Current fueling tactics for endurance exercise encourage athletes to ingest a high carbohydrate diet. However, athletes are not generally encouraged to use fat, the largest energy reserve in the human body. A low carbohydrate, high fat ketogenic diet (KD) is a nutritional approach ensuring that the body utilizes lipids. Although KD has been associated with weight-loss, enhanced fat utilization in muscle and other beneficial effects, there is currently no clear proof whether it could lead to performance advantage. To evaluate the effects of KD on endurance exercise capacity, we studied the performance of mice subjected to a running model after consuming KD for eight weeks. Weight dropped dramatically in KD-feeding mice, even though they ate more calories. KD-feeding mice showed enhanced running time without aggravated muscle injury. Blood biochemistry and correlation analysis indicated the potential mechanism is likely to be a keto-adaptation enhanced capacity to transport and metabolize fat. KD also showed a potential preventive effect on organ injury caused by acute exercise, although KD failed to exert protection from muscle injury. Ultimately, KD may contribute to prolonged exercise capacity.
Keywords: endurance exercise capacity; keto-adaptation; ketogenic diet; muscle damage.