For a number of years I’ve been working on my fat adaptation. It takes some work, especially when an athlete is coming from such a carb dependent background.

There’s some very good reasons why you should want to become ‘more’ fat adapted too. I say more … because we’re all fat ‘adapted’ to varying degrees. When your engine is in neutral or running a a very low gear you’re indeed using the fatty acid oxidation system … well unless you have carbed up which most athletes do before training and racing which essentially shuts down your fatty acid oxidation considerably for hours due to the insulin spike which forces the body to rely solely on glycogen.

You want to be sparing that glycogen and not burning through it .. especially us endurance athletes.

The carb tank is pretty darn limited at ~ 1600-2000 cal compared to the fuel tanker of FAT at 40’000 cals.

At Cent Cols athletes bonked everyday. They fueled on the typical advised fare if highly processed sugary shit and sports nutrition.

Not once did I ever feel low on fuel and I consumed significantly less then the rest, at breakfast, during and at dinners. Yet I felt great the whole time with the exception of some cross contamination episodes.

How many times have you bonked in training racing?

While still trying to ingest every increasing amounts of sports nutrition because you’ve been led down the rabbit hole of more consumption is better for you.

How many times have you had debilitating stomach distress in training and racing?

I killed my previous best athletic shape in Kona back in 08 because I got conned by marketing and tried to push my sweet poison up to 300cals /hr in the heat.

I cried when I finished due to my stupidity.

Fail.

So my progressions lead to finding better choices and working out better strategies. Always, learning.

I thought I had a pretty decent handle on both day to day nutrition and race nutrition until I had a few months of ‘stomach in pieces’ everyday, every time I ate.

I followed an 80/20 gluten free to gluten consumption diet for the most part and at better times it was 90/10.

As you now, turns out the gluten was the reason for the stomach woes. I was unknowingly napalming myself daily until I found out I had villous atrophy.

I have celiacs disease, which for the unknowing is an autoimmune issue. Meaning that each time I ingested gluten, my body wouldn’t just attack the gluten protein. But it would attack my very own make up.

Not good.

Since then. July 16. I have been 100% gluten free and haven’t looked back.

The biggest issue as I’ve mentioned before is cross contamination. 1 single breadcrumb can nail me. Chopping a salad on a board that has had wheat gluten on it equals nailed.

I haven’t replaced gluten containing foods with their non-gluten and just as unhealthy equivalents. On Cent Cols, I did have some GF pasta, some GF breads as the fueling requirements of riding 10, 200+km days in the mountains back to back are up there – but I’d did take in a helluva lot of Fat in.

The first major thing I noticed in the week I went 100% gluten free was this brain fog I had been dealing with completely lifted.

That in of itself was life improving.

I started having more energy. Not rocket science when you start healing your small intestine and absorbing the nutrients you need.

The healing process of my guts and small intestine is still happening.

But, I’m leaner, sleep better, recover faster then I did when I was consuming gluten.

All performance boosters.

I can tell you it wasn’t hard to go 100% GF. Because I didn’t have a choice.

Gluten was silently killing me.

Those with celiacs disease, who keep ingesting gluten (not everyone gets debilitating stomach reactions) can end up with about seven other autoimmune issues.

No thanks. I want to be around and healthy for a long time yet.

I think it was the best thing that could have happened. I’m healthier for it.

But … it throws sports nutrition into a spin.

The effort levels at Cent Cols meant I could consume real food at feed stops and my adapted TNN (thenaturalnutritionist) No Bake Energy Bars (I’ll do a post on them shortly).

When pushing much harder at Ironman and 70.3 levels and not wanting any chance of gastrointestinal stress. Well, that is a different ball game.

Maltodextrin is gone for me. Not such a bad thing as the more I’m learning the more I see it could be problematic due to its density when it hits the small intestine and breaks down into it’s simple glucose molecule.

If you haven’t had enough water and sodium (electrolytes) with the concentrate. You will likely have problems.

Think of the customs hall at LAX when a few international flights arrive at the one time and their is only two or three customs officials at the booths. Things get backed up pretty quick.

The water and electrolytes are the customs officers. The right amount dilutes the queues.

So that meant all gels gone.

Ok there are some out there made from dates etc. Dates for me are off the cards as they’re a FODMAP food (yes I have more then just gluten containing foods to deal with which can also cause reactions) and they’re high in fructose .. known to cause GI distress.

We have searched. Looked at options and are doing the homework.

Lots of good reports are coming out about “Superstarch” from Generation UCAN (http://www.generationucan.com/super.html)

Unfortunately for me superstarch could be a no no. Sure it says gluten free but it also says “ALLERGEN STATEMENT: Produced in a facility that also processes wheat, milk, soy and eggs.”

For me that is like playing Russian roulette with cross contamination and making myself sick and thus having to fix my villi again.

But I would recommend it to my athletes and gluten intolerant but non celiac athletes. (I will write more on this as I have some athletes testing).

So Steph (TNN) and I have been playing around with what we call Freedom Fuels.

Making a ‘gel’ out of rice malt syrup (100% glucose), some berries, some himalayan salt and some lemon.

And as above I have been playing with the No Bake Bars in training and at various efforts.

That’s my food source for within my long sessions. These have two be 2+ hours personally for me.

On the hydration side of things I ordered some Skratch-Labs hydration mixes from the US. Real taste, no sickly sweet feelings and I’m very impressed.

It’s been humid here and I’m a sprinkler once I get going so I add in extra electrolytes (salt sticks) as I’ve worked out through trial and error that I just need more electrolytes so I don’t cramp.

The Skratch-Labs contain some calories and this past weekend between the three sources of energy I had on me I consume <190cals/hr over a hilly, windy and pretty tough 145km.

My power numbers were very good. My perceived effort felt great and I ran off very well.

Oh there was no breakfast as usual.

Just my FAT BLACK.

What’s that I hear you say.

It’s a double espresso with a good tablespoon of organic butter from pasture reared cows.

Kicks off the fat burning and also gives you better mental acuity.

What’s better was that my recovery also was exceptionally good.

I just believe with even better oxidation of fats and specific timing of specific carbs, I can actually use less carbs per hour and still put out the same or better outputs.

And this is what I’m experimenting with.

I’ll be using principles of LCHF (low carb, high fat) diet but it will be well formulated. The major goal is getting to my optimised fat metabolism.

Some of the stated benefits:

There is more and I’ll cover those as I go along.

I’m going to be testing a number of things but the main focus will be getting into what is called nutritional ketosis. I’m using a blood ketone monitor to test my daily levels which need to be between 1.5 and 3mm/l to be in nutritional ketosis.

This is called being keto-adapted and is different from fat adapted. (another post).

Typically that happens for most

I’ll be tracking body composition and a number of other factors and I’ll keep you up to date and give the results.

Exciting times. I love doing this stuff.

I do believe many people put the cart before the horse. I mean they’re chasing performance nutrition instead of chasing nutrition for health first and foremost.

If you’re healthy, then there is a higher likelihood that will transcend to performance benefits.

Take a look around at what the advice of high carb and low fat has done to our general populations.

At this point in time we are the fattest and unhealthiest we have ever been and I don’t believe us endurance athletes have carte blanche when it comes nutrition either.

Can ingesting that much refined sugar really be good for you?

You might ask why an Ironman triathlete has a ripped upper body, ripped legs but still has a muffin top.

I asked it and went searching for the answer and it’s plain to see.

Stay tuned.

Kristian