Overall Results

I have to say this journey was not at all what I expected it to be. But that is how science goes. You make a hypothesis, do unbiased experimentation, and report the results (regardless of whether or not your findings support your hypothesis). Unfortunately I did not support my hypothesis. With that being said, I am able to say that I have learned so much from my journey about my personal food sensitivities and how my body reacts to the low carb effect.

My Initial hypothesis was: If I adapt to a ketogenic state through low-carb dieting, then my performance as an endurance athlete will improve in terms of faster times.

Perhaps I should have included a more specific goal that included actual time trails. Overall however, my running workouts did not improve drastically enough to prove that ketosis / fueling through fat improves my own running performance. Although my workout times improved slightly over the months, this could have been due to physiological / mitochondrial adaptations from my training alone.

Overall, from a health aspect I began to feel very inflamed. I will enjoy eating leaner and lighter foods again such as high-carb fruits and vegetables while still staying away from low-nutrient carbs such as breads and white starches. I am interested to see how my training will be impacted from the switch off of low carb!

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Training Progress and Updates

I’ve decided to post about my progress since I’ve been on the low carbohydrate, moderate protein, high fat diet in January. I wanted to give a run down of my personal experience with low-carb and specifically the effects it had on my performance.

The specifics of my macronutrient restrictions included:
< 25 g of carbs / day
< 80 g of protein/ day
and unlimited fat intake depending on my training rigor

I did not change my training intensity nor volume so I could have a consistent comparison of the effects of my diet on my training.

Excerpts from my training journal :
Weeks 1-2:
"I can definitely feel a difference in my morning runs. After being on this diet for 4 days, I feel extremely sluggish and dazed during the first 2 miles of my easy runs. After 2 miles however I feel pretty normal and steady again. My workout days are pretty rough as well. I did an 8 x 1K workout that was miserable! My times were awful. Hopefully I will be adjusting soon.

Weeks 3-6:
“I am still a bit hungry on my morning runs when I first begin but I am getting used to it. On my interval training days (3x /week) I feel oddly stronger after my warmups than I did before low carb. I actually feel like I have more energy during the lasts repeats especially on mile repeats and longer intervals. I started hill sprints again and those have suffered a lot. After the first 20 seconds of the sprint I start to tank. It’s really crazy thinking about the text book pictures of the ATP-PC system during my workout and experiencing it crash. Since I have depleted my glucose supply glycolysis is lagging which is why the last 25 seconds of my hill sprints feel like I’m dying. Even though it is difficult for training, I am really enjoying applying/experimenting with all the science I have learned in my training.”

Weeks 7-10:
I believe I have pretty much leveled off with my low-carb tolerance. My training has both seen improvements and detriments. My longer runs (12+) are so much more enjoyable now! I don’t tank or hit that glycogen depletion feeling after 90 minutes any more! The only workouts that are still suffering are my shorter/anaerobic workouts. All workouts with hill repeats/ sprints under 1 minute still feel like death. It definitely makes sense coming from a scientific view of it. Being that I am training for aerobic races of 5k distance or greater, this really is only a detriment during my final kick of the race. All other endurance workouts have greatly improved! I don’t know if I will stay low carb indefinitely. There are still many other aspects to be looked at such as if it is healthful long term apart from running /performance. And I do miss my bananas and oatmeal!