In today’s interview, I speak with a surgeon, engineer and relentless self-experimenter, Dr. Peter Attia (pictured above as he swims across the Catalina Channel), about whether it is possibly to be extremely active and eat a low carbohydrate diet.
If you’ve ever wondered whether it’s possible to keep yourself in a “ketogenic”, low carbohydrate state and still swim, bike, run, lift and do other extreme sports and activities, then this audio will answer all your questions.
Let’s begin with a video of a workout being done by Dr. Attia, who I interview in today’s podcast:
And he does all that while eating only 30-50 grams of carbohydrates per day!
Dr. Attia (pictured right) of Canada is a relentless self-experimenter who has spent the last two years examining the role of nutrition on all aspects of personal performance. He is a former McKinsey & Company consultant, surgeon, engineer, calculus teacher and an author of numerous medical and research papers.
Dr. Attia received his medical degree from Stanford University and holds a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, where he also taught and helped revamp the calculus curriculum. He did his surgical training at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He also did a fellowship in surgical oncology at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.
Dr. Attia’s website, which we discuss during the interview, is WarOnInsulin.com.
Here are the questions that I ask him:
You have an interesting story. How did you come to start your website, WarOnInsulin.com, and what is it that you are trying to achieve?
You appear to keep yourself very fit. Walk us through a typical week of exercise for you.
For any given day, especially on these exercise days, about how many carbohydrates do you eat, and what does your eating look like?
How about before and during a long workout, like a long bike ride. What do you eat?
What is the science behind how your body is able to accomplish so much exercise with so few carbohydrates?
What research is out there that has been conducted on people exercising very long, very hard or both while eating low or no carbohydrates, and what has been observed in the research?
Is there a “maximum” amount of carbohydrates that would be considered healthy for frequently exercising individuals, such as enough carbohydrate to keep liver glycogen stores full?
Was this style of eating an easy transition for you, and how can people expect to feel if they try to combine high volume or high intensity exercise with carbohydrate restriction?
Have you found a “ceiling” for how long or how hard you can go while in a carbohydrate restricted phase?
Do you feel or have you observed a need to include carbohydrate re-feeding periods, whether specific days of the week, periods of the exercise year, or seasons in which you may eat more fruit or more carbohydrates than usual?
Have you found that particular dietary supplements or strategies help active individuals to succeed with or adhere to a low carbohydrate diet?
Some studies have shown low insulin and a low carb diet to reduce thyroid function or cause leptin resistance. Is that true, and if so, is it an issue?
Recommended reading as an additional resource:
Recommended supplements for long workouts:
-UCAN Superstarch – use plain flavor only (avoids the sucralose), 80-100 calories per hour
-MCT Oil - use 30-50ml 30-60 minutes prior to workout
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