Did it Work? – My Half-Ironman on Keto

It had been nearly two weeks since my race. Plenty of time to think of what went well and what didn’t. What I would change, and what I would do the same.

I wanted to do this race on my terms, my way. It was a bit of an experiment on myself in a way. I wanted to do the race entirely Keto… no carbs or sugars whatsoever. My training had gone well staying fat adapted, so why wouldn’t my race?

So the big question is…. Did it work?

Well…

I hate to admit it, but no… I don’t think it did. I felt just as crappy during the run as I did last year, but I had far more sugar/carbs last year. So I can’t base my run on lack of carbs, but I think the bike really suffered.

As I mentioned in my last post, I wasn’t too far into my bike before noticing my muscles just were not responding as well as they have in training. They were tired and achy and didn’t want to push up the hills.

A friend who was also doing Keto started introducing carbs back into his diet in the weeks leading up to the race and he had a fantastic race! So I reached out to Danny Vega from Ketogenic Athlete, a podcast that we listen to regularly.

I explained the whole scenario, and he agreed I should have introduced carbs back into my diet in the week leading up to the race and then took in however many carbs I wanted to on race day.

The reason is, because I am fat adapted and my body uses fat efficiently, I could also have benefited from the quick carbs since I would be using both fuels… fat and carbs.

For races under 2 hours long I should not need carbs.

But I am stubborn and have to learn by doing most often. So now I know that the next half Ironman I do will be utilizing carbs as well 😉

Am I Sticking With Keto?

Absolutely!! I don’t believe there is only one way to eat to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but this has been the only way of eating that has me feeling my absolute best.

The Ketogenic Diet was first developed in the 1920s as a way to treat drug resistant epilepsy. In the 1970s, Dr. Atkins introduced this way of eating for weight control.

Today, we know there are more health benefits to following the Ketogenic Diet.

-Recent studies show that ketones in the body can improve cognitive ability in people with Alzheimers. Studies are also being done to see the effects that ketones have on Parkinsons, MS, and other neurological disorders.

-People with severe migraines (not related to tension type headaches) have found relief on the Ketogenic Diet without the side effects of a lot of the pharmaceutical options.

-For people without major health issues, the Ketogenic Diet can help:

  • lose weight
  • improve memory
  • lower blood pressure
  • eliminate cravings

Many people claim that the Ketogenic Diet is impossible to stick to long term. That it is way too restrictive. This may be true for some people, but I have been eating this way for 6 months and I have no problems with it.

Maybe not having as many options in the food I eat makes it easier. I did best in my exercise regime when I had it planned for me by a professional that told me exactly what to do every day.

But what I love most is that I do not crave bread, or sugar, or chips, etc. I do not feel like I am “white knuckling” it, just hanging on until I can eat crap again.

I feel FANTASTIC! I have even energy throughout the day.

With the exception of hormonal zits once a month, my face has cleared up.

So What I am Saying Is…

If you have tried so many diets and nothing has worked for you, give this a try! You don’t know until you try, and give it an honest months effort. Then you will know!

There are a lot of people out there who are still pro-low fat eating. But obesity, cancer, heart disease…. none of these things have decreased since the introduction of the low-fat era!

FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT!

 

Educate yourself. Do your research. Look up studies. Get blood work done before you start and a few months in if that makes you comfortable. Buy books.

I have 3 or 4 Keto Diet books. They give good explanations on why this diet works for many people, but also have many delicious recipes!!

My latest is a buy from Costco, by Leanne Vogel (a Calgarian), called The Keto Diet. She lays it out plainly, and has some fantastic recipes! *To all the Trim Healthy Mamas out there, I found some of her recipes very similar to some THM “S” recipes, with some tweaks “Iced Tea Lemonade Gummies”, “Toasted Coconut Marshmallows”. Eating mostly “S” recipes is very similar to eating the ketogenic way.

So, What’s Next?

Well, in a week and a half I will be doing the half-marathon at the Willow Creek Wilderness Walk/Run in Fort Macleod. That should be interesting given my serious lack of run training.

But I am looking forward to doing a lower key, fun, local event!

Then:

June 9 – Ladiesfest with Kiera (8 km)

June 16 – 83 km bike “Hope with every Pedal” for A-T

 

 

 

 

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Triathlon Swim Training – My Nemesis

I hate swimming. At least I tell myself that often simply because I am not good at it. I have a very real fear of drowning and have actually had nightmares about drowning. So I always dread getting in the pool that first time when triathlon swim training begins.

Last week Monday Logan and I were ready to go bright and early to the pool. The plan was to be at the pool at 6 am when it opened, but we ended up not getting there until 6:45 because my youngest woke up with a fever and that needed to be looked after first.

It actually worked in our favour though, because most of the early birds were getting out of the pool when we were getting in, so we had lots of room! We did an easy 800m and it actually felt really good!

My breathing was good and I could swim continuously without getting very short on breath. Last year when I started swimming I could do 50m max before stopping for a break… I was constantly gasping for breath!

That was the only swim I got in last week.

Today at lunch, Logan and I went for a swim again and did 1000m. We did a combination of swim, pull, kick, and threw in a few 25 m sprints in there too. Again, I felt great! There is hope for me yet! 😉

Strategies for Open Water Swim

Knowing I have an issue with open water swimming, I have been looking up strategies on the best way to prepare myself.

The issues most people have with open water swimming is all or a combination of these:

  • cloudy or murky water where you can’t see anything
  • cold water (this literally can take your breath away before you even start swimming!)
  • Feeling claustrophobic from the wet suit or from so many swimmers being close to you
  • Fear of becoming disorientated
  • plants or fish that may brush against you

Paul Newsome in an article at www.220triathlon.com suggests slowly exposing yourself to these triggers in a controlled environment. Doing these swims in a local lake with friends as the other swimmers can do a lot to help you practice calming techniques for the real race day!

The things that bother me the most are the murky water, cold water, and the wet suit.

1. The cold water is actually the least of my worries, because even though it can take your breath away when you first get in, once you have a little water in your wet suit, your body warms it up nicely.

But it’s the pace that gets to me…once the group you are in is allowed to get in the water, you have to swim out to the start line, and this makes you have to quickly adapt to the cold water and do a quick swim even before the gun goes off!.

And last year I wasn’t even near the starting bouy before the gun went off…lol! I guess that’s another goal for 2018….get to the starting bouy before the gun goes off for my age group…:D

2. The murky water is my second least favourite thing. When the water is dark or murky, and all I see is swirling floaties in front of my face, and that makes me want to get my face out of the water right away!! I have tried closing my eyes, but that is even more scary.

3. But the worst thing for me is the wet suit. I have a decent wet suit that has a lot of flex through the shoulders and chest, so I should not feel constricted. But I hate things near my neck, and the wet suit comes near around my neck…if it didn’t it would let in too much water and cause drag.

I was also near the top of the weight range for my particular wet suit when I wore it, so hopefully this year I will be a little less and maybe that will help!

The best way to prepare for any of these things is to try get into any lake in the area in April…BRRRR! Also, in a month or so I will get John to go swimming with me once in while to splash and be a nuisance to simulate hundred of swimmers around me.

He offered several times to do that last year, but I would just get mad at him if he did that, so I declined. This year I will try not to be too much of a princess and allow him to splash and push me around in the water :O

Last Weeks Workouts

Last week I did 3 bikes, 2 runs, 1 swim and 1 weight workout. All the workouts went really well, but Fridays bike ride was tough. It was 2x 20 minute efforts at threshold power, and I did not have enough food in me before doing them. I have not had any issues with being hungry during workouts, but when I was done that bike ride, I headed straight to the fridge!!

My runs were OK, but I am going to make more of an effort to run with people this week. Miles fly by when running with friends, but drag by when I run alone!

The plan for this coming up week as far as work outs is pretty much the same as last week. Next week I am going to look for a different weight workout as I am getting bored with the one I have. Good to switch it up once in a while 🙂

 

The Food

The eating went good last week….it’s been really easy so far with the Keto way of eating! I haven’t been tracking what I eat because I have felt good and the weight has slowly been coming off. Yesterday I was 162lbs so half a pound down from last week.

Its not much but still down. And a non scale victory is that I finally could wear my Boise 70.3 shirt for a workout! Truth is it will fit much better with 5 or more lbs off still, but it fit.

(Sorry for the sideways pic…still trying to figure some of these things out)

Saturday I decided I should track what I eat to see if fat/protein/carb macros were close to what they should be. They were pretty close to what I should be at, but I was pretty high in calories.

We have been reading a book by Maria and Craig Emmerich called Keto. There is so much information in there that it is going to take a while for me to get through! What they did say in there that calories still do matter, but not so much in the calories in/calories out way.

A quote from the book:

“Calories and hormones matter; a ketogenic diet is so powerful because it can be used to address both. A ketogenic diet keeps our hormones in balance, which helps us to feel full longer and eliminates cravings – and we can do this while eating fewer calories.” Maria and Craig Emmerich

So this week I am going to try to be more aware of how much and what I am eating. I really hate tracking food because then I have to measure everything. But if my weight stalls or I need a little boost then I think I will have to track things I eat to find out why.

More and more people are jumping on the Keto wagon lately, and have been losing weight, which is exciting! I am happy I am doing this because I feel great and I really do not have any cravings at all, so if it works for others as well, that makes me happy!

 

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Health Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet

When John first started looking into the Ketogenic Diet, it just seemed unbelievable that this was even a thing. How could someone lose weight and achieve great overall health while eating a diet consisting of 70% fat?? It goes against everything we have been taught about what is healthy, and definitely against the Canada Food Guide, where it is suggested fats should contribute to the smallest portion of our daily intake of calories. That got me looking into what the health benefits of a ketogenic diet are.

What is a Ketogenic diet?

I did talk about this a little in a previous post, but basically a ketogenic diet is a High Fat Low Carb diet.

When a person restricts the amounts of carbs/sugar he or she eats, and increases the amounts of fat eaten, the liver produces ketones from fat.

And when glucose (blood sugar) isn’t available, the body turns to ketones for fuel.

A ketogenic diet is moderate in protein as well. If we eat too much protein, it can also be turned into glucose.

The goal when choosing this way of eating is to get into ketosis quickly, and the fastest way to get into ketosis is by fasting. Many people continue intermittent fasting once they are in ketosis, eating most of their daily calories between the hours of noon and 8 pm.

Benefits of a Keto Lifestyle

There are many benefits to living the Keto lifestyle.

  • It speeds up fat loss
  • You end up having more energy and mental focus
  • Reduced hunger – I can testify to this as I was someone who was always eating something. Since I have started eating this way, I only eat when I am hungry and I am satisfied quickly.
  • It can reverse Type 2 diabetes
  • It can improve acne
  • It can improve physical endurance ( this is what I am hoping for…more on this later)
  • No blood sugar swings
  • Less heartburn
  • The keto way of eating can help treat or reduce cancers, particularly brain cancers.
  • It is being used experimentally in people with Parkinson disease and Alzheimers.
  • Keto is anti-inflammatory

Athletes on Keto

There really hasn’t been a lot of studies of professional athletes who follow a keto lifestyle. Maybe there aren’t a lot! LeBron James definitely improved the awareness of the Ketogenic Diet, and Ben Greenfield did studies on himself while in ketosis.

Zach Bitter, the 100-mile American record holder, eats bacon before his races.

When your body is fat adapted, and doesn’t rely on carbohydrates for fuel, bonking is a thing of the past. Carb stores only last a few hours when you are exercising.

Your fat stores last a lot longer, providing constant energy without any bonking! Some have reported going on a 6-hour bike ride and not consuming any calories, while their fellow bike riders were consuming gels and other sugar rich carb foods for energy, and having the same stamina as the carb consuming bunch.

When an athlete hits “the wall” during a race, and then gets past it and have energy again, this is a prime example of the body going into their fat stores for energy.

Side Effects on Keto

When starting on the Keto diet, don’t be surprised to experience headaches, lethargy, and irritability in the first few weeks. (Just kinda sounds like a certain time of the month to me 😉

You may also experience heart palpitations, which I did. This is due to dehydration and not eating enough salt. I definitely have not been drinking enough water and don’t make sure my sodium levels are good, so that is why I experienced heart palpitations.

In the past I have had this when I have too much caffeine as well.

This is just the body adjusting to the lack of glucose and realizing it needs to use the ketones for fuel now!

Another side effect and sign that you are entering ketosis is bad breath…. I have read that this will go away….that will be a happy day! Lol

My Experience on the Keto Diet

I have been on the Keto Diet 2 days short of 2 weeks. The first week I was literally sleep walking. I was so tired and could barely make it through the day.

I did not have much of an appetite and probably did not eat enough fat to encourage ketosis. I maybe would have been better doing a complete fast for 24 hours.

But I did lose 6 lbs and that encouraged me to keep going.

This week was a complete turn around. Monday I still had low energy but did a workout at 5 am. Tuesday I did another 5 am workout, but I had energy until 10 pm that night!

I have worked every day this week, 12 hours a day, and my energy has been steady. I am not getting super tired at work and not getting major cravings. There are tons of treats at work and so far I haven’t had trouble saying no to them.

Who Should Not do Keto Diet

A person who has Type 1 diabetes should not try the keto diet.

A person who is on medication for blood pressure should use caution with the Keto Diet. This is because this diet is known to bring a persons blood pressure down, and if it drops too fast, it can cause unsteadiness and dizziness.

A person who is breastfeeding should consult their doctor before starting a Keto Diet.

It is always a good idea to consult your doctor when considering a major diet change!

 

I am always checking out website on the Ketogenic Diet, but one that I rely on for a lot of my info is dietdoctor.com/low-carb/keto. Check it out if you are interested!

Also, I would love to hear from others who are living the keto lifestyle or have tried it in the past…always curious what other people opinions are on it!

 

 

 

 

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