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Front Physiol. 2019 Jul 17;10:912. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00912. eCollection 2019.

Effects of a 12-Week Very-Low Carbohydrate High-Fat Diet on Maximal Aerobic Capacity, High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise, and Cardiac Autonomic Regulation: Non-randomized Parallel-Group Study.

Author information

1
Department of Human Movement Studies, Human Motion Diagnostic Centre, University of Ostrava, Ostrava, Czechia.
2
Sport Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ), Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.
3
Exercise Physiology, Training and Training Therapy Research Group, Institute of Sports Science, University of Graz, Graz, Austria.

Abstract

Purpose:

The aim of this non-randomized parallel group study was to examine the 12 week effects of a very low-carbohydrate high-fat diet (VLCHF) on maximal cardiorespiratory capacity, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) performance, and cardiac autonomic regulation.

Methods:

Twenty-four recreationally trained participants allocated to either a VLCHF (N = 12) or a habitual diet (HD; N = 12) group completed 12 weeks of a diet and exercise (VLCHF) or an exercise only intervention (HD). Maximal graded exercise tests (GXT) were performed at baseline, after 4, 8, and 12 weeks. A supervised HIIT session and the 30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test (30-15IFT) were conducted once a week.

Results:

Total time to exhaustion (TTE) in both GXT and 30-15IFT largely increased in both VLCHF (p = 0.005, BF10 = 11.30 and p = 0.001, BF10 ≥ 100, respectively) and HD (p = 0.018, BF10 = 3.87 and p = 0.001, BF10 ≥ 100, respectively) groups after 12 weeks. Absolute maximal oxygen uptake ( V ˙ O2max) was not changed in both groups but relative V ˙ O2max increased in VLCHF in concert with reductions in body mass (66.7 ± 10.2-63.1 ± 8.5 kg). Cardiac autonomic regulation did not reveal any between-group differences after 12 weeks. VLCHF diet induced an increase in β-hydroxybutyrate, which tended to normalize during the intervention period.

Conclusion:

The 12 week VLCHF diet did not impair high-intensity continuous or intermittent exercise lasting up to 25 min, nor did it impair maximal cardiorespiratory performance or autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity.

KEYWORDS:

30-15 intermittent fitness test; graded exercise test; heart rate variability; nutritional ketosis; β-hydroxybutyrate

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