Post Keto Recovery – I’m fatter and faster!

Two months ago, I embarked on what was the most daring thing I’ve tried in the name of running: try a low carb high fat (LCHF) diet! While there are several LCHF diets, the one I was on was the Standard Ketogenic diet (SKD) and limited myself to 30g/day net carbs!

Over the course of the LCHF diet I would eat food that was almost incompatible with my normal diet. Things I normally would consume in spades included: bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, apples, bananas, carrots, milk, chocolate and biscuits! I wasn’t allowed any of this! Instead, I ate fatty slices of meat, added 40g of full cream to each cup of coffee, and fried egg omlettes in 30g of butter!

One of the benefits of a LCHF diet is that it forces your body is burn body fat for energy. On the 12th day of SKD I was offered to have a skin folds test done. Unsurprisingly, I was very lean at 6.1% body fat! It is also likely that by the last day of SKD that I was even leaner than that. Yikes!

Out of curiosity, I decided to track my macros for a typical day. Using data from myfitnesspal I consumed 2110 calories:

Item

Calories

Fat (g)

Protein (g)

Net carbs (g)

115g bacon

630

48

43

2

130g cream

449

48

3

4

35g olive oil

290

32

0

0

160g chicken

242

5

49

0

2 eggs

143

10

13

1

10g mayonnaise

100

11

0

0

70g coconut cream

86

8.5

0.5

1.5

20g fat bomb

65

9

1

2

60g bean sprouts

30

0

3

5

225g celery

30

0.5

1.5

6

160g lettuce

27

0

2

5

60g spinach

14

0

2

2

40g gherkin

4

0

0

1

2110

172 (53%)

118 (36%)

29.5 (9.3%)

I later upped the fat intake and dialled back the protein. Having too much protein isn’t good for a high fat diet as it can get your body out of its fat burning Ketosis mode.

So what else happened over the 33 days that I was on Keto? In a nutshell I became skinner and slower! The first week on SKD was really tough and it certainly tested my willpower. Fortunately the second week wasn’t as bad, and everything besides running returned to normal.

In terms of running performance, I found that I was worse across the board. My fast track runs were slower. My fast road runs were slower. Even my slow runs were slower! On the 28th day of SKD, I decided to see how fast I could run a half marathon. Although it was self-paced, I was almost 10 minutes slower than what I had done earlier on the same course earlier in the year! This is despite being 4.1 kg lighter and in cooler weather!

It has been a month since I have reverted back to my normal diet. I’m proud to say that I’m now fatter and faster! Today’s skin fold test revealed that I’m measurably fatter at 7.4%. Success!

While I have yet to do the same half marathon benchmark, I’ve done a number of runs which suggest I’m back at a similar running level as I was before going to SKD. Last week’s track run was slightly different than usual. Instead of six sets of 1200m @ 3:20 min/km pace with 400m jog recovery, I tried eight sets of 1000m with 200m jog recovery. While the average pace of the interval was slower (3:27 min/km), the rest was significantly shorter (1 minute) which made it a more demanding workout. I also did a decent hilly tempo of moderate effort two weeks prior. I wouldn’t have been able to do either of these workouts on SKD.

Mission accomplished! I’m fatter and faster!

Measurement

17July-18

24May-18

% change

Weight (kg)

75.8

72.3

+4.8

Triceps sf (mm)

3.5

4.9

-28.6

Subscapular sf (mm)

8.5

7.0

+21.4

Biceps sf (mm)

2.5

2.4

+4.2

Iliac crest sf (mm)

13.0

6.2

+109.7

Supraspinale sf (mm)

8.5

4.6

+84.8

Abdominal sf (mm)

11.0

6.2

+77.4

Front thigh sf (mm)

7.5

5.8

+29.3

Medial calf sf (mm)

6.5

4.7

+38.3

BMI

21.0

20.0

+5.0

% fat (Yuhasz)

7.4

6.1

+21.3

Day Five on Keto

Since last Sunday, I’ve have been on a Ketogenic diet. Typically prescribed for people with various neurological disorders (Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease…), Low Carb High-Fat (LCHF) diets have recently come to the foray for endurance athletes as an alternative to the usual High Carb (HC) diet! As part of my valiant attempt to further sports science, I’ve volunteered myself as a participant in a running study that examines the effect of a LCHF diet on long distance runners!

The change in my diet could not have been greater. Going from fueled from carbohydrates and sugars — then suddenly — to fat and protein, it has not been easy. Today marks my fifth day on Keto, and here’s what I have endured so far:

Day 1 began following a time to exhaustion test (read: a very long run!). Craving for carbs and sugars, I had to abstain. Instead, I ate a large four egg omelette fried in 30g of butter! Later, I had two cups of coffee with 100g of cream and a chicken breast that bathed in the oven in 30g of olive oil. Yikes! As the sun went down, I became drowsy, developed a runny nose and an unshakable headache overcame me. All signs and symptoms of the noctorious Keto Flu.

Day 2. I was at work and I felt dopey, drowsy and easily irritable. Following from yesterday’s ordeal, today was a rest day. Again, I ate nothing but fats and protein. I also had vegetables that were low in carbs and sugars, such as lettuce, mushrooms and asparagus. These were also drowned in either olive oil or full fat mayonnaise (of course!).

Day 3. Although the Keto Flu lingered, it was much less than before. I also felt like my mind was clearer and was able to focus better than before. Although having thought about it, this could have simply been due to the sudden uptake of the coffee with cream. I seldom drink coffee. I decided to go for a short recovery run. Worst 10K run of my life! What should have barely broken a sweat ended up being more torturous than the last 10K of an all out marathon! The run started off at 14km/h ended in 11km/h. My body was aching from head to toe.

Day 4 was similar to the previous day. Again, I went out for a slow run. The first two kilometers felt mostly like a recovery run, but things got progressively harder. I even had to stop, and doubt I could have run much further than the 12 km I did!

Day 5 (today). From the previous days it appeared that the first two kilometers were much easier than the rest. I decide to do a set of intervals. Less than a week ago, I did 6x1200m @ 3:20min/km with 2:15 between each rep. Today, I could only manage 4x1200m and none of the reps were remotely close in speed! What’s more, the last rep was at least 15% slower than any of the ones done last week. I hate to think of how slow the remaining two reps would have been, had I grit my teeth and slogged it out!

I feel that I’m gradually overcoming the Keto flu and becoming fat adapted. Time will tell how this Keto diet turns out over the next 25 days I am on it!