7 Supplements That Help You Perform Better On A Low Carbohydrate Diet
1. Sodium.When you shift to a low carbohydrate or a ketogenic diet, your body loses storage carbohydrate, and also begins excreting sodium and water. When this happens, your blood pressure quickly drops, and much of the low energy that is attributed to “low blood sugar” when eating low carbohydrates is actually due to this low blood pressure.
Because of this, if you experience feelings of lightheadedness or sluggishness (especially during your workouts) you should include extra sodium in your diet. One strategy is to get 1-2g of extra sodium during the day by using vegetable or chicken bouillon cubes.
You’ll need to especially be sure to include extra sodium (close to 1g is good) about 30 minutes prior to your workout.
2. Branched Chain Amino Acids.BCAA supplementation after exercise has been shown to cause faster recovery of muscle strength, and even more interestingly, the ability to slow down muscle breakdown – even during intense training and “overreaching” (getting very close to overtraining).
When you supplement with BCAA’s, they can decrease the blood indicators of muscle tissue damage after long periods of exercise, thus indicating reduced muscle damage, and they also help maintain higher blood levels of amino acids, which can make you feel happy even when you’re suffering during exercise.
But most importantly, if you’re on a low carbohydrate diet, when taken prior to a fasted exercise session, BCAA’s could improve your fat oxidation and utilization of storage fatty acids as a fuel.
But you don’t have to take a steak (or your pea and rice protein powder blend) out with you on your workouts. Most of the clients I coach are now simply popping 5 Master Amino Pattern capsules during their long workouts or races, and getting extremely fast absorbing EAA’s in the process.
Master Amino Pattern capsules are spendy, but if you want the best of AA’s, this would be the way to go. 10 before very long workouts, then 5 every hour.
4. Glutamine.Glutamine plays a role in muscle glycogen synthesis and whole-body carbohydrate storage.
An oral dose of glutamine at about 8 grams can promote storage of muscle glycogen to levels similar to consuming straight glucose, which is especially useful when you don’t have much glycogen (storage carbohdyrate) to go around due to a low carbohydrate diet.
Glutamine supplementation has also been shown to enhance glucose production during exercise. Once again, if you’re carbohydrate restricted in your diet, this can be good news. There’s also some evidence that supplementation with glutamine may be effective for preventing immune suppression from strenuous exercise.
5. Taurine.In a study entitled “Potentiation of the actions of insulin by taurine”, the amino acid taurine was shown to have a carbohydrate sparing effect. Taurine may also amplify the effect of insulin, allowing for more efficient carbohydrate utilization.
Research on taurine and caffeine containing beverages have shown that during prolonged endurance exercise, decreased heart rate and decreased catecholamine (stress hormones) are observed compared to using caffeine alone. Based on this, many folks will slam a Red Bull energy drink during a tough, long event.
But I don’t recommend Red Bull, for a variety of reasons, including the presence of artificial sweeteners and citric acid. Instead, you can just do 2g of a taurine supplement, about 30-60 minutes prior to a tough or long exercise session in a relatively carbohydrate depleted state.
—————————————–medium chain triglyceride oil and coconut oil can be a tremendous asset for keeping your energy levels high.
The stuff is easy to use: just take 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil or 2-3 doses of medium chain triglyceride oil about 30-60 minutes before you head out for a workout session.
You could technically repeat this dosage every 2-3 hours during something like a long bike ride, but it can be logistically difficult and messy to carry oils (feel free to leave a comment below if you have a good solution for this).
7. Magnesium.Although a low carbohydrate diet doesn’t massively deplete magnesium in the same way that it does sodium, upon switching to a low-carb diet (especially when combined with intense exercise) many people experience nighttime leg cramping and more muscle discomfort during exercise, and this is likely due to low magnesium.
About 70% of people don’t get anywhere near enough magnesium, and if you’re leaching magnesium with a combination of your sweating and a low carbohydrate diet, you’re almost guaranteed to have some muscle twitching issues. Considering that over 300 enzymes require magnesium as a co-factor to make them work properly, it’s a smart move to add magnesium into a low carbohydrate diet.
You can do about 300-500 milligrams of something like Natural Calm Magnesium before you go to bed at night (I find that this really helps me sleep better), and then 10-15 sprays of a topical magnesium on each leg immediately before your workout. Back off the total amount of magnesium you consume if you get loose stool.