I am really digging this new ebook, by Peter Defty, a pioneer in fat adaptation and my coach during my transition from a carb burner to a fat burner! I loved it so much I have lifted (with permission) some of his ideas for the title of this blog. He has done an outstanding job of laying out very scientific ideas in an easy to understand format. Please take the time to read this and follow the Vespa page for more great info from Peter and his team.
Even if you are on your 5th year of low carb eating, like myself, you will learn something in this section. The graphics are awesome at literally painting a picture of how carb burners create and use energy vs how fat burners do the same thing. Ever wondered by your blood ketones are low even though you are not eating carbs?? He answers that question. Get through page 21 and you can more than hold your own with 99% of the keto/low carb folks (the other 1% read The Art & Sceince of Low Carbohydrate Living by Dr. Phinney and Dr. Volek AND this E-book).
Page 22-30 takes you on a deep dive into Peter's OFM program and how Vespa factors into that. Here he uses science to show you how OFM can help you maximize your athletic potential vs a strict keto type diet.
Having had the honor of working with Peter, I can tell you his knowledge on the subject of low carb athletic performance in individuals is second to none. Even the scientists in this field will tell you that what he is doing with his athletes is expanding what the scientific community even thought was possible.
Enough of me talking about it- Please take a few minutes and download this E-book today and read it. Would love to hear you comments and questions on it!
If you have been following my blog covering the past 5 1/2 years I have been on an OFM diet, you know that Peter Defty was one of the driving forces that got me started eating low carb/high fat and coached me to a fitness state I never thought was possible for me. The following video, featuring Peter, is one of the best explanations of how fat adaptation works in athletes (I watched it 3 times!). If you are just now jumping on the keto train, this is a must-watch video to understand how your body is working and using the fuel you are giving it. They cover a huge range of topics and Peter does a great job of breaking very complex subjects down into more simple terms.
13:00 ketones vs beta oxidation (an excellent primer on beta oxidation- much more coming on this very soon from Peter)
19:00 restoring glucose stores without taking in carbs & making glucose from fat
20:00 LDL cholesterol as energy packs (this is a newer subject that I am really looking forward to diving into)
22:00 strategic carbs (not all carbs are bad, even if you are 'keto')
24:00 need for aerobic exercise (building a base for your best athletic performance)
28:00 myth of salt and blood pressure
28:30 using carbs on keto diet
30:00 stress effects (as important as diet and sleep, in my opinion)
35:00 science studies vs real world
37:00 more detail on LDL
40:00 whole animal concept and portions
43:00 vegan or plant based diets (how to make it work on OFM)
44:00 winter is coming (how are the short days/long nights changing our bodies)
46:00 alcohol (holiday season is here, can I drink at parties?)
47:00 Vespa (I'm a huge fan of Vespa, Peter explains what it is and how it is helping athletes)
Often when the word fasting comes up it stirs up negative feelings in people. Fasting is not eating and people like to eat. Just like the rest of your eating plan, fasting could help you improve the way you feel and your overall heath. I was just listening to a podcast the other day and fasting was one of the subjects covered. I had heard about the positive effects of fasting before- increased insulin sensitivity (a good thing), accelerated weight loss (makes sense since I'm not eating), a stronger immune system, and decreased risk of cancer. As I have stated before, I am not a Dr and these are my own experiences that I share in hopes that they may help you to your health goals. The last blog had a lot of photos- this one not so much. But I will reward all your reading with what I had for dinner last night.
The History of Fasting
If you happen to be Catholic, you have certainly heard of fasting. Catholic fasting is perhaps the only thing called fasting that allows you to eat three meals a day- "When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal." The Muslim faith takes fasting much more seriously- "If you choose to eat or drink, for any reason, then your fast will become invalid", and practices it for the entire month of Ramadan. I also learned that they may not have sexual intercourse during this time, but that type fasting will not be covered in this blog. The Ramadan fast is from sunrise to sunset each day....this sounds a lot like Intermittent Fasting.
Intermittent Fasting (IMF)
IMF is a fancy name for not eating for several hours or skipping a meal or two. If you are on a traditional high carb diet, this probably doesn't sound like a lot of fun. You get hunger pains, can't think, become hangry (angry from hunger) and then you eat a Snickers bar thus flooding your blood stream with sugar and starting this vicious cycle all over again. But if you have been eating as I recommend in this blog, you are probably already doing some kind of IMF several times a week without even realizing it. Often times I will get busy with work and not have time to eat breakfast and lunch. Missing a few meals doesn't bother me at all, as I don't get any hunger pains, irritability, or any of the other side effects commonly caused by hunger. In fact I have gone almost exclusively to a noon snack (cheese & nuts) and late afternoon meal as my only sources of food each day. I do make sure to drink plenty of water and take an S! Cap each morning to give myself some salt for the day. This narrows by feeding time to about a 4-5 hour window. Many people much smarter than me argue that limiting your feeding window each day is not only good for all the reasons listed above but it also have a very positive effect on your life span and the good bacteria that live in your gut.
One of the best parts of limiting my eating window to the middle of the day is that I get much better sleep. Does anyone sleep well after eating a big dinner right before sitting on the sofa and then going to bed? This practice commonly causes heart burn, crazy dreams and a poor night's sleep. Then when you wake up you still feel full and bloated, making a morning workout sound like the last thing you want to do. Instead, if you eat your big meal of the day in the late afternoon (4-5pm- take advantage of those early bird specials!) that gives your body several hours to process that food before you go to sleep and you wake up feeling two things- that need to go #2 right away (no coffee needed) and well rested, energize, and ready to workout. If you can start your day with a highly successful #2 and a strong workout, you are well on your way to having a great day!
My 72HR Fast
Although you get many benefits from the IMF, many studies show that you can't kill off some of those more troublesome cells (like ones that often cause cancer) unless you extend your fast for a few days. I'm all for killing off pre-cancer cells so I figured that I needed to get in a good 4-5 day fast at least once a year. As the title of this section indicates, I was not entirely successful. First, if you are going to try this type of fasting I highly recommend that you are well adjusted to a very low carb diet prior to starting. If you jump right into a muli-day fast from a high carb diet it will be a very unpleasant first few days for you (as in don't plan on operating motor vehicles or being a productive member of society). But being well adjust to an OFM diet, I though I could knock this out while following some runners across my home state of Nebraska. Just me, the road, the wide expanses of grass, cows, and no food.
The first day went by pretty much like any other day, since I very regularly go 24 hours with out eating. But at about the 27 hour point I did get a slight headache and realized that I needed to up my water intake and take a salt tab. I was operating a motor vehicle so I figured taking salt was preferable to passing out and driving into a cow. Here in my electronic journal (iPhone notes) it was noted at 32 hours that "walking past food is becoming more difficult- not because I am terribly hungry but because eating is a habit that is so ingrained into our daily life." In fact much of our lives revolve around eating. You get your breaks at work to go snack or have a meal, the only times families get together is for a meal, and when you are driving across the most isolated stretches of Nebraska your only chance for social interaction with a human is to eat at a restaurant. Restaurants are not real big on folks stopping in for water and a salt tab (unless you are a really good tipper).
I continued through two days and found that my brain was working overtime. Ideas where coming at me faster than I could put them down on paper and I was consuming very complex podcasts like some freak out of a movie. The last time I felt this was when I switch from a very high carb diet to OFM. Once the haze of the transition cleared and my brain got a taste of those sweet, sweet ketones it was game on! But I think that my brain had now grown accustomed to working off of ketones so that higher level of function became my new baseline. But by cutting out food for a few days, my ketone production was probably in high gear and I got to experience that superhuman feeling again. I even went running that night (about 45 hours into the fast) and it was a pretty great experience. It was one of those effortless runs and I felt like I was able to take in tiny details of the landscape, distant smells, and hear each insect. I do remember wondering if the mosquitoes sucking my blood down will benefit from my elevated ketone level and become some sort of freak mosquitoes.
The third day of fasting went much the same as the second, but alas I was seduced by something even more powerful than my ketone burning super-brain. Something that has had a mysterious power over me since a young age. Having grown up in the state #1 in cattle exports and having just driven hundreds of miles through the heart of Nebraska cattle country, I was powerless when the front desk at the hotel told me how good the steakhouse next door was and that smell of grilled Nebraska beef floated through the air. A few hours later, a glorious 20oz medium rare ribeye broke my fast at the 72hr point.
If I was to do this again, which I think I will, I would change two things- I would do it at a time when I was busy with several other tasks so that I didn't have time to think about the fact that I was not eating. Second, one of my favorite parts of traveling anywhere is eating- so I would do it at home were I don't feel the need to taste the local fare.
Bonus Section- Last Night's Dinner
These days I pretty much get all my new recipe ideas from Facebook. I have joined a few low carb pages and those folks turn out cooking videos like it is going out of style. So last night I had a little spare time so I decided to try out three new recipes to go with our nice Nebraska ribeye and bacon wrapped filets. Keep in mind I only watched the videos, didn't actually read the recipes so I may have made a few errors/changes. The videos are linked in the name of each item.
Zucchini Parmesan Chips Appetizer
These little guys are so easy to make and were very tasty. I skipped the bread crumbs and instead just sliced the zucchini, tossed it in some olive oil, and then covered them with that cheap Parmesan like you get at the pizza place. I then laid them out on parchment paper and cooked them in a 400 degree oven until they were on the verge of burning. We let them cool and then dipped them in some taziki I had just picked up on sale at Sam's Club. Although I forget to get a photo of them, they actually looked like the video and were really tasty.
Avocado Feta Crack
If you have a knife and cutting board, you can make this. Chop up half an onion, Chop up some cilantro (I used this instead of parsley because parsley seemed too boring). Chop up some tomatoes. Dump in some olive oil, oregano, salt/pepper and red wine vinegar. (I skipped the garlic since eating low carb already makes my breath somewhat challenging). Stir. Throw some feta in there and stir some more. Then right before you are ready to eat it- put in a few diced avocados! We ate it as a 'salad' side item.
Low Carb Gnocchi
This dish bears almost no resemblance to Gnocchi, but what the hell. You just melt a bag of mozzeralla cheese, mix in a few egg yolks, italian seasoning, salt/pepper. Then you make it into ropes and cut it into small pieces. Just before you are ready to eat, boil it for a few min. I may have boiled mine for a little long, as it came out looking pretty much like a clump of boiled cheese. Never the less, it was very tasty.
If you have a great, or not so great fasting story please leave it in the comments. Also if you figure out how to make that Gnocchi look like Gnocchi, please let me know. Until next time keep the carbs low, the fat high, and the fasts intermittent. (I always wanted a catch phrase)
Someone has got to do it
It's not easy, but someone had to travel to Thailand and share all the foods there with you! Maybe that wasn't the whole purpose of the trip but it turns out we came home with a lot of food photos to share with you. In reality, we had been planning for a year how to escape to another country for an entire month. That is a topic for another blog, but we were successful in saving our money and got to enjoy Thailand (and its food) for an entire month!
When we considered traveling for an entire month, we though maybe it was not the best idea just to eat and drink all day, each day, for 30 days. While it might have been fun, I'm guessing we would have come back pretty unhealthy. In order to give us some semblance of a healthy schedule, we decided to work out at AKA Thailand each morning learning Muay Thai and doing some strength/conditioning.
There is a reason I didn't post a video of myself! I worked hard, but might not be the most coordinated person in the world. But Mindy was rocking it from day 1. Since we were there every morning we were very lucky they had a great cafe right at the gym!
It's tough to beat a 4-egg meat omelette and salad or some chicken and eggs (I'll share my egg secret later) for breakfast after a hard workout!! Not long into our stay we discovered that dining out is one of the great pass times in Thailand. You could not walk half a block without coming across a restaurant, food stand, or more creative food options (as you will see).
For the OFM diet, there is one major enemy that is lurking everywhere in Asia. You guessed it- rice. At the grocery store, it is very common to see folks buying 50lb bags of rice for use in their homes!
You do need to keep an eye out for those bright red peppers in dishes like this though...they are like putting liquid magma into your mouth. And it only gets hotter as time goes on. There are so many wonderful spices and peppers available, a trip through the grocery store is an assault on your senses.
For those of us who are carb conscious, a thai meal is filled with possible land mines but there are a lot of low carb options. In this photo, left to right: omelet (acceptable at any time of day and always low carb), spring rolls (very tasty, you can try one but don't eat the whole plate), larb/laab (ground chicken or beef with spices and an awesome low carb option- get it with cucumbers or raw cabbage), pad thai (leave that for your carb eating friends).
It is no surprise to any who reads this blog that I love bbq. It took us a while, but we did track down some BBQ in Thailand. Some of it was very good....some not so great.
There were a few interesting food carts we came upon. These are generally everywhere, so you know these were unique if they made the blog. The first, was a pimped out Moped food cart. So the food cart is basically a side car on the scooter, but this one was special. It has a high power sound system bumping the tunes, led lights throughout and a tremendous amount of cheap grilled food cooked fresh on the grill- also on the scooter. Grilled meats on a scooter side car...I'm in!!
This final selection from our tour of Thai food, was not the best tasting (I think that is the polite way to say it) but it was the most unique. Probably not the most OFM friendly item ever. Your guess as to what is in this thing is as good as mine! Don't try this at home kids......
Overall we had an amazing month in Thailand, with the exception of biting into the creation directly above. I ended up completing 27 separate workouts at the gym...and these workouts were no joke in the Thai heat. We also managed to get about a dozen massages each (who can pass up an $8 massage?). I wasn't super strict sticking to my OFM diet, but much, much better than the Italy Trip. At the end of the trip I didn't lose a lot of weight, simply due to the massive amount of food I was trying, but it was great to see my waist thin down again and some of that mass move up to my shoulders and chest. You know what is great about OFM- even through I had taken a long break from working out, and gotten terribly out of shape, I had not have gained a lot of weight. That makes it so, so much easier to get back in shape when the time comes!
Looking at the date of my last post, I guess I let the summer get away from me. Hopefully you all are out enjoying the benefits of your OFM lifestyle in this great weather! This summer I did do a lot of driving and listened to several great podcasts on the ketogenic diet and OFM (often referred to in these as modified low carb or modified ketogenic diet). Tim Ferriss has done several great interviews on the subject with some of the top researchers in the field. You will also hear our friends Dr. Phinney and Dr. Volek's names come up often. Download these for your next road trip or long run and you will learn a lot more about this field than you will reading this blog! Note: Most of these are really long. So you probably are not going to rip through them all in an afternoon....but if you drive from Florida to Nebraska alone they will be over before you arrive.
Dr. Peter Attia with Tim Ferriss (Dec 2014)
This one is a few years old but pretty entertaining. Below are the topics covered at the times copied from Tim Fierriss' site:
Dr Peter Attia Solo (March 2015)
I enjoyed this one a little more than the first as it was a little more focused. This was released as a double episode, so you just want the second one (#65).
Dr. Dom D'Agostino with Tim Ferriss (Nov 2015)
These two with Dr. D'Agostino get pretty deep into the science but I liked them a lot. In this one there is a lot of discussion of using this diet to fight cancer, which I think everyone should be interested in. And I was certainly interested in his diet while traveling (although I don't think I'll be carrying my own tuna with me).
Dr. Dom D'Agostino Solo (July 2016)
I'll be honest, a few of these questions/answers I had to listen to a few times to understand but there are some great nuggets of info in here. And if you can't stand the sound of Tim's voice, this is just a solo talk by Dr. D'Agostino. Cool info for runners on performance at altitude, some cholesterol talk like we have had one here, and great content on females and this diet.
When you are all done listening to all four of these, please leave a comment and it will motivate me to get another real blog written for you. I want to tell you about the 52 hour fast I embarked on after listening to these podcasts and how I recently failed to meet my own standards.
I just received a new ebook from the folks at Vespa and it is packed full of amazing OFM information! Today I don't have time to break it all down for you, but I can't withhold all this awesome information from you for even a minute. We will dive into on this blog soon, but for now download it, read it, live it.
If you have been on this blog for a while, you have probably been paying more attention to the articles about carbs, sugars, and fats. Hopefully you have noticed a little different narrative than what were reading in the 90's and early 2000's when we (myself included) were almost obsessed with no fat products. Unfortunately for our bodies, almost all these no fat products were packed with added sugar to make them edible. But sugar is so bad for us, how did fat get replaced by sugar? It appears the answer is the same as many other issues in our society that don't quite make sense, it is all about the money. Not that long ago, we all learned how the tobacco industry paid millions of dollars to keep the fact that it caused cancer secret. Guess what....the sugar industry did the same thing to keep the fact that it's product can be a danger to the health of our society if over-consumed. Now I could go on about this for hours, but I'm going to try and get to the point as I have a big, hot rack waiting for me right now!
The good news is that the tide has begun to turn. The same government agency that added "calories from fat" to nutrition labels to warn us about all that 'dangerous' fat we were eating has made some changes to the nutrition labels. Although, calories from fat helped me choose the foods I wanted to eat, it probably wasn't viewed in that light by 99.9% of the population (since people still associate the word 'fat' in food with the fat that is on their bodies; when they have very little or negative correlation to each other). So I'd say that is a win for the health of 99.9% of the population. And the most drastic change, I feel, is a win for 100% of the population. They created an entire row that lists added sugar. This is a HUGE change since the only sugars previously listed were natural sugars and the added sugars were simply rolled into the total carbohydrates. Now you can actually better judge the processed foods that you consume. *Although if the majority of what you eat still has nutrition labels, you need to read the rest of these blogs!
More good news is that it's not only the FDA getting on board. Mainstream, well known Dr's, are starting to get on board (kind of). The great parts of the video below: 1) All carbs, no matter what form they come in (soda pop, fruits, starches) are all treated as sugar once they enter your body. 2) A diet low in fat and high in carbs can be bad for you. 3) Sugar (carbs) cause an insulin reaction which turns excess sugar into body fat. 4) The Standard American Diet really is SAD.
But then he took some really wrong turns: 1) We all need carbs to provide energy. Not really, I have a growing list of friends that intake little or no carbs and have more energy than any 'standard' American. 2) The foods used in the examples drives me insane. Putting fruit, vegetables and candy as the prime examples of simple carbs sends the wrong message to the general public. "Fruits, veggies and candy are equally bad for me." Fruits in general, are high in simple sugar and very low in fiber. Take the banana in the video (27g of carbs, 14g listed as sugar and 3.1g fiber), that's a pretty good chunk of sugar. Then let's look at the lettuce that was in the same cut-away, it has 1g of carbs, half of which is fiber. And I personally wouldn't put either of these in the same category as candy (straight refined sugar). Points for saying a sugary drink is bad and showing a big mac as bad, but why not show a greasy double patty cheese burger, with bacon and no bun as something that is good for you?? Sorry, I just drifted off into OFM dream land for a moment.
In the coming weeks we are going to have some friends new to OFM share their experiences on here. Every single person that calls, emails, texts, or messages with their success stories on OFM makes me just as happy as the very first person I heard from. We are chipping away at the low fat ignorance. You all are well ahead of the Tsunami that is about to wipe added sugar off the map. Hopefully for all those not reading this blog, our health care system, and our society it happens sooner rather than later. It's not going to solve every problem, but I'd stake everything I have that the our nation would be healthier overall if people simply cut the sugar out of their diets and stopped eating so many processed foods. Now off to get my hands on that hot rack!
Want your own hot rack like mine? It's really pretty easy!
1) Go to the store and buy a rack of ribs. This one happens to be 'spare' meaning that the cartilage etc has not been trimmed off the bottom half. If you get 'St Louis' they will be more trimmed and 'baby back' will be trimmed all the way up to the big bones you see. For each step of trimming you decide to purchase, decrease the amount of cook time.
2) Throw some seasoning on these bad boys, your choice. Today I used Jim Baldridge's Secret Seasoning straight out of Nebraska (http://baldridgeseasoning.com/). Rub it in, especially on the meaty side, and let it set out for a while. If you are really thinking ahead, do this the night before and refrigerate it over night.
3) Preheat your oven to 250 and throw them in on a rack to keep them out of the drippings, for 1.5 hours uncovered. Then cover them and put them in for another 1.5 hours.
4) Pull them out and start your grill. Once your grill is nice and hot, throw them on there for about 3-5 min on each side, just to firm up the outside and give them a nice color.
5) Eat them. I like dry rub but used a little mustard, butter, and bacon fat sauce today with them which was pretty tasty. Remember that most bbq sauces are filled with sugar.
Now these are not going to be as good as those ribs smoked for hours by skilled bbq masters, but for a guy without a smoker and a lot of work to get done while they cook- they are super easy and hit the spot.
Now go get your own hot rack while I enjoy mine!
Sorry, it has been some time since my last blog. As race directing is quickly replacing racing in my life, free time has been hard to come by. But I am continually impressed by the readers of this blog. If this is your first visit, I high recommend you start by clicking "My Personal Weight Loss Journey" at the top of the page. This year at our Destin Ultra Runs, a familiar face crossed the finish line and gave me a firm handshake. His face was familiar but there was something different about him. This gentleman proceeded to tell me that he cut 2 hours off of his 50K time from last year. A 50K is only 31 miles, so to cut 2 hours is taking almost 4 MIN PER mile off of his time! That would mean instead of your 5K being 30 min, it would be 19 min. Obviously my surprised face gave me away and he proceeded to tell me that losing 50lbs since last year probably had something to do with it. He then thanked me for introducing him to OFM through this blog and this blog having a very positive impact on his life. Just like I have been, he was a back of the pack runner in 2015 but he is moving up quickly. Will he ever be an elite athlete, probably not, but I can promise you- if his huge smile was any indication- his quality of life is better now than it has been in a long time. And he made me promise to post more on this blog....I'm trying!
This is a long intro, but it just proves that OFM is making a real difference in people's lives. Whether you are cruising to second overall and the first female in a 100+ mile race at age 46 (nice job, Christy!), working on your feet from 9am to 11pm each day, or trying to run your first 5K- it's pretty tough to do if you are carrying extra weight and not fueling your body properly. Everyone's body is different, but if you are on a high carb diet and overweight or working out/running a lot and not hitting your goal weight or worse yet, increasing your training and gaining weight- then you need to try a different approach. Now let's talk about my defenseless friend.
What did he do to you?
This friend gets accused of so much by so many. "Killing people", "The downfall of America", "Disgusting", and much, much worse. (You totally thought I was going to talk politics, didn't you?) But the fact of the matter is- he is not killing anyone. My friend is like a tall bridge where you can choose to walk over, admire the view and get to where you are going without getting your shoes wet -or- you can jump off it and end your life. Is it the bridge's fault some people choose to jump off it? I think not!
Now I'm not saying he is my BEST friend, but we probably hang out once a week here and there. Some places I have found him, he has been pretty good to me. Other places, not so much....but we will get to that. All in all, although I have never said so in public, he is my friend and I'll stand by him against the wave of criticism. Since he doesn't have a voice to defend himself- today we are going to talk about why my friend, the buffet, does not have to be the enemy and can actually help you achieve your OFM goals. I'm not here to debate the sanitary conditions of buffets, as that is dependent on the establishment. Nor am I going to debate food quality, as just like a sit down restaurant, it depends on the establishment. I'm here to give you my totally biased opinion.
#1, #2, and #3 reasons we are friends. Buffets have so many choices. Now if your will power is similar to that of Charlie Sheen with a pile of coke, then this could also be your downfall. You need to have mastered the art of staying on the bridge. Don't jump in just because the water, or chocolate fountain, looks refreshing. Previously in this blog we have covered how to successfully navigate dining out at sit down restaurants and still hold true to your OFM plan, but the buffet can eliminate some of those obstacles. First, choose your buffet wisely. For instance, the pizza/pasta buffet is probably not going to offer you a lot of OFM options. You should do a little research and ensure your target buffet has several options from our previously discussed food areas. As with grocery shopping, look for a place that has things you can tell are only one step (cooking) away from the outside wall of the grocery store. A nice salad bar, several meat choices not covered in mystery sauces, and I have to admit I really look for one that has a vat of sour cream and bacon. If you choose wisely, your buffet will have a ton of OFM options and you don't have to annoy the waiter asking them to leave off the bun/salad instead of fries/is that breaded?/what exactly comes on that?/can you substitute...? You just go up and use your well honed OFM eyes to scope out your eating options and avoid the endless piles of sugar loaded sh*t that is intermixed.
I know I'm supposed to eat slower. Stop yelling at me! I'm a busy guy! But I can probably be in and out of a buffet as fast as I can go into a normal fast food restaurant, order my meal with the above mentioned changes, get it from the back 'specially made for me', and sit down and eat it. I also think guys like buffet a little because they still bring out a tiny bit of that animal instinct that you might have to fight someone else for your food. If you sit just right, you can see when the fresh steaks are brought out and then beat all the other animals to the feast! But I digress... Bottom line, you can get in and out quickly and still choose what you are putting in your body.
BE A CAMEL
Fun fact of the day: Camel's humps are actually fat deposits, not water, so that they can go long times without eating. It also concentrates the fat in one area, so it doesn't act as insulation (like in a whale) so that they can better shed heat in a hot environment. Although that has very little to do with this blog, at least you can walk away from an otherwise wasted 10 minutes having learned something.
People have often referred to me as a camel. While I mostly lack a huge hump on my back, I can (thanks to OFM) go for an oddly long time without eating anything and not suffer any ill effects. This is especially helpful since some of my work duties require me to go for all day and part of the night without a good chance to eat a meal. No problem! I can just hit the breakfast buffet at the hotel in the morning, store up on eggs, bacon, butter, and other delicious fats and be all set for 24hrs or more without food. While I was not around thousands of years ago, I'm guessing this is how our nomadic ancestors survived. They would kill an animal or find a food source, eat it quickly before it went bad, and then travel for days to the next food source. It too bad they lacked hotels and breakfast buffets, but I don't feel guilty. We don't choose what evolutionary period we are born in.
It is also quite fun to break a few day's fast at a buffet. The look on people's faces when an otherwise thin person, consumes an amount of food they never thought possible, is priceless. I'm not saying you should eat like a blue whale every day (8000lbs of food per day- fun fact #2), but if you love to eat...it's pretty damn fun every once in a while. And your cost per calorie consumed will be about as low as you can possibly get.
Some people are killing themselves at the buffet. They are choosing to jump off the bridge, instead of just walking over it. Sure, body type isn't always an indicator of overall health...but there are few body types that 99% of the time indicate bad health. It is highly likely you are going to see a few of these at the buffet. Use these folks as some motivation. First, observe what they are eating. I'm willing to bet a large sum of money ($10), that the majority of the food they consume is packed with carbs/sugar and/or fried. I know I'm really going out on a limb here, so do you own research. And then, if you do have self control issues around those types of food, imagine yourself 50, 100, or 150 lbs heavier before you take your next trip to the buffet. This is a little depressing, so I like to think how awesome it would be to get those folks on OFM and see them in one year, at the buffet, eating fats/avoiding the sh*t and 50, 100, or 150lbs lighter!
That was a whole crap load of words, just to say that it doesn't matter where you like to eat. It doesn't matter what economic status is. It doesn't matter where your friends like to eat. It doesn't even matter if you only eat at a buffet. The choices you make will decide the future of your health. You can get healthier. You can improve your quality of life. You can be the next person who loses 50lbs in a year.
Bacon & Butter: The Ultimate Ketogenic Diet Cookbook
My sister-in-law really nailed my Christmas gifts this year with a couple of great items for my OFM lifestyle. The first was this awesome cookbook. It has about 150 recipes in the book and is broke into the following sections: Bacon & Breakfast, Smooties & Shakes, Snacks, Keto Classics, Fish, Poultry, Meaty Mains, and Desserts. They also offer a great into to the ketogenic lifestyle to start the book off and wrap it up with some a section on condiments, sauces, and dressings.
If you are new to the OFM lifestyle, you will find this book a rich resource of meal ideas. One awesome thing they do is list, right next to each item, the ratio of fat to protein/carbs. Another pretty cool part I have seen with a lot of the recipes is that they make a little smaller servings than I have seen with some cookbooks. Perhaps targeted more toward the two person household instead of the 4-5 person household.
If you have been eating OFM for a while, you will see a lot of your favorites in here but possibly with a twist or two. You may have your go-to items when you visit the grocery store. They will help you use these items, like cauliflower, in a lot of ways you might not have imagined.
The book lists at around $15 for the paperback and less than $5 for the digital version. Overall I would recommend this book as a strong idea generator for your meals. I'm not good at following specific recipes to the letter, but it really lead me down the road to some great meals. It also lead me down the road to use another gift in a unique way- Cheesy Pork Rind Nachos.
Pork Clouds and Pork Dust
Like I said, I really made out well at Christmas. While not everyone would be excited to see form of pork in their stocking, I was very interested. The only problem being that I had tried traditional pork rinds several times before and found them heavy, greasy, and/or just nasty tasting. As Bacon's Heir founder, Brett, pointed out when I emailed him, "It seems that most people assumed that these were just fat fried in fat, so I wanted to change that perception by making a ground up better version." I'm all for fat but sometimes fat fried in fat doesn't sound so pleasant. Well Brett really did reinvent this product in a pleasant way I had not tasted before.
Growing up on an Alabama cattle farm, Brett had always heard pork rinds were unhealthy. But as he learned more about Paleo type diets, he was surprised to find that these could be a great healthy compliment to a low carb diet if they were made correctly. Not only did he make the basic concept light, crispy and clean tasting but he also puts just the right amount of spice on each one. These spices range from the very simple rosemary and sea salt to the pleasantly spicy habanero. I'd highly recommend these if you are looking for something to replace chips for use with the great high-fat dips you can make. They also have pork dust, which can replace breadcrumbs or breading for all of your cooking.
So now you have a great cookbook expanding your food ideas and some great pork clouds. Let's make them work together with the Cheesy Pork Rind Nachos (page 89). It is really too easy. Spread out your Pork Clouds (I recommend Habanero) on a cookie sheet or pizza tin. Cover this with your favorite shredded cheese. Then throw this on the top shelf of you oven and turn on the broiler (cookbook recommends the microwave, but nachos cooked in the over are better- I have done years of research on this subject). Watch them closely as you just want to melt the cheese, not really cook anything. Once you take them out, top them with your favorite toppings. Maybe some sour cream, guac, onions, olives, tomatoes...the possibilities are endless. The Pork Clouds stay nice and crispy, leaving you a sturdy and tasty platform for your nachos. Hope you enjoyed that- I need to go make some of these nachos now.
UPDATE: July 21, 2020
Since I have been at this low carb thing for over 7 years, I thought it was a good time to share an update on my lipid (cholesterol) panels as it is one of the more asked questions. I charted all my lipid panels since 2012. Once they were relatively stable in 2017, my Dr was no longer ordering them every year. For 2012 I was on a high carb diet, the rest I have been varying degrees on low carb/keto/OFM.
For an in-depth explanation of all these terms, please read the entire post. Enjoy!
UPDATE; Nov 26, 2016
This is one of the most shared blogs I have done, because cholesterol is a huge concern for people when I start talking about eating bacon, eggs, cheese and all these other foods that were vilified for so long by the 'low-fat' police.
I have been eating OFM for 3 years and 8 months. Last week I had my cholesterol measured again, almost exactly 3 years after the most recent numbers in the original blog and the results were not that surprising to me. But those who are worried about the long-term effects of OFM might find them interesting.
Total Cholesterol; 217 (no change)
Triglycerides; 79 (+6)
HDL: 73 (+3 improvement in 'good cholesterol')
LDL; 128 (-4 decrease in 'bad cholesterol')
VLDL: 16 (+1)
These results, combined with the fact that I have been able to keep my weight in check for over 3 years- despite greatly reduced physical activity- only makes me want to share this lifestyle with more people.
ORIGINAL POST: Cholesterol might be one of the most misunderstood of all things you hear about on your annual Dr's visit. This is a complex subject so there are going to be a lot of words and not many pictures (don't worry, the next post is on my Greece trip and has lots of pics).
When I got my first checkup after starting OFM the following were my cholesterol numbers were as follows.
The first number was on my normal high carb diet; the second number is 8 months into OFM. (My numbers have remained relatively close to the second numbers since)
Total Cholesterol: 196-217
Of course I wanted to know what the heck all these numbers meant, and most importantly, was I going to die from high cholesterol that day. I don't want to ruin the suspense....but clearly I didn't. Anyway, I did a little research and asked some health professionals.
The basic cholesterol equation is below, The Friedewald Equation . Using this we can solve for any missing variable if we have the other variables- or at least that is what my HS math teacher taught me. If you are not good at math there is a Friedewald calculator on the internet!
Total Cholesterol = LDL + HDL + (Triglycerides/5)
Here is what the Mayo Clinic Website has to say about each cholesterol number:
Triglycerides: A type of fat (lipid) found in your blood. When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn't need to use right away into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in your fat cells. Later, hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein), often called "good cholesterol". They act as cholesterol scavengers, picking up excess cholesterol in your blood and taking it back to your liver where it's broken down.
Men, At risk=Less than 40 mg/dL; Desirable=60 mg/dL or above.
Women, At risk=less than 50 mg/dL; Desirable=60 mg/dL or above
Mine went up from 61 to 70. Another "not going to die" tick.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein), often called "bad cholesterol". These lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout your body, delivering it to different organs and tissues. But if your body has more cholesterol than it needs, the excess keeps circulating in your blood. Over time, circulating LDL cholesterol can enter your blood vessel walls and start to build up under the vessel lining. Deposits of LDL cholesterol particles within the vessel walls are called plaques, and they begin to narrow your blood vessels.
VLDL (Very low-density lipoprotein), at present there is no simple, direct way of measuring VLDL cholesterol. It is usually estimated as a percentage of your triglyceride value. An elevated VLDL cholesterol level is more than 30 milligrams per deciliter (.77 millimole/liter).
Mine went down from 27 to 15. Feeling better about this....
Simple right? No. I still had no idea what was going on with my numbers or how they were measured. I find out they probably only really measure a few things, total cholesterol, HDL and triglycerides and then use formulas for the rest. But my 'bad cholesterol', LDL, was over the recommended level and my total was over 200! Am I totally #@%#^#$^ed?!?! I panicked, then emailed some actual Dr's. One who knew what diet I was on and the other who did not.
Dr. with no prior knowledge of my diet when I sent my numbers:
Dr. with in-depth knowledge of diet and the fact that I was on it:
"You experienced the classic TG [Dr talk for Triglycerides] lowering and HDL boost. The total cholesterol and LDL-C response is more variable but a small increase as you experienced is not uncommon. Given the drop in TG it is almost certain the increase was due to larger LDL particles, which are not as atherogenic [I googled this, it means:tending to promote the formation of fatty plaques in the arteries] as the smaller one. Those likely went down."
The good news- I wasn't going to die that day from cholesterol. Bad news- this is some complex shit! Now we are talking about the size of LDL particles....and atherogenic particles. (I just had to use that word again to sound smart). So I emailed Dr. Volek to get some more info, since he is one of the world's experts in this area. Here is what I found in his response that might help us understand a small portion of this.
So that was a lot of words and you probably stopped reading right after the Friedewald Equation....I know I would have. Every person's body is going to react differently to a OFM type, low carb diet. The key is to know what your baseline was before you started the diet and then get another test after several months (over 6) on the diet. Then you can use the information above to decipher all those numbers.
If you are dying for more cholesterol talk (I mean, really, who isn't!?!). Just click here to see a lot of videos by Dr. Volek discussing the subject.
Normally I would try to write on these subjects myself. But in the article sampled here and linked at the bottom, Peter Defty (the man who coached me through my transition to using fat as fuel), breaks down some flaws seen in resent articles highlighted by the national press. Why are these articles highlights? Because companies like Pepsi, Coke and Gatorade, who push drinks loaded with sugar, have a combined advertising budget over half a BILLION dollars! What pays for media?....Advertising.
Sample from Peter's article: Ms. Clark questions the sustainability of a fat-adapted diet by saying: “No pasta, no potato, no birthday cake, no fun…..” How fun are metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance/diabetes, heart disease, Celiacs/IBS/Crohn’s, GI issues, bonking or cancer relative to giving up some pasta, bread, potatoes and birthday cake?
Clearly Peter and I are big believers in OFM and not huge fans of pasta, potatoes and birthday cake. Why? Because we have seen OFM work over and over again for a wide variety of people. Is it the perfect diet for everyone? No. But Peter sums it all up well at the end of his article.
OFM is not a “fad”. OFM is a holistic program to getting the body back to using fat as the principal fuel source for aerobic metabolism, the way evolution shaped humans. This approach is based upon science and real world results athletes who have adopted OFM are achieving. We won’t “tell” you our system is better but do invite you to investigate for yourself how getting your body back to burning “fat as fuel” will make you a better, stronger and healthier athlete not to mention when you do use carbohydrates they will work much better than they do in the world advocated by the high carb “experts”.
My website host says that around 100 new people look at this blog each day. That means either: A) People are really interested in ways to start eating healthier and feeling better OR B) Our URL is really close to that of a porn site. Although it is probably B, it's about time for another post just incase. I just had a long conversation with a friend and we agreed that 'self-help' books that don't give you exact step by step instructions to achieve what they promise suck. Therefore, as my other blogs have attempted to do, I'll give you 4 easy items you can change today to start losing weight and/or feeling better.
Please just remember I am NOT a Doctor or trained dietitian. I spend a great deal of time reading the science on OFM and am almost 2 1/2 years into an experiment on my own body. If it turns out sugar and processed food are really healthy and you want to sue- odds are I'll be dead from lack of sugar.
1) Stop drinking crap!
This shouldn't be a shocker. I'm nearly certain you have heard this before and probably said to yourself "I only drink 1 soda a day", "A few beers at night doesn't hurt anything", or "Water makes my mouth bored".
When you go get your triplefrappamochachino with whipped cream, you might as well just sit down, eat some sugar cubes and skip your workout for the day instead. "I'll just have a sweet tea with lunch. Tea is good right?" NO! Have you ever made sweet tea yourself? You take a little bit of tea and add an ass-ton of sugar. How about you have black coffee with some heavy whipping creme? It might take you a few days to adjust but I think you can handle it. Kill Cliff, the title sponsor of the Destin Marathon, (double shameless plug, yes!) just sent me some of their new Epic Mojo iced coffee...4g carbs for the regular black type. Now that's a sensible choice.
Ok, you can handle black coffee and water or unsweet tea during the day but what about happy hour? No one wants to look uncool around their co-workers and drink water. You look at the chart above and decide you will just have vodka tonic since the vodka bar is really small on the chart and it is clear so it must be low in sugar. Wrong! Tonic and most other mixers are full of sugar. A better choice would be vodka and soda with lime. "But it doesn't taste like anything." Here's a trick: carry a little bottle of your favorite Mio in your purse or man-bag and add a few drops to your drink. I think red wine is the real sleeper here. There are so many different kinds, I'm sure you can find one or two that you can choke down. If you must drink that micro-brew beer, try not to drink a dozen of them...I mean, if you are really trying to improve your body.
2) Goodbye bread....It's not you, it's me
Bread is really tasty- And who can pass up something "free" at a restaurant when you are so hungry and about to pay $30 for a steak? (like those damn tortilla chip at the Mexican restaurant) Anyway do I really need a graphic and another paragraph for this? Don't eat bread. Yes tortillas are bread.
3) Dear Potatoes, I think it's better if we are just friends
I love potatoes. Mashed, fried, chipped, roasted, souped, saladed, or baked but like our friend bread, they are packed with carbs. If eating out order no potatoes, double veggies. At home I like this super easy recipe to use just like mashed potatoes. I tried it on my co-workers today and they all approved.
Fake Mashed Potatoes
-1 big head cauliflower (don't worry it won't taste like cauliflower once we get done with it!)
-1 package FULL fat Cream Cheese
-1 package other shredded cheese of your choice
-Heavy whipping cream
Steam, boil, microwave or otherwise make the cauliflower mushy. It should come apart easy with a folk. I would use just the puffy flower parts unless you really want to eat the tree trunk part. Throw those cooked cauliflower pieces in a blender, mixer or food processor with the cream cheese and just enough heavy cream to get it going. Once it looks like mashed potatoes you have a choice to make: either serve them like that or put them in a pan, cover them with shredded cheese and bake them at 350 for 30 min. If you don't like them I'll refund all the money you spent for this recipe.
4) Drunk food and drinks still count
This shouldn't even count as one of my 4 points, but I feel it is worth highlighting as a way you can help your body out. I'm not advocating that you get drunk but I have heard that sometimes it happens. And when it happens some people make really bad decisions. Now, I'm not here to judge you for making out with questionable people or puking in the Uber on the way home- but please DO NOT decide to end the night with a few margaritas, a pizza, and french fries. If this happens, not only will your Uber rating be crap and there be a photo of you groping questionable person on Insta, but you will have ruined all the work you did by following the previous 3 steps all week.
Click here to google "Drunk People Eating". (I just saved you from appearing on here)
To recap 4 things you can start today to improve your body and well-being. 1) Don't drink crap that is full of sugar- for breakfast, during the day, or at happy hour. 2) Bread = Bad. 3) Break up with potatoes. 4) All these rules still apply when you are drunk. Good luck and let me know how it goes!
This is going to be short and sweet A) So no one sues me B) Because I'm busy with things that pay my mortgage. B leads me to my point....please don't spend hundreds for weight loss advice or supplements. Do I want you to click on that Amazon ad to the right so I get 18 cents from your diaper purchase? Yes, it would be great if I could pay for the costs of this blog but it is not why I write. I write here so that I can inspire and help a few of my friends get their bodies and energy back to where they want it to be. And so far it has worked for at least 13 of you that I know of....hopefully there are a few more that avoid telling me so my head doesn't get too big.
I have asked you to buy two books, for a total of $25. The other investments I have asked you to make don't cost you anything: read the books, download a free app, eat fats instead of carbs. Could I probably help more people with a nice website that summarizes those two books with cool graphics and daily meal plans? Yes. Maybe someday Dr. Volek and Dr. Phinney will let me do that, but until that happens you are stuck with actually reading the books and reading this graphically lacking blog. In addition to this horrible excuse for an eating blog, there are at least 10 other great high fat/low carb blogs written by people with actual credentials and graphic designers.
Just by reading these books and opening your mind to fats (and closing it to sugar=the devil) you are already ahead of the thinking of 99% of our society...and a hell of a lot of people who actually claim to know what they are talking about and try to sell you crap! You are on the cutting edge of dietary science...well the earliest known humans figured it out the fat thing, so let's say...You are on the cutting edge of modern dietary science.
Experts Applaud Dietary Guidelines That Lift Dietary Fat Cap
"In recent years, evidence has been building that diets higher in healthful fats -- even when they exceed the current limit of 35% -- can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. At the same time, no evidence suggests that diets low in fat but high in carbohydrates prevent any major diseases."
My suggestion is to save your $150 a month someone wants you to spend on advice or "super-diet-explode-hydro-cut-abs-extreme" and use that money to buy real food. *Now, if you are a serious athlete I think there are things other than food that you can benefit from, but for this blog I'm talking only about losing weight.* Next time you go to the traditional old grocery store, do all your shopping on the outside of the store (except toilet paper...get that in the inside isle). Veggies, fish, meats, cheese, beer (ooops- skip that area), butter, eggs and heavy cream. That pretty much sums up about 90% of my meals. Enjoy your 4th of July BBQs and remember: burger, no bun, extra cheese, bacon, avocado, and a little sour cream- if you feel like getting crazy.
No one wants to look like a total freak when dining out with their friends, or worse yet, have to decline dinner invites. This was an issue that I was pretty worried about when I first sat in that room listening to the OFM presentation. As I mentioned in my first blog, I decided to take all these die-hard OFM teachers to my favorite restaurant for dinner and see what they ate. Clearly, I was not totally appalled as I started my new ORM life that day! For the past three months I have been living out of a hotel as I traveled for work (and a little pleasure, reference my last blog) so I have eaten nearly every meal in a restaurant. Here are a few tips to get you through your first OFM restaurant experiences.
Step 1) Do your research
Yesterday I had some free time and wanted to branch out from the very small town I have been in for the past month. So I got on the internet to see what interesting places to eat there were around me that might work well with OFM. If you are within driving distance of Amarillo, TX and type in steak in Google...this is what comes up.
We will get to more of that later. But, as a more normal example, I pulled up the menu for Chili's, which is a very common restaurant in a lot of the country, and picked out some menu items. Here are the items I identified before even leaving my hotel room, along with fat/carbs/protein grams.
Smoked Wing (no sauce) 31/14/55
Blue Cheese Dressing 29/1/1
Avocado Ranch 14/3/1
Cheddar Bites 68/13/24
Craft Beer Ribs 1/2 Rack 28/16/38
Steak Fajitas (no tortillas) 66/32/29
Extra Sour Cream 6/2/1
Real Butter=fatty goodness
These are not the only menu items that fit, and I probably wouldn't eat these all in one sitting (normally), but that gives me a good idea of what you might order before you even walk in the door. Or if you go to The Big Texan, it's pretty obvious that you should eat the 72oz steak.
Step 2) Don't make your order or diet a big deal
You already have a pretty good idea what you are going to order before you arrive and you have studied the menu quickly to see which one of those options looks good or if there is something you would rather have. Not sure how many carbs something has? Google it. If you type in "carbs in XXX" you will usually get the result on the first page.
Then when your server arrives you are ready to order that bacon cheese burger, no bun, add avocado, salad instead of fries, with a side of sour cream. If you are clear, confident, and don't ask a million questions, odds are your friends will hardly even notice. Or just hang out with vegan, gluten free, friends with nut allergies and you will be super normal!
Let's face it, there are some places this is easier than others. Italian restaurants can be tough, but if you have done your homework and don't make a big deal ordering it is not problem. It also becomes a problem when they put you on stage, by yourself, just because you want to have a small, OFM dinner.
Now you are all set to go dine out like a normal person. Just follow the 3 easy steps.
1) Do your research
2) Don't make your order or diet a big deal
3) Don't be afraid to leave those carbs untouched
Step 3) Don't be afraid to leave those carbs untouched
Even though you were totally prepared and ordered so clearly anyone could have understood, your burger still arrived with a bun and they forgot your sour cream. No problem, you are a professional. Just carefully remove that burger from the bun, making sure that you don't let any cheese get away and set the bun aside. Quietly re-request your side of sour cream and they will probably bring you extra since they forgot. Ideally your friends have a fat phobia and they give you all their fatty items they don't want with their giant dish of pasta and bread because they are 'eating healthy'.
I grew up cleaning my plate at every meal. And fortunately or unfortunately that has stuck with me through life. But I am learning to stop eating when I am full and not to be ashamed to leave those carbs untouched.
I know I have been slacking and I have lots of excuses you don't really want to hear about. But the one that is central to this blog, you are going to hear about. I was lucky enough to help the US 24 hour Running Team at the World Championships in Turin, Italy and ended up spending two weeks in Italy at the start of April. What does this have to do with OFM? A few of you might have guessed. Stick with me for a few paragraphs on this one...
For the first few days in Italy, I had some time by myself so I decide to get a room at an AirBnB out in the countryside and unplug for a few days. It turned out to be an awesome old house (like 1700s old) with a great small family. Going in to this trip my plan was to eat cheeses, meats, olives and all those great high fat/low carb Italian foods. That lasted right up until the Mom of the house invited me to join them for dinner. It smelled so amazing when they were cooking lunch earlier I could not say no. I did go to the store and got some great meats and cheeses so I was 'prepared'. What I was not prepared for was sitting down with an Italian version of my Grandmother. Needless to say I ate, ate, and ate some more. Every meal starts with pasta and ends with dessert, so you can now see where this is going.
Calzones I helped make Day 2
In my defense I did pretty well while at the house because I was able to go and run the hillsides and vineyards all morning while staying there. My stomach was not in a happy place eating all those carbs, but other than feeling over-full all the time, I wasn't really feeling the ill-effect (yet).
Since I was only there a few days, I hit up a 24 hour fast when I left and stuck to some OFM meals for the next few days through the World Championships (where Team USA rocked! Our ladies took home team gold and individual gold and silver; men took home team 4th). Then I had a full vacation to Cinque Terre lined up with my girlfriend, Traci Falbo, her husband Mike, and Coach Nippert and his wife Karen joined us for the first few days. I did pretty well the first meal but intentionally fell off the wagon for the next 6 days. I just couldn't see being in such a beautiful place and NOT experiencing all the food it had to offer.
I know this is not a travel blog...but seriously...how could I NOT eat pasta and bread here? Note the meat/cheese effort- other than the fact I destroyed that bread with our hand-made pesto!
Anyway what followed was days of pasta, bread, wine, gelato...you get the idea. The location was amazing, we had an amazing time, but I started to feel and see some serious ill effects of my sudden diet switch. Low energy, unhappy tummy, and I was getting 'fluffy' (fat). So how do you recover from something like this?
Keep in mind I have been on OFM solid for over 2 years, so usually my body snaps back pretty quick like it did after those two days in the countryside house. But after a solid week of pure sugar, my body was pissed. To get back on track, I fasted the flight home and the night I got home. Probably about a 30+ hour fast and I was hurting. My stomach, brain, everything was in serious sugar withdraw. Then I got back on the strict OFM diet and got the running shoes back on.
My first few runs were bad. You remember those first few runs when you started OFM? Couldn't breath, had no motivation, and lasted about 30 minutes total...the run was total of 30 min :( . But after about a week of struggling along, the running turned around and I probably had my first solid run today two weeks later. I'm still carrying a few extra lbs I picked up on the Italian coast, but I'm confident they will melt away over the next month if I keep at it.
That was a long story to get to a simple statement or two: If you have been OFM for a few months and have a sugar day, you will snap back pretty quickly after a fast and run. No matter how long you have been OFM it will take weeks and a lot of effort to recover from a week of ....
When I started this blog I was fairly certain that no one would read it. And positive no one would take on this lifestyle based off of my blog. Luckily I was wrong on both points, so I'll keep writing. Before getting into performance stuff this week, a few notes on comments I have received from some of you.
If you are a female starting this lifestyle, I suggest you listen to one or both of these podcasts. I'm not a female so you can find better info here:
Patience is key. Give this lifestyle one month and you should know by then if it is working for you or it is not. If your body composition and/or weight are improving in one month, keep at it. It is not for everyone, but you have to give it time and it will suck for a while.
Also, although I asked you to download myfitnesspal app, don't count calories. The app is for tracking percentages of fat, protein, and carbs not calories in this case. If you try to start this lifestyle at the same time you are limiting calories, your life is really going to suck.
Now onto performance. A few of you are getting into your third week on this plan and are starting to kick your training back up. I'm only going to discuss endurance training here and some limited strength training based on my own experiences. There are about 1,000 different opinions on this subject but I'm going to tell you what has worked for me and several others. I'll do this in question answer format to make it a little more simple.
Q: What do I eat before my workout?
A: I prefer to go into a long run with a fairly light stomach (I don't get hungry anymore, but this would be a hungry state prior to OFM). So I try to eat dinner late afternoon the day before my run. And I don't do a lot different at that meal. If I am going really long, over 4 hours, I will up my carb intake very slightly at that meal. Maybe a MAX of 100g carbs the day before and all those carbs are covered in fat (butter, sour cream, etc). I don't drink coffee either, unrelated to OFM, so I just have a few glasses of water before I start my run in the morning.
Q: What do I eat while I'm running?
A: So we started the run pretty well fasted. It makes me feel light and quick. Just before my run I'll have a VESPA JR (see below for discount code). Then I will run the first two hours with just water and S! Caps. After 2 hours your fat burning fire is going full speed and you have a little more flex on what you eat. I'll hit a VESPA concentrate every 2.5 hours after the start. Then I have best luck mixing in Generation UCAN (see resources page). UCAN is a super starch that provides you the benefits of carb energy without spiking your insulin. So you are getting the good without killing your fat burning fire.
Q: I can't survive on UCAN alone, what else can I eat?
A: After the first few hours, eat what you ate before on runs that you enjoyed. Don't be too concerned with carbs as they will be more additive than really hurt your fat burning once you have been running several hours. You are going to be eating A LOT less than you used to eating on your long runs, so you don't have to worry as much about getting an upset stomach. I do like cheese sticks, cashews, and bacon for some reason. I'll even carry a few gels incase I really need a kick (after you are fully adapted, a gel will give you a serious jumpstart for a few minutes).
Q: I'm getting really dehydrated, what's going on?
A: Remember all that water you peed out the first week you were on the diet? Your body doesn't have that anymore to use as a buffer when you screw up your hydration strategy. For me, this means drinking a lot more water than I was used to. It also means taking a lot more S!Caps than I used to. Just really stay on top of your hydration and don't get behind if you can help it. This is the one thing that put the hurting on me when I first started the diet.
Q: So this is good for running slow, what about speed work or strength work?
A: Someone told me, "You will know this diet is working when you get done with your speed work and you feel like you want to do more." I thought, no sh*t...because I hate speed work and usually feel like crap after. Although this is the slowest thing to come back after the transition, once fully adapted it improved at the same rate as my long slow runs. Same with strength training. I was CrossFitting when I started the diet, I ended up taking a few weeks off during my transition phase but then really enjoyed it after I was adapted and my energy levels were so much higher.
Q: What do I eat post-workout?
A: You are going to find that the more/longer you run or workout the more your hunger is suppressed. In fact you almost feel more full even though you have burned a ton of calories. So instead of killing that whole pizza and pitch of beer when you get done, you will probably just want to eat a regular OFM meal (be really strict on the carbs) or something a little smaller. It usually takes me about 2-3 hours to feel like eating and then it doesn't take too much to fill me up. If you are looking to lose some weight this is a great time to do it since you are not hungry anyway.
Hopefully this gets you down the road for a few runs. That first time that you run 4-6-8 hours on only water and salt AND you still have great energy you will be pretty excited. It's a moment when you think, why have I not done this before!
Well it appears my first blog struck a cord with quite a few people. I didn't even know 8 people read it, but I have had at least 8 friends tell me this past week that they are going to start the diet in the near future. And then they suggested I write a 'getting started' blog. I'm going to tell you some resources you can use, what to buy at the store, and why you will hate me the first week.
First a disclaimer- I'm not a Dr or dietitian or anything of the such. You can jump right into this just reading my blog and figure it out (odds are you will not die, but I not making any promises). But I would highly suggest reading at least The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance (see Resources page) before starting the diet. I see several of you have already ordered the book, which I made $.36 total off of for all 4 books ordered (it might take a while to make back the $100 invested in this site so far - but if it helps those 1 of you it's all worth it). The following are my thoughts/experiences only and I probably forgot a lot of shit. If you have something seriously wrong with your body then you might want to see a Dr before you change everything up.
In addition to buying AND READING the book (it's a quick read), I suggest you download MyFitnessPal on your iPhone or tablet or whatever you carry all the time. You are going to use this app to track your carbs/fat the first month or until you get confident in your carb counting ability. You can use anything to track your carbs/fat but that is what I used.
Now that you have the tools, you need some food. If you are serious you are going to purge your house of carbs, just like a recovering alcoholic gets rid of the booze when they quit. Don't worry all your carb eating friends will love the gifts of pasta, bread, and all that stuff. Just look at the labels, if they have more than about 20 carbs a serving, donate it. Then you are going to go to the grocery store and stock up for your first week. If you are vegetarian or vegan or some other special diet already, you are just going to have to figure it out. *Note: Yes veggies have carbs but you are still going to eat them. If you only eat meat and cheese- don't come crying to me if you don't poop for a week....or ever again.
So the point of this grocery list and those meals is taking you to the core of the plan. 1) Keep your total carbs for the day below 50 grams. 2) Get around 60-70% of your calories from fat. If you don't do anything else at all- do those two things! Now here is how your are going to make this happen.
You are going cold turkey. There is no in between where you gradually cut out the carbs. The day you start you are going to hit those two goals above and your are going to do that for a month straight. None of this cheat day stuff (for now). Although its going to be rough, there is science and stuff that says this is the best way.
The first few days your are not going to be happy with me. Sorry, it will get better. You are going to be tired, irritable, and generally feel like crap. Your body was addicted to sugar (carbs=sugar)-you are in sugar withdrawal you addict. The other thing that is going to happen is you are going to be peeing like you have been out drinking all night. This is your body getting rid of all the water stored with those carbs in your body. That initial water weight loss might be 5lbs, but it's only water.
If you are working out, you do need to cut that back a little. 25% workout effort the first week, 50% the second week, 75% the third week, then back to 100% the fourth week. Some people can do more, some less but that was a good guide for me. Also if you are working out remember to hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate. All that water you peed out, isn't there when you workout now. Also I'd suggest taking an S! Cap or salt supplement. This will limit your lightheadedness. If you are getting cramps, get some slow release magnesium (you can order this on the www.vespapower.com site).
When you get that craving for carbs (you will) have a cheese stick. Whatever you do, don't give up these first few weeks. I promise the reward at the end is worth it. This month I'm also going to ask you to give up booze for the most part. You can have your 50g carbs however you want (8 glasses dry red wine or 4 lite beers) but your body would appreciate it if you had those in the form of something with nutrition value instead. If you have to have a drink, you know to be social and stuff, I suggest vodka and soda with a lime. As time goes on you become super sensitive to sweets and you will find all that high sugar liquor/soda does not taste good anymore. (Except Guinness....that shit always tastes good!)
Here's the bottom line. Keep your carbs under 50g a day and start eating a ton of fat. You will feel gross, especially if you have been on one of the low-fat/be hungry diets. And you are probably going to feel like shit for a few days or weeks depending on how sugar addicted you are. This is the entry fee for a life where you enjoy eggs and bacon for breakfast, a ribeye for lunch, and some fatty beef ribs for dinner like I did today AND you lose weight AND you workout for hours with huge amount of energy. But we will get more into the benefits next blog...someone remind me when it's time to write that. Your comments are welcome (unless you are going to be an jerk). Especially comment if you just started on the diet!
As I watch people run around in circles for 24 hrs, something I actually enjoy, I thought I’d catch up on a well-overdue story. More than anything else I've ever done, I get questions about my weight loss journey. For years, my weight was right around 190 lbs, but around 4 years ago, it just started to sneak up a little at a time to peak around 230lbs. No matter how much I ran, it would only make me hungrier and make me want to eat more. I’ll be the first to admit I satisfied my hunger fully, and usually with pizza and beer. I’m not good at being hungry….to put it lightly! Being hungry is not fun! I could handle being hungry for a few days, maybe even a week, but in the end, a buffet or pizza would always be needed to satisfy my hunger. This continued until my flight suit was being pushed to the limits and I was struggling to run a 5K, let alone a 50-mile race.
Then, just after St. Patrick’s Day 2013, I got a note from Mike Morton that he was having some folks come to Ft. Bragg to talk about the diet he was on, and he invited me to attend. At that time, Mike was having an amazing run of winning the 24-hr World Championships and crushing 100-miler after 100-miler. But I respect Mike more for what he has done in the military than running and am always willing to consider his perspective. So I showed up for this presentation with a bunch of doctors getting ready to talk about a low-carb diet. In my mind, I was a carb-loading runner, so I sat wondering, “What do these guys know?” I listened to the presentation by Dr. Phinney, Dr. Volek and Peter Defty about changing my body from a carb-burner to a fat-burner, but was still in disbelief. And I wasn't the only one in the crowd. In the end, someone finally said they didn’t think it would work for ‘real’ military athletes. At that point Mike stated something like, “If I had known about this diet 10 years ago, I would have been on it then and would have been better at my job.” Like I said, I trust Mike. So I decided to spend the rest of the day with these folks and Mike. As we were touring the facilities we passed the DXA scanner (super precise body-fat measurement machine) and they proceeded to talk me into getting scanned and asked me to bring the results to dinner that night.
So for dinner I chose one of my favorite places just to see if I could eat like these ‘strange’ people. And I brought black and white proof of how obese I was (the DXA photo here is not mine, let's just say mine was much fatter). Turns out eating with these guys wasn’t so bad and after looking at my body fat (34.9%) I decided it couldn’t possible hurt me to try this for 2 months. So I stated I was starting the diet that night. Of course, Dr. Phinney asked if I had read their books, and I didn’t even know there were books. He handed me The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living and The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance and suggested I read them. I had the premise, cut my carbs to 50 grams a day and fill 60-70% of my calories with fat….easy day right?
Well, it is easy unless your diet up until that point had consisted basically of pizza (carbs), beer (carbs), pasta (carbs), and potatoes (carbs). Needless to say the transition was a little rough for my body. When I cut the carbs to 50 grams a day, it went into full on revolt. I didn’t want to get out of bed, I was falling asleep at work, and running was nearly impossible. This lasted about 2 weeks. At that point something strange began to happen. I started to have not just more energy, but more than I had two weeks prior. Within a month, I was running better than I ever had and was down over 10 lbs after my initial water weight loss (carbs hold a lot of water in your body so you lose that first 5lbs pretty quick). Something was happening and I kind of liked it. I was eating eggs and bacon in the morning, a salad with sour cream and cheese at lunch and then a dinner of ribeye and veggies in heavy cream, butter, and cheese. I was never hungry, eating full fatty food and losing weight....rewind the tape…..I was never hungry, eating full fat food and losing weight.
I went in for another DXA scan 43 days after my first humiliating scan. I had dropped 10 lbs of pure fat and was down to 32% body fat. On top of that, a few weeks later I completed a 40-mile mountain race in West Virginia (barely making the cutoff). My fat pants were starting to get loose and it was getting a lot easier to tie my shoes. Maybe there was something to this diet. A little concerned about my cholesterol levels due to the amount of saturated fat I had been consuming, I had a full profile done along with my annual physical in October (7 months after starting the diet). My triglycerides had dropped from 135-73, HDL went from 61-70, and VLDL had gone from 27-15. Not only were my numbers not getting worse, they were actually improving!
Later that summer, I made an attempt at the Leadville 100. While I fell short of completing it, I took almost 2 hours off of my 40-mile split, compared to my race in West Virginia in the spring. Why had someone not told me about this eating plan sooner? I gave up most of my beer and pizza but my performance was increasing rapidly, I was eating like a bear, I had more energy than I had ever had before and my blood work was improving. Of course at this point people started to really take note that I was thinning down. This is the only time when someone asking you if you are sick is actually a compliment! I was heathier than I had been in years!
In November 2013 (almost exactly 8 months after starting), I went in for another DXA. This time I was down 31 lbs of pure fat and my body fat was down to 24%. The best thing, I was weighing in under 190 lbs for the first time in a long time and could break out some clothes that I had not been able to fit in years. I even thought I saw an abdominal muscle one time when the light was just right! If I had not before, at this point I saw no reason to change something that was working so well. That fall I did the JFK 50-miler. After my failure at Leadville, I ran most of the race very conservatively. I only took in about 500-1000 calories during that race but my energy levels were high. With 4 miles left, I realized I could finish under the cut-off even if everything went to hell so I just started running as fast as I could. Turns out I could run pretty fast (for me) and I kept getting faster the more I ran. Now that I look for it, I see OFM athletes getting strong in comparison to high-carb athletes as races progress, but that was a first for me.
Now I am coming up on two years of low carb/high fat eating (and as any of my friends will tell you, I mean EATING!). I have not gone hungry since March of 2012 and don’t ever plan on it again. My weight has been as low as 180 lbs when I was running 70-mile weeks and as high as 190 lbs when I was running 0 miles per week for a few months. In the past two years, I have introduced dozens of normal people and athletes to this plan with great success. And although it certainly is not for everyone, it is for me!