In this 3rd part of the dossier on Carbohydrates, we discuss the Train-Low diet. Not to confuse with a low intensity session or an altitude training camp. Here we talk about a “nutritional” manipulation that maximizes the effects of training to improve performance in endurance sports.
THE TRAIN-LOW IN THEORY.
The aim of this diet is to promote the use of fats, improve energy efficiency and increase the activity of oxidative enzymes. Only mechanisms that refer to the energy chain of endurance: the more these mechanisms are developed, the more endurance performance is important.
An occasional use of this diet can be accompanied by an improvement in performance on long events. Example: You use your fat more effectively during exercise, which allows you to save carbohydrates. This sparing allows you to use them through a higher intensity of exercise, if you decide to increase the pace. However this diet also has its drawbacks: a carbohydrate deprivation of several days to several weeks can result in:
– A loss of efficiency of your muscles to use carbohydrates. You burn them more slowly. This results in an inability to sustain intensities as high as usual.
– A greater degradation of the lean mass of your body (your muscles). In fact, your body compensates for the lack of carbohydrates by other energy sources available: the proteins located in your muscles. So you lose your qualities of strength.
– A disturbance of your immune system, which increases the possibility of getting sick (see more). Logical impact: the inability to maintain the planned training program.
– A higher level of fatigue, linked to all the changes that allow your body to adapt to this diet. In practical terms, you need more time to recover.
THE TRAIN-LOW IN PRACTICE.
It consists of a deprivation (or at least a restriction) of carbohydrates at the hours that surround the training, you know that now. Different scenarios then exist. We recommend the following:
– A low intensity training session carried out under fasting conditions and lasting from 30′ to 60′. Simple and quite effective.
– A long workout without carbohydrate intake. Note that in this case, an electrolyte intake will be important to compensate for the mineral deficit induced by sweat losses. In addition, a caffeine intake may promote the use of fats that will then serve as fuel during exercise.
– Limit carbohydrate intake throughout the day until training, prioritizing fat and protein.
– The bi-daily session: a 1st session performed at low intensity (possibly fasting) whose aim will be to degrade part of the carbohydrate reserves. Following this session, limit/delete all carbohydrate intake. Carry out a 2nd training session a few hours after the 1st, this one being ideally carried out at high intensity in order to hammer the nail on the use of sugars (cf. example below).