Fatigue and Low Carb

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  • posted by Robert
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    I have tried Low Carb diets in the past and found that my ability to do exercise is greatly reduced. Running feels like you have lead legs from the start and mentally it turns what used to be an invigorating hour into a thing to dread.

    Has anyone else been in this situation and and any tips from those who have had this syndrome?

    It seems some people can exercise with little or no problem on Low Carb diets, I just don’t seem to be one of them. Is it just me?

  • posted by JGwen
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    Hi,

    It takes a little time for our bodies to adapt to using fat as a fuel, particularly if we have been eating a high carb diet for a long time. Our muscles need to make changes to the mitochondria to enable them to be efficient fat burners. I have read that there are 2 mitochondria per muscle cell if adapted to a carb based diet, with 5 per cell for someone fat adapted.

    On the keto athletic facebook groups they recommend allowing upto 12 weeks to adapt.

  • posted by Robert
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    Thanks for the reply. 12 weeks is a long time. I was hoping to back off to the 5:2 at about 12 weeks. Lets see how it goes?

  • posted by Californiagirl
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    Hi Robert — welcome! I hope your time with the BSD is most rewarding! Both JGwen and I are “sporty” and we’ve been discussing this exercise/BSD thing for a couple of years now — we’ve also had a lot of people who are also athletes talk about their experience over the years and I agree with JGwen that you’ve got to give it some time for your body to adjust. I would say at least eight weeks, but even as long as 16 weeks to really get your full strength and energy flowing.
    One very interesting thing I experienced was that I lost weight more quickly and steadily when I was doing only moderate exercise. There have been many anecdotal stories along those lines and although I do not understand WHY it happens, it definitely does! When I did hard exercise, or hours of hiking/skiing it would stall my weight loss. In fact, slower workouts, even weight lifting, was better than hours of endurance activity.
    And very importantly for everyone, but particularly athletes, you must be sure to eat enough protein to maintain and build muscle mass. This is where we (on the forum) often disagree but I use Dr Bikman’s guidelines (google him and watch his fantastic podcasts) and I ate about 1-1.2 grams of protein for every kg of body weight.
    I GAINED muscle over the six months I followed the BSD and I attribute it to weight workouts and good protein intake.
    I’m still maintaining now, almost four years later and I’m still prioritizing protein. You need to discover what works for your unique body and metabolism so play around with it and keep some notes — watch your energy levels, your muscle development, your mood and any cravings.
    You are likely to discover that you’ve got a “sweet spot” where it all comes together. The BSD works brilliantly — give it a bit of time and remain calm.
    You are going to amaze yourself!

  • posted by Robert
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    Thanks for the feedback. Previously I have only used running as my main form of exercise. When running I tend to be in the upper reaches of my heart rate nearing Lactic Threshold. I wondered whether this was too much to expect for 40-60 mins when on Low Carb. This time I had intended to do more swimming, weights, and lower intensity circuits as part of my exercise regime. So hopefully this will work better.

  • posted by Barfly
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    This topic is interesting for me too. I have a long bike race in May and have started the BSD but I am worried that I wont have enough energy to put in good sessions.

    Has anyone augmented their training with additional protein or fat i.e say add 300 cals for an hour HIT session for those training days?

  • posted by Californiagirl
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    Hi Barfly, yes, I did (and do) supplement with extra calories when I was doing big workouts — I ate more protein and/or more fat — I tried to avoid the carbs. I think it only makes sense — a moderate workout isn’t much stress physiologically but a big workout can be very stressful and a small amount of extra high-quality calories can make all the difference.
    Play around with it and find what works for you — your physical self is unique and a one-size-fits-all is not appropriate for a person putting in big exercise sessions.
    Make this work for you — it can be modified in many ways!

  • posted by Barfly
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    Thanks for that, what kind of fat do you use as pre workout fuel. Say I want to do a 3 hour road work out with hills for example? Any suggestions? Nuts? High fat vegetables and fruit?

  • posted by Californiagirl
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    Hmm, 3 hours with hills — you might be sure to eat protein (eggs, cheese, nuts (pepitas, walnuts, almonds), chicken or beef slices and some quality vegetable carbs like peppers, avocado, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli and some fruit (small amount berries or apples or citrus) with plain yogurt.
    I often fuel my workouts with just coffee and a couple of tablespoons heavy cream (and many athletes use “bullet” coffee) because I can’t work out on a full stomach (or I work out best on an empty stomach) but then you need to eat directly after the workout and make it full of nutrition — salads, veg with some butter and protein plus fat.
    My fats are extra virgin olive oil, grass-fed butter, heavy cream (that’s your double cream as I recall from my months living in Bath) and nuts, avocado — that’s mostly it — I try to avoid any other fats to keep my omega-3 balance in order.
    You MIGHT need to modify workouts for a little while (a month or two) — you will adapt quickly but if you go too hard in the beginning you can get just TOO hungry.
    Perversely, I lost weight fastest when I restricted the aerobics and did light aerobics and more weight lifting. I think aerobics make your body hang on to calories (don’t know why but it happened to me)
    Keep a good journal and start paying attention to how you respond to different tweaks in the diet — your body is going to tell you what’s best for your personal metabolism. Then double down on what works!
    You are going to amaze yourself! This way of eating works for a lifetime and is so sustainable. I’m almost fours years following the general principles and still maintaining. I still have to restrict carbs because I am obviously carb sensitive but if I keep those down, I can eat to satiety and not feel denied in any way,
    The good news is that everything in your body will benefit, not just the weight loss but also your brain and bones and resistance to disease— even mood!
    Let us know how you get on!

  • posted by Robert
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    Update, I am now 3 weeks into ‘mostly’ the Fast 800 diet with a mix and match from the Blood Sugar diet using the books and recipe books for each. So far I am 18 pounds down. Exercise has been OK with circuits (Les Mills Bodypump), swimming and yoga. However today I went on a hike in the hills near by. All was OK until I came up to the main rise in the hills, this was only a 200m ascent.

    When I hit this I only had the energy for 10-20m of ascent at a time and had to keep stopping to get my leg fatigue, breath and dizziness out of my system before I could continue. It wasn’t a lack of muscle or fitness as prior to the diet I had tackled 800m ascents without needing to stop with additional camping/backpacking gear and that extra 18lbs.

    It would seem this is either due to exhausting a specific muscle group without the rest you get in Bodypump between sets or not being able to convert fat fast enough to feed the muscles on the ascent.

    Anybody else experienced anything similar.

  • posted by Californiagirl
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    Hi Robert, maybe just ease back a bit? You’ve lost six pounds per week for three weeks — that is a lot to lose so quickly. To add in lots of exercise on top of such a rapid loss might be putting too much strain on your body — thus the fatigue and difficulty you experienced on the hill.
    I would listen to what your body is telling you — just back off until you regain your energy levels — then you can try again (add more back in) and find the point where you both feel good and are still losing weight.
    This is a way of eating forever — so a bit of time is no great problem.
    Take care.

  • posted by Robert
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    I suppose I was just interested if anybody had any experience and/or explanation for the difference between the types of exercise.

    1) With Bodypump/Circuits/Swimming I feel like I have 80-90% of my pre-diet performance.
    2) With walking up mountains/hills I feel like I have 10-20% of my pre-diet performance.

    2) feels like a lot more aerobic than 1) however Bodypump/Circuits does get quite aerobic for short periods.

    Not sure whether your back off comment refers to the diet or the exercise?

    My plan is to keep the current diet regime going until I get to where I need to be weight wise and then back off to maintain with 5:2/4:3 as necessary. Hopefully this will only be 6-8 weeks from here, depending on how weight loss slows down in the coming weeks. For now I think I will tailor my exercise regime around what seems to work to fit the diet rather than the other way around.

  • posted by JGwen
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    Hi Robert,

    At a cellular process fueling muscles from carbs or fat are very different processes. Our body needs time to adapt to using fat for a fuel. Dr Bikman is a favourite source of information for me on the details of the metabolism of fat v carbs. I remember that he said that in a muscle cell adapted for a carb diet you have 2 mitochondria, while in one adapted for fat as a fuel source there are 5.

    It would certainly seem sensible to me to presume that during this adaption phase your body can cope with exercise with short breaks between each exercise but sustained exercise would be more of a problem. On the keto athlete facebook group they recommend leaving a minimum 3 month period between starting keto and entering any competitive event. Of course once your muscles are fat adapted you would have a considerable advantage when it comes to endurance events compared to those with a high carb diet.

    I have posted links over the last couple of years on the Take a Look at this Thread on this forum when I found interesting articles, Including links to podcasts by Dr Bikman that I think would be relevant to you. The experts on endurance sports and low carb are
    Drs Phinney and Volek who have published books and podcasts on this topic.

  • posted by JGwen
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    Hi Robert,

    At a cellular process fueling muscles from carbs or fat are very different processes. Our body needs time to adapt to using fat for a fuel. Dr Bikman is a favourite source of information for me on the details of the metabolism of fat v carbs. I remember that he said that in a muscle cell adapted for a carb diet you have 2 mitochondria, while in one adapted for fat as a fuel source there are 5.

    It would certainly seem sensible to me to presume that during this adaption phase your body can cope with exercise with short breaks between each exercise but sustained exercise would be more of a problem. On the keto athlete facebook group they recommend leaving a minimum 3 month period between starting keto and entering any competitive event. Of course once your muscles are fat adapted you would have a considerable advantage when it comes to endurance events compared to those with a high carb diet.

    I have posted links over the last couple of years on the Take a Look at this Thread on this forum when I found interesting articles, Including links to podcasts by Dr Bikman that I think would be relevant to you. The experts on endurance sports and low carb are
    Drs Phinney and Volek who have published books and podcasts on this topic.

    Oh, I forgot to mention one issue may be electrolytes balance. Our bodies store water when we eat a high carb diet which the kidneys release when we move to low carb. As they release the water they also release electrolytes. You do need to increase your salt intake on a keto diet as a result.

  • posted by Robert
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    Thanks for the feedback. Do you have a link for the ” Take a Look at this Thread” as I there doesn’t seem to be a search facility on these forums and I can’t find that thread.

  • posted by caronl
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    Robert I have “bumped” the Take a look thread for you. In case you are looking for other topics, the drop down menu on forums gives you the most recent threads, and you can scroll down to find the topic you are looking for.

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