One week to go

With my first ever marathon coming up in one week’s time (6th May) some have been asking about my latest preparations.

It’s not long now until my marathon weekend on 5th/6th May.  Please help raise money for Marie Curie by sponsoring my first marathon in memory of “my third grandparents”.

In many ways I have been preparing for this event since I started my low-carb / ketogenic diet back in April 2016.  Since then I lost a lot of weight and as I became energised, I became interested to learn how far I could push myself in this new found state.

10th May 2019 update: see A marathon – just add sugar

I am following my very own protocol, which I created built on years of study and self-experimentation.  I finally documented this in March 2019, and often refer to it myself to keep on track!

Running on fat without sugar (the protocol)

Continue reading “One week to go”

32k, heat, teddy bears, and sugar pills

First of all – thank you so much to everyone who has helped me raise money for Marie Curie by sponsoring me on my marathon run on 6th May.  With your generosity I have now raised a whopping £685.  This will go to helping families in their greatest time of need, providing nursing support at home to those with terminal illness – a highly valuable and essential service.  I am overwhelmed by the support and kind words – and the very generous anonymous donations too – thank you – whoever you are!!

It’s not too late to donate! If you haven’t already, please consider making a donation.

£685 raised for Marie Curie

On 18th April I ran 32km – my longest distance so far – a new record.  I am also pleased to say that the fundraising goal of £500 is smashed!  Thank you to everyone who has made that happen!

Continue reading “32k, heat, teddy bears, and sugar pills”

Running on fat without sugar

The Sugar Drop protocol – a layman’s method of maintaining blood sugar without carbohydrates during long runs

May 2019: I’ll soon be adapting this method following further revelations, to become a personal protocol to naturally raise ketones and normalise blood sugar prior to long exercises to prevent hypoglycaemia (“hitting the wall”, or “bonking”) for as long as possible whilst consuming absolute minimal carbohydrates.

See also A marathon – just add sugar

Having met my target weight on a ketogenic diet back in 2016, and having discovered many health benefits of this lifestyle I had no desire to go back to my old ways. However, I continued to lose (too much) weight. After some research I discovered the solution was to start working out (particularly resistance / weight training). Having been sedentary for most of my life I found this quite daunting. But in 2017 I discovered that my new diet provided me with more energy than I had felt in decades. I started weight training which stabilised my weight, and later with my excess energy I started treadmill running. In September 2017 I headed to the gym before breakfast and randomly ran 21k over 2:12, stopping not because I could not continue but because I had to get to work. It was then I discovered the nature of “fat-adapted” energy delivery. Since then I have been studying, testing and experimenting to work out the optimal method to keep myself running – without carbs or sugar.

Conventional thinking (based on research going back to the 1970s) suggests that loading up on carbs before an endurance event, then “topping up” during and afterwards is a requirement. My feeling now is that this is a requirement – if your metabolism is “configured” to use dietary glucose [from carbohydrates] as a primary source. However, if you remove carbs for long enough, the body generates its own glucose “on demand” along with ketones, which are predominantly used to fuel the brain. This isn’t a new concept and numerous athletes, body builders have proven this. One of my favourite and most inspiring stories is that of Meredith Loring and Sami Inkinen who rowed 24 hours a day for 45 days over 2,765 miles on a 70% fat diet with less than 10% carbohydrates: Fat chance row

There is no end of further examples online. However, I cannot fool myself into believing I am a top athlete, at forty years old I have only just started exercising. So, the question is:

How far can I go with this?

Continue reading “Running on fat without sugar”

Half marathon in a fasted, low-carb state

On 9th December, I was very pleased to complete my first ever official half marathon (21km / 13 miles) in 2:10 beating my previous record for this distance.  I did of course do this in a low-carb, fasted state by following my “Sugar Drop protocol.”

Results Base – Steve’s half marathon results Dec 18

Steve half marathon
Crossed the line – with great concentration

With my main goal to be completing the race consuming nothing but salt water and staying in zone, I didn’t win any speed records.  However, as my protocol dictates, I must stay in my aerobic heart rate zone for most of the race.  And I did:heart zones

I successfully managed to stay in zone 4 for 88% of the race.  I was in zone 5 for 11% of this time, which was likely when overtaking, climbing hills, and the sprint finish.  The remaining 1% in zone 3 was probably when I had to stop for a minute to remove a stone from my shoe!I felt good at the end of the race.  In fact I am quite sure I could have happily continued!MK half 2018 map

The geeky detail

Best viewed on a large screen.

Half marathon chart

Date

Time

Blood ketones

Blood glucose

 

03 Dec 2018
Fasting day 1

0800 (baseline)

2.7

4.2

Bone broth, black coffee, water, salt only

 

2100

3.7

3.6

 

04 Dec 2018
Fasting day 2

0800

3.7

3.9

Bone broth, black coffee, water, salt only

 

1900

6.1

3.3

Ketones high – I’m really burning fat!

After a 5k run

2030

5.7

4.4

Post-run glucose increase fasted!

05 Dec 2018

Before break-fast

0800

6.2

3.2

Fast break day
Carbs consumed: 36g

After break-fast

2100

4.8

3.5

 

06 Dec 2018
Strict keto day 1

0800

Oops

3.7

Can’t believe I ran out of ketone strips!
Carbs consumed: 34g

 

2130

5.2

4.8

Phew, thanks Amazon Prime

07 Dec 2018
Strict keto day 2

1000

4.2

4.2

Carbs consumed: 47g

 

2200

2.4

5.3

* Accidently had a latte! Arrrgh!

08 Dec 2018
Strict keto day 3

1000

3.6

4.4

Recovering from latte…
Carbs consumed: 22g

 

2200

2.8

4.7

 

09 Dec 2018
Half marathon day

0730

2.8

3.9

I was worried – had I messed it up?

Didn’t eat anything before the run

0900

3.9

4.5

Phew, it was just OK again just before the run

1.5 hours after the run

1400

6.5

3.1

Due to a technical issue I wasn’t able to measure straight after the run alas.

A Latte mistakes were made

* The great latte mistake: I was out at work on 7th December.  Out of habit I went into a coffee shop and had a latte.  A latte, due to the lactose / milk sugar is NOT keto compatible.  As you can see it raised my blood glucose significantly and also reduced my ketone production.  Fortunately by race day they had settled somewhat, but I was left wondering what they would have been if I had not made this mistake.Blood meter

Some may notice that in my “strict keto” days I consumed 20-50g of carbs per day, the day before the run was 22g (deliberately lower).  To many, this isn’t considered “keto” which is often defined as less than 20g per day.  However, going back to its original definition – it’s whatever level of carbs can be tolerated whilst generating ketones – which varies greatly from one individual to another.  You’ll see from the table above that I was generating a lot of ketones throughout the process – in fact far more than is typical.  For some reason, my metabolism works this way, and I happen to know from experience that I can go up to 100g to 120g of carbs per day and still remain in ketosis (not that I have any desire to do that, because all of this isn’t just about ketones).  Therefore for me – strict keto is in fact anything less than 40-50g.

What I consumed

December 5, 2018

     
FOODSCalsCarbsFatProteinSugars
Breakfast
Sainsbury’s – Omega 3 Fish Oil Capsule, 1000 mg9–g1g–g–g
Vitabiotics – Wellman Vitamin Original, 1 Tablet00g0g0g0g
Sainsbury’s – Outdoor Bred British Pork Sausages, 0.4 sausages660g6g4g–g
My Coffee Dbl, 1 serving(s)1351g14g1g1g
Walnuts – Walnuts, 3 tsp(s)501g5g1g0g
Sainsbury’s Basics – Full Flavour Cheddar Cheese, 5 g200g2g1g0g
Lunch
Indian – Onion Bhaji, 1 pieces1755g14g1g–g
Sausage Roll – Sausage Roll, 30 grams1038g7g3g0g
Cheese, brie, 20 g670g6g4g0g
Sainsbury’s – Thick Cut Back Bacon Smoked Rashers, 1 rasher690g4g12g0g
M&s – Sliced Ham, 30 g410g1g8g–g
Dinner
My Coffee Dbl, 1 serving(s)1351g14g1g1g
Homemade – Grain-free Granola, 0.08 cup953g9g2g1g
Sainsbury’s – Fresh Double Cream, 30 ml1320g14g0g0g
Marks and Spencer – Authentic Greek Yoghurt 10% Fat (New 2015), 100 g1274g10g6g2g
Sainsbury’s – So Organic Raspberries, 10 g30g0g0g0g
sainsburys – tangy blackberries, 10 gram31g0g0g0g
Sainsbury – Blueberries , 0.25 cup215g0g0g4g
Snacks
My tea, 1 serving(s)201g1g1g1g
Babybel – Mini, 22 gr610g5g5g0g
Slow-mag – Magnesium Chloride With Calcium, 1 tablets00g0g0g0g
Lindt – 90% cocoa dark chocolate, 30 g1784g17g3g2g
My Coffee Dbl, 2 serving(s)2692g29g1g2g
TOTAL:1,77936g159g54g14g

December 6, 2018

     
FOODSCalsCarbsFatProteinSugars
Breakfast
Slow-mag – Magnesium Chloride With Calcium, 2 tablets00g0g0g0g
Sainsbury’s – Omega 3 Fish Oil Capsule, 1000 mg9–g1g–g–g
Vitabiotics – Wellman Vitamin Original, 1 Tablet00g0g0g0g
My Coffee Dbl, 2 serving(s)2692g29g1g2g
Lunch
Cheese Gluten Free Low Carb Bread, 1 serving(s)1112g9g4g1g
Sainsbury’s – Outdoor Bred British Pork Sausages, 1 sausages1661g14g10g–g
Sainsburys – Portobello Mushrooms, 15 g20g0g0g0g
Generic – Cellery Raw, 0.05 Cup diced10g0g0g0g
Parsnips – Parsnips, 0.03 cup20g0g0g0g
Leek – Leek, 30 g184g0g0g1g
Carrots, raw, 0.2 medium51g0g0g1g
My Coffee Dbl, 1 serving(s)1351g14g1g1g
Dinner
Lard, 0.5 tsp(s)190g2g0g0g
Carrots, raw, 0.17 medium41g0g0g0g
Sainsburys – Portobello Mushrooms, 3.3 g10g0g0g0g
tomato paste – paste, 0.5 tbsp71g0g0g1g
Waitrose – Organic British Diced Beef, 123.75 g1520g6g25g0g
Slow-mag – Magnesium Chloride With Calcium, 1 tablets00g0g0g0g
Snacks
My tea, 1 serving(s)201g1g1g1g
Homemade – Grain-free Granola, 0.08 cup953g9g2g1g
My Coffee Dbl, 3 serving(s)4043g43g2g2g
Sainsbury’s – Fresh Double Cream, 30 ml1320g14g0g0g
Marks and Spencer – Authentic Greek Yoghurt 10% Fat (New 2015), 100 g1274g10g6g2g
Sainsbury’s – So Organic Raspberries, 10 g30g0g0g0g
sainsburys – tangy blackberries, 10 gram31g0g0g0g
Sainsbury – Blueberries , 0.25 cup215g0g0g4g
Lindt – 90% cocoa dark chocolate, 20 g1183g11g2g1g
Walnuts – Walnuts, 3 tsp(s)501g5g1g0g
TOTAL:1,87434g168g55g18g

December 7, 2018

     
FOODSCalsCarbsFatProteinSugars
Breakfast
Sainsbury’s – Omega 3 Fish Oil Capsule, 1000 mg9–g1g–g–g
Vitabiotics – Wellman Vitamin Original, 1 Tablet00g0g0g0g
Slow-mag – Magnesium Chloride With Calcium, 2 tablets00g0g0g0g
My Coffee Dbl, 2 serving(s)2692g29g1g2g
Lunch
Lindt – 90% cocoa dark chocolate, 10 g591g6g1g1g
Walnuts – Walnuts, 3 tsp(s)501g5g1g0g
Dinner
Slow-mag – Magnesium Chloride With Calcium, 1 tablets00g0g0g0g
Homemade – Grain-free Granola, 0.08 cup953g9g2g1g
My Coffee Dbl, 2 serving(s)2692g29g1g2g
Sainsbury’s – Fresh Double Cream, 30 ml1320g14g0g0g
Marks and Spencer – Authentic Greek Yoghurt 10% Fat (New 2015), 100 g1274g10g6g2g
Roasted Mediterranean veg mix, 1 serving(s)1577g14g1g4g
Sainsbury’s – Lamb Chops 100 g, 220.0 g4690g24g64g0g
Snacks
My tea, 1 serving(s)201g1g1g1g
the snaffling pig – pork scratching, 100 gram6764g60g34g0g
Lindt – 90% cocoa dark chocolate, 20 g1183g11g2g1g
Sainsbury’s – Rosemary & Sea Salt Roasted Nut Selection, 60 g3884g35g11g3g
Costa – Medium Latte, 1 cup20215g11g11g15g
TOTAL:3,04047g259g136g32g

December 8, 2018

     
FOODSCalsCarbsFatProteinSugars
Breakfast
Sainsbury’s – Omega 3 Fish Oil Capsule, 1000 mg9–g1g–g–g
Vitabiotics – Wellman Vitamin Original, 1 Tablet00g0g0g0g
My Coffee Dbl, 2 serving(s)2692g29g1g2g
Slow-mag – Magnesium Chloride With Calcium, 2 tablets00g0g0g0g
Lunch
Eggsnog half dbl no pnt btr, 1 serving(s)3262g32g6g1g
My Coffee Dbl, 1 serving(s)1351g14g1g1g
Sainsbury’s – Rosemary & Sea Salt Roasted Nut Selection, 9.99 g651g6g2g0g
Lindt – 90% cocoa dark chocolate, 10 g591g6g1g1g
Sainsbury’s Basics – Full Flavour Cheddar Cheese, 7.0 g270g2g2g0g
Sainsburys – Yorkshire Wensleydale & Apricot Cheese, 5 gm171g1g1g1g
Dinner
Keto Bacon [pork] Cheeseburger Casserole (ditchthecarbs.com), 1 serving(s)5063g37g40g3g
Olive oil mayo homemade RTX, 1 serving(s)3300g37g1g0g
Priddyfair nutrition – FINE GRADE 100 % PURE PINK HIMALAYAN SALT 1KG, 0.3 tsp (5g)00g0g0g0g
Sainsbury’s (So Organic) – Young Spinach, 30 gram60g0g1g0g
Slow-mag – Magnesium Chloride With Calcium, 2 tablets00g0g0g0g
Sainsburys – Yorkshire Wensleydale & Apricot Cheese, 10 gm351g2g2g1g
Snacks
My tea, 1 serving(s)201g1g1g1g
My Coffee Dbl, 1 serving(s)1351g14g1g1g
Sainsbury’s Basics – Full Flavour Cheddar Cheese, 25 g980g8g6g0g
Lindt – 90% cocoa dark chocolate, 25 g1484g14g3g2g
Walnuts – Walnuts, 10 tsp(s)1673g17g4g1g
Babybel – Mini, 22 gr610g5g5g0g
Sainsbury’s – Rosemary & Sea Salt Roasted Nut Selection, 9.99 g651g6g2g0g
TOTAL:2,47822g232g80g15g

On race day (9th December 2018)

I ate nothing on the day before the run.  I drank water, black coffee and a bone broth.During the race I consumed 1.5 litres of tap water containing 1/8 tsp of Himalayan pink salt, and 1/8 tsp of “lo salt” (for extra potassium).

Further reading

My “Sugar Drop protocol” for maintaining blood sugar whilst fasting and running:
Running on fat without sugar

I strongly recommend the following resources if you want to learn more:

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance
by Stephen Phinney, Jeff VolekThe Diet Delusion
by Gary TaubesAll material by Tim Noakes

See more recommended resources

Related articles

Running on fat without sugar

My dietary goals

23km run in a fasted, low-carb state