There are still a lot of athletes, personal trainers, and who knows whom else, that keep saying athletes need carbs. Carbs to build muscle, and more carbs to fuel them. However, neither is true for athletes, or anyone else for that matter.
In my last article, “Exercise, Avoiding the Bonk, and Personal Presenteeism” I mused on whether what works for an endurance athlete (low carb, high fat) would work for someone who’s events are largely sprints. Well, last weekend I swam in the U.S. Master’s Swimming Zone Championships in Federal Way, and I’m telling you now, I was right in every way.
Even though my heart has been acting up lately (and consequently my training suffered) I swam well all weekend, gearing up for eight solid swims. In total, 2,200 yards worth of races plus warm-ups and cool downs. Never once did I have to think in terms of “meet management,” picking which events I’m going to concentrate on. I was able to go full out on everything, and came home with four gold medals, two silver and one bronze. The only event I didn’t medal in was a relay, and we came real close in that one too.
Before going low carb, I didn’t do any better in my best events, and I would not have been able to gun it for all eight events in two days either. My team mates on our gold medal winning 200 yard Freestyle Relay are happy about the new me, I guarantee. Additionally, I didn’t have any mental slips either. No turns just a little off. No bad finishes. Every start was quick and clean in my individual events and relays.
To build and maintain muscle you have to have enough protein, and enough energy to fuel the muscles through a decent amount of work. If you don’t use ‘em, you lose ‘em. But, you don’t need carbs for either. If your body is adapted to burning fat you have better muscle endurance, and better concentration.