Low-Carb Diets and Muscle Loss
Posted on: 2013-10-20 23:15:26 Ft.
Does a low-carb diet lead to muscle loss? Our answer may surprise you. Keep reading.
Low-carb diets are popular among bodybuilders and other athletes. Although, some athletes won’t go too low in carbs in fear that not only will their performance dwindle, but also they’ll sacrifice muscle. That being said, a 2012 study may change people’s opinion on low-carb diets.
In this pilot study, eight elite gymnasts who weighed, on average, 153 pounds, were put on a strenuous training program and a very low-carb (ketogenic) diet for 30 days. The diet had an average caloric intake of 1972 k/cal and virtually no carbs (i.e., 4.5 % carbs, 54.8% fat and 40.7% protein). After 30 days, there was no difference in performance. However, body weight and fat mass decreased, while muscle mass increased.
What’s even more interesting about this study is that after 3 months, the test subjects were put through another 30-day trial. They still followed the same strenuous training program, but consumed an average daily macronutrient intake of 46.8 % carbs, 38.5% fat and 14.7% protein. (Yep – that’s a whole lot of carbs!) They also consumed a few more calories per day (2275 k/cal). The results showed that performance also remained the same, but there was no difference in body weight and fat mass, which isn’t much of a surprise as they were eating more calories. However, they did not increase muscle mass like they did during the first trial.1
So does that mean low-carb diets are the way to go? We can’t say for sure. This study was relatively small and the test subjects were specific to one sport. It would be interesting to see this type of study conducted on other types of athletes and have subjects split into groups to compare diet strategies head-to-head. However, the results of this study are interesting and a low-carb diet may help you achieve your goals. Just keep in mind that everyone is different and what works for one may not for another.
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1. Paoli, A et al. 2012. Ketogenic diet does not affect strength performance in elite artistic gymnasts. JISSN. 9:34