Fat Adapting in a Carb Loading World – Part 3

So, now here it is…late August 2014. I’m about 6 weeks out from the Twin Cities marathon. I got a late start with training because of the stress fracture/reaction I suffered while training for Boston. And I’ve struggled with my new low carb lifestyle. But it wasn’t necessarily eating low carb that was my problem. It was eating too much protein.

Yeah, you heard me.

Too much protein.

You might ask, “Well, if you’ve already cut out the carbs, what is left to eat?”


Sure, protein is part of the equation. Our bodies need it to build muscle tissue. It also makes for healthier bones, cartilage, skin, and blood. Protein is what makes us stronger, and what helps our body heal itself.

Your body, however, cannot store protein so you have to maintain a protein input of some sort every day. As a P90Xer, I know that if I want to maintain my muscular physique, I must eat protein. And you might also know that it is recommended to get a good chunk of that protein an hour after you exercise, to help your muscles heal that much faster and possibly reduce the onset of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).

When I first visited the Ketogenic Diet Calculator, I entered values that I assumed were correct for me. I figured that as a body builder, I needed a certain amount of protein per day. Most of the nutritional guidelines recommend 0.6-1.0 grams per pound of body weight. I was about 118 and looking to get below 115 for the marathon. I had initially put myself in for 90g of protein believing that this is what I needed to lose the pounds I needed for Boston. At first, I lost some weight. And I noticed after 8-12 weeks from beginning the initial Keto diet, my long runs were getting easier. Starting them was hard. It would take me about 4-5 miles before I could feel my system kick in, but then I would take off.

My Macros

My Macros

And it was around this time that I got injured. Bummer! Not being able to run was devastating. But I still was able to experiment with my diet.

Day after day I checked my Ketone levels using urine strips. And although I swore I was in ketosis, the strips barely read it.

And according to all the literature I was reading, my appetite should have been suppressing at this point. But it wasn’t. I was still ravenous at certain times of the day. And I would gorge on fat and protein…meat and cheese…all day long.

Boston was upon me and I had to concentrate on just completing the run with the injury. But the Boston run, despite the injury, would be the initial sign to me that I was on the right track…

April 21, 2104

I awoke rather early that day and my sisters and I had a yummy breakfast in the restaurant of the hotel. I opted for a cream cheese omelet with three eggs and bacon, and a black cup of coffee or two. No toast. No breakfast potatoes. It was 7 am and I wasn’t expected to run that day until 11 am. There would be plenty of time to digest and I knew I wouldn’t be eating again until after the run.

My fueling strategy for Boston was simple. Energybits. I’ll admit since it was the first marathon I’d be tackling with Energybits (I’ve done half marathons fueled solely by bits), I did stash a few Huma Chia Gels in my flip belt…just in case. I wanted to finish Boston, no matter what. 30 minutes before the gun, I took my 30 bits chased with water. I had 4 pill packs with me. One for every hour. Each contained 20 Energybits. The third hour, I threw a few advil in as well. I was anticipating the worst. The hydration belt I wore had 2-10 oz containers, one of which contained coffee, cream, and 1 Tablespoon of UCan Super Starch. The other contained Vega Sugar Free Electrolyte Hydrator and 1 Tablespoon of UCan Super Starch.

Yeah, I was in pain. And yeah, I didn’t get a qualifying time for Boston at Boston, but I finished just minutes over 4 hours. My qualifying time was 3:55:00. So I wasn’t that far off. My fueling plan worked wonders because I felt stronger the second half of the run that I did during the first half. I was lucid the entire way. I enjoyed myself the entire way. And I never hit a wall!

But here is what did happen. When I finished, I looked down at myself and I could literally see the fat loss. I looked more ripped after the run than before. And I wasn’t hungry. I had to force myself to eat something. This was entirely new to me. I didn’t really get an appetite until a few days after the run.

Boston Marathon Medal

Me and my glory.

I lost 5 pounds running Boston. That is a lot of weight for as small as I am to begin with. I was starting to see the light.

May 2014 – After Boston

I was able to maintain the weight loss through my injury. Yeah, I had my Zero Runner for exercise, but it wasn’t the same as running. So I still had to watch my portions and my macros. And I kept educating myself and listening to those podcasts.

One of which, Jimmy Moore’s Living La Vida Low Carb, is devoted to the Ketogenic lifestyle. And what I heard in one of the episodes was the nail in the coffin.

“Have you hit a plateau? It could be too much protein.”

Too MUCH protein? Are you serious? How could that be? I need the protein, don’t I?

Apparently, not as much as I thought I did.

You see, here is the kicker. I already told you that your body cannot store protein in reserve. It uses what it can at the moment, and does something fascinating with what it can’t use. It turns it into glucose. And glucose is sugar. And your body will burn sugar before it burns fat. Too much sugar, and you are once again a glucose burner rather than a fat burner.

AH!! I see the light! It is now early July and I’ve just gotten back on the road. Slow and steady at first, with Twin Cities just 3 months away. I’m still questioning it, from the standpoint of the injury, but I’m determined to give it a fair shot.

My New Macros

My New Macros

I fixed my macros. I lowered my protein to 80 grams. No, not a huge change, but enough for stuff to start happening. With that number, my fat intake would have to change accordingly. It would have to go up. And I could handle an extra cup of bullet proof coffee each day. Or a big serving of avocado chocolate pudding.

September 9, 2014

Fast forward again, to my 20 mile training run. This is the only 20-miler I had penciled in on my training calendar. I got a good nights sleep and got an early start. I made a cup of bullet proof coffee but only drank half of it. I left the other half in my car to drink when I was done. I took my 30 Energybits and I also had a few bites of a Quest bar. There is a little science here as well. You see, the sweet taste of the bar triggers your body to start burning glucose without ingesting glucose. I’m already fat adapted, so once the initial glucose runs out, my fuel tank switches over. This doesn’t take long. But it is long enough for my earlier miles to be a bit easier than they were at the beginning of the year. Since I’m already in a fasted state (I have not eaten a meal since the night before), there is little my system can do except use what it’s got. And that is fat. And fat, my friends, burns forever (think of a grease fire…)

As I ran this 20 mile run, I was getting stronger and stronger and I felt better and better with each mile. In fact, if I hadn’t have poured in on the last few miles, it would have been a cinch for me to do the full 26 miles that day. But I know better, and I held off.

20-Mile Training Run

20-Mile Training Run

And what about those Energybits? What are they really doing for me? Well, they are mainly protein. They are also full of amino acids (which have been proven to be effective for endurance athletes). I’m already out of glucose. If my body needs them it will burn them the way it needs to. Either way, they are a little nutritional boost. And they provide just enough, whether I think I need them or not, without inundating my system with sugar.

When I was done, I had no appetite. I wasn’t famished, I wasn’t bleary eyed, I wasn’t exhausted, rather I was ready to get on with the day. It is better than any artificial high I’ve ever been on.

And I’ll never be able to fully describe it to you. You’d have to experience it for yourself.

It was at this moment in time that I knew, barring any unforeseen circumstances, that Twin Cities was going to be a piece of cake. All I had to do was run smart. The rest would take care of itself. No gels, no gummies, nothing artifical. Just my fat, my Energybits, and my wits.

BUT, what are the cons to being fat adapted? And how do I get 25 g of carbs in my diet if I’m not eating any grains?

Stay tuned for Part 4 of Fat Adapting in a Carb Loading World.

Go back to Part 2 of Fat Adapting in a Carb Loading World.

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.

2 Responses to Fat Adapting in a Carb Loading World – Part 3

  1. Wow. This has been a great read Theresa. Can’t wait for part 4!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *