Running on Fat: Self-experimentation 1.0

Today is day 1 of a self-experiment! I am going to attempt to move my fuelling system away from carbohydrates towards fats. Along the way, I hope to be able to get myself into periodic states of ketosis, and this is going to require some fairly drastic changes to my current diet and lifestyle. I will blog about what is going on over the next few of months, including how I am feeling, performing, and the challenges of adhering to this diet (such a dirty word). But why am I doing this? And how did I get here?

I consider myself to be an open minded person, and have never been one to shy away from trying something new. A lot of the podcasts I listen to cover various aspects of self-development / improvement, and many of these cross over with health and fitness.

Tim Ferris' podcast is one I listen to fairly regularly, and he is a big advocate of nutrition for performance. I had heard a bit on there about ketosis and fat-adaptation, but although it sounded interesting, I had not paid too much attention, particularly as the thought of leaving carbohydrate and sugar for someone who has been eating this way their whole life was quite inconvenient.

But over the last couple of years in Stockholm I have been running a lot with Travis, a fellow Australian from Perth. I have seen him go from strength to strength with his running, and more recently he has been fuelling himself with a high fat diet. He has been sharing information with me on the benefits of this way of eating over the last 6 months. I consumed it, I was intrigued, but I took no action.

A couple of weeks ago he ran his first marathon, which was actually an ultra marathon, called Sörmland Ultra Marathon (50 km). Prior to that he had been travelling with work so only managed one 30 km training run, which I thought was nowhere near enough to get him through. Not only did he finish, but many of his fastest splits were actually after 30 kms! He came home incredibly strong. Maybe Travis is an anomaly, or maybe he was able to tap into his fat stores because he was fat adapted.

From my own experience, over medium length endurance races and activities (2-5 hours), I often hit some kind of wall part way through. I need to pay very close attention to my carbohydrate intake, and often that means eating sugary gels and drinking sports drinks to try and keep me going. They don't make me feel very good. This has happened in marathons, Swimruns and triathlon.

So is there another way? There could be. I know eating high fat is not for everyone but could it work better for me? Off the back of watching Cereal Killers and Running on Fat, two documentaries by Donal O'Neill, I feel inspired to try this out. I know it is going to be difficult, both at home and out. As of now when I am on the move around the city, which I am constantly, my go to snack/meal would be a wrap or sandwich and a banana. And of course I love sugar, like most people I am quite addicted.

But going into this experiment my main concerns are:

1. Will I lose weight? I don't want to. I only weigh 60 kgs so if I lose weight there will be nothing left of me. Many people use a LCHF diet for weight loss, so I am going to need to pay attention to that.

2. Is this going to be a massive pain in the backside from a lifestyle perspective / will I become the most boring person ever. My girlfriend is vegan so recently we have been eating a lot of carbohydrates and grains, now we are going to have to eat separately. And eating high fat outside the house will also take some planning. And who wants to have a vegan and a LCHF person over for dinner? Um no one, obviously! So social dinners with friends, what happens there? Restaurant meals? And beer and wine :(

3. Are there going to be any other negative health consequences? And the uncertainty around knowing about this. Even though I do not track what high carbohydrates are doing to me on the inside, it feels uncomfortable to change how you have always eaten. I am looking into options for tracking my blood profile, but will likely need some medical input.

But I just did my first shop, which included - salmon, avocado, macadamia nuts, almonds, cream, eggs, a lot of eggs, spinach, tomato, mushroom, frozen berries. This is the sort of food I'll be eating going forward. 

Keto dinner.jpeg

And I decided I can do a maximum repetition push up test every morning, to very unscientifically test strength over time. Today was 30 push ups.

As with any new idea I am starting this with enthusiasm, but have no doubt it is going to be tough adhering to it. Let's see where this goes!

Happy running,

Dan