Sunday, January 20, 2013

6 Week Results after Nutrition Intervention

In my previous post, I described the nutrition intervention I began in November 2012 to follow a higher fat, moderate protein and lower carbohydrate daily nutrition pattern.  In this post, I want to share with you some of the exciting and interesting results from the time period of November 6 to December 21, 2012.

The Pre- and Post-Intevention Data:  Lipid Panel

Before starting my nutrition experiment, I got a physical examination with my primary care (Western medicine) doctor in mid-October along with a standard blood draw done. When the nurse called one week later to tell me my LDL was 152 and my total cholesterol was too high, I became nervous knowing I was about to embark on some radical nutrition changes.  But then I gave a big belly laugh when she said "The doctor wants you to go on a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet and start 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day." Typical, standard (and old-fashioned), Western medical advice:  avoid fats and dietary cholesterol in order to improve your lipid profile.  Oh, and then the nurse threatened a statin drug if my labs didn't improve in 3 months time.  Thank you, but NO THANK YOU.

Because the standard medical office blood draw for lipid profile is not very thorough (there is way more to the story than just LDL-C, HDL-C, Triglycerides), I got a NMR LipoProfile lab draw done through EconoLabs to check particle counts and density.

Here are the changes that occurred in my lipid profile over 6 weeks, during which time I ate a higher fat diet:

If you aren't familiar with these labs, that's okay. The important thing is that all of these labs changed in a very favorable manner. This was BIG news for me.

The Pre- and Post-Intevention Data: Metabolic Efficiency

So what happened to my ability to preserve carbohydrate during exercise and use fat better as a fuel source?  Check out the "BEFORE" results on October 30, 2012:

Here are the results AFTER 6 WEEKS:

The red line is the percentage of fat I am burning at each 5-minute stage and the blue line is percentage of carbohydrate being burned.  Holy cow, what a dramatic change in such a short time!  And so interesting that my results were similar to what Bob noticed as well. I was still burning a high percentage of fat at high watts when I tested the second time (umm, yeah... those are high watts for not having trained much since September!) and was unable to reach my Metabolic Efficiency Point before stopping the test.

You must know that from November 6 to December 21, my training was indeed minimal until December 3 due to recovery from surgery I had at the beginning of November and my eye condition that prevented me from doing any training.  In all of November, I did 4 bike sessions of one hour and 3 treadmill short runs. From December 3 to the 21st, I had only logged 8 hours on the bike, 22 miles of running, and 8 hours of swimming, along with some short strength training sessions.  All exercise sessions were aerobic in nature.  Because my training was very low during these 6 weeks, this shows what an impact nutrition can have on your ability to burn fat.

I did keep a food log during this time and yes, I did the dreaded calorie counting. I wanted to be sure my carbohydrate intake was between 75-100 grams (~15-20% of total calories), protein intake was consistent (~25-30% of calories) and I was getting ample fat intake.  I increased my fat intake during these 6 weeks by consuming avocados, olives, olive oil, coconut, nuts/seeds, nut butters, fattier meats and salmon, and higher fat dairy products.

Very interesting, yes?  So, did I need to go on a low-fat, low cholesterol diet to improve my lipid profile, doc?  Yes, I know this is only 6 weeks, so I am keeping this experimental train going!

In my next post, I will write more about some of the things I noticed and felt during the 6 weeks intervention along with an update on my current training.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My Nutrition Experiment - Intro

For any of you who follow my colleague, Bob Seebohar, you know he's been consuming a lower carbohydrate, higher fat daily diet since October.  Many current sports dietitians and coaches "poo poo" this because how can this type of nutrition possibly be good for health AND an athlete's performance?  We shall hear back from Bob how well his high fat nutrition training served him when he returns from his 135-mile run in Brazil.

In the meantime, I want to start sharing the story of my own nutrition journey. On November 6, 2012, I revamped my daily nutrition pattern to test how a lower carbohydrate, higher fat plan would work for me.  Bob and I had discussed both of us implementing this, but I kept my "overhaul" under the radar because... yep, I was nervous about the potential outcome. But part of moving forward in the field of sports nutrition is to try different nutrition patterns, foods and products for ourselves so that we can continue to evolve the field and educate our athletes.  That walk the talk thing.

Here is a sample of what my nutrition day looked like prior to November 6:

Breakfast: fat-free greek yogurt with blueberries, walnuts, flaxmeal, chia seeds
Snack:  banana, Clif Mojo
Lunch: big salad with tuna, dried sour cherries, fat-free cottage cheese, raspberry vinaigrette
Snack: apple, string cheese, veggies & hummus
Dinner: grilled chicken with BBQ sauce, broccoli, edamame
Snack: low-fat frozen yogurt (3-4 times per week)

Okay, so you can see I am a big eater. Aside from that and some of the nitpicking others will do, this nutrition pattern is decent for supporting stable blood sugar levels except for the frozen yogurt addition. This pattern yields about 235 grams of carbohydrate per day.

Change of plan!  Here is a sample of my current nutrition patterns:

Breakfast: almond butter, unsweetened coconut flakes, coconut milk, whey protein, chia seeds, walnuts (all mixed together)
Lunch: big salad with tuna, avocado, olives, full-fat cottage cheese
Snack: full-fat yogurt, almonds
Dinner: salmon, goat cheese, asparagus, sautéed greens
Snack: Almond milk and dark chocolate (3-4 times per week)

This patterns yields about 80 grams of carbohydrate - a significant reduction!

I had a standard physical done a few weeks before my nutrition intervention and then obtained a more complete lipid panel from Econolabs the day I began my intervention. I also did a Metabolic Efficiency Assessment one week prior to the implementation for a new baselines of how my body was using its fuel sources (fat and carbohydrate).

I can't wait to share with you the results of what I've seen and felt so far.  Check back for Part 2 soon!