Category Archives: fat adaptation

Moja zgodba (Žana Jereb)

B013 Žana EatingZa Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) način prehranjevanja sem prvič slišala 23. novembra 2012, ko mi Klemen pošlje enega izmed člankov prof. Tima Noakes-a, spodaj pa pripiše: “Tole bo treba sprobat!”. Takoj preberem članek. Zdel se mi je zanimiv, ampak ker že po naravi nisem tip človeka, ki bi bil naklonjen prevelikim spremembam, me ni prepričal. Bila sem mnenja, da tak način prehranjevanja ni primeren zame – saj ne bom mogla teči, če ne bom zaužila dovolj OH-jev. Takrat so moje obroke sestavljali pretežno ovseni kosmiči, testenine, polenta, sadje, mlečni izdelki s čim manj maščob in občasno kakšne ribe. Že samo ob misli, da bi morala krožnik testenin zamenjati za kos mesa in zelenjavo pečeno na masti – o ne, ne, nihče me ne bo prepričal, da je za moje telo to bolj primerna hrana.

In res ni trajalo dolgo, ko se je Klemen odločil, da na lastni koži preizkusi LCHF način prehranjevanja. Brez postopnega prilagajanja je črtal vso hrano, bogato z OH-ji. Močno sem dvomila v učinkovitost takšne prehrane, zato sem se bolj kot ne iz solidarnosti do njega odločila, da bom za kosilo jedla isto kot on, s tem da sem si zraven pripravila še neko prilogo (največkrat testenine ali polento). Zajtrke in večerje sva jedla vsak po svoje. Tiste dni, ko sem bila v Žireh pa sem več ali manj jedla po starem. Vedno, ko si je za zajtrk ali večerjo pripravil kaj novega, mi je rekel, naj vsaj poizkusim. Sprva sem se trudila vzeti čim manjši košček, saj sem bila prepričana, da so maščobe nekaj najbolj nezdravega, zato sem se jih izogibala na vsakem koraku. Vseeno pa sem ga z velikim zanimanjem poslušala, ko mi je pripovedoval povzetke knjig in člankov o LCHF prehrani in o tem, kako so maščobe neupravičeno na slabem glasu. Postopoma, ampak še vedno zelo previdno sem ga začela posnemati tudi pri zajtrkih in večerjah. Tudi sama sem prebrala kar nekaj člankov na to temo, ki so me še bolj prepričali v to, da je sladkor sovražnik našega zdravja, ki se ga moramo v čim večji meri izogibati. In če LCHF poleg tega, da pozitivno vpliva na naše zdravje, tudi pozitivno vpliva na rezultate v vzdržljivostnih športih…odločitev je padla.

Tako sem se konec maja 2013 zavestno odločila, da iz svojega jedilnika črtam vse, kar vsebuje gluten – in to tudi takrat, ko bom v Žireh. Od takrat naprej si tudi za kosilo, ko sem bila v Ljubljani, nisem več kuhala prilog bogatimi z OH-ji. Sam začetek je bil težak. Prve tri tedne se nisem počutila dobro, bila sem brez energije in že iz iztekov sem hodila popolnoma omagana. Če ne bi imela ob sebi Klemna, ki mi je iz dneva v dan potrpežljivo razlagal, da bo kriza slej ko prej minila, saj je sam na začetku imel podobne probleme, bi že po prvih nekaj dneh obupala. Poleg tega so me tudi njegovi odlični rezultati v triatlonu (predvsem na IM Lanzarote in kasneje na Hawaii-h) prepričali, da LCHF prehrana res pozitivno vpliva na rezultate v vzdržljivostnih športih. Testenin kar naenkrat nisem več pogrešala, saj sem dobila novo mojo najljubšo jed – jetrca z zelenjavnim pirejem. Sicer sem imela kar nekaj težav, da sem dojela, da živila kot so jajca, maslo in živalska mast niso noben “bav, bav”, ampak tako pač je, če prej tako dolgo poslušaš, kako so škodljiva. Priznam pa, da se še vedno izogibam ocvirkov, ampak sem prepričana, da bo tudi to minilo :-).

Vem, B013 Žana Runningda spadam med bolj previdne osebe, zato potrebujem nekoliko več časa, da dobro premislim in se zares prepričam, kaj je dobro in kaj ne. Z vpeljavo novega načina prehranjevanja sem bila prisiljena tudi v to, da sem začela poslušati svoje telo. To mi je omogočilo, da sem lahko začela prilagajati LCHF dieto na način, ki ustreza mojim potrebam. In res, ko se je telo privadilo na spremembe, je počutje bilo iz dneva v dan boljše, kilogrami pa so kopneli sami od sebe. V zadnjem času se je začel napredek kazati tudi pri teku. Čeprav nekaterih treningov nisem opravila najbolje (predvsem na račun izpraznjenih glikogenskih zalog), mi je letos na vsaki tekmi dobesedno “letelo”, na nekaterih celo nad pričakovanji. Tako sem že v pomladanskem delu sezone izboljšala osebne rekorde v maratonu, polmaratonu in na 10 km in prepričana sem,  da so na vse te rezultate v veliki meri vplivale tudi spremembe v načinu prehranjevanja.

Kmalu bo minilo leto dni od kar sem spremenila svoj način prehrane in po pravici povedano: splošno počutje je super, tekla še nikoli nisem tako hitro kot tečem sedaj, zato ne vidim razloga, da ne bi nadaljevala v isti smeri oz. še hitreje :-)!

Žana Jereb

Osebni rekordi:

  • 2:35:55 (Maraton: Rotterdam, 13.4.14)
  • 1:14:27 (Polmaraton: Trst, 27.4.14)
  • 33:49 (10 km: Trst, 4.5.14)
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Inzulinski indeks – merilo sproščanja inzulina po zaužiti hrani

SB00400 Glikemični indeksGlikemični indeks (GI) je dokaj uveljavljeno merilo obsega dviga krvnega sladkorja (i.e. glukoze) po zaužitju določenega živila. Precej obetaven koncept pa se v vsakdanjem življenju ni izkazal za uporabnega, saj ima kopico pomanjkljivosti, zna biti zavajujoč, ljudje pa tako zelo različno odgovarjamo na enake količine zaužitih OH, da so povprečja neuporabna za splošna priporočila. Vsekakor je bil eden izmed razlogov za razvoj merila GI kot pomoč pri svetovanju sladkornim bolnikom. Nekako naj bi preko poznavanja GI hrane lažje predvidevali svoje krvne nivoje glukoze in tako lažje obvladovali bolezen. Samo problem nastane ob dejstvu, da lahko tudi proteini brez OH povzročijo dvig inzulina, katerega poglavitna naloga je uravnavanje krvnega sladkorja. Prav tako pa obstajajo tudi živila, ki povzročajo prekomeren dvig inzulina glede na njihovo vsebnost OH. Zato je Holt s sodelavci [1] razvila merilo Inzulinski indeks hrane (FII-Food Insulin Index).

FII-Food Insulin Index

SB00400 Inzulinski indeksInzulinski indeks (FII) je merilo obsega sproščanja inzulina na zaužitje določene hrane. Temelji na merjenju inzulina po zaužitju 239 kCal (1000 kJ) določene hrane v primerjavi s sproščenim inzulinom po zaužitju 239 kCal belega kruha, v obdobju 3 ur. Torej večji kot je indeks določenega živila, več inzulina sprosti telo po njegovem zaužitju.

Glede na to, kako uporaben koncept je inzulinski indeks hrane, pomislite samo na množico sladkornih bolnikov, se presenetljivo malo govori o njem. Redke reference v znanstveni literaturi, sem pa tja kakšna omemba v blogu ali podcastu, vse pa najverjetneje zaradi majhnega števila živil, ki je bila do sedaj testirana za ta indeks. Poleg osnovnega članka [1] se da na spletu dokopati še do nedavne doktorske dizertacije [2], s pomočjo katere se je število testiranih hranil dvignilo iz 38 na 147.

V nadaljevanju predstavljam Inzulinski indeks živil (FI), razdeljenih v smiselne skupine. Količina vsakega živila je 239 kCal, prikazana pa je še razlika med Inzulinskim indeksom (FI) in glikemičnim indeksom (GI) živila. Zadnja metrika predstavlja, koliko glikemični indeks (GI) »podceni« izločanje inzulina.

Mlečni izdelki

Pri mlečnih izdelkih GI pričakovano podceni izločanje inzulina (FII) zaradi precejšnje vsebnosti beljakovin v mlečnih izdelkih. Nekako je to tudi logično iz evolucijskega vidika, saj sesalci mleko uživamo v obdobju največje rasti (dojenčki, mladiči), inzulin pa je anabolni hormon (pospešuje rast). V povprečju za celo skupino znaša razlika med FII in GI kar 20%!

Povprečni GI = 23%, povprečni FII = 43%.

SB00401 Mlecni izdelki

Kruh, žitarice, testenine

Skupina s precejšnjim deležem OH in relativno nizkim deležem proteinov in maščob, zato v povprečju GI dobro zadane FII, saj je razlika v povprečju zgolj 0,5%. Vseeno pa vrsta hrane, po kateri se inzulin sprošča v največjem obsegu.

Povprečni GI = 58%, povprečni FII = 57%.

SB00402 kruh žitarice testenine

Sadje, sadni sokovi, zelenjava, stročnice

Še ena skupina z veliko OH ter malo proteini in maščobami. GI zato dobra ocena za veliko sproščanje inzulina.

Povprečni GI = 47%, povprečni FII = 50%.

SB00403 sadje zelenjava stročnice

Meso in proteinski viri

Z beljakovinami ter maščobami bogata skupina, kar ob relativno nizkem deležu OH pomeni precejšnjo podcenitev sproščanja inzulina.

Povprečni GI = 13%, povprečni FII = 24%.

SB00404 meso proteinski viri

Pijače, slaščice, prigrizki, obroki, hitra hrana

Oz po domače junk food. Veliko OH, kar nekaj maščob in brez proteinov, GI pa dobro oceni obsežno sproščanje inzulina.

Povprečni GI = 45%, povprečni FII = 52%.

SB00405 pijače sladice prigrizki obroki

Maščobe in olja

Sicer samo olivno olje ter maslo, GI in FII pa pričakovano zelo nizka. Maščobe pač ne povzročajo sproščanja inzulina.

Povprečni GI = 2%, povprečni FII = 3%.

SB00406 maščobe olja

Vse skupine na eni sliki so na voljo tule. SB00407 skupaj

Na naslednji sliki pa so predstavljeni sortirani podatki glede na Inzulinski indeks. SB00408 skupaj sortirano

Še nekaj korelacij

V nadaljevanju je pa še nekaj grafkov, kjer sem skušal prikazati povezavo med Inzulinskim indeksom (FII) in Glikemičnim indeksom (GI), vsebnostjo OH, proteinov ter maščob. Pričakovano je najlepša povezava med FII in GI, med FII in vsebnostjo OH pa relativno slaba. Kar seveda nakazuje, da vsebnost OH ni nujno vedno dober indikator za sproščanje inzulina po obroku. Od preostalih dveh hranil pa je še nekako najboljša obratna korelacija med FII in maščobami, skladno s pričakovanji. Večji delež kot je maščob v neki hrani, manjša je vsebnost OH ter posledično nižja potreba po sproščanju inzulina.

SB00410 korelacije

Zaključek

Inzulinski indeks je seveda (vsaj na papirju) uporabnejše merilo kot glikemični indeks, katerega bi bilo smiselno preiskusiti še v kakšnih večjih prehranskih študijah. Zaenkrat je njegova največja omejitev po mojem mnenju odsotnost podatkov za večje število hranil, analiza inzulina v krvi pač ni poceni stvar, možni sponzorji študij (i.e. prehranska industrija) pa so vse prej kot zainteresirani za tovrstne podatke.

Na vsak način pa da inzulinski indeks zelo uporabne podatke za npr. bolnike s sladkorno boleznijo, metabolnim sindromom, ljudi ki se želijo prehranjevati s ketogeno dieto ali izgubiti telesno težo z Low-Carb prehrano. Lepo se sklada z npr. mnogimi poročanimi anekdotami, da ima kar nekaj ljudji kljub Low-Carb prehrani težave z izgubo telesne teže. Ob analizi njihovega jedilnika ter kasnejšemu črtanju oz. omejitvi mlečnih izdelkov, pa telesna teža ponovno začne padati in tako lažje dosežejo svojo optimalno telesno sestavo. Kot je razvidno iz inzulinskega indeksa, imajo mlečni izdelki precej večji vpliv na sproščanje inzulina, kot bi mogoče sklepali zgolj po njihovi vsebnosti OH. Nekaj podobnega velja tudi za meso ter ostala hranila, ki vsebujejo precejšen delež proteinov. Vsekakor pa velja priporočilo, da vkolikor je vaš cilj zmanjšanje oz. omejitev sproščanja inzulina, potem uživajte čim več hranil iz zgornjega dela naslednjega spiska.

SB004011 zaključek

Literatura:

  1. Holt SH1, Miller JC, Petocz P. An insulin index of foods: the insulin demand generated by 1000-kJ portions of common foods. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Nov;66(5):1264-76.
  2. Bell, Kirstine. Clinical Application of the Food Insulin Index to Diabetes Mellitus. PhD Doctorate. University of Sydney. School of Molecular and Microbial Bioscience. 14-May-2014
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Race week meals – IM France

I already described my nutrition tapering on my blog previously, but have received quite a lot of questions regarding actual meals. I can understand that it can be quite difficult to measure the chosen amount of carbohydrates without proper food tracking (i.e. food weighting), so I decided to take pictures of all my meals in the entire race week.

But before going into the race week meals, I must also describe the carb intake in the preceding weeks:

  • 220 g of carbs per day in my hardest weeks of training before IM France (weeks -8 to -4),
  • 181 g of carbs in week -3
  • 159 g of carbs in week -2
  • 102 g of carbs in week -1 (i.e. last week before the race week).

This gradual reduction of carbs is consistent with reductions in training volume and further amplifies my reliance on fats for fuel.

On race week, I additionally reduced my carb intake to an average of 63 g before Friday’s dinner, when I usually start with a one and a half day carbo-loading protocol. But as mentioned in my race recap, that’s when I had a mild food poisoning with a tomato salad and boiled eggs. Almost immediately after I ate the salad, I had stomach discomfort, which lasted for three days. This resulted in limited food intake on Friday and Saturday. The plan was to eat in excess of 6.000 kCal on both days, but managed only 3.000 on Saturday! Well bellow of 5.700 kCal and 481 g of carbs as before IM Hawaii 2013 or 6.100 kCal and 435 g of carbs as before IM Lanzarote 2013.

On the following picture are presented all of my race week meals with times consumed.

B017 race week meals

And yes, those 4 pieces of pizza from the finish line probably contained gluten and I would not eat them if I didn’t suffered so much in the race. I immediately regretted it, as I felt even worse after eating them!

This week also concludes my 583-day tracking of food intake. I think that my kitchen scale deserves retirement!

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Moja zgodba – My Story (Žana Jereb)

B013 Žana EatingZa Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) način prehranjevanja sem prvič slišala 23. novembra 2012, ko mi Klemen pošlje enega izmed člankov prof. Tima Noakes-a, spodaj pa pripiše: “Tole bo treba sprobat!”. Takoj preberem članek. Zdel se mi je zanimiv, ampak ker že po naravi nisem tip človeka, ki bi bil naklonjen prevelikim spremembam, me ni prepričal. Bila sem mnenja, da tak način prehranjevanja ni primeren zame – saj ne bom mogla teči, če ne bom zaužila dovolj OH-jev. Takrat so moje obroke sestavljali pretežno ovseni kosmiči, testenine, polenta, sadje, mlečni izdelki s čim manj maščob in občasno kakšne ribe. Že samo ob misli, da bi morala krožnik testenin zamenjati za kos mesa in zelenjavo pečeno na masti – o ne, ne, nihče me ne bo prepričal, da je za moje telo to bolj primerna hrana.

In res ni trajalo dolgo, ko se je Klemen odločil, da na lastni koži preizkusi LCHF način prehranjevanja. Brez postopnega prilagajanja je črtal vso hrano, bogato z OH-ji. Močno sem dvomila v učinkovitost takšne prehrane, zato sem se bolj kot ne iz solidarnosti do njega odločila, da bom za kosilo jedla isto kot on, s tem da sem si zraven pripravila še neko prilogo (največkrat testenine ali polento). Zajtrke in večerje sva jedla vsak po svoje. Tiste dni, ko sem bila v Žireh pa sem več ali manj jedla po starem. Vedno, ko si je za zajtrk ali večerjo pripravil kaj novega, mi je rekel, naj vsaj poizkusim. Sprva sem se trudila vzeti čim manjši košček, saj sem bila prepričana, da so maščobe nekaj najbolj nezdravega, zato sem se jih izogibala na vsakem koraku. Vseeno pa sem ga z velikim zanimanjem poslušala, ko mi je pripovedoval povzetke knjig in člankov o LCHF prehrani in o tem, kako so maščobe neupravičeno na slabem glasu. Postopoma, ampak še vedno zelo previdno sem ga začela posnemati tudi pri zajtrkih in večerjah. Tudi sama sem prebrala kar nekaj člankov na to temo, ki so me še bolj prepričali v to, da je sladkor sovražnik našega zdravja, ki se ga moramo v čim večji meri izogibati. In če LCHF poleg tega, da pozitivno vpliva na naše zdravje, tudi pozitivno vpliva na rezultate v vzdržljivostnih športih…odločitev je padla.

Tako sem se konec maja 2013 zavestno odločila, da iz svojega jedilnika črtam vse, kar vsebuje gluten – in to tudi takrat, ko bom v Žireh. Od takrat naprej si tudi za kosilo, ko sem bila v Ljubljani, nisem več kuhala prilog bogatimi z OH-ji. Sam začetek je bil težak. Prve tri tedne se nisem počutila dobro, bila sem brez energije in že iz iztekov sem hodila popolnoma omagana. Če ne bi imela ob sebi Klemna, ki mi je iz dneva v dan potrpežljivo razlagal, da bo kriza slej ko prej minila, saj je sam na začetku imel podobne probleme, bi že po prvih nekaj dneh obupala. Poleg tega so me tudi njegovi odlični rezultati v triatlonu (predvsem na IM Lanzarote in kasneje na Hawaii-h) prepričali, da LCHF prehrana res pozitivno vpliva na rezultate v vzdržljivostnih športih. Testenin kar naenkrat nisem več pogrešala, saj sem dobila novo mojo najljubšo jed – jetrca z zelenjavnim pirejem. Sicer sem imela kar nekaj težav, da sem dojela, da živila kot so jajca, maslo in živalska mast niso noben “bav, bav”, ampak tako pač je, če prej tako dolgo poslušaš, kako so škodljiva. Priznam pa, da se še vedno izogibam ocvirkov, ampak sem prepričana, da bo tudi to minilo :-).

Vem, da spadam med bolj previdne osebe, zato potrebujem nekoliko več časa, da dobro premislim in se zares prepričam, kaj je dobro in kaj ne. Z vpeljavo novega načina prehranjevanja sem bila prisiljena tudi v to, da sem začela poslušati svoje telo. To mi je omogočilo, da sem lahko začela prilagajati LCHF dieto na način, ki ustreza mojim potrebam. In res, ko se je telo privadilo na spremembe, je počutje bilo iz dneva v dan boljše, kilogrami pa so kopneli sami od sebe. V zadnjem času se je začel napredek kazati tudi pri teku. Čeprav nekaterih treningov nisem opravila najbolje (predvsem na račun izpraznjenih glikogenskih zalog), mi je letos na vsaki tekmi dobesedno “letelo”, na nekaterih celo nad pričakovanji. Tako sem že v pomladanskem delu sezone izboljšala osebne rekorde v maratonu, polmaratonu in na 10 km in prepričana sem,  da so na vse te rezultate v veliki meri vplivale tudi spremembe v načinu prehranjevanja.

Kmalu bo minilo leto dni od kar sem spremenila svoj način prehrane in po pravici povedano: splošno počutje je super, tekla še nikoli nisem tako hitro kot tečem sedaj, zato ne vidim razloga, da ne bi nadaljevala v isti smeri oz. še hitreje :-)!

Žana Jereb

Osebni rekordi:

  • 2:35:55 (Maraton: Rotterdam, 13.4.14)
  • 1:14:27 (Polmaraton: Trst, 27.4.14)
  • 33:49 (10 km: Trst, 4.5.14)


B013 Žana RunningIt was on 23rd November 2012 when I first heard of Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diet, when Klemen sent me one of the articles by prof. Tim Noakes and wrote bellow “This needs to be tested!”. I read the article immediately. And though I thought it was interesting, it didn’t convince me, as I am not very prone to excessive changes. I was of the opinion that such a diet is not suitable for me – because I could not run if I’m not consuming enough carbs. At that time, my meals consisted mainly of oatmeal, pasta, polenta, fruits, low fat dairy products and occasionally some fish. Even just the thought of having to replace a plate of pasta for a piece of meat and vegetables grilled on fat – oh no, no one will convince me that this would be more suitable food for my body.

And Klemen didn’t take long to try LCHF diet on his own body. He went cold turkey and removed all foods rich in carbs from his diet. I had strong doubts as to the effectiveness of such a diet, but I ate main meals with him out of solidarity and added my own carb rich side dishes (usually pasta or polenta). We ate separate breakfasts and dinners. And in the days when I was in Žiri, I ate the same as previously. Whenever he prepared something new for breakfast or dinner he told me to at least try it. At first I tried to take the smallest possible amounts because I was convinced that fat is something very unhealthy, so I avoid fat at every step. However, I listened with great interest when he told me summaries of books and articles on LCHF diet and about how fat has unjustifiably bad reputation. Gradually, but still very carefully I began to imitate him even at breakfasts and dinners. I too read several articles on this topic and was getting more convinced of the fact that the sugar is the real enemy of our health and that we should avoid it as much as possible. And if LCHF diet in addition of having positive effects on our health, it positively impacts performance in endurance sports… I made the decision.

At the end of May 2013 I stopped eating foods containing gluten, even when eating in Žiri. From then on I also stopped eating carb rich side dishes. The start was difficult. I didn’t feel well for the first three weeks, I was without power and even slow runs exhausted me. Without having Klemen around telling me that this crisis is only initial and that it will soon pass, I would have given up. And given his excellent results in triathlon (Ironman Lanzarote and then Ironman Hawaii), I was getting more and more convinced, that LCHF nutrition has really positive effects on endurance performance. I suddenly no longer craved for pasta, as I got my new favorite meal: livers with vegetable puree. Otherwise, I had some problems before realizing that foods such as eggs, butter and animal fat are not harmful, but that is the way it is, if you spend your whole life listening to such fallacies. I admit, though, that I still avoid cracklings, but this shall also pass with time J

I am more of a precautious person, so I need a little more time to form my opinion about things and make sure what is good and what is not. With the introduction of a new way of eating, I was forced also in listening more to my body. It gave me a way of adapting a LCHF diet in a way that meets my needs. And indeed, when the body got used to different fueling, I started to feel much better as the days passed and my weight dropped off as well. Recently, the progress became more apparent at my running as well. Although some trainings didn’t go well (mostly due to depleted glycogen stores), my racing performance really got another gear, performing above expectations. In spring season I already smashed my personal records in marathon, half-marathon and 10k and I am convinced that these results were largely influenced by changes in diet.

Soon, it will be a year since I changed my diet and to be honest: the general mood is great, I’ve never ran as fast as I’m running now, so I see no reason not to continue in the same direction! Or even faster 🙂

Žana Jereb

Personal bests:

  • 2:35:55 (Maraton: Rotterdam, 13.4.14)
  • 1:14:27 (Polmaraton: Trst, 27.4.14)
  • 33:49 (10 km: Trst, 4.5.14)
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Training Low

Carbohydrates are undisputedly ergogenic aids for endurance exercise training. There basically isn’t a single study out there that shows a negative effect of carbs on performance. So when going Low carb in training period, your training performance will suffer, either in volume, intensity or RPE (rating of perceived exertion). I finally managed to perform an analysis of my key training periods before Hawaii Ironman triathlon 2012 (High Carb) and before Hawaii 2013 (Low Carb), that confirmed my initial observations and findings from scientific literature.

I compared the last 14 weeks of training heading into Hawaii Ironman in 2012 or 2013 (three 4-week training blocks + 2-week taper), as this is considered the most important training period before Ironman race. In 2012 I was still on “traditional endurance” High Carb diet, in accordance with all guidelines and with no junk food. For 2013 season I changed to Low Carb nutrition at the start of the year, so the compared period in 2013 was well after adaptation to new nutrition (i.e. 8 months after the switch to Low Carb).

VOLUME COMPARISON

The first (and easiest) comparison is of course the volume of training, represented in km or hours.

B01101 Volume comparison

The numbers speak for themselves, as 11% reduction in total training time was hard to overlook even back when I was training for 2013 Hawaii. I averaged 3 h 03 min per day in 2012 and only 2 h 42 min per day in 2013. Only swim volume was greater in 2013, and that was due to broken ribs and arm lacerations in 2012, that limited my ability to swim. Both run (-18%) and bike (-18%) volumes were markedly lower in 2013, in accordance with previous observations, that I just couldn’t train that much. It wasn’t for the lack of time or motivation; it was just the volume that was killing me in 2013.

As far as the sleep goes, I averaged 9,0 hours of sleep per day in 2012 and 8,6 hours in 2013, so no major differences.

WORKOUT TYPE COMPARISON

The volume is only one determinant of training, with quality being probably more important. So the comparison of workout types may provide a better glimpse into changes between my 2012 and 2013 Hawaii preparation period.

B01102 workout type comparison

In running, I did a couple more interval training sessions and a couple of tempo and long distance workouts less in 2013 when compared with 2012. The major difference comes in other run workouts (i.e. recovery runs, “garbage miles”…), that I performed almost one third less in 2013! And the picture is almost identical for bike workouts in 2013, with the numbers of workout types quite similar except of “garbage miles” workouts (approx. one fourth less in 2013). So all in all, the quality of training was more or less comparable between 2012 and 2013, also confirming my initial feelings.

RPE, FATIGUE, WILLINGNESS TO TRAIN

As mentioned before, I also track Rating of perceived exertion, Fatigue and Willingness to train for every session. I assign a 0-9 value to each based on the following index:

Rating of perceived exertion Fatigue Willingness to train
1 – Very light
2
3 – Fairly light
4 – Moderate
5 – Somewhat hard
6 – Hard
7 – Very hard
8
9 – Maximum
1 – Feeling new
2
3 – Rested
4
5 – Average
6
7 – Tired
8
9 –Destroyed
1 – Very High
2
3 – High
4
5 – Average
6
7 – Low
8
9 – Zero

So another possible comparison between years could be based on RPE, Fatigue and Willingness to train criteria. RPE is excellent measure of how hard I went in each session (i.e. intensity) while Fatigue and Willingness to train are good indicators for overtraining status. By comparing these indicators for key workouts, I can get another view of the training quality.

I averaged these indicators for key workouts (i.e. interval, tempo or distance workouts) and for “garbage miles” workouts (i.e. all other).

B01103 RPE, FATIGUE, WILLINGNESS TO TRAIN

When looking through results, no difference appears in “garbage miles” workouts, whether they were run or bike workouts. This would indicate that intensity was the same as well as Fatigue level and Willingness to train. But when looking at averages from key workouts (i.e. intervals, tempos and distance sessions), the most notable difference is RPE, being quite higher in 2013 for both run and bike workouts. While on first thought this would indicate higher intensity and quality of key workouts in 2013, I would most probably ascribe that to typical characteristic of Low Carb training. Namely, for a given workout performed at lower muscle glycogen content (which is the case in Low Carb training) the RPE is higher at the same intensity or power. This fact is well established and proven in scientific literature, as subject always report higher RPE on Low Carb for the same workout intensity in comparison to High Carb.

Also, the track run workouts indicate the above mentioned fact of higher RPE at same pace as well. In 2012 I was performing 10x400m run repeats at 74 sec with average HR 150 bpm and 60 sec rest periods in between, while in 2013 I could only do 77 sec 10x400m repeats with average HR 150 bpm. But on 90 sec rests, so the overall intensity was substantially lower in 2013, albeit at higher RPE!

MY 2013 NUTRITION

Unfortunately, I do not have any nutrition data for the last 14 weeks before 2012 Hawaii when I was training High Carb Low Fat, but I would guesstimate that I was consuming well over 500 g of carbs per day. Probably more in 600 – 700 g region, as only my usual (cereal) breakfasts consisted of more than 200 g of carbs!

I started tracking my nutrition intake in 2013, so I have complete nutrition data for whole year. In last 14 weeks of training for Hawaii in 2013, my average daily carb intake was 199 g on 5.011 kCal consumption.

B01104 average nutrient intake

Average fat intake was 360 g, while protein at 231 g, which means that I got almost 2/3 of my energy from fat! As far as food groups goes, they averaged out as follows.

B01105 average food groups

CONCLUSION

Quite evidently, the most important training period (14 weeks before an Ironman) was lower in volume and at best similar with regards to quality in 2013 when compared to 2012. But as stated before, training performance is of minor importance with regards to race performance, as I train for races and not for training “bragging rights” 😉 The end result of different training approaches taken in 2012 and 2013 can be nicely summarized by the following graphic:

Comparison of 2012 and 2013 Ironman Hawaii race performances (2013 was Train low Race high Carb approach)

Comparison of 2012 and 2013 Ironman Hawaii race performances (2013 was Train low Race high Carb approach)

So where did this 38 minute (7%!) improvement come from? Some of it was evidently from better weather conditions, some were undoubtedly because of additional endurance training year, additional experiences… And I believe the major factor was also a change in nutrition. As far as I experienced until now, the Train Low Race High approach with regards to carbs has two major advantages:

  • Smaller reliance on carbs for fuel and correspondingly greater fat burning capacity, which means lower chances of bonking.
  • Greater training adaptation at lower (or the same) training stimulus (i.e. intensity and volume).

Especially the second advantage is most often overlooked and seldom mentioned. This may also be the consequence of quite limited research on this topic, as you can basically count studies that deal with this question on the fingers of one hand! But sadly, this advantage is in my opinion also one of major reasons, why people don’t stick with Low Carb training approach. They only see the reduction in performance in training, get scared and conclude that they are not suited to Low Carb.

In my opinion, based on my experiences gather so far and with regards to studied scientific literature, I could compare Train Low Race High Carb approach to altitude training. You are training at tougher conditions (higher altitude or lower muscle glycogen content) so that the races seem easier (sea level altitude or full muscle glycogen)!

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My thoughts on ketosis for athletes

Ketosis was the topic that sparked the most objections when I described it as the “promise land” in my low carb journey. Responses ranged from anywhere between “you were not in ketosis” to “6 week adaptation period is not enough” and in-between-the-lines “you are a pussy”. Mainly this is also my fault, as I didn’t described my experience with ketosis in greater extend. Therefore the topic merits another blog post from my side.

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance - Jeff Volek, Stephen PhinneySo for anyone not familiar to ketosis I would refer you to an excellent book The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance by Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney or to (free) article by Phinney. Also, the entries for Ketogenic diet and Ketosis are fairly well written in Wikipedia.

The basic premise of the ketogenic approach to endurance training lies in the fact that by greatly reducing the amount of carbohydrates in diet the body is relying mostly on ketone bodies for muscle and brain fuel. Ketone bodies are produced from fatty acids, of which we have basically unlimited stores. Hence by not relying on glycogen stores for fuel, one could not experience the so feared bonking. When studying the topic in literature I was skeptical at first, but decided to give it a try nonetheless. The issue that bothered me the most was, why isn’t this approach more popular, if the benefits are quite substantial, as described in famous study by Phinney et al. Also, Peter Attia reported some favorable results at his blog that additionally convinced me to try it out.

Blood ketone measuring device - Abbott Precision Xtra

So with good hopes and armed with blood ketone meter (and that expensive testing strips!) I reduced my carbs to under 50 g per day and protein to about 120 g per day. Over the 6 week period I had average morning blood values of ketones around 1,2 – 1,5 mmol/L. (That goes for the first argument “you were not in ketosis”). I was in ketosis all right, but I was feeling miserable as hell. No motivation to train, always cold, difficulties to start even basic movements like going to the bathroom, and I had traumas before swimming sessions as I was freezing in the water! It was MISERY in capital letters. Especially because my performance dropped like a piece of stone to the bottom of the pool. Sure, I wasn’t fading on long workouts, but the power and pace were very low. Also in interval work or hill repeats I couldn’t find that extra low gear for maximum effort. It’s really hard to describe, as I know that I would not believe myself explaining it to me, if I wouldn’t have tried it! It just didn’t work for me and my style of training which involves quite a bit of interval training sessions per week. My body was basically starving, although I was consuming in the range of 6000 kCal per day. I’ve lost quite a bit of muscle and gained back some fat mass, because I misinterpreted my cravings for carbs with cravings for food.

This brings me to the comments like to “6 week adaptation period is not enough” and “you are a pussy for not sticking to it”. My reply would be, that 6 weeks in that state and training on average 3 hours per day, with approx. 5-6 interval training sessions per week, seemed like eternity! And I believe that 3 years of 2-3 hours per day endurance training raised my self-discipline and pain threshold to a level, that cannot be offset very easily.

Anyway, after trying the ketosis and observing the effects, I would now line with the opinion by Robb Wolf that he nicely conveys on his blog in 3 parts (part 1, part 2, part 3). Or if you want a more colorful and juicy read head over to Anthony Colpo’s blog for his thoughts (part 1, part 2).

My experience with ketosis and large volume endurance training

My experience with ketosis and large volume endurance training

So to summarize, I believe that ketosis, being an evolutionary feature that enabled us to survive the periods of famine, is not a good approach to enhance endurance training, if that training (or racing) requires any significant higher intensity periods. Long ultra-endurance events could be an exception, but for “normal” endurance events and for goals more ambitious as “just finishing”, I believe that ketosis isn’t optimal approach. The endurance training by itself is already stressful enough, so the additional cortisol release during ketosis might just have too many negative consequences (i.e. muscle wasting).

Also, one of the major motive to go into ketosis while training and / or racing  is reliance only on endogenous stores of fuel (i.e. fat stores). I have now raced two Ironmans on “train low race high” carb approach and on both occasions I haven’t had a slightest issue with energy intake. Being fat adapted enabled me to efficiently burn fat in such extend, that I can easily manage the required carb intake during 9h event and still perform at quite high intensities (i.e. under 3 hour marathon on both Ironmans). In Hawaii 2013 I was consuming approx. 45 g of carbs per hour, which is almost half less of what I used to, when I wasn’t fat adapted (81 g per hour in Hawaii 2012). Hence, the required intake of carbs while being fat adapted is very manageable and will rarely cause problems also in athletes with troublesome stomach. Ketosis therefore looses another highly regarded feature, that was so alluring on the first sight. After experimenting with quantities, the arguments of “unlimited body fuel supply” and “unnecessary fuel intake during races” aren’t so appealing anymore when you also factor diminished performance into equation!

All in all, the ketosis experiment was very valuable experience for me. Having read most of the scientific literature on ketosis and endurance training, surfing through numerous blogs, podcast and videos I must say, that reading cannot prepare you for the experience. You just have to try it to really see what ketosis is like.

That being said, I still plan to use ketogenic nutrition periodically when I finish competing and return to “normal living”, as there have been suggestions on its beneficial effects on general wellbeing. Especially the idea of periodic intermittent fasting is appealing to me, as I think that we are more adapted to irregular meal timing. If the composition of the meals is appropriate, of course!

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