Monday, October 8, 2012

The Ketogenic Diet and Ultra Running?

About two weeks ago at my wife’s race, a “kid” came running up to me and asked me if was running Devil Mountain 50 this year – I was wearing the shirt.  I told him that I was planning on running it, but did not register yet.  He told me that his car wouldn’t make it and he needed a ride.  Now this “kid'” who is barely 20, keep in mind I am 42 and everyone seems younger than me and usually the youngest ultra runner is in their thirties,  was wired and full of energy and excitement – like Christmas day.  Honestly, I did not want to go unless I had a ride or car-pooled myself.  I met another guy, Bob,  who was going and we all ended up driving  together; it was the shortest 5 hour drive every.  The conversation was generally all about diet, particularly the Ketogenic diet.  The “kid”, Anthony Kunkel, also known as ‘G’ was following this diet and seemed very knowledgeable about it.  Then again, I no nothing about nutrition or have never followed any type of diet plan, other than just ‘train hard’ and eat less.    

To get to my point, he describe this diet, which honestly I never heard of and it was quit interesting – Ketogenic. He eats 85-95% fat and 10% protein? What’s up with that? Bacon everyday, count me in.  So he decided to take on his first 50 miler, his planned pace would have beaten the course record.   My plans are never realistic and I have never met any of my goals, so I didn’t think much of it, plus he is a kid.   Now you have to keep in mind that Bob and my goal was just to finish, but G was getting us pumped to run our best too.

During the race, the front pack got lost and unfortunately, he was there too. For the record, that was the first time I was the leader of a race ever, and this was mile ten. I was psyched and I held it for a few miles. I saw him again around mile 18 as he cranked on by cheering me on. Then I didn’t see him again until mile 37, I was at mile 30, and to my surprise he was just behind the leader in 2nd place. In the end, he tied the record and came in 2nd, and if he wouldn’t have gotten lost, he probably would have beaten it by over a half  hour and maybe even won. Now Devil mountain does not necessarily bring out the “elites”, but it is the most technical 50 miler in Colorado. It is harder than Quadrock 50, which has over 3,000’ more of gain. So looking the times might not be that impressive, it is a hard course, but awesome and definitely a race I will be doing every year.

Back to the “kid”, he would have beaten the course record on his 50 miler debut, but the locals decided to re-ribboned the course. How nice right? 

Here is the thing that really got me and I cant stop thinking about it. I ate somewhere between 20-24 GUs (two an hour), G ate 3-4 Gels total. My drop-bag weighed over 20 pounds, he literally put his name on a zip-lock sandwich bag. I couldn’t believe it.

A week later . . .

In the last few days, I have read everything and anything about the Ketogenic diet and somehow found myself reducing my carbs without even really realizing it.  I initially thought ‘hell no’, this is not for me, think of all the good foods I will have to give up.  But the next day I found myself making shakes and counting my carb intake and with out planning it, I was on a low-carb high-fat diet. 

Sunday, I had a breakthrough while googling high-fat low-carb snacks and couldn’t hold back.  I went to Buffalo Wild Wings and ordered a dozen of my favorite wings with extra blue cheese.  It was amazing!  I haven't eaten wings in such a long time, I thought they were a banned substance.  About two hours after eating I ran an easy 10.5 mile loop, not very fast, and I was a bit sluggish.  I wasn’t sure if it was just the fact that I ate less than two hours ago or my body was dependent on carbs and couldn’t find them.  I was told that it takes a couple of weeks to adjust to a lower carb diet.  We will see . . .

By the way, on October 3rd, I was 163 pounds and today, 4 days later, I am 157.  That is with eating over 3,000 calories on Sunday.  Hmmm . . .

My ultimate goal is to have a more efficient calorie burning system for ultra running, which has been my plan all along.  Looking at my ultra running friends, they eat a third of what I do and destroy me.  I do not want to eat that many GU’s in a race ever again.  On top of being pricy, it is kind of disgusting.  Imagine a 100 miler, 2 GU’s and hour for let say 25 hours?  That is 50 GU’s!!!  AND now, my ‘racing weight’ will be optimum too. 

Now, I feel that a lower-carb higher-fat diet is more palpable. I think I can do it.  Whether I should is another story and I am still researching.  I will let you know what I find out.  ~SR


G. Anthony Kunkel said...

Do it man! And if you ever need to know what to eat (tired of bacon maybe?) send um over to me and they'll be keto-gormets in no time.

Galen said...

Hey, I'm doing this here in Berlin (from the USA).

You might check Bernd Heinrich's book. He's a biologist who would experiment with things like drinking olive oil while ultra-running :)


Galen said...

...about to be day 7 (first week) on cyclic ketosis! (how can it be bad to get to eat bacon and avocados every day, and one day of pizza, mangos, etc.)

(Note to self... buy bacon...mmm bacon...)

Homer Simpson, ultra-runner?

(actually, in all seriousness, I'm considering being vegetarian cyclic keto)

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