Runners - All You Need To Know About Ketosis And Fat Adaptation
Many runners have been convinced that they need carbohydrates to fuel for their endurance conquests, but a new question has been circulating in the ultra running community: “Can a high fat diet also be a high performance diet?” More elite runners are emerging with claims that fat burning, ketosis, enables them to run more efficiently than their carb-dependent peers. With all the fad-diet advice flooding the mainstream, it is essential to understand how specific fuels are metabolized in the body and what current research is saying. When training and competing in ultra marathons, proper fuel can be a huge part of your success. Whether you are consuming carbohydrates or fat, your body will find a way to convert those fuels into energy so you can endure for long distances. Carbohydrate is the body’s go-to fuel source. Carbs are quickly and easily converted to glycogen and stored in your cells. When you need energy, your body can rapidly convert glycogen to glucose and release it into your bloodstream to burn. Ketosis occurs when your body is not consuming enough carbohydrates to meet your energy needs, and as an adaptation process, it begins burning fat instead. There are many proposed benefits of being in ketosis on long runs. Runners state that they don’t experience the dramatic energy spikes and crashes that accompany using high-sugar (high carb) sport supplements, such as gels, bars, and sports drinks. This is due to the fact that fat is a smooth burning fuel, that does not instigate a sugar-insulin cycle. Additionally, even a very lean athlete has around 30,000 calories of fat stored. Compare that to the approximately 2,000 calories of carbohydrate stored in the body. Just by acknowledging the greater storage capacity of fat, you can see why it is a desirable f Continue reading >>
Take Your Training To The Next Level With Ketosis
One of the most popular critiques of a ketogenic diet – a diet that’s high in fat and low in carbs – is that it isn’t good for athletes. The argument is usually that you need carbs to produce glycogen, a stored form of sugar that fuels your muscles. As a result, most doctors and trainers suggest high-carb diets for athletes. If you’ve been working out while eating Bulletproof, Paleo, keto, or any other variation on a high-fat, low-carb diet, here’s some good news: brand new research shows that you not only don’t need carbs for athletic performance, you can actually gain an advantage if you cut them out. Let’s talk about how ketosis can kick your athletic performance into a higher gear. Why you don’t need carbs to train hard A groundbreaking new study out of UConn found that low-carb endurance athletes perform just as well as high-carb endurance athletes, if not better. The results challenge nearly 50 years of research saying the opposite. Until now, most studies have concluded that you top out at around 10% of energy recruited from fat  and for the rest you rely mostly on glycogen, a form of sugar stored in your muscles and liver. That’s the main reason high-carb diets have been the standard for athletes for so many years. With a low-carb diet, your glycogen stores empty quickly, you run out of fuel, and you start breaking down your muscles for energy. Right? Well, maybe not. If you teach your body to prefer fat for fuel you can work out intensely without any problems, according to this new study. The paper’s authors measured the performance of ultra-endurance runners who regularly run upwards of 100 miles. Here’s how they set it up: Half of the participants ate low-carb (<20% of calories from carbs) for 6 months The other half ate high-carb ( Continue reading >>
How To Become A Keto Runner
There has been a lot in the press recently about a ‘controversial’ book by running supremo Professor Tim Noakes called The Real Meal Revolution. He is responsible for the training bible The Lore of Running and is a very experienced runner. After years of training on a high carbohydrate diet – carb loading before races and using carbs as a source of energy/fuel he had become lethargic and no longer enjoyed running. He had also developed Type 2 diabetes. A shift in his thinking led to Tim adopting a Low Carb/High Fat approach called the Banting Diet and went from ‘running like a 60-year-old to running like a 40-year-old’. He was so inspired by it that he turned it into his Real Meal Revolution book. Years ago I used to run pretty much entirely fueled by carbs. For the first 20 minutes or so I would fly along and then slowly my energy would disappear (along with my sense of humour) and I would get progressively slower. When I was marathon training I needed to constantly pop jelly beans after an hour or so of running. My skin was bad, my digestive system was a mess and I began to resent how running made me feel. I no longer enjoyed it, it was a chore. NOW, in 2016 it is a completely different picture. When I run I sometimes have to stop myself….I feel like I could run forever…… I am not suggesting that a LCHF/Banting/Keto approach is for everyone, one size doesn’t fit all. BUT and it is a big BUT, if you try it and it works for you then it will change your life. If you are a new runner then now is the perfect time to start. If you are an experienced runner then you may have a bit of frustration becoming adapted to this new way of approaching fuel. Bear with it though and give it at least 6 weeks. Keto Runner – The Diet There is now plenty of Low Carb/Ket Continue reading >>
Here's Exactly How I Lost 50 Pounds Doing The Keto Diet
Of all the places to seek life-changing nutrition advice, I never thought the barber shop would be where I found it. But one day last January, after a couple years of saying to myself, "today's the day I make a change," my barber schooled me on something called keto. Normally, I take things he says with a grain of salt unless they're about hair or owning a business, but this guy could literally be on the cover of Men's Health. He's 6 feet tall, conventionally attractive, and his arms are about five pull-ups away from tearing through his t-shirt. If anyone else had implied that I was looking rough, I would've walked out in a fit of rage, but I decided to hear him out. I should clarify that I was out of shape, but my case wasn't that severe. I hadn't exercised in a few years and basically ate whatever I wanted and however much of it, but I was only about 30 to 40 pounds overweight. My barber went on to explain that this diet, paired with an appropriate exercise routine, allowed him to completely transform his body in less than a year, and all he ate was fatty foods. Once he showed me his "before" picture, I was sold. It was time to actually make a change. Short for ketogenic, keto is a high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb diet that forces your metabolism into what's called a state of ketosis. There's a much more scientific explanation to that, but it basically means that instead of burning carbohydrates (mainly glucose, or sugars), your body switches to burning fat as a primary source for energy. Keto isn't necessarily about counting calories, though the basic idea of eating less in order to lose weight still applies. This is more of a calculated way to rewire your metabolism so that it burns fat more efficiently over time, using very specific levels of each macronutrient 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 >>
No Energy To Workout? Eat More Butter!
Have you ever felt like you have no energy to workout? Maybe you start strong but can’t make it through to the end (that’s why you sign up for group classes, right?). Or maybe you just skip your workout entirely, too exhausted to even get out the door. If you think that food has something to do with it, you’re right. But, what you’ve read in magazines may have led you astray. See, they probably told you that you need more “quick” energy in the form of carbohydrates, like whole grains or fruit. Or maybe they suggested you carb-load the night before. Turns out this information is pretty outdated and there’s a whole ‘nother approach to this topic. If you are exercising to try to lose weight, embracing this alternative way of eating will help you drop the pounds fast. (I mean, really how many of us are exercising to gain weight…) Today I’m sharing an article written by Emily Jenkins, who has both a BS and MS in nutrition and will soon be starting her training to become a registered dietitian. Like me, she’s a bit of a nutrition science junkie. She reached out to me to help on some projects and when I heard about her research into sports nutrition and the effects of a ketogenic diet on athletic performance at Auburn University, I asked her to write about it! It takes far too long for research to get into practice, which may be why you haven’t heard of this way of eating yet. If you like BUTTER or BACON, you’ll be pretty happy after reading this. Emily breaks it all down for you below. Why You Have No Energy To Workout PICTURE THIS, it’s early in the morning and you’re getting ready for your routine workout. You’ve got your exercise gear on, positivity is coursing through your veins, you’re eager for the challenge that awaits. But wait, what Continue reading >>
High Intensity Exercise On A Ketogenic Diet?
In this post I will explore the theory behind a Ketogenic diet for endurance athletic performance, and tell you how I tested the idea for myself using both a Half-Marathon and 5k races as performance markers. I will attempt to answer the following questions: What is a Ketogenic diet? Why might a Ketogenic diet enhance endurance performance? Will a ketogenic diet work for high intensity performance such as a 5k? What are the downsides of a ketogenic diet? In their book, The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance, Jeff Volek and Steve Phinney claim that a ketogenic diet may be beneficial for endurance sports performance. The idea behind a low carb, high fat ketogenic diet is this: teach the body to use fat as fuel by restricting carbs. By starving the body of carbs, the liver will generate ketones to act as a fuel in place of glucose. Ketones can act in place of glucose as a fuel for the body, especially the brain, which can only run on glucose or ketones. One advantage of ketones is that they don’t require an active transporter to cross cell membranes; they can easily diffuse to body tissues for energy. They’ve also been shown to treat epilepsy, increase mental focus, slow the onset of Alzheimer’s, help heart attack patients recover faster, and maybe even prevent bonking in a long distance running event. Advocates of this type of diet point out that it’s probably a much more natural way to eat, since in an ancestral environment, carbs were scarce. Fruit was much smaller and less sugary and grains have only been around in large quantities for around 10,000 years. For much of human history the theory goes, we existed in a state of ketosis, sometimes going days without food, and living off stored body fat and ketones generated from fat stores. If you are new to the 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 >>
The Real Truth About What To Eat Before, During And After Your Workouts & Races.
WELCOME TO Chapter 16 of BEYOND TRAINING: MASTERING ENDURANCE, HEALTH & LIFE, IN WHICH you’re going to get The Real Truth About What To Eat Before, During And After Your Workouts & Races. From gluttonous pasta parties to entire pizzas and bottles of red wine before… …to just about every variety of gel, bar, drink and supplement on the face of the planet during… …to ice cream, hydrolyzed goat protein powders, steaks, waxy maize starch, potatoes and margaritas after… …I have experimented with nearly everything when it comes eating before, during and after workouts and races. And the real truth is (as I recently expounded upon on an EndurancePlanet.com sports nutrition episode), in the same way that there’s more than one way to get fit fast and to build endurance as quickly as possible, there really is more than one way to skin the cat when it comes to supporting your body with workout fuel. But by now, you hopefully realize that your decisions about how you exercise and what you eat should be based not only upon what works and what doesn’t, but also based upon what allows you to achieve the ideal balance of both performance and health. Unfortunately, most nutrition recommendations only take into account the former (performance at all costs) without considering the latter (long term effects on your gut, heart, brain and connective tissue). After all, some of the best athletes on the face of the planet guzzle down chemical-laden Ensure energy drinks before a race, eat stacks of Powerbars during, and finish up with pizza and ice cream for recovery. But just because this works doesn’t mean it’s healthy. For example… When choosing what to eat, do you think about what is local, fresh and sustainable? Do you think about what your body will soak up as dens Continue reading >>
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 >>
Running Without Carbs – A Week Trialling A Ketogenic Diet
After spending some a lot of time trying to understand the role food plays in running a marathon, this post is about my attempt train for a week whilst on a ketogenic (super low carbohydrate) diet. For an explanation of what ‘ketogenic’ actually means & why I’d do this to myself it’s worth checking out my previous post “Nutrition for a marathon – what should you eat?”, but here’s a summary of the most relevant part: During moderate to high intensity exercise, carbohydrate is the body’s preferred fuel source. There’s a limit to how many calories worth of carbohydrates you can store, and so for endurance events like the marathon it can be difficult to take on enough in order to avoid running out. The other main energy source – fats – are almost inexhaustible, so making your body more efficient at using them during exercise may help delay the point at which fatigue sets in. This theory was enough to make me curious about the application and effects of low carbohydrate, high fat (LCHF) diets. Could an approach almost completely opposite to the ‘carbo-loading’ norm actually help you run further, faster? Fatty fatty run run! The assumption behind following a carbohydrate restricted diet is that it helps the body become more effective at utilising fat as a fuel source. In short, eating yourself to metabolic flexibility. Whether this actually translates to improved endurance ability is another debate, but for now let’s just say there isn’t conclusive proof it doesn’t work, so I thought it was worth a closer look. To be clear from the outset, here’s what the week wasn’t about… I didn’t take any baseline data. I didn’t measure any effects (other than how I felt during the week). 7 days isn’t long enough to become properly fat adapted. Continue reading >>
My Keto Food List
Before I provide you with my PDF of keto supplies I need to cover these points: KETO IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. This diet needs to be monitored, and you should not be guessing portions. Speak to a healthcare professional before deciding if it's right for you. Before I jumped into a ketogenic lifestyle I was eating low carb for around 9 months, this made the transition much easier. The reason that I follow this lifestyle is to help with my PCOS and the symptoms I get from it, you may notice a decline in athletic performance on a ketogenic diet. I do want to cover this in more depth, so if you have questions leave them as a comment underneath this article and I can try to address them in a future post or video :) Continue reading >>
Nutrition – Are Low Carb Diets Good For Running?
There’s more than one way to skin a cat. A terrible expression, isn’t it? I’ve had cats as pets all my life and the phrase is particularly abhorrent to me. However it’s very apropos at the moment, because what I am about to tell you flies directly in the face of conventional wisdom about nutrition. It’s a subject near and dear to my heart, so I think it’s worth discussing. Now, I will add the caveat that I am not a nutrition expert by any means, but these are simply some things I have observed in myself and others. Conventional nutritional advice suggests that we fuel our runs with carbohydrates. There is, in fact, a bajillion dollar industry based on this idea, with sports drinks, gels, bars, and jellybeans full of carbohydrates out there on the market. For really long runs, the typical advice is to carbo-load starting several days in advance, but even for a 5k, the idea is to take in some easily accessible carbs prior to your run. Let’s consider why this is. Our bodies store energy in two forms: fat and glycogen. Glycogen is a form of glucose stored in the muscles and the liver, but it can only be stored in limited quantities. It is easily accessible energy for intense exercise. Fat is, well, fat and it can be stored in virtually unlimited quantities in the body. It is a more efficient source of stored energy, but it is also harder for the body to turn fat into energy. Your body will first use up your glycogen stores and then move on to turning fat into energy. So the accepted wisdom says that before runs and races, consuming carbohydrates will top up your glycogen stores and give you more energy. This is where I am going to turn that wisdom on its head. I am a diabetic, and the kind of carbo-loading that is recommended, where the runner starts increasin 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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Fat For Fuel: The Ketogenic Diet For Endurance Training
Could eating more fat help you go the distance? Some studies show that the ketogenic diet for endurance athletes could help support fat burning as a source of energy. We’ve partnered with EAS® Myoplex® to get you the information you need on the keto diet. Runners have long relied on carbs for fuel, slurping sugary gels mid-marathon and carb-loading the night before a big race. What if we told you that instead of your energy gel, you can slurp nut butter packets, and instead of a post-workout shake you can drink EAS Myoplex? We’re here to help you explore the idea that replacing your usual carbs with fats might be more beneficial to your endurance and performance. The ketogenic diet for endurance athletes could be the key to more energy and more fat burn. The Ohio State University performed a study on endurance athletes, comparing 10 participants following a high carb diet with 10 fat-adapted athletes eating minimal carbs and following a ketogenic diet breakdown. The results were clear: those following a ketogenic diet and therefore using fat for fuel burned more than twice as much fat as their high-carb counterparts, and their performance was just as good. So what is the ketogenic diet? A ketogenic diet is a high fat, moderate protein and very low carb diet. It is set up (depending on your goals) with your calories coming from approximately 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs. This can be tweaked depending on your activity level or what feels right for your body. The goal of eating high fat and low carbs is to bring your body to a state of ketosis. Ketosis is when your body reaches a state where it is deprived of glycogen (which is energy that comes from carbs) and it begins burning fat for energy instead. Since glucose is only stored in limited amounts in the body Continue reading >>