Wednesday, August 22, 2012

the ketogenic semi-elemental diet day 5: almost halfway there

pretty much all I wanted to do all day
So I made it through the entire week of work feeling pretty much like a slug. Not quite as dramatic a slowing of all of my physiologic processes as the 9-day water fast had been but I still definitely felt a  strong need to conserve energy while I went about my daily activities.  Even sitting at a desk for the second half of the day was taxing; I was slouching in my chair and if I had to rise to grab anything I would practice economy of movement and wait until there were about five more reasons to get up before I begrudgingly lifted my butt off the chair.  So this is what it feels like to be lazy and tired all the time.  Life would not be worth living.

preparing to draw blood
the countdown
the dreaded E-4 error message
Last night, I had more weird dreams about food.  This morning I did get through a full gym workout, including swimming.  I dragged myself into the pool after my 30 min endurance warm-up on the stationary bike and hour lifting back, shoulders, triceps and core, but after a couple of laps where my arms felt as if they could not possibly push any more water suddenly I went on auto-pilot and really enjoyed the 20 minutes of laps.  It seems during this low-carb adaption phase I don't really enjoy working out but if I force myself to get on it I eventually can get through the workout as long as I try and avoid bouts of explosive power.  Obviously this is not what I would want to have to face long-term but I'm hoping this will change after a few weeks.

In other news I am having trouble with the Nova Max Plus blood glucose/ketone meter and tonight in my irritible state I called up Nova Customer Service to bitch that I was using two $4 ketone strips every time I tested because the meter was indicating that it had enough blood to perform the test but then halfway through the countdown it gives me an error message that I did not provide enough blood.  The first person I talked to was a total idiot and I asked her if she would please put me on the line with a supervisor or someone who was more familiar with the product. This person eventually called me back and I suggested to her that they needed to rewrite the manual that comes with the test kit.  Don't mess with me when I am low on glucose and ketones!  My test tonight came out at .1, which is terrible, no wonder today was so rough.  I have lost 10 pounds in 5 days though, which is a nice consolation prize, although I'm too tired to care right now.

Tomorrow is Saturday when I would normally go on a 3-4 hour road ride, and most of the time I am up front pulling pretty much the entire four hours.  I knew that was not going to be possible tomorrow, so I decided to ride by myself and see how long I could suffer through it.  In the meantime I have been continuing my research on ketogenic diets, and it seems that while it is generally accepted that you can do moderate intensity exercise on a low-carb diet, the experts certainly disagree as to whether or not there is any evidence that an endurance athlete who performs sports or events where there are sustained periods of intensity over lactate threshold (which require the anaerobic energy system) will be able to eventually adapt to the diet and not see a decrease in performance at those times.  As I mentioned in the previous post, Phinney's elite cyclists were only tested at 65% of VO2 Max.  Bob Seebohar recommends off-season fuel partitioning strategies minimizing the intake of dietary carbohydrate as well as strict adherence to training at no higher than endurance pace during the off-season to increase metabolic efficiency, which he defines as the ability to utilize fat to fuel exercise at increasing intensities, but he states that during pre-season training when intensity ramps up and during the race season itself, carbohydrate should be increased in order to fuel those increased anaerobic energy needs.  Loren Cordain in The Paleo Diet for Athletes recommends fueling with carbs before and after exercise, but keeping carbs low at other times in order to allow the body to adapt to using fat as fuel for when you are not exercising.

Anthony Colpo, an independent researcher and cyclist who has written the books The Fat Loss Bible and The Great Cholesterol Con, wrote an article on his blog eviscerating the current research supporting a ketogenic diet for endurance athletes here, and it's a good read if you appreciate a man with a strong opinion who backs it up with strong science.  While I agree with him that there is no way I can train and race without carbs if I want to have optimal performance, there is another option that bodybuilders have been practicing for years called the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet, or CKD for short.  Typically on this plan you eat low-carb or no-carb from Sunday to Friday and then Saturday you enter what is called the carbohydrate loading phase or the "Carb-Up" to replenish your glycogen stores to fuel you through your harder workouts.  This could be an option for me once I am finished with this Semi-Elemental Foodless Fortnight.   I may have to change my training schedule a bit but I am willing to give it a try if it means I can still ride and train hard when I need to, but still maintain the benefits of keto-adaption.  I am not willing to suffer impaired performance all week, however, since my hard workouts are interspersed throughout so what can I say?  This is all pretty new territory for me so this Great Experiment will continue along with more research.  All bets are off until I am keto-adapted, because my brain is just not functioning at optimal levels for the time being.

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