A few months after I started the whole banting thing in 2015, I decided that it was time for me to put this to the test. So why not try it out in a race? I mean really, where was my mind? Anyway, it was not like I was going to win; banting or not. Who has ever tried something new in a race? And blown? Catastrophically? The nutritional plan that I was going to follow was not thought out at all. Here is what happened…
Mistake Number 1
Up to that point my nutrition was up to scratch, so I had thought. Right now I am watching my macros meticulously, back then I really had no idea. The bad stuff was off the plate; sugar, cakes etc, but without knowing it I was never in ketosis. Never was I going to reap the benifits of fat burning, even though that was the plan.
Remedy : I should have been tracking my food and making sure that I was sticking to my plan. When you are trying to cut out carbs, it is not easy because there are so many things that have carbs without you knowing it.
Mistake Number 2
Going into the race I figured that all I would need would be water, electrolytes and a few fat bombs. After testing a few recipes, I decided that a macadamia butter, coconut oil and cacoa mix would work (nothing even to sweeten it). The only thing that was tested was the taste, what I neglected to test was the usefulness and application during the cycling conditions. In the end my fat bombs melted into nothing and could not be consumed from the little packets I thought would be great.
Remedy : Try out the homemade fat bombs under the same conditions, remembering that it is unlikely that two hands can be used.
Mistake Number 3
I went into the race with no carbs, which is quite stupid because once the heart rate exceeds the aerobic threshold for too long then the body starts to reach for the quicker energy source. For 3 hours I was able to maintain the phonetic pace that had my Heart rate way way into the anaerobic zone. I must have been burning fat in large chunks because the body can only store about 90 mins of glycogen. After that point there was a distinct crash as I found myself falling behind the group and my fight to catch up literally destroyed me. I had hit a wall. There was nothing left. Then I did something stupid, I made it to the first refreshment table and topped up on as much carbohydrates as I could find. Stupid because the rest of the race was purely an aerobic effort for me, so effectively, I was using fat as an energy resource.
Remedy : Understand that, if the event is going to have a lot of high intensity efforts for prolonged periods, the body need resources to pull from that it prefers. In essence be prepared and trained to use bot fat and carbohydrates as energy.
For me, this tough me the lesson that I need to be prepared and to be able to fuel my body according to the conditions. While I can train myself to be fat adapted I can’t expect that I must now start using carbs at a race or nothing as was my case with the one tonner. I like the 80/20 rule where 80% of training is aerobic and 20% anaerobic, it trains you to be adaptable within reason. It also helps motivate for more structured workouts; currently I try for Hill Repeats and track sprints as my 20% anaerobic. The reality, for me however, is that it is more 60 – 40 with trail running and 90 -10 with cycling which is because I really only commute at present.