La Plagne 2000
Today’s workouts involved running 12.6km with a mostly anaerobic heart rate (above 150 bpm in my case) and then cycling up to la Plagne 2000 – which is a 4,600ft climb from the bottom – also anaerobic all the way up. Back-to-back workouts like this have always been beyond my reach in the past – the first session alone normally leading to fatigue and even obliging a nap within a few hours of completion – no matter how fit I was. After today’s workouts there was no fatigue or sleepiness all evening. Both workouts were well within my comfort zone and physical limits despite being anaerobic. The changes that have brought this result appear to be purely nutritional and not an issue of training technique or volume.
The only author I trust in the field of nutritional health is Dr Joel Fuhrman – a rare species of medical doctor who is prepared to criticise his own profession. When his work is taken as a reference everything else appears to be intellectually incoherent by comparison. He simply practises a principle that has been well known and understood for thousands of years – the practice of basing health primarily on good plant based nutrition and the body’s own unsurpassed powerful capacity to heal itself when given the appropriate opportunity.
There are three core aspects to training nutrition: Basic Diet, Supplements and Fasting. Unfortunately Dr Furhman doesn’t discuss anywhere on his website or in his books in any depth how to apply this trio to athletic performance. He only discusses the benefits of a highly nutritious diet with respect to protecting the immune system from being depleted due to intense physical effort. In this post I’m going to focus mainly on “fasting” from a training perspective.
The Big Nutrition and Medical Lie
It’s tricky to find reliable information on diet and nutrition. So called “experts” contradict each other outright with specific scientific “facts” cherry picked to justify their beliefs. You end up with your head spinning and almost nothing but complete confusion. Planet Earth now apparently has 2.1 billion overweight or obese people so all those wonderful “experts” are doing a great job! 30% of all deaths in Europe and Central Asia are from heart disease alone – all absolutely avoidable (17+ million per year worldwide). The countless millions of people living with heart failure each spend around 500€ per month on drugs – so it’s an extremely profitable business altogether – not to mention the cost of unnecessary heart surgery, the most common surgical intervention that exists - 700,000 open heart ops per year in the US alone at $107,000 per op. There are also many people on the planet suffering from starvation - 842 million - with 1.2 billion in extreme poverty and 2.6 million children dying from starvation causes each year. Either way it is all malnutrition of one form or another whether obese or starving. It’s too easy to blame the victims and leave the “experts” squeaky clean – or to deflect the issue towards political, industrial or commercial influences. The fact is however that if the medical world was criminally insane it couldn’t generate more carnage, misery and unnecessary expense than it already does.
American Indians had a principle where they only paid their doctors when they were in good health and not when they were ill. If that principle was applied to modern medicine the effects would be remarkable. Instead of keeping everyone nutritionally wrecked, drugged, surgically mutilated (In the US by the age of 60 one in three of ALL women have had hysterectomies.) and bankrupted through extortionate insurance or medical bills – doctors would have to learn how to actually help people instead of slowly killing and robbing them and the pharmaceutical, fast food and tobacco industries would be the first to be hammered.
We are brainwashed by a constant barrage of information telling us to never skip a meal and to eat small meals every three hours etc. We are advised even by governments and medical associations to have rich diets with a minimum of 20% to 35% fat – even if we are dying from heart disease or have a body crippled with chronic inflammation. You have to wonder if those establishments have been deliberately set up to cripple and murder the general population and to profit from all the misery generated. Toxic fluoride pills for children have been standard for a generation now even though fluoride has absolutely no place in the human body and is only useful for generating Sarin Nerve gas, rat poison and Prozac (fluorine compound with the fluoride ion used in production). Fluoride is generally produced as an industrial waste when making agricultural fertilizer and it used to be very hard to dispose off until they decided to feed it to children and dump it into household water supplies. There is no scientific evidence showing that fluoride does anything positive – but we do know for certain that it is potentially extremely destructive in the human body and brain. Vaccines are also full of heavy metal toxic additives and there is plenty of evidence that they do not work. Try finding a post-war modern scientific study of the effectiveness of the smallpox vaccine and you won’t get very far. The fact is that the disease was on a steady decline long before the vaccine was introduced and that the rate of that decline was not changed by the vaccine. More importantly the vaccine had the effect of stopping the prevalent medical practice of the period of deliberately infecting people with smallpox as a supposed cure – a horrific practice that came to Europe from China through Turkey. In those days it was accepted that a doctor could kill an otherwise perfectly healthy patient. Nobody ever seemed to think about killing the stupid doctor. I do have to wonder if this perverse practice was a deliberate attempt to kill Christian and Muslim people – and whether it was introduced by the Turkish Doenmeh – Crypto Jews with a well known apparent agenda to occupy the professions and to destroy the so called “goyim” (Jewish supremacist and racist terminology for anyone who is not a Jew). Today’s giant pharmaceutical corporations may unfortunately have similar aspirations.
Along with many other devastating toxins even fluoride can slowly be removed from the body through both fasting and exercise – and so it’s not just about avoiding serious toxins which are commonly present in our food (pesticides and additives), water and medicine – it’s also about eliminating them and providing nutrient rich food at the same time.
“Fluoride causes more human cancer, and causes it faster, than any other chemical.”
- Dean Burk, Chief Chemist Emeritus, US National Cancer Institute
Fasting is extremely counter-intuitive as an aid to athletic performance. During fasting you become tired and lethargic – especially when you continue training. It also takes a few days to recover strength once the fast is finished so this gives both a sense of weakness and lost training time. It would be easy to dismiss fasting as inappropriate for athletic improvement – but that assumption may be short sighted. There is a seemingly complete absence of information available on this subject so I’ve simply had to become my own guinea pig and observe the effects of various periods of fasting and recovery on performance issues. The results are surprising.
Some major benefits of intermittent fasting: http://www.naturalhealth365.com/natural_healing/brain-power.html
- Lower weekly caloric intake (full day fasts)
- Rapid weight loss
- 20 fold increase in Human Growth Hormone levels (2000%) after only 24 hours
- Rapid cellular detoxification
- Improved immune system function
- Reduced inflammation
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Lower threshold for commencing glycogen replacement (greater carb loading capacity)
- Cleansing of arteries – improved circulation – reversal of cardiovascular disease
- Growth of new neurons in the brain and improved brain function
- Genetic repair and longevity
So far I’ve only used either one day (30+ hrs) or two day (60+ hrs) fasts but this week I’ll be experimenting with daily (12 to 16 hr) intermittent fasting in addition to a one day fast.
One Day Fast (approx 24 to 36 hrs)
My preparation for fasting until now has included a good strong workout rather than a reduction or modification in eating – either cycling or running on the day or evening before – so that glycogen levels are already driven down a bit and any potential break in training time over the following few days is minimised. There is also an assumption that having used the muscles strongly there is less likelihood that fasting will start to break down any of that particular muscle tissue. I don’t know this for sure but based on the principle of “use it or lose it” this assumption might be reasonable. People are normally advised to modify their diet for about a week before attempting to fast so as to have more stable blood sugar levels.
For me the easiest way (psychologically) to begin any fast is to go to bed. When you wake up in the morning you are already 6 to 8 hours into your fast – and probably not hungry either. All my life I’ve felt obliged to eat breakfast when not feeling hungry – because we are commonly advised to do so. Perhaps this even discourages us from listening to our bodies. If there is no desire or need to eat then perhaps it’s better to go along with that. Despite common advice to avoid stimulants such as coffee I do like a coffee in the morning – and considering all the other things I’m avoiding I’m not about to give this up too.
On a one day fast I’ve used the occasional spoonful of honey in hot water when going through a difficult patch. Organic stock cubes work too for giving a comforting substitution for food. More recently however I’ve not needed the honey at all and have begun to dislike the stock cubes which leave an unpleasant aftertaste. Non organic stock cubes all seem to have monosodium glutamate and need to be avoided.
During the fast there is enough energy for exercising in the middle of it. Running 10k would be slowed down by about 5 minutes due to low glycogen levels – but it’s not that hard to do. My idea with this – right or wrong – is to drive glycogen levels even lower and to push the body more rapidly into a deeper detox situation and ketosis (switching from glycogen to fat burning). There is a strong possibility that ketosis develops the body’s ability to burn fat more effectively. During exercise there isn’t such a clear switch from one metabolic system to the other. Running or cycling slowly will burn fat but that doesn’t stop when running fast – the other mechanisms are added and the fat burning continues with more overall calories being consumed.
During the full day of the fast there is no real tiredness or lethargy. The only difficulty is boredom at meal times! Other things need to be found to occupy the time so that social pressure and habits are removed.
The second morning (before break-fast) is when I have a mild headache. On two or three occasions I’ve had mild headaches and impaired vision (ophthalmic migraine). This begins a loss of central vision which is replaced by a flickering central aura. The aura then grows into a circle expanding outwards and the central vision itself becomes clear – eventually the thin ring moving outwards until it disappears after about 20 minutes. This is caused by the body eliminating cellular toxins and with the toxins entering the bloodstream. Usually around the same time tiredness from low blood sugar levels begins to kick in. Once this tiredness kicks in it stays. Normally it should take about 3 days for a male (less for a female) to enter a ketosis (fat burning) metabolic state but I get the impression that due to exercise the time for reaching this point has been about halved. Some people claim to feel energetic when this happens – but for me it is always just like permanent a “bonk” in running or cycling – it makes everything into a slow plod. The brain starts to become sluggish and very lethargic too. Perhaps after a long time of this the entire system would adapt – and it surely does in extreme circumstances – but I’m not yet interested in finding that out for myself.
Rest and Recovery Day
Although most people would suggest resting during the fasting day I’ve chosen to rest the day after fasting instead – when glycogen stores are at their lowest and the opportunity to rebuild those stores is necessary. If you exercise at this point (day following the fast) then you will not be able to work hard, you will feel demotivated and your heart rate will remain low. Oddly enough there is sometimes a great sense of wellbeing when exercising then despite those issues and I can only assume that this is linked to detoxification – which occurs significantly within the brain itself.
After a tough sporting event a rest and recovery period is also necessary and I’ve been struck with the similarity of the state of the body after fasting to this post-competition state. This hints that the real post-competition issue is not “fatigue” but very low muscle glycogen storage levels. One major key to restoring glycogen levels after exercise is the immediate consumption at a rate of 1.5g per Kilo of body weight of carbs (either simple or complex) – which allows an efficient recharge of muscle glycogen during a brief window of opportunity. One hour later and the ability to recharge quickly to a good level is literally lost. This is also useful to know if more than one training session will take place in a day.
After the fast you can load up with carbs and apparently stock greater amounts of glycogen than before. The standard way of carb loading is to eat no carbs during a week starting 10 days before a competition – eating only fats and protein. Three days prior to the competition the diet is reversed with protein and fats eliminated, exercise reduced and only carbs consumed. This roughly doubles the glycogen and glucose stocked within the liver, muscles and blood. Fasting seems to do the same job as eating only protein and fat. It would be interesting to know if fasting is even more efficient than the standard approach. So far I’ve found when exercising on the day of breaking the fast it hasn’t been possible to restore glycogen levels fast enough after either a one or two day fast. On day two of the recovery after a two day fast there is still not a good level of glycogen or performance, but after a one day fast there does seem to be a strong recovery – at least up to normal levels. What I do know for sure is that three full days of carb loading works perfectly in both cases.
In my case the one day fast was followed up with additional 12hr “intermittent” fasting overnight so the gain in strength/glycogen by the afternoon following the fast was also subject to this constraint.
In conclusion it appears that the longer you fast the longer it takes to rebuild glycogen stores – but 3 to 4 clear days seems to guarantee not only recovery but a boosted level no matter how long you fast.
I’ll go from now on for 1.5 to 2 days recovery for a one day fast and 3 to 4 days for a two day fast or from any sustained absence of carbs from the diet. Intermittent fasting doesn’t seem to cause training problems – as long as a good meal is taken a few hours before training. I would probably stop intermittent fasting however about 3 days before a competition to ensure carb loading.
Two Day Fast (48 hrs to 64 hrs)
Fasting longer than one day is just a case of “more of the same”. It just takes longer to recover and your brain goes into hibernation mode for longer. People talk about experiencing alertness but so far I’ve not experienced anything like that at any time with fasting – nor has anyone else I know personally who has tried – at least up to 6 days. The only way the brain seems to be affected during fasting is that it makes your behaviour irritable and lethargic. I’ve also noticed that those who fast for five days or more seem to be more or less traumatised by the experience. Two days seems to be long enough to seriously induce weight loss but to not create any behavioural swings afterwards. The second evening seems to pass very slowly and the best way to to find a good movie to act as a distraction. It’s not really possible to be very productive by this stage.
Recovery from a two day fast takes time – so we are really looking at a 5 day block minimum. This is what I used successfully for the JPP race recently – privileging weight loss and carbs loading over outright training. Two day s fasting – then three days (3x 24hrs) recovery from the morning of breaking the fast to the morning of the race. Mon/Tue fasting – breaking the fast Wed morning and racing on Saturday morning. Full day of rest on Friday.
Intermittent Fasting (12 to 16 hrs daily)
Fasting for a number of hours within a day – normally from 12 to 16 hours – is called “Intermittent Fasting”. The idea here is that the body gets 4 hours to digest properly after the last meal and then 8 more hours at least for the liver to go though a full detox cycle. This is apparently long enough also for the brain to start its own cleaning up processes. Currently I’m experimenting with a 12 hour cycle of fasting from 8 pm to 8 am – to fit into line with normal meal times. The big advantage for me is that it prevents the evening munchies from taking over and frequent raiding of the refrigerator for comfort eating in front of the computer.
Currently I’m combining a one day fast each week with intermittent fasting on all the other days. The intermittent fasting is the easiest way to fast. It’s far more natural than any “diet” because it’s utterly simple. Just don’t eat again after the main evening meal until breakfast! If you feel like extending the fast then skip breakfast and eat at 12am instead.
Even if you decide to misbehave and stuff yourself with rich food during the 8 hour eating window it’s not really possible to consume enough calories to make up for what you have cut out – at least if you have also been exercising heavily. Appetite tends to be curbed by fasting so that even with intermittent fasting, when you start eating again, you don’t actually want to eat very much.
So far I’ve completed one week of this combination of “One Day” and “Intermittent” fasting and that included not only some reasonable training performances but one 12 hour stint of heavy labour clearing shrubs, trees and weeds that had formed an impenetrable jungle. I was physically exhausted after that and my brain felt dead – but that might have happened under any circumstances.
This week during the One Day Fast I went for a 10k run and could only manage 57 mins due to low blood sugar. The day after the fast was used as a rest and recovery day. The following day I rode up to La Plagne (2000m altitude) and was already strong enough and with enough glycogen to set a personal best time for the season of 1hr 26mins. The next day on tired legs and while getting used to Intermittent Fasting I ran the second fastest 10k of the season at 51 mins.