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Low-carb maintenance: different from losing?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I've been on the weight maintenance team for a while. There is a lot of talk about whether you do the same things to maintain weight that you do to lose weight and also about whether it is harder to lose weight or to maintain weight. There seem to be varying opinions and experiences on the topic.
I've been thinking about how my perspective of maintenance has changed since I've gone low-carb/primal/paleo. I had relatively little concern of gaining a significant amount of weight back even before because I love to exercise and very rarely sit around. But I did notice an annual pattern of some weight gain in the fall and some weight loss in the spring/summer. It seemed to be around 10 lbs. and nothing I was particularly concerned about. I also noticed that whenever I train for a half-marathon and increase my mileage that I would gain weight, usually around 4-5 pounds in a matter of 6-10 weeks.
It will be interesting how eating low-carb will affect all of this. My next half-marathon is coming up in about 7 weeks so I'm increasing my mileage right now but I'm also continuing some strength training twice a week which I did not do last year because I did not feel I had the energy to do both.
While being on a ketogenic diet I hope to see an increase in strength AND endurance over the next 6 weeks but would be very interested what experience other low-carbers have had. emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LMB-ESQ 7/19/2012 8:35AM

    I hit my goal weight and stayed low carb and it worked out well for a long time. Then I experienced some family stress and stopped paying attention. That's my fault, not the low carb plan's fault. I gained back 20 lbs, and I'm finding that it's a lot harder to take it off the second time around than it was the first. I'm staying low carb, but shaking things up a bit to see if I can't get some movement on the scale.

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HOUNDLOVER1 7/18/2012 11:52AM

    I have the idea of staying low-carb for endurance training from Peter Attia's blog :
I have learned a ton from his blog, take a look at the favorite posts on the right after reading the page I linked.
I will add that I may eat a few more carbs (healthy things like fruit or sweet potato right after long runs) but that is the only exception if things go according to plan.

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LILY_SPARK 7/18/2012 10:49AM


It's good to hear you feel more energy now to do more. That's a lot of progress.

Not being a purposeful low-carb person (my illnesses are requiring the change), it goes against anything I've EVER heard from very thin (always thin), fit marathon runners I've known my whole life (I know a bunch, including SIL's brother, who coaches newbies for many decades).

They work to fuel extended runs with carbs, even if they normally don't eat a lot--they add it rather than tap into their muscles.

So, this is new to me--where did you get the program or methodology of staying low-carb when training for long, endurance sport? I'd like to read it.

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BEARCLAW6 7/18/2012 10:26AM

    I have basically been in maintenance for about 8 months....not very long. But, it seems to me that I eat the same way as I did while I was actively trying to lose, except that I add in a treat once in a while (pizza slice, tortilla or slice of birthday cake). This is still fairly rare. Most days, I am eating like OWL of Atkins. I intend to eat this way for the rest of my life. If I notice my weight creaping up, I will get more strict. If I go for a 4-hour bike ride, I will be less strict. The rest of the time it is how I learned to eat during the year of losing. Now.....I could still stand to lose another 15 lbs, but I just am not going to sweat that right now.

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MOMMY2GIRLS 7/18/2012 10:13AM


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EGALITAIRE 7/18/2012 10:04AM

    I am eagerly anticipating the challenge of maintaining -still have some to lose before I get there. I am interested to see how that is going to work for me.

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WALLINMW 7/18/2012 10:04AM

  Way to go! Stay encouraged; slow but steady wins every time!

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First real long run before HM

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I've really been too busy to do much running. I did a lot of other things and they were all worth it. But still, not at all the ideal preparation for tough trail half-marathon. I'm beginning to wonder if I should run it or not.
Today I went for 6.5 miles, in 1h 26min 30sec, average speed 4.5 mph.
My average pulse was 133
I was hoping to be running faster by now but given that I hardly did any running at all I really can't complain. So the plan is at this point to just keep training and wait until shortly before the race to decide if I'm going to run. I did get a few short hikes in which may have helped a little.
Today the weather was much cooler and not as humid.
Tomorrow I'm hoping to get up early again and do my running in the morning, when I have a lot more energy. Overall it's good to remember the long-term perspective. I've been running for over 2 years now, without any injuries, I can run for many miles without tiring, my strength training twice a week is getting pretty consistent, my horse is getting ridden regularly and I'm learning to swim butterfly.
I just bought a couple of pairs of pants in size 4 and that was fun, too. emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EJOY-EVELYN 7/18/2012 2:29AM

    You're doing great! Whenever a person ponders or questions a fitness activity, I can't help bit thinks getting the doctor's a-okay is the first place we should go. While good health is what aim for, I like to think doing where I find the most enjoyment is what will keep me coming back. I need some basic strength training to aid my core balance. Walking is my primary cup of tea . . . and if I can walk in the woods or through a garden or waterfront, I'm even happier. Do what you love!

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JSTETSER 7/17/2012 6:27AM

    Keep moving forward! Doesn't it feel good to fit into those small sizes?

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SHARPISTOL 7/17/2012 12:59AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Teenage daughter, high school swimmer, going low-carb

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It was a gradual process. Our whole family has been eating organic and gluten-free for several months. I found for myself that eating low-carb (paleo, primal) with keeping carbs under 50 grams/day works best.
My 15-year-old daughter, who is approaching her 2nd high school swim season and swimming 5 days/week had been eating fewer carbs just by virtue of finding no grains or beans in our house. On the 4th of July we were invited to a dinner party where lots of high-carb food was offered, much of it in casserole form where it was hard to avoid. My daughter found that the day after she suffered from a lack of energy bad enough to break of her swim practice halfway through. She also had achy muscles, mild stomach trouble, a low-grade fever that night and a headache all of which is very unusual for her. This is the girl that has almost never gotten sick and has never needed antibiotics her whole life. In addition to this she was thinking about food a lot more than usual and talking about all kinds of foods she was craving. It suddenly hit me that I had experienced the same exact symptoms when switching from moderate carbs (100-150 grams/day) to low-carb (under 50 grams). I started to suspect that her body was going through carb withdrawal. It's hard to know for certain, of course, since there are other factors that could have caused these symptoms. In any case, I shared my thoughts and she decided to give low-carb a try. Her decision was in part influenced by hoping to be less dependent on frequent snacking throughout the day and to improve her swim times. Tomorrow will be her first chance for an exhibition only swim competition to see how eating low-carb affects her performance. Today, on day 4, was the first day since the 4th of July that her energy level felt back to normal to her.
I am hoping with cutting out sugar, grain and beans that she will experience the same increased energy levels that I have experienced and that she will never have to experience the discouragement of unwanted weight gain. She is almost done growing in height so this could be a great time. Her starting weight is 116 lbs. at 5' 5".
With increasing muscle as a result of swimming about 5000-6000 yards/day her weight may go up but it will be a healthy gain. Some of the swimmers on her team swim as much as she does but are eating the SAD (Standard American Diet) and are significantly over their ideal weight. This shows me that exercise alone does not always prevent obesity.
If anyone has experience with low-carb diets for teenage athletes I would love to hear from you. emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MOMMY2GIRLS 7/18/2012 10:17AM

    i do low carb and I use to take in less then 25 carbs a day and have never had this

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EMMANYC 7/17/2012 8:39AM

    You might browse around on runningtimes.com. Although it's a different sport (running rather than swimming), there's a fair bit of focus on teenage athletes. So you might find some good information from the editors, or in the forums, about eating plans for teenage athletes.

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MEL27P 7/11/2012 8:49PM

    I have no information about low carb for teenagers, but just for a 62 year old grandma. I tried SAD and exercise and it did not work for me. Even at 1200 calories a day I was gaining weight. My doctor suggested low carb, under 50 carbs a day, no bread, pasta, rice, or potatoes. I was skeptical at first. I started it 17 days ago and am delighted. My energy level is through the roof, and I have lost 6 pounds. I do not miss the grains and sugar at all, though I did covet a sticky bun that my hubby ate in front of me today. LOL.

I wish you well on this Way of Eating.


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EJOY-EVELYN 7/11/2012 4:34PM

    My brother does well on low carb for the quick loss . . . but then add the healthier (freggie) carbs as much as possible when trying to be more in maintenance or "off diet." I love working within the Sparkpeople recommended carb range and with a tendency towards belly fat, try now to work in more healthy proteins with my lower carb breads and lots of freggies (fruits and veggies).

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    I have personal experience with carb hangovers. It is for this reason that I have completely changed my lifestyle. Forever low carb. I wish her the best. Learning this at her young age can only help her in the long run. It took me 45 years to figure it out.

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EGALITAIRE 7/10/2012 8:26AM

    Hi Birgit,

Both of my boys are very active in sports - oldest is a competitive swimmer and rugby player, the other plays hockey at an elite level. Both are on limited carb diets - they eat very little grains or sugar and almost no processed foods - they do eat legumes.

The change in diet has not negatively impacted performance. As a science experiment I can't conclusively say diet has enhanced performance either as the diet switch took place slowly over time.

Swim season is on hiatus for oldest until September, so we will see if or by how much his times have improved - his body comp has definitely changed in the last couple of months. He is leaner and more muscled.

Youngest continues to play hockey and has more endurance and strength, however that could be a function of puberty and the ST he is doing, although his gains seem to be greater than others on his team who are still eating SAD.

The strength coach for his hockey team is a proponent of lower carbs so he has support there as well. As an aside, and as you might expect ,most professional hockey players watch their diets closely, and carbs intakes are well below what is recommended by Conventional Wisdom - grains and sugars are limited.

What I am fairly sure about is that the lower carb diet has not been detrimental to either of them from a performance perspective and I am almost sure it has been a positive in other non-measurable ways.

I am interested to hear how the nutritional plan impacts your daughter.

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HEALTHY4ME 7/10/2012 8:05AM

    NO experience here, had such low self esteem there was no way I was going in any sport thing, I hated gym class and yet even then I knew i wasn't fat it was I don't know how and they will laugh. Guess that is cos in grade 8 was the first time I saw baseball( lived overseas from age 4-13) and when I hit the ball I ran all the bases in the wrong direction. Yea they all really laughed then. And no I couldn't laugh it off. oh well now it is funny! LOL
But am very pleased to read that you are doing so well and eating healthy. I am finding it so hard to stay on track with lower carbs even though I did primal last summer. I don't find I get the same extreme differences when I even stay completely compliant for even a month.
But am starting out again and going to ensure that I log so I can watch my carb intake which has gone back up.
Thanks for the encouragement sorry no help for what you are looking into!
Enjoy your day!

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JSTETSER 7/10/2012 6:06AM

    So true. Our SAD (Standard American Diet) is not the best thing for us. As I type 2 diabetic, I eat low carb, and make them whole grain when I eat them. What a difference in my energy level and my weight!

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2 runs, one with dogs, one without

Thursday, July 05, 2012

I often like to run with my dogs. They are my buddies and make running a lot more fun. But I also realize that I run slower with them. In part that's because I run on small gravel or dirt roads where there is no traffic when running with the dogs.
So today I did two short runs.
The first was with dogs, only 1 . 8 miles and took 25 minutes, which translates into 4.3 mph, average pulse at 133, maximum pulse 136
The second one was a 5 K which took 39 min. and a sprint at the end. The average pulse was about 139, max. pulse was 160. Overall it was almost racing speed. The second run was on a chip-sealed road and the temperature was up to 80 degrees by then, compared to about 72 degrees for the first run. My average pace for this one worked out to be 4.7 mph.
I'll count today as both a speed workout and a long run since my total miles were over 5 incl. my warmup.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ELLENSUN 7/17/2012 12:00AM

    A cat adopted us two months ago. Somehow, I don't think she's going to run with me!

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Q8PRINCESS 7/7/2012 4:14AM

    That's a good way to do it.

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GOPINTOS 7/6/2012 9:26PM

    Both impressive!


Smile and Enjoy the Rest of Your Day!
Melinda (gopintos)
Wheat Belly Team

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HEIDI-25 7/6/2012 2:37PM

    That is great!! I love to see people running with their dogs! I wish my little rescued shih tzu could walk with me let alone run. I have a stroller that she sits in and gets to go for walks with me that way. It works :)
Keep up the great training!

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JSTETSER 7/6/2012 6:58AM

    I loved running with my dogs. Now that I don't have a dog, I go further from home, and go further. The dogs kept me regular in my workouts.
Enjoy the dogs while you have them!

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KRISZTA11 7/6/2012 4:20AM

    Running with your dogs must have been fun!
During my forest runs I often see people walking dogs, and it is so good to see how the dogs enjoy being out and running about.
There are fewer runners with dogs, but it is amazing how even small doggies keep up with their masters.

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No running for almost a week but getting back into the routine

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We were traveling for a couple of days and I got food poisening. It tooke me 4 days to get over it completely but I decided it was more important to let my body rest. The only thing I could eat for a while was carbs, although the total was still not terribly high and I made sure I got a lot of fruit and veggies. I found coconut water had just the right amount of electrolytes and sugar to get me going again.
The good thing is that I found new motivation to get on my horse and advance her and my training. I hope to start tomorrow with some easy reviewing of stuff that she knows.
I won't worry about making up the lost week in my running training or strength training but will just pick up where my body is at the moment. I'm starting tonight with a good night's sleep.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GRACEMCDOG 6/27/2012 11:51AM

    So sorry to hear of your bout with food poisoning. Interesting to read about the coconut milk/water helping. Will tuck that piece of information away for future reference. Look forward to hearing about new work you're doing with your horse. Hope you're feeling back to 100% soon.

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LILY_SPARK 6/27/2012 10:37AM

    I'm SO sorry and boy do I know... I got cc'd Friday and it put me on my rump for the whole weekend :(

Good to see you're feeling better!

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ADZY86 6/27/2012 6:40AM

    Glad you gave yourself a few days rest. Food poisoning is horrible, horrible, horrible! Wouldn't wish it on anyway.
Take your time getting back into it, and you'll be right back up there in no time.

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JSTETSER 6/27/2012 6:00AM

    Listen to your body. Full healing will come.

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KRISZTA11 6/27/2012 3:28AM

    I'm sorry about the food poisoning.
Glad to hear you are feeling better now!

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SHARPISTOL 6/27/2012 12:39AM

    Our bodies can use a good rest, once in a while! I am sorry about the food poisoning, though. I am glad that you are okay; and, getting back into the saddle, in more ways than one!


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TELFERS01 6/27/2012 12:36AM

  You go!

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