Monday 13 February 2017

Let's get serious (again!)

Finally feeling better, I'm getting back to training this week. I cannot resume where I left after the marathon, I need to build some mileage again.

After a few unsuccessful trials at running at 6h in the morning (ouch), I had the amazing idea to run at lunch time. I discovered a little parc close to work and I organised myself to get an hour free twice a week. Cold but sunny weather, really enjoyable ! I ran 13km this week and a long run of 12km yesterday. Not bad, no pain in my foot or in my back, let's see if I can hold the pace!

Monday 6 February 2017

MAF - The 2 week test

New year, new motivation, new resolutions... I decided to start this year 2017 with the 2-week test from Dr. Phil Maffetone, whose work I discovered while reading Christopher MacDougall's last bestseller "Natural Born Heroes".


This simple test consists of getting rid of all carbohydrates (slow and fast sugars) in your alimentation during two weeks and replace them with proteins (lean meats), fibres (vegetables, legumes) and healthy fats (fish, nuts, vegetable oils).

The purpose of this test is to determine if you are carbohydrate intolerant and get rid of the resulting effects (fatigue, intestinal bloating, loss of concentration, poor quality of life, etc.) While cutting carbs of your diet, you should notice some changes on your body and maybe some improvements on your health by the end of the test.

I won't develop here the work of Dr. Maffetone, I invite you to consult his website for this. I just want to gather here my notes, on a daily basis, of this strange and fun adventure.

If you are in a hurry, you can jump directly to my conclusions.


My 2 week journal on the MAF test:

Monday 23rd of January: 
Nothing to notice, slight irritation, mostly psychological, not being able to consume my favourite carbo-rich food: orange juice, oatmeal, bread, milk and cookies.
Breakfast: Omelett.
Lunch: Salmon and broccoli.
Dinner: Chicken soup.
Snacks: Nuts, avocado, raw cheese.

Tuesday 24th: 
First complaints of my body, lack of energy of the evening, dizziness, unpleasant impression to eat a lot without getting any energy from it. I feel my sugar addiction. I'm getting more irritated.
Breakfast: omelett.
Lunch: beef and ratatouille.
Dinner: chicken soup, cream and Greek yogurt.
Snacks: avocado, nuts, cheese, smocked salmon, veggy juice.

Wednesday 25th: 
First run, 5 km before breakfast. I monitored my heart rate, staying in my slow running zone, below 150 bpm for an average pace of 6:20. I feel better than I would imagine. Empty of carbohydrates, my body still manage to get energy from fats. I feel tired but not dizzy. Evening note: Some back ache due to my run this morning, no connection with the diet. Same dizziness around 20h, low blood sugar.
Breakfast: omelett and salad, tomato juice.
Lunch: beef, broccoli and cauliflower gratin.
Dinner: Chicken soup, Greek yogurt, avocado.
Snacks: nuts, cheese, soja.

Thursday 26th: 
I had a very deep sleep last night, like when you go to bed after an exhausting day (which I didn't have!). I woke up during the night with some belly ache and headache this morning, not sure what to think of that. The wife is currently sick, maybe I caught it too.
Breakfast: omelett and salad, tomato juice.
Lunch: meatballs and cauliflower gratin.
Dinner: Chicken soup, Greek yogurt, avocado.
Snacks: nuts, cheese, soja.

Friday 27th: 
I'm feeling better today, no more headache. I even manage to run at lunch break, 5k easy, I feel great, no dizziness.
Breakfast: eggs, tomatoes, avocado.
Lunch: eggplant, salmon and cheese.
Dinner: same as breakfast.
Snacks: nuts, cheese, soja.

Sat. & Sunday 28th-29th: 
Quiet weekend at home, resisting the temptation of sugar. I run 5km on Sunday, monitoring my heart rate.I feel quite good running on fat, even at a sustained pace of 150 to 160 bpm, but I feel unwell and sick when I reach the 170 bpm. So the MAF calculation of my ideal pace seems correct: 180 - 32 = 148 bpm. As long as I stay below 150, I will run on fat and I should feel well.
Breakfast / lunch / dinner: same as usual, introducing green smoothies and composed salads on the evening. I ate late on Sunday, after my run, and I felt strong dizzyness when crouching and standing up again, like if my blood pressure was dropping. I felt better after lunch. No carbs, no reserve supply

Monday 30th: 
It's been a week! I managed to stay clean and away from carbs until now, which is no pick nick, when you are baking cookies for the kids and you cannot even lick the spoon. Last night I dreamt that I ate a chocolate and I was forced to spit it out... I'm getting really crazy here! I decided to keep on until Friday night and allow myself a real carb-full weekend! It won't be exactly two weeks but I don't think it matters. I already know more or less the results of the test.
Breakfast: Egg and salad.
Lunch: salmon and spinach.
Dinner: Veggie soup, yogurt.
Snacks: nuts, cheese, saucisson.

Tuesday 31st: 
All white today, snow everywhere. I can't wait to jump in my trail shoes and get out for a run! Unfortunately, I got a bit of a cold (again!). I hope it won't last. Overall I feel way better than last week, less addicted, less frustrated. I sleep well, wake up fit.
Breakfast: egg, tomato, sausage.
Lunch: lamb meat and carrots.
Dinner: veggie soup and yogurt.
Snacks: nuts, cheese.

Wednesday 1st of February: 
Almost done! As I said, I caught a cold and I've been feeling unwell in the past two days. But I hardly think this is due to the two weeks test and the lack of carbs. Anyway, it's already slipping away. Apart from that I feel well, only a bit dizzy when I stand up after crouching.
Breakfast: eggs, tomatoes, yogurt, paprikas.
Lunch: ratatouille with meat.
Dinner: Veggie soup, paprika, cream.
Snacks: cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, raw almonds.

Thursday 2nd: 
Nothing to notice today, my cold is almost over, but I prefer to wait the weekend to run. My plan is to finish this test with a 10km run on Saturday morning and then resume my old diet, according myself a nice Sunday without restrictions.
Breakfast: eggs, avocado, salmon, yogurt.
Lunch: ratatouille.
Dinner: Veggie soup, cream.
Snacks: cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, raw almonds.

Friday 3rd: 
End of the second week and much better results than the first one. I feel great, apart from my cold. No more frustration, no more unpleasant feeling of starving, even after eating. I feel less irritated by the lack of sugar and I can look at a bit of chocolate without crying
Breakfast: eggs, avocado, salmon, yogurt.
Lunch: red cabbage.
Dinner: red cabbage, yogurt and nuts.
Snacks: cherry tomatoes, raw almonds.

Saturday 4th: 
Today is the end of this 2 weeks journey. I feel it's time for a last carbs-free run before the feast. I go out for a 7k run, about 50 min on wet roads and slippery trails. Despite of my bit of a cold, I feel great. Not tired, not dizzy, not even frustrated. I stay below 150 bpm, my fat vs. carbs burning limit, and I don't feel tired at all once done, maybe even better. It's the first time in my life I'm so proud of my body fat!
Breakfast: eggs, avocado, yogurt.
Lunch: red cabbage.
Dinner: sushis celebration!!

My conclusions on the MAF test:

For the past 2 weeks (13 days to be completely honest), I've been following the MAF test and I stayed clear of all sources of carbohydrates. I did eat some food containing a very small amount of it (it's almost impossible to avoid them, as they are everywhere) but I read the nutrition's labels and stayed under 5℅. Following are my conclusions on the test:

  • I am not carbohydrate intolerant. Over the past two weeks, I did not notice any improvement on my health, apart from the quality of my sleep.
  • However, I do have a bit of a sugar addiction (like everyone, I imagine). I feel irritated, not being able to munch on cookies or eat honey. But not really for slow sugars (pasta, potatoes, etc.) that I did not really miss, except maybe bread at breakfast.
  • Eating carbs on the evening disturbs my sleep. That's probably the most noticeable improvement. Once carbs depleted, I fell asleep in no time and my sleep was deep and undisturbed. I woke up every morning well-rested, although starving. This is probably a digestion matter too.
  • Carbs, especially the slow-release ones, are essential reserves my body can draw instant energy from. I experienced unpleasant drops of energy during the two weeks, up to dizzyness, when I was rushing into action, moving fastly or standing up too quickly. I am now convinced that, although I should reduce my carbs intake, a completely carbs-free diet would be unhealthy.
  • Fat is a fuel! The main reason of this test was to drain my body of most carbs and try to run at slow pace. While maintaining a pace around 150 bpm (180 minus my age, as advised) I've been able to complete 5k and 7k runs on a carbs-empty tank. Which means that my body is able to transform fat and proteins into energy to fuel my muscles and my brain. Well done Mr. body :)
  • Last but not least, a note on my diet: Cutting carbs drastically reduced my calories intake. I compensated by getting them from proteins (lean meat, eggs, fish, smocked salmon), vegetables and healthy fats (avocado, nuts, olive oil, fresh fish, cheese, yogurt). I was surprised how easy it is to cut carbs, especially on the evening ( veggie soups, salads), and how many meals don't need them to be delicious (Ratatouille, red cabbage, cream spinach).

To conclude, I would say that this MAF test has been a success. Although no drastic improvement happened to my body, I learned a lot about my constitution. For the near future, I am planning to reduce my intake of fast sugars, eat more unrefined carbs to build energy reserves, at breakfast but mostly at lunch, and cut all forms of sugars on the evening to improve my sleep. I will compensate with proteins and healthy fats. About my running, I am planning to increase the distances gradually while staying within my heart rate range.

That's it ! I hope you will find my notes useful. I invite everyone to do the test, at least a few days, to feel its benefits. Many thanks to Dr. Phil Maffetone for his help and see you soon for new adventures!