Monday, June 17, 2013

Ketogenic Diet - Week One

I have been struggling with my weight this year through a combination of irregular exercise and poor diet. In mid-November I weighed my usual 193 lbs but by first of February I was up around 200 lbs and by mid-May topped out at 204 lbs.

Three things contributed to my irregular exercise - new job, severely rolled ankle first week of January, and bronchial infection last part of January. While I could blame my poor eating on my new work location near the Seattle Public Market it really of course boiled down to will power.

I began to start ramping up my running miles in mid-May but didn't see any real change in weight or fat loss during that time. At least not the changes I wanted.

Date Mass Body Fat % LBM* Prev Week Run
5/6 204 lbs 22.5% 150.4 0 miles
5/13 203.2 lbs 21.2% 152.4 10 miles
5/20 203.2 lbs 21.2% 152.2 16.4 miles
5/27 202.2 lbs 21.2% 153.0 25.7 miles
6/3 200.2 lbs 20.3% 151.6 20.5 miles
* LBM = Lean Body Mass

OK, so I lost nearly a pound a week and was making slight progress on my body fat but not to my liking.

Goals and Research
Let me get to what my goals are. I have Speedgoat 50k end of July and I would like to be around 183 lbs for this race - one because I don't want to try to run my dough boy ass over 11k feet of ascent carrying 200 lbs, and two because it may be hot enough I will want to run without my shirt. At around 152 lbs of LBM 183 puts me at 12% body fat.

I have also noticed in the past that as I ramp up I start to lose lean body mass which tells me that I am breaking down catabolizing my muscles for fuel which tells me I have a diet imbalance somewhere. I am not interested in losing weight in this way (by starvation) so wanted to find some healthier ways to lose the fat.

During the week of 6/3 I started reading about how to maintain lean body mass while trying to lose weight and exercising. I started getting pointed to the ketogenic diet which is basically a low carb diet. The warning signs went off - I run so I need carbs to fuel my body but I continued (skeptically) to read on. It started to become obvious that the more carbs you feed your body the more it's geared to use glucose a fuel source which means you will have a hard time burning the free fatty acids (FFA).

OK, great, so I can buy this - makes sense. However, I still run up hills (or used to - working back to that) and in an anaerobic state my body needs glucose to move at the pace I need. This is when I found the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) which seems to be used heavily by weight lifters. The plan is to essentially run ketogenic (0 carbs) Sunday - Friday afternoon. From Friday PM - Saturday midnight you carb up (10-12 carb grams / kg mass) to replenish your glucose stores and to satiate any cravings.

By end of week I had crafted a plan based on my readings. Sun - Fri:

  • 150 grams of protein a day (based on 150lbs of LBM)
  • < 50 grams of carbs a day (I thought 0 was too restrictive)
  • remainder from fat / alcohol to stay under BMR + exercise calories
Friday night I would load up on pasta (long run planned Sat morning) and then replenish during the day. I wasn't sure how I would get 680-820g of carbs but I'd figure it out. I would keep protein at around 150 grams and try to limit fat under 73 grams.

  • Monday - slow run, feet & ankles were bugging me from ramped up mileage. 144g protein, 147g fat, 51g carb.
  • Tuesday - rest day for feet / ankles. 129g protein, 66g fat, 60g carb (don't eat dates).
  • Wednesday - "TEMPO" run - made it two miles out of five before having to stop. Had bonk symptoms the entire run back. Still ran 6.1 miles. Realized for high intensity runs I would have to consume carbs. 144g protein, 130g fat, 50g carb.
  • Thursday - ran at Squak Mountain and at a hummus wrap and two gels before the run. Carried Perpetuem on the run. Went right back to ketogenic post run (my first ever pealing the bread off a sandwich at a restaurant). 176g protein, 112g fat, 150g carb (87 pre / during run).
  • Friday - slow run, felt low on energy. 142 g protein, 183 g fat, 189 g carb (23g before 4pm).
  • Saturday - five hour trail run at Tiger Mountain. 107g protein (this worried me), 178g fat, 589g carb (202 during exercise). I also worked in the yard in the afternoon and carried about 1/2 ton of stone across the yard.
  • Sunday - rest day, slept in. 150g protein, 61g fat, 150g carb.

Date Mass Body Fat % LBM* Prev Week Run
6/10 199.2 lbs 21.2% 149.2 31.3 miles
6/17 197.8 lbs 18.8% 152.6 43.5 miles

As you can see the results were pretty dramatic and more what I was hoping for. I lost less that two pounds total BUT gained over three in muscle (or rebuilt from previous - 149 is pretty low) and so lost right at five pounds of fat. Perfect.

What I learned:
  • I cannot do high intensity workouts without carbs so will stick to a plan of ingesting carbs before a hard workout. Will continue to read and experiment to find the right fit.
  • It is *hard* to eat enough protein via meat since it's so filling. I had a few hits of hunger but nothing that felt like starvation. Given that I was about 1,000 calories in deficit a day that seems pretty remarkable.
  • I don't think the "carb fest" is all that necessary - I was happy to have a smoothie on Saturday with anything in it I wanted (you have to avoid high-carb foods like dates) but think a free-for-all is probably overdoing it a bit.
  • I watched a CBS piece on sugar which shook me up. I am going to try to limit my sugar intake to under 38g a day other than when exercising.

  • I don't think this kind of diet is sustainable. If I am running a 1,000 calorie deficit then I will have to get calories from carbs eventually. My plan is to work this diet for 3-5 weeks (which should get you into ketogenic mode based on what I've read) then start to add back high value carbs - whole wheat bread / pasta, brown rice, etc.