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Effects of a Short-Term Carbohydrate-Restricted Diet on Strength and Power Performance

Sawyer, Jason C.; Wood, Richard J.; Davidson, Patrick W.; Collins, Sean M.; Matthews, Tracey D.; Gregory, Sara M.; Paolone, Vincent J.

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: August 2013 - Volume 27 - Issue 8 - p 2255–2262
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31827da314
Original Research

Abstract: Sawyer, JC, Wood, RJ, Davidson, PW, Collins, SM, Matthews, TD, Gregory, SM, and Paolone, VJ. Effects of a short-term carbohydrate-restricted diet on strength and power performance. J Strength Cond Res 27(8): 2255–2262, 2013—The purpose of the study was to examine the effects of switching from a habitual diet to a carbohydrate-restricted diet (CRD) on strength and power performance in trained men (n = 16) and women (n = 15). Subjects performed handgrip dynamometry, vertical jump, 1RM bench press and back squat, maximum-repetition bench press, and a 30-second Wingate anaerobic cycling test after consuming a habitual diet (40.7% carbohydrate, 22.2% protein, and 34.4% fat) for 7 days and again after following a CRD (5.4% carbohydrate, 35.1% protein, and 53.6% fat) for 7 days. Before both testing sessions, body weight and composition were examined using bioelectrical impedance analysis. Three 2 × 2 multiple analyses of variance were used to compare performance variables between the habitual diet and CRD. Subjects consumed significantly fewer (p < 0.05) total kilocalories during the CRD (2,156.55 ± 126.7) compared with the habitual diet (2,537.43 ± 99.5). Body mass decreased significantly (p < 0.05). Despite a reduction in body mass, strength and power outputs were maintained for men and women during the CRD. These findings may have implications for sports that use weight classes, and in which strength and power are determinants of success. A CRD may be an alternative method for short-term weight loss without compromising strength and power outputs. The use of a 7-day CRD could replace weight loss methods employing severe dehydration before competition.

1Physical Education and Human Performance Department, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, Connecticut

2Department of Exercise Science and Sports Studies, Springfield College, Springfield, Massachusetts

3Exercise Physiology Department, Lynchburg College, Lynchburg, Virginia

Address correspondence to Jason C. Sawyer, Sawyerjac@ccsu.edu.

Copyright © 2013 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.