I'm a huge coffee freak like many of you. I absolutely love the stuff and it's a crucial part of my daily morning ritual. At one point I was consuming between 8-10 standard shots, which was really messing up my ability to sleep properly. Ironically I was drinking huge amounts due to lack of sleep. A cycle worth avoiding! I've since reduced my habit to no more than two cups (double-shot) per day which for me is the perfect balance between the enjoyment/benefit without the negative side effects. Others can get away with drinking much more, and I'm sure there are a few factors at play here that determine sensitivity to caffeine e.g. size, activity, sweating, hydration etc. My routine consists of one espresso in the morning pre-workout, followed by a bulletproof long black post-workout. I've cut out milk as part of the experimentation process for the sake of digestion in recent times, so I've had to find suitable alternatives to manage the latte void (my favourite style of coffee). The replacement? Bulletproof coffee and turmeric latte. The former is a clever name given to what is basically a long black with added fat. The latter, a delicious coconut/almond milk based latte type drink that is sweet in flavour, and a great substitute for milk and sugar without the negative side effects. The latte I do on weekends only, which also requires skipping the espresso to avoid excessive amounts of caffeine. The turmeric latte typically contains turmeric (duh!), coffee, almond and/or coconut milk, cinnamon, and honey. In small doses, there are lots of health benefits with each of these ingredients. The bulletproof I do religiously on a daily basis and is the only food I will consume during the intermittent fasting period. I use locally roasted beans (Lonsdale St Roasters - Canberra) using my own home grinder and espresso machine. Costa Rica and Colombia origin beans are my favourite due to the milder/sweet aftertaste. So what are the benefits? Personally, the morning bulletproof helps with two things, hunger cravings (due to intermittent fasting of approx. 10-11hrs) and mental focus. To be honest, I'm finding morning hunger cravings to be less of an issue, so the main driver behind the coffee now is the focus and the fun that comes with making your own coffee. Now, the fat content is beneficial for low carb/keto type diets. I'm currently experimenting with two sources of fat both of which are sourced from optimoz.com.au:
1. Ghee fat - https://www.optimoz.com.au/collections/ketogenic-diet/products/primal-collective-ghee-from-grass-fed-happy-cows
2. MCT oil- https://www.optimoz.com.au/collections/mct-oil/products/bulletproof-upgraded-mct-oil-960-ml-32-fl-oz
All of this fits in very nicely with my strategy for morning training session motivation, intermittent fasting, weight control, and sleep management. The added focus I've found is also of great benefit for work. Feel free to ask questions :)
A few people have been asking me about my lunch shakes, so here it is:
All of the above you can source from Woolworths except for the hemp protein which I buy from www.bulk nutrients.com.au. The inspiration for this came from the primal blueprint website. I took Mark's recipe and modified it to meet my daily nutritional needs.
Plus two 750ml water bottle refills with added electrolyte salt tablets. This was all that was needed to complete an 100km MTB training ride on Sunday. I felt the muscle fatigue kick in at around 65km but also felt that I had plenty left in the tank to complete the 100km. Best of all I had very little problems with lower back pains which is a first for me. Lower back pain is an issue I've had to manage for a very long time so making progress on this front is a huge deal for me. I suspect this has something to do with lower levels of inflammation due to the lower carb intake. Overall, things are tracking really well for the 3 Feb race endurance wise and I have one more weekend of solid long distance riding before my taper week. It's also worth noting that I've applied periodisation principles to my training preparation, hence my reference to the taper week. Periodisation is about applying common sense to training on the basis that we're not robots, and therefore can't maintain peak performance all year round because our bodies need rest to rebuild and grow. In practical terms, it requires prioritising your season and selecting the high priority races you want to be in top shape for and also accepting that you can only really reach peak performance once or twice a year. The annual training calendar is then designed around the priority races and sorted into phases. These are Base, Build, Peak, Taper and Race. Base is where you do your aerobic long distance training to help build endurance, providing a foundation to then do the hard stuff that occurs during the Build phase. Base is basically about quantity. Build is where you reduce the duration of training but increase the intensity to emphasise anaerobic effort e.g. short and hard intervals, hill climbs etc. Peak is one final smashing before Taper. Taper focusses on active recovery, and backing off to recover fully in preparation for the final phase, Race. Joe Friel has written extensively about this periodisation so I recommend looking him up if your interested. There aren't really any natural alternatives to avoid overtraining so periodisation is a must unless your prepared to mess around with banned chemical substances. That in itself is an entirely subject on its own well outside the scope of this post :) I also mentioned last week that I would talk more about my specific diet. I've been very time poor this week, too busy enjoying my birthday! :) I do however promise to post something up later this week. I'm also going to hold off on posting my glucose and ketone data up until I have at least a full months worth of data. I have 1 week already which is looking pretty good but insufficient to draw any useful conclusions. Alright! I'm off to bed. Until the next post......
We've had some pretty serious summer heat this week which has been interesting for sleep and hydration. I was able to smash through an 85km ride today in high thirty degree heat feeling reasonably good. The only major issue I had was sweating away most of the sunscreen after about 3hrs so the skin was starting to get pretty hot towards the final third of the 5.5hr ride. The UV levels here are insane! I'll be carrying a small tube of sunscreen from now on. The ride itself was fantastic, and despite the heat I was able to keep things at an aerobic pace to avoid blowing up or dehydrating. Best of all, it was completed without any sugar, just water (with some zero-sugar electrolyte salt tablets), a handful of almonds, and 4 boiled eggs. My weight this morning was back down to 70.4kg, which means I've dropped the extra fluids I was carrying from the Christmas naughty food. HRV readings are all positive, sleep is solid, and overall energy levels have been on the high side this week. All good signs that I'm tracking well for the 3 Feb race.
Some excitement this week with the arrival of my Precision Xtra blood glucose/ketone monitor which I ordered from the US through eBay. I did my research on these, and was looking for something that was affordable and accurate. It's simple to use so I highly recommend it if you're ok with pricking yourself to extract the blood drops :) Based on the first readings my blood glucose post exercise was at 70 mg/dL which is on the low side of the recommended healthy range but definitely safe, and pretty good considering it was straight after morning training sessions and the usual 12hrs of fasting that precede it. Now, what I'm more interested in is ketone levels. These are sitting at 0.4 mol/L, again within a healthy an optimum range for my current levels of activity. What really excites me about all of this is that:
1. My body has adapted to the keto diet, and is producing the ketones needed to sustain my training;
2. The steady weigh cut has been pretty easy to manage. I'm also at 13.4% body fat according to the Withings scale;
3. I'm not blowing up on the bike during long rides; and
4. I'm not relying (or craving) on sugar anymore to fuel rides e.g. gels and energy drinks.
I go back to work this week which means things will return to the regular routine. I'll post up diet details next week if I can figure out how to neatly publish these from MyFitnessPal.
Until the next post.
As I write this, I'm sitting on my lounge watching UFC 2019 and enjoying the time off. I've managed to maintain a relatively clean diet over the past few days but have indulged a little given the time of year. I've put on about 2kg but I suspect this is mostly water. This means it should come off quickly once things return to normal. Sleep has been OK but not great. Far too many late nights as a result of family events, movies, and some late night gaming, I'm sure this has contributed to not only the weight gain but also the low HRV score this morning. Today I was planning to head for a 100km ride on the mountain bike but decided to rest instead as a result of the low HRV score I took down this morning. I did a 90 min session yesterday with lots of climbs and approx. 30 degree heat. The ride was excellent, but a solid nights rest was going to be mandatory to recover in time for the 100km ride today, so that not being the case I'm going to give my body a full days rest. As mentioned, the introduction of HRV into my training is a recent addition. I've been using Elite HRV (on Android) and a Polar H10 bluetooth HRM over the past 15 days. The process requires taking a 'morning readiness' reading upon waking up. The whole process takes about 3 minutes to complete, and at the end of it you get a reading that provides advice on whether your body has recovered sufficiently or otherwise. There is a ton of material online that explains HRV and how you can use this to monitor recovery, so not much point in me going into too much detail on the science. However, so far I'm finding that my subjective self assessment of mood and recoverability is in alignment with the HRV reading. My approach involves waking up and asking myself some basic questions including: 1. Did I get my 8hrs sleep? 2. Do I feel tired? 3. Are my muscles sore? 4. Do I feel like training today? I then take a reading using the app and compare the score with my self assessment. Today was the first unplanned day off since introducing HRV, and also the first day where my self assessment resulted in an overall feeling of fatigue. HRV told me the same thing i.e. consider taking an active recovery day today. I'll defer the big ride to tomorrow, and devote the rest of the day to recovery.
What a week! Things were pretty crazy at work in the lead up to the holiday shut down. I was able to get through the madness with relative calm. This is an indication that the various methods I've been experimenting are working, namely with diet and mediation. Sleep is one thing that is suffering right now however due to the summer heat, and a general increase to energy as a result of all the extra lovely sun. I've only hit my 8hr sleep target once in the last week, but I'm not too worried now that I'm on holidays, meaning I will have plenty of time to catch up on zee's.
Now on to the training. I've got a race coming up on 3 Feb. It's a 7 hour solo XC mountain bike race that I will be travelling interstate for. I have not completed a solo race in a long time as most of the racing I've completed in the last few years has been in teams, or shorter individual XC races. It's going to be a challenge, but one that I am looking forward to because it will enable me to put some of the recent changes to the test. These include the transition to a low-carb diet, the introduction of jogging into my training, and generally just more recovery. I've really tried to focus on the less is more philosophy and I must say that so far things are going really well. Today was my first long (5hr) XC ride on the mountain bike. Normally I was be smashing the gels and energy drink down and dealing with the inevitable sugar crash that follows, hoping not to bonk out before completing the training ride. However this time I found myself (to my surprise) feeling very comfortable, energetic, and happy that I was able to complete the ride on x2 hard boiled eggs, a handful of cashews, almonds, and plain water. By the end of the ride my muscles felt like they had ridden 80km's (some fatigue), but I felt alert to the point that I could have ridden another 20km. Next week I'm going to increase the duration to 6hrs. I'll add another hard boiled egg to the mix, along with the nuts, and maybe some chopped up avocado.
The body weight it continuing to drop and I am now hovering in the high 70's kg mark. This is close to the 69kg I want to hit come February. Super happy with the weight loss so far and don't feel like it is taxing my strength. In fact, strength gains have been made through the gradual increase of poundage on a weekly basis. Now it's time to sleep, recover, and grow!
I've been a bit busy the past week with family commitments and a ramp in work in the lead up to Christmas. I expect things to settle over the next few days and will hopefully have a chance to add some useful content to the blog. So where am I now? Dieting is going really well and I think I am much closer to a working formula in terms of nutrition than what I was two weeks ago. The biggest issue I was having with the transition to a low carb diet was the insomnia. Last week I found myself waking up (almost without fail) every night at around 12:30AM, completely alert, and unable to get back to sleep for about 1-1.5hrs. I ended up using this time to research the symptoms. The result of this digging around and recommended treatments was a) magnesium tablets, and b) reichi tea. Thankfully sleep is back to normal, and compared to other cases I read about my experience with this has been reasonably mild in terms of impact. The insomnia for some can go on for months. I don't think the research on this is extensive enough yet to draw any solid conclusions, but the general theory is that caloric deficiency triggers some kind of evolutionary response which then translates to insomnia. In summary, mag tablets, reishi tea, 1hr before bedtime have worked well for me as well as others. The lack of sleep absolutely trashed my focus at work and I was very conscious of the impact this was having on my mood. I'm sure (or hope) the additional meditation (mindfulness) helped me minimise taking out the general grumpiness on others :)
So I'm down to 71kg (fish), approx. 14% body fat according to my Withings scale, and a 8-9 range HRV score on the HRV app of which I take daily readings upon wake up. The HRV scores basically mean my recovery is optimal, and I use this to avoid over training. No sugar cravings or general hunger for that matter.
Training wise, I've substituted my weekly roadie rides with jogging (keeping things to 8min/km pace) and mountain bike work. I've got a long training ride scheduled for this weekend so this will be the ultimate test to gauge what I'm currently seeing. Overall things are looking good.
So this is my first post, and I'll be focusing on my experiences with transitioning to a keto diet initially because there is plenty I think that I will be able to share on a more regular basis. Quick background first. I love riding mountain bikes, and racing XC events. Over the past 10 years I've tried 24 hr events (2, 4, and 6 man), 100km races (these hurt!), 50km (I like these), 3hr (good fun), local club races (classic 1.5hr events). I use the riding as an outlet to what is generally a pretty busy life. I'm an IT project manager by profession, which in itself is incredibly challenging and therefore rewarding. It can also be incredibly stressful. The mountain bike has enabled me to maintain my sanity by acting as an outlet for stress. I supplement my riding with I've found to be an effective strength, mobility, and stretching regime that I do at least 2 to 3 times per week. I generally look after myself, but there is always room for improvement, and I'm always looking for new knowledge to help optimise my riding and my health. So what's changed? Well, back in June 2017 I crashed my bike while riding with some buddies. I still remember the split second before the crash, when you know that things are about to go wrong, and you try and brace yourself for what comes next, hoping that you'll be able to walk away without breaking the bike **riders will understand the priorities here ;) **. Unfortunately for me I wasn't so lucky this that time, and while I've had many a fall, never in my 35 years of life has I broken a bone in my body. I have busted ligaments before, which is what I was really worried about because that's what it felt like at first, and the road to recovery for these types of injuries can be long and painful. To cut a long story short, it was a undisplaced fracture to the right patella. I was bummed, because by that point my fitness was coming along great, and I was feeling pretty good about the races I had coming up for the second half of 2017. I did my best to stay positive, and made a very quick recovery. What I can honestly say about all of this upon reflection is that it was the best thing that could have happened to me. It was an opportunity to stop and reflect on my life. My regular routine was disrupted, and I was forced to rest, meaning that I had a lot more time on my hands to do other things. I discovered Audible, podcasts, and devoted time to reading. All these things I was aware of but they were not part of my routine. Since then something really weird has happened, in that I have developed a serious passion for learning about self improvement. I feel really, really good about everything in my life right now. It's difficult to explain, so the blog is an attempt to break this down so that I can make sense of it in my own mind, and hopefully inspire others to hit the pause button to reflect on life. So we'll see how things go, and as I mentioned I'll be focussing first on my experiences with dietary changes which I'm expecting will now be a permanent change. Until the next post.
I'm a 36 year old male from Carwoola, New South Wales, a small rural area situated just outside of Canberra, Australia. I'll be using this blog to share my experiences with training, dieting, and other methods to optimise overall well being. The basic idea behind all of this is to have lots of fun with the learning and experimentation process. It's worth noting that what may work well for me may not work as well for others. I also don't think there are right or wrong answers, as things are constantly changing and evolving.