Fat Adapting in a Carb Loading World – Part 1

I’m a meteorologist by trade. I used to play the Weather Girl on TV. No, really! I did.

Except, I didn’t just play the part. I have an actual degree in the science of Meteorology. A Bachelor of Science, in fact, from Pennsylvania State University. This, in turn, makes me a scientist. I question just about everything. If you can’t get to the root of it, or if you can’t show me the facts, Jack…well, you may as well not waste your time trying to convince me.

Because of this, there are very few things in life that I experience, witness, or read about, that doesn’t beg to ask “But what is the science behind this?”

I'm a scientist...

When I began running 4 years ago,  I had every intention of using it as a tool to get into the best shape of my life, in combination with P90X. But when I started actually placing in local events, I realized I had a gift. The question was how I could improve upon it. There must be a way to become more efficient at running. How could I become a better runner at age 50 than I was at age 44? Is it even possible?

Yep, that is where the science comes in. I nosedived, deep into the world of running magazines, internet articles, books, and podcasts looking for the answers. And I’m not ashamed to admit I tried most of recommendations out there, by some of the biggest names in the business. Yet somehow, nothing was working the way I had anticipated. I was still struggling on my long runs. And I was beginning to dread them.

I ran a hugely successful half marathon in May of 2012, yet despite the great run and the great time, I remember feeling deflated and almost defeated at mile 10. I had to dig deep to pull out those last 3 miles despite all the training I had done. Somehow, I felt that this wasn’t right. I was still missing something.

Does this make any sense?

Does this make any sense?

I ran my first marathon a year later. And even though I was successful at reaching my time goal, there was still the nagging feeling that the time should have been even better. I was being slowed down by an unexplained force. I was running out of gas.

Yet, I was doing everything by the ‘book’. The ‘carb loading’ book. Why wasn’t this working? (It was in this period after my marathon that I discovered Energybits. I’ll talk more about them in Part 2.)

Late in 2013, I began tuning into a fellow named Ben Greenfield. He was discussing something called Ketosis and how when one’s body is in this state, it begins to fuel itself with it’s own fat reserves rather than with glucose or sugar. This made perfect sense to me. Our bodies are loaded with fat. They aren’t loaded with sugar. In order to burn sugar to use as energy, we must consume sugar. This adds a step to the process. But how about burning fat as fuel? Hell, we already have that. It is already built into our bodies!

Ketosis

This was the science I was looking for. The more I researched it, the more I realized that not only would it make me a more efficient runner, but I might just lose that flat tire around my middle, that despite 4 years of P90X, I just couldn’t shake. At the time, however,  I didn’t realize how much it would improve many other aspects of my life.

I immediately brought the plan to my husband’s attention, who at first, completely poo-pooed it. But then after a few hours of thought, brought up the Atkins diet. He told me that Dr. Atkins way of eating was virtually the same thing. He recommended I read the Atkins Diet Revolution book. So, I purchased an old, used, paperback from Amazon and immediately dived in. I couldn’t put it down. The more and the more I read, the more I became convinced that this was the IconForSiteanswer to it all. I then discovered books like Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers, and Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health and began to stitch it all together. I found a podcast called “Dishing Up Nutrition” and learned that they preach the same way of eating.

High fat/low carb.

The only hiccup I had with this theory was how it would work for an athlete. I mean, I work out over 5 hours a week. Could I possibly thrive on this type of nutritional plan? Atkins didn’t have much research with the high performance athlete. I continued to research it, but in the meantime, I got started. There was no time like the present, and what could it hurt?

Time to Adapt

I determined rather quickly that there is an initial period where your body must adapt to the changes you are throwing at it. At first, my fitness fumbled. I had little to no energy whatsoever. In fact, it seemed to be getting worse. Yet, I was dropping pounds at the same time. I started to question the entire process, and since I was in the midst of training for Boston, I considered just quitting the experiment. It is funny that the person who poo-pooed the idea at the start convinced me to stick with it. Yep, my husband. He said that it takes a few weeks to become ‘Atkins adapted’ as he has experienced it several times. (He’s never stuck with the plan for the long term, however.) So, I continued with my n=1 experiment.

And what I found out next changed everything.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Fat Adapting in a Carb Loading World.

What is the most radical diet you ever tried?

And now for my disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor. I am NOT a nutritionist. I am an athlete and a runner. And I like to look good and feel good. All of this information in these blog posts comes from my own personal experiences. It has worked for me. Consult your own physician before attempting any major life changes. Educate yourself first and foremost.

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8 Responses to Fat Adapting in a Carb Loading World – Part 1

  1. petitepacer says:

    I’m going to enjoy reading the next few posts!

  2. Elle says:

    I am definitely interested. I watch my macros pretty closely so will be reading part 2… soon I hope?

  3. I tried this successfully a couple of years ago when I was training for Boston- ran my best marathon ever. However, I found that once I started ramping up for my half ironman the following year, I just couldn’t sustain it. I needed the carbs. I’d like to give it another shot though so I’m really looking forward to part two!!

  4. Linda says:

    I can’t wait to hear part two! I really like the Atkins Diet, easy to follow and even though you are cutting out carbs you are not so limited. I usually get fast results and feel so much better. I like to test my Ketosis’s about day 3 after getting started. I have heard it over and over again it is the best diet for those that carry more weight around the middle, as I do. (Low Carb/High Fat) I love sugar and have a sweet tooth, but when I cut sugar out I crave it less.

    • A Running Chick says:

      Yes, they work the same. Mainly you just have to remember the fat! It is so important. Don’t replace the carbs with protein alone!

  5. Luanne Wolfgram says:

    You need to read the Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Volek and Phinney. There’s also one on Low Carbohydrate Performance.

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