Which Diet is Better for Cyclists: High-Fat or High-Carb?
Nutrition expert Laurent Bannock dishes on your best nutrition solution
Whether you’re looking to improve performance or shed pounds, you’ve likely heard someone mention a high-fat/low-carb or high-carb/low-fat diet. Both diets get media hype (one more than the other, depending on the week), which caused us to wonder: Which is better for cyclists? It turns out that—no surprise—the answer isn’t as clear as we would hope.
Laurent Bannock, founder and director of Guru Performance, is an expert nutritionist responsible for the training and nutrition of many elite British athletes, and quite a few celebrities as well. The fact that the fat/carb debate has become a hot-button issue, Bannock says, is overblown.
For starters, there is no one definition of what it means to be low- or high-fat, or low- or high-carb. Some experts define a fat-adapted diet as one with between 20 and 60 grams of carbohydrates per day, while other low-carb diet still allow for 100 grams per day. And a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet’s daily carb grams largely depend on your activity level.
“It’s a ludicrous conversation, which camp we’re in, high-fat or carb,” Bannock says. “We should be in both. It’s the same with, ‘Which is more important, the front or rear wheel of your bicycle?’ They’re both important.” To settle the dispute once and for all, he shared his best insights from years of research and real-world experience.