydrate (less fibre) the more insulin will be released, and the more likely you are to store more fat. Protein and fats does not trigger the insulin response.

      You will find, if you do a little research, that people refer to insulin as the ‘fat storage hormone’.

      Does this help?

  4. Shay says:

    Hello, great site

    Just want to know what I should eat before football to have lots of energy? and how long before?

    Thanks

    Shay

    • Hi Shay, that is a pretty hard question to answer. It really depends on what you eat for the rest of the day. If you follow LCHF you may find that you don’t need to eat much, but that you get your energy from your fat stores and what you had for breakfast hours and hours ago.

  5. Sussan says:

    Hi, great article! I have a question though. Have there been any studies done comparing women to men on a LCHF diet? Do men adapt better to this regime? I have been following a LCHF way of eating for a while now but just curious.
    Thank you 🙂

    • Hi Sussan, thanks for reading. As far as I know there hasn’t been any comprehensive studies done on men vs women in LCHF. In general, there’s very little study on the effects of following a high fat diet, because it is such a controversial field. 🙂

  6. George says:

    I eat low-carb high-fat and run 100 mile trail races (160km, these take over 20 hours) with good results (I am 54 years old and finish at the top 10% usually). I can also run for a long time without eating anything. The longest so far is 50K races. I have done a couple this year with just a handful of walnuts before the race and no food during the race (5-6 hours) and had perfectly even energy levels.

  7. Pingback: Scandinavians ahead in LCHF

  8. Hi 😉 I practice mountain bike, past saturday I started with LCHF, reduced my carbs in 50 gms x day … Next weekend I am going to race in mtb marathon (3 hours time race), and my obvious question is: In race, must I eat some carbs and drink isotonic? must I do overload carbs in previous night?

    My “common sence” say “yes, you must eat in race, but must not do overload carbs in same day race (in the morning)…

    • George says:

      Follow your common sense. With time (it takes time for your body to adjust) you will become more confident in your new diet and find out that you do not need to eat as much as you thought you did, before or during exercise.

  9. free2bnew says:

    Hi! Great to “meet” you and your blog 🙂 I switched to a LCHF diet when I was four months into my pregnancy and completed my first 10km run. My goal is to do my first half marathon in October and I plan to stick to LCHF for all my training! Definitely need to read up on this topic more though so thanks for this post! Can’t wait to start following you 🙂

    • Hi and nice to ‘meet’ you too. Sounds like you have really found true love in LCHF. Wow, that is exciting about your first half marathon! All the best of luck!! Have a great weekend 🙂

  10. What kind of food do you have post workout on LCHF? What can help replenish glycogen that is still healthy? New to LCHF, having trouble keeping up my running while on this diet, I’m out of gas, have keto flue, and insomnia. Thanks!

  11. Terry says:

    Hi, only just came across this article after being recommended by a friend from the Aland Islands. I’m in England. Anyway cutting the long story short. Is your email still in use as would like some information on exercise tips that I can do. I have a disability so as you can guess cant do certain exercises. So any helps and tips would be greatly appreciated.

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