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on May 4, 2012
This is not an completely unbiased review. Having "caught" a bad case of Type 2 diabetes a year ago I quickly discovered Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars and followed his (still somewhat controversial) ketogenic diet plan, and began to devour as much information as possible on low-carb diets. Although I found inspiration from many places (including Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health (Vintage), and Dr Feinman's blog), the more I read, the more I came across Phinney and Volek.

Their companion volume The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable gave me the best possible practical guide and scientific justifcation for pursuing a low-carb lifestyle, and gave me the confidence to reduce my HbA1c from 10.2% to 4.5% (a properly non-diabetic number).

However, as a keen runner training for a half-marathon, I had still had significant concerns about attempting endurance events without resorting to carbohydrate fuelling that would disrupt my ketosis and aggravate my diabetes. Despite many hours trawling the internet I couldn't find much quality advice on ketosis and athletic perfomance, and had many questions relating to "liver-dumping" and the necessity for pre and post exercise fuelling. This book answered every question and I devoured it in a single sitting.

After adopting their advice (as predicted) I ran two of the worst 5k races of my life, followed by rapid improvements week by week, which eventually led to me knocking almost 2 minutes off my 5k PB. I can't wait to run my first carb-free half marathon later this year.

It's too easy to say that a book changed your life, but in this case both the "Art and Science Books" have fundamentally impacted my health and my athletic performance.

Very highly recommended.
1919 comments257 of 262 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I am a great admirer of the work of the authors Dr. Jeff Volek and Dr. Stephen Phinney who I am privileged to call personal friends of mine. These two men have done some of the most extraordinary research into the health benefits of low-carb diets in the past few decades and deserve an enormous amount of respect for their contribution to the world. They teamed up with Duke researcher Dr. Eric Westman on New Atkins for a New You in 2010 and then released their phenomenal book The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living in 2011.

As a follow-up book to the latter release, Volek/Phinney wanted to share some important information about how a high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet is an excellent way to maximize athletic performance by advocating for athletes to get into a keto-adapted state in this book THE ART AND SCIENCE OF LOW CARBOHYDRATE PERFORMANCE. And for the niche audience of trainers and athletes wanting to choose the low-carb path to maximized performance, this book is excellent.

However, there is a section in this book that I believe includes invaluable information for EVERYONE who wants to be as healthy as they can possibly be. Beginning on page 89 in the "Personalization" chapter, Volek/Phinney discuss "finding your ketone zone" and encourage people to begin measuring their blood ketones using a monitor very similar to a blood glucose monitor. While the testing strips for measuring your blood levels of ketosis can be a bit pricey (each strip costs about $2-6 depending on where you find them - See the cost of the Ketone Test Strips here on Amazon), the information you learn about yourself is incredible! Far too often, people who eat a low-carb diet use Ketostix to measure the ketones in their urine. This can be an insufficient way to measure ketones, so the blood ketones are much more reliable.

Since reading this book a couple of months ago, I have made tweaks to my low-carb diet suggested in the book to raise blood ketone levels to the suggested .5-3.0 millimolar level where "nutritional ketosis" can take place. I went into this level by Day 4 (after starting at .1 on the first day despite eating a pretty good low-carb diet for years) and haven't come out since. Hunger is zapped, energy level has skyrocketed, mental clarity is sharper than it has ever been, I'm eating about 85% fat in my diet with no ill effects--oh yeah, I've lost over 25 pounds and counting! It's amazing how shifting the focus to some rather simple things like cutting carbohydrates and protein, increasing fat and exercise and getting ample amounts of medium chain triglycerides can make such a noticeable difference in how well your body functions and performs.

So if you're considering getting this book and wonder if it is ONLY for athletes, the answer is no. YOU need this book and probably don't even know it. Get it and read all 162 pages--absorb the information, apply it to your own life and watch the magic of livin' la vida low-carb become real right before your very eyes. If you're a long-term low-carber and think you're doing well, start testing your blood ketones to see where you REALLY stand. It might just shock you!
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on May 6, 2012
For those new to low-carb but with some exercise experience, this book explains both how to follow a good low-carb diet in plain English, and also how to achieve great exercise results while doing so. For long-time low-carbers, it offer tips to fine-tune your keto-adaptation.

I think there's a special audience for this book as well - women. Many women who've tried every other diet eventually try low-carb and are delighted with the results. Yet after a time they may plateau. How to break through? Exercise!

But how to exercise when low-carb? Most exercise books will tell you serious exercise is impossible without carbs. So a lot of women don't expand beyond their usual walking or light yoga. This book should help reassure women that endurance and resistance exercise is possible & helpful. It definitely puts the "carbs are necessary for exercise" myth to rest.

How to use your already existing keto-adaptation to your maximum advantage? Low-carb books will tell you that you need to exercise, but they don't help explain why exercise plus low-carb is uniquely effective. This book does.

Exactly how deep in ketosis are you now and would getting more deeply into it improve both your weight-loss and exercise? Drs. Volek and Phinney tell you how to figure this out for yourself with an inexpensive glucometer, which will remove a lot of frustrating trial-and-error.

Finally women can see how dialing their carbs up and down affects their level of ketosis, allowing them to measure and control their keto-adaptation to support their personal weight and exercise goals. The book closes with some snapshots of intense athletes, including a 60-year-old female low-carb marathon runner!

This book is a great companion to the authors' other two: New Atkins for a New You, as well as the seminal Art & Science of Low-carb Living. I recommend you get all 3.

I also hope they expand the "Art & Science" concept to all aspects of low-carb. I'd love to see and Art & Science for diabetics, for women, for kids & teens, for college students, for those with thyroid issues, for autoimmune conditions, for mothers-to-be and those breastfeeding, etc. Writing in the same plain and clear style, such a series could delve into the concerns of each group to offer hope and practical advice.
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on May 1, 2012
A great short intro. I found this unusually good book. Unusual in that I expected excellence -- the authors are colleagues and are considered among the handful of most important low-carobhydrate researchers -- but, maybe because the emphasis is on performance which I know less about, it really grabbed me. The book gives a real feeling for the principle and while it would be of most benefit to competitive athletes who wanted to go all out in realizing the potential of fat-burning performance, it is a good entree for the general reader. The earlier "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable" is the best comprehensive introduction.

Richard David Feinman
Professor of Cell Biology
SUNY Downstate Medical Center
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on August 28, 2012
Should get ten stars. This is a must read for athletes. I have been keto-adapted for several years and I experience everything they mention. I can go all day and I never get hungry or tired. I'm always bursting with energy. I never bonk or hit the wall. I can do a thirty mile bike ride on an empty stomach after a 16 hour fast and I don't get hungry or tired or fuzzy headed. Humans are designed by evolution to be able to do all this. It is our high carb modern diet that has made us so maladapted. I used to be hungry all the time and tired often, before switching to a low carb high fat diet.
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on December 23, 2012
This is the first and possibly still only book that talks in depth about why a very low carb ketogenic diet may not just be useful for weight loss, insulin-resistance, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, epilepsy and autoimmune diseases but also to significantly improve athletic performance. The authors have many years of research experience in the field of low carb nutrition and had published another outstanding book, "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living" last year which focused on the details of doing low carb eating the right way by avoiding the many possible pitfalls.
This new book is written for athletes who want to improve their performance, but also for people who want to be athletes and never could be because their body would not cooperate on a higher carb diet.
The authors explain in detail how on a higher carb diet the body is dependent on glucose for most of its functions including muscle functions and brain function.
Glucose can only be stored in our body in a fairly limited amount, somewhere around 2000 calories. When this supply is close to being exhausted we need to refuel with carbohydrates to keep functioning or we will "hit the wall" as endurance athletes call it, meaning our brain and muscles are running out of fuel. When eating a high carbohydrate diet our body can not quickly switch from fueling with carbohydrate to fueling with fat, even though even a slim person has 40,000 calories of energy on their body at all times from fat.
This fat can only be accessed to fuel the muscles and the brain for most of their energy needs if the body is used to using it. Fat is converted to ketones which can fuel the muscles and the brain for most of their energy needs in a keto-adapted person.
For keto-adaptation to happen carbohydrate intake has to be drastically reduced, usually at least down to 50 grams/day, in many people to under 20 grams/day at least initially. The reason is that higher carb levels than this will lead to more insulin production and insulin inhibits release and use of fat from our fat storage cells. The graphics in the book show that with even moderate carbohydrate intake (of any form) there is too much insulin for the body to be able to access any significant amount of fat as fuel.
Once carb levels are lowered enough the body will start producing ketones from fat and from that point on it takes a few weeks for our body to make all the necessary changes to become fully keto-adapted. The whole process typically takes about 6 weeks, which is why many benefits of a low carbohydrate diet are only optimized after this period. Some improvements, like a lack of hunger and a reduction in body fat, can be seen much earlier, often after just a few days.
Once the body is fully keto-adapted something amazing happens:
Fat use during exercise increases tremendously with moderate exercise for both endurance exercise and resistance training. In a study of high-level cyclists who had been keto-adpated for 4 weeks the average fat oxidation per hour at about 65% VO2max was about 90 grams/hour.
So far I have just summarized the first three chapters. The rest of the book talks about implementing the diet, macronutrient levels, faster recovery rates on ketogenic diets and fluid and mineral management.
Just to make sure nobody who buys this book is going to be disappointed: The diet itself is not very different from what you can find in the original Atkins diet: low carb and high fat although there is some additional info here as well. The main benefit I get from this book is to understand how to optimize a low-carb diet to get far superior results from the time I spend exercising.
I am planning to measure this by recording my body weight, body fat percentage vs. lean muscle mass and by recording improvements in my running and resistance training over the next 3 months.
This book gives enough detail to helpful for serious athletes but is written in a way that anyone who wants to live a healthy lifestyle can understand it.
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on August 16, 2012
Although I am far from being an athlete I did spend the 1980s bodybuilding and competing on a local level. I used a low-fat, high-carb diet to train. So I have enough empirical experience to be able to report that the 80s sucked for me. I actually didn't care if I lived or died; I felt that horrible. At age 52 I've been eating low-carb for almost 2 years now and I feel great. I want to thank anyone and everyone who has risked "everything" to promote a low-carb lifestyle. You have saved my life, literally. I'm just so sorry it took me this long to give up my high-carb addiction... what a waste of 50 years. This book is perfect for someone like me who needs my "fix" of low-carb literature each day.
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on August 4, 2013
Well written, highly credentialed and experienced in subject matter authors, well documented, and thorough coverage of the topic. They basically make the case that high carb diets and carbo-loading for endurance athletes is outdated. And they make the case that the exact opposite is what yields the best results: high fat, low carb. One reason that high carb might still be so prevalent is that it takes 2-3 weeks for your body to adapt to a low carb, high fat diet. Results don't come until after you are fully "keto-adapted." Most athletes are apparently not patient enough to go through this frustrating adaptation process.

Ketones are the breakdown products of fats that your brain can burn for energy. But, if lots of sugar from carbs are present in the blood, then the brain will not burn ketones, only sugar. It takes two weeks of consistently maintained target blood levels of ketones in order for the brain to produce enough ketone pumps to allow enough into the brain cells for normal energy production. The main inhibiting factor for high blood ketone levels is insulin. The only way to keep insulin levels low enough to allow ketones to rise high enough is to stay away from high amounts of dietary sugars and carbs.

Along with low insulin levels comes the transition allowing muscles to burn fatty acids instead of glucose. Since body stores of glucose are at best 2 hours worth of energy, and fat stores are essentially unlimited, we see that muscles trained to burn fat instead of glucose as their primary fuel is optimal for endurance sports. And, not only will your muscles never run out of fuel (even if you don't refuel during your race), but neither will your brain. In fact, the worst part about "hitting the wall" due to low glycoge/glucose stores during a race is mental confusion due to low blood glucose.

In a study of several non-athletes who were keto-adapted, researchers injected insulin into the subjects until blood glucose levels fell below 30 (normal is 70-120). At this low level, not only did the subjects not fall into a coma, but they didn't have any symptoms of low blood sugar! This is because their brains were burning fat (ketones) for energy, not sugar, making the low glucose levels irrelevant to proper brain function!

Obviously, there are non-athletic implications for a low carb diet: natural diabetes control, weight loss (targeting fat loss), and preventing symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). It turns out that about 70% of people with seizures are cured by a keto-genic low carb diet.

The coolest part of the book is biofeedback available with an inexpensive "ketone" testing machine similar to a diabetic blood sugar testing machine that allows you to know in black and white whether your diet and exercise routine is working or not. If you aren't getting the results you were promised, but your blood levels of ketones are too low, then you know it's because you are doing something wrong. You can test your blood after eating certain foods to get immediate feedback on that food's impact on your body as far as ketones (and thus indirectly insulin) are concerned.

The nova max ketone tester is the one I use because its test strips are about half the cost of the other brand. You can find and purchase these on amazon as well.

Now that I am keto-adapted for a few weeks now, I have noticed a few differences in my running workouts. 1) My energy is much more stable throughout the workout, 2) I seem to get less dehydrated during workouts (this is likely due to the fact that burning fat uses less water than does burning sugar), 3) I don't seem to have to breath as hard (this might be due to the fact that burning fat gives off 25% less CO2 than burning sugar), and 4) The runners high is less obvious at the end of my workout (upon reflection, I think that this is because I seem to have a low level of runners high all the time now, not just after running).

One downside is that I seem to be thirstier between workouts. In the book they say that when ketoadapted, the body shifts from conserving sodium and peeing out potassium, to conserving potassium and peeing out sodium. This may explain why I am thirstier since if I am peeing out my salt, I can't retain as much water, thus am more dehydrated easier. It is interesting that even though I feel more dehydrated between workouts, my mouth is much more moist during workouts. Maybe this is because I'm not breathing as hard during the workout?
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on July 25, 2012
I highly recommend this book. I've read a lot about low-carb and ketogenic diets but I could never find anything that specifically talked about athletes on a ketogenic diet. I was searching and hoping to find a journal article or any study that would help me decide if keto was right for. I found this book and was more than impressed. If you are active and wondering if this book is for you, it is. I'm just a recreational athlete that likes to do CrossFit and so far this is working great.

Very simple to understand yet thorough at the same time. The authors do a great job of explaining things in layman's terms yet still cover the scientific basis of the ketogenic diet. Just get the book and then give it to all your Paleo friends that insist the body needs carbs to function. I'll give you a hint....your muscles do NOT need to replenish glycogen stores when they are oxidizing fat for fuel!
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on September 26, 2012
I can't wait until "conventional wisdom" catches up with this research and athletes in particular start finding what the human body is really capable of when fed properly. I have been eating like this for several years now and I couldn't conceive of any other way. If you are an athlete or just someone interested in perfect health I recommend this book as the best place to start your journey.
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