Last week I wrote about my adventure into the ketogenic diet. It is an extreme form of a low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) diet. My interest in the diet is in teaching my body to use fat as an energy source rather than carbs during endurance training and racing. The good news is that I have survived a second week, and I am happy to report that I have not bailed out yet. Here is my week 2 report.
During week 1 I was still trying to get adjusted to reducing my carbs. My net carb (total carbs minus fiber) was a little higher than I needed to fully engage ketosis. After reading a lot of nutrition labels, I was able to get my net carb number down in week 2. See chart below for my daily net carb intake. For days 8-14 of my experiment I was able to keep my net carb intake below 40 g per day.
The ketogenic diet is based on taking in a high amount of fat, a moderate amount of protein, and a low volume of carbohydrates. In the second week of the experiment, I was able to settle into a groove of getting an acceptable ratio of nutrients. The data is shown in the table below. I’ll provide some examples of my meals in my post for week 3.
In my research, I learned that taking in enough water and electrolytes (e.g. sodium, potassium, etc.) is important for the diet. I monitored my water intake and I am consuming around 3 liters (~100 ounces) per day. I am also taking in 3-4 grams of sodium per day. I did note that my potassium intake was running at about 2 grams/day, which is lower than recommended. I’ll try to make some adjustments here.
After the initial drop of about 5 pounds in week 1, my body weight stabilized at 165 lbs during the second week. I am happy to report that my “regularity” returned during week 2. I had reported last week that I was experiencing irregular bowel movements for the first few days. I now seem to be back to normal on that front.
One concern I mentioned last week is the possibility of experiencing the “keto flu” as my body transitions to ketosis. This is a temporary side effect that some people experience. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, tiredness, lack of mental sharpness, and general lack of energy. Over the first two weeks of my experiment, I really did not have any of these symptoms. Overall, I have felt pretty good, with the exception of a couple of my exercise sessions (below).
Effects on Exercise
I did a total of around 7.5 hours of workouts throughout this week. Most sessions were very low intensity. The weekend workouts here technically count as week 3 since I started my experiment on a Saturday. However, I’ll report the exercise results here. My weekend run was a 7.5 mile trail adventure. I was on travel in Charlottesville, VA and I decided to explore the Rivanna Trail system. It was very nice except for the part where the trail hit a dead end at the bottom of a small “cliff.” There was actually a rope going up the cliff so I assumed that I should go up. After working my way to the top, I realized that the trail did not continue. So why was that rope there?! Later, after reviewing the trail map, I learned that I was at one of the places that required exiting the trail and picking it up again after a short exertion onto a road. Oops! Oh well, I got to practice my climbing skills.
On the negative side, I started feeling very sluggish midway through the run. (I don’t think it was related to climbing the cliff). I had a loss of energy and my body felt “heavy.” I pushed through and finished the workout but I definitely did not feel good.
On Sunday I did a 33 mile road bike ride. I took on water and Base salts during the ride but no other nutrition. I did not ever really feel bad. However, I did not have the speed and power that I would have liked. This certainly could be due to my off-season form and less to do with the diet. But I’m hoping that I get a little stronger as I progress with the diet.
The biggest challenge this past week was managing my diet while on travel. It is hard work finding low carb high fat items on restaurant menus. Fortunately, I was housed at the Homewood Suites where I had a stovetop, refrigerator, and microwave. After trips to the Trader Joes and Whole Foods, I was able to stock the kitchen with provisions that got me through most of my meals.
With two weeks of the ketogenic diet under my belt, I’m am starting to get more comfortable with the daily routine of the diet. I have been able to get my carb intake down to levels that should engage ketosis. I am now anxious to see how my body responds to more consistent and higher intensity workouts. I’ll be testing this as I move into my base training period for the new race season over the next few weeks.