Wednesday, 4 June 2014

LCHF and the Race to Rhodes.

6 months ago I adopted the low carb high fat (LCHF) lifestyle as advocated locally by Tim Noakes. I am keen to see how it plays out on the race. Since switching my eating habits I have shed 14 kg's in weight and reduced my girth by 10 cm's. I have kept records of my rides and the benefits in terms of riding pace are evident. The weight loss is amazing and currently shows no sign of abating. I went for a fasted ride two days back and averaged 30 km/h over almost 75 km's. Would never have tried that before without stuffing something in my face beforehand. It seems there is merit to LCHF.
The real test will be the results of the up and coming race. Fortunately we have a benchmark against which to measure. Two years ago I rode to Rhodes like I was being chased by the Feds and completed that part of the race in 71 hours. I arrived well spent and could not have gone any faster. While I had a few weather related challenges along the way it only added an hour or two to the ride. This year we can see if the performance benefits of LCHF for athletes are as good as claimed. To be fair there isn't a lot of data to be found on serious endurance events beyond Iron Man. From what I have been able to find through "empirical research" (empirical research = advanced search options on Google 😄) it seems that during the Iron Man the LCHF athletes tend to use carbs in the form of Coke and Gels. The argument being that you will run out of energy if you don't add carbs. They also suggest that the intake and consumption of carbs is balanced and doesn't impact negatively on the body's ability to burn fat which is the risk of loading on carbs and triggering excessive insulin release. They report sluggishness if taking carbs immediately before the event and running low on energy during the event if they do not ingest carbs.
For the race I will be in uncharted territory when it comes to optimum race nutrition. I will be taking both fat rich sources of fuel such as salami and nuts as well as carbs in the form of jelly babies and the like. The balance will be interesting particularly over a multi-day non-stop event. The exertion levels won't match those of an Iron Man athlete and perhaps fat fueling can better keep pace with energy expenditure. My dietary preferences have changed so I will be less inclined to reach for a Mars Bar and rather opt for a handful of nuts. I will make a point of eating fatty food as and when it crosses my path and will eat carbs are necessitated by lack of choice or lack of energy. If I can stay off excessive carbs I will as I don't necessarily want to drop out of a ketogenic state. The trick is to find a good balance. Need to bear in mind that LCHF is "low carb" and not "no carb." Carbs are okay as long as they are not excessive to the point of stimulating high insulin loading.
As I said earlier, it's uncharted territory and it's going to be really interesting to see how this balance plays out.

1 comment:

Andre Steynberg said...

Hi, I am really interested to hear of your experiences on the LCHF diet and riding long distance as an amateur. I look for a follow up post to your awesome blog but couldnt find any? Cheers. Andre.