Fad Diets Athletes MUST Avoid

Today there’s so many different “fad diets” that claim to make you leaner, stronger, and faster in no time. I want to talk about a few different fad diets that are popular in the mainstream. And they’re becoming popular with athletes too.

Which can be dangerous for performance.

The reason these fad diets become so popular is because they give you quick results. That means they’ll work, and they’ll work fast. However, these results are usually short-lived. In my experience, anytime one of my athletes has tried a fad diet and then stopped it, they start eating the way they used to right away and all the results fall away as well.

So, for the sake of your performance, we’ll be going over what’s good and bad about each of them. And we’ll touch on why you should avoid them.

Here are a few of the most common fad diets today and why you should be avoiding them:


Keto is a low carb diet that requires you to eat high amounts of fat and protein, and have very few carbohydrates.

The mechanism behind this diet is that your body switches its fuel source from carbohydrates to fats.

This creates problems for athletes.

Athletes need to perform at a high level, which means they need carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen, which are then used directly by the muscle as energy to move and perform/

On keto, you consume a very small amount of carbs. That means the carbohydrates aren’t readily available to use for energy, and the body has to use fat. Using fat for fuel is less efficient because it takes long to deliver energy to the muscle. This is because the body will use fat from the legs to fuel the arms, or fat from the belly to fuel the legs.

Energy from carbohydrates come from the glucose that’s stored in the muscle that’s being used.

Stay away from keto if you want peak performance.


Intermittent fasting is a diet that restricts your eating windows to a few hours a day.

The most common eating window is a 16:8. This means you have an 8 hours eating window each day, as opposed to eating throughout the day.

This diet works for some athletes, but can be the wrong move for others. It’s important to make sure that you’re careful in how you go about this.

The problems arise when it comes to your training. Food is your fuel. And a lack of fuel will affect your energy and strength levels negatively. So, if you’re an athlete who likes to train early in the morning, you’ll be low on fuel. Your training session will be lackluster.

I always find it best for athletes to make sure they’ve had some sort of carb like a starch or fruit before they train.

Athletes who train later in the day may be able to get away with skipping breakfast and intermittent fasting as long as they have some sort of fuel before their training session.

This will depend on your goals and what works best in your schedule.


The Paleo diet is based around eating foods that would have been obtained through hunting and gathering. These foods include lean meats, fish, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables. Essentially, this diet excludes processed foods and carbohydrates like pasta or rice.

Problem for athletes:

Carbohydrates are the main sources of fuel for most athletes. But, the paleo diet limits the amount of carbohydrate sources you can consume. All you can look to for carbohydrates is potatoes. And if you’re a 200 pound football player who needs 400 grams of carbohydrates, you’ll be shoveling down a whole sack of white potatoes to hit your macros.

The two most important factors of maintaining a good “diet” or creating healthy eating habits are sustainability and adherence. You want to look to create good habits that you can sustain and adhere to for the rest of your life.

With a diet like paleo, consider what you’re giving up. You’re giving up a lot of easily accessible carbohydrates that can help your performance and fuel your workouts.

The same with keto. You need to consider whether you’re able to give up carbs for the rest of your life. If not, it wouldn’t be a smart choice since you’ll be yo-yoing back and forth,

Try to look at it as a lifestyle.

If interested in learning more, you can check out Performance Nutrition – the full guide to eating for athletes.

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