Monday, October 13, 2014

Breaking Paradigms

There are two main fuel systems in the human body: Fat and Carbohydrate.

 

Industrial Carbohydrate Paradigm

Our modern civilizations and large populations are based upon agriculture, which is based upon carbohydrates. Carbohydrates easily take over as the primary human fuel system - but with many negative consequences - including the long-term extinction of the fat burning system - leading to a false belief that we are dependent on carbohydrates to function. This highly mistaken paradigm is promoted through vested interests on many levels because there is an entire industrial system dependent on it - including agriculture, pharmaceutics, medicine, education, commerce, banking - basically our entire civilization! In essence we have an Industrial Carbohydrate Paradigm which generates and is auto-sustained by Carbohydrate Addiction.

 

Carbohydrate Addiction

When Carb Addiction is established in the body it generally sets in for life and people never experience or even imagine any alternative. If someone runs low on blood sugar they are hit with immediate fatigue and the many unpleasant symptoms of so called 'hypoglycaemia". The prescribed solution is to eat sugar. Sports shops are lined with shelves of high sugar content supplements for exactly this reason. Results are extremely convincing and generally effective, supported by an entire medical and scientific vocabulary that leaves little room for questioning or doubt.

Sport tends however to have an extremely high level of natural selection involved and those who don't do well simply vanish. Those who do well appear to have a more suitable genetic disposition. This is another element contributing to auto-sustaining the false ICP (Industrial Carbohydrate Paradigm). Those who persist in endurance sport don't seem to get fat. However, those who do get fat promptly quit and join the rest of the general population in the global epidemic of obesity (2.1 billion), diabetes, congestive heart disease, cancer, arthritis and other fatal chronic - but generally reversible and avoidable metabolic diseases - which are non-existent in non-agriculture based societies.

Carb Addiction shuts down key elements of fat metabolism both in the short and long term. Eating glucose causes the hormone insulin to be produced. Insulin both makes glucose available for energy and for storage as fat. Excess sugar that cannot be burned immediately is converted into fat and stored in the body. While this is happening the entire fat burning system is closed down.  A similar process happens with fructose in the liver without the need for insulin. None of this would be a problem if it was not for the long-term effect on fat metabolism. In addition the fat generated from carbs in the liver form VLDL molecules which then convert to LDL cholesterol and provide the source of the specific type of cholesterol implicated in heart disease. This cholesterol comes from carbs not from eating fats. When carbohydrates are  relied on as the main source of energy this has a deeper effect of shutting down key elements of fat metabolism on a long-term basis. After eating, insulin continues to process glucose until blood sugar levels drop well below the body's "normal" level - leading to an energy "crash" that causes a need to eat more sugar. This energy crash is termed "hypoglycaemia". If proper and complete fat metabolism was working then this would cover the situation and no energy dip would be experienced. Athletes running out of body glucose stores are hit by the same phenomenon even more seriously - where there is not enough glucose left to keep the brain fuelled and Central Fatigue (bonking/hitting the wall) sets in. Once again the fat metabolism system is so compromised that it cannot cover this issue. The prescribed solution is of course to once again eat sugar and deal with the symptoms at face value. The cycle of addiction is effectively enforced by what amounts to severe withdrawal symptoms. Eventually the only remaining athletes are those who are specifically genetically predisposed to have more effective fat burning metabolisms - because the high level of sugar consumption is unsustainable for most people. Athletes either can't effectively control weight or they age rapidly and suffer from the many degenerative and inflammatory effects of constant sugar oxidation.

The first victim of carbohydrates is the fat burning mechanism. From this point onwards degeneration slowly but surely accumulates in the vast majority of people. Sick people are cash cows all the way up the industrial food chain - so who is going to complain?

 

Breaking Paradigms

Most mistakes in life are made by interpreting things at face value and not correctly understanding underlying "cause and effect" relationships. Aristotle's basic laws of motion were completely wrong but were taught without being questioned for 2000 years in Western education - because of taking things at face value. Galileo saw through this mistake and corrected it. Real science if anything is about breaking those false paradigms based on superficial "face value" appearances. The key is nearly always the "opposite" - but with a slight twist. Statistical data worsens this problem because people then also confuse "correlation" with "causation". Most health and nutritional issues depend on statistical studies over time - so there is enormous potential for obfuscation.

When there is an entire language constructed around a subject then it’s almost impossible to perceive the subject otherwise than how it is presented. Breaking paradigms allows us to construct a new and more accurate language.

 

Paradigm 1: Primary Fuel System is carbohydrate

Let’s begin by looking at the Industrial Carbohydrate Paradigm. The reality is that Carbohydrates are considered by established medical and nutritional authority to be the human body’s primary fuel system – partly because of a false assertion that the brain can only survive and function on glucose. Glucose Addiction goes a long way towards hiding the reality from individuals. The first paradigm to be broken then is this one.  The brain functions even better on ketones and does not need glucose. Ketones come from metabolising fatty acids.

New Paradigm: The primary fuel system used by the human body for optimum health and performance is "fat burning"

 

Paradigm 2: Hypoglycaemia is the cause of energy dips

Let's now consider breaking the hypoglycaemia paradigm. "Hypoglycaemia" is not "lack of sugar" - it is lack of ketones from fat burning - it's a chronic withdrawal symptom from Carb Addiction. The false solution always given is to "eat sugar". (Take more heroin!)

Fat and protein are essential macronutrients. Carbohydrate is not! The body produces all of the very little carbohydrate it needs - either directly from ingested protein or from the body's own stores of both fat and protein.

When carbohydrate is burned as fuel one of the by-products is lactic acid. Lactic acid is then also used as fuel. Nearly all parameters for measuring fitness and performance in sport are related to this process - with "lactic threshold" being a major aspect. Athletes are taught that their performance depends largely on training the body to tolerate and burn lactic acid more effectively. Fat burning is considered to be important - but is generally ignored as a background issue. The body can only store between 400 to 2000 calories of glucose (liver, blood and muscles combined) - so the athlete who is dependent on carbohydrates must replace this sugar during sports. The body can absorb up to 90 grams per hour of mixed carbs and this gives 360 calories per hour. However the body can easily burn over 1000 calories per hour - so at some point this leads to a limitation. In practice the act of eating those carbs really does work - in that it holds back all the negative issues that might befall the endurance athlete. In reality though, all this is doing is feeding the carb addiction and holding back immediate withdrawal symptoms. The athlete will eventually bomb. With age the athlete will either have to train much longer and harder or will quite simply get fat in most cases. Most will undoubtedly end up on the scrap heap of human obesity and chronic sickness - with joints wrecked.

Carb Addiction occurs when the consumption of carbohydrates blocks the fat burning system in a long-term manner so that it cannot produce ketones when required.

Muscles store both fat and glucose and can burn both.

When glucose burns it makes lactic acid which then in turn burns.

When fat burns it can produce ketones - which then in turn burn - but while carbohydrates are the main supply of food this will not happen. In addition it takes months of abstinence from Carbs to fully restore the system.

The brain cannot use fat as fuel. Contrary to official government published medical/nutritional claims the brain is not confined to using just glucose for fuel. The brain actually prefers ketones - which are molecules that are very similar to glucose and pass through the blood/brain barrier.

When fat metabolism is healthy enough to make ketones then the brain is fully protected from Central Fatigue and therefore hypoglycaemia or bonking/hitting-the-wall - do not exist! The average lean person has a store of body fat making 160,000 kcals available for this purpose. It would take a long time to get through that lot.

In general even with the system closed down through excessive carb consumption it only takes a few days for the average person to start producing ketones - when fasting. Fasting forces the body to rely on fat burning. There are three different types of ketones and the priority is first of all to protect the brain - so the corresponding ketones are produced. The muscles are ignored at this stage, taking up to three months to fully correct ketone production, burning and so recovering full strength.

New Paradigm: "Hypoglycaemia" should be called "hypoketosis" (made up word) because the issue is really one of lacking ketones - not lacking sugar. The drop in blood sugar simply exposes this issue

 

Paradigm 3: Normal "balanced" diet is based on carbohydrates

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyeC9IiFKpw The Meryl Streep film from 1997 - "First Do No Harm" takes for its title the beginning of the Hippocratic Oath which is said by all medical doctors. The film highlights the hypocrisy of the medical establishment in completely failing to respect this oath and principle. In 1920 the ketogenic diet was developed at the Mayo clinic in California to allow epileptics to be in a full time state of ketosis thus preventing seizures. It had been known since antiquity that fasting prevented epilepsy - but recognized that people cannot continue fasting forever. They can however use "nutritional ketosis" - by reducing carbohydrate consumption to low levels, eating only adequate protein (because excess is converted into glucose) and obtaining upwards of 65% (or higher depending on the individual) of their calories from fats. Fat metabolism is reinstated as the body's primary energy system. The hypocrisy is that victims were (and still are) subjected to endless drugs and side effects or surgery without ever being made aware of this natural solution that has over 33% complete success and 33% partial success.

Even in this film however the paradigm is upside down. Nutritional Ketosis is suggested as a special diet which has incumbent risks - and once recovering the epileptics are shown to return to a so called "normal diet". This is where we break the third paradigm.

New Paradigm: Nutritional ketosis is the result of a "normal diet" - it's the so called "balanced" carbohydrate diet that is not normal - it's completely perverse and designed to keep the industrial food chain healthy - with the biggest eaters being corporations and banks

 

Paradigm 4: Humans are physically weak

The human being evolved to get around on two feet and until very recently that was the only option available. The body is even more specifically developed for running and humans can outrun - over distance - almost every animal on the planet. The paradigm of the human being physically inferior and just relying on intelligence to survive is wrong. We even have specially adapted ligaments and attachments at the base of the skull to keep the head stable when running.

Having to constantly feed with sugar simply doesn't fit! Even more flagrant is the power to weight ratio between fat and carbohydrates. The body gets the same energy from 4.5 kilograms of stored fat compared to 31 kilos of stored carbohydrates. (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatty_acid_metabolism) This power to weight ratio is clearly why the body stores fat and not carbohydrates. Carbs are only useful for very top end explosive work where the generation of energy has to be very fast. When the body has a fully functioning fat metabolism then glucose is spared during exercise and made available for the purpose it was intended for – brief, explosive sprinting. Effective fat metabolism also protects protein from being converted into glucose through "gluconeogenesis" and so protects against muscle loss. Ketosis is a well-kept secret of bodybuilders who want huge muscle mass but very low fat on their bodies.

Nutrition pre-agriculture era would have depended on fats for energy as energy rich carbohydrates were neither developed nor cultivated. People hunting or foraging for food would have naturally encountered extended periods of fasting and endured them effortlessly. Their food would have been rich in fats and low in carbohydrates. Fruit such as berries are low in carbohydrates but are the richest in antioxidants. Most naturally available vegetables are low in carbohydrates but rich in phytonutrients. Fat – especially from summer grazing animals and some fish has been used for eons as the most efficient portable food storage and preservation method.

There are three ways to achieve ketosis; Fasting, Diet and Exercise. With all three appropriately aligned to correspond with pre-industrial and agricultural existence then a state of almost permanent ketosis is inevitable.

Fully adapted ketosis ensures a "flexible metabolism" where the person can eat and burn carbohydrates appropriately without ever leaving a state of ketosis - or if they do they can recover it rapidly. It's for this reason that carbs can actually be eaten during endurance sports without negatively affecting ketosis. Exercise (after a few hours) brings about a "carb debt" that allows consumption of more carbs than usual to be tolerated. It's clear however that this carb-debt is not a fixed issue as people living extended periods of time with a high fat diet and daily physical effort have been able to comfortably drop their blood sugar levels to 0.2 mmol/L - whereas an un-adapted individual would normally be unconscious a little below 4 mmol/L (Mike Stroud and Ranulph Fiennes - Antarctica crossing 1993/4 - over 93 days carrying 75% of their food calories as fat)

Within the parameters of "fat burning" exogenous (external source) ketones can actually be consumed to raise ketone levels directly - but those available are manufactured salts and are not natural. Alternative supplementation is more naturally available in the form of common oils; Coconut oil, Palm Kernel oil, Palm oil, Butter (grass fed) and Olive oil. Those oils contain high levels of Medium Chain Triglyceride fatty acids - which are converted directly in the liver into ketones - without other fat burning stages being involved. Coconut is very high in MCT oils and is widely recognized for its health giving properties. Many people are finding relief from the symptoms of dementia just by adding a spoonful of coconut oil to their daily diet – giving the brain access to ketones. The behind-the-scenes name for Alzheimer’s in the medical world is “Diabetes 3” – insulin resistance directly in the brain! Supplying the brain with ketones allows it to function.

New Paradigm: Humans are fundamentally incredible athletes and have remarkable powers of physical endurance 

 

Paradigm 5: “Normal” body weight increases with age

Gaining weight with age is considered to be normal - especially for women beyond menopause. It isn't! The Body Mass Index (BMI) for a 70 kg man is considered to be normal between 20 and 25 - yet for a man over the age of 50 this range is altered to 23 to 28. In other words if you just manage to somehow keep that expanding waistline under control within this limit you might just be spared the multitude of chronic diseases that kills most people in modern civilization. “Normal weight” has therefore been adulterated to mean "limited loss of control of weight through an unnatural carbohydrate based diet." This needs to be turned upside down. It is not normal to systematically gain weight. In America they consider 1.5lb of fat gained per year after college is "normal"! No wonder 34.9% of all American adults are obese. This complete insanity here is considered “normal”. What’s convenient and normal here is the vast amount of money those victims have to pay for their medicine just to remain alive.

New Paradigm: Stable body weight throughout adult life is normal

 

Paradigm 6: Maximum heart rate lowers with age

There is a prolific number of formulas available for people to calculate their maximum heart rate and they are all based upon age. What they don’t tell you is that those formulas are designed for sedentary people or people who have spent a significant chunk of their lives at least being sedentary. If somebody remains physically trained all of their life then their maximum heart rate will not lower.  When I started road cycle racing at age 50 my physically measured maximum heart rate on a bike was 176 bpm. Today six years later it is still exactly 176 bpm.

When in my 30s my maximum heart rate was 191 bpm. Years of struggling with carb induced weight issues and periods of relatively sedentary lifestyle have clearly taken their toll. It will be interesting to see if over time ketosis can recover some of this loss. The standard stupid formula used in sports science is 220 – age, which would suggest my current limit should be around 164.  In the original handbook written for Polar (heart rate monitors) by Sally Edwards she encourages the use of such nonsense for athletic training. In a much more recent publication she corrects this mistake by stating clearly that constant training throughout life maintains a stable maximum heart rate – but she does not admit having made her earlier mistake.

New Paradigm: Stable maximum cardiovascular function throughout adult life is normal

 

Paradigm 7: Lactate Threshold provides the benchmark for sports performance

One brutal hill climbing race I participated in recently produced the result of sustaining a “95% of maximum heart rate” average for one hour. Such a high heart rate implies “red lining” which is the extreme upper end of anaerobic activity. Anaerobic activity uses around 70% glucose. Four years previously I had an almost identical performance in the same race when eating a high carb diet and so thought nothing of it. This time however I was on a solidly established ketogenic diet and had no significant glucose storage in muscles, blood or liver – so it is highly unlikely that I was burning glucose at a high rate for that hour. After the race I also did another 3 hour ride with stiff climbing on no food. One sign that I wasn’t burning much glucose was that my breathing was relatively low. Four years earlier I’d suffered post-exercise asthma from hyperventilation due to burning glucose – but this time nothing like that happened.

Hyperventilation happens when lactic acid from glucose metabolism enters the blood and raises the blood acidity. The only way the body can sort out this critical issue is to hyperventilate to expel CO2 which also affects blood acidity. Lowered CO2 leads to poorer oxygenation of body tissues and problems like asthma and possible cardiac arrest. The only clear conclusion here is that less lactic acid was being produced even at 95% of max heart rate – which then begs the question “where did the lactic acid performance threshold just vanish to?”

New Paradigm: Lactate Threshold is part of Carbohydrate Addiction – not sports performance. Avoiding hyperventilation due to excessive lactic acid may save your life

 

Paradigm 8: Chronic disease is genetically predisposed

Insulin Resistance is viewed as a metabolic disorder. The blame for this is usually placed upon the unfortunate genetic makeup of the individual. This disease occurs when the body experiences a positive feedback loop where the cells just say “Whoa! We have had enough of your damned insulin so we are going on strike.” The system responds by pumping out ever greater loads of insulin and encounters ever greater resistance. Until the feedback loop explodes - like screaming loudspeakers with a feedback from the microphone. When that happens it's now called Diabetes 2. It all begins with a belly that won't go away and with many years of yoyo dieting leading to obesity in inevitably failed attempts to eat like a rabbit on low fat diets. Fructose doesn't use insulin but still causes insulin resistance. Table sugar is 50% fructose.  The liver also converts excess fructose into fat. The result is really a complete mess.  Leptin is the hormone that generates satiety which tells you to stop eating. When fructose is eaten neither insulin nor leptin are used to regulate energy – so that never ending giant Coca-Cola will end up as mostly as fat in the liver – making those scary VLDL molecules. Even worse, fructose is known to also generate leptin resistance – so then the one mechanism that tells you to stop eating is actually knocked out!

Cancer cells can only metabolize glucose. Without glucose cancer cells die. This is why fasting and ketosis can both prevent and destroy cancer. Cancer cells also cannot handle oxygen! We will return to that later. In a nutshell, cancer is a metabolic disease – linked directly to carbohydrate consumption.

Congestive heart disease is commonly blamed on eating fat – particularly foods containing cholesterol. This has been soundly proven to be a fallacy based on confusing “correlation” with “causation” in scientific studies. The real underlying cause of heart disease is inflammation – generated through carbohydrate metabolism. With the fat metabolism closed down into the bargain there is a triple whammy present because there is no natural cleaning of fat deposits going on and the liver generates VLDL molecules from the carbs.

The cause of arthritis is not fully understood by doctors – but often only a few days of complete fasting where only water is consumed is enough to remove all arthritic pains. Most people blame the cause of arthritis on some form of stress or injury – but that’s likely to only be a trigger for an underlying metabolic condition. The inflammation in arthritic joints, like the inflammation in the arteries is linked to carbohydrate metabolism – possibly the high levels of oxidising and free radicals generated in the process. Ketone metabolism requires only 70% of the level of oxygen for the same level of performance and produces much lower levels of free radicals – with no associated inflammation.

Many synthetic toxins are stored in fat cells indefinitely inside the human body. Nobody has a clue about the long term effects of this. Each person can be sure to carry internally over 700 synthetic chemicals that didn’t even exist before the 1940s stored away inside their body. As insulin resistance grows and fat increases on the body you can be sure that the toxic load grows too. Fasting reverses this process and detoxifies the body as fat cells shrink and ketosis maintains this state of cleansing permanently.  The body gets to rest and clean up when not eating – yet ketosis maintains the cleansing process and even directly causes generation of new neurons. Nutritional ketosis allows spontaneous “intermittent fasting” to take place – due to the accompanying lack of hunger  – meaning 12 to 16 hour daily fasts where the body gets to stop digesting and go though a complete emptying of glucose stores – so it can focus on cleaning up work – like eating tumours and arthritic deposits in joints or cleaning up the arteries and rebuilding brain cells.

New Paradigm: The focus is currently on treating cancer – it should be on preventing cancer. It’s not genetic predisposition that leads to cancer – it’s inappropriate nutrition and other avoidable environmental factors (such as the major neurotoxin and carcinogen - fluoride - in food contaminated with pesticides, dental products, water supplies, processed foods, cooking utensils, cheap tea and psychotropic prescription drugs.) Preventing disease does not generate money for the industrial food chain.

 

Paradigm 9: CO2 is a waste gas

The lungs are actually CO2 reservoirs.  Cells thrive in 7% CO2 conditions (because that’s what our planet used to have) and our atmosphere today is so low in CO2 (contrary to the claims of the criminal global warming alarmists) that there is only 0.039% present. Our lungs trap the CO2 produced by our metabolism and pump it back into the blood, where it is used to regulate oxygen release from the blood to tissues.  Higher CO2 levels in the blood cause higher tissue oxygenation. The irony of this is that to increase oxygenation people need to breathe less. Nasal breathing is often exploited to help to achieve this goal – by naturally restricting the volume of air flow in and out of the lungs. 

When the body is running on carbohydrates it consumes almost 50% more oxygen for aerobic metabolism than when burning ketones. When shifting up a gear to anaerobic activity the production of lactic acid guarantees hyperventilation to balance blood acidity. All of this over time pushes people to mouth breathe and towards chronic excessive breathing. Anxiety produces the same problem – which is why one solution is to breathe into a paper bag to re-inhale the CO2  - which dilates blood vessels and increases circulation.

Metabolic respiration includes breathing and the two systems – carbs or fats – play a major role in our breathing. Like all intelligent systems this implies a feedback system, where in this case conscious control over breathing is effective. Combining both improved restricted breathing and restricted carbohydrate consumption could well lead to better health. It is known from massive research through the work of Dr Buteyko in Russia and in many Russian hospitals that even the breathing approach alone when well developed can eliminate cancers that have not developed too far – and guarantee solid protection against cardiac arrest.

Cancer only grows in oxygen deprived tissue – and CO2 makes oxygen available from the blood for tissues. When CAT scanning the body for cancer, glucose molecules are used to attach to the tumours to light them up – because glucose is food for cancer. Remove the carbs and stop hyperventilation for a fighting chance against cancer risk.

New Paradigm: CO2 is a hormone and it is the only hormone to affect and regulate all the major organs of the body

 

Paradigm 10: Athletic performance is dependent on genetic makeup

Growing up we are taught that our genes determine our intelligence and capabilities. Some people (cigarette manufacturers for example) spend a lot of money trying to convince us that genes are responsible even for our health. It appears that this is not quite so accurate a picture. Switching from a carb metabolism to a fat/ketogenic metabolism will allow different – perhaps otherwise dormant – genes to be expressed. Genes are a code book but life itself is an interpretation of that book – and it can be interpreted in many ways. It turns out that genes at a cellular (micro) and macro level are controlled by their environment. Someone eating carbs all their life will possibly never experience their own real capacity for extended physical endurance.  Many health issues fall into the same bag. Provide our bodies with the appropriate environment – including nutrition – and there is a certain freedom from the dogmatic and limiting constraint of the false paradigm that we are all slaves to our genes.

New Paradigm: Athletic performance and disease avoidance may be largely epigenetic

 

Paradigm 11: One person cannot do real science through self experimentation

Most errors in nutritional and medical science stem from a failure to distinguish between “correlation” and “causation”.

“Observational studies tend to find correlations between things. But let's be clear (and you may have heard this before): correlation does not equal causation. Just because two things happen at the same time doesn't mean that one thing causes the other….

An n=1 case study tells the experience of one individual (for our purposes, usually someone making a change in his or her diet). While most people downplay the importance of a study like this, a lot of information can be obtained from one person's experience—especially if that experience is new or unusual….

In many circles, the gold standard of human clinical research studies is the randomized, controlled clinical trial.
An n=1 case study can be a controlled study if an individual tries different diets and keeps everything else the same. In research language this is known as a "multiple-period, within-subject, crossover study." A case series is a research publication that tells the experience of several case studies, with or without the "crossover" on several different diets.

There is no standard definition of what constitutes a small or large study, but in general, a study with fewer than fifty participants is considered a small study while a large study has hundreds of participants. A large study tends to offer up more relevant and applicable results, and the more diverse the participants, the more likely the results will be relevant to you. For example, if the study looked at 8,000 men and you are a woman—well, you get the picture, right?“    -   Dr Eric Westman (Keto Clarity)

New Paradigm:  Scientific terminology of self experimentation… “multiple-period, within-subject, crossover study”  N=1 is good science!

 

I’ve picked 11 paradigms to turn upside down and show how one perception often blinds us to another. It’s a beginning.

 

Current Status N=1

Weight

Currently my weight is stable at 65 kg, down from 77 kg  five months ago due to fasting, ketosis and exercise. I am not restricting eating at all now and weigh myself only once per week. My fat consumption is probably around 75% of daily calories. Average ketone measurement shows around 1.7 mmol/L (mid nutritional ketosis). Systematically after moderate exercise (medium speed 10k run – one hour) the ketone measurement goes up to 3.4 mmol/L – into “weight loss” levels. After a tough cycling competition (6 hours) this has gone up to 8.5 mmol/L and remained there for 24 hours. My cycling jersey has dropped from size XXL to size Medium and other upper body clothing has dropped from Large to Medium.

If I see my ketone levels drop below 1.7 mmol/L then just upping the ratio of fat when eating is enough to quickly recover this level.

Health

Certain minor chronic health issues have completely cleared up – including gastric reflux, sleep apnoea, snoring and various bowel movement issues.  I also have absolutely no joint pains – including total absence of almost life long chronic lower back issues (several times major surgery!) and complete absence of knee pain from an internally ripped joint where I refused surgery. This is partly due to ever improving technique in running, cycling and skiing – but not entirely due to technique. My chronically life-long poor dental health seems also to be spontaneously improving.

My lower lip has had a troubling recent history due to sun damage in the high mountains. A few years ago there was a clinically diagnosed cancer over 5mm wide and growing. That vanished spontaneously with nasal breathing alone during a period of extremely tough hill climbing cycle racing and training (mouth closed). Since last year another white protein growth was spreading on the other side of the lip and that spontaneously vanished one week after beginning a ketogenic diet and using it in competition.

One of the characteristics of being in ketosis is a feeling of having a permanent layer of fat covering the lips. Perhaps this is nature’s way of protecting the lips – because one way to protect against the sun and elements is to place a layer of coconut oil over the lips!

Athletic Performance

This is a real mixed bag. I definitely miss the “carb buzz” from being charged up with sugar – but being able to finish very long endurance races feeling good is fantastic. It feels like my body has been replaced by a different model. No doubt this is epigenetics at work. It is known from the bodybuilding world that ketosis causes an initial strength loss during the keto-adaptation period – which lasts up to 12 weeks. This strength loss has almost exactly matched the power to weight advantages that have come from losing a lot of weight. It’s frustrating to have lost all this weight but to be no faster. Being only 8 weeks into adaptation though there is a good chance that the strength will recover – as it’s the ketones required for muscle use that tend to be lacking during this adaptation process.

My last race had no carbohydrate consumption before or during and I’d registered high in ketones before the race. Despite not eating and the race being extremely demanding (3100m vertical over 133km) the race was finished very strongly and there was no sugar bonking or – of course - hypoketosis.

Motivation

Difficulties with managing training and recovery had completely discouraged me from racing long distance over the previous two years – leading to demotivation and abandoning participation in long courses. Initially there appeared to be a solution to this problem by modifying and dramatically increasing sugar supplements – but it led directly to even more serious and practically insurmountable weight management problems. The correct solution was fasting – then taking fasting ketosis into nutritional and exercise ketosis and eventually adapting the body to a full ketogenic metabolism. The result has been to render long endurance events extremely interesting and a great pleasure instead of a grinding torture. Even in the last race of the year – where I’d done just a few too many races close together – the overall impact was extremely positive.

I now have all the tools for simple weight management and so have no fear of losing control of the situation ever again. There is no fear of fasting or going without food – even through “red lining” high power hill climbing races or through long ultra-endurance races.

CDL0470

CDL0471

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Champagny Le Haut

Tignes glacier and the grand Casse – seen at their most naked before the new winter snows arrive. This was the view from Champagny Le Haut at the turn around point of today’s bike ride. Earlier in the year I was hiking here to get familiar with the terrain for off-piste route finding next winter season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

La Scott-Cimes du lac d'Annecy 2014 – Saint Jorioz (Final Ketosis Experiment)

Despite an atrocious weather forecast there was still a strong turn out for this final Alpine cycling event of the year – with 188 participating in the long course (133 km 3100 m vertical).  The bad weather eventually did turn up but only later in the day when the racing was over. Last year the forecast had been even worse and we didn’t go – only to wake up to blue skies and very memorable frustration – so this year we ignored the forecast and got it right! All the events I’ve participated in for the past 5 weeks have only had between 180 and 200 participants – and it seems to be mostly the same people who turn up.

Recovery

During the week before this race I was struggling to recover from “La Drômoise” – perhaps due to accumulative tiredness having done two demanding long courses back to back with “Les Bosses du 13” the week before. The level that you push yourself in racing is far higher than can be managed in training and as well as building you up overall it takes its toll temporarily – occasionally taking a full two weeks to properly recover. In my case there is also the challenging issue of attempting to adapt to ketosis for the first time ever and the learning process involved. Full adaptation for athletic performance turns out to take between 8 to 12 weeks and this is still only week 6 so things are changing all the time. Last week I felt extremely fatigued the day after the Drômoise but that was partly due to sleeping poorly after the event – and the day of the event itself being very long. Two days of complete rest were in order and on day 3 a 10 km “recovery” run felt surprisingly good – getting up to 4:40 pace (per km). The following day however on a bike ride there was still no energy so I backed off and cut the session short – then resting up completely again for the next 2 days right up to the Scott event. Even with this rest it was clear that recovery wasn’t great and there was no real enthusiasm for the event – which was slightly disappointing. (In fact it felt more like dread than enthusiasm!) The event – being the final one of the year – had unfortunately become more of an obligation than anything else. Most of the way through the race all I would think of was how good it would be to be finished – hopefully in one piece.

I’m actually visible in this photo of the race start – directly under the S in “Scott” – black top, white and blue helmet, white shorts and bike.

Preparation

The evening before the race I prepared a new ketogenic food supplement – hoping that this time it would actually be edible. Instead of adding water this time I added coconut oil to increase the ketone content and added more stevia than before for improved sweetness. The concoction also had vanilla and cinnamon added to improve taste. Cinnamon additionally improves insulin sensitivity and lowers blood glucose levels – which can only work towards helping with ketosis - as far as I can see. The final product was delicious and because it was quite liquid it was better to feed it into a plastic flask than try to use a polythene bag. The plan was to remove the screw top of the flask during the race to squeeze out the coconut mix. In addition – and “just in case” – I prepared a small bag of mixed Cashew and Macadamia nuts.

The bike was clean so preparation was easy and as I’d be travelling with Chris I prepared only one bag with everything in it - tools, documents, money, change of clothing and cycling gear. There are so many details to attend to that if it can overall be condensed into one bike and one bag this helps greatly.

Breakfast was early at 6 am – slightly too early really because the race start was delayed until 9:30 am – with a gap of 2 hours being ideal – not 3.5 hours. However this breakfast was ketogenic nutrition – being a full cooked breakfast with coconut oil and with coconut oil chocolate bombs being consumed along with coffee. When in ketosis it’s actually quite hard to eat when not hungry and so I had to force this breakfast down. Normally I don’t need breakfast anymore – eating usually around 1pm for the first time in the day. In fact ketosis has rendered “intermittent fasting” spontaneous. My morning  pre-race BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) was 0.02% – which represents 3.4 mmol/L of ketones in the blood. Of course the BAC doesn’t represent alcohol in this case – which is ethanol – but it represents the acetone ketone. (The detector being unable to distinguish)

Chris turned up his usual 15 minutes after the agreed time in the morning (I’m used to this now!) but we had plenty of time in reserve. I’m always manic about meetings and make sure to be there early. In reality Chris’s way of handling those things is better because he remains calm and able to think. In contrast I feel generally stressed and if everything doesn’t go exactly to plan I tend to overcomplicate issues. Perhaps that’s something that can be improved.

The registration for the race at Saint Jorioz however was a mess with a long slow queue, especially for the people who were already registered in advance, just to be handed their timing chips and numbers. With registration, parking, toilets, coffee stand and race start all close together however we were in plenty of time – but the slow registration did delay the race start by half an hour. Fortunately the start was in the early morning sun and it was very pleasant waiting. If it had been raining I’d have probably abandoned there and then – as apparently several people did last year.

Race Start

Unlike the total mess of a start at Die last week this race start would be extremely well managed with a control car and motorbikes leading the entire peloton through the town and into the countryside – and each different event (distance) starting separately. Climbing would begin immediately taking us first over the Col du Leschaux and continuing up to the summit of the Semnoz – overall a continuous climb of 1200 m vertical that would definitely be a real leg destroyer to start the day. The real problem here is that if you don’t work that first climb hard then you are guaranteed to be covering the entire rest of the course as a solo time trial. This leaves no option. Afterwards looking at the kilometre split times I was shocked to see that several were covered at between 24 to 30 kph. Despite not warming up in advance I had no particular difficulty with the race start. Once into the countryside it was fast but with the first 5 km not being too steep the entire peloton could more or less stay together. It’s nice to have a start like this where all the participants can at least share a small part of the course together. Die in contrast was an example of exactly how not to start a race – with the leaders already 3 km up the road before everyone had crossed the start line – and yet everyone being given the same start time!

I’d decided to carry two full water bottles up the Semnoz because I appreciate good carbonated mineral water rich in magnesium. Chris opted to go light and carry only one full bottle (saving almost a kilo) then stopping briefly at the top to fill his bottles. Instead, my first stop would be at the 65km feeding station – by which time I was sure to be needing water. On a long course with lots of climbing you can expect two water stops – even when it’s not too hot. 

Climb 1 (Col de Leschaux and Semnoz summit 1700m)

Ramping up the gradient at the transition from the Col de Leschaux to climbing directly up the Semnoz led to a natural breaking up of the peloton. Chris was fighting to stay with the main front group but I knew that their pace was unsustainable for me. Annoyingly my heart rate was not registering correctly – a fault which I anticipated having seen it flickering on my phone before the start – but which with the pressure of organisation in the morning I’d not taken the time to correct as it would have required an complete power down of a “slow” phone. Perhaps next year I’ll have a new waterproof Sony with a much faster processor and more memory. The new Xperia Z3 Compact looks great and has Ant+ technology but it’s far too expensive just now. With no reliable heart rate data it made objective assessment of work load quite difficult – especially as I hadn’t really been feeling on form, which throws normal references off track. I just had to go by what felt sustainable by using “perceived effort” as best as possible.

Early on during the start I’d spotted right in front of me a bike with a short mudguard. Nobody uses mudguards but ironically this bike had also been right in front of me in Die the week before so it was unmistakable. When the Semnoz climb began in earnest Mr Mudguard pulled ahead as I eased off to establish my own pace of climbing. Next thing I heard was a squeak, squeak, squeak as someone came up from behind with brakes rubbing. This was a young guy in his 20s and it seemed that he didn’t mind climbing with rubbing brakes! Not generally a good idea! Mr Squeak had Garmin Sharp kit on and shaved legs so he looked the part – but his saddle looked a bit too low. Perhaps it was a new bike he hadn’t managed to set up properly yet. There was basically a bunch that formed from a group that had been jostling for position over the first 5 km with one woman present. I just let them go and fell back a good 200 to 300 metres though at least 20 people were still visible on the long straights. It was also clear that there were not a lot of people behind – which is a great motivator to keep working. Three years ago when I was struggling trying to cope with long courses I’d usually end up making friends with the Voiture Balai crew at the feeding stations – and completing races with the last handful of finishers. I really didn’t want to slip back to that level. It’s no accident that I’d abandoned the long courses for the past two years. Sorting out nutritional and weight issues through the use of fasting and nutritional ketosis appears to have solved the problem for dealing with unfeasibly long mountain races at the age of 56.  The goal is to get there without relying strictly on pure, blind, environmentally dependent “natural selection”. My favourite achievements in professional sports teaching are always about circumventing seemingly apparent “natural selection” and realising real innate talent – which we all surprisingly possess. (Sinichi  Suzuki - of violin fame - called this “talent education”.)

At some point during the Semnoz climb I became fed up being overtaken and decided to start working harder. With no proper heart rate data my focus became simply pressure on the pedals. It’s one thing “spinning” when climbing, to spare muscles, but it’s undeniable that in a bigger gear you go faster despite feeling the pressure on the legs. This is what often seems to catch out Chris Froome at even a top professional level. He has to calculate everything exactly right because he is dependent on spinning constantly at a high cadence. Contador in contrast stands up and moves his body and bike from side to side and jumps on a bigger gear to accelerate away. Froome is left looking at his power meter and wondering what went wrong. I like the natural approach of Contador – even if it does extend occasionally to medical supplementation. Somewhere up the climb I started to push hard on the pedals and reeled in Mr Squeaky, Mr Mudguard, the lady (never to be seen again) and all the rest of them before going over the summit. This was very hard work and naturally I was about to pay for it. The descent averaged over 50 kph for 10 km but when trying to push on the pedals again as the road flattened out there were indications of cramp trying to possess the right leg. Mr Beard had overtaken me on the descent and he took excellent lines on the bends so I just sat behind him – also contemplating the need to have a partner for any upcoming flats to be negotiated against the wind or slight gradients. Thankfully the cramps stayed away and allowed me to keep up but this indicated that the legs had really been worked to destruction on the 1.5 hrs approx of Semnoz climbing. For about the next 3.5 hours although there were no cramps there would be significant pain in the same areas – limiting work capacity to some degree.  Oddly, the pains disappeared for the final hour.

Climb 2 (Col de Plainpalais)

Attacking the flats, Mr Beard, with his toothy grin, decided to let me do most of the work. Each time I spoke to him all I got was a display of teeth through an opening in the beard. All of the people I met on this course seemed to be highly dysfunctional one way or another – but at least Mr Beard did a reasonable share of rotations and helped to keep our speed up, getting us across the flats to the next hill. That was in fact the only reasonably flat terrain of the day. From here on it was only upwards.

Heart rate data is all uncertain here – but the climbing profile and speed are clear.

chart (3)

(The general pick up in speed happened again at around 4:30 hrs – even though I didn’t really feel it until about 5:12 hrs – when all the leg pain disappeared too.)

Even if there must have been the same amount of downhill as uphill it felt like it was 100% non-stop upwards. When we hit the next climb Mr Beard decided to stop sheltering behind me and disappeared up the hill ahead without looking back once – which to be honest I was happy about because the silent, bearded, toothy grin was irritating. I started going backwards relative to most people during this second phase of climbing and most of those guys I’d burned off on the Semnoz eventually swept past again.  Post-race analysis showed my speed wasn’t all that slow – they were just faster – including Mr Squeaky who passed me and vanished from sight up ahead near the top. Before we reached the end of this climbing up the Col de Plainpalais one guy up ahead completely cracked. He must have bonked and it was just before the feeding station at around 65 km – bad luck! He definitely wasn’t the only one to crack on this endlessly hilly course because a total of 13 abandoned during the day – though some may have been in hospital due to a big pile up apparently. By this time we were 3:10 hrs into the race and I hadn’t eaten anything but was beginning to feel that feeding could help. The feeding stations were absolutely crap – even more disorganised than the registration and with potential for serious queuing too. The idea of an energy drink was appealing but it was so diluted that it tasted like plain water. I had a couple of squares of black chocolate, filled my water bottles by myself and moved on. Crap! This prompted my to reach into a pocket and pull out a few nuts, which I ate. The reality is I just can’t eat nuts when cycling so the rest remained in the pocket until the end of the day. Once the descent was over I thought I could now try the ketonic coconut mix and so pulled it out and removed the flask top. It was absolutely rock solid and there was no way it could be accessed. That was a great disappointment but a valuable lesson was learned: Do not experiment with such apparent details during races! This would just mean however that another opportunity presented itself - the opportunity to do a 6 hour high-intensity race without eating and to see if ketosis could offer genuine protection from bonking! There was little choice really.

Climb 3 (Col des Prés)

Before beginning the next climb several tower apartment blocks became visible in the near distance so it became apparent that we had completely traversed the “Massif des Bauges” mountain range and were actually on the outskirts of Chambery! Now we had to get all the way back to the other end of the Bauges at lake Annecy. The Bauges mountains all look remarkably the same and are incredibly disorienting – in fact “boring” is probably a better description.  Perhaps that was more a reflection of my own state of mind of course – with my brain suffering a slight headache all morning and never feeling like really getting into the race or enjoying it. That’s when you wish that every hill was the last one but know realistically that the last hill is still a very long way off. Apart from the accumulative fatigue from the previous two week’s races there was also the auto-destruction of that monster first climb and high speed start all adding to the situation. My dysfunctional friends weren’t helping much either. The reality though is that this sort of race is a bit mercenary because it’s everyone for himself on the climbs – and it was nearly all climbing. People get strung out during the fast descents and at times you imagine that you must have taken the wrong route because nobody is in sight. The start of the next climb then compresses people back together again. It’s a bit like quantum entanglement.

Chris climbing on his own already somewhere on Semnoz!

At the start of the Col des Prés there were five others visible ahead of me stretching into the distance and over several hairpin bends higher up the mountain. There were about three others behind – so I could enjoy the warm glow that comes from participating in a group event – almost. There was also an ambulance hovering around as if it was waiting for one of us to croak. I could see Mr Squeaky about four places ahead and attacking the climb. Mr Squeaky had been joined by Mr Blobby – a guy in white and black with a blobby black helmet –who also never uttered a word. Mr blobby had also been in our little group at the bottom of the very first climb and he had just overtaken me again at the very start of this third climb and was racing up towards Mr Squeaky now.

By the top of the climb – easily the steepest of the day  - a couple of the others had cracked and I had passed all five of the guys. Mr Squeaky put up a bit of a fight near the end but couldn’t hang on. By now his bike had stopped squeaking but he had started grunting instead to clear his chest or something. Either way he was always audible. He was never working with me – just always overlapping and it was about to get much worse.

Climb 4 – The Interminable Grind - or – “evading Mr Blobby and Mr Squeaky”

From here on there was no single climb but instead there would be a lot of varied climbs – some short and steep and others very long and gradual – before the final drop back down to Saint Jorioz. The descents were always over far too quickly. In fact during the day there had been some really good descents where you could crank the bike over directly from one turn straight into the next – so the value wasn’t lost on me completely. Shortly after reaching the top of the Col des Prés and during the descent Mr Squeaky went flying past me again – much to my irritation. Not much later on Mr Blobby came past me too. Once again I reeled them both in on the next climb and on the flats they passed me again – only to be reeled in on the next climb again. This was getting tedious as not a word had been spoken by anyone and there was clearly no willingness to collaborate on anything. Around km 104 there was another crap feeding station where I filled my own water bottles once again and looked in vain for something useful to eat. My main concern however was to scoot off before Mr Squeaky who had arrived just before me but was slow in filling his water bottle because he wanted the crap – obviously homeopathic “energy drink” instead of water. (Homeopathic because it was diluted into non-existence). I did get off before him but he passed me on the flats further on and powered away from me again. There was a descent at 5:12 hrs 109 km when Mr Blobby, who had followed me up a hill, inconsiderately accelerated past me to get the drop on me for the next descent. Now I was starting to get annoyed because Mr Blobby is a seriously rubbish descender and cannot take a turn fast so he was a real dipstick forcing his way in front like that. Responding appropriately I undercut him on the very first apex and then decided that enough was enough and that I’d have to burn him off for good. This mental shift must have come along with a physical change because the legs were there. I’d been waiting for the usual metabolic switch at 4:30 hrs but didn’t feel it happen – though the speed graph shows that it actually did. However, from 5:12 hrs the switch had definitely flipped because I went into auto-attack mode. After burning off Blobby on the descent I then burned off Squeaky on the next climb and then shifted to the large chain ring and started to push hard to generate a real and permanent gap. My head had cleared at last and the leg pains had vanished so I just pushed hard. A  few specs of rain were starting to fall now so that just encouraged me to push even harder, especially as the scent of the finish was in the air.  Squeaky hadn’t given up though and at the end of the long grind, with just one final steep climb to go, the instant I took a moment to relax and negotiate the turn off – Squeaky was right there beside me. He may even have been slipstreaming me, I don’t know because he was finally silent now. At least I’d held my own on this last section. Going into the last climb I just stepped on the gas and attacked it still in the big chain ring. Squeaky did the same and when he moved in front just before the top I could see he had followed me exactly staying in the big ring too to match the speed. At least Blobby was properly done for this time!

Finish

Starting the final descent Squeaky was in front and as it had rained a little here before our arrival the road was slightly wet and sprinkled with fallen leaves – making it dangerous. The situation was not lost on Squeaky so he was cautious. Although I felt I could go faster I decided it was not a good idea to drop the bike on the last descent of the last race of the year – so I chilled out and remained behind. Squeaky must have been motivated by my long, late charge earlier on because he was now starting to communicate – but only with hand signals at this stage. He did have the annoying habit of slowing in the corners and then stomping on the pedals to accelerate away from the bend but I found that I could match this acceleration without problems. Arriving near the bottom of the climb the road dried out and we could attack the final few kilometres in earnest averaging about 46 kph over a 5 km stretch. Getting through the town was actually tricky over a network of narrow roads. I came the closest I’ve ever been to a fall when with only one hand on the handlebars I managed to hit an invisible  bump – but fortunately the bike righted itself. Then a slow car managed to block our path and Squeaky picked the wrong side to pass and got stuck. He had been pulling in front now for about 10 km so I wasn’t about to dump him because of this stupid car right at the end so I slowed down and let him catch up again. He went to the front and started accelerating again – in full knowledge that I’d be strong enough to sprint him into the ground at the end. Doing that would have been really mean and Squeaky was growing on me by now so I just let him take the line without a challenge – for all the difference it makes when you are so far down the field anyway. Squeaky however was in the 16 to 29 y.o. age group and I was in the 50 to 59 y.o. category! We actually exchanged a few words at the end.

Results

Me :    140 th (out of 188 with 13 abandons), 26 th in age category out of 39. Time 05:55:25 hrs

Chris :   71 st, 10 th in age category in 05:04:58 hrs

After the race my BAC was 0.05% – equivalent to 8.5 mmol/L of blood acetone and a very high level of ketosis. This was even after eating some pasta at the race meal (crap again!) but binning most of it. Next morning my BAC was still at this level. I’ve only seen this once before – the very first time the breathalyser unit was used and I suspected it had been an error because it was new – but this proves that it was correct. Christiane is currently reading 0.01% on the same device.

Despite not feeling great due to accumulated fatigue it looks like this was my strongest ever performance on a long mountain course. Not eating during the race didn’t appear to have any negative effect and I wasn’t even hungry afterwards. The ketosis adaption seems to be progressing and working. Technically it’s only 6 weeks since starting to live in ketosis so the adaptation for sport is only half completed.

The two pure mountain photographs are from earlier in the week during the somewhat tired training ride – above Moutiers at Hautcoeur.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

La Drômoise 2014–Improved Ketosis.

Ketosis Paradigm

Each long distance race adds to the amount that can be learned about ketosis. It’s one thing being in a ketogenic metabolic state for daily living but the entire theory is abruptly put to the test when applied to athletic events. There is a form disbelief that appears to accompany results with ketosis, perhaps due to a lifetime of being brainwashed to expect the opposite. Each positive result reinforces the reality and value of ketosis and slowly you can feel a true paradigm shift taking place. 

It takes a lot to push aside a lifetime of cultural conditioning and beliefs.  Science at its very best only gives us an approximate model of the world and every theory (or fact) is provisional – until replaced with a better one – that makes prediction more reliable and accurate. Those who fervently believe in current science and “conventional wisdom” are often entrenched in progress stifling dogma without realising it – effectively making a religion out of science and scientific authority. Real science is about change, curiosity and learning – endlessly. “Ketosis” is a prime example of where conventional wisdom and connected commercial interests combine to stifle progress and understanding. The current advances in privately funded nutritional science in this particular area are however quite stunning. There is a lot to learn here. Meanwhile to help to deal with all the unanswered questions people are taking to experimenting for themselves – with their own bodies – and with only a few basic guidelines to go by the results are impressive. I have no pretension of contributing anything new of specific value here other than confirming (or otherwise) the real value of ketosis when experienced for myself. There is so little known about this subject however that anyone messing around with it is likely to stumble upon new ideas.

One objective for the Drômoise race was to start the race in a measurable state of ketosis. For all the previous races I’d not eaten enough fat to be able to register a strong ketosis levels prior to the races. My 9€ Chinese breathalyser however only shows up a reading from 1.7 mmol/L and “nutritional ketosis” is already happening at 0.5 mmol/L. This morning, for once, the meter was reading 0.01% BAC (1.7 mmol/L) so that confirmed strong ketosis. I’d also consumed a breakfast cooked in loads of coconut oil and eaten coconut oil treats with my coffee. Supplementing  MCT oils (found in Coconut fat) would provide an exogenous source of ketones along with those being produced by the body. More than ever before carbs were strictly avoided in preparation for this race.

For consuming during the race there was a supplement made up from blending desiccated coconut powder into a cream, diluting it with water and then adding a small amount of zero carb stevia for sweetening. Some low carb blackcurrant and apple puree was also added for flavouring. The idea was to make the mix tasty to encourage the eating of it during hard exercise – where eating is very difficult. The mix was fluid enough to be delivered though a drinking nozzle and kept in a small drinking flask. I carried about 350 grams of this in total during the race but found when in action that it wasn’t sweet enough and only managed to consume perhaps 30 grams altogether. It wasn’t liquid enough either. More experimentation is needed.

The idea here is to have a supplement that will directly provide ketones once the Medium Chain Triglyceride oils are processed in the liver – and a low level of carbohydrates to compensate for carb-debt in the body and to stop the body from consuming its own protein (muscle) to create glucose to replace and stabilise basic glucose levels. This is an uncertain area though because I know that adventurers Ranulph Feinnes and Mike Stroud – when they walked across the Antarctic – taking blood samples every few days – ended up with stable blood glucose levels so low that nobody had previously believed this possible – by a large margin. They were on a ketogenic diet getting 75% of their calories from fat – though they hadn’t quite realised this). That was only  a short while ago – in 1992/3 – so it demonstrates the absolutely astonishing ignorance of the medical world in this extremely fundamental area.

During the actual race – after about 3 hours I drank some Coke – a small amount – and repeated this at two more feeding stations – to deal with carb debt and to add caffeine for improved fat metabolism. I didn’t eat anything during the race (almost 6 hours) other than the small amount of coconut supplement mentioned. In all very few calories of any kind were consumed during the event.

Immediately after the race my BAC was at 0.02% (3.4 mmol/L) and it has stayed there constantly  since (48 hours and counting) – even after eating some pasta at the post race lunch. This consistency once again proves that carbs can be eaten to address a carb-debt without causing the person to come out of ketosis. (It’s only the concept of “carb debt” that needs to be questioned – and whether accepted stable minimum glucose levels are really ideal) The most benefits from ketosis are supposedly found at between 0.5 and 3 mmol/L so with me reading 3.4+ mmol/L this was clearly in weight loss territory from fat metabolism. The keto-adapted body (about 5 weeks of adapting now) gets more efficient at producing ketones during fat metabolism and also specifically the right sort of ketones for muscle use – those which break down through respiration into acetone and can be measured with a cheap breathalyser unit.

The most immediate interest for me however would be the start of the race – with the ketosis level being higher than previously. Until now ketosis (and or daily intermittent fasting) – or poor ketosis levels and poor keto-adaption - had cause me to feel at least psychologically quite a lot of difficulty getting going in every event and in training. It’s all quite tricky to sort out due to the number of variables so a lot of experimentation is needed. Competition is the perfect backdrop for this experimentation because the appropriate motivation levels are guaranteed.

Race

I slept peacefully overnight right next to the race registration and post-race reception area in a camping car park. There were big police signs forbidding ordinary (estate) cars from parking under menace of being towed away – but correctly I assumed this aspect of the growing European Fascist Police State would be suspended for this particular weekend. The location was perfect and everything went like clockwork the next morning during registration and preparation.carte_des_parcours

Getting to the race start was another story! The start had combined all the 119 km and 147 km racers and all the hundreds of cyclotoursits in the same place – in very narrow streets. What a mess! Eventually an official cleared a way through the mob for us and we at least got onto the right street for the start – but I was right at the back. The only alternative would have been to have gone there an hour early and just wait – but that was an even less appealing option. The solution to dealing with the timing issues for the start used by the organisation turned out to be incredibly stupid. It took about 5 minutes to get all the racers through so they used the median time as the start time for everyone. The positive side of this is that  you would place in the results exactly in the order that you crossed the finish line – but it also meant that the starters in the front had 2.5 minutes deducted from the real overall time and those at the back had 2.5 minutes added – plus they were not able to get access and the protection of the fast pelotons near the front without destroying themselves in an almost useless attempt to catch up – which is exactly what happened. The simple solution in this sort of situation is to have a rolling start with a control car neutralising the event until out of town on the wide open road. Matters were worsened by the leaders having  priority start numbers in the first place – so even if the timing chips were used at the start when individuals cross the start line (as they usually are on non professional events) the leaders would not have suffered.

My attempts to recover some ground at the start led to the first 10 km being covered at an average speed of 36 kph despite it being a gradual climb. The only way to make this possible is to hook onto a small bunch of fast guys who are passing by in their attempts to recover some ground too. Once you accelerate to stay with them then the drafting takes over – but all the same your heart rate will  remain very high and even when drafting this is pushing the limits. Right from the start there seemed to be a better keto-adaptation, or a better level of ketosis because this start felt like it used to when I was consuming carbs and experienced that addictive “carb buzz”. Energy levels felt good and strength felt good. After about 13.5 km we were getting into the first and biggest climb of the day  - the Col de Pennes - and so I resigned myself to losing touch with the fast group that I’d been using to reel in hundreds of cyclists and several large pelotons by now. Transitioning from rolling to steeps always seems to present me with much greater problems than most people – so I watched the others disappear up ahead while my legs were sorting themselves out. My heart rate was close to maximum – around 169 to 172 bpm (max is 176 bpm) for nearly all of the climb. When the legs got going then I sped up, caught up with and then overtook the guys who had dropped me – and just kept on going reeling in hundreds more on the way up. Anyone planning a race strategy properly would not attempt to sustain close to maximal heart rate like this  – but when you have no choice due to an atrocious start then there is not much left to lose. I was however also curious to see how the body would cope with such effort levels over a long race. While burning ketones you don’t generate lactic acid – and the heart prefers ketones to glucose. If there was little lactic acid produced then keeping this up for another hour wouldn’t be too detrimental – other than perhaps just some muscular and general fatigue. There were photographers on the Col some distance before the summit but even by then, going by the timing of the photograph, I’d overtaken roughly 2/3rds of the people in the combined races to place about 1/3rd of the way through the entire pack. That would definitely cost me later on.

The early morning decent from the Col de Pennes was chilly and I was glad to be wearing the windbreaker that we had been presented with from the race organisers as a memento. My arm warmers were pulled down to the wrists by now – easily done because having lost so much weight they fall down by themselves anyway.  I need to get a new pair and go down a size from medium to small. Carrying momentum over from the climb I went on the attack during the descent and even though the roads were very narrow managed to squeeze past the more cautious types. Very few cyclists can judge a good line in a turn and it’s shocking to watch them from behind. They just don’t have a visual pattern or the right feeling to follow. Eventually I was overtaken by a good descender and then just stuck on his tail – his lines were good and he judged the road surface very well too – anticipating and compensating for gravel and dampness in the shade. I’m happy to tail someone like this downhill but hate getting stuck behind a clown who gets it all wrong and is one step short of an ambulance ride. The second ascent began soon after at about 1 hr 20 mins (km 34) into the race, lasting until 2 hrs 35 mins (km 57) – Col des Rousetons - and from the start of this climb I was not going to push anything like as hard – keeping my heart rate during climbing at around 160 bpm. What was surprising however was that this was still possible after having spent around 40 minutes on the first climb with a heart rate averaging close to 170 bpm. 161 bpm is still red-lining above anaerobic for me so other than the descent practically all this time had been anaerobic and without eating any carbs. Anaerobic activity is supposed to burn 70% glucose so there is something far wrong with standard theory here. A good chunk of this time had even been spent red-lining the heart. When you burn ketones you don’t produce lactic acid and nobody seems to know what to call this state (at least I don’t know) – but it seems to do an excellent job of replacing the aerobic/lactic threshold/anaerobic system. During this second climb although I was still working “anaerobically” this drop in output caused a lot of stronger people to start to overtake me – but there was nothing to be done about that. 

At the Col des Rousetons at 2 hrs 35 mins into the race with most of the time spent climbing I stopped at at feeding station to refill water bottles and to drink a few small cups of Coke. There had been a cheerful band playing at one of the earlier feeding stations but this one was quiet. Knowing that the body was in significant carb-debt I also knew that this wouldn’t affect ketosis. So far nothing had been anything. The next two hours would be the most uncomfortable – with a feeling of general struggling.chart (2)

After the descent from the Col des Rousetons there was a plateau where a small peloton formed and we covered about 8 kilometres fast against the wind by rotating the lead constantly. This was taking us close to the separation point for the two courses at 77 km. Once again on arriving at a steeper section the transition was not happening automatically for me so I had to let the group go – although it fragmented anyway at this point. Most people went straight on for the short course and once again I found myself isolated when branching onto a long course. The next climb up to the Col du Fays and then the Col de Rossas (87.5 km) would take until 4hrs 02 mins and all of this climb would be in isolation with some strong headwinds at points. About one kilometre from the summit I was overtaken by a young woman but couldn’t stay on her  tail. I realised that I could actually keep up but didn’t want to extend my effort level so high. By now my working heart rate had gone down to around 155 bpm. This is still supposed to be anaerobic for me – so even though the speed was not competitive at all by now I was still able to work relatively hard. There was another feeding station at Valdrôme (km 94) after the descent from those twin cols and once again I stopped to fill two completely empty water bottles and slug down some coke. I’d tried to eat some coconut mix from one of the flasks I was carrying but couldn’t get it to come out easily enough – and it didn’t have an attractive texture or taste so I gave up on that by the time I reached this feeding station – perhaps eating about 150 grams in total. There were many people out in the small villages cheering, clapping and encouraging us all. In this tiny village there was a musician singing “la Bicyclette” and playing an accordion – same as Christiane does – but not quite as well! Taking the road again I just missed a small peloton that didn’t stop at the feeding station and ended up on a gradual descent, solo once again and having to pedal to keep up speed. 1600_00806

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arriving on the flats and a much straighter main road there was someone ahead at km 100 who had dropped out of that peloton and when I passed him it was clear he had stopped due to cramps. He had just mounted his bike again as I went past and so next thing I knew he was behind me drafting. This was number 708 – Yannick Aunette – who then worked in rotation with me for the next 5 kilometers up a “faux-plat” against the wind until we arrived at the final major climb of the day to Lesches-en-Diois. Before starting this climb – at exactly 4 hrs 29 mins I noticed that I was feeling a lot better again. This resurgence has been happening at around 4 hrs 30 mins now in several races – but I have no idea why. For the final 1 hr and 20 mins my speed increased and never once dropped back down – exactly as it had done at Marseilles a week earlier. It’s as if the fat burning system suddenly ramps up to another level altogether. I let Yannick pull away ahead at the start of the long climb to give my legs time to make the transition and then at about 4 hrs 45 mins I just stepped on the gas brining my speed up to between 18 and 23 kph. Yannick was quickly overtaken but held on behind me for most of the remaining 5 km to the top until losing it near the end. However there was another feeding station there where I’d stopped so he caught me up and we left together for the descent- once again having drunk a few glasses of coke.

Just before getting to the feeding station there was a little boy at the roadside and he called out “What’s your name?” in French of course. Behind him was a small group of kids and once that had the name they would all shout “Allez Ian, Courage!” etc. One of the little boys made me laugh  when he shouted “You remind me of my dad!”.  Yannick took the lead on the way down and he was going for it – but his line wasn’t too great. The hairpins were quite sharp and some were blind too. Eventually he got it wrong on one and did a “tout droit” braking in a straight line right to the far apex of the corner. Fortunately he anticipated this and didn’t crash. It was good for me to slipstream and recover from pulling him up the climb. At the bottom Yannick described the descent as like being on a mountain bike – which was not far off the truth. Only a few seconds later he was hit by cramps again – exactly the same type of cramps that were affecting me earlier in the season – so I understood this issue relatively well. His cramp was on the inside of the right upper leg and struck when he started to use the muscles again for pedalling after the descent was over. I slowed down to encourage him and told him to keep moving but only push very lightly on the pedals – I wasn’t going to drop him so he could take the necessary time. Once the worst was over I told him to slipstream me until he was sure that it was gone. There was a lot of fast road ahead but with faux-plats and headwinds so we would both benefit greatly from working together – as much for the morale as for the legs.

My main goal now was to complete the long course in under 6 hours – so it was going to be a close call. We had no idea where our overall placing would be. Now all the courses had joined back together so we were rapidly catching people from the 119 km course and the cyclotourists. We couldn’t tell now if we were catching anyone from the 147 km course.  We worked well together with me using my restored power to pull up the hills and defend against the headwinds and then Yannick relieving the pressure from me by taking the lead on all the descents so we could keep up a high speed. On the long flats we managed a good rotation that was completely spontaneous and worked very well. The final 10 km was averaged at 46 kph but we couldn’t catch a peloton ahead that we had been slowly gaining ground on – there were just too many of them sharing the work that despite our best efforts they remained out of range. When we arrived at the finish line I knew I was stronger than Yannick but didn’t want to turn that into a race between us so I just eased off and let him take the line – making no difference whatsoever to the result at this stage of the game. We had ended up doing almost 1/3rd of the entire course as a team and thankfully that was the case because otherwise we’d both have slipped back a lot. Yannick needed the motivation to get up the climbs and some protection from the headwinds and I needed the rest on the descents to recover. Had the “afterburners” not switched on at 4 hrs 30 mins then I wouldn’t have had the strength to do this. There must be an explanation for this phenomenon but like most things to do with metabolism and nutrition there is no sensible relevant information out there. The science in general is complete rubbish and clearly motivated by commercial interests and not by intelligence or genuine scientific principles.

Results

Surprisingly, despite being strong for most of the race my placing was 171 out of 205 - (59 in age cat. out of 71).

Actual time   05:56:57

Official time 05:59:18. (At least they let me remain under the 6 hours!)

Very annoyingly, both myself and Yannick who had also started near the back both had 2 mins 30 seconds added to our actual time of crossing the start line – due to the stupidity of the organisers giving an average single start time for everybody. That makes a difference of anything up to potentially 20 places so it’s a seriously stupid system. Those starting at the back are already handicapped by having to work much harder to catch the field of riders – which is almost impossible. Being philosophical about it all it doesn’t really matter of course because it’s all about having a great workout – but motivation is the key here and issues like this can’t really be ignored.  Almost 4 hours were spent at supposedly anaerobic levels of activity – so I couldn’t have done much more than that. There were no cramps and no bonking – despite being in ketosis and the only carbs being involved being a few glasses of Coke. My BAC was 0.01%  (1.7 mmol/L) before the race and 0.02% (3.4 mmol/L) immediately after (it is still at 0.02% 48 hours later). Either I’m no good at long distance racing or the others – starting advantage aside – were very much fitter and have much greater mileage in their legs. I suspect that Yannick had a similar or lower level of training – hence his cramps problem. He was 9 years my senior however and he was tempted to blame his cramps on that – but I know that cramps have no bias in that respect.

Red Line      23% 01:20:21

Anaerobic  44% 02:36:56

Aerobic       22% 01:20:15

Fat Burning  8% 00:29:02

My serious red-lining had been on the first two climbs and as expected this biased my heart rate averages over the race, slipping from averaging around 170 bpm on a straight line (graph) down to about 147 bpm towards the end. I normally train at around 152 bpm so this is still quite amazing and a phenomenal endorsement for ketosis. It was clear from the start that sustained red-lining would have to be paid for – but the negative impact was temporary and not too deep. Somehow – even though average heart rates continued to decline as a result of this – my power actually increased. That’s the part I don’t understand here. The final hour and a half along with my new partner were enjoyable – mentally, morally and physically. Any relative dip and hardship in the middle section was rapidly forgotten. After the race I felt a deep tiredness in my legs that I’ve only felt once before – the week before after the “Bosses du 13” race. Mentally I was fully alert and fresh so the 3 hour drive home after lunch was  absolutely no issue. There was no tiredness when driving. Sleeping at night however was a bit restless and the following day there was a deep general tiredness. Now, almost 48 hours later (and still deep in ketosis) I already feel recovered and fresh.

Amazingly, despite my background both academically and professionally in navigation I believed that I was going around the course in a clockwise direction – but it was anti-clockwise! Realising that after the race removed quite a bit of confusion! Thankfully the roads were almost totally empty of traffic and the organisiation and signalisation were excellent. I’ll be back! Despite the toughness of the long courses and large amounts of climbing, thanks to ketosis I’m starting to really enjoy and look forward to them. Before ketosis I used to only find them demoralising.

Ketosis Analysis

Analysing the overall situation regarding Ketosis I found that three main points emerged which I have posted as questions on the personal bog of Dr Attia. Here is a copy of the comment that is currently awaiting moderation…

Hi Peter,

I assume you have your reasons for not specifically answering my previous question about what supplements you would now choose to use during training session – given the (positive) effect of exogenous ketone (or more accurately MCT) supply. (Peter Attia’s blog post was regarding ketone supplementation Exogenous Ketones)

I have a few observations to add. Bear in mind that I am supplementing both ketones and carbs in low quantities when training or racing.

Observation 1

You appear to be correct in that any carbs consumed during an event – at least when consumed a few hours into the event – do not impact ketosis. You describe this as being due to a “carb debt”. (I have measured approx 1.7 mmol/L before a competition and 3.4 mmol/L after despite eating carbs) Reading about the Ranulph Feinnes/ Mike Stroud 1992/3 expedition to be the first ever to walk unaided across the Antarctic however raises a question mark over the “carb-debt” idea. The two adventurers – in a bid to reduce their carrying weight ended up with a high concentration of fat for their food – which I calculate to have provided 75% of their calories. They were burning over 11,000 Kcal per day – every day for 6 weeks – measured using radio isotopes. They took blood samples every few days. By the end of their trip their blood glucose levels were so low they would normally have been dead at 0.2 mmol/L. When the readings were analysed the medical experts initially thought they were simply in error – but they were not.

My point is this: What is a “Carb-debt” when the body can apparently normalise to 0.2 mmol/L? Would it not be better to aim for this than feed a system (with carbs) that assumes 4 mmol/L minimum is “normal” and necessary?

Observation 2

During cycling competition I can maintain an anaerobic level for over 4 hours with much of this apparently “red-lining”. So if I’m now not actually burning carbs and burning ketones instead then is this actually correct to call this “anaerobic” in the sense of being 70% carb burning – which it now clearly is not?

Observation 3

At almost exactly 4 hours and 30 minutes into an event – no matter what I’ve been doing in terms of effort up to this point – there is an effect like a switch being thrown that brings a strong resurgence of energy. This doesn’t affect heart rate but it allows much more power to be accessed without a raise in average heart rate. So far once this has started it remains constant until the termination of the event – from two to three hours later. I have absolutely no idea why this happens – but I can almost set my watch by it because the timing is so precise.