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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Back to Group Power

Woke up at 5, had coffee with cream, and headed to the pool. I packed a whole milk greek yogurt mixed with a tbsp. of coconut oil. Ate it after practice before heading over to gym #2 for Group Power, a one-hour class that uses a step, a bar, free weights, and body weight exercises for a full-body workout lead by an instructor. I have been going to Group Power for years but stopped after my concussion last summer because I could not tolerate being in a fluorescent-lit room with mirrors and shiny things.

Actually, the room still bothers me. Today I just used light weights. I am pretty sure if I hadn’t eaten the yogurt I would have bonked in class. I was a little woozy at the end but I think it was my head. I should take my concussion meds before class; I didn't today and that was a bad idea.

When left to my own devices in the gym I tend to do a good job with swim specific strength workouts (shoulders, back, arms) but I never find time for the exercises I don't like as much (chest, legs). What I like about Group Power is that I get in a passable full-body workout in an hour.

As a triathlete I only have time for two strength training sessions per week. I don’t know if it’s being back on this low carb diet but lately I have been fantasizing about hiring a trainer and going hard in the gym again.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

low carb - lower blood pressure

So thankful - my husband’s blood pressure is now 120/80 (highest: 152/120 !!). I credit his low carb diet. Even with medication he had high bp. While I can’t say for certain it was dietary changes that caused his bp to return to normal, there have been no other significant lifestyle changes.

Oh, and since starting a few weeks ago, he's lost 7 lbs. F you male chromosome!!! I mean, nice job, honey.

A little research turned up a compelling study. “Weight and Metabolic Outcomes After 2 Years on a Low-Carbohydrate Versus Low-Fat Diet”1 is a two-year randomized trial that found that participants in either a low carb or a low fat diet lost a similar amount of weight, but cardiovascular risk factors were markedly reduced on the low carb diet. Unfortunately, for my husband a diet is just a means to an end – he’ll go back to eating the standard American diet (SAD). Very sad.

1. Foster GD, Wyatt HR, Hill JO, et al. Weight and metabolic outcomes after 2 years on a low-carbohydrate versus low-fat diet: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2010;153(3):147–157.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

let go

Had an ounce of cream cheese and a tablespoon of peanut butter with my coffee + cream this a.m. and made it through yoga immediately followed by a short but brisk pool set with no energy slump. On a high carb diet I would have had two slices of Ezekial bread with Earth Balance and coffee with soymilk. I would get through my workouts, but I would be starving afterwards. Today I am trying to convince myself to eat a little more post-workout; I am just not hungry.

In other news… I am a bit of a control freak. Okay, I am a major control freak My swim relay team was corresponding recently about kayakers. And now that I think about it, 28.5 miles is a really long way to kayak! One of our swimmers said that sometimes kayakers DNF. Add yet another variable to my list: weather, waves, currents, other team members, boat support…..

This swim relay is good for me mentally: LET GO. And now, breakfast.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dinner for breakfast

More often than not I have been having dinner for breakfast. Not just a big breakfast, but dinner food for breakfast. For example, recently I had this:

5 a.m. (before going to the pool)

  • coffee with cream

    8:30 a.m. “brinner” (breakfast/dinner)

  • grass-fed highfalutin rib eye steak, broiled
  • huge mixed green salad with Bragg’s vinaigrette.

    (I wasn’t hungry for lunch. I had some chia fresca at noon.)

    3:30 p.m. snack

  • aged gouda cheese
  • salted almonds
  • grape tomatoes
  • coffee with cream

    7 p.m. dinner

  • green smoothie

    Total:1800 cal, 10 g carb (fiber subtracted), 130 g fat, 120 g pro

  • Sunday, January 27, 2013

    Relay training insight

    I’m excited!

    This morning’s workout: Bikram back-to-back with masters.

    In yoga I had an insight about how to train for the Manhattan Island Relays. I have been wondering how I will hold up sitting on a hot boat interspersed with hard-effort swimming over 8 hours. Then it hit me:

    When my training peaks for the Relays I can do a couple of big training days where I go to hot yoga at 6 am, then swim for an hour, then hot yoga at 9:30 am, and then swim for an hour. This will approximate how it will feel to sit on a hot boat then have to swim.

    Bikram/swim is perfect for practicing swimming dehydrated and a bit tired. I had some Nuun after yoga (2 tablets dissolved into a large bottle of smart water) and four of my Bento Box Balls. Yesterday I had two balls and wished for more, but four balls today were too many: I am going to stick with three going forward. However, I had plenty of energy from breakfast at 6 a.m. to lunch at noon.

    Saturday, January 26, 2013

    Balls: take one

    This morning: Bikram + 1.5 hour spin session back-to-back.

    Key screw up today: forgot my salt. On a ketogenic diet salt is key for surviving hard workouts. On a high carb diet, too much salt is contraindicated. On a low carb diet, the opposite is true.

    Early a.m. I had a huge glass of water, whole milk greek yogurt (so good), and coffee with cream. But no salt. Boo.

    Bikram is not your typical yoga. The studio where I practice is usually around 110-115 degrees, and the class is 90 minutes of intense postures. It’s a workout. It’s no century ride, obviously, but my clothes and towel are soaking wet by the end.

    Rushed to get to spin class after yoga. Didn’t eat or drink anything until I got my bike set up. Went through an entire 24 ounce bottle of water during the warm up and ate two of my newest invention: bento box balls (see yesterday’s entry). Tasty, tasty balls! I wished I had brought more. Also I was pleased they held up well in my gym bag.

    After class I had a LC granola bar and a cup of coffee. I was not particularly hungry and didn't feel awful. But I think I would've felt better if I had remembered to take salt and had a few extra balls. Tomorrow I will test this theory.

    Friday, January 25, 2013

    bento box balls

    Years ago I used to make “Great Balls of Protein”: equal part protein powder and peanut butter, rolled in something low carb (unsweetened cocoa, sesame seeds, etc). I think the idea came from Dana Carpenter originally.

    I have decided to work on a variation of these to take with me on long rides. Here’s my first attempt.

    • 2 tbsp coconut oil
    • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
    • 1/4 cup vanilla whey protein powder (I like the Whole Foods generic brand)
    • 1 tsp chia seeds
    Combine all, mix well, roll into balls. This made 6.
    Approx. 90 cal, 1 g carb, 8 g fat, 4 g pro per ball.

    These are a little too oily I think. I am debating between trying 1 tbsp coconut oil with 3 tbsp peanut butter or adding more protein powder. When I find unsweetened coconut flakes I will try rolling in that to help them keep their shape.

    I have a couple of back-to-back workouts scheduled this weekend. I’ll see how my stomach likes these balls. It will be a while before I can test how they hold up in the heat but if anyone in a warmer climate tries them please let me know. Hopefully they won’t get Shweddy.

    Thursday, January 24, 2013

    no sugar

    I have been catching up on my reading about ketogenic diets since I missed the last 10 years or so. Currently I am reading Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease by Dr Robert Lustig. This guy is no shill for a low carb (or any) diet. He says a low fat diet or a low carb diet can both be effective; the problem is mixing fat and sugar. He sticks closely to the science and interweaves stories from his pediatric medical practice. The book is fascinating.

    Dr. Lustig has a 1.5 hour video of a lecture on sugar that has > 3.2 million youtube views. Staggering if you think about it: it's just some guy talking, no surfing dogs or medicated kids, the usual youtube fare. If you haven't watched it, it's worth your time.

    I am firmly convinced that refined sugar is bad. Very very bad. I think about the zillions of Gu packets and ounces of Gatorade I consumed during my triathlon training in the past. No wonder I was always hungry and struggled to control my weight. I need to find something high fat, low carb, and portable to go in my bento box on long rides, gels and sugary bars are out.

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

    sneak your veggies

    The only vegetables my husband likes are: 1. salad (lettuce, tomatoes, dressing = “salad”); 2. asparagus; 3. broccoli; and, 4. spinach. Honestly #2 -4 are mainly a conduit for salt and olive oil. Recently he was away for four days and he had only two servings of veggies the entire time he was gone.

    Over the next few weeks I am going to try to sneak more vegetables into his diet. Eating a high fat diet opens up the possibility of hiding things in a creamy soup or casserole. For example, last night I made pasta-less spinach lasagna -- same steps as traditional lasagna but skip the pasta layers. I wonder if I could have snuck a few more vegetables in there unnoticed. There is a zucchini casserole recipe I want to try but I am not sure that I convince him to eat zucchini even if I bury it in dairy.

    The irony is our son is thrilled if I serve grilled tofu and veggies over a huge salad for dinner, while my husband will look at his plate with the dejected face of a sad boy. I am on a mission to get him to eat more veggies, even if there is some trickery involved.

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013


    Training for endurance events sucks up a lot of time. I have noticed one area where I get some of that time back.

    There is nothing I will eat from the center of the store. Occasionally I dart in for coffee or condiments. The rest of it I have no use for. This has greatly streamlined my shopping trips. So while I have to go to the store a lot since unprocessed food have a short shelf life, no one trip takes long. Produce, seafood, dairy, out.

    I was at the store yesterday with my 13-year-old son who reminded me of this: “hey mom, remember when I was younger and I’d ask you to buy me junky food. You always said, ‘if you can read me the ingredients list you can have it,’ but there was no way I could pronounce the names of the crazy chemicals. That was pretty clever!” This is still a good policy to live by, regardless of what diet one follows.

    Monday, January 21, 2013


    I remember from the Atkins program years ago there are periods when weight loss stalls. I am in one now; it’s been about two weeks since I noticed any change on the scale. It’s a little different this time around because I am not unhappy with how I look/feel at the weight I am now. And it’s only January. I have until May.

    With that said, it would be nice to get out of this slump. Coconut oil is fantastic but it elevates ketones. I think it is causing me to register on the ketosticks when perhaps I am not in dietary ketosis (burning fat for fuel). I am going to cut back on coconut oil for a few days to see if the readings change.

    I am not hungry so something is working right with my diet. Appetite control is the main advantage of a high fat/low carb diet. Swimming used to make me ravenous; I have come home from several hard workouts feeling great.

    I have not bonked in a workout, although it is still off-season and I am not doing anything long yet. Not being hungry and not bonking outweigh (!) weight loss on my priority list at the moment. As I start running more to prep for the half marathon this will change. I only have so many miles left on this ankle so I want to give it every advantage possible.

    Sunday, January 20, 2013

    high fat green smoothie

    “What is in that?” is a question I get a lot.

    Here's exactly how I make my favorite smoothie.

    • 1 cup water
    • .25 cup heavy cream
    • .5 tbsp coconut oil
    • 5 – 6 ice cubes
    • 1 tbsp peanut butter
    • 2 scoops Whole Foods 365 Vanilla Whey Protein Powder
    • 1 tbsp chia seeds
    • 1 tsp L-glutamine
    • 2 – 3 cups spinach (I don’t measure, just pack in a bunch of spinach)
    I have a vitamix (best blender ever) that completely pulverizes this into a delicious green drink.
    total: 560 calories, 6g carb (fiber subtracted), 41g fat, 39g pro

    I won’t be hungry for hours and hours and hours after this, including getting through my morning workout(s).

    For early mornings, I pre-measure the dry ingredients (everything after ice cubes) into a container and keep in the fridge overnight. When I am half asleep at 5 a.m. I all I have to do is dump it in the blender.

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

    in the closet

    I have been interacting recently with other athletes who are also eating a high fat/ low carb diet. It’s interesting to me how many of them are “closeted” about it. Our high-carb culture is so ingrained (!) that not eating carbs is anathema, particularly among athletes.

    I have never been particularly good at being closeted about anything. So guess what? There is both heavy cream and coconut oil in my green smoothie, and I am drinking it! If you don’t like it, then don’t drink one. But no one can tell me that cutting carbohydrates doesn’t improve my health. It may not be for everyone, but it works for me.

    Will I be able to fuel my athletic endeavors? That’s what this blog is (mostly) about. Tim Olson, a ketogenic ultra runner, won Western States. But so did Scott Jurek, a vegan ultra runner. But Jurek and Olson both have one thing in common: neither eats high-fructose corn syrup, white sugar, or white flour. Frankly, I am pretty sure that stuff is toxic.

    Friday, January 18, 2013

    cuckoo for coconut (oil)

    Coconut oil seems to have finally caught on. People in the high fat/low carb community have always sworn by it. I remember using it 10 years ago. It's mostly medium chain triglycerides, which purportedly have a wide range of health benefits. The one that I have noticed personally is it’s ability to blunt appetite.

    I am not very hungry on a ketogenic diet but I still get the “stress munchies”. The link between the stress hormone cortisol and hunger is an unfortunate reality. I snack to take a break from working, particularly in the afternoon. School and work is back on in full force, so this could be a problem. Adding just one teaspoon of coconut oil to my smoothie at lunch seems to have cured it.

    Coconut oil is great for cooking (mmmm, tofu). I have been using it liberally on my scars as they heal. It’s good for dry skin. It’s good for my hair. It’s a good eye make up remover. Heck, it’s better than New Shimmer.

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    things we tell ourselves

    I have a friend who has been very down on herself lately with remarks like “I suck” or “I’ll never get better.” This had made me question what I tell myself and how it effects my performance.

    Also I read something recently that suggested you ask your partner, “what part of me do you think is sexiest?” rather than “do you think I look fat?” Personally I haven’t tried it, but it stuck in my head. A change in perspective can have a markedly different result.

    I remember passing the 10k mark in a half marathon, complaining to myself that swimming that far would be easier. The quality of my thinking deteriorated in the next miles. I had failed at the race even though I was still running it. I mentally DNF’d even though I still crossed the finish line.

    This season I am going to try to mentally and physically finish my events. I like this quote from Dean Karnazes:

    “Unless you're not pushing yourself, you're not living to the fullest. You can't be afraid to fail, but unless you fail, you haven't pushed hard enough."

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

    no fair, boys!

    What is it about the Y chromosome that makes men so much better at losing weight? Aren’t the higher pay and promotion rates enough for you guys? My husband decided to follow the same program as me through his running season this year. In 7 days he has lost 4 pounds. As of last October I’ve lost 12. W.T.F.?

    In general he is doing fine but a bit complain-y; he misses his carbs. He had one bad run last Saturday where he tired quickly and had to walk early on. However things seem to have turned around for him already. This week he went out for a brisk run and felt strong.

    I suggested to a friend that more salt might help her adjust to a ketogenic diet. This worked for her as it did for me. I might have suggested the same to my husband but he already “foods his salt” rather than the other way around. Oftentimes he me makes me salt that’s shaped just like veggies, but I'm lucky he’ll cook.

    We both have the same goal but he’ll get there 3x as fast. I thought maybe now that we’re older the metabolic playing field would be more equal, but nooooo. The last time he went on a serious diet he got down to 6% body fat. We’ll see what this time around brings.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013


    Having tried meat lately, I still prefer tofu. Eating meat for dinner weighs me down for my morning workout. Meat sweats = awful.

    Here’s an easy & delicious way to prepare tofu. Drain 1 block of extra firm organic tofu. Wrap in a clean dishtowel; the more water that comes out, the better. Cut in half lengthwise, then cut into even-sized blocks (3 columns and 4 rows).

    Heat several tablespoons of coconut oil in a wok on high heart. Coconut oil is amazing. Cook in two batches so you don’t crowd the wok. Leave them alone for at least 3-4 minutes. The tofu will turn golden. Flip and repeat on the other side. Drain on a paper bag.

    There are endless possibilities for how to flavor the cooked cubes. Like chicken wings, but without the chicken. I think they are great with just some course ground salt and pepper on them, served on a salad – like croutons. My son loves them thrown back into a dry wok with some stirfry sauce.

    Half of a block of extra firm tofu has 200 calories, 10 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of carbs (subtracting the fiber), and 20 grams of protein. I count an extra 120 calories and 14 grams of fat for frying in oil, an overestimate given how much oil is left in the pan. Since a ketogenic diet is supposed to be high fat and moderate protein, fried tofu is perfect.

    I got my son bacon vs tofu action figures last year. Tofu wins!

    Monday, January 14, 2013


    For the first time in a while I got extremely dizzy in the pool this morning.

    My nutrition yesterday was on the low side. 1470 cal, 35g carb (not counting fiber), 104g fat, 74g pro. Not on purpose, I am just not hungry on a ketogenic diet. My only workout yesterday was yoga so I didn’t need much to keep me going.

    This morning I had coffee with cream before practice, same as always.

    This was my first long course workout in months (50 meters rather than 25 yards). And I was keeping pace with a slightly faster group. It was a vigorous workout for me, so that easily could have played a role.

    As I have mentioned before in this blog, the problem with experimenting on myself is the lack of a comparison group. I struggle with dizziness with my head injury. I am recovering from a surgery so I have lost fitness. Unfortunately, my baseline is a bit of a mess.

    I’ll try to be more vigilant about hitting my calorie goal of no less than 1800. I am losing weight very slowly on purpose. A few winters ago I dropped weight too quickly and gained it back too easily.

    I felt like dizzy kid today in the pool. Dizzzzzzayyyyy!

    Sunday, January 13, 2013

    time lost & found

    People who claim, “I don’t have time to workout,” irritate me. Even single moms and Barak Obama still find time to workout.

    I have a family. I have a more-than-fulltime job. I am working on my terminal degree. And I am slow, so my workouts take longer than those of my faster friends.

    Lately I have been thinking about the 1650, coming up March 3rd. Oh how I despise swimming the 1650, yet I do it every year. I am not a sprinter. After repeatedly observing my frustrated efforts in the pool, my swim coach suggested that perhaps I lack fast twitch muscles. We are born with a set amount. I can’t will more into existence no matter how hard I try.

    Adding to my woes are the weeks I spent out of the water recovering from surgery. I lost 10 precious seconds off my 100 time. I have no idea if I can find them again. Seven weeks to go.

    Tomorrow morning my alarm will go off at 5. I have to find the time.

    Saturday, January 12, 2013

    Ucan ride!

    60-degree weather in January in Pittsburgh means one thing: bike riding!

    I slept in until 8:30 a.m., then had a big breakfast: Whole-milk greek yogurt with raspberries, scrambled eggs with cream cheese, coffee with cream (500 cal).

    I made sure to drink plenty of water all morning so I would be well-hydrated.

    At noon I had a protein shake made with a vanilla Generation UCan packet, a small splash of cream, a cup of water, and ice. 230 cal. I took two Salt Stick Caps as a precaution. Afterwards I headed out.

    I brought a water bottle with Nuun on the bike and I stuck an Atkins protein bar (which I didn’t need) in my jersey pocket. I took my heavy commuter bike and planned to ride a relaxed pace. The group I was with headed down a trail that still had snow and ice on it so I broke away and headed back solo at a bit of a faster pace. While the ride wasn’t long (just shy of 30 miles) but also it wasn’t flat.

    I drank all of my Nuun water but I never needed food. My energy level was constant. When I got home I had a piece of baked organic chicken skin-on, a handful of raw spinach that I just munched straight (nom nom nom), and a big glass of water. (300 cal)

    The vanilla Ucan is much better than the chalky Cranraz. Also it has 13 grams of protein in addition to the superstarch, “a complex carbohydrate (derived from a unique, non-GMO grain) that stabilizes blood sugar and causes virtually no reaction from the fat-storing hormone insulin” (source). I am still in Ketosis so it seems to work as advertised.

    I used to get home from a bike ride and feel ravenous. I don’t miss this.

    Friday, January 11, 2013

    Confounding concussion

    Last April I sustained a severe concussion that knocked me out of the game for the rest of 2012. I was not allowed to elevate my heart rate during exercise. I had to miss a lot of work and school. I simply could not think.

    Recently my doctor told me I am mostly better but cautioned not to overdo it. Unfortunately with my job (that I love) that’s not possible. Side effects of my concussion are: crippling headaches; inability to concentrate or retain information; feeling very emotional; and, getting seasick while on land (like in a Target or Costco).

    Yesterday was not unusual except that I went back to class (taking not teaching, I do both). At first I felt fine. The professor went over the syllabus, blah blah. Still fine. He gave an hour-long overview. My head started throbbing a little. Next thing I know he is glossing over material I don’t understand. I can no longer focus. By the end of the 2.75-hour class I was in hell.

    This is the same brand of headache I’ve had for months. I am almost positive it is not diet or exercise related. But the problem with experimenting on myself is that I don’t have a comparison group. My brain running on ketones should function better than before.

    The concussion? I hit my head. In my bedroom. While plugging in an iPhone. My bad ankle gave out and I fell.

    More yoga.

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

    beef curious: update

    When I cut carbs I realized that meat could add some much-needed variety to my diet. After a four-year hiatus, I tried it again. I do not want to eat something that spent its entire life crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in a filthy facility, knee deep in manure. So I went the extra mile to find good meat. Total cost: $30 for three items. I quipped to a friend that it is probably cheaper to do blow.

    #1) ground beef (90/10). This came in a vacuumed sealed package with a bulleted list of all of the qualities I was looking for printed right on it, so I went for it. I cooked up a large patty and put it on a salad. My only comment to my husband was it tasted just like a Gardein veggie burger. About three hours later I felt like I had a rock in my stomach. The next morning at yoga I still felt heavy in spite of the scale showing a 1 lb loss.

    #2) bacon. What is the big deal about bacon? Newsflash: bacon is gross. I bought Niman Ranch uncured natural fancy-pants bacon -- $7 for a package of 6 slices (not joking). I had three slices on a salad at dinner. It tasted like oily salty “fakin”. Almost immediately I felt greasy and horrible. The house reeked like bacon; I could not get away from the stench. The next morning I had the pork sweats in yoga. I could not get the image of Porky Pig in his little cropped jacket out of my head. My husband said it was the best bacon ever.

    #3) chicken. I roasted an organic free-range pampered chicken on the first night of my husband’s diet. It was the first meat I tried that bore no relation to a vegetarian counterpart. It didn’t make me feel gross or weighted down. But I am sure as heck not eating the dirty chicken that comes off a Sysco truck. So until our son becomes the next Tim Burton, expensive fancy chicken is a “sometimes” food.

    Tofu is delicious.

    edited to add: this wasn't all in one day! I tried beef about a week before I tried bacon.

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

    My husband joins me, n=2

    My husband C is training for the Pittsburgh Marathon May 6th. He plans to tackle some ultra trail runs this year too. He wants to lose some weight, so he has decided (without cajoling from me) to join me in this little experiment.

    The big difference between us is that even when I was eating a high carb diet the carbohydrates came mostly from whole grains, beans, and fruit, not a lot of refined flours or sugars. My husband loves crap: fried chicken, McDonalds, white bread, popcorn, soda, etc. He doesn’t indulge often, but he likes his junk food. I got to yoga early this morning to not be home when he made his coffee without the usual pile of sugar.

    C and I have been a happy couple since 1995; we have our system down. When he goes on a diet, I write it and post it on the fridge. When he needs a training plan, I write it and post it on the fridge -- although for big ultras I farm this job out to our friend with more expertise. So now I need to figure out how we both are going to eat and train.

    And while my sample size doubled, my challenge quadrupled, because there is no way C will eat a chia seed, he turned his nose up at stevia, he is repulsed by green smoothies, he calls vegetables “rabbit food”… In the past he would stash KitKats on the trail to get him through his long runs. This year, well, it ain’t going to be easy (for me). ha!

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

    Sodium vs the Atkins flu

    A lot of people think weight lost on Atkins is just water. If that’s true I’ve lost over 12 gallons. It is true that restricting carbs has a diuretic effect. As a result you can feel lousy when you first start. This is referred to as the “Atkins flu”.

    When I started this last October I could not afford to spend the first week feeling like crap. I was scheduled for surgery the following month and planned to pack in as many activities as possible. A little research turned up that sodium supplementation could stave off the Atkins flu.

    Most sites I read suggested drinking a cup of bouillon daily. Um, gross, that was not happening. Bouillon cubes contain about 1200mg of sodium. A teaspoon of table salt has 2300mg. And it just so happens that garlic salt is my husband’s favorite “spice” so I use it often. Not a teaspoon all at once (!), but we salt our food.

    Many athletes take sodium supplements before, during and/or after a big workout. Salt Stick Caps are my favorite. They have 215mg sodium, 63mg potassium, 11mg magnesium, and 22mg calcium. Plus I use Nuun as my sports drink. Each tablet has 360mg sodium, 100mg potassium, 25mg magnesium, and 13mg calcium

    As soon as I started restricting my carbohydrate intake I took a Salt Cap at breakfast. I salted my food as usual. I never caught the “Atkins flu”. I’d take salt before and after a long swim or ride, plus have some Nuun. After the first week I stopped supplementing with the salt capsule in the morning. I felt fine.

    There will be a learning curve figuring out how much salt I need on long hot rides this summer. I have a Salt Cap dispenser I hook onto my bento box on my bike that looks like the worm from Dune when it gives forth a caplet. It makes sharing fun too, especially when I add grunting sound effects.

    Monday, January 7, 2013


    Sunday a.m. I went to yoga then masters swimming. Had to get out of masters early because I kept crashing into the lane lines where I am still recovering from surgery (ouch!). This pool is black-lined for 7 lanes but rope-lined for 8, so it’s tight. Plus there are usually 4 people in a lane. It’s good practice for the chaos of open water racing at least. The pool I swim in on Mondays/Thursdays is huge and has regular lanes. This morning’s swim went much better.

    I brought Chia Fresca with me to the pool on Sunday. I first read about it in Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run (highly recommended). I make mine unsweetened like this:

    Put a couple of handfuls of ice in a 1 liter Nalgene bottle (BPA free). Add 1 Tbsp whole chia seeds and a small lime cut in quarters and squeezed. Fill with filtered water. Shake vigorously. You need a bottle with a lid since you have to shake often to stir up the chia seeds. The longer they soak the softer (and yummier) they get.

    Chia seeds are high in fiber, calcium, protein, and have more omega-3s than salmon. Bananas are out on a low carb diet, but chia seeds are high in potassium. And yes, they are the same seeds used for these.

    Luckily you don’t need to buy the whole pet; you can get chia seeds at most good grocery stores these days, even Costco.

    Saturday, January 5, 2013

    first 3 hour workout

    Made it through two 90-minute back-to-back workouts with zero nutrition issues this morning. Here’s how it went.
    • 6:30 am 1 cup greek yogurt, berries, coffee with heavy cream.
    • 7:30 am Bikram yoga, and I really went for it in yoga this a.m.
    • 9:00 am just water with Nuun after yoga.
    • 9:30 am spin class designed for cyclists. I had one serving of Generation UCan (more on this below) plus lots of water with Nuun during class - approx 100 oz of fluids. But I had just sweated my ass off in yoga.
    • 11:00 am not even a little hungry. Drank an EAS low-carb protein shake (100 cal, 17 g pro) since I try to take in some protein after a hard workout.
    Went to lunch after spin with a friend. Had scrambled eggs with cream cheese and coffee. Wasn’t hungry but knew I should eat. No GI problems at all. No fatigue other than my arms and legs were tired towards the end of spin class.

    Granted yoga + spin is no 112 mile bike + marathon but I am pleased with this morning’s test run.

    So Generation UCan, what is it? Dr. Peter Attia gives the best explanation I have read here. It’s a super starch that does not impact insulin (therefore does not effect fat metabolism). I used a ketostick this afternoon – still pink. I am planning on using UCan to get through my high volume training. The bad news is it tastes awful – like licking a chalkboard with a piece of fruit candy in your mouth. I mean really licking it, maybe sucking the eraser when you’re done. I know how I felt about Gatorade after Ironman FL. I probably won’t be able to even look at a chalkboard after this season. Unfortunately I’m a teacher.

    I used the Cran-Raz UCan today because it’s sweetened with Stevia and I try to avoid artificial sweeteners, but I am going to branch out and give the other flavors a try. Honestly, they cannot be any worse. "UCan barely choke it down."

    This workout was awesome. I think yoga+spin is my new Saturday morning until the weather warms up.

    Friday, January 4, 2013

    high fat/ low carb meal plan

    Here’s a typical meal plan given my light off-season training schedule. I am rarely hungry and oftentimes have to remind myself to eat. This only happens when I am in ketosis, otherwise I am like Chris Farley in the french fry SNL skit: “lay off me I am starving!”

    Breakfast: whole fat greek yogurt, blackberries, coffee with heavy cream. There is a theory that yogurt has fewer carbs than what is listed on the label.

    Lunch: green protein smoothie – spinach, protein powder, water, heavy cream, almond butter, chia seeds, l-glutamine powder, and ice, blended in a Vitamix.

    Snacks: mixed nuts, Brie cheese.

    Dinner: wild Alaskan salmon cooked with butter, huge mixed green salad with dressing, roasted broccoli.

    I drink a lot of water, adding Nuun during or after exercise. Nuun is amazing, particularly after hot yoga.

    Total (approximate): 1800 calories, 30 g net carb (fiber subtracted), 140 g fat, 110 g protein.

    It’s not remarkable that a person my size loses weight while exercising and eating less than 2000 calories/day. For me, the bonus in not eating sugars or grains is no hunger and no energy swings. And, of course, the hypothesis I am testing: will I not “hit the wall” as long as my body is metabolizing fat for fuel. Two back-to-back 90 minute workouts planned for tomorrow morning ....

    Thursday, January 3, 2013

    typical Jan training

    A little more background on this experiment:

    The theory of eating a low carb diet as an athlete is that once you switch your metabolism to fat burning you have a huge energy source, since even thin people can store more calories as fat than glucose. I could probably make it to the moon and back on one thigh.

    Right now I am eating between 1800-2000 calories a day: 75% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbs. I use to track my food intake. Since I started this in October my clothes are fitting better and I feel good. I eat a pescetarian diet but I am "beef curious" provided I can find meat that isn't filled with feces and fingertips.

    I know there are people who will read 75% fat and start planning my funeral. When I was on the Atkins program years ago I had a friend who ran an Ornish program at a hospital who was determined I was going to keel over any second. When I showed him my blood work he couldn't believe it. I will continue to monitor my progress with a doctor as anyone should.

    I am recovering from a surgery so I am starting at zero, having taken most of November and December off. My weekly workouts in January will be something like this:

    • 3-4 swims (short, btwn 2500-3500 yds ea)
    • ~ 4 x Bikram yoga
    • 2 x strength training
    • at least one long trainer ride (mostly zone 2)
    Also I prefer to ride my bike places whenever possible if the roads aren't crappy so I get in some "bonus" training there. It helps that we live on a hill.

    No bonking yet. And no insatiable hunger, which used to plague me, particularly after swimming.

    Wednesday, January 2, 2013

    here we go....

    So what's the point of this blog? Ten years ago I lost 100 lbs on the Atkins program and I've kept it off fairly successfully, in spite of going back to carbs for fuel. However, a few pounds crept back on after I tore my PT tendon and I struggled to lose the weight. Oct 1, 2012 I went back to eating low carb, having had enough of the constant hunger and constant failure of dieting. I did some research and found out that it is possible to eat low carb and be an endurance athlete. I decided to give it a shot. This blog is my diary of this experiment. I have no idea how it will turn out.

    The irony here is that I am not fast, regardless of my diet. I am an average cyclist, an average swimmer for a triathlete, and a terrible runner. But I genuinely enjoy moving slowly towards a finish line. A lot of my friends would rather die than walk one step of a marathon and they happily pee all over their bikes to avoid stopping at a port-o. All the more power to 'em, but that's not me.

    My "A" goal this year is joining a 4-person team for the Manhattan Island Marathon Relays on August 10th. Since hearing that our team was admitted I have divided 28.5 by 4 numerous times. It's still a lot of swimming. Plus a lot of waiting on the boat/swimming/waiting/swimming/waiting... for possibly 8-9 hours. Preparing for this will be tricky.

    My "B" goal this year is the iron distance race at Rev3 Cedar Point September 7th. In 2008 I finished Ironman Florida. In 2010 I signed up for Rev3 but I have been continually derailed by injury. The biggest obstacle is a torn PT tendon in my left ankle. It is caused by my foot being off-kilter (genetics) and requires major surgery to fix. However, I am a crap runner anyway. If I can manage a shuffle off the bike I'll be happy.

    Spent some time today working on the first draft of my training schedule. Since October I have done some longer stuff (5k swims, 40-50 mile rides) in ketosis and had no problems. But will I be able to train hard without carbs???