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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?

Continue reading “A marathon – just add sugar”

Marathon completed!

Just a quick update – not without challenges and issues, I made it through the 42km / 26 mile MK Marathon in 5:03. More later, but for now thanks so much for all your support! X

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

Learn more about the background of this marathon and fundraising.

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!!

The marathon tomorrow – a quick update

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.  I am overwhelmed by the support and kind words – and the very generous anonymous donations too – thank you – whoever you are!!

The experiment has begun.  I’ll write more after the marathon – when I will be able to tell you if I was able to complete the race using the protocol, along with all the details.  In the meantime, here is a quick update.

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

I ran the “MK Rocket 5k” this morning (the MK marathon is tomorrow and starts at 10am).  I didn’t aim for speed – not wanting to put pressure on the day before the marathon but yet I was pleased with my result of 25:57.  I did this of course, in a fasted state with no sugar as usual – I felt fantastic at the end of the race and all went well.

Oooh shiny!
Continue reading “The marathon tomorrow – a quick update”

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.

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!!

£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”

23km fuel, tyres, and heat

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.  I am overwhelmed by the support and kind words – and the very generous anonymous donations too – thank you – whoever you are!!

23km over 2:36

I had mixed feelings about my training run on 29th April.  I managed to run 23km (14 miles) in unexpectedly warm weather (about 18°C, that felt like 30!).  I tried hard not to neglect the fact I had run over half a marathon in the warmest temperature I had ever ran in, whilst part of me went on about how I had “only” made 23km of my 35km (22 miles) target!

Continue reading “23km fuel, tyres, and heat”

30km running distance record achieved!

I am very pleased that I smashed my previous longest distance of 23km by completing 30km yesterday.  It was also my longest continual exercise at 3 ½ hours (just over 33,000 steps!).  Of course, I did this without sugar or carbs as usual.

Especially given the challenges that arose, I was very happy with this time.  This distance is about 71% of a full marathon distance (42km) so whilst it will be challenging, I feel I might be on track to meeting my target of a 4 ½ hour marathon.  We will see!

My next goal is to run 35km next week.

Thank you so much to everyone who has sponsored and supported me on my “marathon without sugar” journey.  I am overwhelmed with the donations and kind words received.  Find out more about my Marie Curie marathon in memory of “my third grandparents”.

There and back – 30k
Continue reading “30km running distance record achieved!”

Raising money for Marie Curie in memory of “my third grandparents”

I am in training now for my first marathon – the Rightmove MK Marathon Weekend in Milton Keynes – on 5th and 6th May 2019.  On the 5th is a 5km (3 miles) run, and on the 6th is the marathon (42km / 26 miles) – a total of 47km / 29 miles in one weekend.

My main marathon goal is to reach the finish line.  My secondary is to complete it in less than 4.5 hours.  I also hope to use my “Sugar Drop” protocol as an experiment – running without sugar – subject to prior tests, precautions and medical clearance! (learn more).

I am going to run this marathon in memory of my late mother- and father-in law Fred & Joan Shanks.  I am raising funds for Marie Curie.

Continue reading “Raising money for Marie Curie in memory of “my third grandparents””

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