The Fat-Adapted Athlete

Exercise and fitness have always been really important to me.¬† It’s my natural¬†antidepressant!¬† So, naturally, I wanted to discover how and why my ketogenic diet may affect my fitness abilities….

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Mommy Athlete!

Your body can only store so much glycogen.¬† Often marathon runners “hit a wall” after burning through their stored glycogen.¬† They often take sport gels and drinks so they can keep going (and not collapse…!).¬† It’s the body’s preferred method of fuel, though there is a finite amount of what the body can store in the muscles and liver.¬† Once it’s gone, it’s gone.¬† However, if you are a fat-adapted athlete you have almost unlimited energy you can tap into.¬† Even a very lean person with 10% body fat has about 54,000 calories of energy stored in the form of body fat- which he can easily access.

If you are an athelte in ketosis, you have literal days of easily accessed energy…. Versus two hours as a sugar burning athlete.¬†¬†fat adapted athlete

What is really interesting is that in a state of ketosis you stay in your fat burning zone longer and burn much more body fat- 230% more body fat  than you would on a high-carb diet.  You stay in the fat burning zone up to 75% of your VO2 max, as opposed to under 50%.  Which means you can work out harder before you get into an aerobic zone.

This really mimics my own experience.¬† I’ll be working out really hard but I’ll stay in¬†a fat-burning zone, at the same level exertion that used to leave me huffing and puffing.¬† I’m burning fat as opposed to glucose.

I’ve also noticed it took time to transition.¬† When I first started I really paced myself, so I wouldn’t place undue stress on my body.¬† A little stress is good, and forces adaptation.¬† A lot of stress is bad and causes too much inflammation.¬† The article above states that it takes athletes at least 5 weeks to fully transition into being efficient, fat-burning athletes.¬† It is a huge metabolic overhaul, after all!¬† I saw that too.¬† I had less stamina and explosive power the first 2-3 weeks.¬† When I would push past 75% VO2 (perceived exertion) my body did¬†not like it.¬† I got dizzy and even nauseous.¬† Though I am now about where I was before in terms of VO2 max.¬† I know this because I like to push myself to the limit with HIIT and Tabata style workouts.¬† I saw an initial hit to my cardio power and endurance but that has leveled out.¬† Workouts are even starting to feel easier!

If you’re an athlete and worried about a decrease in your performance, do some research and stick it out.¬† The decrease is temporary and you’ll come back stronger than ever!

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How many push-ups can Chuck do?    All of them.

 

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Being Insulin and Carb Smart

After going off sweeteners (except for a bit of stevia) I had a pretty rough couple days.¬† Then I woke up this morning feeling much better.¬† Feeling “keto-calm”- happy and positive.¬† I think the insulin spiking was too much for me, with the sugar alcohols.¬† I was turning into the wicked witch of the west.¬† I was craving carbs.¬† I was stressed out.¬† I felt awful.

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I’ll get you, my carb-ys!!

I’ve read that some people can tolerate different sweeteners.¬† Some people can’t.¬† You just really have to pay attention to how your body reacts.

Trust that your taste buds will adapt.¬† If you cut out the sweet, you’ll stop craving it.¬† Really!!¬† Yesterday I noticed the sweetness in a diced tomato like I never have before.

I’m keeping a bit of stevia in my diet to make life a bit easier.¬† I use vitamin water zero to mix my chlorella and probiotics (now that juice isn’t an option).¬† Plus it doubles as a sweet treat for me.¬† The taste isn’t amazing¬†but it’s good enough.¬†¬†Most keto experts agree that stevia is generally pretty harmless for most people.¬†¬†Benefits of Stevia

Another thing I’ve learned is the importance of timing your carb intake.¬† The best time to take in carbs is right after a workout.¬† It won’t spike your insulin, it won’t take you out of ketosis- because your body will use it to replenish your store of glycogen in your muscles.¬†¬†How to Carb Cheat

I had about 15 grams of carbs after a 45 minute workout in the form of a designer whey protein shake with fairlife filtered milk and a scoop of natural peanut butter.

You don’t want to go nuts, but if you are an active person you have more wiggle room in your carb intake while you stay in ketosis.

One big positive side effect that I’ve noticed is for my family.¬† My husband is making positive changes too.¬† He is a slim guy, he doesn’t need to lose weight but he is cutting back on carbs too.¬† He quit drinking soda, which is huge.¬† There are benefits to cutting back on carbs, even if you don’t go full keto.¬† Benefits of Cutting Back on Carbs¬† My kids are also eating less sugar cause I’m not eating sugar.

I don’t know about you but my kids want to eat¬†my¬†food.¬† If I’m eating snickers, they want it too.¬† Being wary of looking like a hypocritical meanie I shared my candy with them many times in the past.¬† Now when I make a salad I make a huge one because my 5 and 8 year old want to eat salad too!¬† Last night they all ate big helpings of asparagus with butter and parmesan along with their kid-friendly chicken nuggets.

When you make positive life changes it doesn’t just affect you!¬† It has a domino effect.¬† That in itself is reason enough to make changes.

Health, Hormones, and Keto…oh my!

I think it’s is arrogant to assume we know everything about the human body.¬† We don’t.¬† But there are some things that we¬†do¬†know and we should use them to our advantage.

I’ve spent (too many!) hours scouring articles and message boards on the keto diet.¬† And for as many people who try it, there are as many results.¬† Some women report their hormones go from dysfunctional to problem free, finding relief from PCOS or endometriosis. Some people are able to reverse diabetes and high blood pressure and go off of their medication.¬† Other people report that the diet caused hypothyroidism.

It’s important to give your body proper nutritional support, especially when embarking on a diet.¬† Any diet can stress your adrenal glands and possibly impact your thyroid function.

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Here are some natural supplements I am taking to support my adrenal and thyroid function.  The thyroid energy support has zinc, copper, iodine, B-vitamins, and a couple adaptive herbs.  Nothing too crazy.

Ideally you can improve your adrenal health as you are cutting out a major source of stress on your body- sugar.  Sugar and Adrenals

You also want to try to keep stress levels down.¬† If you’re into cardio, you may want to scale it back.¬† You don’t need to slog through hours of cardio to burn off carbs because you’re not eating them!¬† Stick with minimal cardio because too much can be a negative form of stress.¬†¬†Stress and Cardio ¬† ¬†Moderate activity throughout the day is actually really great for you.¬† Cleaning your house, playing with your kids, going for a walk- those are all ideal ways to aid your body in burning fat without increasing cortisol levels.

Another thing that (especially for women) you want to be aware if you are going keto; that you may experience funky side effects as you lose body fat.¬† ¬†I had three days of achiness in my legs, the same feeling I get when I’m really hormonal.¬† Why?¬† Your body stores estrogen and toxins in your body fat.¬† As you burn body fat those hormones and toxins get released into your blood steam.¬† Because we are exposed to a lot of environmental estrogen, a lot of us women have symptoms of estrogen dominance.¬† If you’ve seen women shaped like extreme pears; regular sized torso and¬†huge¬†bottom and thighs- that’s estrogen dominance.¬† Estrogen is very important for our health but too much, and the franken-estrogen we are exposed to, can cause major problems.¬† We want to decrease our body fat and flush out the extra estrogen, even if it means a bit of discomfort for the time being.¬† Xenoestrogens

You can aid the process along by staying hydrated (don’t forget your electrolytes!!) and sweating.¬† If you’re lucky enough to have access to a sauna, use it everyday.¬† Yes, you can sweat out toxins.¬†¬†Benefits of Sweating¬† You can get similar benefits from sweating during a workout.¬† You can also try hot detox baths with epsom salt, dry-brushing, and rebounding.

I know I’ve mainly addressed women but men can really benefit from detoxing as well because you guys suffer side effects from environmental estrogen exposure too!

Scintillating Six

So here I am, day 6.  I stepped on the scale, guys, and I AM DOWN 3 POUNDS!!!

This is a mucho big deal because before I would have to kill myself in the gym and create a significant calorie deficit to get the scale to budge¬†at all.¬† I’m eating a healthy 1,500 calories a day and I’ve scaled back my exercise and the weight is still coming off.¬† WOOHOO!!!

 

Sorry for the toothpaste splattered mirror.¬† But you can see I’m looking a bit slimmer.¬† It’s more noticeable in real life.¬† My tummy is way flatter and I’m looking a bit slimmer all over.

Other than that, I’m just feeling really good.¬† There is a new “quietness” in my mind.¬† At night I used to feel like¬†I needed¬†a glass of wine or two to calm down.¬† I feel pretty calm and happy all day now.¬† My mind isn’t always going.¬† I feel a really wonderful “chill” feeling.¬† I can see this diet being a great alternative to medication in treating anxiety.

I made up a recipe.  This is keto-nog.  20180112_095432

 

If the thought of eggnog grosses you out then this recipe is not for you.¬† ūüėČ

Measure out 3/4 cup of half & half into a personal blender.¬† Add two eggs.¬† (Raw, yes raw.¬† I’m badass like Rocky so this doesn’t bother me at all.¬† If it bothers you, you can buy¬†pasteurized.)¬† Add in 1/4 tsp nutmeg and a couple shakes of pumpkin pie spice.¬† You’ll also want a packet of¬†erythritol and/or stevia and a splash (1/4 tsp) of vanilla extract.

Blend up that bad boy and chug it while simultaneously feeling some of the spirit of Christmas and Rocky.

This drinks comes in at 7 grams of carbs, 18 grams easily digestible protein, and 30 grams of fat.

It’s great for a post workout shake.¬† It tastes decently close to real eggnog.¬† Of course, minus the high fructose corn syrup and gut-busting carageenan.¬† The spices give it a lot of flavor and add antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

Keto on, my friends!