Is there a single optimal diet for both performance and longevity? In the popular media at least, we’ve swung from following a low-fat, high-carb diet and thinking that saturated fat will kill us to promoting low-carb, high-fat diets, with a huge side of butter in our morning coffee. With respect to health and longevity, it is clear that diets high in refined carbohydrates are detrimental to both the general population looking for health and for athletes looking to optimize performance. It is also clear that low carbohydrate and ketogenic diets can be powerful therapeutic interventions for metabolic dysfunction and some neurological conditions. We even have animal experimental studies to suggest that low carbohydrate diets may extend lifespan and healthspan. But do dietary carbohydrates need to be demonized? Would everyone achieve better health from eating fewer carbs? On the athletic performance side, there are many traditional coaches, athletes, and sport science researchers suggesting that carbohydrates are necessary for performance and that an athlete could never thrive on a low carb or ketogenic diet. However, in recent years an increasing number of athletes and researchers have been demonstrating that it is possible to have the best of both worlds – health and performance – while consuming a lower carbohydrate, higher fat diet. Nevertheless, there are nuances to the implementation of low carbohydrate diets, and the diet that works for an individual today may not be the diet that works for that same individual five years from now. While low carbohydrate and ketogenic diets are powerful therapeutic interventions, there are circumstances where they may not be appropriate. Thus, it is important to have many different dietary strategies in the tool box and not be married to any particular one. This lecture will discuss 1) the ways in which long-term eating and living at dietary extremes can be (potentially) detrimental and common pitfalls that arise when trying to optimize for health and performance simultaneously, 2) how, by implementing a well-formulated, personalized low carbohydrate diet, an individual can have the best of both worlds, and 3) factors other than nutrition that, if overlooked, could sabotage health, performance, and longevity goals.
Megan Roberts received her BS in Exercise Biology and MS in Nutritional Biology at UC Davis where her research focused on the effects of low carbohydrate and ketogenic diets on longevity and healthspan in mice. She currently works as Scientific Director at Nourish Balance Thrive, an online health coaching company helping people achieve optimal health and peak performance. In her free time Megan enjoys reading, strength training, and hiking in the Colorado mountains.
Dr. Ed and Judy Galbavy: Carousel House
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