Do you need to carb-load to run a marathon? No, you don’t. And Edit, from the UK, is one of many people who can attest to this.
After becoming fat-adapted, Edit is finishing marathons on a low-carb diet and finds that she no longer has to consume jelly babies or gel packs during races. She says that “carb-loading and reliance on sugars are things of the past.”
In addition to this, Edit has improved many health issues, like prediabetes, acne, and intense carb cravings, as a result of ditching the carbs and incorporating intermittent fasting.
Here’s Edit’s full low-carb journey, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Edit’s keto story
My name is Edit, and I’m 39 years old. I live in the UK.
I’ve always been a very active person. From a young age, I was doing karate and cross-country walking races up to 40 miles (64 kilometers). I was never one to sit still for too long.
It sounds like a great start, right? But (there has to be a but) in the meantime, I also became addicted to chocolate and bread and would often drink a big bottle of Diet Coke after school.
I had absolutely no idea about nutrition, never had enough protein in my diet, and had no idea such things as good fats existed. Despite being active, I gained some weight, but never excessively. My main issues were the absence of a period, terrible acne, awful cravings, and often feeling a bit off.
At age 27, a medical professional told me that I had severe insulin resistance, and my insulin levels were ten times higher than the top of the normal range. Oops! I was then put on Metformin and never thought too much about it for years. I just learned to live with stubborn skin problems.
After giving birth to a beautiful baby girl in 2013, I couldn’t lose the baby weight despite joining my local slimming club. And so, I decided to do my research and came across intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating. Using my new knowledge, I managed to lose the excess weight but struggled to keep it off.
I kept being active, joined my local running club, got better at running, and enjoyed it so much that my loved ones said I was addicted to it! There are worse addictions out there, right? Like sugar addiction, which I was still battling all day, every day.
Even with a body mass index (BMI) of 23, my blood sugars were in the prediabetic range. There had to be a way to stop struggling so much, so I took up reading about health again and discovered Diet Doctor. Oh, what an excellent source of information. Diet Doctor became a new obsession, and I love the videos and podcasts!
I had never stopped my 16:8 or 18:6 intermittent fasting protocol but decided to give up bread, cakes, potatoes; you know how it goes. I’ve never really gotten into counting my macros, though. Instead, I just used the Diet Doctor visual guides to get a good idea of what foods I can enjoy.
At first, my running suffered. I was so tired but knew it was temporary, and so I kept on running. After a few weeks, I started to feel strong again, yay! Honestly, I did not lose much weight, but I didn’t need to. These days, I have a BMI of 21, and my period is regular, my skin is better, and I’ve ditched half of my Metformin so far.
I also signed up for the Virtual London Marathon! During training runs, I was the only one not using gels or jelly babies. I only ever had electrolytes in my water. I would eat a high-protein, low-carb breakfast, and that was enough. I also regularly attend spinning classes and do strength training (and need more of that!).
I decided to purchase a ketone meter and was thrilled that, despite hardly ever counting macros, I’m in ketosis every day. I believe this is also thanks to time-restricted eating and regular sport, often in a fasted state, to push my boundaries.
On Oct. 4, 2020, the day of the Virtual London Marathon, I had my usual protein breakfast, and there was nothing else to do but run 26.2 miles (42 kilometers) in the rain and wind. Oh, what fun! It was my fifth marathon but my first eating a low-carb diet; I finished in four hours and 22 minutes, not my best but not my worst either!
I did have a low-carb protein bar after 15 miles (24 kilometers), as my belly was grumbling. My ketones were 1.4 mmol/L in the morning and 2.4 mmol/L after the marathon, and that’s my highest ketone level to date!
The fact that I could rely on low-carb foods only and didn’t have to eat frequently during the race proves that low carb and sport are a perfect match, and carb-loading and reliance on sugars are things of the past. I will never look back and don’t even miss bread anymore!
Many thanks and best wishes,
Thanks for sharing your story with us Edit. I appreciate your patience understanding your athletic performance dropped at first but with patience, it came back. That is important to know ahead of time so people don’t jump ship right away. I also appreciate your message that many people don’t need to count calories or macros. Keep it simple and it will work in the long run. Great work!
/ Dr. Bret Scher
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