I've been following a low-carb non-ketogenic diet for about a month now and I'm going to write a few posts on the effects I've observed. This post is about the effect I've seen on my ability to exercise.
My exercise regimen has two primary components.
- Daily running 3-5 miles, 4-5 days per week.
- Weight training every-other day, which usually comes out to 3 sessions per week.
Unfortunately I've been traveling a lot over the past month and my weight training has suffered. However I have been able to keep up with my running, and this is where I've noticed that my diet has had a significant effect.
Even though I'm overweight by BMI, up until I started my low-carb diet I could easily run 5 miles every day without straining. However, once I started eating low-carb I noticed quickly that my energy level was dropping. Running even 3 miles became an onerous trial, and my body felt weak and tired when I ran. It wasn't fun, and it was discouraging because I love to run.
I stuck with it for a while, but it became clear that the low-carb diet wasn't letting my body generate energy quickly enough when I needed it to run. So over the past weekend I started eating carbs before my run, and I noticed an immediate improvement. On Sunday morning I ate 45g of bread (180 calories) about 10 minutes before my run, and I felt fantastic. My run went great, and I had no trouble even pushing my daughter up and down the hills in my neighborhood -- hills that I had struggled to run up solo the day before.
I had heard of "carbo-loading" before, but it was only yesterday that I realized that before my low-carb diet I was living a life perpetually loaded with carbs. No wonder I had so much energy to run! However, I want to diet to be healthy, not just to follow some formula, and so I'm going to start eating carbs before I exercise. 180 calories of bread was enough to rocket me through a 4.5-mile run, and I'm going to experiment a bit to see how my body reacts to lesser amounts.