Whether you are just getting into running or have been at it a while, you should be actively working on improving your endurance. While there are many methods out there that are designed to help …
Being overweight is not something that’s not talked about very much (or at all) in the running community. There seems to be some stigma around being a runner and being overweight. Like you’re not …
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, Sports Nutritionist, Master Life Coach, and weight loss coach for runners. I’ve dedicated my life to helping runners just like you properly fuel your body and your mind. So you can get leaner, get stronger, run faster, and run longer than you ever thought possible. This is Running Lean.
Hey there, and welcome to episode 214 of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, The Weight Loss Coach for Runners, and today, why running doesn’t work for weight loss. Being overweight is not something that’s talked about very much or at all in the running community.
There seems to be some stigma around being a runner, and being overweight, like you’re not doing it right. You’re not running enough. You’re doing it all wrong. If you’re training for a marathon and you’re overweight, you’re you’re doing it wrong.
And I know exactly how this feels. This is definitely my story, which I’ll share with you here in a minute. But in this episode, I’m going to share why running is not an effective tool for weight loss, and why you need to treat the underlying physical, mental and emotional aspects of overeating if you really want to lose weight for good.
But first, I know I share a lot of information here on the podcast about losing weight, about proper nutrition for running about improving your running about building strength. And if you’re new to this podcast, well welcome first of all, but I can tell that for some of you this might feel a little overwhelming and you not might not know where to start with all this stuff.
And if that sounds like you, no worries, I’ve totally got you covered, I created a free hour-long video training that you can check out at any time it’s called 5 Simple Steps To Becoming A Leaner Stronger Runner.
You’re going to learn the basics of nutrition, strength, endurance, and mindset, all geared toward you, the runner. If you’re ready to get leaner and stronger and become the most badass version of yourself yet, then this free training is exactly what you need. Just go to runningleancoaching.com click on Free Training. I know right? It’s so simple. And get started on your weight loss journey today.
Okay, so this is actually a replay episode, if you’re listening to this, I’m probably sitting on the beach in Hawaii right now. And I decided that this is a topic that I really wanted to share with you guys. And I thought I would go ahead and replay this is one of my very, very early episodes.
So if I sound a little bit different, that’s why. It was from several years ago. But the message still rings true. And I’m talking about overeating, especially in this episode. And it’s one aspect of losing weight and improving your health and fitness that a lot of people really don’t address or don’t talk about. So I really wanted to get into this and share this with you guys today. Okay, so let’s get into this replay of why running doesn’t work for weight loss.
Today I want to talk about a subject that is really important to me and something that I’m really passionate about, and that is why running doesn’t work for weight loss. So being overweight is not something that’s talked about very much, or at all in the running community, there seems to be some sort of stigma around being a runner, and being overweight. It’s like, hey, you’re not doing it right. You must not be running enough. If you can’t lose weight, or if you’re overweight. Oh, I see you’re training for a marathon. Still can’t seem to lose weight. What’s wrong with you?
These are some of the things that I’ve heard around the running community. And some things that people have shared with me and I felt as well. Okay, so I know, I know how this feels. I really do. I know this is something that not a lot of people are talking about. And so I wanted to sort of just like shine a light on this subject and talk about this today, because it’s really something that I’m really passionate about. And I haven’t shared this really before. And I think now’s the right time. So here we go.
So back in the day, back in, like 2003, I was seriously, I was overweight, I was I was probably 50 or 60 pounds overweight. And I was very unhealthy. I was very sick, I had cancer, I was drinking too much. And I was in a very, very bad place. I was basically just really sick and really unhealthy. And I needed to change some stuff in my life.
So I did, I quit drinking, which was a big part of the problem for me. I started eating better. And I started running. And obviously I got treated for the cancer and I’ve been cancer-free for many, many years now. So that’s all good. But the running was like a big catalyst for me to like, do something that would help me to lose weight.
You know, like that was the thing was like, oh, if I just run I’m gonna lose weight. And for me, it was like a change of lifestyle completely. You know, I gave up the crazy eating that I was doing. And I started running and stopped drinking. So all those things combined. I lost a lot of weight and I lost probably 60 pounds and kept it off for a long time and continued to run and train and do all these awesome things.
I’ve run like 14 marathons, I’ve done an Ironman, I’ve done countless other triathlons and ultra marathons, including a 50 miler and a 100 miler. And I’ve done all these things, and was able to kind of maintain this, this weight that I was at for a long time. And I felt pretty good about myself.
Well, in the last few years, I’ve sort of backed off my running a little bit. After I did my 100 miler at the end of 2017. I wanted to scale back my running, and I just didn’t want to put anything on the calendar and I just wanted to be like, I just want to go out there and run and have fun and enjoy it and not to have all these goals out there.
So I stopped kind of signing up for races and having goals like that, and I started gaining weight. And I couldn’t figure out why because I was still training and I was still running and I was still like I would do a marathon a year or whatever. But I was running all the time.
Well, I ended up, you know, gaining like 15 or 20 pounds back, you know, look, looking back over time, it was like, it happened slowly, but it happened. And I found myself in this place of like, okay, I need to lose this weight, what am I going to do? And so I tried all these different things to help me to lose the weight.
And I tried like calorie restriction where I was just like counting calories. And that is very challenging to do, by the way, I had to have this app. And I had to log every bite of anything that I ate, and I had to know all the ingredients in it, and all the breakdown of all the nutrition breakdown of it according to the label.
And it was challenging to try to keep track of that. When the idea there was like, oh, yeah, if you eat, you know, 1500 calories, but you burn off 2000 calories a day, you’ll lose weight. I gotta tell you, I did not lose weight. And I was constantly stressed out about entering all this data into this app. Okay.
Maybe that’s how you lose the weight, you’ve spent so much time and energy, and you’re so stressed about trying to figure out how to enter all that data into this thing. You just lose weight. Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to work. But you know, I’ve done a plant-based thing for many years. Vegetarian, I tried sort of a vegan-paleo thing, a vegan-keto thing, I’ve tried to eat nothing but fat, nothing, but no carbs. Like, I’ve tried all these things. And I couldn’t get anything to work, I can’t get anything to work.
I’ve always felt like I just haven’t had control of what I eat. I know what the problem is now. And I’m gonna get to that in just a minute. But getting here, you know, I just felt like I did not have control over what I was eating. I didn’t have control over myself. You know, I felt tired all the time. I found myself doing a lot of emotional eating. I’ve been doing that lately, too.
By the way, with the lock down here, The Stay At Home order. And some other things going on in my life, I’ve been doing a lot of emotional eating. And I’m not sorry about it, but I even eat when I’m not hungry. And you know what, I’ve just felt stuck.
I felt like, I am never going to lose this weight. And I’ve keep running. You know, I ran back in August, I did 31 days of running. And I thought for sure that would help me to lose weight. No, I gained weight. Starting in November, I did a running challenge running through the holidays. And I ran for something like 80 days straight. And I thought that would help me to lose weight.
And it didn’t, I didn’t lose weight at all, I actually gained weight. And so I’ve realized that the problem really isn’t about running. It’s not about like, oh, I’m not running enough. The problem is that I’m overeating. The problem is that I overeat, I eat too much. I have an addiction to food. I’ve programmed my body to become so addicted to food, not just my body, but my brain as well, to become so addicted to food, especially sugar.
That not even you know, training for a marathon is going to help me to lose weight. Okay? So, believe me, I’m frustrated by this or have been frustrated by this. And I feel like the advice out there is just like here, Here, eat this. Just eat this over here or eat this or just do this diet over here. And it just this just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for most people.
You know, just changing your behavior, changing what you eat, does not address the underlying issues. You know, I feel like everyone’s out there just saying, eat this as if it’s that simple. It’s not that simple. In order to lose weight in order to be at your ideal weight to be at your natural weight. You need to identify and fix the causes of your over eating. Not just treat the symptoms. We’re so focused on treating the symptoms or not getting to the root of the problem. Okay.
So all these different like diets I’ve tried or whatever, I’ve tried these things and then said, that doesn’t work because I gained weight, or I kept overeating. And the problem isn’t in what I’m eating, necessarily, although that is part of it. The problem is, I wasn’t addressing the mental and emotional part of overeating, okay?
There’s three parts to overeating that have to be addressed. There’s the physical causes of overeating, there’s the mental causes, and then there’s the emotional causes. I’m going to talk about all three of these. But I want you to know something, if you’re out there and you’re a runner, and you’re having a, you know, a struggle with you’re struggling to lose weight or struggling to feel good about your body.
I know what you’re going through, I feel I feel your pain, I really do. And, and I want to help you, and I, and I coach people through this. I’m coaching myself through this and I want to coach you through this. So here’s what we’re gonna talk about today, we’re going to talk about the three causes of overeating. And, and the things that aren’t really addressed. And if you’re a runner, I want you to pay attention. And I want you to really take in what I’m going to say here and be open to trying something that’s a little different, okay?
Because whatever, whatever you’ve been trying is not working. Okay? So let’s try something different. Okay? Okay, so the three causes of overeating. The first is the physical causes. So this is, most overeating is caused by a hormonal imbalance, okay? Overeating, especially sugar, causes too much insulin to be produced in your body. Insulin is a fat storage hormone, okay, the more insulin you produce, the more fat will be stored on your body, the more you way, okay?
If you continually produce insulin, you are going to continue to gain weight. Okay, this is just straight up science, okay? The problem is that when you’re trying to lose weight, the most important thing for you to consume is what it’s your own body fat you want to consume, if you will, you want to burn for energy, your own body fat, in order to lose weight, you cannot do that when your body is full of glucose sugar, your insulin is too high. And you’re in fat storage mode, and you got to, you got to shift that, okay.
So the first thing you need to do is you need to get your insulin levels down. And you can do this by eating less often. And by reducing the amount of sugar you consume. We all know that sugar is bad for us. Okay? It’s actually the worst thing you can put in your body. And I’m saying this, as, as the words are coming out of my mouth here. I’m thinking of the Ben and Jerry’s that I have in the freezer, and I’m like, Oh, my God, I love Ben and Jerry’s. I absolutely love it.
But I’m giving it up, because I know how bad it is for me, and I’m just tired of feeling the way that I felt lately, okay. So I’m giving it up. And here’s the other thing, when you eat too much sugar, you get this huge over desire for food, you get this like physical craving for food.
Because what happens is, sugar is super concentrated, it causes a super concentrated dopamine response in your brain. It causes an excess of dopamine to be produced, which feels really good, right? So much so that the neurotransmitters that are producing the dopamine, they actually down regulate over time.
So it takes more and more sugar for you to get the same amount of pleasure. So you got to eat more sugar to feel good. And your brain and your body or just being there like it’s like a Drug Act, okay? A drug addict needs more and more of the drug to produce the same result. And so what happens there then your insulin goes up again, you get more cravings, you can’t handle the cravings, you eat more, and there’s this crazy cycle that happens, right.
And you know what? This isn’t your fault. We’ve all been programmed this way. For decades, the food industry has made it their mission to make food as delicious as possible, you know, as desirable as possible, they put sugar in everything, for the love. And the food that we eat, it’s so concentrated and processed that it gives us this incredible hit of dopamine when we eat certain foods. And then we have to eat more and more just to get that same feeling.
Okay, so it’s like being addicted to drugs or alcohol, you need more to produce the same effect. So in order to fix the physical cause of overeating, you have to get that insulin level down, you have to eat less, eat less often and eat less processed foods like sugar and flour. Okay? When you do this, you actually can start to get your hormones back in balance and start burning fat instead of burning to sugar. Okay. So that’s how we fix the physical part of overeating.
Okay, next is the mental part of overeating, the mental causes. So mental cravings, this is a real thing. Again, the food industry has concentrated this sugar in our foods so much that we are constantly craving more and more food, more and more of this delicious sugar, right? Our brains are actually responding the way they’re supposed to, though. They’re not,your brain is working normally. Okay, this isn’t your fault.
You eat the sugar, you eat the flour, you release the dopamine. And then your brain wants more of that. It’s just like your primitive brain, the amygdala, part of your brain responding to this like, it’s like a life or death situation, you know, are primitive brains, they’ve learned over time that when food is good, we’re going to produce a hormone that makes us feel good. So that will remember that, hey, this is good, okay.
So when you know when we would be eating blueberries back in the caveman days, you know, back in the day, we’d be eating some blueberries and be like, ooh, these are really good. And you get this little tiny dopamine response, right? That’s good. Oh, I want to remember this, I want to eat more of those because they made me feel good. And so you’ll go back and eat more of the blueberries.
Okay, but over time, it’s kind of developed into this thing of like, life and death kind of situation with our brains. Because now we have like blueberry syrup, blueberry pie, blueberry toaster strudels. We juice everything. So it’s super concentrated, and we get this super intense hit of dopamine. And then when we don’t get it, our brains are like, we need this now or we’re going to die.
Your brain actually literally thinks it’s like a life and death situation happening here. Okay. So that’s kind of like what’s happening with your brain. And then you get these thoughts. So the thoughts will start to come into play here, you get these thoughts of, I’m restless, I’m bored. I feel deprived.
You know, when you stop overeating, even for a little bit. You start to feel like, you know, oh, I just deserve this. I’m deprived. What’s one box of Oreos? You know that you can justify that all you want. And all that mental chatter. All it’s doing is just continuing to build into that idea and support that idea that your brain is thinking like you need this or you’re going to die. And so you give in to it, you give into the mental craving, okay.
And we’ve just been programmed our whole lives, we’ve essentially programmed our minds to over eat and buy now. It’s our subconscious mind that’s running the show. Our subconscious minds have been programmed to make us think we have to overeat or will die. Okay, we get these intense cravings for something sweet.
And I know I talk about Ben and Jerry’s all the time, but it’s just a good example. It’s so good. But it’s like Ben and Jerry’s. You know? I think about that. And I’m like, I’ve just got to have it. And these thoughts go through my mind. Like if I don’t have it, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I might die. And I’ll go to the store and I’ll get some.
I’ll go drive miles to the store to get Ben and Jerry’s just so I can like satisfy that mental craving. And there’s a physical craving there too. But here’s the thing. The good news is that you can reprogram your mind to not overeat, you can reprogram your mind to just just eat normally. This is actually one of the most powerful things I do with my coaching clients is I help them change their brains literally by creating new habits, new neural pathways.
And if you really want to stop overeating, you have to break those old habits and create new habits that serve to reprogram your mind, especially the subconscious. But even if you can get the physical piece to work, and you can get through some of this mental stuff, there’s still that emotional side of overeating that has to be addressed.
One of the biggest underlying factors in weight gain is emotional eating. And you know what? Runners just don’t want to talk about this. Runners think I’ve got this. I’m a runner, I know what to do. I know all this stuff about nutrition, I’ve read the books, like I’m good, thanks. They just don’t want to talk about it. Okay.
Runners do love talking about food, though, but not overeating. You know, we talk about donuts and ice cream and pizza and chips and cake and all that. What are we going to eat after the run? And I would do that too. And I would just eat all that food. But then I noticed something happening to me, I started to feel bad about myself.
You know, I started gaining weight. And I started feeling guilty about overeating. And I started to feel like shame around it. I felt shame about how I looked and how I felt I’ve been fit for a long time and had been really in great shape. And then I got to this point where I didn’t even want to like, take my shirt off at the pool or whatever. Because I was like, oh, I you know, feel fat again, okay.
And I felt judged by other people, like people were talking about me. They probably weren’t, it’s probably all in my head. But I just felt that way. And I felt like a failure. Like, I used to be really fit. I used to be in good shape. And now I’m not anymore. And like, I’m never going to be that person again. And honestly, I just felt depressed about it and sad.
And you know how I know how I dealt with all these emotions I was feeling? Yes, I ate over them. Because eating gives me that little dopamine hit and it feels good. Does that make any sense whatsoever? As I’m saying this, you’re probably like, dude, that makes no sense whatsoever. Or maybe you’re like, yep, I get it.
Here’s the problem, though. When that little feel good, dopamine wears off, you’re still left with feeling all those emotions. But now it’s worse because you feel bad about overeating. So you eat more to feel better. And then like, oh my gosh, it’s this crazy vicious cycle that just goes on and on. But you know what? Emotional eating is a very common thing. It’s a very, very common theme. A lot of people do it, they eat, so they don’t have to feel their feelings. Especially right now during this like stay at home order people are dealing with this crisis by going to the refrigerator. I’ve seen a lot of people joking about it on social media, but I think there’s an underlying like, oh, yeah, that’s me. You know?
I mean, I’ve been doing it. I know that it’s been me, okay. I mean, it does work for a little bit like you do feel a little bit better while you’re eating the Ben and Jerry’s. But when you stop, what happens? Like what results are you getting? Who are you? Who are you becoming in the process of stuffing down your feelings and feeling good momentarily, like you’re using this? It’s like a false pleasure.
You know, to just try to feel good in the moment we were so afraid to feel our feelings that we will become overweight, instead of feeling our feelings. You know, if you want to stop overeating, if you want to lose weight, you have to be able to manage your emotions, you have to be able to feel your emotions. Well, how do you do that?
Well, one of the things you do is you need to stop using food to feel better. Okay, that’s one thing. And you need to learn how to just sit with your feelings, how to sit with your emotions, how to allow them to be there, without reacting to them, or without eating to now feel them. And you know what, here’s some truth I’m gonna drop on you right now.
This is not a comfortable place to be. Sometimes it’s not comfortable, to feel sad, or to feel frustrated or to feel angry, or to feel shame or guilt or whatever it is, it might suck pretty bad sometimes. And honestly, in those times, it’s really good to have somebody there and help you. And that’s where I come in.
And I, one of the most powerful things I do as a coach is I help my clients work through their emotions, I help them to learn to allow those emotions to be with them, to allow them to be present in their body, to embrace that temporary uncomfortable feelings so they can get to the other side of that because on the other side of that is all the stuff that you want, okay, on the other side of those uncomfortable feelings are the results that you want in your life, okay?
All right, that’s all I got for you today. Love you all keep on Running Lean, and I will talk to you soon.
Sometimes, I have a bunch of thoughts that I want to share with you here on the podcast and I’ll create an episode for each one of those random thoughts. This is a great way of taking a deep dive …
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, Sports Nutritionist, Master Life Coach, and weight loss coach for runners. I’ve dedicated my life to helping runners just like you properly fuel your body and your mind. So you can get leaner, get stronger, run faster, and run longer than you ever thought possible. This is Running Lean.
Hey there, and welcome to episode 206 of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, The Weight Loss Coach for Runners, and today, some random thoughts about weight loss for runners.
So sometimes I have a bunch of thoughts that I want to share with you here on the podcast. And what I do is I create individual episodes for each one of those random thoughts. This is a great way of taking a deep dive into each topic and looking at it from several different angles.
However, today’s podcast is going to be a little bit different. Instead of focusing on just one topic, I’ve got several sort of random thoughts about weight loss for runners that I’m going to share with you here today.
And these thoughts and topics might all seem kind of random, but they do all focus on weight loss and running. So maybe they’re not so random after all. But first, I know I talk a lot about losing weight and improving your health and your fitness here on the podcast.
And all this stuff can feel pretty overwhelming. So if you’re looking for a good place to just get started and understand the basic core principles that I talked about here, and that I have talked about for the last four years here on the podcast, I’ve got a free training that I created, it’s called Five Simple Steps To Becoming A Leaner Stronger Runner.
In this training, you’ll learn how to fuel your body so you can lose weight and improve running, you’ll learn about strength training, and how important that is for you. You’ll learn how to make mindset shifts to make all of these changes of lifestyle, sustainable, and tons more.
If you’re ready to get leaner and stronger, if you’re ready to run faster and longer, if you’re ready to become the healthiest, most badass version of yourself, then you need to check out this free training now just go to my website runningleancoaching.com and click on Free Training. Easy peasy.
Okay, so today, some random thoughts about weight loss for runners. So like I said at the intro here, a lot of times when I set out to do a podcast, I’ll have lots of topics that I kind of choose from, and I’ll pick one topic.
And I’ll take a deep dive into that one topic. And I love doing that because I get to really delve into each particular thought or principle or topic or whatever it is. And look at it from a bunch of different angles and really give you a very clear picture of that one principle.
And if you look at my past episodes, you’ll see that this is the case that most episodes take a deep dive into one particular topic. But occasionally, I have a bunch of topics or a bunch of thoughts that I want to get down. And they’re just not enough for an entire podcast episode.
Sometimes I share those thoughts on social media. And sometimes I just kind of put them in a little, you know, little file, you know, keep a little note on my phone where I keep all my ideas for future podcasts and stuff. And I’ll just kind of keep them on the phone and just keep looking at them and go I don’t know, I don’t have enough to really do a podcast with all of these little random thoughts.
But today, I thought I’m just going to take a bunch of these random thoughts. And I’m just going to beat them out to you here. And please understand that all these things are related to running and to weight loss and to diet and exercise and stuff. So they’re not entirely random, but sometimes they are inspired by some comments that I get from people on social media.
Sometimes it’s just some basic principles that I want to make sure that you understand. And so just understand that today’s podcast is a little bit different. I’ve just got some random thoughts I want to share with you.
So I’m just going to dive in and start going through some of these and just keep in mind these are in no particular order or anything like that. They’re just some thoughts that I had, and I’m just mashing them all together here today.
Okay, so the first thing I wanted to talk about is some comments that I’ve gotten from some people on social media. So I occasionally share this podcast episode, and I do a Monday Motivation post. I try to do that every week. I miss a week here and there, but I’ve tried to stay pretty consistent with that.
And occasionally I will get some comments from people bored on those posts, and they’re not always super positive. Now there are lots of positive people out there. And if you’re somebody that has commented on my stuff regularly or shared some of my stuff, thank you for doing that, I appreciate that.
If you’re somebody that has been posting some hateful comments, then stop doing that. There’s really no reason for that kind of stuff. But some of the comments I think, are kind of interesting. And I’ve gotten a few similar comments from people recently. And I wanted to kind of address some of those.
And I want to preface this all by saying that I hate social media, I really do. I do not think social media is good for us. I think it is dumbing down us as a society. I think it’s causing a lot of, you know, FOMO, fear of missing out, I think it’s causing a lot of resentment with people.
I think it’s causing a lot of, you know, thinking that other people are better than we are. I think there’s a lot of negativity around social media, there’s bullying that happens on social media, it’s very divisive. People take things out of context. There’s so much now they’re doing with AI, where they’re actually creating videos of people saying things that it’s not, they never said those things.
But they can use AI and, you know, chat GPT, or whatever it is, and create a very convincing video of somebody saying some words that they haven’t said. So a lot of the stuff we’re even seeing out there isn’t even the truth. It’s not true. But we’re seeing these things. And it’s filling our feeds with just garbage and nonsense and divisiveness. And I think there’s a problem there.
So anyway, I just wanted to say that I try not to use social media very often, I do it because it helps to spread the word about this podcast, and helps to share some of the principles that I’m sharing out there in the world. But I don’t do a whole lot on social media.
But occasionally, I’ll get some comments from people. And some of them are, I’m gonna go through a couple of these that I’ve gotten recently that have, you know, I’ve gotten several comments that are very similar to this.
One of them is like, you shouldn’t tell people they have to lose weight, stop telling people they need to lose weight. And I just have to say, like, what, first of all, I have never told you or anybody that you have to lose weight.
I have never ever, ever said that and I’ve never thought it. If I have implied that, then I apologize. I don’t mean to think I’ve implied that. So I’m here to help you lose weight, if that’s something that you want help with. If you don’t want help with that, move on. That’s it, you just need to walk away.
If you’re somebody that doesn’t feel like they need to lose weight, and you’re listening to this podcast every week about me telling people how they can lose weight and how to be healthier and how to improve your diet and running, then, and you’re getting really resentful about listening to that. Just stop listening to that.
Okay, I’ve got no problem with that. I’m here for the people who want help. That’s it. And there are lots and lots of people, millions of people in this world who want help losing weight, they’ve tried all the stuff, it doesn’t work for them.
So I’m not telling you, you need to lose weight, but I’m here to help you if you want the help. Okay. So first of all, I’ve never told you, you need to lose weight.
Another comment that I’ve heard, or seen recently from several people is the gist of it is this. It’s not about losing weight, it’s about losing fat. So stop telling people, they need to lose weight, you need to tell them they need to lose fat.
Okay, so we’re now the semantic police out there. We’re like telling, you know, using these little phrases, I talk about weight loss because everybody understands what that means. Yes, it means losing fat weight. I’m not telling you, oh, I’m going to help you lose weight. And I really hope you lose muscle and bone mass because that’s my goal is to make sure that you know, develop osteoporosis and sarcopenia you know, no, it’s not about that.
Of course, it’s about fat loss. You know, people don’t like the word fat, you know. So I do use the word fat a lot. We talk about getting fat-adapted and being a fat-burning machine. But if you tell people, if you put it out there like, hey, I’m the Fat Loss For Runners Guy like people are not gonna like that. I don’t know. It just has some negative connotations.
So I think we all know, I’m talking about losing fat weight, right? I’m not talking about losing muscle. In fact, one of the big principles, I make sure that every one of my clients understands when they start working with me is that we don’t want to lose muscle.
We want to make sure we are preserving or gaining muscle mass while we are losing weight. And there’s a way that you can do that. A lot of people when they set out to lose weight, they just cut their calories back really significantly.
And yeah, they do lose weight, but that is muscle and bone, and fat. And we don’t want to do that that’s not the right way to do especially if you’re an athlete, and you’re a runner, and you’re training for something like you just need to make sure you’re losing weight the right way.
A/nd I always make sure that my clients are losing weight the right way. Okay, so of course, it’s about fat loss. Of course, it is. Right? I don’t explicitly say that. But please understand, that’s what I’m talking about. So if you’re somebody out there, that’s like, oh, I didn’t know you meant fat weight. Well, now you do.
And speaking of fat, as somebody has mentioned, you know, a couple of times in the past, like, oh, you fat shame people, you fat-shamed people like, listen, again, I have never, I’ve never shamed anybody about anything.
Again, I’m not telling you, you need to lose weight. I’m talking about, I’m talking to the people who are interested in becoming leaner, who are interested in changing their body composition for the better, who are interested in becoming healthier. That has nothing to do with if you’re overweight, good for you.
I’m old, I was overweight. You know, I was overweight for a decade or more, a couple of decades. And then I lost a bunch of weight. And then I gained a bunch of that back again. And I had to lose it again. Like I know what it’s like to be overweight.
And I’ve never been shamed by anybody in my life for that. And I’ve never shamed anybody else or not intentionally shamed anybody else for being overweight. Like, it’s such a common thing these days for people to be overweight. It’s like, okay, great. If you want to lose weight, great. If you don’t, that’s completely fine, too. I’m okay either way.
I’m here to help you if you want to lose the weight. But I’ve never fat-shamed anybody. I did have a friend that sort of fat-shamed me. Like, when I was pretty overweight, I was working with this guy. And he used to call me fatty Patty from Cincinnati. That was his little nickname for me. And he thought it was really funny.
And I, you know, kind of went along with it. He was a good friend of mine. So he could say that, you know, he didn’t mean it in a really mean way. But looking back on it, and I’m like, oh my god, he was fat-shaming me, but it never really bothered me that much.
A couple other random thoughts. Okay. So I’ve heard from a lot of people, some people mentioned this on social media. Some people mentioned this when I get on calls with them, where they’re like, oh, you know, I’ve been told that, since I’m a runner, I shouldn’t try to lose weight, like you shouldn’t do that. It’s not okay to do that. You shouldn’t, you know, try to lose weight while you’re training for a marathon or half marathon or something like that.
And I want to challenge that. And I want to, I want to dive into this just a little bit. So a lot of people I talked to tell me, Patrick, I am a runner. I’ve been running for a long time. You know, I used to eat a ton of you know, carbs, and sugar and junk food or whatever it was always fine and never really bothered me at all.
But as I get older, I tend to put on more weight. In fact, the more I run when I get into my training cycle, and I’m training for a marathon or half marathon, I gain weight, and what’s going on there? Like how come things aren’t working for me? They used to work for me.
And, you know, they’ve heard from people like, oh, you know, I’ve heard that I shouldn’t try to lose weight when I’m training for something. And I’m always training for something. I’ve got, like two races a year.
So I’m kind of always training for something. I have a short offseason. But you know, I gain weight while I’m training. But what am I supposed to do here because like just every year, year after year after year, I keep gaining more weight.
And I think this is interesting, because there are people out there that will tell people, like you shouldn’t try to lose weight if you’re a runner. But apparently, it’s okay to gain weight as a runner, like that’s okay. But you shouldn’t try to lose weight.
I think that’s kind of backward. I think that’s kind of stupid. So a lot of people think that the answer to losing weight is just running more and more and more. And if you’re running a lot, you know, you’re putting in 60 miles a week or whatever it is, you’re training, you know, some massive amount of training, and you’re gaining weight in the process or not losing weight in the process, that you’re just you know, you’re doing it wrong, you there’s something wrong with you, you know, it’s genetics, whatever.
And listen, it isn’t genetics, it isn’t that there’s something wrong with you. You’re just doing the wrong you’re focusing on the wrong thing. You know, it’s not about you. It’s not about your diet. It’s about, wait, I’m sorry, it’s not about your exercise. It’s about what you’re eating.
It’s really more about the diet than it is about the training that you’re doing. Really, I talk to people every day who are like I gain weight, the more I train, and I’m like, yeah, because your diet is terrible. And the more you train, the hungrier you are, typically, and the more you end up eating of that junk food, and so you’re just gonna gain weight, your body’s gonna keep storing a lot of that junk food is excess fat, even though you’re running a lot doesn’t matter.
So the answer is not to run more. But this idea of not losing weight, as you are training for something, I don’t think that is valid for all people. Now, some people are like, listen, when I’m training, it puts my body under a lot of stress. And that stress will cause me to hold on to more weight, which is kind of true if you’re training the wrong way.
In other words, if you’re overtraining, you could be putting your body into a state of chronic stress. Chronic stress equals chronically elevated cortisol levels, chronically elevated cortisol levels to the stress hormone will lead to chronically elevated blood sugar, and insulin, and you’re basically staying in that fat storage mode, you’re always storing fat, and your body cannot burn fat, while you’re in a state of chronic stress.
So I get that part of it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t or can’t lose weight, while you’re training, you just need to fix your training and fix your diet. The other side of this is that when most people set out to lose weight, they cut their calories and they lose muscle and they lose bone mass.
And they lose fat weight too. But when you’re training for something, you do not want to be losing muscle mass, like you need to maintain muscle mass while you’re training, otherwise, you’re gonna like really mess yourself up, and you risk getting injured. And there are lots of reasons why you don’t want to lose muscle and bone while you’re training for a marathon. It’s just pretty obvious, right?
So you risk injury, you risk burning yourself out. Really, it’s really bad for you to do that. And so we never want to lose muscle and bone, we always want to just focus on fat loss. That’s why I always talk about fat burning, turning your body into a fat-burning machine, getting you fat adapted.
Once you’re fat-adapted, that means your body is burning fat the way it’s supposed to. It means that you have tons of energy for running fat stored body fat is a great source of fuel for runners. Plus, if you want to lose weight, we’re talking about fat weight here, you have to burn the fat.
How do you burn the fat? Well, you got to stop storing the fat and you got to get into that fat-burning mode instead, right?
So another couple of reasons why people say you shouldn’t try to lose weight while you’re running or shouldn’t run while you’re trying to lose weight. So some people say, oh, you’re losing weight, great, just focus on that.
Don’t work out, don’t run, because it’s going to put your body under too much stress. It’s too many changes all at once. You should just focus on one thing at a time. That way, you’re going to be more compliant with your diet, like just change your diet first. And then you can work on exercise later.
And I’ve heard this quite a bit and people that I talk to tell me this and they’re like, man, I’m not doing that. I don’t want to go on some diet where I can’t exercise for three months or something. That’s crazy. I’ll go crazy, right? Because the exercise is so good for you. There are so many reasons why it’s so good for you.
It produces dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins, like, it’s our feel-good hormones, our feel-good neurotransmitters. It’s like, it puts us in a good mood, it helps us to sleep, it helps us to focus it, you know, gives us plenty of energy throughout the day. Why would you stop doing that?
Oh, because you know, it’s going to be too hard for you to stick to your diet and exercise at the same time, well, then you need some help with that. You’re doing it wrong, right? You just need some help with the mindset around this stuff. So you can lose weight while running. You can lose weight while working out. You can do both.
And if you’re somebody who loves working out and you want to focus on your nutrition and change you should be able to do that and you can do it. I help people with this all the time. It’s totally doable.
Another thing I hear people say and a lot of these comments are coming from social media. A lot of these topics are coming from social media. This one is oh, you know you don’t need to change your diet or anything just you know, eat right and exercise.
You know, I don’t understand why it’s so hard for people to understand. Like these are comments that I hear from people that you know kind of on I’m paraphrasing here, but you know, just the writing exercise, it’s easy to do. You know, that’s all you need to do.
And listen, if it was easy, there would be no overweight people in this world, there’d be nobody that really needs to lose weight ever if it was easy. If it was just that simple. Of course, we know that we should eat right and exercise. Of course, we know that.
But what does it mean to eat right? I mean, if you get out there on the internet, you start looking, okay, what’s the right diet, like, you’re gonna get 10 million different answers. It’s stupid. Like, we’ve just got this wrong, where we think there’s like one answer that’s going to work forever. It doesn’t, it doesn’t.
Whatever you did, whatever this random person over here did, whatever the latest fad diet is, whatever the trend is, whatever that book is, you just read, none of that stuff is going to work for everybody. I’ve tried all that stuff. And until I just kind of put together my own sort of protocol, my own food plan. That’s the only thing that really worked for me.
And that’s what I help people do, you know, I help people figure out what works for them. Because all this other nonsense that’s out there, you know, vegan diet, or a carnivore diet, or South Beach diet, the Mediterranean diet, whatever it is, whatever, whatever diet that’s like, pre-made, that you’re trying to follow, it’s not going to work for you.
I mean, it’s just not going to, well, it’s not gonna work for everybody, we’ll put it that way. Right, there isn’t one diet that works perfectly for everybody, we all have to just get our heads around that. And so I don’t encourage people to follow any particular diet, instead, I help you get off the junk food.
I help people start eating real food, start focusing on getting enough protein, ditching the really problematic carbohydrate-laden foods, processed foods, the seed oils, the sugars, that kind of stuff. And just focus on eating the kinds of foods that fill them up, and that make them feel great.
And that improves their body composition that helps them to lose the fat weight and gain muscle and maintain muscle. Like that’s so important. And related to that, I’ve seen comments in like Facebook groups from people who are like, oh, man, I, you know, I’m, I’m struggling with gaining weight while I’m training for a marathon.
I’m in a lot of running groups and stuff on Facebook. And I’ll see people post, you know, questions like, oh, you know, I’m gaining weight, what should I do, and all these people, random people who know nothing about this person, are telling them what they shouldn’t, should or shouldn’t eat.
You know, how, oh, here’s what you should do. You know, here’s the diet, you should do blah, blah, blah, eat vegan, eat, you know, nothing, but meat, eat nothing. But you know, broccoli, nothing, but whatever. Like, there’s all these crazy diets out there. And listen, you know nothing about that person you have, you’re not qualified to give that person advice.
Even if you are a doctor, you shouldn’t give that person advice, because you don’t know them, you don’t have a relationship with that person. Again, this is why I do coaching. And I don’t just sell a book about this stuff, because I can’t put it in a book.
Because the same thing doesn’t work for everybody, you’ve got to really understand that, okay. But these randos that are just giving people this unsolicited advice, and sometimes it’s solicited, but you know, most of the time it’s not, and just telling people what they should do. It’s so stupid, just don’t do that.
If you’re one of those people who like feels compelled to give people advice on what they should do. Don’t do that. Okay? Because you don’t know what’s going to work for them.
Okay, a little bit of this as ranting, I get that I’m just like, I wanted to get this stuff off my chest for a while. So thank you for letting me do that. Related to all that there are tons of like running coaches out there. And even like nutritionists and dietitians that I’ve seen, who you know, preach about certain ways of doing things. And they have, they follow this traditional coaching style, which is, it’s really not even coaching, it’s just they tell you what to do.
Like, here’s what you’re going to do, here’s the protocol, you’re going to follow, you know, I have this 10-step plan, this is what’s going to work for you right, again, it’s a one size fits all, but they’re not taking into account that you know, that you’re an individual and that you have certain metabolism and certain lifestyle needs that need to be considered here.
And, and lots of other factors that make you an individual, you know, genetics and food preferences and how you like to work out and you know, how much running you do and all these other things.
But there are lots of coaches out there dietitians, nutritionists, whatever, who don’t have a one-size-fits-all program, they just tell you what to do. Here’s what you’re gonna do. They don’t consider the fact that it’s hard to, like you know what to do, but it’s hard to stick with it.
It’s hard to keep doing those things. And they don’t even consider that. Oh, you didn’t, I told you to eat these foods, you didn’t do it. Why not? Well, because, you know, I really struggle with this stuff. And, you know, I think I might be like, eating emotionally, because I find that I just, I need to eat to feel better. And they’re just like, I don’t get any of that, you know, you just need to stick to the plan here.
You know, you need to have more willpower, you need to be more disciplined. That’s not helpful. And all these people that I’m talking about these coaches, these, a lot of these people I’m thinking about here are like elite athletes, who decided they want to be a coach, they have never been overweight in their life.
They’ve never had to lose 40 or 50 pounds, they don’t know what that feels like they’ve never struggled with, you know, food. You know, emotional eating, or with food issues, you know, they’ve never struggled with their weight. They never struggled with working out or running, you know, maybe they did early on.
But they’re not a four to five-hour marathoner who struggles to, you know, PR, or struggles to, you know, maybe you’re trying to qualify for Boston or something like that. These are people who are like, elite athletes, top athletes in the world. And they just think they, they’re a little disassociated with the common people like me, and you, you know, and, and I see these people doling out advice and telling people what to do.
And I just look at it and kind of shake my head, because I’m like, that is not gonna work for everybody. And it might work for some people who are, you know, of elite caliber, but you’re trying to reach the general population out here, you’re talking way over their heads like they’re not there, they just can’t relate to that stuff, and you can’t relate to them.
So how can you help these people if you’ve never been there before? How can you help these people if you, you know, lose weight or change their diet? If you’ve never struggled with that stuff? You know, you’re somebody who’s like, oh, you know, like David Goggins? You know, it’s like, oh, you know, just run 200 miles a day, you know, and it’s no big deal. Like, just, you just do it, man, you know?
And well, that’s hard for people sometimes. And what do you do when that kind of stuff is, is challenging? It’s hard to get out of bed and put those running shoes on and go out the door? How do you deal with that stuff? How do you deal with the fact that you’re used to eating, you know, junk food, because you know, you’re not dealing with some of the mental and emotional stuff that you’re going through and you keep turning to food?
Like, how do you deal with the stuff that comes up, when you stop eating that food, like, there’s going to be all this stuff that comes up when you stop eating the junk food that you got to start dealing with, you know, and I’m not saying I’m like a therapist or anything like that. But we do a lot of work around emotional eating, we do a lot of work around helping people to change their relationship with food.
So it’s not about just eating automatically and eating emotionally, it’s about eating intentionally, and eating mindfully, you know? And of course, eating good food, eating real food, not junk food. Okay, so I think that’s about it for these random thoughts that I had today.
Thanks for listening to all of this stuff here. I wanted to just get all these out and share them with you because they’ve been topics that have been on my mind for a while. And every now and then I’ll put together a little list of random topics and I’ll share them with you guys.
I think this is kind of fun for me to do. Today. Actually, it just can kind of go off on a tangent on these little things. A little bit of a rant here and there too, which is okay. I hope that’s okay with you. Okay, that’s all I got for you today. Love you all. Keep on Running Lean and I will talk to you soon.
When it comes to diets and dietary advice, there is a lot of conflicting information out there. For every study that shows that one particular food is bad for you, there’s another study showing …
There are a lot of metrics available to runners these days - pace, distance, time, V02 max, recovery advisor, race predictor, stress score, heart rate zones, lactate threshold, vertical oscillation, …
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, Sports Nutritionist, Master Life Coach, and weight loss coach for runners. I’ve dedicated my life to helping runners just like you properly fuel your body and your mind. So you can get leaner, get stronger, run faster, and run longer than you ever thought possible. This is Running Lean.
Hey there, and welcome to episode 194 of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, The Weight Loss Coach for Runners and today, VO2 Max Lactate Threshold and Running Economy.
So there are a lot of metrics available to runners these days, pace, distance, time, VO2 max, recovery advisor, race predictor stress score, heart rate zones, lactate threshold, vertical oscillation, I don’t know what that is, performance condition and on and on. And on.
A lot of these, I don’t think they’re really all that helpful. Some of these are important and you want to pay attention to them. So the whole thing is kind of confusing, and a little bit overwhelming. Especially if you’re trying to understand all the metrics or improve on them.
Okay, so today, I just want to look at a few key metrics. And I want to explain what they mean, and how you might be able to improve them. And the three key metrics you want to pay attention to as a runner are: VO2 max, lactate threshold, and running economy.
And I’m going to explain each of these, what they mean, how they affect you as an endurance athlete, and what you can do to improve them. But first, let me ask you a couple questions here.
What is it that you really want for yourself? Do you want to be healthy? Do you want to be happy? Do you want to lose some weight? How much weight do you want to lose? 30 pounds? 40 pounds? 50 pounds? Do you want to see your abs again? Do you want to PR your next marathon? What is it that you really want for yourself?
I would say most people want to be healthy and they want to be happy and they want to have that six pack abs they want to marathon their PRs. I think this is something that most of us probably would say yes, that we want those things. But not everyone is willing to endure the pain and the struggle required to achieve those things.
People want to lose weight or not, but they’re not willing to go through the struggle of giving up some of their favorite foods. People want the six pack abs, but they don’t want to spend the time that’s required at the gym sweating out those painful workouts.
People want to run faster, but they don’t want to struggle with the speed work the hill repeats the sprint workouts etc. The truth is the struggle is necessary. You can’t accomplish anything worthwhile without some degree of struggle. The struggle is a requirement of change, but most people will not choose it.
Instead, they choose a different kind of struggle. They choose to struggle with remaining stuck where they are. They choose to struggle staying overweight, or the struggle of never becoming a faster runner, or the struggle of never living up to their true potential.
Here’s the truth. Who you are is determined by what you are willing to struggle for. You can choose to struggle with where you are right now. Or choose the struggle that comes with change. So which struggle are you choosing?
If you want some help, want some support getting through the struggle of change, I got you, you can join the Running Lean Coaching Project. This is my unique weight loss coaching program designed specifically for runners. Just go to runningleancoaching.com/join to learn more. Book a call with me and we’ll talk about getting you through the struggle. Cool.
Also, if you want a little bit of help, just getting started with all this stuff with the right nutrition with strength training with, you know, improving your endurance and your mindset, I put together a free training, it’s called Five Simple Steps To Becoming A Leaner Stronger Runner. All you got to do is go to my website runningleancoaching.com and click on the link that says Free Training.
You’re going to learn how to crush your weight loss goals and your running goals directly from me The Weight Loss Coach for Runners, cool. I spent a lot of time putting this together. It’s sort of the culmination of what I’ve been teaching here on the podcast over the last few years. So definitely check it out, runningleancoaching.com and click on Free Training. Cool.
Okay, so this week’s topic is VO2 max, lactate threshold and running economy. And the reason I’m talking about this today is because Brent sent in a question. A couple of weeks ago I asked for topics. So if you guys have a topic that you’re particularly interested in, then I would love to answer your question here on the podcast.
You can send me questions about weight loss, about running, nutrition, diet, fueling for running, feeling for training, strength training any of that stuff, find me on Facebook Running Lean Coaching or Instagram @runningleancoach, or you can just shoot me an email at email@example.com.
But Brent’s question was about VO2 max specifically. And he didn’t really understand what it was. And he wanted sort of a one on one lesson on VO2 max. You know, what is it? Why is it important for him and how it might improve his running? And I thought, you know, as I was putting together notes for this, I started to really see that there was this correlation between VO2 max, lactate threshold, and then running economy.
And so I wanted to kind of lump these all together into this episode, and you’ll see why they’re all pretty related here. Okay, but there’s some confusion as to each of these and what they are. So I wanted to kind of clear up the confusion today, hopefully, and give you some practical tips on how you can improve these things, so you can become a better runner.
So the reason I want to talk about this today is that we always want to improve as runners. You know, we hear all these terms like VO2 max, lactate threshold, whatever, we don’t understand them. We don’t know what they mean. Is my number good? Is it bad? And should I improve it? What if it’s going down? Like, what does it even mean to my running performance? Does this mean I’m never going to get faster?
So we got to clear up some of this stuff. Okay. I want to help you make sense of these numbers, at least. There’s a bunch of other metrics. Now I just looked at my Garmin and was looking through all these metrics stuff I’ve never even heard of before, like vertical oscillation. And I could probably look it up and figure out what it means. But I was just like, that’s just so funny. Because does that really matter? I don’t know. I don’t know that it really matters.
And like to somebody out there, like, yeah, I want to improve my vertical oscillation. It’s like you do that, bro, you go and prove that vertical oscillation all day long. But for me, I’m looking at some of these key indicators. And I want to get to the bottom line after I talk about all this stuff.
But you know, just understand that some of these matter more than others, and some of this stuff is interesting. You know, I find the data is interesting, but isn’t really all that helpful. Okay. So VO2 max is one of those things where it can be a little bit confusing, a lot of people really just don’t even understand what it is. Okay. So let’s talk about that.
What is VO2 max? So, VO2 max refers to the maximum amount the maximum volume, so V stands for volume, O2 is oxygen, the maximum amount of oxygen your body can absorb and use during exercise. So it is a way to measure your aerobic fitness. Okay.
So if you’re looking to improve aerobic fitness, and you improve your VO2 max, sometimes it’s called your oxygen uptake, then you could see some improvements to your aerobic fitness. Okay?
Obviously, oxygen is important. It’s sort of involved with like breathing, right, but the other part of this is that as you breathe in oxygen, your lungs absorb it and turn that into adenosine triphosphate, which is ATP.
So this is energy, right, so your body will turn oxygen into energy and power your cells to help them release carbon dioxide. And this is great as the more oxygen that you can move, the more that your body can consume, the more effectively your body can generate ATP, right. So that is a good thing.
So having a high VO2 max means that your body is able to oxygenate more cells efficiently right and produce more energy. So your body can handle better aerobic fitness activities like running that require a lot of oxygen uptake.
Okay, so a high VO2 max can be a pretty good predictor of athletic performance, especially if you’re a runner. You can also look at your VO2 max as a benchmark. So you can look at it as a way of improving so wherever your whatever your number is now you can look at that as a way of like okay, I’m maintaining that number which is good over time, but maybe you can improve that a little bit as you go okay.
And it’s not just for athletes. It’s also a way of determining like cardio respiratory fitness and anyone right and medical professionals use this as a way of determining your heart health basically heart and lung health okay. So everyone you know should probably try to increase their cardio respiratory endurance and a higher VO2 max is associated with a lower risk of death which is a good thing in general okay.
So the way they typically measure VO2 max is you go to a metal colo facility like a lab or a hospital, and you’ve got a specialist there, and they hook you up to a metabolic cart, and in a VO2 max test, you put a mask on, a breathing mask, and they want to, they want to see how much oxygen you’re taking in, and how much you know carbon dioxide is going out.
And I don’t know, they measure all this information. And they can figure out how many milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute that you are using. So VO2 max is measured in millimeters of oxygen per kilogram per kilogram of body weight per minute.
Right and so, you know, if you have a VO2 max of 80, then you’re able to use or utilize 80 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute. So it’s a good thing, right? There are also other ways of kind of getting a ballpark of what your VO2 max is.
So that’s why when you look at your watch, it is not doing that metabolic cart test, obviously. So it is just guessing basically, and it’s guessing based on a bunch of different numbers. I know some of these watches now have the ability to track not just heart rate, but also pulse ox.
So they can see how much oxygen is actually being utilized in your pulse somehow and so you’re looking at things like that, your weight, your performance levels during running, your heart rate, whether you know your heart rate is improving your age.
So all these different factors can affect your VO2 max. Other factors would be your age, you know, your training performance. Altitude affects your VO2 max and gender. So after about the age of 30, VO2 max typically declines at a rate of 1-2% per year. So just understand that.
So if yours is lower, if you’re older, then your VO2 max is lower than it used to be. You could be just maintaining your fitness but it’s gonna go lower in general for most people. Also training you can actually train and get your VO2 max higher. Some people are just gifted with super high VO2 maxes and some people will never be able to get them super high, but you can improve what you have, which is good. We’ll talk about that in a minute.
Gender affects your VO2 max. So men typically have higher VO2 maxes than women. Men typically have more muscle mass and higher hemoglobin levels which can affect the VO2 max outcomes there. And then altitude affects your VO2 max. So there’s decreased oxygen as you get higher and altitude and this affects your aerobic capacity and decreases your performance. Okay.
So if you’re planning on training at altitude, just think about that. You may not be able to get to your maximum effort and it takes some time to adjust to altitude. But then when you come down from altitude, you’re going to have more oxygen and it’s going to feel amazing, you’ll feel like Superman or woman.
Okay, so those things affect VO2 max. So just understand that there is a way of testing your VO2 max using a field test, okay. And there’s a test that you can do. It’s called a submaximal exercise test. So you can’t really get to that maximum number because you’re not hooked up to a cart in a controlled environment where they’re, you know, pushing you on a treadmill as hard as you can.
But you’ll be able to get a pretty good idea of where you are by doing something like the Cooper test. So the Cooper test is pretty simple. It’s just how far can you run in 12 minutes. So you do a warm up, maybe 20-30 minutes, and then you just run as far as you can in 12 minutes, and you have to push yourself.
And I have not done this one. I’ve done some other max heart rate tests, which is a little bit different. But this seems pretty terrible. It sounds like it would be pretty hard to do. But let’s just say you did this. You run as far as you can in 12 minutes. And then you can put this into an online calculator.
You just take your the distance that you ran, and you put that into an online calculator, but basically it’s saying this that you take the number 36 times the distance that you ran in miles, and then you subtract 11.3 from that and you don’t have to remember this like I said you can go online and do this. But let’s say you ran two miles.
So you take two miles times 36 and then you subtract 11.3. And that gives you 60.7. And that’s your VO2 Max. If you’re able to run 1.5 miles in 12 minutes, you take that and multiply it by 36. So 36 times 1.5 minus 11.3 gives you 42.7.
My VO2 max is somewhere around there. It’s like 45. So probably a little over 1.5 miles in 12 minutes, I like I said, I haven’t done the test. But I should do that. So I can share that with you guys.
But, and then you could also look up, I’m not going to go through all this right now because there’s a lot of information out there, but you can look up what good VO2 max ranges are, depending on your age. So I’m in you know, I’m in between the like 50 and 59 age range. And having a 45 VO2 max puts me at like the 90 or 95th percentile. So like the top five or 10% of people out there for my age, you know, I’m in the top five or 10%. So that’s a good sign.
You know, if yours is lower than that, that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that you know, your performance sucks or anything like that, it just means maybe you’ve got a little room for improvement there. But you can look up those numbers online, you can just type in VO2 max chart by age, and it’ll give you a list of all the ages and stuff like that and what the different breakdowns are.
So let’s see. So what does all this tell you? So we want to, we’re focused on running improvement, right, we want to improve our running performance overall. So looking at VO2 maxes as one metric, you can see that having the ability to increase your oxygen intake can be good, it can probably help you to become a better runner. Right?
But it does not necessarily mean that just having a higher VO2 max means that you’re going to be a faster runner. Right? The potential is there. But there’s a lot of other factors that influence how you run. And we’re going to get into all that in just a minute. But just understand that VO2 max might tell you how big your aerobic engine is. But it doesn’t tell you what you can do with it.
Okay, so let’s say you have two runners who are training at the same speed, but one runner is using less oxygen than the other at that given pace, the runner who’s using less oxygen to maintain the same pace is running more efficiently right and probably running a faster race.
So you would think the one that’s running faster would have the VO2 max higher but not exactly. So the faster runner can actually have a lower VO2 max and still be the superior runner. And this boils down to how well that runner can effectively use the oxygen that they’re taking in. Just because you can take it in doesn’t mean you can use it properly.
Okay, so one can have a bigger engine. So you could have the increased capacity for more oxygen, but you may have a poor ability to use it because you haven’t trained for it. Right so you can’t produce the energy that somebody else can produce with a lower VO2 max.
Okay, so just understand that it’s not a direct correlation to running performance or speed okay. But if you want to improve your VO2 max you can you want to train at or near or above that VO2 max intensity.
So, when you increase oxygen intake, you’re going to improve the uptake in muscle fibers you’re going to improve how those muscle fibers function, you’re going to increase the ability to slow the buildup of waste products like lactate, which I’m going to talk about in a minute VO2 max training can increase the efficiency of your running and helps you improve your form as well. But running form is something that is separate from your VO2 max. Okay, so just understand that as well.
But training at VO2 max also increases your leg muscle strength that increases power which will help to improve running economy. And that’s really what we’re after here is going to be improving running economy with all of these things here.
So your muscles will become stronger and your muscle fibers will be able to last longer and produce more energy and that’s where you get faster and running becomes easier for you. Okay, so the way you’re going to do this is to train at your VO2 max or near it.
So that would be doing stuff like HIIT workouts, high intensity interval training. So an example that might be 10 by 400 meter intervals at a 5k pace that’s gonna put you close to that VO2 max and intensity.
Okay, tempo runs where you are holding a five or 10k pace for an extended period of time, maybe two miles up to four, six miles, something like that. Hill repeats where you’re finding a relatively steep hill, and then you’re running hard up at something that you can run has to be long enough where you can run up for like two to three minutes.
So if you can hit that two minute mark two and a half minutes, that’s perfect. Run hard up the hill, jog it back down and just repeat that. And all of these workouts, just make sure you’re doing a warm up and cool down, so that you’re not risking getting injured, you never want to, like go sprint from cold states, like you want to make sure you warm up before you do any kind of high intensity workouts like this.
So here’s the thing, knowing your VO2 max is only important if you make it important. And if your training plan like demands that you have to know this and that’s for most of us, we can estimate, it’s really not going to be that important.
But at some point, you can look at this number and see that maybe you’re improving it and that’s a good sign, that means that you’re improving your fitness, okay. But understand that highly trained people, people that have got like very fast runners, they may see their VO2 max go down, even if they’re running harder and faster and running feels great for them.
So it is a marker of cardio respiratory fitness, but it doesn’t necessarily relate to endurance training as a whole, because there’s so many other factors involved here, which I’m going to go over here when I get into these next couple of topics here. But just understand that, you know, it’s a nice measurement, and it’s something that we can look at, but it’s not everything. So just understand that.
Okay, so the next thing I’m going to talk about is lactate threshold. So, lactate threshold is the point during exercise, when lactate builds up in the bloodstream faster than the body can remove it. So this is the border between what we call like low intensity and high intensity work. And that lactate threshold is that divider, okay? So it’s a good predictor of your fitness.
Okay, so higher lactate threshold means that an athlete can run at a higher intensity effort for longer before they hit exhaustion. Right before that lactate becomes your body’s ability to clear it becomes impossible. So the lactate threshold training is where you’re, you know, doing some exercise at a specific intensity range where the blood lactate starts to accumulate, okay.
So if you did 20-30 minutes of sustained tempo effort, something like that, and you hit that lactate threshold intensity, for that 20-30 minutes, that’s going to put you into that place where you’re really pushing the limit of that of that lactate, okay. But this is how you increase your running intensity by pushing that limit.
Okay, so that lactate threshold is a measure of the effort that you can sustain at a steady state for longer periods. So when we exercise we break down glucose to create energy. And part of the process is lactate is produced and hydrogen ions are produced, right, it’s just part of the process, these things hit our bloodstream.
And at slower paces, your body’s able to clear these byproducts pretty easily, that’s called buffering, your body’s able to buffer them. So if you’re doing a steady state workout, and you’re running at a comfortable pace, you can maintain that pace all day, right, you can do 24 hours. You know, people do that all the time, you run 100 miles, you get that 24-28 hours, something like that of a steady state, but it’s a low intensity, your body’s clearing that lactate.
But as you run harder, these byproducts are increasing in your blood faster than you can, you know, flush them out. And so that’s where you start to get into that threshold place. And once they accumulate so much that you can’t flush them out anymore, then you’ve hit your threshold, right and your muscles are gonna start to burn, you’re gonna feel like your blood is on fire, and you have to stop. Right?
You’ve probably felt that before doing some sort of interval training. Okay. So there’s lots of ways of measuring lactate threshold. Sometimes they do this with blood tests. So they will actually have you run intervals and gradually increase the intensity of these intervals.
And then they do like a finger stick or something and they test your blood to see how much lactate is there. And they look at your heart rate and your perceived exertion and and then you can kind of figure out where is that threshold? Or like, where’s the point where, you know, lactate accumulates too much, and you have to stop?
And again, this is one of those things where it’s probably not very practical, you’d have to get some kind of a doctor or scientist or somebody that understands all these things and have the right equipment to be able to test your blood while you’re running. But you can do some tests that are similar to the VO2 max test, you can do your own lactate threshold sort of testing.
And there’s a few different ways that you can do this, like you can do a 30 minute time trial, just to estimate your lactate threshold. And the way you do this workout is by doing this, like on a day where you’re feeling pretty recovered, so you don’t want to do it on a day when you’re super tired, and you go to a track or some flat road, you can even do this on a treadmill, but you you do a little bit of warm up.
And then once you’re warmed up, you start running at the fastest speed that you can maintain for 30 minutes. So this is going to be a 30 minute time shot. So you’re going to maintain a steady pace. So that’s important, you want to maintain the same pace if you can over 30 minutes. So you don’t want to start out too fast or too slow. But you want to maintain the same pace as close as you can to that same pace for 30 minutes.
And then at the 10 minute mark 10 minutes into that run, you check your heart rate, and you have to like write that down or make note of it, okay, and you could probably look at your Garmin data to see what that is. And then you continue running and then you check your heart rate at 30 minutes.
So at 10 minutes, you check your heart rate at 30 minutes, check your heart rate, you take those two numbers, you divide them by two to find the average between the 10 and the 30 minute mark. And that is what is called your lactate threshold heart rate.
Okay, so let’s say your heart rate after 10 minutes is 130. And then at the end, your heart rate is 170. So you take those two numbers divided by two that becomes 150. So 150 becomes your lactate threshold heart rate. So it may not be exactly the number that you know where your lactate is building up, but it’s a pretty good indicator.
Again, this is what we call a submaximal test, because you’re not going to be able to push yourself to the point where you’re getting to that place where lactate builds up so much that you have to stop because that’s a horrible, horrible place to be. But this is a good way of getting a number that you can look at and try to shoot for.
So then you know that that lactate threshold heart rate, let’s say it’s 150, or whatever it is that you know that you want to be working in that zone right there. Okay, so and you can create training zones based off of that number, they’re not the same as max heart rate training zones, just understand that it’s a little bit different.
But then you have something that you can kind of play with. And again, you can go online and look up calculators for lactate threshold heart rate training zones, and they’ll show you how to determine all that stuff. Okay. But here’s what I’m gonna talk about here, how to increase your lactate threshold.
So the way you improve this, because you want to be able to buffer more lactate. So you got to be doing your training at or above that lactate threshold pace or that effort level, or that heart rate. Okay.
So one thing that’s great about lactate threshold is that you can improve this over time with training. Much like you can improve the VO2 max with the type of training that you do, okay. And there’s a couple of different ways you can do this. One is steady state training. And then the other one is this lactate threshold training that you want to do a couple times a week.
So steady state aerobic training is where you’re just, you know, running at the same pace for an extended period of time. And this is great because it helps to improve lactate clearance in general and buffering, okay.
The lactate threshold training is where you’re going to be pushing yourself into those higher intensities, okay, so you don’t want to do these too frequently. And you got to keep them pretty short. So maximum might be 20-30 minutes, something like that. But the goal with these lactate threshold training runs is to keep your pace steady throughout the run.
So you want to meet that heart rate goal and the pace goal and you want to be consistent with that okay, so lactate training is generally below your race pace, but it should be done comfortably hard, like it should be challenging, but not maximal intensity like the VO2 max training.
Okay, this is where the pace calculators are handy since they can help you determine what pace you’re going to be running at the different lactate threshold numbers that that we all have, right? So what does this tell you about your whole performance and speed and your ability to improve and all that stuff?
Well, much like VO2 max lactate threshold is important. It’s actually I think it’s a great number to know and then to be able to improve. But it’s not the whole story. Right? It’ll help you to run faster. And at higher intensities. It might be a better indicator of overall running performance.
But I think the one thing that we really want to look at and it’s a little more nefarious here, just because it’s tough to like really dial this in, but it’s it’s running economy. Okay. So running, running economy is one of the cornerstones of physiological performance and distance running. Okay, along with lactate threshold, and VO2 max.
And the latter two are the ones that did get all the attention because it’s just a number you can look at. You know, lactate threshold is the measure of the effort that you can sustain at a steady state for longer periods. VO2 max is a measure of the total amount of oxygen you can take in and then you write running isn’t just about oxygen, though.
It’s not just about, you know, a threshold number or a certain pace, right. So when I talk about running economy, we’re talking about a whole range of factors that influence your running like your running form, your technique, your strength, your training, balance, all these other things.
So typically, when people look at running economy, though, if you go online and start doing some research on running an economy, they kind of lump it in there with VO2 max and the way they measure it is using the same equipment that they use to measure VO2 max.
So you put on this gas analyzer you put a mask on, you run on a treadmill, that I’m using this sort of broader definition of running an economy as a combination of VO2 max, lactate threshold, power, speed, strength, endurance running form, all of these things are more important as a whole to look at.
So this is more of a holistic look and improving your running performance than just looking at these two numbers, these two metrics that are, frankly, kind of confusing for some people, even though I just explained all that stuff, you might be still scratching your head a little bit. And thinking like, I don’t understand this stuff. It’s okay. You are not alone, for sure. Okay.
So I like that broader definition. I like just looking at running economy as your overall running performance and all the things that go into affecting that. Okay, so let’s just talk about, like how we can improve this running economy?
How do we improve that, one thing that’s going to help improve this a lot is just getting stronger. Right? We want to focus on strength work. And I talk to my clients about this every single day, the importance of strength training for runners, if you want to improve your body composition, like diet is going to be probably the number one driver there. But the number two driver is going to be strength.
If you want to improve your running, if you want to get faster or be able to run longer, strength training is going to get you there. It’s so, so important. In fact, they did a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology. And it showed that a group of runners replaced 32% of their running training with explosive strength training. And they improve their 5k times without any changes to their VO2 max.
So they were running less but they just did more strength training and they were able to improve their running performance. They’re running 5k times and their VO2 max stayed the same. So you can see that VO2 max isn’t all that great of an indicator, right?
But strength training is going to be one of the best things you can do for yourself. Like I said, it helps you improve fat burning helps to improve your ability to run faster. It helps you to run longer, because you’re going to be able to run longer distances before your muscles fatigue, it’s going to help you to prevent injury. So overall running economy is going to be improved by getting stronger.
Another factor is the type of strength training that you’re doing. So part of the strength training would be lifting weights and lifting heavier weights to build stronger muscles. But another form of strength training would be to do something like plyometrics and jumping exercises, hopping exercises, those kinds of things that help improve tendons and ligaments.
So this is going to improve flexion, it’s going to approve the elasticity of your tendons and ligaments. And so you’ll have a little bit more like spring in your step. All right. And they’ve done some studies where they showed that runners who performed five minutes of a double legged hop exercise, so they just like jumped up and down, saw improvements in the running economy at higher speeds.
So just doing something as simple as that can help improve your running economy as well. So stuff like Plyometrics, super important for runners. It’s one of those things, you can’t really improve tendons and ligaments through strength training alone, that does help, it takes a long time to get there to improve those things. But doing the plyometrics will help speed that process up a little bit.
Another way that you can improve running economy is just working at your goal, race pace. So the more you train, at your goal, race pace, the stronger your body’s going to be at that pace, and you’re just going to become more economical at that pace. Right, it’s pretty simple to just say like, hey, if you run a, you know, nine minute pace for a marathon, then you got to do a lot of training, a big volume of training at that nine minute pace.
And the more you do that, the more efficient, you’re going to be at that nine minute pace, right. So don’t be afraid to spend some time doing that kind of work and working at that goal, pace, right. Also, training volume is going to help to improve your running economy and the frequency of your training.
Like we want to make sure you’re running enough to where you are improving your volume, increasing your volume, and maybe your your frequency of running, but you got to make sure you’re doing in a way that isn’t too much, right, because if you increase your overall volume, a lot of people do that.
And they end up getting injured because they’re running too much too often. So you got to build that strong aerobic engine and volume will help you to do that. But then you got to be careful of the frequency and be careful of not, you know, going too fast or too adding too much volume too soon. Because that’s how you risk improvement.
Another way of improving your running economy is doing these interval workouts that I’ve mentioned, you know, the HIIT workouts, the high intensity interval training, and running faster, because when you run faster, you improve all these metrics, but you also improve your running form.
It’s really hard to run with terrible form when you’re sprinting. Or if you’re running hard up the hill, you’re naturally going to have better running form and better running form means that you’re improving your running economy there as well. Right. So there are a number of factors that affect your running economy, including VO2 max, including lactate threshold.
I hope you understand that I know this can all be a little bit confusing to the average runner, right. But I hope you understand now that how, you know just trying to improve one of these metrics may not be really worth it, or may cause a little too much stress or condition for whatever.
If it was me, I would focus on improving overall as a runner, I would look at my whole running economy in general. Is your effort level at a certain pace improving? Yes or no? Is your pace for that 5k 10k half marathon, whatever distance you’re using as a benchmark, is that improving? Does running generally feel easier? Or is running feeling hard? Or are you recovering properly from one workout so that you’re able to do the next workout to your full potential?
These are better questions to ask and better ways of looking at how you’re improving. I mean, the numbers are interesting, and there’s a lot of good data you can get from there. And improving VO2 max and improving lactate threshold will improve running economy as well. But just understand that there’s a bigger picture we want to be looking at here. Okay.
All right. I hope you guys got something out of this episode today. And as always, if you’re looking for some help with any of this stuff, we can talk about personal coaching, just head over to runningleancoaching.com click on Work With Me. That’s all I got for you today. Love you all, keep on Running Lean, and I’ll talk to you soon.
Lots of runners look pretty healthy on the outside. They exercise a lot, maintain a decent weight, have low body fat percentage, low BMI, and generally look fit. But inside there could be a lot …
Hey there, and welcome to episode 191 of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, The Weight Loss Coach for Runners and today: Fit But Unhealthy. So, lots of runners look pretty healthy on the outside, they exercise a lot, they maintain a decent weight, they have a low body fat percentage, low BMI, they generally look and feel fit. but inside there could be a lot more going on that no one really sees.
So I came across this study recently that looked at low carbohydrate diets versus high carbohydrate diets and their effects on athletic performance. And the results are pretty interesting from the athletic performance standpoint, but also kind of surprising from a health perspective.
So today, I’m going to look at what it means to be fit but unhealthy, and what you can do to make sure you are both. But first, as The Weight Loss Coach for Runners, I’ve helped hundreds of runners over the last few years lose a lot of weight; but here’s a little secret to the people who I work with, it’s not about losing weight. I know it sounds contrary, but hear me out.
Losing weight is great. And it inevitably happens, but the real goal of working together is to help you become the healthiest and most badass version of yourself. When you make the commitment to change your relationship with food and exercise when you focus on building strength and endurance.
When you do the internal work of developing the right mindset, you will absolutely transform yourself into a leaner, stronger runner and the healthiest version of yourself yet. So weight loss is not the goal. It’s just a nice side effect of you becoming your fittest and healthiest self.
So make the commitment today to improve your health and fitness. And you’ll lose that extra weight along the way. And if you want a little help with all this, as always, you can join the Running Lean Coaching Project.
That’s my unique weight loss coaching program for runners. Just go to runningleancoaching.com/join to learn more about that. And if you want a little bit of help, just getting started with all this stuff, then I have just the thing to help you get started on the right track.
I put together a free training for you. It’s about an hour long, it’s called Five Simple Steps To Becoming A Leaner Stronger Runner. I will teach you how to lose weight the right way and keep it off for good without running a million miles a week.
A few of the things that you’re gonna learn in this in depth training, why running more and eating less is not an effective way to lose weight, the one thing runners typically don’t do when they are trying to lose weight, the best fuel to use to improve your endurance and help your weight loss, and the right mindset shifts required to make all these changes last for life.
You’re going to learn how to crush your weight loss goals and your running goals directly from me, The Weight Loss Coach for Runners. So if you’re ready to get leaner and stronger, to run faster and longer and to become the healthiest, most badass version of yourself, then you need to check out this free training now just go to runningleancoaching.com and click on Free Training. Cool. Awesome.
Okay, so let’s talk about Fit But Unhealthy. So I came across this study recently. The study was called low and high carbohydrate isocaloric diets on performance, fat oxidation, glucose and cardio metabolic health in middle age males. Kind of a mouthful.
This was published in the Journal Frontiers in nutrition in February of 2023. So it’s a pretty recent study. And the study was conducted by some of the pretty well known researchers in the low carb endurance and athletic world like Professor Tim Noakes, Dominic D’Agostino, Dr. Jeff Bullock.
And one of the reasons that they did this study is that since the 1970s, there has been this shift towards a high carbohydrate, low fat diet for health benefits, but also for training benefits. You know, a lot of the professional athletes since the 70s have shifted to a high carbohydrate, low fat diet because they want to reap the benefits of all the carbohydrates in their diet.
So that they can, you know, run faster, right and, and improve their athletic performance. Most athletes hit a crossover point in their fuel system. So they go from burning mostly fat to almost exclusively burning carbohydrates.
So they reach this crossover point where fat burning effectively shuts down around 85% of the of their VO2 max. So around 85% of most athletes’ VO2 max, they hit this crossover point where fat burning pretty much shuts down to zero.
And unless you have ample stores of carbohydrate to use this fuel, you bonk you crash and burn, you hit the wall. So countering all of this, this is what’s been known and been followed and adhered to, since the 1970s or so encountering all of this is the fact that there’s a lot of athletes and a huge growing number of athletes that have been following a low carb high fat diet.
And they have been able to dramatically increase their fuel crossover point to well above that 85% mark previously seen. So they wanted to do this study, to just see what was going on here and really, you know, try to predict or try to show what would happen between these two groups of athletes, the low carb diet athletes and the high carb diet athletes.
They wanted to see what the results would be on athletic performance. So they conducted this study, it was 31 days, so it was four weeks long. And they compare the two groups of competitive athletes, these were middle aged men in their 40s, they were in good shape, they had low body fat percentages, like 12-16% body fat, low BMI.
They exercised around six hours a week. And so they were competitive athletes in their 40s, mostly runners, and they divided them into two groups, they had one group that was a low carb high fat diet, the other group was a high carb low fat diet.
They assessed both diets, and they were strictly controlling macros calories and their training load. So this study was really well done. And they were very strict about making sure the only difference in these two groups of men was that their one group was eating a low carb, higher fat diet, and the other was eating a high carb lower fat diet.
And then they had them do some performance tests. So each of the subjects in the test visited the lab on 10 different occasions during that 31 day period. And they performed tests periodically, but the two main tests that they did was a one mile time trial, and then six by 800 sprints.
And so they did testing throughout, but they did some time trials at the beginning. And then at the end of the study. And all these things were very tightly controlled, all the variables were tightly controlled, to make sure the only difference between the groups was their dietary intervention.
Now, the performance side of things was pretty interesting because the results showed that both groups performed almost exactly the same in these high intensity exercises. So there was no difference really between the performance of the low carb group and the high carb group.
There was a huge difference though in fat burning. So the high carb, low fat group, their fat burning peaked around .69 grams of fat burn per minute. Whereas the low carb group, their fat burning peaked around 1.85 grams per minute, which is the highest rate of fat oxidation ever recorded.
Okay, so the big difference between these two groups was the amount of fat that the low carb group was able to burn and they were at 1.85 grams per minute where the high carb group peaked around .7 grams of fat burn per minute. That’s a huge, huge difference.
So what this is saying is that depending on your dietary protocol, either way, you’re going to be able to perform at high intensities, about the same whether you’re doing a low carb diet or a high carb diet, okay?
So we can sort of take this off the table that a high carb diet is required to perform at higher intensities. Okay. So something else that I found really interesting and this is what prompted me to want to talk about this today is that in the group that was eating the high carb diet, they were doing all these blood tests on on all these people just to see like, you know, what, they were just measuring all kinds of things.
And one of the things they were looking at was blood glucose averages, and they did like fasting blood glucose tests. And one thing that was really fascinating is that the high carb group, 30% of them had average blood glucose greater than 100 milligrams per deciliter, which is consistent with prediabetes. So 100-125 is diagnosed as pre diabetes.
And there’s where in the 111 to 115 range, on average, 30% of these super fit competitive athletes with low BMI 12 to 16%, body fat, they looked great. They were very competitive runners, they appeared on the outside to be super fit, but are they healthy?
They’re being diagnosed with pre diabetes, because of their blood sugar being greater than 100 milligrams per deciliter on average during this 31 day study. And they did these tests many, many times. So this wasn’t like a one time deal.
The other interesting thing about this is that these people were also the greatest responders to carbohydrate restriction, which means that those individuals with a higher mean glucose, so the higher the individuals with those prediabetes numbers with the higher mean glucose, were more responsive to carbohydrate restriction treatment.
And all of their glycemic parameters were greatly improved if they switch to a low carb high fat diet. So average glucose was significantly lower, starting on day eight of the low carb and then remained lower throughout. And so the 31 day average glucose levels were down by 15%.
If they had switched to that low carb high fat diet. So some of the key findings that I’m just going to read this to you, these are some key findings from the study itself. So one of them is that athletes achieved equivalent exercise performance during a one mile time trial and a six by 800 meter interval session after a 31 day habituation to low carb or high carb diets.
When controlling calories training load, body composition changes across the groups. Another key finding during the later stages of the six by 800 interval sessions athletes achieve the highest rates of fat oxidation yet reported. According to current understanding, this is paradoxical since these high rates were measured in subjects exercising edit intensity, which was a which the rate of fat oxidation should be approaching zero.
Okay, so these were, the intensity level was greater than 90% of their VO2 max and their fat oxidation should have been at zero, but it was increasing. Crazy, right? And the low carb high fat consistently reduced glucose levels and glucose variability, which along with a large inverse relationship observed between main glucose on high carb and the percentage change mean glucose when switching to low carb.
So importantly, 30% of subjects who had a 31 day mean fasting glucose of greater than 100 on high carb were also the largest responders to the carbohydrate restriction, right? No subjects on the low carb high fat diet had a 31 day average mean glucose of greater than 100. Okay, so these results challenge the existing paradigm. The diets with higher carbohydrates are superior for athletic performance even during shorter duration higher intensity exercise which has been known or thought to be the case for a long time now.
Critically, these results demonstrate that lower carbohydrate intake may be a therapeutic strategy, even for an athlete, to improve glycemic index, particularly in those with or at risk for diabetes without requiring changes in body composition. Like you don’t need to lose a bunch of weight or physical activity, you don’t need to be exercising a ton more.
Interestingly, these results also demonstrate a unique association between glycemic responsiveness to carbohydrate restriction, fat oxidation rates, suggesting that there’s an important relationship here between glycemic parameters and metabolic responsiveness.
Okay, so my sort of interpretation, I was reading a lot of that from the study itself. It’s very scientifically written, a little dry, in my opinion, but my interpretation is this: that the low carb high fat diet produces the same results from an athletic performance perspective as the high carb diet.
And once you’re on that low carb diet for several weeks, weeks, your rate of fat oxidation goes way up. And this is key for both endurance. So being able to burn more fat helps you from an endurance standpoint, and helps improve weight loss, right, you have to burn fat if you want to lose weight, and that the high carb diet can lead to adverse health effects like pre diabetes.
And this is an interesting study because they looked at, you know, seemingly fit healthy men with low body fat percentages, normal body weight, normal BMI, all that they’re all competitive athletes, they exercise more than six hours per week, they didn’t have any medical diagnosis.
They weren’t on any medications, but 30% of them of the high carb group had, you know, blood glucose levels consistent with prediabetes, this is a problem, right? This is consistent with a prior analysis they did, which found that 30% of sub-elite endurance athletes, so this is like your average weekend warrior that’s just out there running for fun, like me, and you probably exercise, less than like six hours per week, had undetected prediabetes when measured via CGM, continuous glucose monitoring devices.
So a prior study has shown that 30% of athletes who seemingly are fit on the outside have this prediabetes condition. So they were fit but not healthy. And this is an important distinction. Do you want to just look healthy on the outside? Or would you rather look healthy on the outside and actually be healthy as a human being from the inside out?
So just because we see somebody on Instagram who looks healthy, they have lean body mass, low body fat percentage they’re ripped, they got abs for days, does not mean that they are healthy. It does not mean that they aren’t having some sort of internal issues or some, you know, condition like prediabetes.
And following the standard dietary advice, which is a very high carb diet, and low in fat, seems to cause metabolic dysfunction in around 30% of the population. And this is just the most fit population, whether you’re very competitive athletes or weekend warriors.
We’re not even looking at the people who do not exercise regularly, who are kind of sedentary. So it’s no wonder that obesity rates are what they are right now here in the US, which is over 42% of the US population is considered obese, over 42%.
This is the first time that here in the US the national rate of obesity has passed the 40% mark. And it’s further evidence of the country’s obesity crisis. The national adult obesity rate has increased by 26% since 2008. I’m gonna say that again, because it’s crazy.
The national adult obesity rate has increased by 26% since 2008.
And I say this all the time, you can’t outrun a bad diet, and this is what I’m talking about. These are very fit individuals who run a lot, who are very competitive, who all appear to be in perfect shape. But there’s more to the story. Your diet matters, what you eat matters. You cannot outrun a bad diet. Sure, exercise is important.
Keep running. Do that for sure, but it’s not going to solve all your health issues. You have to pay attention to the foods that you eat. And all this exercise and all this fitness won’t help keep you healthy unless you also change your diet. It’s up to you to take things into your own hands.
Don’t do what the powers be out there, the food companies, the government or whatever, what they’re telling you to do typically doesn’t work. You have to take things in your own hands. And listen, low carb, it’s not a fad diet. It’s not keto. It doesn’t mean you never eat another grain of rice your whole life, doesn’t involve eating sticks of butter wrapped in bacon, as good as that sounds.
If you want to learn more about my thoughts on carbs, I did an episode about this last week called Carbs Are Not The Enemy. Carbs are not the enemy. There are some carbs that are great and great for endurance athletes and great for weight loss, you just have to do them the right way.
So listen to that episode, for sure it’ll help you, you know, could get a good understanding of that. So if you’re a runner, and you want to improve your health, like really improve your health from the inside out, then making the switch to a lower carb diet might just be what you need.
And as always, I can coach you through all of this. We’ll put together a nutrition plan that fits your lifestyle and gets you to your health and fitness goals. Just go to runningleancoaching.com and click on Work With Me.
Okay, that’s all I got for you today. Love you all, keep on Running Lean, and I will talk to you soon.