Sunday, 27 April 2014

January Diary

I started on the LCHF Diet on the 2nd of January and for the first few weeks I monitored my weight and health, kept a food diary, measured my ketone levels with Ketosticks and reported to our local facebook group (!/groups/Werun.hassocks/) on the progress that I was making. Here are my reports.

Vital Statistics
On the 2nd of January this is what I looked like, on the inside:
Weight (kg)

BMI (I am 182 cm tall)

Body fat



Resting heart  Rate






Week 1 summary
Over the first week I have not eaten any carbage (pasta, potatoes, flour, rice, cereals, sugar). Apart from carbs in veg the only food containing measurable carbs has been some cheese with dried apricots, some sausages including breadcrumbs and some peanuts. I’ve also had several Bouillon drinks; these are tasty and include some carbs as well as the salt that is recommended to replace those lost as part of the diet. I am not counting carbs, just managing what I eat. It helps that Jane is also following the LCHF diet.

I have lost 5 pounds and am now back to my ‘normal’ running weight.

My sleep has been poor, but it often is when I start running more. I felt a bit hungry and dizzy/tired on days 3 and 4 but this has mostly gone – salty drinks helped here.

My running has been good. I logged 40 miles in the first 7 days. Most of this has been relatively easy, the advice being to run at around 65% VO2max in order to promote Ketone Adaptation.  Two runs (amounting to 11 miles) were marathon goal pace (7:15 per mile this year) including brief speed/hill reps (and 2 local Strava course records!). At this point in a marathon preparation I would normally run 4 times with at least one harder session (reps, threshold or distance) per week. I have run 8 days in a row for the first time ever, and my recovery between runs already feels to be better – this is meant to be one of the key benefits of burning fat rather than carbs. Note that I would not recommend jumping from a high point of 27 miles a week to a week of 40 miles; this is why the week has been steadier, but I wanted to push things a little. Next week I will ease off a bit.

Week 2 Summary
Over the second week of my LCHF diet I have hardly eaten any carbage; the one exception being several glasses of wine at the Aspire Fitness Solutions 5th Anniversary Party. I’m finding it easier to say no to carbs and am enjoying veg more than ever before – honest!

I have lost one more pound this week, that’s 6 in total, and my muscle mass has increased slightly. I am snacking a bit more, particularly on cheese and nuts, but I have lost enough weight already.  My sleep has been slightly better. No more dizziness this week. 

My running has been good. I logged 39 miles this week with just one day off. Again, most of this has been relatively easy work, although I was happy to up the pace a little on Monday and again on Tuesday evening in the gym, with no ill effects noticed on a slow run on Wednesday.  Today (day 15) I did a 10k threshold run and am rather surprised how easy it felt.  The ketone test strips are purple so I am now officially fuelled by fat! 

Week 3 thoughts
Lots of LCHF doubts while running this week. I start off tired and it takes 10 minutes or so before I get into a rhythm. This could be the muscles switching or warming up on ketones, not sure. On the flat I can keep to a steady, 8mph 8-Strides Per Breath pace easily which is nice, but inclines and hills are hard; I have to remember to breathe more!  I tend to finish well and feeling positive. 

I think the doubts are down to my competitiveness. Last spring I had had a 10 month period of injury free training building up to Brighton 2013, and I got used to running fast and feeling strong. Unsurprisingly I am nowhere near as fit now, I’ve been injured most of the summer and autumn and have only just logged 6 injury free weeks. My mileage is higher than it ought to be after such a poor autumn and I’m just starting to put in some quality training on LCHF, so I need to LOWER MY EXPECTATIONS! 

Stepping back and looking at what am doing right now I ought to be bloody pleased with myself. My 2014 target race is Beachy Head in October, not London in April.    33.1 miles this week.

Week 3-4 summary
Week 3 was hard. I was craving something different quite often and starting to get a bit bored of cheese in particular. Week 4 was better food-wise as the cupboards had more nice stuff in.  Went a bit too far with wine last week and that could be why my ketone readings were lower.
I have lost 1 more pound in 2 weeks.  I felt a bit sluggish during week 3 but this is supposed to be the hardest week on LCHF and that first long run on the Saturday was a killer! Week 4 felt fine. My sleep has improved steadily.

My running has been lower in mileage but harder; including one hard threshold run, one hard long run, two medium paced runs and a hard hill reps session; nothing slow. I had several rest days. Had a brief worry that I’d not be able to do a long run last Saturday (due to low ketone levels) but it was easy and fast; up to the 10 mile point where I hurt something in my calf. I’m currently swinging kettlebells for a few days while it recovers; this is going well and I am feeling strong.
So that was January. Things went well on the diet and I was back to running better than I had for several months.  

Vital Statistics #2
At the end of January this is what I looked like, on the inside.
Weight (kg)


Body fat



Resting heart Rate






It doesn’t take a registered dietician to tell you that something big has been changing inside me. And I don’t think it is due to me running a bit more that I have been lately.

My weight was down, my muscle mass was up, my LDL-P, the ‘supposedly bad’ cholesterol is up, but so is my 'good' HDL cholesterol, and my triglicerides (the actual fatty acids in my blood) were low. I’d take a guess and say my body was adapted to burning fat as its primary energy source. 

I had a few doubts at the time. In particular the use of ketone measuring sticks had me confused. At first they steadily went purple as expected but after a few weeks the colour faded. This had me worried as I needed to be in ketosis for the diet to work well and if I was not then I ought to have no energy for running. However, further research here indicated that this is normal. And this was complemented by the fact that I could do good paced long runs on almost zero carbs. In the past I had always taken some energy drink on runs lasting more than an hour.

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