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My top pick for Health Book of 2012 - The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I've read so many good books about exercise and nutrition this year. But for me the the absolute favorite is the book by Jeff Volek and Stephen D. Phinney "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance."
This book came out early this year and I was lucky to find it shortly after.
This is the first and possibly still only book that talks in depth about why a very low carb ketogenic diet may not just be useful for weight loss, insulin-resistance, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, epilepsy and autoimmune diseases but also to significantly improve athletic performance. The authors have many years of research experience in the field of low carb nutrition and had published another outstanding book, "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living" last year which focused on the details of getting low carb eating right by avoiding the many possible pitfalls.
This new book is written for athletes who want to improve their performance, but also for people who want to be athletes and never could be because their body would not cooperate on a higher carb diet.
The authors explain in detail how on a higher carb diet the body is dependent on glucose for most of its functions including muscle functions and brain function.
Glucose can only be stored in our body in a fairly limited amount, somewhere around 2000 calories. When this supply is close to being exhausted we need to refuel with carbohydrates to keep functioning or we will "hit the wall" as endurance athletes call it, meaning our brain and muscles are running out of fuel. When eating a high carbohydrate diet our body can not quickly switch from fueling with carbohydrate to fueling with fat, even though even a slim person has 40,000 calories of energy on their body at all times from fat.
This fat can only be accessed to fuel the muscles and the brain for most of their energy needs if the body is used to using it. Fat is converted to ketones which can fuel the muscles and the brain for most of their energy needs in a keto-adapted person.
For keto-adaptation to happen carbohydrate intake has to be drastically reduced, usually at least down to 50 grams/day, in many people to under 20 grams/day at least initially. The reason is that higher carb levels than this will lead to more insulin production and insulin inhibits release and use of fat from our fat storage cells. The graphics in the book show that with even moderate carbohydrate intake (of any form) there is too much insulin for the body to be able to access any significant amount of fat as fuel.
Once carb levels are lowered enough the body will start producing ketones from fat and from that point on it takes a few weeks for our body to make all the necessary changes to become fully keto-adapted. The whole process typically takes about 6 weeks, which is why many benefits of a low carbohydrate diet are only optimized after this period. Some improvements, like a lack of hunger and a reduction in body fat, can be seen much earlier, often after just a few days.
Once the body is fully keto-adapted something amazing happens:
Fat use during exercise increases tremendously with moderate exercise for both endurance exercise and resistance training. In a study of high-level cyclists who had been keto-adpated for 4 weeks the average fat oxidation per hour at about 65% VO2max was about 90 grams/hour.
So far I have just summarized the first three chapters. The rest of the book talks about implementing the diet, macronutrient levels, faster recovery rates on ketogenic diets and fluid and mineral management.
Just to make sure nobody who buys this book is going to be disappointed: The diet itself is not very different from what you can find in the original Atkins diet: low carb and high fat although there is some additional info here as well. The main benefit I get from this book is to understand how to optimize a low-carb diet to get far superior results from the time I spend exercising.
I am planning to measure this by recording my body weight, body fat percentage vs. lean muscle mass and by recording improvements in my running and resistance training over the next 3 months.
I found out that for me even with carbs around 50 grams/day I am barely, if at all in ketosis so have lowered my carbs down to 20 grams/day for the next 2 weeks and will then increase by at most 5 grams/day per week. Today is only my second day in ketosis so I am expecting it to take about 3-4 weeks to see significant improvement in performance, although I should be seeing a drop in weight and body fat earlier.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DOVESEYES 12/29/2012 7:53AM

    I lost 12 kilos in 12 weeks using a method similar to this, low carb high protein. But it advised to only do it for 12 weeks at a time.

Does your book advise this as well?

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ILIKETOZUMBA 12/28/2012 12:47AM

    Very interesting. Thank you for sharing this information! I'm very curious to see how your performance changes once you've been doing this for a few weeks. Good luck with it!

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GOPINTOS 12/27/2012 5:42PM

    Thanks for sharing!


Smile and Enjoy the Rest of Your Day!
Melinda (gopintos)
Perfect Health Diet Team
Country Living Team
Dr Oz Show Fans Team
Wheat Belly Team


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HOUNDLOVER1 12/27/2012 7:55AM

    MPLANE37, From my own, very limited, experience it seems that once the human body is keto-adapted that the body uses fat before muscle. I was able to gain some muscle with fairly minimal strength training on about 50 grams of carbs and no more than 70-80 grams of protein/day. I'm hoping to do a little more over the next three months to see if I can improve my body composition. The book indicates that gaining muscle on a ketogenic diet is not only possible but potentially easier.

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MPLANE37 12/27/2012 3:07AM

    The books seems interesting. I have not read it yet, but hope to do so if I get a chance. I wonder how the performance of the athletes burning fat evolves relative to those who burn glycogen. I suspect those who burn glycogen would still outperform the fat burners. The great advantage of burning fat is obvious in reducing the body fat percentage; but what happens to the muscles? When pressed for fuel (after depleting the glycogen stores), the body can easily break down muscle tissue, faster than it burns fat. This would be a big problem.

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LOSER05 12/24/2012 9:40AM

    emoticon emoticon

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KICK-SS 12/23/2012 9:27PM

    I have to agree with you, it's a great book....Explains things very well!

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WARNING! Low-carb bread by Julian bakery may not be low-carb

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I just found this story on a low-carb blog here:

I have not been able to confirm the information but be careful before buying.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LOSER05 12/24/2012 9:41AM


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UNIQDRGNFLY 12/23/2012 4:44PM


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KANOE10 12/23/2012 12:53PM

    I stopped eating Julian bread as I felt like my body reacted as though it was high carb. Thanks for sharing.

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ERIN1957 12/23/2012 6:03AM

    Make your own to easy not to.
I have seen so many claiming to be healthy and low carb and actually when you read it they use; vital wheat gluten and other things like high sugar products. HFCS is all over the place even in claims of SF.

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Definitely back in ketosis this morning

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I'm sure glad it did not take very long. The problem is that I still don't know exactly how low my carbs need to be to stay there. I will limit my exercise to some long walks this afternoon with the dogs and maybe do a few upper body and core exercises.
We still don't have any sunshine but at least it's not too cold and not raining.
Hope everyone is having a peaceful and fun-filled weekend.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ERIN1957 12/23/2012 6:04AM

    Just getting outside seems sometimes to be enough to fill the body with energy.
Hope you too are having a great week end.

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12/21/12, Day 2 and winter solstice

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I'm really looking forward to the days getting longer again.

I'm hoping that after this second day of less than 20 grams of carbs that my energy will gradually start to improve. Today was what I hope to have been the all-time low in my running, which was expected after lowering my carbs further but it was still somewhat of a shock. After one mile of uphill walking for warmup I ran only two miles, my pulse was 135 bpm and my average tempo was 3.84 mph.
I was soaked in sweat and cut my strength training down to only about 15 minutes.
I am wondering if I was actually producing any significant number of ketones on 50 grams of carbs/day. I still won't bother measuring ketones because my energy level and/or weight loss will tell me how I'm doing and the blood ketone meter plus test strips is more money than I can spend right now.

Things went better on the eating front. I have to say right now it helps to know that I'm only planning on doing this for 2 weeks. The funny thing is that I'm not having a hard time giving up chocolate or Xylitol but fruit so right now I'm planning on introducing small amounts of fruit again first. But I'm also keeping the possibility open to continue longer if I get used to eating only veggies instead of fruit (with the exception of avocados and some lemon slices in my water).
I'm making progress in the sleep department, mostly by going to bed earlier. This is fortunately easier over the holidays.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WEARINGTHIN 12/22/2012 2:01AM

    There were some studies in recent years on the effects of protein vs carbs on exercise. Results showed that some marathon runners actually did better on the protein than they did with carbs before their runs. I think it was articles by Gary Taubes that pointed this out to me. I'm very happy with my low carb diet. It makes weight loss so much easier, at least for some of us. Glenn

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STILLHERE1111 12/22/2012 1:29AM

    Not sure what you are eating. I am doing extreme low carb also. Keep in mind that any excess protein turns into carbs, or is burned as carbs.

I make up the difference with coconut oil, butter, cream, brie, sour cream, bacon, olives, nuts, ....my nutrition pie chart looks like almost no carbs, 10-20% protein and the rest fats.

It did take awhile for my body to adjust, I feel fine now.

Good luck, I really find it works for me.

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Back to ultra-low carb

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Today was a rest day. I spent the morning at the dentist's office after only a cup of decaf with cream.
Lunch was a big piece of brie cheese and a plain full-fat yogurt with another cup of decaf with cream.
Dinner was a large portion of ground beef with red cabbage cooked in coconut oil.
I don't think my net carbs went over 20 g so this was a good start.
I talked with my doctor's nurse about te results of my blood work today and she confirmed that everything looks great and LDL is not a concern at all. She said they could do a particle test for the LDL if I wanted one but it seemed more to reassure me rather than because it is important. So I think I'll wait 3 months to find out if any more blood work is advisable.

Tomorrow I'm planning on running and a little strength training.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Good work, houndlover.

Neptune: healthy fats can go into any necessary carbs in the body, as needed.

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NEPTUNE1939 12/20/2012 10:05PM

    Strength traning requires carbs as well as protein (bodybuilding.com), Earl emoticon

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