I lasted 1 week. My doc, a very successful ultra runner, uses this diet quite effectively and encouraged my pursuing of it. He knows it’s not for everyone. I’ve asked him questions over the last couple of years and he wisely never suggested I go ahead. He did say when I asked him how it went for him initially that he felt truly awful the first 2 weeks. No energy.
So my foray into this realm was kicked off by Dr Jason Fung’s book: The Obesity Code. Fung is a Toronto based endocrinologist that specializes in diabetes. His very good book shares how obesity is directly tied to the hormone insulin and how our diets high in sugar and refined grains really throw the balance off, resulting in lots of weight gain. Fung’s work seem solid scientifically and I decided to give a low carb, hi fat/protein diet a go.
But, as I said, I only lasted 1 week. There was just no energy. I also tried Fung’s suggestion of fasting, performing a 30 hour fast. Crazily, 1.5 days later I attempted a marathon glacier ski of 7+ hours. My ski partner that day must have been shocked at how much fitness I apparently lost as I couldn’t keep up. This is a guy who’s in very good shape, but I usually lead the way and break trail when I ski with him. But in this case I was totally, helplessly unable to keep up. Maybe the fact I could even go as far as I did was a miracle. But I took the next day off of training, opting to do some yard work, then the day after that attempted a 2 hour run. I was able to complete it, but was incredibly exhausted the whole way.
It was at this point I decided to do some more research on the diet and specifically how effective it is for endurance athletes. I had read stuff before, but I now devoured the info as one deep into it himself. What I found was that the research showed little benefit for endurance athletes unless you’re training and racing at ultra distances.... read-ultra slow. With higher intensity training you’re just going to need those glycogen stores. Now, I understand I didn’t give my body nearly enough time to even begin to adapt to the higher fat, lower carb regimen. But the more I read, I realized that to fully and effectively convert, it can take months, even years for your body to fully adapt. It was at this point I realized it simply wasn’t worth it. Plus the research showed that performance benefits really aren’t there. Maybe in terms of weight loss, but not in fitness or performance.
In the last year I’ve been reducing my carb intake as it is realizing that being older there’s going to be a weight issue. I’ve also learned from Fung’s book how to reduce crazy out of control insulin production. Here’s some of the things I’m changing in my day to day diet and life:
-cut as much sugar out as possible (some of this for me includes my daily orange juice)
-reduce processed foods as they almost always contain sugar, & worse, hi fructose corn syrup
-when eating carbs, combine them with hi fiber foods and fat to slow insulin effects
-No snacking between meals. So insulin system is only at work 3x a day v. all day long
-periodic fasting to give the system a break and possibly reset insulin resistance-get healthier fats into my diet. Whole milk, mct supplements, coconut oil in my coffee, yogurt with hi fat, no sugar, etc.
The lo carb diet probably would have helped prevent cancer (which is abundant in my family) or type 2 diabetes, but I’m hoping the moderate diet changes will help these 2 areas though and also with weight maintenance. Bottom line.... no more Coke!