Low Carb Training for Endurance Athletes

Manipulating carbohydrate (CHO) intake can be beneficial for long distance endurance training and potential weight loss. This is usually done around training sessions to reduce the body’s carbohydrate availability for a workout. At GPC Squad, you may see this referred to as empty stomach training in the morning.

How does it work?

  • Reduced CHO stores before training
  • Avoiding or reducing CHO consumption during training
  • Avoiding or reducing CHO consumption after training

Practical Examples

  • Training first thing in the morning with no breakfast or no CHO in breakfast
  • Training twice per day with no CHO between sessions
  • Reducing or restricting CHO intake during a session
  • Restricting CHO intake post session


  • Alters the way the body uses energy sources during exercise
  • Training with low CHO stores increases the use of fat as a fuel source
  • Fat stores contribute a higher amount of energy to the body but require a reduced intensity to achieve this

Possible Downsides

  • Using fat as a fuel source reduces the ability to increase training intensity
  • Perceived effort at the same pace appears higher
  • Increased risk of illness and injury due to lower energy availability
  • Can affect body’s ability to use CHO as a fuel source


Low CHO training and manipulating CHO intake can be beneficial to utilise fat as a fuel source, particularly for long endurance activities and to facilitate fat loss.

Be mindful that training with low CHO stores will affect your ability to do high intensity exercise, increase perceived effort and may prolong recovery time between sessions.

Start with short sessions less than 30mins duration with no intensity and always carry a source of CHO for your sessions. Gradually extend the time in which you train with CHO intake up to 2 hours for low intensity swim, cycle and run sessions.

Contact Tim Stewart Sport Dietician at The Injury Clinic for a detailed plan for your needs.