Rosedale diet for athletes

Amely Wurmbrand's Avatar

Amely Wurmbrand

13 Feb, 2013 08:39 PM

Hi Dr. Rosedale,

So I have been reading your book and writings and have a question re your protocol w regard to athletes. I do highly anaerobic tennis for 1.5 hours 5-6 days a week. These are intense workouts w heart rates sustained for much of the time between 130-176 bpm depending on day. Additionally I do strength training 2 days a week and something light like a walk also at least 1/ week. I know most who read your writing don't do near this level of activity. I read in your book that a high level work out can raise stress hormones and cause your body to tear down muscle to create glucose. This seems to be the exact reason that some in the athletic community suggest higher protein intake (120g day for 125lbs lean body mass), and consumption of about 100 g of "safe starches" (paleo friendly) to help support higher glucose needs of athletes.

Now I have read much of your back and forth w dr Jamminet and do understand your position, but given that most of your writing is done for the average population, what about us athletes out there who do in fact train hard? Does the high fat moderate protein vlc protocol allow us to build muscle strength and endurance optimally. Is there any dietary adjustment athletes should follow?

Many thanks for your reply. I very much enjoy your articles and writing.

Amely Wurmbrand.

Ps. I have been following the estrogen dominance tip you gave me in December and in so doing have come across this argument( belief) that athletes need a higher carb load for big work ( in addition to supplementing progesterone and monitoring other hormone levels)

Sent from my iPhone.

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  1. 61 Posted by mikejulian26 on 04 Feb, 2014 11:03 AM

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    Sorry for the delayed response. The more I consider your situation the more and more I keep coming back to the same conclusion. The two primary players here are your low leptin and your high cortisol. Low leptin is typically the result of being in an energy deficit as it is a barometer as to the status of your on board energy reserves(body fat) look like. Continually maintaining an energy deficit will result in these low leptin levels and in an attempt to ensure your survival your body slows your metabolism via depressed thyroid. This can happen even if you are not at very low bf%s simply due to the duration of time spent in a deficit.
    High cortisol is linked primarily to your training load and muscle glycogen status. The frequency and intensity of your training leads me to believe that you are running with rather depleted muscle glycogen stores on a regular basis. Continually training in this state becomes a survival threat to your body because our anaerobic(glycogen fueled) energy pathway is what our body turns to in those fight to the death type scenarios. If your training is constantly redlining this energy pathway and the tank is simply on empty your body has no choice but to come up with a means of producing glucose to fuel those activities, as well as desperately try to restock the glycogen reserves. Cortisol to the rescue. An elevation of cortisol will convert the amino acids from both your protein intake, as well as you lean body mass in an effort to achieve this. This results in somewhat higher blood glucose levels as well as somewhat higher overall insulin levels which decrease the efficiency at which you burn body fat as well as increase your efficiency at storing it.
    With all of this in mind there are some things I would try if I were in your particular situation. 1. I would if possible reevaluate the frequency, intensity and duration of the training bouts. 2. I would seriously look into incorporating carb refeed days into my schedule. Something like the previously mentioned carbnite would work nicely. This will acutely raise your insulin levels. Doing so quickly brings your glycogen levels up from nonexistent which will lower your bodies need for the elevated cortisol. The result of which will lower your overall levels of insulin and fasting blood glucose which will allow you to more freely burn bodyfat. The other benefit is a sharp rise in leptin from the spike in carbohydrate consumption. This has downstream effects because this rise in leptin signals to your brain that your energy stores(fat) is adequate and triggers an increase in thyroid and energy expenditure.
    Here's a quick and easy read on the topic. For a more in depth view refer to carbnite.

  2. 62 Posted by mikejulian26 on 07 Feb, 2014 01:02 AM

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    This article touches on your low leptin issue and staled fatloss, and how carb cycling can help fix it. Reason number 6 specifically speaks of it.

  3. 63 Posted by Amely on 07 Feb, 2014 06:29 AM

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    Hi Mike. Thanks for links. I am going to dig into these. Sorry I'm slow to respond also.. Other life obligations and travel here for a bit. I spoke w a knowledgeable leptin expert recently re all this and the following themes came up... Though I'm still processing them.
    1. High rT3 numbers w low T3 numbers he said is a sign of cellular inflamation( could be exercise induced)... Thus body trying to slow down metabolism to fight the cellular inflamation and burn cooler so to speak.
    2. Leptin the result of the lowered thyroid he felt. Told me that fastest way to actually raise leptin was via 100mg( I believe this is measurement ) of Zinc picolinate/day
    3. Stubborn last few pounds can have toxins bound in it so have to help body safely transport the toxins out. He recomended chlorella supplement for this.

    I hear u btw re the bulletproof coffee. I did co calorie levels and they had gotten a touch high but I brought them down and ck'd carbs and got back down to lowest part of plateau again( still 7 lbs left basically). Interestingly. I've been taking all the vitamins( sooo many now) and actually have been feeling very good such that they might be effective... I'm only 4 days in though so still to early to tell what's really up officially though.

    The cellular inflamation piece was interesting though. Trying to figure out the source of that. Seems like I have 6 weeks or so of trying new things and seeing. I did try one carb recede and it did set me back, but it was a lot of carbs and higher fat which I think is not really the way to do it. Anyhow. ... Thanks for the tips ... I am researching it now. Talk soon

  4. 64 Posted by mikejulian26 on 20 Feb, 2014 09:42 PM

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    This has your name written all over it. I couldn't help but think of you when I listened to this today.

  5. 65 Posted by mikejulian26 on 20 Feb, 2014 10:34 PM

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  6. 66 Posted by Amely on 21 Feb, 2014 07:15 AM

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    Hi Mike, thanks for those links!! I really appreciate them. I've been playing w the carb night and so far I don't love it. I feel like I end up
    Just wanting more carbs for a few day after. Also, ironically, I am just reading this that I got this morning.

    Seems like there is the pro ketogenic camp and the anti ketogenic camp. Carb night and carb backloading seems like it is trying to balance a mix of the two. Seems evolutionarily carb night would be most prominent along with a fast here or there when you could not catch your meal. Look forward to responding once I have read them. Did you ever experiment w the resistant starch thing? I did a bit and also ended up on a fiber supplement( natural gluten free mostly psyllium ). Did not like that at all. That I do feel increased carb cravings and since I was trying that simultaneously to carb night, I'm still trying to work out which of the options I think is a good one. I am definitely not liking the high fiber supplement route. Seems odd. Thanks Mike!

  7. 67 Posted by mikejulian26 on 21 Feb, 2014 07:30 AM

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    I will check out that link. There is definitely a keto, anti keto battle going on. I'm smack in the middle on that. I think that there is benefit to playing on both sides of the keto fence.

    This interview by Ben Greenfie d with Dr. Kruse covers your exact thyroid, cortisol, leptinand sstubborn bodyfat issue in the second half of the interview. I tried to post it earlier, but couldn't for some reason.....enjoy.

  8. 68 Posted by amely on 04 Mar, 2014 07:10 AM

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    Still traveling and very wrapped up, but that gal's website is great. the interview is fantastic and covers many great points. Have not had time for the ben greenfield link yet but soon. Thanks for posting both of those Mike!!! Really like that gal!
    Talk soon,

  9. 69 Posted by Amely on 23 Nov, 2014 10:41 PM

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    Finally an update!!! Hi Mike :)

    So after spending a year in what I thought was ketosis...I did a bod pod measurement for BF percentage. I had lost 3 lbs of lean muscle mass, and gained 3 lbs of muscle! Yikes. i had consistently kept my carbs to around 50g net for about 80% of the year. I was convinced that ketosis had let me down. I was flummoxed... Additionally, during that time, I had raised my strength work for 3 times per week and continued with my tennis of course. I had played with a few different models during that year, but most recently ( starting 2 weeks before the bod pod test), had started playing with CKD or Carb nite. Carb nite...while fun at first ended up ( somewhat predictably), being a disaster for me. To begin with, I never got my carbs down to 30g but rather stayed at about 50g rationalizing the exercise made this feasible. Secondly the big carb spikes on one night a week, had me craving more carbs through the week which helped keep my carbs around 50-60 or so many nights of the week. So yes, I was not "doing it right", but I found it a self limiting format.

    So I then got in touch with Stephanie Person ( who is one of the only women I have ever heard about who does ketosis successfully and is very knowledgeable about it, and actually does consultations!). She is incredibly strict with her approach ( so much so that I wholly understand why it would be a turn off for most people...there are foods I am mourning a bit I must admit!). That said, she encouraged me to buy a glucometer/ketone meter and check levels...lo and behold the previous year made perfect sense!

    I had unwittingly spent the entire previous year in limbo, not ketosis. I was not likely producing enough ketones and had too high of blood sugar numbers, and thus I was not keto adapting. Therefore I was a sugar burner who was not consuming enough carbs ( or protein for that matter), to successfully fuel my athletic work. No problem, my body just catabolized my muscle mass and turned all excess carb and protein I consumed ( when I consumed it), into fat. UGH...wasted year of experiment for me. big let down.

    So, what is going on now... with the glucometer, I have finally seen what my blood glucose levels are on a day to day basis including fasting BG which frankly has been pretty high!! 90's-low 100's!! This finally prompted me to being motivated enough to up my fats and really reduce my carbs. Dairy went out the window, all starches "safe" or otherwise were too likely to spike. I cut out caffeine ( too cortisol inducing) ( and this was a biggie for me as I LOVE my TEA!!). I took out all nightshades in case there was autoimmunity reactions ( recall I have hypothyroid). The only part of my old diet which persists and I feel still reticent to release is 85% dark chocolate ( very very low carb French one), that I seem to be tolerating really well.

     I was already pretty low carb so it really took about 1 week and i did not feel the carb flu much if at all ( already supplement with salt and magnesium so did not have this issue). I started consuming kale, Chard, mustard greens, collard greens like a rabbit...all cooked in either tallow or coconut oil etc. While I don't look forward to me meals in the same way as i would have liked to sit down to a bowl of fried rice, I do find that my greens + protein meals are really delicious and I truly enjoy them. They are also very satisfying.

    I have not seen any negative effect on my training. I am not sluggish or slow on court etc. My energy is just great. I am also striving ( though this is rough for me when I am in a heavy research phase), to get to bed by 10pm and use the blue light blocking glasses.

    the good news. I am losing some of that water weight or could be fat ( hard to say right now) from my failed CKD experiment. I am measuring my level of ketosis on a daily basis and I know I am in for at least part of each day so far. Also, my bg numbers continue to improve and I think this will be the trend as I get deeper adapted. I feel that with my carbs consistently around net 30 sometimes less, I am no longer in limbo land. Mentally I feel clear. Energetically good. I am going to be very curious as to if this too becomes self correcting through the year as I found general paleo is.

    Of course Thanksgiving is coming likely that will throw me out. i also have a big trip to Asia for a good part of December coming up so it will be interesting to travel there under all of this. should be interesting monitoring BG while changing my circadian rhythm...i have heard it can really mess up your numbers.

    I am kind of feeling these days like there are basically2 pathways. There is Dr. Rosedale's ketogenic pathway. I have seen the most amazingly fit athletes following this approach. Really other than starving fitness models that look unhealthy I have not seen this anywhere.
    Then the other approach I think is to be a carb based, sugar burner type athlete. I have not seen a lot of success with this having similar body composition or health results. Seems like this type of athlete is pretty injury prone and in the non professional level, it is a slippery slope and I see a wide range of physical issues with this...including the need of constant snacking to maintain moderate energy levels during exercise. Having spent time at least in limbo...this need to re-fuel mid workout is so foreign to me...makes no sense really.

    Anyhow, I think the limbo place in any case does not work. What have you come across this year? Are you still doing it?

    I think all in all it is a rough transition in!!! Not easy to do and a glucose meter is non negotiable if you really want to do this.


  10. 70 Posted by sbsfggdl on 25 Nov, 2014 03:37 PM

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  11. Support Staff 71 Posted by Fiona on 29 Nov, 2014 08:46 AM

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    Great update Emely.. thank you

  12. 72 Posted by mikejulian26 on 11 Dec, 2014 11:04 PM

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    I've been meaning to respond for sometime now, but just haven't had a chance to. My experience has mirrored yours. I've currently come full circle and am sticking strictly to a lchf ketogenic protocol. I agree wholeheartedly that for athletes or anyone who wants to know definitively that they are doing it right, must use a glucometer. Like you however, I have the same fasting morning glucose readings. Anywhere between 97 and as high as 120. Any other time of day its lower and the highest reading I've had after a meal is 127. Given the fact that my highest reading post meal isn't high at all, I'm not overly worried about my overall glucose control. However, I have been tinkering to try and see if I can get it down first thing. I've also come across a fair bit of info that shows that its a completely normal adaptation to eating a high fat diet and isn't anything to be concerned with. Suggesting yet again that once fat adapted we are physiologically different and different roles apply. Here's a blogpost from Peter at hyperlipid I found discussing the very topic. I will write more as soon as I can.

    All the best,

  13. 73 Posted by mikejulian26 on 11 Dec, 2014 11:17 PM

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  14. 74 Posted by mikejulian26 on 12 Dec, 2014 01:00 AM

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    One more link. From what I can tell, this phenomenon that we are experiencing may very well be an indication the we are extremely fat adapted rather than stuck in a transitional state enroute to becoming highly fat adapted. It's something to consider at least.

  15. 75 Posted by mikejulian26 on 12 Dec, 2014 02:11 AM

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  16. 76 Posted by mikejulian26 on 13 Dec, 2014 10:15 PM

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    So, regarding my own elevated fasted glucose readings..... Just did a back to back test using my meter along side my diabetic mothers meter and it turns out that my meter reads on average 20 points higher than hers does. In a fasted state I got 107 with mine and 85 with hers. Given my ketone readings being on average 1mm/dl or higher I'm going to put more faith in the glucose values from her meter than my own. Going to get another meter to use as a control so that I can see whose is off calibration. This may have sorted out my own issue, but the above links are still good food for thought. I'd also double check that your own glucometer is accurate so that you aren't racking your brain for no reason like I have been.

  17. 77 Posted by Amely on 14 Dec, 2014 03:49 PM

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    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for all the links!! Looking forward to digging into them. I'm traveling in Asia right now which is very interesting!!! No Ketosis here for them!! Lots of rice( though it is not a side dish w everything as it seems in the states). You have to order it separately and I don't just see it on everyone's table. But lots of glutinous rice and gravy dim sum etc. Lots of MSG too. In fact everything from the air to the living seems downright unhealthy in Hong Kong... Additionally there are patisseries and other total Cathy junk food places everywhere and the locals seem really into it. Saw a bunch of people ordering what looked like thicker honey on 2 crackers... But upon investigation It was actually a straight sugar syrup right at candy stage. Anyhow I'm seeing all these very thin people eating lots of carbs. The young and the old are what I would call skinny and skinny fat but seemingly metabolically intact. It brings to mind an article I read a while ago ( which I can try to dig up for you) about the fact that in order to digest carbs properly you need to have a lot of salivary amylase. How much amylase you have is highly dependent on how many salivary amylase genes you have. Apparently different cultural genetic populations tend to have differnt quantities of this gene. So the eski'o/ Inuit and American indians tend to have just 1-2 as a population. The Japanese ( and perhaps other Asian cultures) have typically 7 copies. So it makes me think that there are the carb tolerant populations and the not so carb tolerant ( which I fall into the latter). Is it possible that Ketosis and ketogenic diets work better for some populations than others. Wonder if Dr. Roseday might care to comment on that.

    Anyhow back to the other thing I was going to mention. So while here I was in Ketosis for a few days after arriving but last 3 days I've had a lot of carbs and some larger meals. Within one day of a larger carb load my fasting am BG was up to 112 and has stayed there while I've been higher carb the last few days. I know I can ( and will) bring carbs down and get I to Ketosis. But, I mention all of this because I would have been under the impression that if you become ketogenic it might actually give you a higher tolerance to carbs if you have them. Like a reset for insulin sensitivity.... But, it's not. It actually makes me more insulin resistant. It's like as soon as I go back to carbs of any form and quantity I'm actually doubly sensitive. I immediately bloat badly and put on weight substantially.... This supports the Hypothesis that Ketosis can lead to insulin resistance. I think I am less carb sensitive. There are many advantages and I feel better ketogenic but it can be tough when you travel. Seems like much less carbs go much much farther

    So, it's my theory that u have to actually pick a path, ketogenic or carb based and stick to that. Switching on and off is not really well tolerated... Which makes it tough because when I travel sometimes it is harder to stay fully in Ketosis. Also my weigh/ measurements then rebound right away.

    Wish I could get an salivary amylase test but it's not available that I know of our in the market. Anyhow. It will be interesting to see how long it takes to go back into ketosis( last time took a week). Will keep you posted. Thanks for links. I'll look into backup glucometer ....if you think glucose is off though. What about ketones?? Anyhow hope to get back to straight and narrow. Will be interesting once I've been in for 3 mo. Btw( in case you were wondering), my fasting BG for the full week before I started w carbs again was in mid to upper 80's

    Lastly. Have you heard of a site called. Keropia? Seems like a really good one. Cheers,

  18. 78 Posted by Amely on 15 Dec, 2014 03:24 AM

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    So one thing I forgot to mention.. I have heard that a couple other things can adversely affect blood glucose levels.. Specifically AM. Sleep apparently is really important in terms of correct circadian rythm this is something that I learned from Stephanie Pearson. She said that if you are going to bed too late( past 10) then you mess up the circadian rythm and miss out on a lot of the natural hormone cascade that is supposed to accompany sleep...melatonin, GF etc. I've played w this some, and I do get lower readings if I use my orange blue blocking glasses and go to sleep by 10-10:30. It makes a differene also I notice that when I wake up with lower bg it is easier to stay in so to speak vs. when bg is higher in am I might not get good ketone reading till 4-5 pm sometimes. Lastly, I have noticed that my ketostix do correlate pretty accurately with my ketone meter at this point. Not sure if that will change over time but since the ketone strips are so expensive I have been using the ketostix to help verify more frequently w the blood testing just every few days. That said, I used the urine sticks before ( last year), but rarely got the higher moderate + readings.

    Lastly re the insulin resistance issue... If you read any of the more recent free the animal blog( which I know is a confrontational one), you will see that they posit that NK will make you insuli resistant. I'm curious if over time that is not true and if that is okay? Like I said I feel like I am now soo much more carb sensitive and while I assume that might eventually subside should I chose to change ever I'm not positive. This is something I wish Dr. Rosedale might consider commenting on. I can certainly see why that would happen. The question then is as a person who lives out of the jungle in a carb filled world, if you can't or don't chose to always keep ketotic then how does that end up working.

    This trip is interesting for me because it is a little harder to contro what I am eating, and twosome extent I want to be able to try various things from the cultures in visiting and I feel like NK might give me less metabolic flexibility though of course it has other advantages. It just seems like once you go there, you might need to stay and that is in some ways tough for me to commit to 100%. I kind of always hoped to mostly be in it but go out occasionally (carb nite) style, but as we discussed before carb nite does not really work well because of the very issues above.

    So are you committed to doing NK forever? I find that I need to keep net carbs below 37 to stay in it. You know how people say you have to find your persona threshold? Well mine seems really low... But I've been pretty low carb for a while... So could it be that your carb threshold gets lower over time with this. This is where long term studies would be good. As far as I can tell, I you lived in a low carb primordial type world, your body would be highly sensitive to them such that if you came accross carbs it would immediately be fat storage time so you could build up fat stores for future famines. That seems like how the system is supposed to work. That said, what if your tribe was equatorial and there was an abundance of fruit around... In that case, you would never be ketotic I would think. That brings it back to genetics perhaps and the evolution of the amylase gene. But, what if like with sugar consumption certain gene expression gets turned on and off by use. So those who use their amylase get more of it?

  19. 79 Posted by Amely on 12 Jan, 2015 07:15 AM

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    Hi Mike,

    So I bet you and I have the same meter...the precision extra that does glucose and ketones? I bought my mom a meter and she is getting readings in the 80's at 2 hours post prandial despite her very high carb intake. I just did 3 back to back tests on my meter using the same finger at the same time with same strips and got readings with a 20 point spread!

    Either way, the shortest version of what I can write is that I had a lot of carbs on my trip and my blood numbers were not normal. Close as I can figure, I am likely pre-diabetic and have been before starting all of this. I do get normal glucose readings while in ketosis. I have to think that I was likely this way before I even started tinkering with ketosis and likely it is the reason that I do so poorly with carbs.

    That said, lots of people in Asia are having carbs 3 meals a day and in quantity. Likely has to do with quantity of salivary amylase...have you seen this research?

    Really interesting. Looks like it may be different strokes for different folks. Now I am curious if you are a person with high salivary amylase ( like my mother and brother), and if you ingest carbs regularly, if it is equally detrimental/inflamatory for you??

    Anyhow, not sure if you have seen these studies above, but seems like a missing link for me personally and may be explaining a few issues I have had.

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