So Day 4 was yesterday, I did break my three day fast. I generally feel very good after that. If you have followed this blog over the last 817 days then you will know that I have used fasting as a tool to get my butt in gear many times. I dedicated yesterday to finally trying to dial in a nutrition plan that works for me. Hey, I am not traveling and I cannot go anywhere, so this seems like the perfect time. I have no excuses. I have no birthday parties to go to, there will be no Easter dinner to blow my plan on, we cannot really even go to a restaurant. This is the perfect time to start to build a new plan that I can follow to even better health.
I really like the concept behind the ketogenic diet. The concept is simple, reduce all the simple sugar sources in your body, and you will enter into ketosis and start to use more fat as a energy source. This is great for weight loss and with all the new low carbohydrate sources of nutrition on the market this plan is getting easier to follow. My wife told me yesterday that one of the fast food restaurants was advertising keto tacos to go. Maybe that is only a California thing. We start all the fads, good or bad. However, I cannot successfully follow keto and run as much as I am. I was able to do that for a while, but I track my running statistics on a website (I use a Garmin watch to track my running) and I could easily see the pattern. When my diet went full keto last year, my running performance tapered off. It is easy to correlate. Now I had individual performances that were good, and I think following that diet helped me in one major area. This is important because this discovery led to to my new plan that I started yesterday.
When I was trying to follow a full running program and do that while my body was in consistent ketosis, I discovered something. I have back this up by doing some research on the topic. The body burns fat slower than it burns readily available carbohydrates and available glucose. This is an obvious statement. However, what is not obvious is how it impacts your running capability. If you learn to run at a certain level of performance using only readily available quick burning carbohydrate resources, then you will be one of those type of runners that are eating 3 lbs of spaghetti before a race and then sucking down sugar rich gel packs every 20 minutes while running, especially on a long distance race. This seems to work for about 2 to 3 hours. However, eventually the running effort will deplete and your ability to replenish will start to falter. The body does not digest things well while operating at peak efficiency. It is focused on oxygen to the muscles, and getting nutrients to cellular function. Digestion is a low priority while running. Additionally, on long distance runs, nausea is a common problem as well as gastro distress (a polite way of saying that runners sometimes have to find a concealed bush to hide behind on the side of the road). Oh yeah, this maybe TMI, but has happened to me more than once. Put it this way, there are certain foods that I will never eat the night before a long distance run!
Anyway, your body always burns simple sources faster than complex sources like fat and protein. You can, however, adapt your body to burning fat more readily and more efficiently. What I have noticed is that my body actually improved in burning fat during my running than it did before I attempted all of this with a keto diet. Just yesterday, I was able to complete a 4 mile run in a full fasting state, and did so at a good pace. That would have never had happened last year. There is just no way I could have done it. I am far more fat adapted than I was before. Now, with some glucose in reserve I could have done far better in terms of performance. That is just a fact, but here is the key. I do not need a lot, I only need a little. Too much and the adverse effects kick in, too little and my performance drops. If I am able to find a good balance, then I can run longer distances at a good pace because I start out with a small glucose reserve and as my body works on replenishing that it has the ability to pull on fat reserves quickly and easily. In the past, my body would probably be trying to pull from fat reserves, but unable to do so fast enough to meet the demand of cellular function so it starts sending panic signals everywhere which causes me to either slow way down or quit all together. I do not want to run in a ketosis state, I want to run in a fat adapted state.
So yesterday, I set out to perfect a plan that fit this fat adapted program. Here is the basic design. On normal run days, days where I am running about an hour. I will run once or twice a day. In the morning, I will run after waking up. This will be in a 10 to 12 hour fasted state. This will be in full fat burning mode, which is good. The run will not be awesome, but it will be great for simulated training on long runs. Also a great way to wake up in the morning! Later in the day, I can work in my performance runs. These runs will be done with a certain amount of glucose supply in my system. The way I am going to accomplish this is to move my diet to a 60% fat, 20% carb, 20% protein combination. This would never work for serious weight lifting, but I am not doing that. I am trying to reach my running goals. Now, I may adjust the carb/protein mixture slightly based on activities that I am doing. I am going to get most of the carb sources in the morning after my initial run and several hours before any serious activity. After the the activities are done for the day, I will have meals that are more protein rich. Preparing for sleep when the body can repair and build.
This is a model that is a little different than some of the fad diets, but I have noted that it works well for me. If I can follow it! However, being on house arrest is a perfect time to try!
On days when I run long runs, 2 to 6 hours of running usually, then I will incorporate a heavier carbohydrate mixture before the run. This will bring the glucose balance up and my long run will slowly deplete those levels. I have got to the point now, where I know exactly when that depletion happens. I can actually feel it happen. So I need to work on controlling that and using different supplements to slow down that process. I have some ideas on that, but this should be the fun part. Fine tuning the tweaks it takes to maintain a fat adopted model, and keep the body fueled during high performance.
The day yesterday was filled with vegetables. Here was the basic concept. In the morning, eggs, vegetables with a healthy source of fat sources mixed in. Things like olive oil, olives, goat cheese, etc. Lunch was a very large vegetable salad. As many non-starchy vegetables that I could stomach, plenty of nuts, healthy dose of oil and vinegar. Lots and lots of avocado. No snacks yesterday, my running load was light. Then for dinner, a medium salmon fillet with a small portion of white rice and grilled vegetables. This ended up being almost a perfect 60/20/20 macro combination. I felt great btw, the balance of food was very filling and I actually felt myself buzzing from the nutrient explosion going on from all the nutritious vegetables. I also drank a lot of water. This was the perfect diet day. Now if only I could keep that up everyday! Hey, I at least I know what one looks like now. First step perhaps.