IMG-20200401-WA0008

Started my research on Low Carb High Fat diet about 10 days before the pandemic broke loose. Landed up with parents to check on them and ended up having a family time for weeks. Blessing in disguise perhaps….

Research challenges:

a) Loose fat

b) Maintain the lean muscle – this is main considering ‘2 bricks’ to weight train

c) stay on low carbs intake – challenging in a home environment that strives on Dal, legumes, Roti (wheat), Milk, Tea, fruits, and vegetables

d) Gain strength – not possible unless I have achieved the above 3 points.

The situation at my family home with regard to high fat diet:

  • No non-vegetarian food
  • No protein powder

On top of it…I don’t eat eggs. This leaves me with dairy, vegetables (nothing fancy just the regular stuff minus potato), and legumes which makes it challenging to get myself to: 20% carbs, 55% fat and 20% protein approx. as per the requirement of my research.

One should not be worried about protein unless you are strength training (top level) because we get sufficient amounts via fatty foods, vegetables, legumes, nuts etc. So focus on carbs and fat as it is easier to focus on two than 3.

Workout options: BRICKS for strength & running

Ques: Shall I continue with my research?

Ans: Of course…the whole point of being a researcher and a passionate student is to find a way out with what is available. No excuses because the research has been set up after  deep study of the subject. So either I affirm my understanding and belief or I fail and learn something new.

Training: I would mix little cardio training and weight training for these two weeks (5 days a week/45 to 60 minutes per day).

The whole idea in the existing situation (no training equipment/gym) is to let diet loose weight and maintain lean muscle mass while training helps me absorb, consume and burn the food am eating by making my metabolism robust. After all, it has to all work together.

IMG-20200401-WA0009

Here is the review after 15 days:

a) Lost fat – very important marker to check if diet is working

b) Lean muscle mass maintained – been challenging without enough  protein options. Ideally I would like to take protein to 30% when I am weight training. However less protein is a blessing in disguise in this situation because of no heavy weight training.

Note: Extra protein can trigger what we call gluconeogenesis which simply put means adding carbs to your diet. So what is the optimal amount of protein then? It is what is needed by our muscles for repair and anything beyond that would follow the above process. So a gentle reminder to those who stay hell bent on protein regardless of their training intensity.

C) Carbs intake: 20% – easy but tough to keep it at this level considering the available food on the plate. Take a spoon extra of anything that you am eating and it will shoot up my carbs intake 🙂

d) Good strength, energy and recovery

FOOD: mix of all the below

Fat: Ghee, butter, cheese, peanut butter

Protien: Paneer (cottage cheese), Soya, Milk, Vegetables (mostly green), Legumes

Carbs: Wheat, vegetables. legumes and all the rest

Others: Almond, Cashew nuts

Current researches: It has been concluded after several researches that one must maintain carbs, at best, at 12% to reach nutritional ketosis or in simple words, best fat metabolism. The most famous ‘keto’ diet allows for under 10% carbs (around 5%).

My take: Indeed the researches are true and can’t be contradicted.

But it is almost impossible to maintain such low level of carbs in our Indian society. Impossible because you think of anything that we eat and it is high on carbs. Therefore, my aim is to study the effects of high fat diet with 20% carbs intake. Twenty percent because it is manageable as it allows us to eat – roti, dal, sabji (wheat bread, lentil/legumes, vegetables) and tea/coffee. This won’t disturb our eating habits much.

I definitely understand the science, even to the physiology level, and therefore, I understand why carbs need to be cut down to minimum in a high fat diet. However how could 10% carbs intake be universal in a diet? What happens to our backgrounds, ethnicity, culture, environment, and most importantly training age? Why can’t we burn carbs and shift to fat like we usually do? Blessing in disguise actually because we do carb loading before a strength workout and extra carbs can be consumed for this loading.

Example: Let us say I burn 2000 calories in a day. Out of which I burn  800  to 1000 calories when I train. From these 800 calories that I burn….say 400 can come from carbs first. And the remaining 1600 calories (we require for training and through the day) can come from fat. Where is the problem? I genuinely wish to understand this if anybody has an answer.

How I have understood science so far – so far because it is endless:

Generally speaking if I ingest certain food then that food should become my fuel for energy/exercising. Only if it becomes my best fuel that I can achieve best results. Although there could be multiple factors to check if a diet is working well or not; here are a few broad markers that tops my list in this self funded home research:

  • I should be able to use this energy while exercising which can easily be measured via strength, speed, endurance output or in multiple ways via different drills.
  •  It should result in weight loss
  • Thirdly, I should not loose lean muscle mass if am weight training
  • Lastly I should be able to recover fully with almost no or very less fatigue

If I tick all these points then, to me, the diet is working well for me even though I haven’t measured TAG. HDL or LDL yet.

Interestingly our body look for carbs to burn first because it is our preferred fuel. Therefore one should be able to absorb 20% carbs straight away without disturbing any other metabolic pathway if we train well. Eat what you like keeping in mind your energy demands is been my theory ever since. Of course, the timing of these carbs can play a role as well which is also the part of my study and research.

More on this latter when I have done a few tests (and manage to do at least 2/3 weeks in the gym) and have statistical data to study this further. For now it all looks good and positive.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

Simplifying training….

Umesh Chhikara

Sports Scientist