Sunday, May 31, 2015

Challenge Vercors 2015 (121 km)

  • 33rd out of 99 (Age Category)
  • 171st out of 372 (G C)
  • 4h 16m 53s (official) 120.3km 2600m climbing
  • Ketogenic - no supplements or food during comp
  • BAC (Body Acetone Concentration) 0.06%  by 6pm
  • Sodium bicarbonate used as H+ buffer



Nine months of constant ketosis is starting to bring a significant performance gain at last. Until now all I felt was a constant weakness. Weight loss - down from 77kg to 63kg by the start of winter last year was mainly gained through fasting and that probably sacrificed too much muscle. Had the weight loss been when in ketosis (avoiding carbohydrates between  weekly fasts) then the muscle would have been spared. When going through all the fasting I had no knowledge of ketosis, being misled by a book on fasting by Dr Fuhrman. Furhman is a vegetarian low fat diet guru who also happens to advocate fasting. Unfortunately the two things are totally incompatible and that reality is revealed through understanding ketosis.

During May this year I've been training every day, alternating between running and cycling, covering 1012km in total, 155km of the total being running and all of the cycling being in the mountains. Before ketosis I was never able to train without between one and three complete rest days per week. During this month I was eating to gain weight - gaining around 3 kilos. I'd eat a breakfast and then nothing until after training - around 6pm. The intention is to gain as much muscle as possible and then once strength is good to try to lose the new fat while in ketosis - to keep the muscle gain. I enjoy being thin but do not enjoy feeling weak.

One new factor has however come into play in this whole process and it appears to be a game changer. Consuming sodium bicarbonate about an hour before exercise dramatically overcomes the apparent limitations of strict carbohydrate avoidance. Since going ketogenic every training session has been very sluggish at the start, taking between 20 to 40 minutes to warm up properly. Somehow this seemed to be less of an issue during competition, probably due to adrenalin but it was still a perceptible problem even there. The bicarbonate acts as a buffer against hydrogen ions created during the metabolism of glucose in the muscles. For some strange reason this seems to be a bigger problem than usual when in ketosis and not using glucose as the primary fuel. Muscles tie up quickly with far less effort - unless there is a substantial warm up. Even after a good warm up there appears to be less ability (or perhaps motivation) to sprint or push very hard for the same reason. You even get to the stage where you try to avoid excessively hard efforts. In my case the lack of strength once warmed up could however be due to the muscle lost during fasting and have nothing to do with ketosis. Whatever, taking sodium bicarbonate just simply stops all of this. Most significantly it appears to facilitate performance at a level that would encourage new muscle development. The fact that the muscles simply don't tie up lets you use all your current strength and it feels very good. 

I'd like to know why bicarbonate has such a big effect when in ketosis. The pancreas produces a form of bicarbonate by itself. Considering the pancreas is also where insulin comes from there might be an interesting connection. This thought prompted me to do a little research…

Perhaps a lifetime of carbohydrate addiction and toxic or acidic abuse skews the system adversely. It looks like a lifetime of punishing the pancreas with excessive carbs may cause a drop in the capacity for the pancreas to produce bicarbonate. Just swallowing a spoonful seems to compensate for this. There might also be a mechanism whereby when eating loads of carbs and producing excessive insulin with the fat metabolism switched off then there could be less need for the acid buffering effect of bicarbonates - so any developing pancreas “bicarbonate” problem simply wouldn't be spotted. Perhaps all of the above contributes to the long three years needed to attain the full benefit of ketosis for sports performance.

One problem with sodium bicarbonate is that you want to consume it on an empty stomach so it isn't neutralised by stomach acid - so timing is difficult in the morning. Some sources recommend taking bicarbonate about 45 minutes before activity but others say that you can build up in the preceding days and don’t even need to consume any on event day.  

For this morning's race I had a full ketogenic breakfast with the addition of extra lactofermented vegetables - including beetroot. The carbs have been fermented out of this food and turned into lactic acid. Lactic acid converts to lactate which is fuel - the preferred fuel of the heart and brain - in competition for that honour with ketones! When lactic acid turns into lactate the bicarbonate buffers the hydrogen ions that it gives off. Just eating food like this gradually increases the lactate threshold (tolerance) - as does training at lactate threshold levels. Better athletes have higher levels of lactate in their blood and muscles. The limiting factor in muscle use is not lactic acid - it's the H+ ion.

My “feeling” is that by bicarbonate allowing the muscles to use lactic acid more efficiently this gives time for fat metabolism to kick in and ketones to be produced without performance being compromised in the meantime. I suspect this is why supplementary bicarbonate removes any apparent performance issues of ketosis.


Race Preparation

May 30th 2011 was the last time I participated in the Challenge Vercors. On that occasion I did the long “Masters” course (168km) but it was probably a bit over-ambitious.

This time I'd chosen the shorter, more sensible  "Senior" course which is also the more popular of the options.

Preparation for the race involved a long 115km hard ride on Thursday then an easy "recovery" 11km run on Friday, leaving a full rest day on the Saturday. The big ride on Thursday was just a fraction too close to race day and even though I didn't let my heart rate climb too high my body had been very tired afterwards. Regardless of this the recovery was sufficient to permit a fully satisfying performance during the race.

I drove to Meaudré in the early evening after eating at home and found the parking zone just behind the race start area - about 200m further on. The parking area was large due to it being built for winter skiing clients with a full ski station being situated right there. They even left clean and organised pubic toilets open. I found a quiet corner of the car park away from most of the big camper vans and within easy walking distance of the race registration building in the morning. I really like sleeping in my estate car - it's like camping but without any fuss. I had a flask of coffee and plenty of snacks for the late evening plus an internet connection from my tablet. The air was fresh but warmer than usual for this altitude and this particular mountain range. Sleeping was easy and comfortable.

Race morning was straight forward being up at 6:30am, two hours before the race start. Even with all this time at hand I still managed two glitches. Food and water were fresh having been stored in insulated bags with frozen gel packs. I'd brought two separate heart rate monitoring systems because my new Mio Fuse optical wrist HRM (Heart Rate Monitor) was already showing serious battery problems (after only 5 months). I changed all the settings to minimise battery use as much as possible and then launched the Endomondo App on my brilliant Sony Z1 compact phone. This app connects to the HRM though Bluetooth 4 when paired with the Mio Fuse. One serious Mio fault is that it cannot be "paired" with normal Bluetooth protocol and is actually paired directly through the app itself - rendering it dependent on app compatibility! That's a BIG negative for Mio! Simultaneously I was using a Garmin ANT+ chest strap and running the Runtastic Road Pro app for that. When the Mio uses its ANT+ connection any Garmin signal in the near vicinity takes over and you lose your own heart data and start recording somebody else's - another very BIG negative for Mio. This way I'd however have two correctly functioning independent  devices and be able to make a comparison at the end. I set Runtastic to give audio feedback but left the switching on of my Bluetooth 4 earbuds until the last few minutes and they just didn't get any sound - so with my phone in my back pocket I'd now not get any direct feedback during the whole race. That was glitch number one!

Now glitch number two! All of that technical fluster was exacerbated by a last minute dash to the toilet and a massive diarrhoea attack - with only minutes to go before the start. This might have been due to eating too much cheese the night before. I seem to react badly to the casein protein in cheese.


The Race

Those pre-race issues however were the only minor glitches. I'd put on a base layer and made a good decision there because the air was still a bit fresh and long descents in the shade would keep their chill all day. The result of all this faffing around and the toilet adventure was that I lined up right at the back of the 372 strong field for the start. I started my two apps about half a minute after the start signal but we hadn't even moved by then at the back. It took almost two minutes to get across the start and not only would we all have the same start time (despite having timing chips) but by the time I crossed the line the head of the peloton would be a good kilometre away. The logic here is that at the end of the race when your cross the finish line you know for sure that anyone behind you has been beaten by you. There are no annoying surprises that way. The negative side of this is that it means queuing up about half an hour before the race start if you want to actually start with the gun.

When I finally got going there was no question about what to do - it was a case of going flat out an trying to catch up as much as possible.  Although I began a solo charge up the field soon after others joined in. Two guys in  "Team La Forestiere"  were on a mission to make up ground and they were strong. When they passed me, perhaps coming out of my own slipstream, they accelerated and I managed to hang on behind and settle in for the tow. The two of them were alternating the lead in rotation and as they were clearly happy to do so alone I held back to conserve energy. After a good 20 minutes the front of the leading peloton with the safety car became visible on a straight section of road only about about 400m ahead. I figured that we had passed about 200 racers and as the lead peloton would itself be going fast this was a pretty good start. Getting no heart rate feedback meant I'd no idea how high I'd been going into the red but I felt good. The bicarbonate had obviously worked because even without a warm up there was no sluggishness and I was straight into it. One of the guys I'd caught up with let out a loud groan in French, saying that he hoped the rest of the course wouldn't be as fast as the start or he would explode.

It was actually quite refreshing not to have earphones plugged into my head for a change.  When we hit the first real climb there was a bit of re-settling amongst the group with one bunch passing me. I tend , especially after such a flat out effort, to take a while to adjust when suddenly arriving at steep climbs. Lots of people can just charge ahead but they often tend to pay for this later on in the climb. What was encouraging was that after the initial surge there was no more slipping backwards in the pack and in fact I began catching people one by one more than being overtaken. This is always a good sign!

To be honest most of the race is just a blurred memory. Not having feedback meant that I had little idea where I was and what lay ahead. In some ways that was good because I didn't attempt to control anything and just went with the flow - working as hard as possible. When you don't really know what the body is capable off then it often works out better this way. Perhaps the top elites can calculate precisely how their performance will pan out but I doubt even that. All I know is that the best races seem to be when you push hard from the very start. When you go slower and try to pace yourself then you just never seem to get going and end up even more tired.

During the first descent it was a bit surprising how slowly some were taking it. Guys who had left me behind on the climb were losing all their hard won advantage. When cornering at speed all you need is a good racing line for security. Enter the turn wide - cut close to the apex and exit wide if there is no traffic or within the limits of your lane. Visualise the whole thing in 3D as if the road tilted to stay at 90° to the bike. Getting the line right makes a massive difference to security and that gives confidence to go faster.

I'd become isolated close to the end of the highest (but not biggest) climb up the Col d'Herbouilly as most of those around me were stronger climbers. Until now I'd been catching them all on the descents. They were still visible ahead near the top, but that difference in distance gives them a serious advantage when they hit the descent in a group. I'd been lucky until near the very top because there was always a few hard working people around to work with and slipstream on the flatter sections.

After the Col d'Herbouilly there was a long 10km descent followed by 20km of faux plâts. During the long descent - for which my average speed over the 10km was 53kph - I caught up with and collected several others again. Only one person caught up with me and he appeared to be particularly strong on the descents so I didn't let him get away. From the bottom of the descent however it was clear that it would be up to me to pull the newly formed group. To my surprise none of them came to the front to do a turn. Normally when someone wants to speed the group up a bit this turn around happens automatically but they all appeared to be content with my pace – or just unable to take the front. The long descent and this long “faux plât” together amounted to close of 30km without respite - and that following on from the highest climb of the day. I was surprised at having the strength for this and also still feeling quite good. When the climb steepened up to the Col de Saint Alexis one of the younger guys I'd been pulling along for ages went to the front and having fresh legs started to drop me. He spotted it though and deliberately slowed down to show his appreciation and pull for a while until the climb itself took command over everything.

Starting in earnest up the climb to Col de Saint Alexis it began with about 10km from the summit on a sharp hairpin bend. As we came around the sharp bend and could see back down the road I was astonished to see loads of riders in the few hundred metres behind us. That meant that I’d pulled all that way for nothing basically and I could have sat comfortably behind any of that lot saving energy and not losing any time. This turned out to be quite a fast climb – around 16 Km/h so it was good to be amongst people who could now provide me with some motivation and a little slipstreaming. The climb was followed by another monster descent which I loved a lot. I just like anticipating the road and trying to nail the corners as fast as possible. At the bottom one guy in yellow just pulled past me and when we hit the flats he kept up his speed and I enjoyed being pulled along at around 40 to 50 Km/h for quite a stretch. This is where the course bifurcated between the 170km version and 120km version. I was very glad to be only on short one. The biggest surprise was seeing how many peeled off to go up the 170km route – considering that they had started out half an hour before us! That’s a lot of catching up! One guy in red behind me commented that he was doing his best to hang on staying on my tail. I think he had been behind me for about 40km by now. After the next climb he made an effort to go in front and do some work on the descents. Descents are just as demanding if you go in front and act as the main airbrake. He was doing well  but there was a very long harsh climb to come after Saint Martin en Vercors and this would split up everyone so he should really have conserved his energy for that.  He did create a real problem though because he took random lines into each turn and so was totally unpredictable. This caused both of us to skid slightly at one turn – but I’d been on guard for this so nothing bad happened. I didn’t want to force my way in front either because I was aware of the climbing ahead. On the Saint Martin climb three guys pulled ahead of me and about the same number dropped behind. Meanwhile I was still climbing at around 15km/h and overtaking quite a few others along the way. The guy in yellow I’d been with earlier had been one of the three who pulled ahead but near the top he started to crack and although he’d been a few hundred metres ahead at one point I caught him back up. That was aided by someone else who overtook me near the top which allowed us to accelerate up to 30km/h before the climb was fully over. For all I know he was slipstreaming me for miles before he shot past. I think I’ll install a mirror for future races because I really haven’t a clue about what’s happening behind. The guy in red was now dropped and that left me with Yellow for the final descent. This descent was stunning – a road carved out of the face of a cliff with overhangs and tunnels – fantastic bends for high speed turns – not so tight that too much speed was lost but tight enough to make you keep your wits about you.

When the next climb started, still on the spectacular cliff faces, Yellow pulled past me once again. He’d apparently been on my tail for the descent. I was pretty much clueless about how long we had been going and how far we still had to go so I asked him. He told me 10km but I wasn’t sure whether he meant to the end or just the end of the climb. Regardless, what should have been a stunning last climb was rendered horrible because for the entire distance – which turned out to be a very twisting 5km of cliffs – the entire road surface had been stripped off for resurfacing. It was like riding uphill on cobbles. We even had a bus try to overtake us on the way up and he struggled getting past the bikes due to his fear of hitting the overhanging cliff above. About half a kilometre from the top Yellow cracked again and I left him behind. I was still averaging about 13 km/h even climbing on the cobbles and the legs felt ok. Popping out of the top of this onto proper tarmac and a relatively level road was wonderful. However there was still 5km to go, uphill and now against a headwind. I just “bit the bullet” and increased the effort in the certainty that it would all soon be over. The final straight back home to Meaudré has a view about 500m ahead and I could see the guys who had pulled ahead way back at Saint Martin. They weren’t that far ahead. About 200m from the town Yellow came flying past me slipstreaming someone who had teamed up with him. He pulled a funny face and I shouted that it wasn’t fair but accelerated and got behind him. Fortunately the actual entrance to the town has a sudden climb and when Yellow’s tow pulled a few meters ahead and opened a gap Yellow was finished and couldn’t keep up the speed. I had enough strength from the brief period of slipstreaming to accelerate and then sprint to the finish putting Yellow about 12 seconds behind.



My official time was 4h: 16m: 53s and I’d consumed only two 700ml bottles of filtered tap water – with no actual stops. Towards the end I was feeling a bit headachy and slightly low on energy. Breakfast was low carb / ketogenic and so the goal was to rely on fat metabolism. I’m pretty convinced however that those symptoms were dehydration. After the race I avoided eating and just drank water and coffee and all the symptoms disappeared. Perhaps in future I’ll try to drink more during races.

Driving home in the afternoon I did start to feel a bit tired. This is where I’m trying to determine whether eating would be beneficial. I now know it’s not essential but soon I might start to experiment with eating after the race or even certain supplements during. This will need to be researched properly. Perhaps it’s more important to simply eat protein to protect muscle than to worry about energy sources. The afternoon tiredness tells me however that food might be useful.

      • DISTANCE               120.3 km
      • DURATION              4h:16m:53s
      • AVG. SPEED           28.1 km/h
      • MAX. SPEED           68.1 km/h
      • FASTEST 10K         52.8 Km/h
      • CALORIES              4123 kcal
      • HYDRATION            4.01L
      • AVG. HEART RATE 155
      • MAX. HEART RATE 171
      • MIN. ALTITUDE        717 m
      • MAX. ALTITUDE       1419 m
      • TOTAL ASCENT      2600 m
      • TOTAL DESCENT   2592 m

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Les Trois Cols 2015

100% Keto Racing

Today was going to be my first pure ketogenic race – with no carbohydrate drinks or any food at all for that matter during the event – only plain water. Having participated in the 2013 version of the event (Les Trois Cols), at which time I was obliviously addicted to carbohydrates, there would be a great opportunity for comparison.



True to form, with Chris as a companion there was a significant amount of stress in the build up to the race. Now that I know to expect this it’s much easier to ignore. The evening before we arrived at the race registration building at 7:57pm just 3 minutes before closure when they were packing up and just managed to get our timing chips and numbers for the race in the morning. At least this spared us the horrible queuing process in the morning – which was just as well because despite a relatively late morning start (9am) we were about to end up at the sharp end of the stress zone again as usual. Chris had a couple of plastic bottles with glucose liquid in his pocket and shortly after starting the drive from the hotel to the race start he felt the liquid leaking through his clothing. Nothing is more distracting when driving than goop flowing through your clothing and all over the seat so this then provoked the missing of a turn off and getting lost. My Sony Z1 telephone GPS came to the rescue rapidly as the car GPS system was not so great and we made it there with 5 minutes to spare after getting the bikes ready. Chris was on the long 150km course and I was on the short 100km course and the long course start was 15 minutes earlier at 8:45am. Once Chris was gone I decided to make use of a handy public toilet right there on location. It was one of those awkward “hole in the ground” French jobs that you can’t easily squat on with cleated shoes. (Even worse with ski boots on!) I needed to go because I was having an attack of the “runs” and so this was a great opportunity to deal with it. Cycling bibs require you to remove your shirt and in this case place it on the ground – near the door entrance. Half way through the operation the lights went out completely and I couldn’t find the switch. I probably even missed the target not being used to squatting. Before opening the door I pushed the button for the water to clean the toilet but it came out explosively and soaked my feet even though I was standing already at a distance. The flood surged forwards and I just managed to grab the shirt and telephone before they were soaked – only my right foot being drenched. Finally getting out of that room I was glad to see that everything was still clean and more or less intact. I’d not have thought it was possible to have any more stress after Chris had gone but somehow it was just continuing. Next thing is that my ANT+ cardio system seemed to be picking up everybody else’s signal instead of mine – so my heart reading was not displaying the same on the telephone app as it was on my watch (Mio Fuse Optical wrist HRM). It seemed to dump the signal from the Fuse and take the signal from whoever else was closest. Still, it was too close to the start of the race to mess with anything. ANT+ is not supposed to do this. I could have switched to Bluetooth 4.0 but that could have brought another set of problems so I didn’t bother even trying. In the end I only forgot two relatively minor things – sunscreen and anti-friction cream for the bottom. I had two full water bottles – with just plain water - and this turned out to be perfect for the 100km permitting me to go to the end without stopping.

The 100km course had two main climbs the first of which would be timed. Overall climbing was claimed to be around 1700m. The mountains to the South West of Lyon (Le Tour de Salvagny) are considered “middle mountains”. They aren’t as high or steep as the Alps and the altitude in general is lower with the temperature higher. The course was changed from the 88km course two years before but the new course is a better distance and with more climbing as it used to be only 1300m.



The start of a race is always tough. You always think that if you start near the front it will help – but catching up with them by slipstreaming others fighting their way forwards is probably no more difficult than just trying to hold on with the guys up front anyway. Those races always start out full bore – probably with a bunch of dopers in front. My start was a bit slow as I was quite far back in the crowd due to the distractions that had been occupying my attention up until that point. When we got going I started my own clock on the start line and then set about catching up.

Ever since going ketogenic I’ve missed the “carb buzz” that carb loading had provided at the start of any race. Basically the carb buzz appears to let you start off strongly without even warming up. Today the lack of a warm up was really evident as the legs just felt like they were partially seizing up. This feeling is now normal for me as it happens in every training session. Perhaps some people are like this even when loaded up with carbs but I never used to feel any need for a warm up before. Prior to the race I’d managed 19 consecutive days of training alternating daily between running and cycling. The entire time I’d felt tired during training – though once in running there was a fast and strong performance. There had been one or two strong cycling days too but most training was in a slightly fatigued state. I’d chosen to have a rest day on the 20th day – the day before the race. Already by evening of that day the legs were starting to feel like they had some strength so it seemed that the actual race might not be the total nightmare I was anticipating.

In the event it only took ten minutes or so for the legs to be warmed up and for my heart rate to be in the anaerobic zone (160+ bpm). That just doesn’t happen unless you are properly recovered and ready. The first 31km would just be a non stop battle of catching up and trying to hold on to a fast group. This included the first timed climb which I managed in 21’23” and came 33rd in age category out of 78. There was a constant problem caused by catching up with the group just as one or two were dropping off the back. I’d then be stuck with the guys falling off the back and have to begin the solo struggle all over again – or just ignore them completely and continue alone. Eventually the group whittled down to nine and then five. The final five were flying and I went with them for the next 20km – never going in front. There were two riders in front of me who were terrible at cornering – a guy and an girl. They would slow down on the bend and then sprint to catch up with the others. Constant accelerations were killing me so in the end I had to force past them to ensure a better line and less loss of speed.

When we arrived at the second of the two main climbs I was a bit shocked to find myself dropping all of the others. Normally it’s the complete opposite and I’m the one who is dropped. This turn of events was completely unexpected. However, just before the end of the climb there was a brief plateau and descent and the others caught me up – my strength beginning to fade now. There was no “energy” crisis and I wasn’t hungry but physical tiredness was creeping in and the power to stay with the others was waning. The difference wasn’t great but when they took about 100m on me during the last bit of the climb I couldn’t recover the gap. From then on until the end this would be my mode – a reduced power setting. The body wasn’t doing this to conserve fuel or tyres as in Formula One but to conserve some physical homeostasis that can probably be best related to a lack of training and mileage. In total I've only accumulated 1067km on the bike this year and 380km running. What saves me is that most of the cycling has been on climbs.

From then on there was a small collection of individuals who seemed to come and go around me. Each had a strong point and weakness. Some were light and so good climbers and others would struggle on the climbs or descents and then be strong on the flats. The net result was that most of the time there was somebody either in front of me for slipstreaming or someone behind getting a much needed tow.

About 8km from the end there was a sharp turn with a sign saying 14% gradient. This would destroy anyone who didn’t have a decent climbing gear ratio available (as was the case for Chris!). The climb was not terribly long in real terms though it felt interminable as most torture probably does. That climb didn’t do me a lot of favours and then I started to lose some of the guys around me as they pulled ahead. Then around 4km from the end I came around a tight corner to the sight of a whole bunch of guys stuck at a closed level railway crossing. Fortunately I was only cornered there for a minute but they had been held up long enough for me to catch up and there were not many people directly behind me for them to be able to catch up too. I certainly came out of that glitch well and had recovered enough with the minute long break to be able to go ahead and stay ahead of most of them all the way to the end. There was nobody chasing me to the finish line.


Results Comparison

2013 88k, 1300m climb, 3hrs 20’, 26.4 kph, Hr Avg 158, Max 174, GC 209 / 251, Age cat 37 / 55

2015 99k, 1700m climb, 3hrs 34’, 27.8 kph, Hr Avg 159, Max 183, GC 258 / 382, Age cat 41 / 78

5.5% Speed increase.

17% General Category improvement.

15% Age Category improvement.



There are so many factors involved in racing that it’s almost impossible to draw any accurate conclusions. The main interest here was whether or not the long term ketogenic diet was having a positive effect or not. Well, a 5.5% increase in speed is very significant. It’s for certain that if all the signs were towards poorer results it would be the ketosis that would automatically receive the blame – so it might as well in this case receive the credit.

My only consumption during the race was plain tap water – with two 600ml bottles. There was no need to stop for refills despite temperatures up to 25°C in the sun. Breakfast at 7am had been a high fat ketogenic meal and nothing was eaten during the race or post race (until 6pm). There was no hunger or energy dip experienced.

My ketosis level before the race was a BAC (body acetone concentration)  of 0.04%. After the race for 3 days this went up to 0.05%.

There were no cramps, leg pains, abdominal discomforts, bottom irritation, back pains, neck/shoulder pains or any of the usual problems that can arise during a long race.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference for me was a constant positive state of mind throughout the race. There were no dips in morale and it was all enjoyable and competitive. There were a few moments of shared teamwork with strangers and a great atmosphere altogether.

Long term ketosis isn’t only a dietary state – it’s an epigenetic mode. The aim is to modify the external environment – food supply, exercise circadian cycles and temperature – so as to influence the cellular environment (hence altering hormones). In response to the cellular environment changes there is an alteration of the DNA molecule. DNA code doesn’t change – it isn’t re-written! The code is simply interpreted differently – some genes being switched off and other switched on. This switching alters the state of the DNA molecule. Some foods manage to do this very rapidly – such as coffee! Coffee causes a cascade of events resulting in a massive production of the body’s own antioxidants. The upshot is that when in long term cold adapted ketosis you feel like you are in a different body – especially if you are previously used to carbohydrates and addicted to the energetic “buzz”. Getting used to this new system is not necessarily easy (even after adaptation). Most of the apparent performance benefits of ketosis are not immediately obvious. High carb comfort eating is also paralleled by high carb comfort sports performance – giving the illusion of fitness while simultaneously leading the body towards rapid degeneration. Ease off on the exercise and stay with the carbs addiction and you end up like Maradona with half your stomach being cut out to control your weight. There’s plenty of well paid doctors around willing to cut you apart – rather than just tell you the obvious – to dump the sugar and wheat.

If there is an apparent absence of elite medal winners in ketosis it’s perhaps due to two things. First of all the ketogenic athlete probably won’t be doping. Secondly the vast pool of athletes from which natural selection is taking place is vastly inclined towards selection from the sugar consuming population. Those with real talent in a ketogenic state may simply remain completely hidden and they may never even know it.

Last year due to misleading information – particularly on the part of Dr Fuhrman and other “low fat” vegan medical protagonists – I lost a lot of excess body weight through fasting each week and then returning to a low fat/high carb diet. This meant my body was never in ketosis. Ketosis is a natural antioxidant state wich protects the heart and major organs while at the same time protecting muscle from wasting in a fasting state. During the summer last year I lost 30lb in weight but saw absolutely no performance improvement in cycling – even for climbing. Weight loss in the low fat/high carb mode is a complete disaster. Had I remained with this disturbingly difficult diet on a restricted caloric level afterwards not only would it have been seriously difficult I would have given up for sure and due to all the muscle loss all the fat would have returned but very little muscle. Fortunately I became wise to this nonsense (which I now believe is a deliberate misguidance) and found out about ketosis. Over the winter ketosis prevented any more muscle wastage, allowed excellent dietary and weight control without caloric restriction, suffering or more muscle loss. Now that Spring is here and Summer is arriving it appears possible to properly rebuild the muscle lost last year – without all the fat reappearing. I may even fast on occasion but when in a fully adapted ketogenic state – to protect muscle tissue. When training I’m noticing that I have an impulse to train every day – even when a bit tired. Science shows that training in a fatigued state is every bit as beneficial for final performance as training in a fully recovered state. When on carbohydrates I felt forced to take at least two rest days per week. After this race the following day it was snowing and miserable but I had no great trouble getting out for a 10k run. The run wasn’t fast but the legs felt good. Next day on the bike – same thing! The legs, body and morale felt great – even though in recovery mode it was still impossible to raise the heart rate. Even on the third day, when running felt better, heart rate was still relatively low. It should take about 4 days for recovery from a hard race anyway – but it’s nice to be able to exercise your way through this period. (4th day I did manage to get back up to 160 bpm on the bike)