In the second installment of The Athletes Compass focusing on nutrition, Paul Laursen and Marjaana Rakai guide Paul Warloski through the nuances of adopting a low carb, high fat (LCHF) diet. They delve into Professor Tim Noakes’ Real Meal Revolution, which categorizes foods into green, yellow, and red lists for easier dietary choices. The hosts stress the significance of fat adaptation, a process where the body becomes efficient at using stored fat for energy, thereby reducing its dependence on carbohydrates. This dietary strategy is discussed as a means to enhance athletic performance, facilitate weight loss, and improve overall health. Additionally, the episode provides practical advice for transitioning to a low carb diet, such as incorporating fasted training sessions and gradually decreasing carbohydrate intake.

Key Episode Takeaways

  • Fat Adaptation: Transitioning to a fat-adapted state can improve endurance performance by leveraging stored fat for energy.
  • Real Meal Revolution: This resource provides a framework for a low carb, high fat diet, categorizing foods into green (consume often), yellow (consume moderately), and red (consume sparingly) lists.
  • Gluconeogenesis: The body’s ability to produce glucose from non-carbohydrate sources, ensuring energy supply even on a low carb diet.
  • Nutrient Density: A well-formulated low carb diet can provide superior micronutrient profiles compared to high carb diets.
  • Experimentation: Athletes should experiment with their diet and training to find what works best for their individual needs, including trying fasted workouts and monitoring performance without carbs.
  • Gradual Transition: Moving to a low carb diet should be done gradually to allow the body to adapt and to identify personal tolerance levels.
  • Listening to Your Body: It’s crucial to eat when hungry and choose nutrient-dense foods to avoid low energy availability and ensure proper recovery.



Paul Warloski (00:36)

Hello and welcome to The Athletes Compass where we navigate training, fitness and health for everyday athletes. Before we start, we had some great questions on last week's episode. Here's the question. I wanted to know how to set up a low carb diet for a 15 hour weekly sprint in Olympic triathlete with a goal of maintenance and slight weight loss, two to three kilograms without affecting performance.

What distribution of macros, how many kilocalories to take. I consume around 1300 kilocalories per workout. So Paul and Marjaana what do you think?

Paul (01:17)

Yeah, these are great questions, Paul, and appreciate that not every user has experience with lower carb diets and how to go about them. And I think it was on a previous episode where we were giving some general recommendations. And there's lots of good resources out there. This is my favorite here. This is the real meal revolution from Professor Tim Noakes.

And what the Real Meal Revolution has is it has three different food lists. It has a green list, a yellow list, and a red list. And green is what you want to consume at least 80 % of the time. Yellow probably for the other time. And red you kind of want to stay away from. So I won't go into that because it's detailed, but you can download it for free.

on the Real Meal Revolution website. And this kind of excludes some of the other questions that we're talking about in terms of looking at, you know, percent macro distribution and looking at not, I don't tend to go there. When you do wind up consuming most of the green list, you tend to hit the macro distribution that you generally want. And I think we were kind of alluding to it on the last,

podcast as that you don't really want to restrict calories. winds up happening, because fat is more satiating than carbohydrates, fat and protein is more satiating, in other words, you feel fuller, you wind up kind of consuming these lower energy amounts.

that tend to help with weight loss, if that's the goal which it is on this user question. And really what most of us probably want to do when we're on this is we want to start losing

some of our fat loss, like our fat weight. But that is what winds up happening as you lower your insulin level. That's the primary hormone signal to tell your body to, you know, insulin causes for anabolism, right? Anabolic, and you lower it and then you wind up being more catabolic, the opposite, and you wind up releasing fat from your body.

and using it as energy and you feel

Marjaana (03:54)

athlete is asking the question, he's training about 15 hours per week. So that's a considerable amount of training per week. So I think he's worrying about not getting enough overall energy. When you use more of your macros or

Paul (04:02)


Marjaana (04:16)

a bigger distribution of macros coming from fats and protein, you're still getting a lot of energy. So you don't have to be tracking your calories. It sounds counterintuitive because we've been told that calorie in calorie out so many times. But when you follow the real meal, the revolution, the list of green, orange, yellow and red, it's just...

If you just trust your gut feeling and intuition, you're gonna get it. And when you're hungry, you eat. I found like when I went away from eating breads and pasta that I wasn't even that hungry. When you're looking at your plate, the food just, it looks smaller portion, but it's so satiating, like you said, and I don't feel hungry like I used to.

all the time. I think he's worried about if he's not eating lots of carbs that his liver and muscle glycogen levels are low for the races. Do you have any advice there?

Paul (05:29)

Yeah, so again, as you begin to adapt to a lower carb diet, don't forget there's this physiological process called gluconeogenesis. So gluconeogenesis is, if you break down that word, gluconeo, new glucose, genesis. You make new glucose. Your liver does that. That's its job. So as you begin to lower your reliance on carbohydrate as a primary fuel source,

Your body compensates and starts doing that anyways. It makes more carbohydrates. That's what you want. You want your body to always turn into a carb producer as you need it. You don't want to have basically a reliance on the fuels that you eat necessarily to form that carbs. You want your body to deliver whatever macronutrient ratio,

you need in any kind of given moment. And only if you go for a period of time and take that away, will it compensate and actually start to really ramp up the process of gluconeogenesis. That's kind of what, that's what you want. That's the whole exercise. Again, gluconeogenesis is taking available fat and protein and turning those into

into carbohydrates. Don't forget it also turns it into ketones as well, which are highly energetic and you know, that's why you go into ketosis or it's called the keto diet. These are more powerful, more energetic in terms of their amount of ATP or energy relative per unit and you get, you know, you get better mental clarity.

and you can use this as a fuel source, but also your brain uses it as a fuel source as well. And yeah, that's kind of what you're, that's what you're after. So, you know, again, there's, I wouldn't worry about the distribution. I would go back to the list, just look at the food at the end of the day. Is this food appropriate? And then am I hungry? If you're hungry, then eat to fuel this.

But eventually you should almost, if you're consuming around 1 ,300 kilocalories per workout, I don't know how you're doing that, but that's a lot of calories. And if you're taking that in with glucose, you're really kind of sabotaging your ability to just turn on that gluconeogenesis. You probably want to slowly get used to being able to go without, right? So I mean,

In correspondence with Marjaana, she's doing some hardcore Ironman training right now, and she's taking very small quantities. And that's probably contrasts what she used to do. She doesn't need to do that anymore because everything that she needs to do is almost inbuilt because she's laid down the foundations to be able to do that as an Ironman athlete. There's no reason why you can't do that as a sprint or Olympic distance athlete either. It's just, you know.

Marjaana (08:41)

Thank you.

Paul (08:42)

The programs are actually quite

Paul Warloski (08:45)

All right, that is it and let's get back to the regular podcast. Thanks.

Paul Warloski (08:51)

This week, since both Paul and Marjaana practiced this kind

Paul Laursen (08:52)

this week.

Paul Warloski (08:57)

they are going to coach me as well as talk about one of Marjaana's athletes through a transition. So if you haven't listened to last week's episode about nutrition, about low carb or low carb, high fat diets, I would suggest you start there and then come back here. So coach me through what we do here. I typically race

Paul Laursen (09:03)

transition. So if you haven't listened to last week's episode about nutrition, about low carb, or low carb, high fat, I would suggest you start there and come back here. So, coach me through what we do here. I typically race long travel races, 3-6 hours, and I stay kind of some threshold intensity.

Paul Warloski (09:24)

long gravel races, three to six hours at mostly kind of sub-threshold intensities. I'm using Athletica as my training coach so I have a mix of intensities and durations. I have been trying this low carb, high fat, but I really don't know what I'm doing. I have some ideas. I've read Dr. Noakes' book. I've got his book for on recipes and I've been trying things.

Paul Laursen (09:33)

So I have a mix of intensities.

Thanks for watching!

some ideas.

Paul Warloski (09:54)

Honestly, my big worry is am I going to have enough energy to be able to manage long gravel races? So where should I start? What should I be doing?

Marjaana (10:10)

I think the first goal is to define yourself that you want to become a fat adapted athlete.

Right Paul?

Paul Laursen (10:22)

Yeah. Well, yeah, you want to, I couldn't agree more. Like you actually, you've come to the, you've come, or at least you're considering it, right? Like you're, you're getting curious about becoming a fat, fat adapted athlete and wondering, well, you know, can this, could this really actually help me? Yeah, you're, you're probably there to start. And I think you, you were Paul, right? Again, just to, just to take it back to you, Paul. Yeah.

Paul Warloski (10:51)

Yeah, yeah. You know, I'm 60 and I'm a pretty lean guy, but I've noticed that, you know, I've been a high carbohydrate, you know, athlete all of my life because that's how I've thought that I need to fuel my rides. But I'm noticing a little weight gain around the middle and I'm noticing that I need to take naps. You know, when we were doing our list of things that...

might indicate that your insulin resistance, I was going, yeah, that one, yeah, that one, fatigue, little bloatiness, the whole thing. It's like, I think I'm there. So yes, I am definitely curious. This is definitely something that I'd like to learn more about and try.

Paul Laursen (11:39)

Okay, perfect. So yeah, so we got, you're the perfect little guinea pig now. And yeah, and you're, so you're wondering, well, where do I start? Right? Well, Marjaana, maybe over to you. Like, where did you start? What do you think the first thing that you did when you started to wind up about and trying this yourself? Cause it's only been recent that you've done this, this same sort of transition.

Paul Warloski (11:45)


Where do I start?

Marjaana (12:07)

Yeah, my first was actually I read, I want to show you this book.

I read this book, Overfat Pandemic, Philip Maffetone. And there's so many things that in this book that resonated with me. And one of them was like a sugar addiction. So I started, and he has on his website, Maff Method, there is a actual steps that you can follow if you want to see how, if you're sugar addicted or not. But I think the first step is to stay curious.

Paul Laursen (12:17)

Phil Maffetone yes!

Marjaana (12:44)

And take a step back and see like, what are my biases? Like, what do I believe in? And that was like, it was a little bit scary to like, Oh, what fat adapted athlete, like, what are you, what are you talking about here? You know, I need to, I need to fuel for my, for my long rides. How do I fuel? What if I get hungry? What if I bonk? You know?

Paul Warloski (13:04)


Paul Laursen (13:08)

Yeah, yeah. I mean, and think about it with like, even just, I don't know how many times I've heard this, like, you know, I, Oh, I, um, I must've, I must've burned off at least, you know, five cupcakes at that, for that last workout and stuff. So I'm gonna, you know, take those on and stuff. Right. So it's like, uh, yeah, like we, we often think about the fact that we have to

Marjaana (13:28)


Paul Laursen (13:36)

There's this energy balance kind of model in our head to think that if I do X amount of exercise, I've got to meet that with X amount of fuel, typically in the form of sugar and carbohydrate, right? Like that's where our brain is sort of first going, whether it's a big pasta meal or cereal with whatever on it.

Paul Warloski (13:49)


Paul Laursen (14:03)

But yeah, there's a different way you can kind of go at it to change the fuel source. And remember, that's the goal of all of this. We want to, remember what we learned last day was that we're trying to get, we're trying to leverage all of this energy that's stored on us. And some of us have more stored on us than others. Doesn't matter. We're...

whatever boat that you're in, you still want that objective because the more you can access that, all of that stored fuel on you, the better, more efficient, the better you're gonna be at your exercise, the better you're gonna be during your day. So that's what we're doing here. That's what Paul's curious about and that's what he's moving forward. So as a starting point, we probably shouldn't be starting the day off with a big bowl of cereal.

or maybe four pieces of toast and jam, right? Because remember the very first thing that Paul reminded us about when he signed off was he said like, we don't wanna fuel that, when we're starting out, we don't wanna give the body the thing that is making it insulin resistant. So when we start out, how can we change the fuel sources to try to,

provide fuel sources that aren't gonna give us the spike in insulin. So they're lower in their slow carb or they're higher good fat kind of sources, protein sources. And I'll just say this is when I start with any of my athletes and I've done this for a hundred athletes, they come to me and I tell them, all right, you brought Phil Maffetown's book out, that's great, there's lots of them out here.

I start with Tim Noakes' book and I say, here you go, take the real meal revolution and I want you going through that. I want you going to the green list and I want you eating 80% of your meals from the green list. I'm just telling you what I do. So this is what I would recommend you do, Paul. I would say if you have 80% of your meals from Tim's green list.

And these are kinds of slow carb and all the things that we talked about in the last podcast, they come from mother earth, whether it's free range meat or free range vegetables. Like it's just, it's as simple as that. And then you can have the remaining 20% from the yellow list and you kind of wanna stay away from the red list. But generally that 80-20 rule

really good one because we don't want to be, you know, we don't want to miss out on social times too, right? You rock up at Ironman World Championships. I guarantee you there's going to be a few things there that you probably don't want to have all your life, you know what I mean? Like there's a lot of treats and name your race. So, and you don't want to, you don't want to miss that. I don't, I don't believe, but the 80-20 rule is generally a really good one. And if you can have the majority of your stuff at your own home environment set up.

with that green list sort of stuff in their whole foods, that's a really great starting place. And then remember last podcast we spoke about, we never wanna be hungry. We never wanna be restrictive. We just wanna be restrictive of the bad foods, you know? But if we're ever hungry and we've got food around, we should be fueling the cells that our apostat is saying, I'm hungry. You need to, I need.

I need those resources. So that is for me the key starting point when I start with any athlete. It's what are the right ingredients and I'm never restricting and I start there. So I'll leave it. And what have I missed, Marjaana?

Marjaana (18:08)

I'll give an example of breakfast.

Paul Warloski (18:11)


Marjaana (18:12)

Two eggs, sometimes poached, sometimes scrambled, sometimes just fried, and then half avocado, cherry tomatoes, and two pieces of bacon.

Paul Warloski (18:29)


Marjaana (18:30)

Bacon. Sometimes if I have a big ride or something, I add a little bit of salsa and sour cream.

That's my breakfast.

Paul Laursen (18:44)

I like it. Okay. So another hero in the cycling community that was over visiting me. Paul, have you heard of Swain Tuft? Have you ever? Okay. So Swain was over at my place. We were scouting out some gravel rides and whatnot that were in my neighborhood. And Swain is also, not everyone knows, but Swain is like one of the

Paul Warloski (18:44)


Oh my goodness, yes.

Paul Laursen (19:10)

keto cyclists. Very few know. This guy's won three stages. He's won, I think, pink jersey. We wore the pink jersey in the Vuelta. He's a big name if you know cycling. So Swain started not two eggs, but four eggs. One day I'd love to share the data of Swain over four seasons

Paul Warloski (19:26)


Marjaana (19:29)

No. Hehehehe.

Paul Laursen (19:39)

from a high carb athlete over to a keto athlete and then he went over to a periodized athlete. So he kind of went through the same transition that we're trying for everyone here as well. So, yeah, and so Swain's, you know, he's in his late 40s now or, you know, early, mid to late 40s. And, but yeah, he's still a keto athlete. He was over four eggs for Swain.

boy can crank out the power. This guy was like notorious. Paul, you will know. He would just like, he would drive, he would drive it. Like sometimes he'd be out in the front for six hours pulling the entire peloton away. Like this was arguably the most powerful man in the, in the peloton, right? And there's, and very few knew, but there was a keto athlete that was doing that. So that doesn't, that goes completely against everything we've, we've been, we've been taught to believe.

Paul Warloski (20:15)

He's a hard man.

It really does. That says so much because he was considered the hard man of hard man, of just the guy who would be on the front the whole day, who you wanted on your team to power, bring the break back or to power the break away. So he was able to, can you say more about what that periodized thing?

Paul Laursen (21:01)

Yeah, he's very open about it. Well, yeah, so again, this is over a period of five years. So again, we've got, so, and this is data from Mark Quad. We present this in HIT Science, those that take the HIT Science course. This data is all in there, but, and thank you, Swain and Mark for presenting this. This was actually presented at the Cycling Science Conference in Cannes, France.

believe it was in, we were there in 2017. So it's old stuff. But, but, but yeah, like, Swain is a real early adopter when this whole keto craze was coming, was going was out there. And the first two years of power profile data was collected on Swain's typical high carb diet that all of us have been on before, and we're all very familiar with. And then the day the third data.

point was like a hardcore sub 50 gram keto phase. And what's kind of cool is that the data bumps up basically in the keto phase. So even so year three, the power profile actually does get a lift. So we actually get more powerful in the keto phase. This is in year three, but

he gets even more powerful in the periodized. So the periodized approach, this is when he's now doing keto kind of 80%, but 20% of his sessions are periodized with carbohydrate top-ups. He's actually having a little bit more carbohydrate in the meals for the high intensity sessions that's being prescribed by his coaches. And this is when his,

profile really bumps up. So we really see some, he's just higher right across the whole board. So this is, but again, and this is to Swain's point, it doesn't happen like overnight kind of thing. He went through this same transition that we're talking right now about for you, Paul. Like we got a, you don't, it's probably not ideal just to start in the periodized. You probably want to go through this.

cold keto phase first that Marjaana's gone through, that we're encouraging you to go through, Paul, and just make sure you get that insulin level kind of back down, but make no mistake about it. You're going to eventually want to pretend or like bring in a few more of these carbohydrates, complex carbohydrate sources back into the diet. And there seems to be this extra kick in performance after you do that as well.

Paul Warloski (23:53)

Marjaana, I'd like to hear how you did this too, is that doing a keto diet with very low carbs and then eventually building that into some kind of periodized where I'm using carbs to fuel the high intensity kind of stuff.

Marjaana (24:08)

Well, I'll talk how I did it. So first I read the book and then I started experimenting with the fasted runs, then fasted rides. Everything was going great. there was...

Paul Warloski (24:08)


Paul Laursen (24:21)

Well, hold on, hold on, because now you've just introduced a really important new element. Now you're talking about food timing, right? And so you now have got the courage in terms of a starting point, Paul, and you're gonna, you might wanna do this as well. You've got the courage to say, I'm not gonna have X food before I go and exercise. I realize that I don't necessarily have to have

Marjaana (24:29)

Yes. Yeah.


Paul Laursen (24:49)

piece of the cupcake or whatever it's going to be to fuel the first 30 minutes of my exercise boat that's prescribed to me.

Marjaana (25:00)

Yeah, I think that was really beautifully said because I wasn't, I felt like I wasn't ready to go keto, right? Like full on. So I did those small steps. First I like realized, yeah, my brain is addicted to sugar. And then the fasted ride, so the timing of carbs. And then I had the first revelation.

I think it was four and a half hour ride and then a run after. And I felt just freaking amazing. Like I've never had that energy before. So that was my first aha moment.

Paul Laursen (25:42)

How did you get the courage to go and do that? Because someone might be listening, and this is how I felt when I started, like, how the frickin' hell am I going to go do four hours without taking my coffee muffin stop on my regular bike route that I always do on the weekends? How did you get the courage to do that?

Marjaana (25:59)


my coach is a wise man and he said stay curious.

Paul Warloski (26:12)


Paul Laursen (26:12)


Marjaana (26:13)

No, it's self-talk. It was scary for sure. You're like everything that I've learned is total opposite. Like you need to fuel yourself before you go on a four and a half hour ride and run after. But I, I did those small steps. It wasn't like I jumped on a bike at four and a half hour later. It was first half an hour, then two, two hours. Um, so slowly got there.

But I didn't have those crazy good feelings before I hit that four hour ride. So there was an adaptation period where I didn't always feel convinced that this is working. That I felt that easy rides were unnecessarily hard. I just felt like handbrake is on. So you kind of have to just, you know, stay curious and...

uh, move forward, just keep trying. And then, uh, what happened in my life, I got really sick and then there was a international move. I was eating healthy, but I didn't feel like I was at the point where I could go full on keto. And then once, you know, things settled, I'm like, okay, now I'm, I'm going. I'm committing a hundred percent. And I did that. Like, I think it was.

month where I tracked everything and I learned that 20 grams of carbs a day is very low and it's hard to do because there's carbs in like tomatoes and red onion and there's, you know, like healthy stuff, there's carbs. So 20 grams is pretty tough to get to. So I did that and I had some crazy good

training experiences while I was in very, very low carb, like Kona weekend. And this, that was the second time I really surprised myself. Friday, I did half marathon and the swim portion and my run was horrible. It was, I was pushing the wall. I was bonking after 16 K and

The day after Saturday, as I was watching Iron Man women in Kona, I wrote six hours, six and a half hours and only eight elements and felt amazing. Like I could have kept going. And usually like normally I would have had that coke and you know jelly beans and what not and felt horrible. And day after, this is the crazy part.

The day after I had that half marathon to do, and I was pushing pace that I hadn't done in a long time on the half marathon. And I felt just energized and elevated and euphoric almost. Um, so it was a, like half a year, almost even more before I really committed it and started, you know, seeing big results. It takes time. Yeah.

Paul Laursen (29:29)

Yeah, it takes time. Yeah, yeah, it's, yeah, for sure. And everyone, the listener, everyone's on their own journey to this or not, like, but it's, you know, it's certainly you get your own sort of pace. There's interesting aspects with food and family as well, social aspects, right? Because, you know, if you are listening and you're thinking about doing this, well, you've got the rest of your family and the...

Marjaana (29:36)


Paul Laursen (29:57)

the rest of the fridge kind of to consider too, right? So how's that all gonna work with meals and those sorts of things? Maybe that's a really good question, Marjaana, for you. How does your own nutrition habits, how are they affected by the rest of the family's cooking and stuff? How do you manage that, if I can ask?

Marjaana (30:21)

Yeah, I think it has changed a little bit. Uh, before we would eat, you know, pastas and you know, kids love pasta. Um, we still do pasta, but I just don't, you know, like if you make pasta bolognese, I don't eat the pasta. I just eat the meat sauce with, uh, with my veggies and, and stuff. But yeah, definitely. We eat less of that process stuff. And.

And I don't go to the middle aisles. You know, they love their chips. So there's less chips in our family, which is, I think it's overall better. But I do sometimes, I do buy for them because I know they enjoy it. But definitely, yeah, it's better. We always have huge basket of fruits and that's still there. And yeah, so definitely it has changed a little bit. Definitely everybody eats more vegetables for sure.

Paul Laursen (31:20)

Nice. And Paul, I wanted to get back to you because, you know, when Marjaana was talking about her euphoria and breakthrough moments there, you were telling us off air just before that you've, you know, you're sort of just starting down this journey, but you have almost kind of moved to this place where you're starting to have some breakthrough moments too. Can you tell us where you started and where you're at?

Paul Warloski (31:23)

Thank you.

Thank you.

Yeah, I was just thinking about that. Yesterday I did a four and a half hour ride and...

had a little bit of carbohydrate beforehand. I don't even remember what it was, but it was very small amount. And on the right, I had a nut and berry bar, but that was it. And I kept waiting for the bonk to happen. I brought along carbohydrates just in case, because I don't want to be out in the middle of nowhere bonking hard like you were eating grass in the last episode.

I know you weren't eating grass, but you were thinking about it.

Paul Laursen (32:32)

I just thought it was.

Paul Warloski (32:38)

But I kept trying to push that wall and I kept trying to find the wall and it never came. I never hit the bonk. And I even intentionally started riding harder on the way home just to get a bonk, just to start experiencing that and I never did. And when I got home, usually I'm like, you know, ready to eat everything in the refrigerator and...

I wasn't that hungry. I ate, you know, I had a couple of eggs and, and some peanut butter. And that was it just to refuel a little bit. Um, and I have felt fine ever since, like I'm ready to go out and ready, you know, a ride right now. There's no fatigue. And it's a little like, whoa, what, what is this all about? Because I haven't been doing, you know, I've been trying it. I've been, you know, eating more meals that are

eggs and peanut butter, but I still have toast occasionally. I love granola and I mix that in with yogurt and trying to make it a little bit better, but I'm not at anywhere to the point where I've given up on carbohydrates.

Paul Laursen (33:56)

Great. So can I make a comment? So one of the key questions that you had before to us was, how do you know if you're insulin resistant? And Marjaana and I listed off a bunch of different factors. Well, another question you might also ask is, how do I know if I'm fat adapted? And you've just answered the question for us, Paul. You know when you are beginning to be fat adapted,

Paul Warloski (33:59)

Please do.


Paul Laursen (34:24)

you are now doing four hour rides and you're not feeling the bonk and you're trying to get it and it's no longer there. You are fat adapted when you get home and you still have that energy and you are ready to push kind of the next day. So these are all sort of the benefits that are coming to the forefront when you are.

when you are fat adapted. So you've had this swing and this shift and you really haven't had to do too much. You've only subtly removed kind of some carb sources and stuff. So you haven't, and this is kind of what I was saying before with the fact that endurance athletes in general, they're halfway there already. It's so easy for them to do and shift over.

Paul Warloski (35:07)


Paul Laursen (35:20)

and to become more fat adapted than someone that's kind of coming off the couch. So, go ahead.

Marjaana (35:27)

It's maybe physiologically easy, but mentally it's not easy. But one of the questions I had in the beginning of my journey was, how do I know that I get enough energy?

Paul Laursen (35:30)

Sure, sure.

Paul Warloski (35:39)


Marjaana (35:40)

for recovery. So I was thinking of, okay, I want to make sure that I get enough energy so that I don't get into the low energy availability and all the mayhem that can follow that, like stress fractures and all that. But then...

just feeling that you're not hungry, it can kind of like, make you think, okay, well, I'm not feeling hungry. How do I make sure that I eat enough? You know, that was my concern in the beginning of the journey.

Paul Warloski (36:20)

And what did you do with that?

Marjaana (36:24)

I follow my, my cues and I do, I do usually eat a little bit extra protein after my, especially my runs because of that, um, you know, neuromuscular extra load.

muscle, you know, micro tears. So to make sure that I'm building up my muscles again. So I take a little bit, I make a smoothie with berries and avocado, my daughter, 11 year old daughter makes the best smoothies with avocado and berries. And then I put a little bit of a half and half cream in there and protein. Yeah.

Paul Warloski (37:10)

I use, and I sometimes refer this to my athletes about using MyFitnessPal as a way of just seeing what you eat during a day. It breaks down your calories and it breaks down how much carb, how much fat, how much protein. Can we look at this process in terms of a macro percentage?

kind of model like 30 30 30 or blah blah blah blah blah, whatever it might be, or is this entirely kind of individualized?

Paul Laursen (37:45)

I think there's lots of different ways to skin the cat, as we say, with this whole thing. So, you know, if you... I mean, Marjaana was even saying that she went through a whole one-month project where she was very anal about, you know, she recorded everything. So if that works for you, and maybe that's an important place to kind of start, if that fits with your...

you know, mental process, then great. But there's probably a bunch of other ways to kind of go at it as well, I would think.

Marjaana (38:19)

Yeah, I didn't, I didn't really look at macros or calories. I didn't go in and you know, I know some people they, they look at their Garmin data and see how many calories they burned during an exercise and then they tried to match all the calories. They figure out their basal metabolic rate and then they add their exercise. And I didn't do that because it would drive me crazy to.

Paul Laursen (38:49)

to calculate it all. I agree, I think that's.

Marjaana (38:50)

Calculated at all and I don't trust the Garmin data to really give a true picture of how many calories you burn during an exercise. I just don't.

Paul Laursen (39:01)


same. If you follow Benjamin, Ben Bickman, he really kind of shoots the whole energy in, energy out hypothesis. And there's a lot of guessing that's going into the whole process of how much you're actually burning, you as an individual, where your basal metabolic rate fits, how many calories are actually in some of these different food sources.

Marjaana (39:24)


Paul Laursen (39:32)

you are there the degree of error that we are talking about across this whole thing is massive you you're really throwing darts up against the wall and having it having a guess so to me it really it comes back with a lot of feel it comes back to just some basic rules which is again why i really think it you know becoming familiar with your lists and the things you want to eat and the things you probably don't want to eat

Marjaana (39:42)


Paul Laursen (40:01)

And maybe you have to learn those for the first time. You actually have to read and see what those things, because some of the things might surprise you. Oh, is rice really potentially a problem? Yeah, well, white rice could be, it could really spike your insulin levels and you might not want that in the beginning kind of thing. So yeah, that's my philosophy is to, and again, you're talking to a tech guy, but I don't think it's a real great.

use of your time, honestly, to go down that unless you need this initial process. I mean that Marjaana went on herself. We're all individuals this way. So

Marjaana (40:43)

Yeah. Uh, when we're eating more protein and more fats, and some people might find that they don't, they don't feel hungry after heart sessions. And, um, I guess the LEA low energy availability sometimes speaks to.

the lack of feeling hungry after big sessions, right? Some athletes just are not hungry. If you can identify yourself as such athlete, then I would definitely like make sure that you eat a little bit after your...

your sessions and then make sure when you're eating the nature's bounty, like you can eat so much good stuff and not worry about the calories. Are you getting enough and you're hitting the 30% of protein, but like protein and fat, they make us feel satisfied for longer, right? So you're not feeling that hunger and hangry. Like a lot of, yeah, like...

Paul Laursen (41:50)

Yeah. Like all of us get. Especially my wife.

Marjaana (41:53)


Uh oh. Ha ha ha.

Paul Laursen (42:00)

But I actually thought of something I wish I'd remembered it in the last podcast, but I didn't. I only remembered it now. But we were talking about REDS, reduced energy deficiency syndrome. And we were talking about what's the whole issue around the LCHF, low carb versus high carb and all these sorts of things.

And then, we also kind of brought up your knowing about when you are fat adapted. Well, there is a place where you know that you no longer have reds and you know that you're fat adapted and you know that when your menstrual cycle returns. So I don't know what the percentage is, but it's pretty high. A lot of endurance, female endurance athletes, they lack a regular menstrual cycle.

And here's in my experience with the gals that I coach and they go through this whole process. When they come back into becoming fat adapted, their menstrual cycle returns. And that's because, you know, it kind of comes back to, we talked about this in some of the healthy athlete podcasts, right? It's when the HPA axis, hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, it talks to the gonadal axis and the...

basically all the gonadal hormones, they start thinking, yeah, everything's good, we're all healthy and whatnot, it's time to reproduce and the kicks back in and we get that nice tell of a healthy female athlete. So I'll just add that as another factor on the list that kind of, it crosses both the reds topic and it crosses the fat adapted athlete, you know, signal.

Paul Warloski (43:50)

So when I have my 30 30s or when I have my long threshold intervals that I'm doing to prepare for gravel, should I

Should I try without any carbohydrate or should I take a little bit on just to make sure I have a little bit of energy?

Paul Laursen (44:16)

Yeah, I think it's, I mean, the answer is yes to both. It's, yeah, in the beginning, like, I think if, if it were me, and again, to the whole thing that Marjaana was saying, to stay curious, I would be curious about doing those without to start. And then I would be curious another time to put those back in. So, you know, and this kind of goes away as we go from being general towards being specific. When we're...

Paul Warloski (44:20)


Paul Laursen (44:45)

generally trying to improve our base and our foundation of the ability to do those efforts. I would want to do them probably without the carbohydrate. I would just wanna be like, what's my baseline and what is my ability without any of the kerosene over top of the fire? And then once I know that baseline and I can measure those quite nicely in athletica and using workout reserve.

power numbers or whatever, now I'm going to do another experiment and I'm going to try some of this periodized stuff because it's been a period of time where I'm pretty confident. I've got all the signs that I'm fat adapted. Now I'm going to start playing with some race specific kerosene and maybe I'm fueling up a little bit more carbohydrate complex, slow carb release kind of.

products before I'm going out to do these efforts on gravel or whatever. And maybe I'm even having a bit of my race product because it's a race simulation kind of during that some of those long efforts. So now I'm trying some of my carbohydrate product that I'm I know I'm going to use for the for the for the event itself. And I'm trying that out again. And then I'm going back and I'm comparing feel I'm comparing heart rate and power.

put during those and I'm you're always an end of one experiment with all of this sort of stuff and that's how I'm operating

Dots, Marjaana? I know you're... Go ahead.

Paul Warloski (46:18)

So Marjaana, I'm doing the FTP test on Thursday. Marjaana, I try it without carbs? I mean, do you do your FTP test without carbs? mean, do you do your FTP test without

Marjaana (46:33)

No, it's been a while that I did. Oh no, we did FTP a few weeks ago. Yeah. No, I don't, I don't take anything. Like I eat my breakfast, like I, my regular, yeah. And then a few hours later I would.

Paul Warloski (46:37)

Yeah, we did a lot about a month ago. Yeah.

Yeah, yeah.


Paul Laursen (46:47)

I mean, that's a great question though, Paul. So think about it, an FTP test, it's 20 minutes all out, right? Do you need carbs for 20 minutes? Like that's a really important question that the listeners should have in their mind. And they should, the answer is no, you don't. You've got, because this kind of goes back to what's on board, right? Like the amount of energy that you've got on board, even just in the form of stored glycogen. Remember you've...

We learned last week that you've got 350 to 400 grams of stored carbohydrate in the form of muscle glycogen and liver glycogen. That's more than enough. Remember, that's two hours of activity. So 20 minutes is less than two hours. You don't need anything for an FTP test. So Paul, to your answer, you definitely don't need anything.

Paul Warloski (47:32)


All right, well, we'll give it a shot. I'm nervous now, but this is awesome. Cause you're, you're.

Paul Laursen (47:40)

Attaboy! Good! This is great! Be nervous! Be nervous but also be curiously confident that it's possible you could be as good, if not better, without

Marjaana (47:41)


Yeah, I have coached a couple of skiers that had their American Perky panel this weekend and it got cut short from 50k to 30k. And we were doing our pre-race chats and I always ask them to do a race planning and I said, well, you know, like they had said, oh, I'll take this on this aid station, I'll take this. Cause we've talked about, we need.

carbs during races, but then I'm looking at, okay, what is your goal pace? And what is your expected race time? Uh, maybe hour and 40. I'm like, no, you don't need anything. You don't need to take anything. If you feel like you need a drink. Yeah, sure. But you don't have to be fueling. You don't have to be taking gels every 5k for this because you have enough energy, you have enough glycogen in your muscles and liver to, you know.

help you get through.

Paul Laursen (48:54)

You do. The only bit of evidence that I will say there is, and this is a lot of Asker-Zukendrup's studies where they show that mouth rinse studies, without even ingesting this, there's something with actually rinsing your mouth, swilling carbohydrate and sugar around in your mouth, triggers the central nervous system to boost and push a little bit harder.

But it really, we're talking minimal stuff. And we, you know, whether that actually is a real effect or not, is it just exclusive to a laboratory? And you know, these have not been done in the field like you're describing, but just so that is out there and that we're kind of covering our base, we are aware of those sorts of studies. You could, that could be an option for an athlete coach combo, but.

Yeah, I don't think it's at an hour 40. You're really splitting hairs, whether that's gonna make a difference or not. And it could actually hinder too, right? Don't forget, remember, if stuff gets into the gut, it can cause bloating and it can actually be disruptive as well. Yeah, there's a process that goes on with that, whereas as opposed to just sitting down and focusing on moving forward, which is what you should be focused on if you're racing.

Marjaana (49:52)




Yeah. And she actually mentioned that, uh, sometimes when she's fueling and taking in noon or whatever electrolytes, she gets hiccups, which is really annoying if you're running or skiing and you get hiccups and she did it and she felt really good. So, yeah, it was one learning there too.

Paul Laursen (50:32)

Totally. Awesome. Great.

Paul Warloski (50:37)

So as I'm trying this way of eating and fueling, I still take some carbohydrate with me on the ride just in case. Should I be bringing some kind of fat? Like Mariano, you were talking about almonds while you were eating. Should I bring something with me along on these rides or do I just simply not need them because I've got enough fat as fuel?

Marjaana (51:07)

I use nuts and Lara bars.

Paul Laursen (51:13)

Nice. Yeah, and I'm kind of the same, Paul. Like I really feel like, so I live out here in the sticks and the boonies in Revelstoke out in the Rocky Mountains, you know, and it's, I really kind of take my training a lot like I'm, you know, I'm going bush, I'm going back country and, you know, just good to have something as by way of energy. And so I take it like the same thing that I'm gonna go for a hike on.

big long hike, you know, then that's, those are the kinds of things like slow carbs, kind of stuff, right? Trail mix or, you know, like, yeah, nuts is sort of the main one. So there's that energy on board if needed, whether I take any or not, it's, we'll see how I feel. I'll probably go, sometimes it's just nice mentally to know that that's there if you need it.

But yeah, it's fun to also play the game where, see how long you can go without it.

as long as you're feeling good, right? So, yeah.

Paul Warloski (52:20)

How, yeah, and that's, that's, you know, it's like my ride yesterday. It's like, I was feeling good the whole day. Um, how do I make sure that I'm getting enough of the kind of essential nutrients while on this kind of a keto low carb diet, um, you know, getting all my vitamins, do I need to take a vitamin supplement? Do I need to do anything differently?

Paul Laursen (52:43)

That's a great question, Paul. And Karen Zinn has done, she's led a paper with Tim Noakes and team on an excellent bit of work, basically showing that a well-formulated low carb diet is actually superior to even a well-formulated high carb diet, just when you look at like the main foods that we were describing that are on that green list, say for example. So...

The answer is no, because you're actually getting a better nutrient profile from micros, macros, phytonutrients, all the various ones. So your minerals, your vitamins, they're all of a higher profile on the lower carb diet. And this is one of the main reasons why we believe it's probably you get some of these extra kicks to your performance, because they're better

micros at building the mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cells, and doing ultimately all the various different repairs and such. So yeah, very, very good question.

Paul Warloski (53:55)

Wow. Well, my head is exploding. Um, this is a lot and I appreciate the time that you two took to help educate

this is a whole process of changing the fuel source, trying to leverage energy is a whole process of changing the fuel source, trying to leverage energy that's already stored in me as fat. already stored in me as fat.

doesn't matter who you are, you have that stored. And the more that I can use that fat that's stored in me, the more efficient I will become.


food kind of diet. I don't ever want to be hungry and I'm not trying to restrict my foods. I want to eat and eat well. But what I choose is different. I'm not choosing a carbohydrate

for is then to

experiment as an N of one of me with fasted runs and rides where I don't need carbs for less than a two hour workout where I'm going to try, you know, this Thursday when I do my FTP test, I'm going to try it without taking any carbohydrates and just seeing how it goes. You know, the worst that's going to happen is that I'll start bonking during the test and I'll have a little bit of carbohydrate to keep me going. And that's okay. So I try it and see what happens.

but that this requires some time and it requires some attention to detail,

what I'm definitely hearing from you too is that you can't be dogmatic about this. You can't say this is how I've got to eat and you know, having a pizza every once in a while is, is okay when you share that with your family.

Paul Laursen (56:03)

It is, it's essential.

Paul Warloski (56:04)

Um, yeah, it is pizza is good food. That is all for this week. Thank you for listening and join us next week for the athletes compass podcast. You can help us by asking your training questions. I'm, I hope that we have a lot of questions after these two nutrition episodes. Ask them in the comments in our social media, like, and share the podcast on your social media is give us some.

Marjaana (56:05)


Paul Laursen (56:07)

That is all for this video.

Paul Warloski (56:31)

more five-star reviews. We appreciate those. And engage with us on our social media for five-star reviews. We appreciate those. And engage with us on our social media for Marjaana

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