What are the major lessons learned from this n=1 Low Carb nutrition-training experiment.
So my main preliminary conclusion from this year’s “train low race high-carb” would be, that training adaptations on Low-carb must be far better than when training on High-carb (as also suggested in scientific literature). And I believe this effect to be quite substantial, at least for me. I cannot otherwise explain my performance improvement despite substantial in-training performance drop-off. The benefits of greater reliance on fat for fuel are most evident in consistent performance through the races or training in steady state, as the risk of bonking is greatly reduced. Remembering back, it hasn’t happened to me even once since going on LC and becoming fat adapted.
Another benefit of more steady energy influx that is not so heavily dependent on quick carb energy is mental alertness during the races. Previously I would often have bad patches of motivation or negative thoughts during the races or hard workouts that of course took its toll on final results. Now my mental alertness (or concentration) never undulates, resulting in a steadier, controlled performance. This also shows in general day to day setting, as the fluctuation of motivation to train is greatly diminished. Which means that the days of very low motivation and the need to sugar-load just to get out to train are long forgotten.
If I could find one drawback of the chosen approach it would be setting the correlation between training and race performance. This is crucial in my view, especially in long distance events, when pacing presents such a vital role. Right now, I am having difficulties predicting starting pace on the bike and on the run, as my race performance on High carbs is so much greater. But with careful self-monitoring and as I gather more data from my training/races, it will become easier for me to overcome this limitation as well.
At the end there is one final note that needs to be addressed. And that is the length of the event that you are training for. I would like to think that I found better way to fuel for IM races, but if I was to train for half-IM or even marathon, I would probably need to change my nutrition plan. In the shorter events the fuel demands become less and less dependent and training becomes more and more intense. So I think the benefits of LC would not be as evident as in longer races. Nevertheless, I would still try with LC and then gradually upping the intake of carbs while carefully monitoring performance.