- We are Running on Ketones. This is not a typical story; we are endurance athletes at different stages of our lives, who are experimenting with a low carb Ketogenic diet. We are not doctors or scientists, just athletes. Anthony is the youngest and the fastest, age 20, and prefers ultra road running. Eric (ZoomZoom), age 27, is ukulele playing mixed distance runner. Dan (SKA Runner), age 42, is new to running, prefers mountains ultras, and a bit of a computer geek. Bob(uglyrnrboy), age 54, prefers mountains ultras and loves to tele ski. This site, www.RunKeto.com, will document our journey as endurance athletes implementing a low carb ketogenic diet in to our lives. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you have about our experiences. Continue reading >>
The Ironman Guide To Ketosis
Written by Megan Roberts, MSc, and Tommy Wood MD, PhD What if there was a way to: Restore the boundless energy of your youth Improve your body composition and mood Eliminate the gas and bloating that plagues your every race Fuel your races without Gatorade and sugary gels AND regularly indulge in bacon, eggs, and butter??? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, the truth is that all of the above (and more) is achievable by embracing some diet and lifestyle changes. The crux of the secret - the ketogenic diet. Perhaps you’ve heard of the ketogenic diet being touted for its weight loss efficacy. Or maybe you’ve heard it mentioned on Internet forums as the cure-all for everything from migraines to Alzheimer's to the pain in your little toe. But you? You’re an IRONMAN triathlete! You NEED carbohydrates to fuel your races, right??? Unfortunately, following that conventional sports nutrition advice has brought many desperate athletes to their knees, searching for an alternative when their health and training begin to suffer despite eating all those healthy whole grains. This is the first in a series of articles that will introduce you to the ketogenic diet, specifically for the IRONMAN athlete. At the end of this article, you will have the basics to decide whether or not a ketogenic diet might be right for you. What is ketosis? Before answering the big question of how to get into ketosis, let’s define what ketosis actually is. Ketosis is a metabolic state in which you’re predominantly burning fat for fuel. Note that this is not the same as diabetic ketoacidosis, which is characterized by high levels of both ketones and sugar in the blood, particularly in patients with type 1 diabetes. In this case we’re talking about nutritional ketosis, which is a natural metab Continue reading >>
Is A Low-carb, High-fat Diet Best For You?
About halfway through the training cycle for one of my clients’ first marathon attempts, I got an email with one simple question: “Is it helpful to eat fewer carbs and more fats for energy on my long runs?” This was a few years ago, and I had not heard much about distance runners following a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet. This is sometimes referred to as the ketogenic diet (although the two may be different). Given this runner’s training progress at that point, I didn’t want to switch it up. Given the limited data on the benefits of a LCHF or ketogenic diet for runners, I didn’t see any reason to recommend either one. But we can burn fat for fuel, right? Yes. Long-distance runners—training for half, full or ultra-marathons—are much more likely than their sprinting counterparts to use fat for fuel while running. Training for endurance often means that many training runs are “easy,” or “long and slow,” with relatively low intensity. Some refer to this as the “fat-burning zone” for cardio exercise, or an aerobic workout—low-intensity exercise, during which the body is able to take the time to burn fat for fuel. Conversely, in an anaerobic state–i.e. high-intensity exercise, like sprinting—the body naturally turns to carbohydrates for fuel, because it can quickly and efficiently do so to provide bursts of energy that both the brain and muscles need to continue pushing hard. Does science support a LCHF or ketogenic diet for runners? Research has yet to show that a LCHF or ketogenic diet is beneficial to sport performance or health (for the average adult) in the long term. That said, a recent study through Ohio State University did demonstrate that endurance athletes who followed a “low-carb” diet (for an average time of 20 months) “bu Continue reading >>
Can Eating More Fat Make You A Better Runner?
Low carbs means no bread—not even the nutty, whole-grain kind—no pasta, and very little fruit. Serge Seidlitz “I just want to stand here a minute,” I say, pausing in front of a gleaming bakery case. I’m three weeks into training for a marathon. I’m also on a controversial low-carb, high-fat diet, and despite the fact that every proponent has assured me I’d lose my desire for sweets after a week or two, I am enraptured by the carrot cakes on display at our local Costco. “Do we need Brussels sprouts?” my husband asks. I can’t hear him over the depraved screams of my sweet tooth. I stare lustfully at the puck-shaped pillow of cake and wonder how the hell I’m going to make it through 13 more weeks of this. Stupid marathon, I think as I woefully push my cart toward the produce section. Stupid diet. Fat-adapted running is an emerging philosophy in the long-distance running community. Some runners—especially ultradistance athletes— are trying low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diets in an attempt to teach their bodies to use fat for fuel. The theory is that since the human body can store more fat than carbohydrates, by becoming “fat adapted,” you’ll be able to go farther faster. A few pro runners, like 2:31:29 marathoner Zach Bitter, have switched to LCHF diets. Others modify the approach to run low on carbs only occasionally: Ryan Bolton, who coaches elites in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has his athletes doing fasted long runs up to 20 miles with the idea that this will help them boost their ability to metabolize fat. The LCHF diet calls for 50 to 70 percent of calories to come from fat, up to 20 percent from protein, up to 20 percent from vegetables, and just five percent from fruits and starches. That ratio is in stark contrast to the kind of traditional di Continue reading >>
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Long-distance Running On A Low-carb, High-fat Diet
Humans are natural endurance athletes. While the concept of “carb loading,” or the use of sports drinks and gels in endurance events are increasingly popular, human physiology is perfectly set up to use fat as a fuel for endurance exercise. Olaf Sorensen, seen here in the blue shirt, is a 40-year-old long-distance runner who will be running a marathon soon. What’s unique about his upcoming endeavor is that, first, his goal for this event is to beat his grandfather’s Olympic qualifying time of 2 hours and 40 minutes. But what is particularly unique about Olaf’s plan is that he plans to accomplish this feat on a high-fat, extremely low-carb diet. He will essentially demonstrate to the world that being in a state of ketosis (burning fat as opposed to carbohydrates) is an extremely efficient human adaptation permitting long stretches of efficient physical activity. Olaf does a lot of his running either barefoot or with minimal footwear, again emulating our forebears. I really appreciated his instructions when we ran together. But while I’m definitely dialed in on the keto adaptation part of the story, I’ll likely stick with my running shoes. We will be following Olaf’s progress and will soon provide information about the movie being made about this incredible athlete. For more on applying this lifestyle, read my blog post on how to balance your intake of fat, protein, and carbs. UPDATE: In May 2017 I had the chance to catch up with Olaf and see how he’s doing. Read Next Continue reading >>
Distance Running On A Ketogenic Diet
Ketogenic dieting and long distance running can go together on the journey of losing fat effectively. People often think a ketogenic diet doesn’t mix with high-intensity exercise (HIIT) and running, so let’s see how you can combine them for better effect. The ketogenic diet was originally used for treating epilepsy and other neurologic illnesses.(1)(2) What is Keto To put it simply, a keto diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein while reducing carbohydrate consumption. It triggers ketones which are released into the body and used for fuel. Your body enters into a ketosis state. A typical day you will look to eat foods totaling 75% fat, 20% protein, and a lowly 5% carbs. It doesn’t need to be precise since it varies from the person. For more check out our keto food list. It’s since become popular again in the last few years. Nowadays it’s in its full bloom because of its excellent effects and results. Athletes and regular people found the diet easy to implement and exceedingly efficient regarding more energy and building lean muscle mass. At its core, this diet minimizes carbs, and you consume fats and more fats. Eating a high-fat diet in the long term puts the body in a so-called state of ketosis. Ketosis is a state where the liver takes the proteins and fats and then uses them to create molecules called ketone bodies. When the body produces ketone bodies, it gains significant amounts of sustainable energy that athletes use for training. Because it takes fat and reproduces them in energy, the keto diet can also help you lose more excess fat while eating great foods containing fats and oils. A ketogenic diet is based on nutrition that tends to increase energy levels and reduce body fat. Whether or not it helps build a lean muscle mass the jury is still out. With a Continue reading >>
Does The Ketogenic Diet And Running Mix?
The ketogenic diet is based on high fat intake followed by very low carbohydrate intake. This diet goes against what has been preached for decades. Common knowledge since the 1950’s has boasted that carbohydrates are the way to go, and that fat is bad for your health. In the same breath, this common knowledge blames high fat diets for obesity and diabetes – despite the glaring evidence that shows that sugar is to blame. Peoples of the first world have been expanding their waistlines ever since fast food and pop drinks loaded with sugar have been brought to the market. Being a relatively new diet (in the sense of mass adoption), there is still much research to be done on it. However, the research that has been done is looking very promising. The University of Michigan has done a study (Third Exposure to a Reduced Carbohydrate Meal Lowers Evening Postprandial Insulin and GIP Responses and HOMA-IR Estimate of Insulin Resistance) that showed that by having three low carbohydrate meals per day, insulin resistance is reduced by at least 30%. This is fantastic news for those with diabetes or prediabetes – but how does this diet apply to runners? Don’t Runners Need Carbohydrates? The entire goal of the ketogenic diet is to switch to using fats as an energy source. We’ve all been told to carb-load pre-race, or to make sure to eat as much carb-rich foods when training to make sure to have ample energy. By using fats instead, this goes completely against that idea. The fact of the matter is that certain muscle fibers depend on carbohydrates to function at maximum performance – the fast twitch muscles. When applying this to running, we need to keep in mind the two energy systems we have in place. The aerobic side and the anaerobic side. On the first end, we have the slo Continue reading >>
Can Runners Function Well On Low-carb/ketogenic Diets?
Mile 13 at LA Marathon at age 61, enough energy to dance! A diet that limits complex carbohydrates is suboptimal for distance running. At 60 ran my first marathon and beat my trainer. All on a plant-based, grain-rich diet. At various intervals throughout the LA Marathon I had friends stationed who provided me with rice, amazake which is a rice based drink, and protein bars made of grains. Twenty-four hours before I had consumed a grain-heavy meal, as recommended by my trainer. The thing about “Carbs” is that it does not distinguish between sugar and simple carbs and complex carbohydrates, lumping the two together though in the body they have diametrically opposed functions. Simple processed sugars provide quick energy, but destroy a whole host of nutrients. 124 Ways Sugar Ruins Your Health - Selene River Press, on the other hand complex carbohydrates like rice, millet, corn, quinoa, amaranth and rye give you sustainable energy that stabilizes your blood sugar and helps you have long-term and long lasting energy. Heavy meats and even lean meats are less digestible than thoroughly chewed grains, and stay in the digestive tract longer, draining the runner of energy as the blood flow has to keep attacking and trying to break down the complex protein strings of meat. The best distance runners in the world, the Tarahumaras in the Copper Canyons of Mexico eat a diet that includes something like 2% animal products. They are called “The running people” and can run between 200 and 500 miles at a stretch in some of their ceremonies. Even the old people and young children are runners. Compare that with a 3 times daily meat eater at 80, well you can see the difference. PS. I run for my heath and for the challenge of it, and anticipate at age 70 running with the Tarahumaras t Continue reading >>
Runner Scared Of Ketosis... Are You For/against Ketosis?
I'VE LITERALLY WRITTEN THIS QUESTION 3 TIMES AND IT ALWAYS ERASES. So, I'm gonna type it ONE MORE TIME. Here goes :| I'm wondering about this mythical, magical Ketosis unicorn. I'm a female collegiate cross country runner. I'm not looking for advice telling me I'm a member of the chronic cardio club and to stop running and exercising so much. Racing is my world. What I am looking for is advice on this creature of Ketosis. I've never experienced it, always been a little scared. Heard of people really messing themselves up dabbling in these waters. Is that even a possibility? Like, does the age-old adage of good / evil apply to Ketosis? Can I do it wrong? Basically, since this is my 4th time writing this over again, here???s a terrible nutshell of my background: Lifelong runner. Kicked my ass back in shape in college to join XC team, got underweight being a vegetarian,also got amenorrhea for 2 years, just recently got the rivers again this January (never been so happy looking in the toilet before) after going paleo for the past 1+ year (while also overeating and not being super strict..) gaining ~30 pounds up to 155lb. for a 5???8/5???9??? girl. So I???m now definitely over my racing weight. Besides cutting the crap and being strict paleo, I???ve dabbled with the idea of Ketosis to catalyze weight loss and get back on track. But I???m kind of afraid??? Questions for all you beautiful people: Anyone out there a real runner (not talking about momma piddlin??? a 4 mile jog) and have experience with Ketosis? Is it??? good??? or??? the Freddy Kruger of paleo? Can you do it wrong? Can I severely mess my body up traveling into the carbonyl cosmos, running on low-carb? Does low-carb + ???chronic cardio??? type of training = doom? If I do attempt it, how do I know how many non-car Continue reading >>
How I Fueled For Running 19 Miles On A High-fat Diet
Most runners have been taught to load up on carbs before a run. What you eat before a run can greatly affect your performance—it’s simple science, right? After spending some time trying to understand the role food plays in running a marathon, I took on a high-fat ketogenic diet. And let me tell you, it was a doozy. I decided that I was going to change to the ketogenic diet and see how that helped me in my journey to lose weight. I knew my body didn’t do well when I ate a lot of carbs, so trying a high-fat diet seemed it may work better for me. Going ‘keto’ seemed perfect for what I was looking for. A lot of people hear the term “train gain” (when a runner gains weight while training), and I was the number one example of that. Whenever I would begin training for runs and adding more miles to my days, my body weight increased. A ketogenic diet, which comprises only eating 5 percent of carbs a day, seemed like the golden ticket. However, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. The Begining Of My High-Fat Diet The first week on the diet was a nightmare. I was exhausted every day from the lack of carbs I was eating, and the cravings were unreal. I never knew I could crave pasta so heavily until I stopped eating carbs completely. My day would comprise waking up, going to work, and laying in bed if it wasn’t a run day. I was that tired. I was grumpy all the time, especially at the gym and before a run. My training included running twice a week for 30 minutes and increasing my miles on the weekend. My weekday runs were challenging. I put a lot of my energy into making sure I was on track with the diet. I pushed and kept telling myself I could do it, and the 30 minutes flew by. When it came time for my weekend run, I was drained. Between training for my challenge ru Continue reading >>
Ketogenic Dieting 101: How To Use Fat As Fuel
Eating fat to burn fat sounds contradictory, if not nuts, right? The world is full of people who are fat because of high-fat diets, so why would a fit person want to follow suit? I'm not talking about stuffing your face full of peanut butter cups. I'm talking about following a ketogenic diet—or, put simply, a high-fat, moderate-protein, carbohydrate-restricted diet designed to make the body burn fat for fuel. Bodybuilders, fitness enthusiasts, and researchers alike have found that such diets are an effective fat-loss tool. In fact, studies have shown that ketogenic diets induce numerous favorable metabolic and physiological changes, including weight loss, less oxidative stress, improved body composition, reduced inflammation, and increased insulin sensitivity.[1-4] That being said, what does the science surrounding ketogenic diets have to say about individuals looking to run faster or farther, jump higher, or improve other aspects of sports performance? Shouldn't athletes be swilling Gatorade before, during, and after their events instead of adopting a high-fat, restricted-carbohydrate diet? Not necessarily. Ketogenic diets have become increasingly popular among athletes ranging from Olympic competitors to endurance runners, with good reason. Let's take a closer look at the science. What Exactly Is A Ketogenic Diet, Anyway? Ketogenic diets are very high-fat, moderate-protein, carbohydrate-restricted diets. The exact breakdown of the diet varies between individuals, but a general profile may reflect 70-75 percent fat, 15-20 percent protein, and only 5-10 percent carbohydrate. So, you're probably thinking, all I need to do then is watch out for the carbs, right? Not exactly. Ketogenic diets are not the same as high-protein, carbohydrate-restricted diets. I often hear Continue reading >>
Ketogenic Diet - Week One
I have been struggling with my weight this year through a combination of irregular exercise and poor diet. In mid-November I weighed my usual 193 lbs but by first of February I was up around 200 lbs and by mid-May topped out at 204 lbs. Three things contributed to my irregular exercise - new job, severely rolled ankle first week of January, and bronchial infection last part of January. While I could blame my poor eating on my new work location near the Seattle Public Market it really of course boiled down to will power. I began to start ramping up my running miles in mid-May but didn't see any real change in weight or fat loss during that time. At least not the changes I wanted. Date Mass Body Fat % LBM* Prev Week Run 5/6 204 lbs 22.5% 150.4 0 miles 5/13 203.2 lbs 21.2% 152.4 10 miles 5/20 203.2 lbs 21.2% 152.2 16.4 miles 5/27 202.2 lbs 21.2% 153.0 25.7 miles 6/3 200.2 lbs 20.3% 151.6 20.5 miles * LBM = Lean Body Mass OK, so I lost nearly a pound a week and was making slight progress on my body fat but not to my liking. Goals and Research Let me get to what my goals are. I have Speedgoat 50k end of July and I would like to be around 183 lbs for this race - one because I don't want to try to run my dough boy ass over 11k feet of ascent carrying 200 lbs, and two because it may be hot enough I will want to run without my shirt. At around 152 lbs of LBM 183 puts me at 12% body fat. I have also noticed in the past that as I ramp up I start to lose lean body mass which tells me that I am breaking down catabolizing my muscles for fuel which tells me I have a diet imbalance somewhere. I am not interested in losing weight in this way (by starvation) so wanted to find some healthier ways to lose the fat. During the week of 6/3 I started reading about how to maintain lean body mas Continue reading >>
Does Running On A Low-carb Diet Burn Fat Quicker?
Runners know they need to carb-up to get the energy necessary to push their muscles to get in those miles. But if you're following a low-carb diet, your muscles don't have the carbs to burn and may turn to fat instead. While there haven't been studies on runners specifically, your body does burn fat for fuel when you exercise on a low-carb diet. Due to risks of injury and fatigue when following a low-carb diet as a runner, it's important to consult your doctor to discuss safety and concerns. Video of the Day Many people choose to engage in aerobic exercise, such as running, as a way to burn fat. However, as an endurance activity, your body prefers to burn off glycogen stores -- stored carbs or sugar -- first. Glycogen is easier to convert into energy than fat. But, after you've been running for about 30 minutes, your body uses up much of its glycogen stores and switches over to fat and protein for fuel. And it isn't until you've been running for about 40 minutes that your body is burning all fat. Someone on a low-carb diet may already have depleted glycogen stores and might tap into fat energy stores at different times. Running and Fat Burning on a Low-Carb Diet Your body may prefer the use of carbs to fuel the first 30 minutes of your run, but if carbs aren't available, your body burns fat for fuel. A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition compared the effects of a low-carb diet and a low-fat diet on exercise in a group of overweight men and women. While the study doesn't indicate whether the groups were running, the researchers found that the group following the low-carb diet burned more fat than the low-fat group and didn't have issues with fatigue when pushed toward intense aerobic exercise. However, while a similar study published Continue reading >>
The Runner’s Guide To The… Ketogenic Diet
There’s nothing more that runners like to talk about (other than running) than our nutrition and what we eat. Let’s face it, food is a pretty important part of our running and it can make all the difference in terms of performance too. But, different foods work for different people and there’s no hard and fast rules in the world of eating, other than to say do what’s best for you and seek out balance in your diet. To help you along the way, we’re presenting a series of articles that look at the different types of diet on offer to help you make your own informed decisions. There’s no preaching from the thrones here, just some basic information for you to consider. First up is the ketogenic diet… For those on the ketogenic diet… carbs are out, fat is in… switching starchy goodness for full-fat delights. But where can you get some? Ketones aren’t something you buy; they’re inside your body. To be more specific, ketones are a type of organic substance produced naturally by the liver when it breaks down fat for energy. Confused? Okay, let’s say you’re eating a standard, balanced diet. Your body gets most of its energy by turning carbs into glucose, which your cells then convert to energy. Glucose is the easiest molecule for the body to convert to energy, so it will always be chosen over any other energy source. However, on the ketogenic diet, you reduce carb intake typically to less than 50 grams a day. So rather than relying on carbs as its primary energy source, your body uses ketone bodies, which are derived from fat. This metabolic state is called ketosis. During ketosis, the liver produces ketone bodies, which are then converted into substances that feed your cell’s energy production. So, if you’re an ultra runner in the state of ketosis, t Continue reading >>
How To Fuel For A Race
How to Fuel for a Race TESTIMONY OF THE DAY You wouldn’t put diesel in a gasoline engine and expect it to run…but that is what Americans are guilty of doing to their bodies on a daily basis. We consistently fuel our bodies with processed, pre-packaged foods that evolutionary science has proven makes our bodies stop running efficiently. I also was guilty of this. I still remember sitting in the library at age 16. I tried on my friend Lisa’s jacket. All of a sudden, I heard a boy sing, “fat girl in a little coat.” That started my wake up call. Fat and frustrated, I finally decided to add in the nutrition part to my exercise and practice all the information I was about to preach to the world once I graduated. I was a fat “restrictor” and exercised constantly. After decades of being told by marketing geniuses that “fat free” was the way to lose weight, eating real fat was scary for me. Once I started adding fat to my diet, I slept deeper, felt calmer and better in that first week than I ever had. Now, I understand the biochemical reasons why restricting fat is not the answer. All my life I was taught that good-tasting foods made you fat. It is almost too much to imagine that you can have total satiety while enjoying butter, avocados, grass-fed cheeses and meats, and even sugar-free cheesecake. But it has been over five years and my body feels amazing and I never feel deprived. I traded in a lifetime of over exercising and fat restriction for nutrient-dense, fat-filled diet and lost weight in the process. I have struggled with food and weight for my whole adolescence and into adulthood. My weight loss was a hard goal to achieve, but once I found the right foods and ditched the fake foods, it became easy. I learned the secrets of the hormone insulin and the Continue reading >>