Timothy Olson – Low Carb

Earlier this summer, Steve Phinney and Jeff Volek, authors of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance, headed to the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run, to study how runners in this grueling race fared, literally, for they were checking how the athletes performed AND how they ate.

Steve Phinney says that more and more endurance athletes are choosing low-carb, high-fat.  They’re choosing this diet both to get over digestive problems that hit in such a demanding event, and to win the race, and win it BIG!

That’s what Tim Olson did this year.  A self-proclaimed low-carb eater, Tim won the race — with a record-breaking pace.

You may like to read the article HERE

This obviously links into my previous post on the 40-30-30 diet

Timothy Olson

10 thoughts on “Timothy Olson – Low Carb

  1. Tim Olson Interview at Irunfar:
    ” I was really relying on fat as my fuel with the help of Vespa”
    “I relayed information to my crew and restocked on gels and Vespa”
    “I forgot to grab any gels”
    “I only had one gel …”
    “I was so stoked to get a gel in me, but they did not have one gel without caffeine”
    “I could restock my pockets with gels that work for me”

    So where is the low carb high fat diet ?
    Gels and Vespa what he was consuming MAJORLY during WS100. Both are sugar concentrates with honey, orange juice and i think bee propolis.

    Here is the Tim Olson Interview
    http://www.vespapower.com/ (they are selling low carb advocate book, and sugary gels ?, hmm)

    • We keep saying this… a big difference in what one consumes during racing and what one consumes in day to day life.

      Of course, running any distance will require immediate energy and how an individual athlete takes this is down to personal needs. Fat can still be a primary fuel but ‘immediate’ carb can also be important to address immediate calorie needs or low points.

      Vespa help the utilisation ! It’s not complicated.

      • So, during a day to day life, you teach your body to burn more fat. But during a race you don’t consume fat at all.
        You have as a highly trained endurance athlete probably 3-6% of body fat, before a race. If it is more, you have to carry it through out the race, what will slow you down, and will make you eat more sugars, to be able to carry your body fat.
        Your body is really adhering to that low fat for normal hormonal function, vitamin binding abilities and others, especially in race conditions. Probably Timothy like every single other athlete ate a gel every 20 to 30min during the race, plus took other carb sources at the aid stations.

        “…carb can also be important to address immediate calorie needs or low points…”
        So why not run exclusively on carbs to totally avoid low points, and have immediate, continuous, and lifelong energy supply ? Through out life, training, and racing. The brain runs exclusively on sugar too, so it is great for better function.

        I think too, that you can burn a fair amount of fat during a race, no doubt, but definitely the major energy source are sugars.

        For the other article:
        ” Bonking is what happens to runners who are adapted to racing on sugars and carbs, and if they can’t eat enough carbohydrate, their blood sugar drops too low, because there isn’t enough glycogen . . . ”
        Anyone in the present world would bonk if they run low on blood sugar, not only the runners who are “adapted” racing on sugars.

        Thx again

      • You seem intent on an argument that makes no point and contradicts without being reasonable…

        The body can only store ‘so much’ carbohydrate and depending on the speed we run at (in this case) the way we use the fat/carb percentage for food changes. For example, sprinters, 1500m runners, 5000m runners etc will almost certainly only use carb as a fuel when racing. That does not mean they cant be on a 40-30-30 diet!

        3-8% body fat in a human will provide enough fat for us to run for ages and ages but speed would need to be adjusted as the fat/carb percentage uses changes as the body demands energy. In Timothy’s case he was topping up his fat usage by supplying his carb stores with gels as the body can only store enough carb for 90-120 mins of exercise. Timothy was running or should I say racing for 14:46 hrs. It’s a big difference!

  2. I think the difference is that one who adheres to a lower carb diet is better able to utilize carbs when they are taken in during a race. This is because the fat-burning metabolic pathways are better developed in those that eat more fat and less carbs. When the carbs are taken in on race day, they are more quickly metabolized to charge the fat-burning pathways.

    It has been doctrine for quite some time that we cannot finish ultras without both fat and carbs. “Fat logs burn in a carbohydrate fire.” The GI tract is not capable of absorbing sufficient calories in the course of a 100 mile run to replenish what is burned. The difference is made up in fat metabolization. The theory being propounded here is that a low carb diet allows the log to burn more efficiently, without us throwing on more and more carb sticks.

    It will be interesting to see what the research shows, both on this topic and on the recent conversation regarding overhydration. Having finished 31 100 milers, including the Bear, Wasatch, Black Hills, Rocky Raccoon and Pony Express all under 24 hours, I see merit to both the low carb and lower water arguments. I remember I had the least GI distress when I would eat a fat and protein pudding (jogmate), which has now been discontinued. I have increased my carbs now, but GI distress always lurks. I am intrigued enough by this hypothesis that I will try it for myself.

    The real issue is GI distress. And if the culprit is too many carbs because our bodies are accustomed in normal life to too many carbs, an adjustment should be made, both in life and in racing.

  3. Nice. I just ordered the book. I’ve been running on a mostly paleo (low-carb) diet for the last several months. Coming over from a vegetarian diet, I’ve felt nothing less than incredible. Glad to see Timothy getting some press on this stuff too. Everyone is different, and fueling with gels during my runs remains important (though I use a lot fewer of them). But it works great for me.

  4. I am going to give this a shot too. It seems to make sense. I hate having to pound so many gels, etc. during long runs.

    I only have one gripe: 40-30-30 is not a low-carb diet. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to call it a moderate carb diet, or even just a moderate diet. It might be low relative to how some people eat, but 40% of macronutrient intake isn’t exactly low.

    • Seamus, yes I see the 40-30-30 diet as ‘healthy eating’ and a reduction in Carb. What Carb I take (or you take) should be good and low GI, so, brown rice, brown bread and brown pasta. I am not saying a ‘no carb’ diet is correct. It is all about balance and most certainly personal needs and taste. Timothy Olson has some unique needs and he has fond a solution. We all must find ours! Certainly a reduction of Carb intake is seeing some great benefits and I am feeling those benefits… will I reduce Carb completely? I doubt it. But I am certainly eating less.

      • I agree. As with most things, balance is essential. Running 50M or 100M is extreme, but if you are to make it to the start line, the preparation must be balanced. I bonk often, partly b/c I tend to get overzealous and hammer the ascents and descents, increasing the calorie burn from carbs, but also because I do not seem to tolerate sugars well. I’m going to give this a serious attempt.

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