How I Eat – A Runner’s “Diet” – UPDATED!!!

Turkey, the perfect runner's protein! -photo by Kathy Kohlbeck

Turkey, the perfect runner’s protein! -photo by Kathy Kohlbeck

Just in case you didn’t know, I am a chronic migraine sufferer who runs to REDUCE THE INTENSITY of my attacks.  Basically I run to create endorphins to combat the throbbing pain.

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That being said, my neurologist recommended that I modify my diet and go KETOGENIC to further help control the frequency of attacks.

 

Ketogenic diet…  What’s that, you say?  According to ruled.me, my favorite source for everything keto, a ketogenic diet, or “keto” is a diet “where the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy” instead of the traditional sources of energy (carbohydrates and sugars, glucose and insulin).  In a keto diet, your energy comes from fats.  Carbohydrates are a no-no.  Yup, I said no carbs and as a runner I was VERY concerned.  I’m going to run out of energy, I thought.  But, I went through with it.

 

The first two-three weeks were hard.  I decreased my carbohydrate intake to 40g the first two weeks, then down to 20g the next week.  I was SO tired.  My easy runs were painful and slow.  I couldn’t find the energy.  I’d fall asleep at my desk job (whoops).  I felt like the flu was coming.  But one day, it all changed.

 

The change was almost instant.  I woke up one morning, and I didn’t have my morning migraine, my mind was sharp, and my energy levels were back AND IMPROVED.  I noticed it during my first long 18-miler after I started the diet.  I never once reached for any kind of snack during the run.  I noticed that I breathed faster too, like I need more oxygen.  I wasn’t wiped out either after my race and spent the whole day at the Magic Kingdom!  It was good stuff!

 

So what do I eat?  Here’s my typical routine, which doesn’t change come long-distance-race time:

Breakfast:

  • Coffee with heavy cream, mixed with a scoop of Quest vanilla protein powder
  • If I’m at home, I also have 2 scrambled eggs with hot sauce and sour cream
  • Water

Snack:

  • 2 servings of pork rinds
  • Water

Lunch options:

  • pouch of salmon or tuna with olive oil mayo
  • side of spinach salad
  • Water

Dinner:

  • small fatty steak, or cheeseburger without the bun with olive oil mayo
  • naked chicken wings with hot sauce
  • Red Wine
  • Water

Supplements:

  • 500mg Magnesium

 

Did you notice the “water”?  Yeah, you should drink LOADS of water on the keto diet, AND you may need to add more salt to your food to combat stiff calves.  If you want more information on what you can eat on the keto diet, check out Ruled.me’s recipe page!  Craig Clarke has really done a great job with his website.  Be sure to click every link because he put chalk loads of content and good eats!  There’s even a way to have pizza on this diet, and it’s excellent!

Here’s MY take on the Pros and Cons to the Keto Diet 

PROS:

  • It decreases your appetite
  • If you like the “lean and cut look” you definitely get one on this diet
  • My migraine frequency, duration, and intensity were all reduced (until I got into a car accident, which is another story…)
  • I can eat at ANY fast food restaurant
  • My energy remains at medium to high levels during long-distance races and endurance sports
  • I can eat pork rinds and beef jerky all day

CONS:

  • Starting out was very difficult, especially since I LOVE bread and pizza
  • I really pay after a “cheat day” with a terrible migraine and bloating
  • Constipation is a thing
  • Your calves may decide to freeze up in the middle of the night and scare you half to death.  Make sure you add salt to your diet and they will stop.
  • If you’re a sprinter or a “5K god,” you have to add carbs to build that necessary glycogen.
  • People always ask me, “can you eat anything here?” when we stop at a restaurant.  Yes!  Yes, I can!  Sheesh!  🙂

So…  you think going Keto is the way to go?  Have more questions for me about what I eat?  Lemme know in the comments below!  Happy endorphin-filled running!

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