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A marathon – just add sugar

I’m stoked to say that on May 6th 2019 I completed my first marathon!

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped me raise money for Marie Curie by sponsoring me on my marathon.  I am overwhelmed by the support and kind words – and the very generous anonymous donations too – thank you – whoever you are!! ✔🏃‍♀️😃

Learn more about the background of this marathon and its fundraising.

Marathon map, Milton Keynes
42km of Milton Keynes

Three years ago I started my ketogenic (low-carbohydrate) journey, lost a lot of weight, and much to my surprise went from “couch to runner” in early 2017.  Since then, I’ve continued to experiment to see what I can do with my newfound ketogenic energy.  I discovered I didn’t need sugars and carbohydrates to do the things I wanted to do from weightlifting, cycling, running, and more.  I could do them in a completely fasted state just fuelling with my body’s stored fat.  Of course, I wanted to find out how far I could go.  Could I run a marathon without any sugar?

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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”