Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Sunday 9 March 2014

Runner's Diet: low carb, high fat research and experimentation

First of all, I am not going to pretend I am an expert on optimized fat metabolism (OFM). It is a popular term in endurance running these days. Normally I would just kind of ignore it and think it was a fad. But I am not ignoring it (and in fact, I am obsessing over it) for a few reasons:

1. I have been able to fight quite a few health problems and improve my running with a radical, though gradual change in my diet over the last year and a half. The diet I have somewhat coincidentally ended up eating is nearly the exact same diet endurance athletes such as Zach Bitter and Casper Wakefield use to optimize fat metabolism. I have to thank both of them for being so open about their eating strategies for ultra training.

Since switching their diets, Zach and Casper have gone on to set amazing records in long distance running. And here is Zach's cholesterol profile before and after switching to a low carb, high fat diet.
2011 - high carb diet

2012 low carb, high fat diet (N/A next to LDL since it was undetectable)
I had heard in medical school that, despite all odds, some guy with a personality disorder in Scotland who ate 2 dozen eggs a day had a "perfect" cholesterol profile (details may have been exaggerated :-). But Zach's cholesterol levels indicate he is indeed very healthy.

2. I have been asked to give a lecture to Sparta Atletik on April 3rd entitled "Runner's Diet" and, while I feel comfortable with general physiological concepts, as well as eating and drinking before and during races, what runner's optimally should eat on a daily basis, is a topic I have not looked into extensively before.

My previously unhealthy relationship with food (just because you start out "bad" doesn't mean you can't change)

I used to have a very simple way of looking at food and calories. Burn more calories than you take in and you will be thin and fast. Candy is bad and why not try to follow the food pyramid and avoid getting deficient in anything?

Probably the lowest point I reached in my diet was getting over half of my calories from flødeboller and then drinking diet soda and chewing sugar free gum to stop myself from eating more, though I was constantly hungry. I also tended to eat white bread and butter for breakfast. I always heard this was unhealthy, but come on, "the proof is in the pudding"!

I replaced the flødeboller with chocolate (much better?!) and .. it's embarrassing to go into too great of detail, but the truth is, I ran really high mileage and even won the Mad City 50k in 4:09 on this very diet. Heck, things weren't really that bad.

But what started the change in my diet was, despite weighing only 49 kilos, I was too embarrassed to wear anything tight or go swimming without a big towel around me because I looked like I was 4 months pregnant. Also, I had been on PPI pills for acid reflux since I was 18 years old and couldn't survive a day without them.

An ophthalmologist friend of mine pointed out the connection between diet soda and big bellies over Facebook. I cut out artificial sugar and my belly shrunk - over only one week (check out the purple and green lines over just 8 days after stopping diet soda and artificial sugars):

Around the same time, I decided to see if I could give up my PPI stomach acid medications. I started taking probiotics instead and after about a month, my acid reflux had greatly improved.

I was so amazed by how much better I felt that I decided to give up gluten. Around this time, a rash I had had around my eyes for two years disappeared. I started gaining muscle and energy. I ran PR times in the 5k, 10, ½ marathon and marathon within 3 months. My reflux and irritable bowel syndrome are gone and it is no coincidence, but pointing to one change is hard when I changed so much at once. I will only suggest that people reconsider eating modern day wheat (the semi-dwarf GMO (edit: thanks Robyn and SR; it is NOT a GMO, but created by cytogenic hybridization), when it is theoretically implicated in many autoimmune diseases, at least one type of dementia and lymphoma.

About two months ago, Robyn challenged me to try the Whole30 diet. I didn't. But what I did was I cut sugar out of my diet, except two Clif Builders bars for breakfast - they are all natural, low sugar (Edit: thanks, Pam- not really low, 20 g per bar), high protein bars (also 20 grams per bar). You probably don't believe I ate that much sugar going into it, but try 3 packages of pålægschocolade a day on for size.

Suddenly I was on a very low carb, gluten-free, pesco-vegetarian, basically sugar free (no artificial sugars!) diet. It took a couple of weeks before I started watching my body change before my very eyes. I would not be writing this if it weren't for the changes I have experienced, mostly positive, some negative.

Fat Oxidation/Metabolism

My understanding of fat oxidation is it is using fat for fuel. One can improve their ability to metabolize (use for energy) fat though lifestyle. Endurance exercise improves our ability to metabolize fat. And insulin sensitivity improves our ability to metabolize fat. This means that people with diabetes, who are insulin resistant (not type 1, but type 2) have a remarkable inability to oxidize fat. Their fat sits there, basically unused. The final thing one can do to improve their ability to metabolize fat is to eat less carbs and more fat. From the research I have read, medium-chained fatty acids work the best, rather than long (olive oil is long and butter is medium, for example). My personal theory is it is the lack of carbs and not the type of fat that matters most.

Through the above exercise and dietary habits, one can preferentially oxidize fats at a higher and higher percent of one's VO2 max, which means that one can run ultras at say 60-70% of VO2 max with very, very little reliance on carbohydrates and stored glycogen. This means you won't have to eat carbs constantly while running. This is a big deal since nausea and stomach upset is the number one reason people drop out of ultras.

All of this has been demonstrated through sound science. The real question is if it can improve performance.

For the last 7-8 weeks, on my accidental OFM diet I have noticed a lot of changes.

1. My cellulite has disappeared. I never thought I would write this. But (as kinky as this sounds) I have SR do the skin squeeze test on me often and he can't find any cellulite anymore. Though I weigh the same. I do indeed see this as proof that I am preferentially burning fat- at least more so than before when I had these cellulite pockets (on my thighs and waist) that wouldn't move regardless of my weight or training.

Ok, not that impressively muscular, but an improvement!

Here is Robyn at the end of the Whole 30 diet-- maybe I should have tried to follow those rules strictly after all :-)

2. My blood sugar feels constant. It is great to not lose energy during the day. Eating things with a high glycemic index (white bread has the highest... see below) causes wild blood sugar swings. The only exception to this is when I am out on my long runs, it takes very little time before I hit a sort of wall. The interesting thing is, the energy comes back once I get past that initial wall. I have not run a marathon or ultra since I started on this diet so I am really curious what is going to happen. I honestly doubt it will mean I have to drop.

3. I have been running some tempo PRs in training. Though my coach doesn't like me to, I go entirely after feel and not after pace. A faster pace feels easier than it did last spring. There is no doubt about that.

4. If I get a small injury, I recover within 1-2 days. A benefit of having a stable blood sugar and insulin sensitivity is inflammation (which is fed by sugar) is decreased and you heal faster. People with diabetes (similarly fluctuating blood sugars to people with a high carb diet) are notoriously slow healers and this is one of the reasons.

5. I can do pull-ups for the first time in my life and up to 70 push-ups at a time. This is a good guage to me that my muscles are growing.
I never thought I would do a pull-up. Here was number 3 (on our home bar, which once fell down when SR was using it. He claims he blacked out when his head hit the trashcan)
6. Low carb/low sugar food is insanely expensive. At some point I would like to do a blog post called low-carb, gluten free, natural eating on a shoe string. I think this will take years of research, though, and really depends on which country I live in. The WHO now recommends less than 6 tsp of sugar a day. They just don't mention how expensive this is.

7. I get irritable on my long runs (see number 2)

8. I smell and have acne. I could not figure out why this was until today, but after reading more about whey and how bovine products cause insulin production out of proportion to the amount of sugar they have, I do believe my increased cheese intake is to blame. I don't drink milk, but eat cottage cheese and other cheeses, which contain a small amount of whey. I suspect this is the reason for my increased odor :-) and acne. I did not know that milk had been so convincingly implicated in increased teenage acne. Milk and high carb diets. It is amazing how much whey is used as an additive in processed foods, by the way.

In summary:

My feeling right now is a low-carb, all natural, gluten-free, low sugar diet is the way to go for a healthy life, or at least a major improvement on where I have been. And once you start following it - at least after the initial two weeks, you don't want to stop. I just think the night before long races that it will be important to fill up the glycogen stores so I don't go into a race ready to go cold. Also, it is really important that when running at high effort for many hours that you replace the carbohydrates you lose otherwise you WILL go cold. So don't skimp on carbs if hungry while racing and probably not on your long runs either. Pam Smith does well with liquid carbs + fat + protein (ensure, white soda). I do well with potatoes and salt + juice + Clif Builders bars. I'm not about to change this race strategy until it stops working. I just think with an improved ability to metabolize fat that I will not need to eat as much while racing, minimizing stomach problems and maximize energy.

Something for you all to chew on...

A few pictures from our weekend. SR ran a potential double baby jogger world record 5k in 18:01 (on dirt) and I took 27 seconds off my time on the same route from 4 weeks earlier.

and I took 27 seconds off my time on the same route from 4 weeks earlier (19:28, just as a tempo). I love free races!

But not as much as I love my boy!

Running song of the day... (so poetic the way she enunciates the "e" at the end of each phrase)


MJ said...

I'd be very interested to know specifics of the probiotics that allowed you to get off PPIs. I'm in a similar situation (hiatal hernia, past dx of GERD, ulcers, IBD) & very much want to get off PPIs as they cause other problems. Take Align probiotic now (US). Am gluten & lactose intolerant so follow mostly Paleo diet - no grain, no dairy, no legumes, little to no added sugar (I do allow whey protein for recovery). Don't eat nightshades either (incl white potatoes) & also on low acid diet for GERD (no choc, coffee, citrus, spices, etc.). Also seem sensitive to FODMAPs and have oral allergy syndrome periodically. (and yes, it is expensive & time consuming to eat according to these restrictions! pretty much cook everything myself at home) Understand you are not my treating doctor :) so all recs would be implemented at my own risk/judgment. Thanks!

sea legs girl said...

MJ- wow, I can really relate! There is mounting evidence that probiotics are the most effective treatment of GERD (after healthy diet, which you seem to have down). I have had good luck with taking 4 probiotic "gummies" a day by Digestive Advantage. I do not know whether or not the brand is so imporantant, but they have really worked for me. And there are more and more GI docs who recommend them.

Robyn said...

Thanks for the shout-out! It's interesting to hear about where you are on your food journey, and great to hear that many of the things that work for me are working for you too! Six months ago when I did my first Whole30, it was indeed pretty low carb. I unintentionally lost 5+ pounds and looked, frankly, scrawny. But felt great.

When I did it again this winter, I ate a lot more carbs, probably in two meals a day on average. It was winter, so butternut squash and pumpkin were easy to get and tasted good, and I was running more mileage, so I felt I needed it. My weight this time didn't change significantly... although I did look more "cut" by the end, as the picture shows.

I can't speak to whether my fat-burning efficiency has altered. I still eat carb-heavy on long runs, but any run 2 hours or shorter I don't fuel. (I always eat a full breakfast, though -- 3 egg omelet with kale, and winter squash). I'll let you know how it all works out at my first 50 miler in 5 weeks.

Oh, and just to be the tiniest bit pedantic: The widely used wheat strains you refer to aren't technically genetically modified organisms, but were bred using traditional breeding and selection techniques. GMO implies actual DNA splicing in a lab (such as "Roundup ready" soybeans) and has only been around since the 1990s.

sea legs girl said...

Good call with semi-dwarf wheat not being a GMO, Robyn! I had to look it up and had misread the wiki entry about wheat. I have edited it. SR made the same correction saying GMO's are not allowed in the EU so it was impossible. Should have listened to him! :-)

CP said...

Ok, so from someone who has a hard time with fancy words....what exactly do you eat on this diet? I'm very interested (I have a pooch that won't go away despite low-calorie intake. If you don't eat gluten, what do you eat? What do you eat for protein? THANKS!

CP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sea legs girl said...

CP- yes, good point. As I was walking outside this morning I realized I didn't actually write what I eat. Well, here is a list of things on my repertoire in a single day (there are so many more things one CAN eat that "follow the rules"; I just don't buy or eat it all) here are my staples:

eggs, chick peas, beans (of any kind), nuts (non-sweetened, non-salted), raisins, tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, peas, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, cabbage, brussel sprouts, all kinds of fish, various cheeses including cottage cheese (love!), just leafy greans and all vegetables, rarely oatmeal, but only organic, tofu, and as mentioned, the clif builders bars for breakfast. Protein comes from: eggs, nuts, cheese, beans, peas and fish. Tuna and salmon are my favorites. But if you look at the Whole30 diet, which I linked to, they have tons of ideas and -if you want to look like Robyn, you should follow their rules :-). Most people on low carb diets eat meat, but I don't for multiple reasons (mostly environmental).

Anonymous said...

I liked hearing what you've been eating these days (especially since it sounds like you're off the sugar drinks and chocolate for breakfast, well done!). But can I just go through this post with a little bit of a devil's advocate mindset? I just don't find the low carb/high fat stuff convincing *for running* (maybe it's fine for other lifestyles, I don't really know). Besides, we haven't had a science argument for a few weeks now;)

"The diet I have somewhat coincidentally ended up eating..."
--Maybe not that coincidental since as far as I can tell, it's the biggest fad diet in running right now.

"Since switching their diets, Zach and Casper have gone on to set amazing records..."
--or you could equally write, "Since switching their diets and continuing to train vast amounts, Zach and Casper have gone on to set amazing records..."

"Zach's cholesterol levels indicate he is indeed very healthy"
--after a year of his diet. What about after 20?

"I was so amazed by how much better I was feeling that I decided to give up gluten."
--???!! The other two successes you had just had (giving up diet soda and eating more probiotics) have nothing to do with gluten.

"Around this time, a rash I had had around my eyes for two years disappeared."
--have you read anything that would explain, scientifically, how not eating gluten would eliminate the rash?

"I ran PR times in the 5k, 10, ½ marathon and marathon within 3 months."
--which was after you stopped eating gluten but also after you stopped randomly running 20 miles day in and day out while not eating much of anything for meals other than sugar, and started working with a coach.

"it is NOT a GMO, but created by cytogenic hybridization"
--I don't think the term you're going for is cytogenic hybridization (FYI that term seems to exist on the internet only in relation to wheat; I think one source got it wrong and the other sources copied that one) but regardless of the terminology, all Robyn was saying was that it was made using standard breeding/selection procedures, just like we do for every other kind of plant. No need to make it sound so scary:)

"The final thing one can do to improve their ability to metabolize fat is to eat less carbs and more fat."
--what research exactly are you referring to? I'm serious when I say I would love to read it. I hear people say all the time that they are "training their body to burn fat better" by eating a low-carb diet, but I have never seen any research showing exactly how this works or even that it does work.

"If I get a small injury, I recover within 1-2 days. A benefit of having a stable blood sugar and insulin sensitivity is inflammation (which is fed by sugar) is decreased and you heal faster."
--I'm not convinced about post-injury inflammation being fed by sugar, can you give some evidence for that? It's such a complex process that I would imagine muscle/tendon damage has a much bigger role to play than blood sugar. Also, in theory, inflammation actually improves healing. One reason that slow-onset tendon pain can be slow to heal is that there is never a real inflammatory stage.

It's maybe worth noting that the Kenyans are on essentially the opposite diet to what you're advocating--high carb, relatively low protein. And you know, it's not like it's working for them or anything...:) (though of course you could say that maybe they would do even better on a low carb diet!)


sea legs girl said...

Alicia, well, thanks for reading. My point was in no way to prove low carb is the answer for anyone or everyone. My point was to go through the research, my understanding of physiology and my own experience as well as that of other athletes.

1. Kenyans eat a very natural diet with no sugar added - very different than the Western Diet (see Eating Practices of teh best endurance athletes in the world)

2. Eating foods that increase blood sugar cause inflammation. See Aeberli 2011 Am J Clin Nutrition for example. Any doc who has worked with diabetes patients sees this on a daily basis.

3. Inflammation is particularly bad for tendons. This is why for example people with diabetes get carpal tunnel that just won't quit. It can keep an inflammatory state going, which is really bad.

4. I did not set the PR's after working with my coach, but before.

5. Whether or not semi-dwarf wheat is a gmo or cytogenetically hybridized is not that important, but what is important is the nutritional content has all but disappeared and there are new proteins (antigens) and forms of gluten that humans have never been exposed to before and are reacting to (there is a ton of good recent research in this, about how new gluten forms break the integrity of the intenstines and antigens are spilled out into out bodies that we have never been exposed to).

6. The research on preferentially burning fat is being conducted multiple places, but of note is Jeff Volek's lab a the University of Conecticut. It is called the FASTER study.

sea legs girl said...

Alicia: a good article on blood sugar, inflammation and failed tendon healing here:

sea legs girl said...

And on non-celiac gluten sensitivity from Sapone in Nutrients from 2013:

Anonymous said...

You might enjoy this blog :

An interesting and highly data-intensive look at high-fat/low carb diet by an athlete and Doctor

SteveQ said...

No one who has an eating disorder - and you do and you should admit it - should give a lecture on how people should eat.

sea legs girl said...


1. I don't have an eating disorder. I used to, though. Many people in the western world have an eating disorder to a certain degree; few and far between are the people who admit it and talk candidly about it.

2. I'm not telling anyone how to eat. I am going through some interesting science on a popular topic in running as well as my own experience.

It has really been fascinating to learn much of this for the talk (though honestly I started doing this research a long time ago) as well as watch myself get stronger the last couple of years by feeding my body food that it thrives on rather than counting calories or weighing myself.

sea legs girl said...

Thanks, Jessica. That is a fun website. He does really get into it. I will have to take a closer look when I have a longer moment :-).

SteveQ said...

Two years ago, you lived on oatmeal. Then you decided you were sensitive to gluten. Then you lived on chocolate. Then you decided the sugar in the chocolate is bad. That's disordered eating.

Robyn said...

In SLG's defense, Steve, I think her post is pretty up-front about her previous disordered eating.

Gluten-free, low carb, and paleo style diets can certainly promote disordered eating in people who have that inclination (though I think usually of the orthorexia variety, rather than anorexia or bingeing). But it sounds like SLG's moving toward a diet with greater variety (think of all those calories that used to go to dark chocolate), not less variety. I can't judge whether she's still eating in a disordered way, but nothing she says in this post seems to strongly suggest it.

In general (and having done both), I would compare gluten-free eating to vegetarianism in terms of its restrictiveness. There's a very broad variety of nourishing, delicious food you can eat, and a range of stuff to avoid, some of it also very tasty and nourishing, but none of it essential to a healthy diet.

Olga said...

I totally have an eating disorder. I have had a number over the years, but in general, my relationship with food is not healthy due to my relationship with my body image. Upfront for y'all:) I also have very disordered intestines and colon, which react to pretty much anything and everything, so by now I am just a tight nazi when I want to feel good (not only look good).
I do enjoy straying away from my "orderly eating" when am traveling or celebrating things with friends. Then all bets are off:)

sea legs girl said...

Steve, there is no gluten in oatmeal- I still eat it from time to time.

SteveQ said...

Oh, good Lord, there IS gluten in oatmeal, you idiot. You claim that you feel better after going gluten-free and you're eating gluten! ARRRRERGGGGH!!! This is why I don't want to get into this.

(calming down a bit) My real problem: you're going to be introduced as a doctor and as a top runner and your audience is going to think you're an expert when you're not. You're going to mention Bitter and ketogenic diets because it's new and interesting, when it's the last 1% of what people should be hearing; people are going to think that that's the way to go when they're running 20-30 miles per week, when it really only works for top ultrarunners.

SteveQ said...

Finding unbiased reports on gluten and oats is like pulling teeth.

SteveQ said...

I should also point out that I tried the ketogenic diet, twice, and after 8 weeks of chanting "just kill me now," and not seeing any difference except for feeling awful, I quit.

There's really nothing new since "The Runner's Diet" was published in August of 1972 (summarized in Runner's World, July 1973). I'd forgotten that Park Barner fasted before his ultras.

maria said...

SLG, I thought the rash around your eyes went away when you started wearing sunglasses while running.

To Steve/SLG: I don't know anything about science but if SLG is describing her diet accurately I wouldn't call it "ketogenic." A lot of the foods SLG lists in her diet have lots of carbs: beans (hello!!), peas, carrots, oatmeal, raisins, chickpeas, diary. Plus all vegetables have carbs and the Whole30 people eat squash and sweet potatoes. Personally I wouldn't call this diet a "low carb" diet, rather a "gluten free whole food diet" or "GF low-glycemic index diet" or something. (Minus the Clif bars for breakfast, they are anything but natural! Isolated soy protein??)

I still love French bread. Even though it makes me fat...

sea legs girl said...

Steve, approximately 10% of people with celiac disease react to oats, so physicians are told to tell them to completely avoid oats. I have not had problems with oatmeal personally. According to Wikepedia gluten is found in the following: wheat flour, European spelt, barley and rolled rye flakes. Is it really necessary to call me an idiot?

sea legs girl said...

My diet is neither ketogenic nor the exact same diet that Zach Bitter follows. Maria, I used to live in France (for two years) and lived off of French baguettes with camembert. I had the most amazing belly, as you can imagine and even my parents had to ask why in the world I had gained so much weight :-D. It tasted great, though.

Robyn said...

My understanding is that oats are intrinsically gluten free but frequently processed in places that also process gluten containing cereals. Hence the ability to buy "gluten free" oats (e.g. Bob's Red Mill brand). These are checked for gluten using an ELISA assay (a sensitive antibody detection method).

My version of paleo is decidedly not low-carb (as I noted in my first post). Most days I'm eating a sweet potato and 1/2-1 cup of winter squash. Sometimes I even have *gasp* white potatoes.

I like Maria's characterization of paleo as "gluten free, low glycemic index". It's quite similar to the low glycemic load diet my mother, a breast cancer, has adopted. She eats legumes and more fruit, I eat sweet potatoes and more meat, but there's excellent overlap.

Anonymous said...

Love this post. It just might be the kick in the pants I need to cut out the sugar and reduce the carbs in my diet. I've tried a paleo challenge before and it was remarkably successful - it may well be time to try again. Also, I think my dairy consumption is the cause of my rosacea. I don't really have any science to back that up, but there does seem to be a correlation at least...

I'm glad you're eating a variety of foods these days - hard to imagine how you could run so fast on marshmallows and chocolate! If you don't mind my asking, do you generally feed your kids the same foods that you eat? Do they eat gluten?



SteveQ said...

Sorry I resorted to name-calling. That's not like me and won't happen again.

sea legs girl said...

Thanks, Steve! No reason to let a diet discussion come between us :D.

sea legs girl said...

Liz, GREAT question about the kids! It is hard. I am kind of experimenting with myself right now, but notice, like Robyn does that our son Christian gets unruly the more bread he eats. SR and I need to have a unified front on this in order for anything to work, but to answer your question, we encourage them to eat a similar diet to the one I espouse - and they do eat what we make, but Christian has also eaten an entire pizza in one sitting after he finished dinner. He is only six. I hardly know what to say about that.

Robyn said...

Our kids don't eat exactly what we do, but their diet is basically meat/chicken/fish, eggs, black beans, fruit (including dried fruit), vegetables (including potatoes and green peas), and corn tortillas and tortilla chips. They drink water and diluted juice. We diligently avoid gluten, dairy, soy, glutamate-rich foods (fish sauce, coconut aminos, nutritional yeast), and artificial colors and flavors. Sugar, for example in lollipops, is OK as a treat.

Our little guys seem to be thriving on it, and like what they eat. And it has made a world of difference for the older one, especially.

Pam said...

Are you sponsored by Clif Bar or something??? Calling Clif bars all natural and low sugar is pretty far out there! There are 20 grams of sugar PER BAR and you say you are eating two! I am with Steve on the whole "sugar isn't inherently evil" thing, so not saying you should cut those out, but I don't think that makes your diet "exactly like Zach and Casper's!" Most of us could stand to cut a few carbs from our diet (mostly the processed ones- I know I needed to), but I am still a skeptic that true low carb eating drastically improves performance.

sea legs girl said...

Hi Pam, it is great to have your input! You are exactly right that Clif Builder's Bars have 20 grams of sugar per bar (it sounds like a lot now that you mention it! and I edited the post), but that is also why I was trying to be honest about what I really DO eat ... it has been a process of going from a pretty high sugar diet to 40 grams per day. And I said "nearly the exact same diet", not "exactly the same diet". It is really hard to know what every single runner really eats! :-) Unfortunately, I am not sponsored by Clif Bar; it is more like I sponsor them, I guess :-(. But they do have at least what I interpret to be all-natural ingredients (am I wrong?):Soy Protein Isolate, Beet Juice Concentrate, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Palm Kernel Oil, Organic Rolled Oats, Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa, Organic Soy Protein Concentrate, Vegetable Glycerin, Natural Flavors, Organic Almonds, Rice Starch, Cocoa Butter, Inulin (Chicory Extract), Organic Flaxseed, Organic Oat Fiber, Organic Sunflower Oil, Soy Lecithin, Salt.

You also make me want to point out that the purpose of this post was not to tell people what the SHOULD do. I wrote it for three reasons:

1.To explain my perceived effects of some major changes in my diet the last 1½ years and

2. To go over the theoretical basis of the low carb, high fat diet in endurance running and

3. why fluctuating blood sugars from high GI foods can be problematic for health reasons. (more so among inactive people that active people for sure)

sea legs girl said...

Oooh-- of course I get "sugar" from fruits and veggies, too. Danni pointed it out on Facebook. And SR pointed out that Clif Builder's Bars are actually relatively "low sugar" compared to fruits and veggies since they also have 20 grams of protein.

sea legs girl said...

Pam, by the way are you still eating low carb during the day and doing "carb back loading" at night as you described it at Western States?

Olga said...

Try Lara bar much fewer ingredients. I get freaked out by the list in Cliff.

sea legs girl said...

Olga, thanks. You know, I tried out Lara bars when we were living in La Crosse, but did not like them as much as Clif. And I have to ask: is a high number of ingredietns a bad thing if they are good ingredients? I certainly don't think so when I'm making a salad or any other kind of home-made dish!

sea legs girl said...

And just to clarify, I don't know really anything about regular Clif bars, just their Clif Builder's ones since they are gluten free.

Olga said...

Re: Cliff bar and other multiple ingredients - the words "concentrate" and "Syrup" are the ones I am not liking, or Glycerin, or any kind of stuff that has to be isolated first, then added back. But whatever, what do I know?

Here is what I was pointed to, not connected to you post (and I haven't read it yet either):

fitmacdaddy said...

Tracy- "All natural" is certainly a popular catch phrase, but does it mean anything? If ingredients have been manipulated so much that they no longer resemble the plant they came from ("isolate, juice, syrup, concentrate, extract") are they really "all natural"?? And if "natural" is the bench mark for quality, what is wrong with sugar and gluten?? Beet juice, rice syrup and cane syrup are all just sugars. Inulin is a fructose polysaccharide not well digested by the humans which means some people get gas and bloating when this sugar ends up in the gut.

Please don't get me wrong: I am not a food "purist" and I eat just about everything (sugar and wheat, too), though I certainly limit a lot of things. I would totally eat a Clif Builder bar, but I don't think it should be a staple of daily nutrition (IMO). They do seem more nutritious than chocolate bars, so I will give you that it is a good improvement!

I do still eat the majority of my carbs at dinner time, but I am not as strict about it now. I think the overall quality of the food I eat is more important than when I eat it. But I admit that I have somewhat of a "carb-craving" personality (ie sugar addiction) and if I eat carbs at every meal I tend to go overboard and eat more than I need while excluding more nutritious options.

In your follow up you said this was a documentation of your nutrition changes and you weren't telling others how to eat, but you said that you are giving a sports nutrition lecture, so there was at least some implication that you *will* be telling people how to eat.

Pam said...

Aah, crud! That was me above not fitmacdaddy! Mac was logged into the computer. Sorry!

sea legs girl said...

Pam, (and Olga),

1. I think this is just a silly question of semantics but orange juice concentrate in a can isn't natural and perfumes made of extracts aren't natural?

2. Semi-dwarf wheat is potentially very unhealthy because it is geneticaly modified and introducing proteins and antigens into the human diet, we have never been exposed to (my defition of unatural). There is in my experience no evidence that this new form of wheat is beneficial for our health and mounting evidence that many people suffer from a myriad of problems (also non-celiac related). It is wrong to ignore all the recent research; at this point it is quite compelling, but not overwhelming.

3. Sugar is bad in anything more than small quantities unless you really exercise a lot and then it is just less bad, but not good either.

4. I will NOT be telling people how to eat at this talk, but going over the research and basic physiology, also explaining the background of what my current diet is so people are aware of my bias.

sea legs girl said...

Pam, your point about the carb craving is right on! That is perhaps one of the best if not the best part about eating less carbs is I never have to think about eating too much. My hunger is just regulated and when I am not hungry, I stop eating and vice versa. It is really awesome to feel like I eat whenever I want and never have to worry about gaining weight.

Olga said...

Orange juice concentrate does not sound natural, and nor does perfume - to me, no science behind, and while I personally don't drink juices at all, concentrated or not, nor use perfume, it's not because it's "not natural enough" for me, I just don't like either.
On a topic of hunger vs carbs: this is why I bring my (personal) point that while technically (semi)paleo diet doesn't limit carbs as a number, it limits the sources, and there is only that much broccoli and cabbage one can consume because a) it's fiber and extends, b) it's not as enticing and delish as white pasta (doesn't hit same receptors that had been proven to cause humans over-eat), c) even large quantities of Brussels sprouts or beets deliver fewer calories than same amounts of pasta (or rice for that matter), so it does qualify for "calorie is a calorie".
And last, but not least: personally, regardless how full I am right after I eat, I am hungry - starving! - 30 minutes after. Pasta or veggies. I have no stop signal.:(

Ingunn said...

When I was little, my grandma would go to Denmark every summer and bring back a box of that chocolate stuff to put on our bread. *memory foodgasm*

LCHF a Runner's Guide said...

Hi - A very interesting post. Thanks.

You experience with running on LCHF mirrors mine in many ways. I started in January and am now regularly running 3-4 hours with no carb loading or carbs on runs. Just water and a bit of salt if it is warm.

I was interested in one of your observations: That on long runs, it takes very little time before you hit a sort of wall. During my first month or so I noticed a similar thing. On the first hill in a long run I might have to stop and walk, but after 30 minutes or so I would feel stronger and similar hills could be taken at pace for the next 2-3 hours. I am assuming that it may take a while for fat burning to kick into life, but I can find no science to descibe this. Are you aware of anything on the subject?