hbarmstrong

Difficulty running--when does this "fat adapted" thing kick in?

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Hi all!

 

I'm on day 15 of my first Whole 30. My sister and cousin encouraged me to do it (to help with hypothyroidism) but neither have attempted to do it while maintaining a steady workout regimen. I usually work out between 5-6 days per week (a mix of boxing, running and weight lifting) but have had a VERY DIFFICULT time maintaining my running since I started the Whole 30. I've been trying to run first thing in the morning, but have found that I run a few blocks and my legs feel incredibly heavy. I've read through other posts about running becoming easier once you are "fat-adapted" and I'm wondering how long it has taken others to get to this point. 

 

I'm trying very hard to stay patient but would love to know how others have gotten through this phase!

 

Hilary

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I felt better after 2 weeks, but some people take 3 or 4 weeks to get their legs back. How fast things happen depends upon your former diet, your overall and health, and specific issues. 

 

It helps if you are eating starchy veggies every day that you exercise. Things like potatoes, parsnips, rutabagas, beets, plantains. These are energy foods that can make a noticeable difference. 

 

Now that I am fully adjusted to Whole30-style eating, I don't experience any impairment of my legs or energy generally when I eat no starchy veggies and I run hill sprints 5 days per week in addition to training with kettlebells. However, I sleep better when I eat starchy veggies regularly. 

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hbarmstrong - I was just logging on to search for some answers about running fatigue. I feel the same way and I'm only doing short runs (5 miles or less). I'm only on day 8 but was hoping the energy for my workouts would come back soon. Getting a little concern because my half marathon training starts soon. 

Thank you Tom for the advice. I'm not a big potato gal but I had just got all the ingredients to do nom nom's sweet potato hash. And just ate a salad with beets in it. So maybe if I am more aware what vegetables I am eating it will come back.

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I found it took me about 3 weeks or so before things started to get 'easier' again. 

 

Even once I was fat adapted, I still found that eating a good amount of starchy veggies the day before my long runs helped me feel stronger for longer.  For reference: 'Long' run for me was about 2 - 2.5 hours of running.  I got the same result when biking over 3 hours but I found I needed starchy fuel mid-ride if it was a hilly ride (not so for running).

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It took me 2 weeks to not feel like I was running with ankle weights and about 4 weeks to feel better than I had before I started :)  So hang in there!

 

And just like others have said... W30 doesn't have to be low carb for athletes.  If you find you feel bad during this transition there is nothing stopping you from having some sweet potato before you head out the door!  One friend of mine switched from a bagel with PB pre long runs to a sweet potato with almond butter.  Just eat real food instead of Gu ;)

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I'm not a long distance runner, more a beginner 5-10km would be my average run. It came to the point I dreaded my runs, around day 22 I had a good run but it was not until about day 27 that I consistently lost that heavy leg feel in my runs. I know it's frustrating but things do get better!

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It took me 2 weeks to not feel like I was running with ankle weights and about 4 weeks to feel better than I had before I started :)  So hang in there!

 

And just like others have said... W30 doesn't have to be low carb for athletes.  If you find you feel bad during this transition there is nothing stopping you from having some sweet potato before you head out the door!  One friend of mine switched from a bagel with PB pre long runs to a sweet potato with almond butter.  Just eat real food instead of Gu ;)

 

Yes but...

 

Yes eat plenty of carbs to fuel your workouts, but don't eat them within an hour previous to your workout. That encourages your body to continue to use the easily accessed sugar instead of your fat stores and your hopefully well stocked glycogen stores. Post workout and the night before is when you want those starchy vegetables. Now if you are out for a very long run/ride (2+ hours) you might need some carbs in the middle, but still not prior. I did half marathon training all last spring/summer while I made the paleo transition and did my Whole30. Took a couple of weeks to adjust but after that I was perfectly fine doing my long runs with some eggs before and some coconut water during.

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So glad to find this forum! I'm an amateur runner really but my day 9 morning run was a disaster this morning! Was feeling very disheartened but will keep plodding on! I'm so used to a post run chocolate milk - any suggestions for alternatives/need for a 'recovery' drink/snack (I'm only running 5-10 miles!)

Thanks

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So glad to find this forum! I'm an amateur runner really but my day 9 morning run was a disaster this morning! Was feeling very disheartened but will keep plodding on! I'm so used to a post run chocolate milk - any suggestions for alternatives/need for a 'recovery' drink/snack (I'm only running 5-10 miles!)

Thanks

 

Post-workout template meals are protein and carbs, so you'll need to find a combo that works for you. Chunks of roast chicken and sweet potato was always my fave post-run.

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If it takes 2-4 weeks to become fat adapted, how quickly does one become un-fat adapted? Just wondering if a sugar binge from earlier this week makes me start at square 1 again.

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bpxdomino - I'd say becomin "unadapted " is pretty much immediate. If  your glucogen stores are loaded with it you will burn that first (to a certain percentage, depending on exercise intensity and other factors, but keeping it simple here), before fat. When you run low on the stored sugar your body will tell you "more, more" and you will either give in to that sugar sirens call or decide that it is time to get back to the template.

 

Once you have "burned through" the extra sugar your body can store in the liver and muscle from your binge and if you are again eating a diet lower in sugar you will go back to primarily burning fat again. In my experience the change back into fat adaptaion is much less difficult than the initial switch, but that is an experiment with n=1.

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It really isn't that you become "unadapted". But yes if you give your body a lot of sugar when it isn't burning that as its primary fuel anymore you might feel off or weird. I crash pretty hard now when I overdo sugar. 

 

You do want to keep your glycogen stores topped off regardless of your fat adaption status. Once you are in fat burning mode my understanding is that your body won't reach for those until you are in the higher range of your intensity. 

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Goodness, I thought it was just me! Good to know other people are feeling this leaden leg thing too. I'm not running ungodly amounts (only 25-35 a week!) and I was getting teary about how hard it was to move my darn legs! My husband keeps pushing more food on me and had me eat kabocha squash and pineapple with my meal last night til I was stuffed, and this morning was MUCH easier. He was entirely too smug about it, Mr Marathoner. :-). Off to the store to get sweet potatoes and squash this morning...

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Man...I had this today! I'm on day 16 and went for a short run. Mile run was fast and furious, mile two slowed immensely while mile 3 was more of a job. Frustrated as I have a race on the 30th I want to PR. I've been actively upping the starchy carbs and good fats too. REALLY hoping my mojo comes back asap! My gas tank totally ran out of steam. :( Good luck to you and I hope things get better quickly! 

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It's definitely getting easier for me... technically I'm on Day 8, but that's just because I ate bacon from the Whole Foods hot bar for breakfast several mornings of my first week (cheap protein, since they do it by weight; high-quality meat since it's Whole Foods). So depending on how much you want to bet that little bit of added sugar was affecting my training, you might say I'm on Day 15. The first weekend (i.e., after BaconWeek), I felt so terrible I bailed out of my 12 mile long run. I was able to do it the next day by going 2 min/mile slower than I would usually have run it. For my track workout last week I did 3x1200 instead of 4x1200; it was harder than it should have been, but I made it. On Thursday I did 7 and it was hard, but it was also tacked on to a work trip to a place that is warmer than my hometown, so that might have been the real problem. Long run on Saturday was almost normal, and I did my yassos this Monday on pace. Maybe I'm getting used to it... or maybe I'm just really embracing the necessity of cooking with sweet potatoes (my fingers, with their many cuts from the peeler, are not happy).

 

Soooo... I think I'm still sluggish, but it is getting much better. The "heavy leg" feeling is still there at the start, but doesn't seem to last the whole run. 

 

For what it's worth, I've experimented with cashew butter packets before runs, and also Larabars. The latter feels a lot like fueling with carbs instead of teaching my body to use fat, but it's also the only way I've been able to do 12+ miles. For the long runs (12-15 miles), I eat a Larabar during the run, as well— about a bite every 3-4 miles. I figure it's still way better than Gu. Afterwards I like pumpkin or sweet potato puree mixed with a little nut butter or ghee, plus an Epic bar or (if I run from home) some chicken breast. I wish I could find deli meat that didn't have added sugar, because I would much prefer to have that before the run and then after with my sweet potato or pumpkin. I also got some pureed sweet potato baby food packets and am going to try that tomorrow.

 

So clearly I'm no expert and don't have much wisdom to offer, but I had to jump in and say that I'm going through the same thing and I feel like I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Hope it gets easier for you, too! This has actually been the hardest thing about my Whole30 so far. I haven't had a problem with cravings (though one night I did dream about desperately searching for Paleo muffins at a ginormous health food store near Mt. Shasta with my ex-boyfriend)... it's the dang heavy legs that are getting me.

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Just wanted to share what has really been helping me...I started eating a fruit and a starchy veggie with dinner and the next morning, my run was a lot easier. Four miles didn't feel like 14 for the first time in six days. I didn't even look in this section because I don't consider myself an athlete -- but what everyone had to say about glycogen depletion made a lot of sense. The really heavy lead legs hit for me the day after a day with no starchy veggies and almost all greens, and then a nine mile run. I guess I just killed my stores and didn't replace it with anything.

I also ate an almond butter packet with a bite of chicken this morning and that rested fine on my stomach...I plan on some sweet potato and pineapple tonight. I bought a plantain for the night before my long run this weekend...I LOVE sautéed plantain and it sounds like just the ticket to make sure I don't shuffle through ten miles.

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Plantain + guacamole... love it :D

 

PS. Anyone interested in the science, I recommend this book:

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable

 

Excessive protein can tip the balance as well as sugar, but everyone's balance is different.

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So glad to have found this topic! I was playing tennis Wednesday night and felt kitten-weak. I wondered if the low energy and dead legs were food related (I've been having an unrelated back problem and have pretty much learned to play tennis through that...but the dead legs were new!). Will incorporate night-before carb veggies. This newbie thing is hard!

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I'm so glad I found this I thought it was only me!  Today I ended up walking around instead of my usual morning run because my legs were in pain and super heavy. My morning runs are like my me-time I usually really enjoy them so it sucks but I'm gonna hang in there and add some starchy veggies as some of you suggested.  Can't wait until I start adapting and can actually complete my runs without feeling exhausted. 

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Very glad to be reading this (though not glad everyone is experiencing it of course!)  My last 2 runs have been ridiculous: I set out to run 4-5 miles, find myself adjusting that down to 3 after 15 minutes, then NOT EVEN ABLE TO COMPLETE 3 miles!!!!!!!  Pre-Whole 30 I was able to run 3-4 no problems whatsoever (after taking a year off running.  Last half marathon kicked my butt).  My Zumba classes have been lackluster too, I'm sweating buckets, and watching the clock to see how much longer I have to teach, which is not a normal thing.  And Saturday night, I went to a friend's house....passed out on her couch at 9!!! Feeling like a slug is NOT my typical M.O. and I was starting to wonder if this plan isn't the best for me considering my activity level.   I have been eating a fair amount of sweet potatoes, about every other day, and was thinking maybe my calorie intake wasn't high enough.  

 

I will hang in there, though, knowing this is pretty common, and start tweaking my carbs.  would love some squash!  I'm at the halfway point today, and I have to say, i AM sleeping better than I have in quite some time, and I've lost the bloating that was making me feel like crap.

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Very glad to be reading this (though not glad everyone is experiencing it of course!)  My last 2 runs have been ridiculous: I set out to run 4-5 miles, find myself adjusting that down to 3 after 15 minutes, then NOT EVEN ABLE TO COMPLETE 3 miles!!!!!!!  Pre-Whole 30 I was able to run 3-4 no problems whatsoever (after taking a year off running.  Last half marathon kicked my butt).  My Zumba classes have been lackluster too, I'm sweating buckets, and watching the clock to see how much longer I have to teach, which is not a normal thing.  And Saturday night, I went to a friend's house....passed out on her couch at 9!!! Feeling like a slug is NOT my typical M.O. and I was starting to wonder if this plan isn't the best for me considering my activity level.   I have been eating a fair amount of sweet potatoes, about every other day, and was thinking maybe my calorie intake wasn't high enough.  

 

I will hang in there, though, knowing this is pretty common, and start tweaking my carbs.  would love some squash!  I'm at the halfway point today, and I have to say, i AM sleeping better than I have in quite some time, and I've lost the bloating that was making me feel like crap.

 

 

Which day are you on now? I'm still on day 7. I wonder when it'll start improving! Update us how your future runs go and when you start feeling better.

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This thread has completely summed up why I've always lost the battle of my dragon after a while going strong. I simply never considered myself "an athlete" because I wasn't a cross fitter or running marathons. I never equated chasing 4 mini-me's around all day, doing the cooking and cleaning in addition to my 6d/wk workouts to being "athletic". I just saw it as "tis what one does". This time, I'm back in focus and including the necessary fuel OFTEN, not randomly, and I'm instantly feeling the difference. Day 3 -sprints. I'm still no marathoner (yet) but I'm closer than I was last week :)

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Guest PaleoViki

I am going to be transitioning back into regular Paleo in about 6 days.  I have wondered about what changes to expect.  Thanks for all the input.  I learned a lot.  I do P-90X.  :)

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I've been following this conversation and the other threads on related topics - thanks for all the advice and stories, they've been VERY helpful - and just got back from a 15 mile run on day 11 of my fourth W30 (I hadn't been training for anything on my previous W30s). I wrote about my run on my blog (spoiler - it went well!) here. I didn't bring enough food with me and started to get really hungry around mile 12, but made it home feeling good. I'm running a marathon Nov. 9, and will likely stay pretty close to W30 until then (have a break planned days 34-35 due to some life events, but plan to get right back on the wagon after some small indulgences). 

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