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Dr. James Smith – ‘Are low carb diets the 29ers of mountain bikes?’

Dr. James Smith is a scientist at the University of Cape Town’s Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine. He completed his doctorate in Exercise Science in 2008 when he studied muscle adaptations that occur with regular exercise training and how these can improve glucose control in those with diabetes. He is particularly interested in people’s varied responses to carbohydrate restriction, as well as insulin resistance and liver glucose production in people living with type II diabetes.

James works closely with Prof. Noakes on projects that study the effect of low-carbohydrate high-fat (LCHF) and high-carbohydrate low-fat (HCLF) diets on exercise physiology, performance and health. One of his current projects will compare the long-term effects of these diets on liver glucose production and fuel use during exercise and muscle adaptations in well-trained cyclists. Another project will compare LCHF and HCLF dietary interventions on weight-loss, chronic disease risk factors, muscle adaptations and endurance performance in individuals with insulin resistance.

An avid sportsman, James has competed in marathons and mountain bike racing in the past, and is currently a passionate rock climber. Not one to shy from a challenge, he has personally tested out a range of low and high carbohydrate diets and has settled somewhere in the middle: a fairly low-carbohydrate, relatively high-fat, and whole food diet.

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