Many resources go over the why and how, so I'll attempt to be brief in that regard and keep the focus on my personal experience. Here are the resources that I have used:
1. Coaches (long-time friends) Matt & Amber: honestly, if this suggestion wouldn't have come from them, I would have remained oblivious to this entire concept (health-crazed Kenny has already been on the coconut oil train for years...getting more and more like my Dad everyday).
2. The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance Book: recommended by Matt, I read this 174 page book in 2 days and it left me wondering why I hadn't been onto this earlier.
3. Various blogs, youtube videos, etc. - like anything, with the internet you can consume information forever.
After running twenty marathons, I've developed a solid routine of how to fuel with carbohydrates. It's not sexy, but it works: moderate pasta dinner the night before, vanilla Powerbar the morning of, and as many gels (4-6) as my stomach will allow during the race. Most recently with Boston 2015, this strategy has been successful. However, it does have some limitations:
1. Energy is "spiky" - energy declines until you pop the first gel, which gives you a nice jolt, then it declines in the next couple miles until you can take another "hit".
2. On an easy long run, I could consume gels all-day long with no issues. But at marathon race pace, it's a delicate balance as the stomach doesn't always want to process them, especially after the first couple.
3. Even with carb-loading and gels, you can run out of glycogen fuel during a marathon. As I've read, and experienced, your body will eventually switch to fat, it's just not typically a smooth process (i.e. "hitting the wall").
So what if I didn't have to run primarily on carbs/glycogen to begin with? The theory is that we all have nearly endless energy on board, our bodies just aren't adapted to using it (when glycogen is available, it likes to take advantage of that first).
The adaptation period obviously varies by person, but in general for performance athletes takes 2-3 weeks. The number to stay below or around is 50g of carbs/day. Here was my week 1 consumption:
Here's a visual of what I was eating to achieve this:
|Whole, unprocessed foods|
It did take a bit more planning, but wasn't all that difficult to do. Biggest change was my snacks at work - I used to live snack to snack (high carbs) and would never really feel full. That has changed. I don't really feel the need to snack much anymore and if I do, I have spoonful of coconut butter or a handful of almonds.
I also raced Chase Corporate Challenge (3.5 mile), which I was a bit nervous about having only been 4 days in. I maybe didn't have as much "pop" - hard to say though coming 4 days off of pacing Green Bay Marathon (3:25), but maybe I did feel smoother? I ran sub 6:00/mile (faster than last year and only 9 seconds off my PR). Will be very cool if I can get a 5k PR in this year as typically ketosis is suspected to be more advantageous for endurance events than shorter events (although it is used for strength-training as well).
I did have a concern about not consuming fruits as I had maybe missed that part with the focus on healthy fats and greens for vegetables. Berries are very high in nutrients while not ridiculously high in carbs, so for week 2 that did boost my carbs a little. Feeling good, I also was slightly more relaxed with the 50g carb/day as I'm now seeing this as a sustainable pattern (I really don't miss the grains that were previously a staple in my diet). I could also likely eat less if I so desired - multiple times already, I've eaten meal even though I'm not hungry (previously I would be hungry before almost every meal).
|Week 2 - 78g carbs/day|
Other metrics - I love my new Withings WS-50 Body Analyzer (yes, it's a "Body Analyzer", not a "scale"...lol) and will toss in some screenshots:
I've declined in weight, which from what I understand is a significant portion from water weight that your body stores along with glycogen (takes 3-4 grams of water to store 1 gram of glycogen). As my glycogen stores have been depleted, so has the amount of water I store. It's also encouraging that my fat mass has declined, but there is inherently inaccuracy from the impedance measurement. I'm not too concerned about either of these numbers, but it is fun to track them.
Some other random stuff:
1. I've made Nuun Energy my "vice" before workouts as a subsititute where I would potentially have a caffeine gel for a pick-me-up.
2. Trying to drink as much water as I can and adding salt to what I eat (there is some reason for this - can't remember).
3. Adding an occasional probiotic drink - figure can't hurt
4. Replaced my normal craft beer following dinner with fancy water. Like mentioned earlier, not cutting beer completely. Wine is also not a bad option.
5. When I buy foods, I buy foods that have more fat than carbs, no sugar added, and don't really pay attention to protein (getting enough just by eating whole foods high in fat).
6. If I have time in the morning, Lyndsey and I watch youtube videos about LCHF. Think there is some psychological benefit to starting out the day thinking about it.
My latest speed workout from Wednesday was a VO2Max 6x1k and "easily" hit my Jack Daniels VDOT numbers (5:53/mile pace). I was surprised as I had biked there, did the workout, biked home, and didn't feel hungry - I ate a fat bomb when I got home for the heck of it.
So what's on tap for the coming weeks? High Cliff Half Ironman will be an excellent "feel" test (I don't consider myself a triathlete and only have one other half to compare to, so may have to be qualitative). Reminder that I need to source some Generation UCAN (for another post). Also doing "BulletProof" coffee this week for the heck of it - figured it would at least be fun to try with the "Brain Octane" and expensive coffee. And finally, I may breakdown and buy some blood-test strips to measure ketone levels - I already have running-friend volunteers for the control group.
If you've read this far, wow, I'm impressed. Thanks and let me know what you think!
**I didn't reference any sources where applicable - figured since this is small audience and people wouldn't take offense.