Thursday, April 23, 2015

High Carb vs. High Fat - Where Do YOU Stand?

Simple post today, and I'm asking for some participation from you--the endurance athlete and someone who cares about good health!

After reading this article (read it!) by the highly respected Asker Jeukendrup, and after recent in-depth convos I've been having with athletes and colleagues, it's on my mind. I know my thoughts, but I want to get your thoughts...

So, I'm curious: 

Where do you stand on diet/fueling/nutrition?

Are you LCHF or more traditional higher carb? Or both/it depends? 


What works best for you?

Or, do you not even care and just eat whatever you want?

Would love to hear your comments and experiences; leave them below in this post! Or email me:


  1. Hi Tawnee. I'm LCHF. It works really well for me. I just started a blog on this, if you have time to read it!

  2. I am pretty moderate carb. I actually am trying to increase carbs, but it's hard with real food! I also lift weights and train hard for racing. If I weren't training hard, then I would probably eat less carbs by default.

  3. Lowcarb, nsng, or whatever you want to call it. It works for me. Lost 10% weight, now lean and weight is stable. Much more energy at work and home, no mood swings, no sugarcravings. Eat carbs from spinach, cale, beets and I sometimes have a potato before a long run. But body seems to fill up glycogen stores just fine anyway. Never had a bonk yet and marathon debut coming up in 5 wks (with ucan tho).Inspired by end pl, Ben G and Vinnie T. Keep up the good work and get Tim Noakes back on the show!

  4. I'm just an everyday runner, but I follow the official Danish guidelines on food (I'm from Denmark), 'the food pyramid:

    The food pyramid is high-carb, low fat: It recommends potatoes (boiled), whole grains, and high-fiber vegetables such as legumes, cabbage, carrots, and beets. It also recommends fish for healthy fats (350 grams pr week), while milk should be low fat (1/4-1/2 liter of milk pr day with 0,5% fat or less), and chicken/duck/etc should be max 350 grams pr week. The same goes for red meat, which should be low fat.

    I find that this diet is really effective for weight loss; it's easy to manage; and it means I can go have dinner with other people without too many problems. I'm 179 cm high and lost 15 kilos of body weight following this diet since last summer, dropping from 80 kg to 65 kg. Obviously, the food pyramid also prescribes: no sugar drinks, no alcohol, no cakes, candy etc - refined carbs should be kept to a minimum.

  5. The science is simply not yet there on high fat diets, so we are left with testimonials about it's impact on performance. However, research is now fairly convincing that low carb diets are associated with weight loss. Taken with what we know about high carb and performance, that suggests to me that low carb diets may be more appropriate in the off-season s a path to weight management when exercise intensity is lower, with a return to higher carb during intense training and/or after weight goal is met.

  6. Hi Tawnee. First I enjoy listening to your endurance planet podcast. I'm struggling with what's best nutrition wise. I'm a late blooming marathon runner in my late 50's and constantly looking at ways to improve my performance. Be it MAF training, 80/20 or what ever. But as far as diet is concerned, in the last 4 months I've moved away from LFHC to HFLC and NSNG - yes, Vinnie has entered into my life too. I can't say that I've noticed any improvements in my performance in the last 4 months but that said, I train without taking on board fuel and always run on an empty stomach. I seem to manage ok but whether HFLC is working is still an unknown for me. My first 50km ultra 2 weeks ago was a test for my HFLC/NSNG diet and MAF training. The race was far from perfect, I ended up taking 3 gels over the course so I can't say that HFLC worked as I hit the wall quite early. I'm determined to be more fat adapted so will stick with HFLC for sometime or until I'm convinced it's not working for me. In summary, the jury is still out. But I live in hope.

  7. I have never felt good on a higher carb diet. I suppose it's to easy to fall into the PASTA, PASTA and more PASTA mentality when you are training or racing. I tried this for a period of time, probably because it was all we had ever been told.
    I predominantly race sprint and intermediate/Olympic distance triathlons. With these shorter distances I have always found that a low carb, high fat and moderate protein intake seems to get me in a leaner, more fiesty frame. I am, by no means, an elite athlete but I place in AG most races, so I am not slow either.
    Last year I tried my first half IM. Went into the race super lean and was limiting my carb intake to almost zero (Ketogenic) the final week of training. My thought was to worry less about race day nutrition and allow my body to use the available fat stores as a source of energy. I ate nuts and jerky on the bike. I was faster in the water, slightly faster on the bike and way faster on the run. I never felt any lack of energy during the entire race. Worked for me.

  8. I've never understood the carb bashing.
    Especially knowing how, historically, each major food group gets the bashing at any one time - we've been there with protein, fat, and now carbs. That said, I know some people will do OK with higher fat - that is just not me, I collapse way before lunch if I don't get my carbs.

    My diet staple is rye bread (breakfast typical: rye bread + cheese + butter + egg/banana). Two warm meals + mid-morning snack (nuts/fruit) + afternoon snack (yoghurt/porridge/bread/meal leftovers) + evening snack (rye bread/avocadoes/eggs).

    With meals, it's often potatoes, sometimes rice or pasta. However, I eat a lot of veggies, don't overload with grains or starches, eat mostly vegetarian + a lot of eggs and fish. Sometimes a steak is a steak though, especially after 100+k bike!

    I have never eaten any low-fat foods though (OK; for yoghurt I'm used to 2% fat variety) so I eat also a lot of fatty things, avocados and nuts and don't eat much unrefined flour (rye bread in my country, Finland is whole grain). I also don't eat much sugar.

    The defining characteristic of my diet is that I never say completely no to anything. I don't much like candy or even ice cream but I sometimes eat pastries or cake. I don't eat much meat but when I do, I do so without guilt (though I like it to have lived well). The only fairly definitive no is for processed and fast foods and low-fat stuff. Yet, it's only a few weeks ago when I happily went to get fries from MacDonalds, a yearly craving.
    Considering the low-fat avoidance: I luckily read the labels in my teens when the low-fat products hit the shelves and realised they were nutritionally worse than the full fat stuff. That taught me to think for myself. In general, I'm eating quite well according to Finnish recommendations except a little less dairy + fatty instead of low-fat versions.

    On long bikes / runs I mostly have bananas, bread and energy/nut bars. On competitions, I use gels and energy bars (I get used to those on the long runs just prior races). I would never EVER train on empty stomach, and would probably be found comatose on the side of the road if I tried (I have forgotten breakfast once in my entire life, and by 11 AM it already affected my eyesight so I lost the colours until my granny fed me some food.) Also the only way to avoid huge world destroying hunger in the evening is to eat sufficiently during training, eat something right after it (typically a banana/rye bread + a boiled egg) and a good normal meal in two hours.