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.


G. Anthony Kunkel said...

Hey, just found your post and, while I don't want you to think I'm spamming you, you gota check out I assure you that you never need carbs (assuming you have the willpower ro adapt) -not for uphills and not for fast running.
I hope the keto life is treating you well!

Anonymous said...

Hi Anthony.
Its not working because you did not get ketoadapted, too much carb in this diet.
You relly need to stay under 50g/day, and use fat as much you want and moderate protein intake(1g/ pound lean mass).
You need to stay at least 3-6weeks to get full ketoadapted, then you can do all workout your body can handle, LSD, intervals, tempo runs.
If you get some carbs intake, the insulin peak, can mess around with your ketogenic state.
Get yourself a ketotic bodies handle monitor?

Anonymous said...

Oh and please read The Art and Science os low carb Performance by Jeff Volek

Unknown said...

You can't go "half-hearted" if they want to get the benefits of Keto. Cyclical keto is one of the most common errors that people make, who want the benefits of the keto but don't quite buy into the whole science or are afraid to let go of the high-carb norm. I would urge you to research Tim Noakes or Peter Attia - plenty of videos on Youtube from them.

Youtube to Mp3 said...

A ketogenic diet - ie a diet which is mostly fat, moderate protein and very low carbohydrate - can serve to help re-establish insulin sensitivity, improve blood sugar balance and promote fat loss through training the metabolism to use fat as a primary fuel source instead of glucose.

Because the brain and heart prefer ketones - which are metabolites of fattty acids - as their primary fuel, many people who adopt this way of eating report increased cognitive performance, better energetic endurance, fewer cravings, suppressed appetite, reduced inflammation and a host of other benefits. That said, it can take many months, even up to a couple years of dedication in order to train your body to run optimally on fat.

Many people try a Ketogenic diet and even if they're doing it "right" will feel lethargic and tired because their body is so accustomed to burning glucose for energy and needs time to adapt to the new environment.

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