Flipping the Macros - HFLC

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I changed my diet recently and wanted to share a few insights. As a person who likes endurance sports, I know I can burn sugar & carbs well. I'm  healthy and exercise alot, but to be honest I would like to lose a few pounds in order to get to a better race weight. When training for marathons, I feel like I can eat whatever I want but I always seem to gain a few pounds during training. My legs feel heavy and I could never get past a certain mileage in my weekly running. This doesn't work if I want to get faster and train for an ultra. I did experiments with cutting sugar out with positive results and noticed I immediately lost weight when I did that. was looking back at my food log from last year and noticed I was eating 2000 - 2500 calories per day with 50-60% of it being carbs. That's about 150-300 grams of carbs. I started thinking, maybe I don't need to eat that much carbohydrate everyday.

Recently for ultra training I decided to do something different. I would focus more on nutrition. I dropped the sugar again and also started playing around with cutting back the carbs. I didn't change my calories, just flipped the macros around so that the carbs switch places with fat. Fats are at least 60% of the diet now and carbs are 15% or between 50-75 grams. This may not be ultra low carb but for a runner it is. It is basically 1/2 to 1/4 of the carbs runners are recommended to eat. I dropped the honey, bread and whole grains for a few weeks and immediately lost 5lbs. The carb source is mostly vegetables, with a little bit of fruit and dairy. For carb loading I may have a little bit of sweet potato or half a banana. I keep the fruit low and timed to activity. The fats are from avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter, nuts, seeds and full fat yogurt. The protein is pretty much the same as it was before, but I go for the fattier versions and more eggs.  The focus is on whole natural foods. This is very filling and surprisingly doesn't lead to weight gain. Sometimes a calorie deficit is achieved by accident because I'm not feeling that hungry, but that is not the goal. This has a great anti-inflammatory effect on the body and I'm able to run an hour per day on hilly trails and bike commute using this ratio. Recovery time is great! The sweetness in natural foods is much more pronounced and I can enjoy homemade sugar-free desserts.

Weekly Mileage buildup on low-carb diet. 

For training, I try to avoid energy gels. I had built up to running long with very little need for carbs or "runners candy". I tried the Generation UCAN superstarch and that worked well. I ran a marathon distance with 2 packs of that, some electrolytes and just some bonk proof coffee for breakfast. I did not get shaky or cold sweat from sugar crashes. I broke my weekly mileage record to 62 miles. My skin feels better too. After 6 weeks of training low carb, now I feel more confident about being less dependent on carbs for training. I am using carbs a bit more strategically, targeted around the level of activity I'm doing. My carb cycle follows my training cycle, so I will put a high carb day on a heavy training day on the weekend, so I don't feel deprived. I can enjoy the carby foods that I miss on that day and indulge in a 300 grams of carbs binge! This is followed by a rest day, which has less calories, less carbs, less fat and more lean protein. I noticed a big improvement in recovery in doing this cycle. On medium training days I might go up to 30% carb or about 150 grams. It just makes much more sense to change it up a bit instead of doing the same thing every day. Everyone is different and every day is different. I think flexible dieting can yield positive results. I'm focusing more on nutrient density instead of carbing out all the time, which makes me feel better in general. I can customize my farm box delivery to get exactly what I need. I eat vegetables with every meal and I make that the center point of menu planning, which is pretty simple:

The don't count calories or macros method:
Two big fist full of vegetables* + 1 palm of protein + 1 or 2 thumbs of fats
For carbs: Add 1 cupped hand of healthy complex carbs or fruit*
Another rule for me is to eat at least 1/2 - 1 avocado per day. They have a lot of potassium, more than bananas! Fuel on fat.


And now for the food pics! Click on info for details:


Yolanda said...


On this eating change, it is actually making sense to me as well. So my question is, do you eat three meals like this, or 5 mini meals? And you add in the complex carb shortly after your workout and then not again during the day? Please pm me on FB or send me an email as I don't know that I would see your response here....but perhaps. :-)

René said...

I like to run in the morning, so if it was going to be a big workout over 2 hours I would add a little sweet potato the night before. I don't like to eat much before morning run so I add in a little carb after my run, say half a banana. Whatever I was doing before but half or less. I usually do 3 meals plus 3 snacks. I bike commute so that little afternoon snack gets me some calories for my bike ride! The one thing I try not to do is cut back on calories during training, but on rest days it is ok.

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