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Potential risks of training on low energy

Training low: competing high has become a popular training strategy for endurance athletes. This strategy involves training with low energy reserves (glycogen depleted state) and competing with high-energy reserves (glycogen loaded) – See “Train low- Compete high” article for more information. Without careful planning and expert advice, there are risks associated with this strategy. Below are the potential pitfalls you need to be cautious of.

  1. Training with depleted carbohydrate stores reduces ability to maintain training intensity.
  2. Training for long periods of time in a glycogen depleted state results in a detraining effect.
  3. Restricting carbohydrate availability can compromise immune function.
  4. If carbohydrate is restricted for too long, both our gut and muscles reduce their ability to metabolise carbohydrate.
  5. Extended periods of exercise in a glycogen depleted state can lead to muscle loss.

Low-carbohydrate strategies should be completed on a strategic basis. These should be interspersed with carbohydrate loaded sessions and race-feeding practice. Nutrition support can help maintain training adaptations, enhance recovery and boost immune function.