Keto diet may reduce fatigue and boost exercise recovery: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / ThitareeSarmkasa
© Getty Images / ThitareeSarmkasa
Following a ketogenic diet may help endurance athletes reduce fatigue and promote recovery, suggests a new study with lab mice.

Data published in Nutrients​ indicated that the keto diet (KD) pattern reduced lactate levels and increased locomotion after exhaustive exercise.

“Along with enhanced exercise performance, the muscle damage caused by exhaustive exercise was attenuated by KD. The diet also enhanced fatigue recovery after exhaustive exercise,” ​wrote researchers from China and Japan.

“However, it did not have a regulatory effect on muscle lipid oxidation or protein side chain oxidation. These results suggest that KD has the potential to be used as a fatigue-preventing and/or recovery-promoting diet approach for endurance athletes (their oxidative state should be monitored from time to time).”

Booming consumer interest

Consumer interest in keto diets is fairly recent. Looking at online searches​​, US consumers started extensively Googling for ‘keto’ in December 2017, the typical time for spikes in diet and wellness related terms. Searches for keto peaked last month, suggesting that the diet is top of mind for more US consumers than it has ever been, largely prompted by endorsement from celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and athletes like Tim Tebow.

The supplement industry has been quick to embrace the trend. Innova Market Insights​, a market research company, reported that in 2013, the supplement space made up 100% of all keto product launches, compared to 33.3% in 2017. The decline is only in terms of share of categories, as everything from cereals to ice cream to candies now come in a keto-friendly version.

Supplements still make up the majority of keto product launches and retailer The Vitamin Shoppe is highlighting the trend by creating a shop-within-a-shop in all its locations nationwide called Keto HQ​, a dedicated space for keto products.


Sports recovery

The new study divided lab mice into four groups: Two groups consumed normal rat chow (7% fat, 17.8% protein and 64.3% carbohydrate) and were either sedentary or active (exercise), and two groups consumed the keto diet (76.1% fat, 8.9% protein and 3.5% carbohydrate) and were either sedentary or active.

Animals consuming the keto diet lost week in as little as one week, and this was maintained for the duration of the eight-week study.

Data from an earlier study indicated that the keto diet may increase endurance during exercise, perhaps linked to an enhanced capacity to mobilize and utilize fat (Nutrients​, 2018, 10​(6), 673). The new study found that a keto diet was also associated with accelerated recovery from exhaustive exercise.

Blood analysis showed that lactate levels were lower in the keto diet-fed animals. Lactate is used as a marker of exhaustion. In addition, there was a trend towards lower creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase after 24 hours of rest, which suggested that the keto diet managed to protect muscles from delayed damage.

“Muscles experience damage and inflammation during recovery from exercise, causing delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS),” ​explained the researchers. “Several methods were attempted to relieve this phenomenon, such as foam rolling and supplementation. However, the practicability of these findings of KD in human athletes needs to be investigated further.”

Source: Nutrients
2018, 10​(10), 1339; doi: 10.3390/nu10101339
“An 8-Week, Low Carbohydrate, High Fat, Ketogenic Diet Enhanced Exhaustive Exercise Capacity in Mice Part 2: Effect on Fatigue Recovery, Post-Exercise Biomarkers and Anti-Oxidation Capacity”
Authors: Q. Huang et al.

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