I do a lot of independent reading and researching in nutrition because that's the kind of girl I am. Which is to say, skeptical and contentious. I find it almost impossible to take someone's (anyone's) word on something; I need to learn the why and how for myself.
For years, we've all been hearing about the wonders of the various low-carb diets: Atkins, LCHF, paleo/primal, etc. Drop fat! Improve cardiac health! Never feel hungry! Eat all the bacon you can stuff into your mouth and still whittle flab! Make "sandwiches" of bacon and cheese and bacon! BACON!!!
My take on all of this was just, NOPE. I'm a pastry chef and an ultrarunner. Give up whole grains and cut my carbs back to fewer than a 100g/day? HAHAHAHA. But then...
I started investigating. And the science seemed a little more than possible; it seemed plausible. But how to know? Guinea pig it, obviously. So here I go, for the first time in my adult life, jumping deliberately onto a bandwagon. I'm going to be experimenting with a low-carb diet while simultaneously training for a 12-hour ultra run. No pasta dinners, no bagels, no gels or goos or sports drinks.
Is this easy for me? Oh, hell no! Words like "paleo" and "induction" have been like sand in my mouth. I have done my fair share of Atkins bashing. I hate food analogs--I'd rather give up pizza than eat one made on a crust of baked cauliflower mush. If I'm going to eat a donut, I want it chock-full of carbs and dripping sugar. So this is a big serving of humble pie, in a way. And that's okay. In the name of discovery and science and all that.
Am I nervous? Oh, hell yes! My diet has always been carb heavy (refer above to "pastry chef and ultrarunner"). I love my carbs--cereal with bananas for breakfast, English muffins with peanut butter post-run, beer. But dang it, I'm inquisitive. I want to know...can this really work? Can it work for ME?
So, for five weeks or so, I'm going to try this way of eating. I'll be using the Metabolic Efficiency Training model, developed by Bob Seebohar and discussed in his book, Nutrition Periodization for Endurance Athletes: Taking Traditional Sports Nutrition to the Next Level . What does that mean? In short, it's periodizing nutrition to accommodate training demands. The first phase means cutting whole grains completely. Yikes, I know. But it's only for a while. When training ramps up, I'll add back my beloved oatmeal, polenta, quinoa. Beer. But for now, no grains, no sugars. On the plus side, I will be eating lots of veggies and fruits, protein, and healthy fats. Seems doable.
I'll keep you posted on my journey along the way. If you're on one of the low-carb diets yourself, feel free to offer suggestions/anecdotes/advice; I'd love to hear from you. If, however, you feel that low-carb diets comprise the meal plan in hell, you don't need to share. Trust me--you won't come up with an anti-low-carb argument I haven't already come up with on my own (again, pastry chef, ultrarunner, bandwagon-hater here). This is an experiment in the name of science (and fitness...and cynicism); I'm determined to keep an open mind--and I'm the one giving up beer.
Let's see what happens. Stay tuned for hilarity, tears, recipes. And if you're inclined, check out some of these resources, which are among those I'm using for guidance. I'll add more as I come upon them, and I'd love to hear about your fave go-tos for nutritional advice.
- Peter Attia's The Eating Academy
- NuSI: Nutrition Science Initiative
- Various works by Gary Taubes
- Nutrition Periodization for Endurance Athletes: Taking Traditional Sports Nutrition to the Next Level by Bob Seebohar
- Lore of Running, 4th Edition by Tim Noakes
So that's it. I'm off to buy provisions--spinach, kale, raspberries, bacon. No beer. Sigh.
Wish me luck.
Wish me luck.