Going carnivore and running?

(David Cooke) #1

I have a 13 hour flight ahead of me next week. I realised while pondering on meal choices for the flight, that I could just go without eating. I’d like to try Carnivore (meat, eggs, cheese, coffee) for a week or two and I got to thinking that maybe this might be the moment to start, I’ll be cooking myself anyway. I forget to mention that three days after my arrival I’ll be running a 10-mile race. Will I be capable of completing or will I get a carnivore flu and bonk?
Maybe a silly question but for certain reasons this seems like a good moment to start. I want to lower my uric acid levels.

(Alec) #2

If you’re well fat adapted, and you’ve been doing keto for a while, you should be absolutely fine doing a 10 mile race just on carni food. If you have been eating lots of carbs recently (ie not keto), then you may hit some issues…. However, 10 miles is not a huge distance, and as long as you are well fed before the race, I see no reason you would run out of energy.


I don’t know about running, that surely has different factors but I don’t believe in mandatory keto flu. I never had it and we supposed not to have it as long as we do things right. But it’s very individual how one feels in that situation.
I suspect Alec is right, it’s not a huge distance for someone used to running and most people probably could do it then, maybe not doing it in top shape if they aren’t fat adapted or used to carnivore…

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #4

You’re already keto, right? I’d guess that you’re not going to bonk.

(KM) #5

I had several flights in the last few months and realized that with the removal of peanuts from standard airplane fare, there’s really nothing I’d consume anyway but coffee. Even the food that’s technically within my parameters is suspect. Their dinner, “the meatballs”, consisted of: Meatballs in sauce meaning four ounces of maybe-meat and bread filler swimming in floured gravy, an equal amount of instant potatoes, with a white bread roll, a pat of of butter, a square of rubbery something in plastic that’s called cheese, a few lettuce leaves with a 200 calorie packet of dressing - seed oil and seventeen other ingredients - and a 2" square of frosted cake. My dinner consisted of a teaspoon of butter.

I know, it’s the old Groucho Marx routine,’ the food is terrible, and there’s so little of it!’ But in this case it’s almost true, the tiny portions of everything (two thirds of which you wouldn’t touch) mean the quantity of the stuff you might actually eat, like the meatballs maybe, is minuscule.

I’d have been much happier to either fast entirely or bring my own snacks - jerky, cheese, maybe a hardboiled egg or some nuts.

(Alec) #6

I was gonna say as I read through this: I will eat the butter! And you did…

These days, if I go on a road trip I take my home made bacon and egg pie with me. Delicious cold and easy to warm up in a microwave if one is available.


How important is this race? If you are trying for a PB, I am not sure switching eating protocols would produce the desired effect. Never test a new eating strategy in a race situation. If you are fat-adapted and thus metabolically flexible then I would consume a gel or two. This will act as rocket fuel and have no adverse effects. Keep in mind I do not know what your ability is (10-mile time) or if you get affected by jet lag.

(Alec) #8

Why would sugar in gels be more efficient than glucose made through gluconeogenesis during the run? This is an area I really don’t understand, so I am not saying you’re wrong… I would really like to understand this, as I am going to be doing half marathons and marathons over the next 12 months… all on carnivore, and fuelling strategy is interesting.


I am curious too… And it is probably individual. A little sugar would drop my energy level and mood any time I suppose… I never run though (only very tiny distances). I just instinctively avoid sugar as much as I can. I understand quick sugar is supposed to give us energy, the body soaks it up and whatnot - but my body never reacts so well to sugar. I just get immediately hungry and unless I eat some fatty protein right away, I get a bit unwell… I wouldn’t want that at a run. And I hate eating when exercising, maybe I should try it one day, out of curiosity, properly focusing on the effect… I need to break a few barriers to sugar eating to happen and I am choosy about what I would eat then. But I never want to win anything and currently I can’t properly run. I am just curious and think about the future when I hopefully will run half marathons and maybe proper ones too.


This. Agree here, how important?

to the OP, for me to change all in new eating plan on a very long flight into a ‘how important’ race is not an ideal situation :slight_smile: I would do the race on the meal plan I am doing fine on…the day after start the meal plan change.

Anyone coming into full carnivore from any other plan can easily ‘upset the body apple cart’ and you won’t know til ya do it and you won’t know just how hard you might get hit with what type of adaption etc.? so what goes down is what goes down for you?

Let us know how ya do thru it if you change up and run the race etc?
good luck!

(KM) #11

Is it possible that in an extremely intense situation such as a 26.2 mi run, your gluconeogenesis might not be able to keep up, speed wise? In other words if you stopped and rested that might work but it’s obviously not ideal when running a race.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #12

Glucose is stored as glycogen in the both the muscles and the liver. Muscle cells cannot share their glycogen, apparently, but the liver’s supply can be mobilised quite easily, as needed. Forsyth, Volek, et al. have shown that athletes who have been keto-adapted for two years have the same amount of glycogen in their muscles as carb-burning athletes. So the body is not relying primarily on gluconeogenesis, since it has that stored glycogen to use, and by the time the stored glycogen has been shared, gluconeogenesis has ramped up to meet the need.

In any case, endurance tasks can easily be fueled by fatty-acid metabolism; it is explosive power that requires glucose. A marathon is more about endurance, isn’t it?


Your energy requirements are always changing. A training run versus a race and recovery. Have a look at this:

(Doug) #14

“Bonking” or “hitting the wall” is usually about 20 miles or 30+ km. 10 miles should be no problem.

Marathon runners thus would be well served by being fat-adapted and more able to make a smooth transition into burning fat. But most marathons have snacks and various drinks along the way - even true and total carb-burners can make it on their glycogen plus consumed stuff before/during the race.

(KM) #15

Googling “what’s the fastest rate of gluconeogenesis”, I found a study saying " The maximal rate of gluconeogenesis from glycerol was observed at 0.75 mM" and was half the maximal rate observed for fructose. Alanine and serine were converted to glucose very slowly; pyruvate and lactate were converted at rates between those from glycerol and from the amino acids."

I realize that this may be completely irrelevant to the situation at hand, but it does point to the idea that there is a limit to how quickly the body can provide the needed energy once glycogen depletes.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #16

Stephen Phinney says that after he went LCHF, he could cycle for ever and be essentially “bonk-proof.”


Definitely wouldn’t try out a different WOE right before being out of your element with travelling and then doing a 10mi race man!

(Doug) #18

Paul, sounds good - most people have plenty of stored energy and can access it for quite a few hours of activity in a day. I guess the key is how bad one feels, because almost always one can keep going. :smile:I’ve never run a marathon, but did do 23 miles once in training. I was eating a lot of carbs then and it still was no problem at all.

Some of what Volek, etc., were working on showed that a ketogenic diet and long-term endurance exercise training actually increased the number of mitochondria in cells (which would make up for the built-in advantage of carbs over fats for energy - carbs having more oxygen already there). As with many things - I wish they really studied that kind of stuff.


Yes, very intense exercise for a longer time requires eating carbs as far as I know…
10 mile isn’t a very long distance but when the distance gets longer, the intensity gets lower anyway. I don’t know what kind of exercise requires dietary carbs (and it’s probably individual to some extent) but I wouldn’t think running is like that. But maybe it is when it’s very serious and not just doing the distance as I will if I ever will run longer, at least for some? I don’t know when we reach the limit just that there is a limit we theoretically can reach.

And of course, it’s very different to do strenuous activity without being used and adapted to our new woe…

My SO run 20km without eating AND drinking (poor soul left his water bottle at home), no race though, just getting to somewhere. He did 12-13 kms plenty of time in a fasted state. So I am pretty sure even a carb-burner can do it just fine (as he is one) if it isn’t the must to do their best. But a new woe isn’t so great for doing our best either (though it must be somewhat individual ).

(Alec) #20

Yes, absolutely, this is quite possible. But I think we don’t know: I’ve never seen any reports, studies or even detailed commentary or opinion on this. So, at the moment I am flying blind. The problem here is that this is hard to test in training… you have to do something pretty extreme to start running out of glycogen in the muscles. Thus far, I don’t think it has happened to me.

So I have 3 options:

  1. Stay fasted during the marathon: possibly risky?
  2. Fuel with ketones during the run: expensive and unknown outcome
  3. Fuel with sugar/gels during the run: cheap, probably a more certain outcome

My main concern with eating sugar/gels on the run is would they spike insulin and block fat burning, and thus be counterproductive? I guess the key question here is how long the insulin spike is… if it’s just a few minutes, I doubt there’s a problem. But if it’s prolonged for whatever reason, the calories in the sugar gets used, and insulin is still high, would that slow down fat burning, and thus lead to a loss of energy?

The problem with all this is that it is hard to test…. You have to drive your muscle glycogen down to very low in order to see what each option would result in. That is hard to do… but might be possible when I get into marathon training, as I will be doing 3-3.5hr training runs, and that’s long enough to drain most muscle glycogen.