With the rise in popularity of low-carb and ketogenic diets, which favor fats and proteins, carbohydrates are getting a bad rap. But for decades, research has repeatedly shown that eating carbs can help with exercise performance, especially endurance exercise (1).
So how do fats and carbs differ in fueling your body?
The efficacy of each depends on the level of exercise intensity. Fat, which the body takes longer to process, provides adequate energy at low and moderate intensities. However, higher-intensity exercises demand higher glucose levels and sap glycogen stores, requiring fast-metabolizing carbohydrates (CHO) to fuel and replenish, maximizing energy and performance. This "crossover effect" is illustrated below (2):
For exercise regimens and activities that require a variety of exertion levels, its best to fuel with foods that combine healthy fats, complete proteins, and complex carbohydrates to achieve peak performance.
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