Ultrarunner/Clinical Nutritionist Offers His Take on High Fat Diet for Endurance Athletes
Dr. Carwyn Sharp traces his interest in nutrition to his undergraduate days when he earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Human Movement Studies at the University of Queensland. He also holds a Master of Science in Kinesiology and Exercise Science from Ball State University and a Ph.D. in Clinical Nutrition/ Nutritionist from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He also has 14 years of coaching experience including as the Head Performance Coach at Elite Training 4 Athletes. In addition, he is an accomplished athlete with a marathon PR of 2:46 and is a competitor in ultra-distance running races.
Today, Sharp is Chief Science Officer for the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). His interest in nutrition is personal as well as professional.
“I got into endurance sports and more recently have been dabbling in a high-fat diet,” Sharp says. “There are a lot of endurance athletes using high-fat diets. You’re training your body to utilize fat.” This approach avoids the problem of carbohydrate-dependency for athletes whose workouts or events, such as marathons or Iron Mans that last three or more hours and require replenishing of the carbohydrates.
“If you’re dependent on a high-carb diet, which most athletes are, you can have a problem,” Sharp says. “You’ve got enough fat to last for days. It intrigued me. The benefits of the high-fat diet opposed to the high-carb diet are pretty evident.” The downside to high-fats diets, he says, is that it leads the body to excrete sodium at a higher rate than carbohydrate users.
I felt better once I had taken the extra sodium. Since then, I always have it around just in case.
“You need to replace a lot of fluids and a lot of electrolytes,” he says, especially in the high-altitude area like Colorado Springs where I live.
“I was looking for a product I could take during longer workouts. When you go out on these long training bouts or race events, having something palatable is very helpful. A lot of times when you’re running, you don’t have access to soup along the way. You want something tasty as opposed to water and tablets. For me, I was having some GI problems. I have a fairly sensitive stomach. You want something in liquid form.”
Sharp met David Belaga of The Right Stuff at an NSCA conference and tried the product during the 2013 Leadville Trail 100 (mile) race in Colorado.
“I was really dehydrated,” Sharp recalls. “I felt better once I had taken The Right Stuff. Since then, I always have it around just in case. I recommend it to athletes. I recommend it to anybody who’s interested in trying a higher-fat diet. It certainly something worth trying. One of the keys is that it is a no-calorie product. I think some people consume too many calories.”[Editor’s Note: The Right Stuff® is NSF Certified for Sport which means every batch is tested and cleared not to contain any banned substances, heavy metals or any other adulterants; learn more: http://nsfsport.com/listings/certified_products_results.asp ]