Book Review, “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance”

Science Content, Low Carb High Fat and Endurance Athletics all in the same book? Count me in! I saw this referenced on reddit in a /r/keto post and kindled it within seconds. I am an overweight keto’er and a slow runner and triathlete and I want to understand how to make the whole thing work together.

Having read a few diet books and more books on athletics I was quite surprised at the level of biochemistry in this book: it was well beyond my Grade 12 Biology. Don’t let the big chemical names deter you as the authors do a good job of integrating them into the larger picture of what is happening. Just skim the giant chemical names and look to how the discussion relates to your body processes.

Some of the body’s processes that were talked about in the book were bonking, lactic acid buildup, and when the endurance athlete’s body needs food. All of these are things that I can relate to, especially as someone who has done multi-hour distance training using the standard approach of carbo-loading and ongoing carbohydrate replacement. When the authors said that a keto-adapted athlete has a higher lactate threshold, that their brains don’t bonk, I wanted to try that with my body. When the keto-adapted ultramarathoner’s testimonial said that he did the Western States 100 on 2000 in-race calories, I didn’t want to try that but I did want to see how I performed without eating. At lunch time with my stomach grumbling I got on my road-bike and fired up a local climb to see the results.

What did I find? My body didn’t care it was out of food. On carbs I would have been a mess. Zero (no, really, zero) lactic acid buildup from the climb, neither as a burn during the exercise nor as soreness during the next couple of days. Normally I get a ton of post-exercise muscle soreness from lactic acid. Now I’m ready to try some long distance running without Gu’s and PowerBars.

What this book is not. Volek and Phinney (the authors) are not trying to give you a 12-step process. They have not created a training regimen with specific day by day workouts and feeding sessions. This is not Training Peaks nor is it a coach.

What this book is. This book gives you the How and Why of your body’s reaction to different foods. It explains the reasons why your body and mind behave one way on carb-fueling and another way while keto-adapted. This book actually tells you what it means to Bonk.

If you aren’t a keto-er or are solidly ensconced in the current group-think of carbohydrates as the best energy and fats as “baaaaad” then this book will probably not change your mind. If you are an endurance athlete who has suffered from GI problems, bonking or weight problems then I encourage you to buy it and read it as it could really change your life.

Book Review, “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance”

Jeff S. Volek, Stephen D. Phinney

Paperback: 172 pages
Publisher: Beyond Obesity LLC (April 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0983490716
ISBN-13: 978-0983490715

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