Low Carb High Fat
Back in May 2015 I was waiting to catch a plane to New York for my sister’s wedding. I had some time to kill in the departures lounge so I ambled into the book shop. I’m always drawn to the sport or non fiction sections. Within a couple of minutes browsing I came across Christoper McDougalls’ latest book, “Natural Born Heroes”. Having really enjoyed the concept of his previous book “Born to Run” I decided to give this one a shot.
Apologies, very short book review, but sets the context well. Natural born Heroes is about a band of non-commissioned officers who with the aid of locals, wage guerrilla warfare against Nazi occupiers on the island of Crete. These men had to live off the land with no supplies yet their strength and endurance capabilities became legend on the island. Their mission was to disrupt Nazi advancement by keeping them grounded in Crete until winter before they could make a push against Russia. One of their missions involved kidnapping a Nazi general and cross the island on foot evading search parties and check points. To achieve this they had to cover some of the harshest terrain and scale sheer cliffs of rock.
McDougalls’ slant is, did these men inadvertently stumble across the key to lasting endurance? Was it their low carb high fat diet (Mediterranean diet) combined with lower to moderate intensity activity over a sustained period of time that helped to unlock their endurance potential?
These questions led me to look into the low carb high fat diet (LCHF), or more appropriately low carb high fat lifestyle. To me, diets don’t work as most are unsustainable. They are unsustainable because most diets require people to deny themselves the things that the mind and body crave. What most people require but don’t realise is, a lifestyle change. Deciding what is important and what is not, then making the big decision to change is a starting point.
Essence Of LCHF
Many out there use low carb high fat as a means of weight loss, but I wanted to look at it from an endurance point of view. There is an abundance of web sites out there explaining what the low carb high fat diet is and how to go about it, different recipes etc. But I was lucky to come across a podcast on Enduranceplanet with Dr. Philip Maffetone explaining his book “The Endurance Handbook”. Dr. Maffetone is a researcher, clinician, and author in the field of sports medicine, nutrition and biofeedback. He has been advocating a low carb high fat diet since the late eighties. He has trained many athletes including six time Ironman World Champion Mark Allen.
He believes the body works as a whole with each bodily system complementing each other. Therefore if one system is not performing adequately, the body doesn’t perform adequately. I doubt anyone would disagree with this simple belief. It sounds very logical doesn’t it? Throughout his book, he explains how to get the best out of each system from a health and endurance perspective. You’ll have to read the book or listen to the podcast for more because I’m not doing another book review!
I was interested in his thoughts on nutrition and training, and how they complement each other. He is an advocate of running slower to run fast. He believes this can be achieved by following some simple guidelines. Namely you need to convert to low carb high fat diet and you need to train within your aerobic zone. By keeping within your aerobic zone you teach your body to burn fat as fuel. This is the premise in its simplest form.
In my next post I’ll explain what I have implemented into my own training and nutrition. I will also make reference to other low carb high fat advocates such as Professor Tim Noakes author of “The Lore of Running”, Dr. Aseem Malhotra, cardiologist and researcher and Dr. Stephen Phinney author of “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living”.