The Simple Diet Change Found to Help Athletes Jump Higher and Sprint Faster

Consuming a high-protein, reduced-carbohydrate diet for a few weeks can lead to significant progress in vertical jump height.

Many athletes seek an edge to increase their vertical jump.

Whether it's a special supplement, lengthy stretching routines, Vertimax workouts, etc.—we're all after quick results. Unfortunately, explosive ability just doesn't work that way. We typically have to spend entire offseasons building muscle, strength, power and speed before these qualities can be used to help us jump higher. But what if there really was a way to increase our vertical jump in a very short time? There is, and it was documented in a 2015 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Here's a rundown of the study and the key takeaways for athletes.

Methods

Eight male track and field jumpers and sprinters were separated into two groups:

  • A high weight reduction group (HWR) which reduced their calorie intake by 750 kcal/day
  • A low weight reduction group (LWR) which reduced their calorie intake 300 kcal/day

This diet went on for four weeks and consisted of high-protein and reduced carbohydrate intake. Subjects were then tested for a variety of explosive measures, body composition, acid-base balance, and hormone levels.

Results

  • Subjects in the HWR lost ~4.5 lbs. of weight (~3.7 lbs. of this being fat mass)
  • Subjects in LWR saw insignificant changes
  • Subjects did not see changes in fat-free mass, serum testosterone, cortisol, and sex hormone-binding globulin.
  • Subjects in HWR gained ~5.9% on their vertical jump, whereas a smaller change was found in LWR.

In another study from the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, vertical jump improved 7% over 8.5 weeks with an energy deficit of 470 kcal/day. A 7% improvement is nothing to sneeze at, as that would equate to a 2.1-inch improvement for a person with a 30-inch vertical jump.

The Key Takeaways

Consuming a high-protein, reduced-carbohydrate diet for a few weeks can lead to significant progress in vertical jump height. The researchers concluded, "extra body weight in the form of fat, even in already lean individuals, may interfere with running and jumping performance." Next time you're wondering how to get a few extra inches on your vertical jump, look no further than the scale.

If you're happy with your current weight and body composition, you shouldn't feel the need to shed some pounds simply in the pursuit of a more explosive vertical jump. However, if you've long wanted to jump higher and could stand to shed a few pounds and improve your body composition, you're in position to kill two birds with one stone.

For more vertical jumping advice and to see how I gained 3.5 inches on my approach vertical (and 2.5 on standing vertical) in just 10 days with this type of diet and training, check out my blog post on the topic.

Photo Credit: iStock/Fat Camera

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Topics: PROTEIN | CARBS | VERTICAL JUMP | SPRINTING