Faster Fasting

From the end of 2014 and well into 2015, I followed a strict low-carb, high fat (LCHF) diet, in order to reduce my body mass.

At the very beginning of that period I had been somewhere around 125Kg (275lb) and by June 2015, I was around 98Kg (216lb) and still had a way to go to get to what I thought my ideal race weight might be. To some readers, it may be difficult to relate to these weights. I’m a big guy – I fill a doorway, so my weight may always seem high.

Suffice to say the shift in body mass had done wonders for both my cycling and running, with performance relative to my peers significantly improving. There had been a few issues in the early days, as I would bonk 50 miles into a ride when my body would be searching for glucose that just wasn’t available.  Later of course, when I was fully in dietary ketosis, I experienced no such problems and actually felt stronger and stronger toward the end of a ride, as my ride buddies would begin to fade.

That in isolation, is a LCHF success story.

Those that know me personally, may remember that in June 2015, it all came crashing down – quite literally.  In a cycling incident, that I can’t fully recollect but can only attribute to my own poor bike handling, I broke my hip (neck of femur), which resulted in surgery to pin my hip, a few days in hospital, three months using two crutches and a further three months on one crutch before I could again walk unaided.

To a person that had been experiencing ongoing success both in terms of performance and improved body composition, this was a huge psychological blow.  I did however remain determined to get back to it.  With a neck of femur fracture, the big risk is breaking blood flow to head of femur (the ball joint).  If the head of femur is starved of oxygen, it will become necrotic and a hip replacement will be necessary. In order to avoid that outcome, I resolved to do everything I could to repair the bone.

Searching the internet revealed some interesting tips on bone growth and what it was going to take to get me well again.  In the early days of repair, I was taking 11 different complex supplements of vitamins, minerals and enzymes to help my bone repair.  In addition, I had found a rule of thumb that suggested that a person normally requiring 2000kCal per day, when suffering multiple fractures, would need as much as 6000kCal to provide the energy required for normal bodily function and bone repair.  This may be why when people have broken bones, they feel unusually tired.  The alternative is either some parts of the body’s function simply shutting down, or an extended period for the bone to heal, neither of which seemed to align with my goal.

So, for six months, largely immobile, I consumed huge amounts of energy, in addition to the self-prescribed cocktail of supplements. Sure enough, my strategy for repair of my hip actually worked.  It’s now as strong as ever and still has three 6” long screws going through the neck, into my head of femur.  With as much energy as I’d been consuming, there was an inevitable daily surplus of energy.

I had used dairy as a main source of energy when I needed to get up to 6000kCal.  The thing about dairy, is its relatively high in carbohydrate (as well as fat and protein).  You can probably imagine what happened to my body mass.

I happen to like dairy, butter, cheese, cream, milk. If your digestive system can handle lactose, what’s not to love?

Many people following a LCHF diet hit a plateau. While once the weight fell away, now it just stays the same.  Dairy is often a contributor to this and in my case, I’m fairly sure of it.  I never really cut back the dairy from my diet and consequently, my weight hasn’t come back down since I got off crutches.

I managed to complete two long distance races in 2016 but in 2017, I failed to finish an Ironman.  Not finishing is a complex physiological and psychological issue, both at the time and post-event and I don’t propose to go into detail of that here. One undeniable contributory factor though, was my body mass.  On race day, it was too high.  Carrying a 20Kg weight for 140.6 miles is something the pros wouldn’t want to do, so why should I take on that challenge?

So, here we are.  The real beginning of this blog.  All that came before was just background.

In the time since I started LCHF, the Real Meal Revolution 2.0 was published.  It combines the LCHF principles of diet for people who are carbohydrate resistant (as I believe I am) with intermittent fasting.

Fasting isn’t new of course, it’s been recommended from wide ranging of sources, from nutritionists, preachers, sports coaches, to business gurus.  I have (like most things) tried it.  Of course, my idea of fasting for one day, may have been slightly wrong and here’s why:

If you wake up, skip all your meals, go to bed, get up the following day and eat breakfast, you may have been fasting for 36 hours total.  When you start your ‘day’ of fasting, it may already be 12 hours since you last ate.  It’s a difficult day.  The last time I tried it, I had a headache by the afternoon, threw in the towel at around 4pm and ate something. By 6pm I was fine and vowed to never fast again.

However, since coming back to Iraq on this trip, I have been particularly strict about my LCHF diet and right now, it’s just 2 hours from breaking by first 24-hour fast.  Basically, I had lunch yesterday, skipped dinner.  Felt pretty hungry last night but awoke feeling fine. Skipped breakfast and now, I’m good and ready for lunch.  It’s not been too bad and I have again remembered what having an appetite feels like.

We will see whether 2018 can be a repeat of the 2015 body mass success story but for now and for the first time in a long time, I feel in control of how that story goes.


GI Tri Coach


What’s at Steak?

There is as much dietary advice out there, as there are training plans. This then must be controversial, as to say anything on the topic is bound to contradict many strongly held beliefs and practices.  Rather than promote a ‘right’ way, instead I’d like to pose a question:

While I follow a particular theory, the most commonly given dietary advice, is to eat a balanced diet.  What then, does that mean?

In Britain, the following split of macro nutrients is recommended by government:


The problem with charts like this, is that plates of food don’t easily lend themselves to measuring macro nutrients in this way and the total demand for energy is personal and is influenced by gender, age, metabolism and activity intensity.  What I’ve tried to do below is show in real terms, what an ‘average’ person might choose to eat:

Name: GI Joe

Age: 35

Height 5’10” (178cm)

Weight 12st 0lb, (168lb) (76Kg)

Current activity level: Moderate

Using that data, we can estimate Joe’s resting metabolic rate (RMR) and Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE):

RMR    1645 kCal

TDEE   2879 kCal

Joe needs to consume 2879kCal on a typical day in order maintain his energy balance, giving him enough energy to continue his current activity level and maintain his current body weight.

Let us assume that Joe eats three meals per day with snacks in between and takes in his energy as: Breakfast 25%; lunch 25%; dinner 25%; and intermediate snacks 25%.  This would fit in with the ‘little and often’ maxim that can accompany the balanced diet.

Joe is having dinner and selects rump steak, chips and garden peas as his meal choice. For readers in the states, by ‘chips’ I mean thick-cut French fries, not potato chips you’d buy as a snack food.  Joe needs to get 25% of his TDEE from the meal, which is 747kCal.

Based on current balanced diet advice of 65% carbohydrate, 20% fat, 15% protein (as represented in the pie chart above):

Food Choice Quantity Carbs Fat Protein
Steak 100g 99kCal 110kCal
Chips 300g 444kCal 42kCal
Peas 50g 30kCal 3.5kCal
Totals 728kCal 474kCal 144.5kCal 110kCal

Here’s Joes plate – it looks familiar… Lots of white, not much green and not much meat.  This might be what’s served up as a pub meal in UK.



What if Joe were to meet his energy requirements through an equilaterally balanced diet? By that I mean 1/3 energy from each of carbohydrates, protein and fat.  He can still do this with a steak, chips and peas meal but the proportions of each food changes:

Food Choice Quantity Carbs Fat Protein
Steak 240g 216kCal 240kCal
Chips 120g 178kCal 14kCal
Peas 100g 61kCal 7kCal
Totals 716kCal 239kCal 237kCal 240kCal

That’s the data but his plate would look like this:


Clearly, this shows more steak, more peas and fewer chips.

The idea for balancing macro nutrient energy sources as an interpretation of what a balanced diet should be, came from the properties of whole milk, which aren’t exactly equilateral but are pretty close.

I’d like to think this is neither low carb, nor high fat but more naturally balanced.

I know which plate I’d choose (if I were forced to eat chips).

How about you?


GI Tri Coach

This piece is derived from work originally co-written with Dr. Jennifer Burr, Senior Lecturer at University of Sheffield, UK.

Breakfast muffins

For those that saw the energy bars post, apologies for not yet delivering on the follow up food related posts but wait no longer!

I’ve been following a low carb diet for around two years now and the biggest complaint I hear from other low carb eaters, it the monotony of the breakfasts.

Here is more of the same, whipped up slightly differently, to convince you just enough, that you’re not eating bacon eggs AGAIN:

Breakfast muffins:

3 eggs

1 rasher bacon  (seriously this isn’t bacon and eggs, honest!)

1 tomato

1 medium mushroom

1 oz / 25g butter

1/2 cup single or double cream

just about anything else you like


Who’s checked the quantity of mushrooms?

Use half the butter to grease the muffin tray.  Chop everything up into small pieces (de-seed the tomatoes) and by the time you’ve done that, the tiny bits of butter will be warm enough to smear around the tin:


Fry off the ingredients in the other half of the butter and once soft split them into six equal portions:


Beat the eggs and cream together and add them equally to the muffin tins. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes on 180C or 350F, until the muffins have risen but have not browned :

Eat them warm, or cold, filled with anything you like.

Of course they’re just mini omelettes really and aren’t muffins at all but who doesn’t love food that you can just pic up and eat? The Ironkid thought they were fun to make and so I thought I’d share!


GI Tri Coach