Opinions or experience with doing events in a ketogenic state


CaseyD

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I'm starting to read a lot about this, and I know that Mark Sisson advocates this approach, but I'm interested in hearing more opinions.

I'm doing a Tough Mudder in October, and I'm considering doing it as a "fat burning machine." As in, I'm thinking about going extra low carb (50-70 grams a day) for the next few months to train my body to use fat as an energy source. But, this is so against the grain and like the whole "eat more fat" idea, I'm having a hard time just jumping on the bandwagon. Part of me is wondering if this is actually damaging to your health, to be ketogenic for the long haul. I get some mixed messages about this.

Does anyone have experience or educated thoughts on this? If so, do you have any recommendations of how to pull this off in the most healthful way?

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Becoming fat-adapted does not require the kind of carb restriction you propose. My body burns fat very efficiently and I routinely eat sweet potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, etc. If you are lean and you cut carbs to a low level, your energy and recovery from hard training will degrade.

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Casey, the success of long term ketosis really depends on your activity level. If you're doing something like a Tough Mudder, it's too much activity and training to depend on just your body to replenish its glycogen stores on its own. You need the carbs.

Additionally, the Whole30 program supports a healthy metabolism, which means being able to access different macronutrients for food. A healthy person should be able to switch in and out of carb metabolism and fat metabolism whenever it's necessary.

Folks that are eating a standard american diet, or a diet of carbs, carbs and more carbs, are going to be REALLY bad at metabolizing fat, but that's because their bodies are used to tossing the plentiful kindling on the fire all the time, as opposed to being able to tap into the long burning logs that are fat molecules.

Anyway, you should have this capability, and if you're running long enough to diminish your glycogen stores, your body will tap into the fat when they need it

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I just don't believe in doing long distances over and over. Been there, done that. I just think there is a smarter way to train. That's also why I feel this is possible.

There are two approaches - there is the ultra low carb (keeping it 50 grams or lower) and eating about .6 10 1 gram of protein per lean body mass, and then there is the perfect health diet's approach of hitting the 600 calories of carbs + protein, and consuming a good amount of coconut oil. These aren't really that different from each other, ultimately. My understanding is that you should train in a keto state to teach your body to use fat as your energy source, not glycogen.

What I've found intriguing on this is that some athletes have completed endurance events in a fasted state without refueling on carbs during the event, and have reported that this works better for them both during the event and for recovery.

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Casey- I went ketogenic for quite some time. It wasn't really done on purpose, but I gradually slipped into it and stayed below 50g for a long time. I wanted to keep leaning out. So I just kept cutting carbs...tubers and fruit...I avoided all of them in my daily eating. Everything online says to "eat more fat", "be a fat burning machine", so I just kept cutting back and adding more fat whenever I was hungry. I was scared to eat carbs...thought I would gain weight. But there is such a thing as too much fat.

I had no energy to do any kind of hard workouts. I was fine getting through the day, but any kind of high intensity smoked me. Basically, I still need carbs. Ketogenic is great if your activity level is pretty basic, nothing crazy. If you are going to do high intensity, you need carbs, especially starchy veggies and some fruit. There is nothing wrong with needing/wanting carbs. It doesn't make you less of a hard-core paleo enthusiasts. It's just understanding your body and how it functions optimally.

I find ketogenic to work best for short periods, like 2 weeks. Outside of a specific period, I work to get 100g of carbs daily to fuel my workouts.

Everyone is different. Try it for 2 weeks and see how you feel.

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Thanks, yeah I have nothing against carbs, mostly I was curious if this would ultimately be a better way to handle this one event. I've also noticed that when I do get lazy and don't eat enough carbs, I tend to feel happier. Like, my mood is really lifting, so that crossed my mind that it could be beneficial for that reason too. I'm going to play with this and see how I feel, but ultimately I'm not interested in feeling like crap or run down to look a certain way or anything like that. And, I'm not interested in feeling like I'm depriving myself of good foods either. So, I'll see how this goes.

Thanks for the input!

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I recall Sisson's articles about training for endurance events, and I think one of the over-arching themes was to train in a non-optimal, glycogen depleted state and train at an exertion level below your anaerobic threshold so you could adapt your body to burning fat more efficiently. You essentially train in a state that is sub-optimal for ultimate, near-term performance so you can more efficiently use all of your energy pathways during a race. Approaching race time, you would ramp up the starchy carb intake for a few days to top off liver and muscle glycogen stores, then run your race at anticipated race pace. You will be able to burn more fat during the race, extending your glycogen availability so you hit the wall later in the race, if at all.

I consider myself a 'social' runner... I don't make running a priority, but I have friends that do and I have fun doing it with them occasionally. I've been eating a low-ish but unmeasured carb paleo diet since late last summer. During that time, I ran Hood to Coast, a couple half marathons, a Warrior Dash (big yawn) and a 15k at varying paces from 7:30/miles to 9:00/miles depending on training prep (or lack thereof! :) )... all on my current diet. The only prep I did was to add a few sweet potatoes and bananas for a couple days to top off glycogen, eat some bacon and eggs the morning of, hydrate, and top off with a cup of coffee. I haven't ever run out of energy or hit the wall.

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Casey- I went ketogenic for quite some time. It wasn't really done on purpose, but I gradually slipped into it and stayed below 50g for a long time. I wanted to keep leaning out. So I just kept cutting carbs...tubers and fruit...I avoided all of them in my daily eating. Everything online says to "eat more fat", "be a fat burning machine", so I just kept cutting back and adding more fat whenever I was hungry. I was scared to eat carbs...thought I would gain weight. But there is such a thing as too much fat.

I had no energy to do any kind of hard workouts. I was fine getting through the day, but any kind of high intensity smoked me. Basically, I still need carbs. Ketogenic is great if your activity level is pretty basic, nothing crazy. If you are going to do high intensity, you need carbs, especially starchy veggies and some fruit. There is nothing wrong with needing/wanting carbs. It doesn't make you less of a hard-core paleo enthusiasts. It's just understanding your body and how it functions optimally.

I find ketogenic to work best for short periods, like 2 weeks. Outside of a specific period, I work to get 100g of carbs daily to fuel my workouts.

Everyone is different. Try it for 2 weeks and see how you feel.

What is if the official opinion about a ketogenic version of a Whole 30?   Would that be a contradiction of a Whole 30?

Compatible, if you have a health condition that might benefit from ketogenics?   How do the Hartwigs feel about ketogenics for the average member with no health concerns or conditions? 

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Most keto athletes report needing closer to 6 weeks to become fully fat adapted.

2 weeks could get you in ketosis but from what I've read is not enough time to call it a fair trial of the diet.

Another option is the TKD (targeted ketogenic diet) where precise amounts of specific carbs are consumed based on workouts. The carbs are metabolized through the workout and you don't get "knocked out" of ketosis.

This is thought by some to be better than the CKD (cycling ketogenic diet) which has the carb up based on days of the week rather than individual workouts ... it usually involved more grams of carbs at a time than w TKD, and as such it can take longer to get back in to ketosis. (I think about a day, if you've been ketotic a decent length of time).

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What is if the official opinion about a ketogenic version of a Whole 30?   Would that be a contradiction of a Whole 30?

Compatible, if you have a health condition that might benefit from ketogenics?   How do the Hartwigs feel about ketogenics for the average member with no health concerns or conditions? 

 

I'm not sure if this has been officially stated, but my sense is that the whole30 isn't designed to be ketogenic and keto isn't recommended for the general population of people trying the program. Keto is an advanced tweak, not prohibited, but not recommended for people on their first round through the program.

 

I would put it in the same category as intermittent fasting: good for a select few, but problematic for many others. 

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Last June I did a Spartan Beast (13 mi + 28 obstacles) in a ketogenic state and I performed excellent all the way through (I was 55 at the time). Needed no refueling throughout the race, and only took in water. I felt great the whole way! My friend who was waiting at the finish line for me was amazed at the seriously depleted condition many athletes we're coming across the finish line in and that I was literally the only one smiling as I came in. I noticed many people experiencing severe cramping along the race route, which I also did not experience. The lack of need to refuel saved me the time of having to stop and do that so I was able to work my race from start to finish without stopping and feeling energized the entire way. I say get your keto on!!!

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