I talk with Tim Noakes about whether a low-carb diet can improve endurance performance. Tim thinks the answer could be yes.
Aaron: Paleo Runner Podcast is devoted to finding better ways to live, run, train and eat. I’m your host, Aaron Olson, you can find more information by going to paleorunner.org You can also follow me on facebook.com/runpaleo or on twitter @runpaleo. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Aaron: My guest today is Tim Noakes, Tim is a medical doctor and an exercise and sport’s scientist. He is author of Lore of Running, Waterlogged, and Challenging Beliefs.Tim is an all around expert on running, and he has run over 70 marathons and ultra marathons himself. Tim, this is your third time back on the show, it’s great to have you on.
Tim: Thanks Aaron, it’s good to be back with you
Aaron: Tim, it’s always great talking with you because, and in reading your stuff as well, because I see you as a very careful thinker, and you always evaluate things very carefully before you get behind an idea.
For people who are not familiar with you, which is going to be very few who listen to this show, but can you tell me a little bit about how you got interested in this idea of nutrition, and this idea of how a high fat diet could possibly be a healthy thing?
Tim: Well Aaron, it all goes back to the 12th of December, 2010, and I just finished writing the book called Waterlogged which took me 30 years of research.
Tim: And about six years of writing, but it was a real epic, and it antagonized me to many of my colleagues because I was saying things that were not acceptable in the profession, and certainly within the American College of Sports Nets, and I was not a very popular person because I was saying that their drinking guidelines were wrong, and that was not very helpful to a lot of people who spent time drawing up the guidelines and didn’t understand how it had been influenced by Industry to come to their certain conclusions.
So, anyway, I finished Waterlogged that evening and I sent it off to the publishers for them to assess it and decide how they were going to publish it,and in the middle of the night, I woke up and my brain said you will get up tomorrow morning and you will run 5 kilometers or whatever, and you will run everyday for the rest of your life. See?
Obviously my brain had been thinking about things while I had been writing, and not running enough. So I went out and had a terrible run, and I suddenly realized just how unfit I was, and I said somethings’s got to give.
So, fortunately you know, life is about the small margins, I came home, I checked my emails, and there was an email advertising a book called The New Atkins for the New You by Westman, Finney and Volek, and to lose 6 kilograms in 6 weeks without hunger, and I said well this is just more garbage, we know you can’t lose weight without hunger, tried it, it doesn’t work.
Tim: And then I saw their names, and I had forgotten that in the 1980’s, they had done a study on the high fat low carbohydrate diet, and we had done some studies also on low carbohydrates and high fat diets, not as good as theirs, but we had done some studies, and because of the theory, there was such a good theoretical reason why high fat diet should be healthy, or should improve your performance, and we had done it, but we kind of dropped it, and lost interest in it.
So I said well I know they’re good scientists, so I am going to go and buy their book, so I went straight to our local bookseller, about 15 minutes down the road, and came back and started reading the book, and within one hour I decided that’s it, I’m never eating another carbohydrate in my life.
Tim: I can be decisive as you can gather.
Tim: And what there was, there were 150 studies showing the benefits of a low carbohydrate, high fat diet, and I said but I am a scientist, I know this is nonsense, how can there be so many studies and I don’t know about them.
Tim: The reality is there were their studies, and I was just ignorant because we were not being taught that.
So, anyway, within a few weeks, my energy levels improved, I lost a whole bunch of minor medical conditions, and my running went back to what it was 20 years before, it was astonishing,
I couldn’t believe it, and I suddenly got that same enthusiasm for running that I had when I first started running, and the benefits were huge, and then my health started to improve because I discovered ultimately that I have Type ll Diabetes and now I’m treating it with a low carb diet, and medication, and my control now is pretty good, it’s almost perfect, so it’s been a very, very exciting journey, and as I went along this journey, I started reading, and at first I wasn’t convinced that the science were there, today, I have absolutely no doubt, and I now understand why for many people a low carbohydrate is the only way they’ll be able to maximize their health.
Aaron: So I mentioned that your very careful, from the books I’ve read of yours, your very careful about what you say, and I was reading Lore of Running last night and you talked about the high fat diet quite a bit, a lengthy discussion in there, but then at one point, you do say, until the issue is resolved, it’s best to keep an open mind, and the proven value of high carb diet’s is that it prevents excessive weight gain. [laughter, both Aaron and Tim] so, how did you reverse your opinion on that? Was it personal experience, or was it the studies that you read?
Tim: Oh, well it was personal experience and that was so amazing, because I mean for the first time, for the first time that I can remember, I was never particularly heavy, but I put on a substantial amount of weight,but particularly in the last fifteen years, if I look back, particularly in the 1990’s, I was still pretty lean, and then I put on a substantial amount of weight and whatever I tried, it didn’t work, I just got fatter and fatter and fatter, but within, actually I did much better, because what was really funny was I had to go to Sweden and speak to a whole bunch of elite athlete’s.
Tim: So when I started on the diet, I thought, you know, if I could drop 6 kilograms in the next 8 weeks, because I had to speak to them for 8 weeks, I would be really happy, but in fact I dropped 11 kilograms, that’s 22 pounds in those 8 weeks, and when I arrived in Sweden, I looked like a totally different person, I mean, I looked like an athlete, not quite but almost like an athlete again. I mean I fooled the Swedes, and I was another 10 kilograms lighter.
Aaron: That’s great.
Tim: Yeah, and it’s so easy to maintain weight. It’s a palettte not to be hungry, and now I’m never hungry, so it’s just been amazing.
Aaron: Now what do you think it is about the high fat diet that has helped you because, is it something to do with the brain? I know you focus on the brain a lot in running and how important that is to regulating our speed and our fatigue. Is there something that’s going on in the brain that’s regulating your hunger better on a high fat diet?
Tim: Yeah, absolutely, I think that there is an epistat in the brain which regulates how much you eat, and how much exercise you do.I think it monitors both. John Atkin, who was the first guy who was anti sugar in the 1970’s, he has a lovely paper, and I quote this all the time. He put a group on, he asked them to eat to hunger, on a high fat or high carbohydrate diet, and on the high fat diet, the ate 700 calories a day less, and they were not hungry, and there was the key, and he noticed and he reported that they didn’t report hunger, they suddenly lost their hunger.
So, although we say that it’s carbohydrates and fats that reduce hunger, I think it’s the carbohydrates that drive hunger and make you overeat.
I think it’s been a long time since the 1977 guidelines came out we’ve just been, the brain has been taken over with those addictive carbohydrates, and they make us always hungry and you want to eat, and I think in time that we’ll show that the brain does change the actual, even the cells in the epistat may well change.
It was really interesting, we went on Saturday night to a friend of mine, and she’s always been more of a vegetarian type diet and now she read our book The Real Meal Revolution and she wanted to cook from it, but she took the leanest meats, and fed us and it was fantastic food, very, very tasteful, but I came home hungry.
So I think eating all those protein, and I was still hungry and I said I have to go eat cheese, and I realize for me that it’s the fat that takes away my hunger.
Tim: And so, I think it’s different for everyone and for some people, it’s the protein, but it’s clearly in my case, it’s the fat that draws my hunger, and as long as I’m eating lots of fat, I’m just not hungry,
Aaron: Right. You know you mentioned in Lore of Running towards the end of that chapter on energy, Metabolism, that there are some people who just naturally, genetically burn fat really well, and then there’s some that burn carbohydrates a little bit better. Do you think that they’re, as far as running is concerned, that there’s a big difference as far as how many carbs we can take in and process?
Tim: You know that’s a great question and I’m referring to Dr. Julia Griddika’s work in Alabarti, she did a Phd, and then did subsequently lots of other work. In her Phd, she showed that we took a group of quite good cyclists, and at rest, some of them were burning fat completely, and some were burning carbohydrates almost completely, and when we exercised them, they still stayed the same, in other words, if you’re predominantly a carbohydrate burner, at rest, you just increased the amount of carbohydrates you burned during exercise, and if you were predominantly a fat burner, you still remained predominantly a fat burner, although you burn a little more carbohydrates as you exercise, and we concluded that it was genetic, but I’m not sure.
If we really look carefully enough at nutrition, and what we are looking at now is all the people who naturally burn lots of fat, is they naturally should have gravitated to eating a high fat diet, because they discovered that it was more acceptable for them, or whatever..
So although we said it was genetic, I’m sure there is a genetic component, but I also don’t think that we completely excluded the possibility that there are dietary differences.
Aaron: Okay. And a lot of times we’re told to override our natural tendencies to eat more fat because we think it’s healthier to eat more whole grains.
So, I think a big part of it is just kind of getting out of your own way and listening to your body, at least for me that was the case.
Tim: You’re absolutely right, and I was part of that group think, and as you correctly described, you know we were just telling everyone to do what the US Government was telling us to do and we just paused on that group think mentality, and now I’ve learned that grains is not the thing you want to eat.
Aaron: You know Tim I recently spoke with Matt Fitzgerald on the show and he says that a lot of this talk around different types of diets has to do with the placebo effects, and that people can do just as well on a high carb diet or a low fat diet or whatever kind of diet they choose. You obviously disagree with that, can you elaborate on that?
Tim: Well Matt Fitzgerald is not a scientist working with athletes day to day and he’s not a doctor working with patients, because that is utter nonsense, and you know we have seen remarkable responses, for example, Bruce Fordyce who won 9 comrade marathons and is probably the greatest ultra marathon runner of all time in South Africa, a personal friend, and I got him on the high carbohydrate diet in 1979, 1980, and we produced the world’s first group in 1982 or 83, and we commercialized them and it was called FRA. Fordyce, Rose and Noakes, and they still have product around, FRN.
He won 9 races in I think 10 years, he missed one year, and he got progressively heavier, but of course we didn’t realize he was about 2 kilograms heavier, and then during his life, he’s run 200 marathons or ultra marathons, but yet, he still put on 14 kilograms, and his running went terribly.
He was hating running and was really struggling, and then before I went on the diet, he actually went on the diet because another great comrades runner, also put on weight, put on 16 kilograms, in other words, 34 pounds or more, and Bruce saw him and saw that he was lean and said what have you done Sean? and Sean said I’ve just been on a diet. and Bruce said well that’s not very helpful.
All of a sudden,he came back and Bruce Fordyce now runs, he was running 23 minutes, for 5k. He is now running 17 minutes for 5k’s, altitude at the age of 56. Now Matt Fitzgerald might say it’s placebo, it is not, Bruce Fordyce could not run under 23 minutes on the high carbohydrate diet because it has some detrimental effect. Another guy that I helped dropped his time in a 56k race by 3 hours.
Tim: Because when he lost the weight and started eating this proper foods, he could start training.
He would then train 120 kilometers a week, but roughly about 60 or 70 miles a week.
Before he would run 40 miles a week and I doubled his training almost, and of course he benefited, but he had never, ever been able to train more.
Tim: So, Matt, forcibly, his new book is wrong, it is just absolutely wrong.
Aaron: Have you had a chance to look at it yet?
Tim: No, I’ve only just seen the reviews, unfortunately and I’m being a little unfair because I’m not giving him the benefit of actually having read the book but the point is that there are some people, and I’m one of them, who are carbohydrate intolerant and we just do not do well on carbohydrates, and until all athletes understand this, this is conditioning in existence, we will not be able to help a majority of the people.
So, I mean, ode to a marathon, and probably not the Boston, because that’s not a good one because there is a select cutoff time, but the average marathon in South Africa and the people, there are a lot of fat runners. Why are they fat, is because they are insulin resistant and they are eating a high carbohydrate diet, and they will never lose weight, they can double their training, they will not lose weight. They have to fix up their nutrition, and the key is to cut the carbohydrates.
Tim: So this is a real phenomenon, this insulin resistance is a real phenomenon, and we can’t will it away and say it doesn’t exist, because it is absolutely real.
Aaron: Tim, I would also like to talk about, as far as the energy depletion motto of performance and whether a high fat diet will help improve performance, but you said it did for some runners that you know, such as Bruce Fordyce, and actually as I was reading last night, you mentioned Alaskan huskie dogs who do the Iditarod, that when they go on a high carb diet they perform worse, so maybe there is quite a bit of individual difference there.
Tim: Yeah that’s a lovely story because you know I went to the 1976 conference on the marathon in New York, it’s the most famous conference that’s probably ever been held and it was the first time we had all these world authorities, and of course that was just the time that we were all saying carbs, carbs, carbs.
Because it was just becoming the sort of gospel, it had obviously started before 1969, but by 1976, it was the gospel.
Tim: I remember a guy getting up in the middle of this conference and saying Guys, I train dogs, and if you give dogs carbohydrates, they can’t run, they just stop, and we all said, that’s nonsense because you haven’t done x,y and z.
We thought, you know, these are the experts, you don’t tell an expert that he was wrong when you don’t know nothing about it but that is what we did.
And of course we know that dogs are the ultimate carnivores, so why would they want carbohydrates anyway?
Aaron: Right. In your book you talk about the energy depletion motto of exercise and what I’m wondering is the energy depletion motto is wrong and, and maybe you can explain this better, but basically it says that at about 20 miles you hit the wall because you run out of glycogen stores.
Is that motto correct and if your fat adapted, will you not hit the wall?
Tim: Well you shouldn’t you see, so you know Jeff Fallick, he is the world authority and I’ve just written an article with him, and there he talks about the fact that a well classed ultra distance runner, and they have measured in the laboratory, and they can burn fat up to 1.7 grams per minute.
Tim: That provides enough energy to run a 2 hour 20 marathon.
So, theoretically, if your pretty fat adapted you should be able to run at the speed required to run a 220 marathon, easily for 2 hours and 20 minutes, probably for longer, much longer because you have so much fat in your body.
So, according to the energy depletion motto, if your probably fat adapted and you are an elite athlete, there’s no problem, you could run any race at any distance, purely on fat without needing mass carbohydrates.
So we wrote an editorial, there were the two mottos, the carbohydrate motto and what we observed from our runners in South Africa is that if they are carbohydrate adapted, the longer the race, the more the carbohydrates they have to stuff into their bodies near the end.
So you have people like the Gatorade Sport’s Science Institute telling us we have to eat 100 grams of carbohydrates every hour, when we run a couple of hours, and that’s ludicrous because when you run for 4 hours, you are running slowly, relatively slow, and by Jeff Voleks calculations that should be provided by fat.
If you are carbohydrate adapted, you simply are not used to burning fat, and so theoretically, you would run into trouble.
Then you just have to stuff in these carbohydrates, 100 grams an hour which is astonishingly hard work and pretty damaging for your health.
The motto we propose is why bother? Adapt yourself to fat and you can run any distance on fat and you won’t ever need to take any carbohydrates.
So from advising runners in South Africa, it’s clear to me that there are at least two types, and the one type, he’s like Bruce Fordyce, he now can run 56k’s, kilometers, that’s 35 miles, without breakfast, a big fatty meal the night before no breakfast and _____ the whole way.
The first time he did it, he came to me afterwards and he said Tim, I wonder how good a runner I would have been if I had eaten this way and raced this way in the 1970’s and the 1980’s and his meaning was I think I could have done even better, and he set world records in those days.
Tim: He recognized it himself, he’s got this huge capacity to burn fat, but he was always short circuiting because I put him on a high carbohydrate diet.
Aaron: What I’m wondering is won’t you still get tired though? I mean your still going to get tired at some point, right? Because your central governor is going to tell you to stop. So, how does that play a role with the high fat diet?
Tim: Well then you know, we don’t know all the inputs into the brain that are slowing you down and make you a particular speed.
Bruce specifically said that he tested himself on that race, and up the hills and near the end he went as hard as he could and he said he had plenty of energy left.
But, the other group of patients, so you get people like Bruce Fordyce, who will never take carbohydrates again in the races that he runs.
There’s another group who tell me that they have to have about 200 grams of carbohydrates the day before the race, and they do need to take some carbohydrate during the race, but not 100 grams an hour, maybe 10 to 15 to 20 grams an hour near the end of the race which is completely contrary to what we used to say, we used to say they eat 600 grams for 3 days, the last 3 days before the marathon and then eat 50 grams per hour minimum during the race.
So this is a complete departure from that.I just tell people cut the carbs, become fat adapted and then see, and if you can’t make the marathon without taking carbohydrates, well then take some, and then experiment and see how much you need to take, and if they are like me and they are insulin resistant, and they put on weight and now they lose weight and they start running better, they will need very little carbohydrates either before or during these races.
Aaron: And is that carbohydrate mainly to just replace liver glycogen and to prevent hypoglycemia? Or is it actually going to the muscles as well?
Tim: That’s a great question because we now currently are researching that very question, and reading the literature, it does turn out that someone has done this experiment before, in 2002, and I forget the guys name, but they had fed adapted athletes and then they gave them carbohydrates and they found that they responded differently to people who are carbohydrate adapted.
If your carbohydrate adapted, and you take in carbs, you burn it, you burn it as part of your fuel because your muscles are already full.
If your muscles are glycogen depleted, but your fat adapted, the carbohydrate goes straight into the muscle and you continue to burn fat. You don’t switch off fat metabolism if your fat adapted, whereas if your carbohydrate adapted, you switch off fat metabolism, you switch off that metabolism immediately.
So then what happens is if you are fat adapted and you’re taking 200 grams of carbohydrates, it goes straight to the muscle, it doesn’t get burned.
So you store all those 200 grams. Whereas if you are carbohydrate adapted, and you take 600 grams, you don’t store all of that 600, you have to burn a lot of it. Which is very interesting, and another point we’ve found from our studies is that if your fat adapted, you burn some carbohydrates during exercise but you burn very little carbohydrate through the rest of the day.
So you save your carbohydrate for use during exercise, but if your carbohydrate adapted, you actually burn most of the carbohydrate during the rest of the day. You don’t even burn it during exercise. So your eating this excess of carbohydrates, which you have to burn off during the rest of the day, and so it’s clear that most people on high carbohydrate diets are eating way more carbohydrates than they actually need, and they could restrict their carbohydrates dramatically and still have enough carbohydrates for their exercise needs.
Aaron: Okay, and someone listening to this might be thinking well what does it matter if I burn carbs or burn fat, does it make a difference? Let’s say they are already at a healthy weight. Is there an advantage to burning mostly fats during the day?
Tim: Yeah, I think there is. Particularly during races and you just don’t have to worry about taking carbs with you.
The people really tell us that is really a huge advantage, so if you’re going out to do an adventure race over 3 days, you don’t have to worry about packing in the carbs, and the same if you’re running a marathon, if you don’t need the carbs, it doesn’t matter if the people don’t provide it during a race, you don’t need it, and it’s a massive advantage, I think and you don’t have to spend all the time eating so I think there are advantages.
Biologically, I worry about all the carbohydrates, it affects your teeth and as we’ve indicated, if your insulin resistant every time you take carbohydrates, you spike insulin and it’s damaging your health. So I must add this proviso, you know that there is this study out from one of the US Universities recently showing marathon runners with bad coronary artery disease, even though they’ve run all these marathons, and their risk factors were no worse than the 70 group, but their arteries were much worse.
We have to start thinking about that. Ironically, at the 1976 New York City marathon conference, we represented data of marathon and heart disease, and of course, _____.
So, I’ve been in this debate for a long time, but it really worries me when you have healthy marathon runners with no risk factors and they’ve got bad coronary arteries, and you really have to wonder if this high carbohydrate diet and eating more carbohydrates than anyone else, is not perhaps the cause of our arterial damage in these athletes who really thought should be healthy and the answer is they might not be healthy because of eating too much carbohydrates, and in association with lots of exercise, that might be unhealthy.
Aaron: Yeah, that’s very interesting and you know another thing I found interesting that seems to be a bit of paradox is that you wrote in your book people like Mark Allen, and Paula Newby-Fraser and Arthur Newton, they all followed a high, like Arthur Newton you said used to eat a high fat breakfast before an ultra marathon, which would seem to be a paradox, but even people like Mark Allen said he consumed only about 40 percent carb diet even up to Iron Man Triathalon.
So, obviously it’s been working for quite awhile for the athlete’s at least.
Tim: Absolutely, if you look back you’ll see before 1969 all athlete’s were eating a normal diet, whatever the normal population was eating in their area, they were eating that and in Britain, and in South Africa it was a high meat diet, and all the comrades runners, before Bruce Fordyce, all the winners, were a high fat, high protein eaters, and I was responsible for changing Bruce.
I cut out carbohydrates and so when he won and we were producing this carbohydrate drink and FRN gurus and so on, that changed everything.
Let’s get back to Paula Newby-Fraser. She was a great friend of mine and in 1983 she went to America and became an American citizen and then became the most famous Iron Man Triathlete of all time.
She won the Iron Man in Hawaii 8 times, and she told me a few months ago, she said Tim, the most important advice I ever got in my whole career was you told me to eat a high fat diet.
This is 1983, and I thought Paula did I actually ever tell you that?
That came out just when Jeff Volek was doing those experiments, and we were doing our own studies, and what I told her was eat more fat. I didn’t tell her to cut the carbs, but she interpreted as that, and she was always a high fat eater, in races she didn’t take carbs, or much carbs, she went for the fats, and oils and the nuts. I asked her why and she said well I am from Zimbabwe, as I am to, and she said we were brought up in Zimbabwe eating lots of meats, we used to eat this dried meat, the jerky, which we called in South Africa, bull tongue, and she said I was always eating bull tongue, and I used to eat bull tongue in the Iron Man.
Tim: I saw her a few months ago, and she looks fantastic, she’s 50, she’s as athletic and lean as she was when she was winning the Iron Man, and her weight has been absolutely stable since she left school.
She only put on weight, she did put on weight, when she was at the University. It was then she started eating the high fat diet and lost the weight and started the triathlons, and Mark Allen, I think he ate much more protein and fat that he’ll admit to.
Tim: Because he was coached by Phil Maffetone, and Phil, was way ahead of me in everything, but in diet, he was way ahead, and he was promoting this high fat diet already in the 1980’s, so I think Mark Allen, I think he had some sponsorships from the carbohydrate makers, and in fact, I was actually looking through it and he said, my diet was so different than everyone else’s that I was to embarrassed to tell them what I was actually eating.
Aaron: Yeah, I’ve actually had Phil Maffetone on the show and he claims that Mark Allen was following basically a paleo style diet, eating those healthy fats and things like that.
You recently came out with an SA with Jeff Volek and Steve Finney in the British journal of Sport’s Medicine and I saw this article by Amby Burfoot today on Runner’s World, and he talks about how you guys say that there’s not enough research that’s been done on a low carb diet, and that there is more that needs to be uncovered.
What kind of research needs to be done yet to figure out really what the best way to go about fueling for a marathon is on a low carb diet?
Tim: Yeah Aaron the problem is that the industry promotes high carbs, so if you want to do research, you’ll get funding for high carbs, you won’t get funding for doing low carb diets and that’s what Jeff Volek’s problem has been
He’s one of the best scientists in exile sciences in America. He’s done unbelievable research, I had to review his research a few years ago for a position he had applied for, and I say this man deserves a Nobel Prize because he has done the work on the benefits of a low carbohydrate diet on health, and he set it up, he has shown just exactly why you should be eating a high fat diet, but he obviously won’t even get it because his work is not published in the New England Journal because it’s to controversial, but it’s not controversial, it’s beautiful work and the conclusions are very clear.
So, he has done fabulous work, and what he was saying is that you can burn so much fat when your exercising that you really don’t need to do anything else, if it’s a long enough exercise and the intensity is low enough, but we realized in the review, which was my contribution, I looked at all the papers that had been done, and in fact, I think that we had done 4 or 5 of the papers, there were only 12 papers on low carbohydrate diets and exercise performance.
I think 5 of them come from our land,and the rest are Burlic and one or two other people,
So, twelve studies, I mean how can you ever think you know anything if you’ve only done twelve studies? And all of these studies are on endurance performance in athlete’s who’ve only adapted for a week or two.
No one has studied a six month or a year adaptation, and I can tell you from my own experience that you really need six months to really get to know this way of eating.
Tim: That’s the first point, the second point is we have’t done on other activities, and so I know you asked the question about endurance performance, but we haven’t done what is it like if your doing an intermittent activity?
So, for example we converted the Australian Cricket Team, and cricket is a relatively low intensity activity, but you have to concentrate incredibly hard, and we converted one player whose now the best in the world in his batting and he told me he has to sprint every time he hits the ball, he has to sprint like a baseball player.
He said [inaudible] there, I never get tired anymore. So he has a [inaudible] activity and the guy says he doesn’t get tired anymore, and he is the best in the world at the moment at his position and that’s the point, that we’ve been so focused on endurance performance trials in _____ lasting 10 kilometers or 20 kilometers, we haven’t a clue what happens elsewhere.
We are the only people in the world who’ve done a 200k time trial, psyche and time trial, and fed them for one week, and there were differences but unfortunately we had two small numbers, and we also showed that if you were insulin resistant, and you were on this diet, you seemed to do much better on the high fat diet, whereas if you were a high carb eater and you are not insulin resistant, it didn’t seem to do that much effect.
So that’s what we have to tease out, we have to A. adapt people for six months and then B. we have to say okay your insulin resistant, or your not insulin resistant, and we got to tease that out as well. So we haven’t scratched the surface, but yet, what do scientist’s say? They say there’s no evidence, but as _____ would say, of the twelve studies, only two produced a negative outcome.
Tim: The other ten either were in favor of the high fat diet or there was no difference.
Tim: So the idea that [inaudible] peer performance is not really brought up by the data, except for the one study which we did and it clearly showed a negative effect, _____, but again, they had only adapted for a week, and then the point that Jeff Volek makes is that there are so many [inaudible] that occur in your body when you go into ketosis, that might allow you to train harder and recover better, and I get reports back all the time of athlete’s saying you know I ran this race, I didn’t train as hard, and I’ve done better than I’ve ever done, even though I hadn’t trained as hard.
So there is something there which we also need to tease out. So as Jeff said you know we just haven’t scratched the surface on the low carb, high fat diets and exercise performance.
We really haven’t a clue.
Aaron: And I’m curious, does Jeff Volek subscribe to the central governor motto of fatigue?
Tim: We’ve never rally discussed it actually. We’re so focused on the carb story and trying to get people with insulin resistance to eat this diet, so that has been our focus.
Aaron: Okay. So Tim, it’s evening in South Africa right now, what have you had to eat so far today?
Tim: That’s a great question. I went out with my wife this morning and I had eggs hollandaise, so with the hollandaise sauce on a bed of mushrooms and aubergine, and I had a double serving of bacon, and I had a cappuccino. I had a cup of tea at lunchtime and I haven’t eaten again, and it’s 5:00 and I have absolutely no hunger.
Tim: So that was my breakfast, and I’ve had no hunger, and this evening my wife will prepare something, it’ll be probably fish, probably salmon and lots of vegetables and that’s what I eat today and it’s just amazing how lovely it is that I haven’t, I haven’t even had a snack today.
I’ve been pretty busy, so the first time I thought about food was when you asked me.
Aaron: Have you been able to convince your wife and kids to try this diet?
Tim: Absolutely, my father died of Type ll Diabetes, he had all the complications, it was tragic to watch him die.
I didn’t know to call the doctor, I didn’t know the treatment he was getting, in other words he was told to eat a high carbohydrate diet and that killed him, and had I known the knowledge that I have now, I probably could have spared him those complications.
So it turns out that he actually ate [transcript here] because he was brought up on lots of meats, [inaudible] but yet he didn’t eat much carbohydrates. He didn’t eat processed fruits.
Tim: And he didn’t eat sweets, yet he got diabetes at an older age than I did. Which is astonishing because here I was running all these marathons, and what I realized was that we had the worst genes possible for diabetes, and he got the worst form of diabetes, but it took him longer to get it because he was eating a high protein, high fat diet.
I did all the running which he never did and I got the disease at a young age because in my view, I ate so much carbohydrates. [inaudible] and my daughter particularly has benefited from this diet because she said I’ve got a carbohydrate intolerance and [inaudible] and she said I’ll cut sugar and I’ll cut [inaudible] I don’t eat sugar and I don’t eat carbs and her health has improved immensely. So she has benefited and my son has benefited as well.
Aaron: That’s great.
Tim: And my wife is _____ insulin sensitive because she comes from different genes, no diabetes, but she has also benefited from eating this, although she is not as strict as the rest of us.
Aaron: Okay, so she could have the sweet potato here and there?
Tim: Absolutely, so she [inaudible] occasionally.
Aaron: Okay, okay, if people are interested in trying this, do they have to go all in at once or can they just gradually make their way to it?
Tim: I think it depends on how sick you are, and how obese you are, and how bad your sugar addiction is.
If you have a sugar addiction, you tend to be heavier and even morbidly obese, and sugar has to go, it has to go completely, utterly, and there may be different ways but you have to cut all the _____ because they are just full of sugar, and slowly wean yourself off of adding the sugar to your drinks.
Then you have to wean yourself slowly of the sugary drinks, and that took me 14 months.
For me to finish and run and drink water it took me 14 months. Not to look for the Gatorade or the Coca Cola or whatever they had, it took me a long time to get rid of that addiction.
I think that if you’re really sick and you’ve got to go, I think you have to go cold turkey and go right down to 50 grams a day and go through the withdrawal symptoms. If your a marathon runner and let’s say your 2 or 3 kilograms overweight, your never going to have to go down to 25 grams a day, go down to 250, go to 200, go down to 150 and see how you feel.
Tim: If you had runners who’ve gone all the way down to 50 grams and have said it’s a disaster and can’t run on that but they’ve shifted up to 175, 150 grams a day and they’re flying, and they’ve said I’ve got all the benefits.
Tim: So I think you have to find where you lye and the more unhealthy you are, the less carbohydrates you have to eat, and the more strict you have to be. But if your not insulin resistant, you’ve not got a weight problem and you’re not always hungry, you can have 200 grams a day, that’s fine.
Aaron: Okay, Tim, you’ve got a new book out called the Real Meals Revolution and I haven’t been able to get it on Amazon yet, is that going to come over to the US soon?
Tim: You know Aaron that book was produced locally and we thought it would sell 3,000 copies luckily and maybe 10,000 and the 10,000 went in the first week.
Aaron: Oh wow, okay.
Tim: We have been struggling to keep up demand and it’s now sold 100,000 copies, and as a writer yourself you’ll know that’s quite an achievement in a small country.
So in Africa, we planned only 250,000 readers or books, so we’ve already covered nearly half of the reading population in South Africa.
So it’s been an astonishing success and naturally people say well it’s [transcript here] [inaudible] and we’re starting to find publishers over seas but we will get there. In time, we’ll get the book overseas.
We would like to find a publisher whose going to work with us to produce another really good product and have the same sort of reach that the book has had in South Africa, it has literally started an eating revolution in this country.
Tim: Obviously you don’t follow what’s happening in South Africa but the only two topics that anyone talks about, the one is The Real Meal Revolution and the other is the tragic Oscar Pistorius trial. Those are the two topics in our conversations throughout South Africa and that’s been the case for the last 12 weeks. So sad.
Aaron: Okay, okay. I also noticed that you started a podcast, that’s great, it’s fun to hear you answer some of those questions, I encourage people to check that out on iTunes.
Have you ever thought about starting a blog so that we could read some more of you’re writing?
Tim: You know Aaron, I would love to, we do have an original eating website which I’m so bombarded at the moment, literally this book has such an impact in South Africa, that I’m receiving 40 emails a day or 50 emails a day which I have to respond to.
I’ve got to catch up and find a way of addressing that, once I can do that, I will start blogging much more.
Tim: In the future I’m due to retire from my current work at the end of the year, and then I’m completely revitalizing or recharging my structure in my life and I will do much more blogging because that’s what will be a priority, but at the moment, I’m just really struggling to cope with all the demands on my time.
Aaron: Okay. So when you retire, are you no longer going to be doing any scientific studies?
Tim: No, absolutely I’m going to be doing even more scientific studies, but I’m just going to be focusing on insulin resistance because that’s the condition that is the most important condition in _____. It’s much more important than any other condition because it’s the root cause of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, gout and abnormal cholesterol’s that cause heart disease. They are all linked directly into insulin resistance and unfortunately, the message which really comes from Stanford and _____. It’s his work and again, here is another man who deserves the Nobel Prize.
That’s an area that I want to look into, insulin resistance, and the other area which we won’t get into because there are other people, guys at Harvard, Alessio Fasano, another guy who should get the Nobel Prize, Dr. Fasano from Harvard for describing the leaky guy syndrome, I mean it’s actually genius work, and those are the two conditions, insulin resistance and the leaky gut, that is the future of _____.
So, we’ll be looking to do insulin resistance because I understand it the disease, I have it myself and I’m going to be putting my effort into starting an institute to research that, and building that up in the next few years.
Aaron: Great, well Tim it’s been a pleasure speaking with you again and I’m so glad to have you back on the show. Is there anywhere you would direct people to go to find your work?
Tim: Well you could try the originaleating.org That’s kind of my story about how I got into this nutrition story and there is quite a few blogs, not blogs but there are quite a few you tube documentaries that I’ve put out.
If you want my views on nutrition, they are very well covered there. The rest of my work, people ask how do you find it, that’s difficult, I don’t really have a repository for all that stuff.
Aaron: Okay, okay. Well you know Lore of Running is still a great book, I was reading it this week and there is quite a bit in there about the high fat diets and you mention in there that you’ve got to try and see what works for you.
Tim, it was great talking with you, thanks for being on the show.
Tim: Thank you very much indeed Aaron.
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