Can a Ketogenic Diet Effect Jiu Jitsu Performance?
How Can Keto Diet Impact Your Grappling?
The ketogenic diet has become one of the most popular nutritional regimens in recent years due to curiosity, increased scientific research, anecdotal recommendations albeit quite controversial. Although the ketogenic diet has been used clinically to treat epilepsy in children, it has yet to reach mainstream popularity among healthcare professionals due to a lack of large-scale randomized controlled trials and industrial bias. In this article I attempt to provide some basic information regarding the efficacy of the ketogenic diet and how it may benefit or impair grappling performance.
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The ketogenic diet imparts its effect by nutritionally inducing a state of ketosis. Ketosis is defined as the production of ketone bodies, molecules that our body uses to create energy. The ketogenic diet is typically comprised of high fat-low carbohydrate meals. Due to a lack of carbohydrates, the primary macromolecules used to create energy, our livers begin to oxidize fats to produce said ketone bodies. As a result, our bodies begin to depend more heavily to produce energy from our fat storage than glucose and amino acids. After beginning the diet, it typically takes up to one week to enter a state of nutritional ketosis, and around eight weeks to become fat adapted.
In recent years, there has been a pronounced increase in scientific research examining the effect of a ketogenic diet on exercise performance. Various studies in aerobic performance indicate that the ketogenic diet either has no effect or improves function. However, most data provide evidence showing that the ketogenic diet has either no effect or reduces exercise performance during anaerobic exercise or resistance training. Because grappling is both aerobic and anaerobic in nature, it is difficult to make a conclusion regarding the efficacy of ketosis in inducing performance benefits.
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Unfortunately, most of these experiments had a smaller number of subjects than may be needed to make conclusive evidence of either. Some researchers also claim that the benefits of a ketogenic diet are not attributable to the diet, but rather as a result of a calorie deficit, which is typically implicated in the diet. Differences in genetic and environmental factors are also capable of producing differing results in individuals.
There is much more to say regarding the ketogenic diet and researchers and clinicians will provide varying information regarding its effects. From my own experience, a ketogenic diet did not necessarily improve nor decrease physical performance but did enhance mental performance and focus, which are important when grappling. At this moment, I can neither recommend nor negate the effects of a ketogenic diet on performance in Jiu Jitsu. What I can say is that if a ketogenic diet helps you and you are not experiencing negative physiological consequences, there is no reason to stop.
Disclaimer: I am not a clinical nutritionist and my interpretation of the research is subjective. Please consult your healthcare provider or clinical nutritionist before attempting this diet.
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