I have completely overhauled my daily nutrition from being vegetarian to consuming animal products. This has proven quite enjoyable in taste, blood sugar control, energy levels and recovery from training. Many have asked what my daily nutrition looks like now versus then so here's a snapshot to help understand:
- Vegetarian based diet consisted of fruit based protein smoothies, copious amounts of trail mix with dried fruit, beans, nut butters, tofu and other soy products (ie-fake meat) and at least 4-5 servings of fruit per day. Dark chocolate was a huge craving that I tried to fight off daily.
- Animal based diet consists of vegetable based, high fat smoothies, very little nuts (but when eaten, I choose almonds and peanuts for their lower carbohydrate content), cheese (like it is going out of style), deli meat, ground turkey/beef, turkey bacon (transitioning to the real stuff this week), coconut butter (favorite snack), coconut milk, half and half, peanut butter in small quantities, 5-6 servings of vegetables per day, only 1 serving of fruit per day (if that), steak (love it!), chicken and of course, I can't leave out mayonnaise, of which I can eat by the spoonful!
I have been running and swimming about 3 times per week each and strength training 2-3 times per week. All of my long runs average between 8:00-8:30 minute/mile pace and I am up to 18 miles as my longest.
As I have reported in the past, my body weight decreased by six pounds (and is still stable at the new weight), and while I did not measure my body fat, I am noticeably leaner (specifically in my mid-section). This has also equated into better training for ultra-running and my swimming speed is the same, even though I am not doing much speed work in the pool.
All of this qualitative feedback is great and I am at the point of wanting to continue just based on what I have felt. However, my quantitative mind has had unanswered questions and unproven theories thus I wanted to be sure that my metabolic efficiency and lab blood results supported this new nutrition program.
One thing to understand before I share the results is that I, like many individuals, have had some genetic cards that have been dealt to me that are not too favorable. I have family history of cardiovascular disease and have not traditionally had good blood lipids (specifically, triglycerides and HDL). As you can imagine, any elevations of these markers (since they are risk factors of Metabolic Syndrome) would make me immediately think twice about continuing my experiment.
Luckily, I do not have to make that decision. I performed a metabolic efficiency test and had blood work (cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides) before I began and have just repeated the tests last week at the first month interval. Wait for it...wait for it...BAM!
Pre-metabolic efficiency test: 9/28/2012
One-month into nutrition experiment: November 3, 2012:
As you can see, my body's ability to use fat as energy is tremendous. More importantly to note is that I could not achieve a Metabolic Efficiency Point (MEP) due to physical fatigue, not metabolic fatigue. I had to extend one stage further than my test on 9/28/2012 but still could not achieve a MEP (I haven't been doing any run speed work so it is of no surprise that my legs wouldn't go faster!). Regardless, I saw the trend developing and could hypothesize that my MEP would likely happen at around 9.5-9.8 miles per hour, which by the way is closer to my lactate threshold but more about that in a future blog post.
As an interesting aside, most scientific research reports that the MEP (where fat and carbohydrate crossover due to the body needing more carbohydrate) happens between 63-65% of VO2max. While I did not have a MEP, the last stage (where I was still using 61% of my energy from fat) was 89% of my VO2max. Interesting, isn't it? As I continue to educate others about, when researchers were looking into this concept decades ago, they only looked at the physical exercise manipulation of enhanced fat oxidation. They did not look at the manipulation of daily nutrition and the impact that it has on the body's ability to use internal fat stores.
Even more importantly were my blood results. As I mentioned, I have family history of chronic diseases and my blood lipid profile is of extreme concern to me.
Be sure you are sitting down before you read this next part. On my low carbohydrate diet (about 10% or less of total calories), a moderate protein diet (20-25%) and a high fat diet (>60-70%), I feared the obvious (as many of us have been led to believe in the past from a variety of "credible" sources). Much to my surprise, it was the exact opposite!!!
Here are my blood lipid results from 9/28 to 11/3:
- Total cholesterol decreased by 4%
- LDL cholesterol decreased by 6%
- HDL cholesterol INcreased by 13%
- VLDL cholesterol decreased by 55%
- Triglycerides decreased by 41%
Keep in mind that the fat that I am eating is not all unsaturated. In fact, saturated fats are a large part of my diet now. My next blood test will be a bit more in depth to determine particle sizes to get a better picture of lipid composition but for now, I am extremely pleased with the positive results of my blood lipid panel.
Well, well, well. I now have quantitative data to support my qualitative assessments and to be honest, it was a bit shocking at first. To be able to combine both is powerful and I am eager to move forward with my experiment with even more excitement!
Stay tuned...my next blog will detail my feelings of eating chocolate again (haven't had the urge to in the last 4 weeks so I want to test the emotional connection to one of my favorite foods). Should be interesting!
Until next time...