When it comes to weight loss and endurance performance, dietary ketosis is the strategy everyone is asking about this year. On the surface, ketosis or a ketogenic diet offers everything an endurance athlete could dream of: endless energy, freedom from bonking, and an efficient pathway to weight loss. The diet has been all over mainstream magazines, it’s the subject of several new books, and the supplement companies have already jumped in with new products and a ton of marketing dollars. So, is it time for cyclists, triathletes, and runners to go Keto?
For my month goal, I went big. During my Keto Diet research, I read that it may not be ideal for elite athletes. If you’ve seen me play ping pong or dodgeball, you know I’m an elite athlete so I was worried. Nevertheless, I took my red bull and glazed donut regimen and prepared to swap it for some salads and nuts.
The First Week
In the first week, I either got sick from the students at school or got what many describe as “the Keto flu.” In simple terms, your body goes into shut-down mode while it adjusts to life without carbs and sugar. OH WHAT A LIFE WE HAD TOGETHER!
I felt horrible. Prior to the diet, I imagined a day or two with the shakes (boy, I used to get the shakes like you read about!) because of the red-bull and sugar detox but this was worse. This was like when you literally have the flu. I had zero energy and was miserable. But I had a strong will to persevere because there was a promise of unlimited energy and bliss if you could get your body to stage 2. HOLD OUT FOR A BETTER LIFE, SCOTT.
Stage 2 (Days 7-14)
I kept a log of each day and how I felt waking up in the morning and also, what I felt like during the day. ONE DAY (Day 18) during the entire 30 days I scored myself higher than a “7” on the 1-10 wakeup scale I devised. Most days were normal to less than normal. On the good days, I attributed it to just going to bed at a decent hour and not the diet. In the entire 30 days, I went to the gym 3 times and went for ONE run. This is not because of laziness. 90% of the time, I just had no energy to go. For the first two weeks, in terms of eating keto-acceptable foods, I was as close to perfect as you can get and unlike most people who cheat (drinking wine/beer) I’m a horrific alcoholic so cross that off the list!
Note: I did not bother to calculate percentage of fat to protein with bodyweight. I just made sure that I didn’t eat anything that was not keto-friendly. I will never be a counter and was not going to do it for a month because I know I’ll never do that long-term.
After 14 days, there was a three day vacation to California. I was not eating keto-friendly during this time but sources will confirm to you that I was much, much, friendlier.
Stage 3 (Death of Keto)
In the remaining days of the Keto Diet, I held steady at about 2 pounds lighter (from 161 to 158.5). At no point did the pee-strips I used indicate I was in ketosis (it turns purple). Several people said I looked sickly. My face looked skinnier (not a good thing for me) and most importantly, I felt weak. Really weak. During one especially low point, I told Adriana I didn’t think I could carry the air conditioner down some stairs because I felt too weak.
If you’re going to cut sugar and carbs from your diet, there’s no fucking reason to do it unless you really get results. But I’m not going through more than a month for maybe- results. I am too busy and have too many people in my life that demand I’m not a dead-person for that many consecutive days.
Surprisingly, I am proud that I was so black-and-white successful with shutting down the sugar. NO DONUTS and ONE RED BULL (on vacation) in 30 days was a victory in itself. The diet, for me, was not that difficult in terms of resisting. What was difficult was not feeling nourished and full. I felt full with two meals the entire 30 days (one was a cauliflower pizza and the other was something with spaghetti squash, I think). The ONLY positive thing I can really take away from the month was that I found avocados. No joke, I don’t think I had ever eaten an avocado before. I had guacamole and wasn’t impressed, you basic bitches. But something happened, and I’m now an avocado guy. Magical fruit.
My own intuition tells me that I’m someone who needs to be constantly eating for energy. I’m just not someone who can get full on salads, nuts, and hope of a better life. This is not some way of saying glazed donuts and energy drinks are my magic elixir. It’s all about moderation and going to bed at a reasonable hour. One surprising thing I learned during the diet? You can get sick of bacon.
When someone tells you they are doing Keto, please refer them to this blog. Thus far, Keto ranks #2 on my regret list:
- Not wearing my retainer
- Doing the Keto Diet
- Running on treadmill after taco night
- Not protecting myself effectively when the boy with autism bit my nipple