Episode 165 – Great Himalayan Trail Special #GHT with Rayn Sandes, Dean Leslie and Ryno Griesel

Episode 165 of Talk Ultra is a Great Himalayan Trail Special to link with the release of ‘Lessons From The Edge’ film. We chat with Ryan Sandes, Ryno Griesel and Wandering Fever film maker, Dean Leslie.
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Read about Ian’s Christmas Nepal Trek HERE
The route, plan and the equipment he will use.
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NEWS
Lessons from the Edge is the new film by Dean Leslie of Wandering Fever that tells the story of Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel’s epic journey on the Great Himalayan Trail. Read a review of the movie HERE.
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00:30:31 Interview with Ryan Sandes
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01:01:40 Interview with DEAN LESLIE
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01:51:36 Interview with RYNO GRIESEL
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02:41:20 CLOSE
02:44:16
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Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.
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Website- talkultra.com
UP & COMING RACESgo to https://marathons.ahotu.com

Food For A Multi-Day On The Cheap

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Multi-day racing is booming and the selection and variety of races increases, year-after-year! Last year I attended multiple races that lasted several days and each of those races had a very unique difference to the others. For example, the heat, humidity and technical terrain of Costa Rica at The Coastal Challenge was in many ways compensated for by the race being fully supported. At Everest Trail Race, the mountains, the altitude and semi self-sufficiency was compensated for by food being provided each morning and each night.

Read a related article, Top Tips to Multi-Day Racing HERE

Marathon des Sables though, like races such as Grand to Grand, 4Deserts such as Atacama, Gobi and the Sahara all operate a self-sufficiency policy. The only items provided are water and a cover for the night.

So, everything must be carried (read an in-depth article here) and that includes food for the duration of the run. In many cases, a minimum calorie requirement is specified for each day, at Marathon des Sables for example, it’s 2000 calories.

Calories are important at a multi-day race, not only do they allow you to perform but that also enable you to recover and importantly, food alters your mood. As many runners say, you only have three things to do at multi-day: Run, eat and sleep. So, food becomes very important.

Needless to say, calories, how many calories and how those calories break down (carbohydrate, fat and protein) is very individual to the person who will consume them. A female 5-feet 5-inches weighing 50kg is going to need less calories than a male 6-feet 2-inches weighing 80kg! It will also depend on the objectives of said runner. Are they looking to race and make an impact at the front or are they looking to complete? Also, how the runner uses calories depends very much on how they have trained their bodies when running. Utilising fat as a fuel source is essential for multi-day running.

Food is important!

Many dehydrated food options exist that are specifically designed for multi-day racing. Some are tasty, some are not and nearly all are expensive.

With this in mind I asked the question, ‘How cheaply can one put food together for multi-day race?’

I am sure it’s a question many ask and while the balance of carbs, proteins and fats may be compromised in the list below. It just shows how effectively your local supermarket can fulfil your multi-day food needs.

I shopped with the intention to purchase food for just one day. I didn’t tally weight or calories as I shopped. I purchased on impulse keeping these points in mind:

  1. Taste.
  2. Variety.
  3. Carbohydrate.
  4. Fat.
  5. Protein.
  6. What would be easy to cook.
  7. What would I want to eat?
  8. Treats?

It wasn’t scientific! I purchased Noodles, Cous Cous, Peperami, Nuts, Dried Fruit, Porridge, Soup and so on…

I spent £13.50 and I accumulated 2582 calories for a weight (in original packaging) of 775 grams.

See table below:

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2582 calories is probably a ‘typical’ daily requirement for many a runner at a multi-day race. The minimum 2000 is a little too light for many. If you think about the weight of 775 and then multiply that by days (six), that gives 4650 grams. If one trims the packs or re-packs into different bags or vacuum packs, additional weight can be saved. I trimmed just the original packing and resealed and I instantly saved 75 grams. That alone would save you 450 grams over six days.

 

Food samples purchased:

You can download the list of food and breakdown HERE

You may be asking what point am I trying to make with this post?

Well, it’s quite simple. Multi-day racing does not have to be complicated and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Yes, the balance of carb v protein v fat may not be ideal in the above example, however, I could survive on the above!

Think outside the box and customise your food needs to you, your taste and your budget. I personally would tweak what I have above and add a little more savoury/ protein and reduce the simple sugars.

Enjoy the process.

Why not join our Multi-Day Training Camp in Lanzarote with 2015 Marathon des Sables ladies champion, Elisabet Barnes. The camp takes place in January each year. 

Information HERE

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Support on PATREON HERE

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Pete Kostelnick looks set to break the Run Across the USA #FKT

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As records go, the 36-year old record of 46 days, 8 hours and 36 minutes of Running Across America by Frank Giannini Jr is a classic.

Many a runner has challenged the distance but few have close to the time.

As I write this, two times Badwater 135 winner, Pete Kostelnick, looks set to elevate the record to new level. His possible new record will not come down to minutes… it won’t even come down to hours! In reality, Pete is looking to smash the record by days. Yes, days!

Today as I write this, Pete is 38-days in and current projections are 41 or 42 days. That’s a whole new level!

Imagine it, Pete has been running over 70 miles a day for 36 days. In a recent chat for the next edition of Talk Ultra podcast, co-host Speedgoat Karl Meltzer, who just recently set a new FKT on the Appalachian Trail confirmed that Pete is on a whole new level. “He’s doing it the right way,” said Karl. “He started under the radar and momentum has picked up as the days have passed. He will smell the barn and although he may well be in pain, he will know the end is in sight. For sure he is going to break the record, it will just depend by how much. These next few days will fly by!”

With approximately 5 or 6 days to go the mental boost o knowing the finish line isn’t too far away is really keeping him motivated to keep pushing along!

“The performance by Peter is almost super human,” said Speedgoat. “I am pleased that he is a Hoka One One teammate and I am certainly looking to catch up with him after the challenge is over and found out how it went. What’s interesting is that day off he took after 7 days. The same thing happened to Scott Jurek, Jen Phar Davis and me, albeit a little later. It’s a s though the body says, hold on a minute, what are you doing? One day off or one easy day and then everything comes back. It has certainly gone that way for Pete!”

Running 70+ miles a day is a phenomenal physical and mental challenge, it’s difficult to comprehend that it is possible… but here is Pete proving how remarkable the human body is. At 29-years old maybe Pete is in that prime age target where fitness and the bodies ability to recovery is optimum? It certainly poses man questions.

However, it’s important to note that this has been know easy ride. Pete went out at a relentless pace covering 450 miles in the first week and as Speedgoat has already said, he was forced to take a day off. That day’s rest may well prove to be one of the most crucial days on this long road. Tendonitis, aches, pains, tight muscles, sore hamstrings, swollen knee, tight hips and so many more niggles… “It happens,” says Speedgoat. “But the body is a remarkable thing, one day you feel lousy and then the next day you feel great. The pain travels and moves around and let’s be clear, when you run this type of mileage day-after-day you just become numb.”

Tracie Phan (Team Manager) told competitor.com in an interview that Pete seems to be getting stronger with each day. Something that Speedgoat can relate too, “It’s all about getting into a rhythm and routine. One advantage that Pete has is that the terrain is constant and smooth. His crew can support all the time and within reason he can stop, rest, eat and drink when he wants.”

During the last month, Pete has started each day around 0400 and covered in the region of 40-miles and then taken a break before heading back out on the road aiming to finish around 5pm. “This is crucial for a successful attempt,” Speedgoat confirms. “Finishing early evening allows for quality rest, recovery, massage and it also means that eating and drinking is not compromised.”

Watch this space, we are about to witness history being made. Pete Kostelnick will set a new record for Running Across America.

FAT a burning question for the long distance runner

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Racing in any running race requires a specific and targeted approach to your objective. The objective can be a one day race of a short distance, a medium distance race such as a marathon or maybe you are going to run long, 50 miles or more… You may even be running for multiple days?

The important thing to remember is that ‘training’ and ‘racing’ are 2 separate things and your fuelling approach should reflect this.

Any long distance event will require you (a unique individual) to utilise fat as a fuel source. You can teach your body to utilise a greater amount of fat as fuel and also to use less calories overall, making you more economical.

Other factors come into play, for example, someone who will be in the top 5% of the race results will have different needs to a runner in the final 5%. However, fat as a fuel is used and we can all adapt.

If you follow the guidance below over a 12-16 week training period you will adapt to fat usage.

Run at the correct intensity -slow and steady. Find out a specific heart rate zone in which to work. Maffetone method is a good starting place.

Avoid fluctuations in intensity when training long, average heart rate or power output are NOT the critical figures, it’s TIME IN ZONE that counts.

Eat foods which are balanced with low GI (glycemic index) carbohydrates and fats to encourage fat usage and avoid sugar spikes.

Avoid gels and sugar products based on point 3 above.

What happens during the race?

Let’s assume that while racing you burn 700kcal per hour, 50% of which comes from carbohydrate and 50% of which comes from fat. Carbohydrate loss is the one to worry about, in this scenario, 350cals (50% of 700). 350kcal of carbohydrate equates to 88 grams of carbohydrate (4 kcal per gram).

Here’s the big problem!

Most individuals can only absorb approximately 60g+/- of carbohydrate per hour.

A simple way to look at this is by looking at ‘you’ as a car ferry. The cars that you will fit in the ferry boat carry carbohydrate, lets say 10g per car. Your car ferry only holds so many cars… in our scenario it is 6!

But we have already worked out that you as an individual burning 50/50 carb and fat require 88g of carb. That is 8.8 cars.

So, you line up 9 cars on the dock every hour but only 6 fit. This leaves 3 on the dock. The boat sails away, comes back 1-hour later and 9 new cars have arrived in addition to the 3 you left waiting…

This is the same as adding carbs through your intestine wall to your blood stream. If you carry on missing 2.8 cars every hour, one thing is guaranteed to happen – you will either need to slow down or you will blow up!

As stated, a typical person can absorb 60gram +/- per hour.

For our example above, that means that you’re going to fall short. You’re using 88 grams per hour and you can only replace 60 grams per hour. That’s a 28 gram / 112 kcal per hour deficit.

If you try to eat more (an additional 2.8 cars) every hour, it’s unlikely to be digested and will simply sit in your stomach or intestines without providing energy. That may be okay for 1-hour, possibly 2 but then the classic scenario of stomach distress happens. How many runners have you talked to that have complained of stomach distress while running?

It’s really important that you understand, eating more food doesn’t mean you’ll have more energy and it may well mean that you’ll face stomach upsets.

Our above scenario works on the presumption that you are only using 700kcal per hour, bigger people and less efficient people may be using more? Our scenario also assumes that 50% is coming from fat and 50% fro carb – that may not be the case at all! In-fact, as much as 80-100% of energy may be coming from carbohydrate! A disaster for the endurance athlete.

Take multi-day racing for example when you are racing day-after-day with compromised recovery and limited calories. You just simply cannot carry enough carbohydrates to sustain you over the period of an event, particularly if it is a self-sufficient event such as the Marathon des Sables.

To move forward effectively armed with good knowledge about you as a person, you need to address 3 questions:

How many calories do I burn per hour?

How many of those calories come from fat and carbohydrate?

How many calories and what percentage of fat/ carb should I be taking in as a consequence?

Do a 1 hour run at your ‘race pace’ and then use your heart rate monitor to calculate how many calories per hour you are using when exercising at that intensity. These figures can be somewhat unpredictable but it will provide a starting point from which to work from.

Most heart rate monitors will use your age and weight to work out kcal per hour. This will only give you an approximate calorie burn per hour and won’t tell you what % of energy comes from carb/ fat. There are some tools on the internet such as: http://www.braydenwm.com/calburn.htm which can help to give you a basic idea.

Working scenario:

Billy is 43, weighs 82 kg and is racing a 100 mile race, he falls into a category of 65 carb /35 fat fuel usage. Billy has one main objective – to complete the event without major disaster and to run as much as possible. Billy running at his proposed race pace will use 820 Kcal per hour, so the calculation works like this:

65/35

Fat contribution:  820 Kcal x 35% = 287 Kcal

Carbohydrate contribution: 820 Kcal x 65% = 533 Kcal

Calories from fat do not need to be replaced – we all have plenty of stores. However, carbohydrate NEEDS replenishing and the body can only hold so much. 1g of carb is 4kcal. So, Billy will require 133g per hour!

Uh oh! We have already clearly said that around 60g of carb per hour is all that we can take. Billy is in trouble… he is missing out on 73g per hour. Remember the car ferry and the cars sitting on the dock waiting to get on the boat – Billy, racing over 100-miles will need a multi-story car park for the cars that won’t fit on his boat.

Although Billy is a ’sample’ case, this scenario happens time and time again in races all over the world.

How do you solve this problem?

Billy needs to utilise fat as a fuel more and be less reliant on carb.

The body is pretty clever. It is able to switch its metabolism. So, in the case of Billy, the availability of carbohydrate is becoming an issue, as a result the body will start to utilise fat stores. This is a good thing. Yes? Well yes but one thing will have to happen – Billy will need to slow down. Now for many of us, that is not an issue as a finish is a primary goal. However, this can be hard to take and yes, you may well feel lousy. More importantly, pre-race objectives may go out of the window… target times will be lost and a possible top-10 (if that was an objective) will also go out of the window.

Let’s cut to the chase

If more of your energy comes from fat, you’re less likely to run out of carbohydrate. The best athletes in the world require energy (Kcal) to run at race speed. If a large chunk of that energy requirement comes from fat, their total carbohydrate use is reduced.

As an example, by making changes to Billy’s training and diet, the new version arrives for the 100-mile race using only 700Kcal per hour and 55% of energy is being provided by fat.

A quick maths calculation reveals the following:

1. He’s using 315 Kcal of carbohydrate per hour on the run, compared to the previous figure of 533

2. With his intake of 60 grams per hour (240 Kcal), he now only has a deficit of 75 Kcal per hour compared previously with 292 Kcal (73 grams)

3. As a consequence, Billy could run the whole 100-mile race with a smile.

In conclusion:

For you to run an ultra feeling comfortable, relaxed, efficient and on target, you need to go away and find out:

How many calories do you burn per hour?

How many of those calories come from fat and carbohydrate?

How many calories and what percentage of fat/ carb should I be taking in as a consequence?

You may well find that you need some specific help in working out some of the data and figures outlined above.

A Metabolic Rate Test HERE and a Metabolic Test is the way forward HERE.

In training (not all training, just the slow/ steady runs):

To recap earlier points:

Run at the correct intensity – slow and steady. Find out a specific heart rate zone in which to work. Maffetone method is a good starting place.

Avoid fluctuations in intensity, average heart rate or power output are NOT the critical figures, it’s TIME IN ZONE that counts.

Eat foods which are balanced with low GI (glycymic index) carbohydrates and fats to encourage fat usage and avoid sugar spikes.

Avoid gels and sugar products.

Finally, daily diet plays a key role in overall adaptation. Simple sugars, processed food and so on are all bad in day-to-day life for an endurance athlete. Keep them at a minimum and as a treat.

Periodise your eating just as you would training.

Think about dietary fat and fat-burning and think low carb.

A low carb and high fat (LCHF) diet forces ones body to burn fat. As you will now know, fat stores are pretty much unlimited even in the skinniest guy or girl. Optimising ones body to use fat will use less carbs and allow you to perform longer. This becomes even more relevant in long endurance events, especially when the pace is slower and the energy requirement to run at a certain pace is lower.

Notice I say low carb and not no carb! Carb has a place in your diet, it just needs to be consumed at the correct times and make sure the carbs you eat are low GI and good quality. Avoid white pasta, white bread, anything refined and potatoes for example (high GI) and eat sweet potato, beans, whole grains (but be careful) and plenty of vegetables (low GI).

Protein is also key for recovery, muscle growth and repair.

A typical runners diet, broken down into percentages of fat, protein and carb would have often (and in many cases still does) look like this:

Carb 60%

Protein 15%

Fat 25%

The modern day ultra, endurance or multistage runner has percentages that look like this:

Fat 50%

Protein 30%

Carb 20%

Of course, we have all been told that high fat is bad for us but sugar and in particular, refined sugar is the real evil and in day-to-day life it just doesn’t help you as an ultra runner.

Note though, fat should be good quality – oily fish, nuts, seeds, good quality meat, olive oil and so on. Bad fats are the obvious ones such as crisps etc.

Periodise your food intake

Just like you will plan training – intervals, hills, long runs and so on. Food should also be planned in-line with training and racing needs. I will write more on this in another post.

In simple terms:

Train fasted for long runs and keep your pace low to promote fat burning. Actually eating fat before a long run has benefits in helping and promoting fat burn. As does coffee. Try Bulletproof coffee before long and slow runs, read here

Recovery consume a little good quality carbohydrate post training, ideally within a window of 30 to 40-minutes and include good quality lean proteins.

Racing

When racing a long distance race, you as a runner will be far more efficient at using the calories that you have within your body if you follow the guidelines above. We have already said that the body can only hold so much carbohydrate, so, if you have your fat burning turned on you will go longer. Your food requirements whilst racing will also change and you will require less sugary products to keep you going.

Pace (the speed you run) will also impact on how the carb/ fat ratio is used. Runners who are racing (looking for a top placing) incorporate different methods to perform. Often called, ‘train low and race high’ – Timothy Olson for example is a good example. Timothy eats high-fat and low carb in training and day-to-day life but when he races he uses sugar (such as gels) to fuel him during the run. His training has adapted him to use less gels (he uses more fat as fuel), last longer and each sugar smack he gets while racing has less work to do as his carb stores are always being used in conjunction with fat.

Carb loading has been used for years and it’s often misunderstood. How many times have you seen or heard a runner gorging on carb for days before a race – why? We already know that our body can hold so much stored carb (approx 2500 cal) so, when we ‘carb load’ we are basically making sure that our carb stores are full pre a race. Don’t over indulge. It will just sit in your stomach, cause discomfort and make you feel lethargic and more than likely, you will add weight to your frame. As a guide in the 24-hour period before your race, keep a balanced diet but up the carb % say from 20 to 35/40%. Again, make this good carb – low GI.

What is key here is finding what works for you.

“The benefits of low carbs really start to distinguish themselves when you get beyond the marathon, because you’re definitely running out of carbs then,” – Jeff Volek

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Always check with a medical professional before making any drastic change to your eating  or training regime. The information provided in this post is designed to make you question and pursue an opportunity to enhance your training and racing and we stress that you must find out what personally works for you.

Thanks to Marc Laithwaite for his contribution to this post.

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Episode 112 – Nicky Spinks, Emelie Forsberg, The Jeff’s

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This is Episode 112 of Talk Ultra and we speak with Nicky Spinks about that incredible DOUBLE Bob Graham Round. Emelie Forsberg joins us to tell us all about her injury, how she feels and when (we hope) she will be back and we speak to ‘The Jeff’s’ an inspiring husband and wife who took respective 1st places at the Salt Flats 100

NEWS

Ultra Trail Australia 

Men

Pau Capell 9:20

Ben Duffus 9:39

Yun Yanqiao 9:42

notable 4th – Ryan Sandes 9:48

Beth Cardelli 11:16

Fiona Hayvice 11:33

Kellie Emmerson 11:53

00:16:16 INTERVIEW Steven Jeff and Meagan Jeff – Salt Flats 100

Quicksilver 100k

Paul Terranova 9:17

Chris Calzetta 9:32

Mario Martinez 9:56

Krissy Moehl 11:02

Roxana Pana 11:44

Monica Imana 12:13

ROB YOUNG – marathonmanUK has started his Transcontinental run record (2766 miles) on May 14th. He started with an 81 mile day 1…. you can track him HERE

At the time of recording having run 5-days he was just south of the Grand Canyon heading to Flagstaff

We mentioned in the last show about Nicky Spinks completing the DOUBLE BOB GRAHAM ROUND and I am really pleased to say I caught up with her just days after of this inspiring interview. Only the 2nd person and 1st lady to complete a double BGR in 45:30

01:07:42 INTERVIEW with Nicky Spinks

01:44:19 INTERVIEW with Emelie Forsberg

UP & COMING RACES

Argentina

Fiambala Desert Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Fiambala Desert Trail 80K | 80 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Australia

Victoria

100km | 100 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

60 km | 60 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Macedon Ranges 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

Western Australia

Kep Track 100km Ultra Marathon II | 100 kilometers | June 05, 2016 | website

Kep Track 75km Ultra Marathon II | 75 kilometers | June 05, 2016 | website

Austria

ESPA-Mountain-Marathon | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

ESPA-Ötscher-Ultra-Marathon | 72 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Belgium

Wallonia

Trail des Vallées du Chevalier – 62 km | 62 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Bhutan

The Last Secret | 200 kilometers | May 27, 2016 | website

Canada

Alberta

Blackfoot Ultra 100KM | 100 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Blackfoot Ultra 50 Km | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Blackfoot Ultra 50 Miler | 50 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

Calgary Marathon 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

British Columbia

55 km | 55 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Ontario

Sulphur Springs 100 Mile Trail Run | 100 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

Sulphur Springs 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Sulphur Springs 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

China

Shangri-La 100k | 100 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Shangri-La 50k | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Czech Republic

Craft Gemini Maraton | 84 kilometers | June 05, 2016 | website

Mammut Ultramaraton | 85 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Denmark

Midtjylland

Nordisk eXtrem maraton X50 | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Nordisk eXtrem maraton X70 | 70 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Finland

Oulu

NUTS Karhunkierros Trail Ultra – 160 km | 160 kilometers | May 27, 2016 | website

NUTS Karhunkierros Trail Ultra – 53 km | 53 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

NUTS Karhunkierros Trail Ultra – 80 km | 80 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

France

Ardèche

53 km | 53 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Dordogne

La Mythique International Run | 250 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Haute-Savoie

Technica Maxi Race | 85 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

Trail du Gypaète | 73 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

XL Race | 87 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Hautes-Pyrénées

Trail du Hautacam – 50 km | 59 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

Isère

Circuit de la sure | 56 kilometers | June 05, 2016 | website

Jura

La Transju’trail – 72 km | 72 kilometers | June 05, 2016 | website

Orne

Trail du Massif d’Ecouves en Pays d’Alançon – 61 km | 61 kilometers | June 05, 2016 | website

Pas-de-Calais

105 km | 105 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

50 km | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Rhône

Raid 500km | 500 kilometers | June 05, 2016 | website

Saône-et-Loire

Trails des Vignes | 300 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Ultra Trail de Côte-d’Or | 105 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Germany

Baden-Württemberg

Schefflenzer Ultralauf – 100 km | 100 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Schefflenzer Ultralauf – 50 km | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

North Rhine-Westphalia

Bödefelder Hollenlauf 101 KM | 101 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Bödefelder Hollenlauf 67 KM | 67 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Hungary

Ultrabalaton | 212 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Ireland

Kilkenny

Tullaroan Ultra Marathon | 39 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Italy

Emilia-Romagna

Trail Alta Val Nure – 60 km | 60 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

Piedmont

Trail del Monte Soglio – Gir Lung | 63 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Sardinia

Asinara Ultra Trail 80K | 80 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol

Vigolana Trail | 65 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Tuscany

100km del Passatore | 100 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Veneto

103 km | 103 kilometers | June 10, 2016 | website

53 km | 53 kilometers | June 10, 2016 | website

Nepal

Mount Everest Extreme Ultra Marathon | 60 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

Netherlands

Friesland

Pieter-ROG-pad Special Waddeneilanden | 300 kilometers | June 02, 2016 | website

Peru

Jungle Ultra | 220 kilometers | June 03, 2016 | website

Portugal

Blue Island Trail – Ultra Trail | 70 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

OMD – Ultra Trail Serra da Estrela – 100 Milhas+ | 100 miles | June 03, 2016 | website

OMD – Ultra Trail Serra da Estrela – K100 | 101 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

OMD – Ultra Trail Serra da Estrela – K70 | 70 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Santana Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira | 59 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Ultramaratona Caminhos do Tejo – 144 km | 144 kilometers | June 10, 2016 | website

Ultramaratona Caminhos do Tejo – 57 km | 57 kilometers | June 10, 2016 | website

Ultra-Trail de Sesimbra | 60 kilometers | June 05, 2016 | website

Réunion

60 km | 60 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Romania

80 km | 80 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Ultramaraton 52,75 km | 52 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Russia

Elton Ultra-Trail® – Master 56 km | 56 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Elton Ultra-Trail® – Ultra 104 km | 104 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Master | 56 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Ultra | 100 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Serbia

Ultra Trail Stara Planina 122 km | 122 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Ultra Trail Stara Planina 86 km | 86 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Slovakia

Štefánik Trail | 140 kilometers | June 10, 2016 | website

South Africa

Comrades Marathon | 89 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

Spain

Basque Country

Euskal Herria Mendi Erronka | 65 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Castile and León

60 km | 60 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Catalonia

Trail | 71 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Trail Els Bastions® | 52 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Ultra Els Bastions® | 90 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Ultra Trail | 129 kilometers | May 27, 2016 | website

Galicia

80 km | 80 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Sweden

Boras Ultra Marathon – 100 miles | 100 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

Boras Ultra Marathon – 87 km | 87 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Switzerland

Berne

100km run Biel | 100 kilometers | June 10, 2016 | website

United Kingdom

Birmingham

Grand Union Canal Race | 145 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

Calderdale

Calderdale Way Ultra (long) | 50 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Devon

Dartmoor Discovery | 32 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

East Sussex

Weald Challenge 50 km Ultra Trail | 50 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

Greater London

First Half Challenge | 56 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

London 2 Brighton Challenge | 100 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Northamptonshire

Northants Ultra | 35 miles | June 05, 2016 | website

Surrey

The Omen 66.6 | 67 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Worcestershire

Severn Path Ultra | 58 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

Severn Plod Ultra | 45 miles | May 27, 2016 | website

Severn Way Ultra | 58 miles | May 29, 2016 | website

USA

Alabama

Rockin Choccolocco 50K | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Arkansas

War Eagle Tail Twister Trail 50k | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

California

Loco 50K | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Loco 50K | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Nanny Goat 100M Trail | 100 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | June 03, 2016 | website

San Francisco 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

San Francisco 50 Mile Endurance Run | 50 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

Colorado

50K | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

50 Mile Trail Race | 50 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Ultimate Direction Dirty 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Florida

Lake to Ocean 100K | 100 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Georgia

Wildwood Games – 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | June 05, 2016 | website

Idaho

Scout Mountain Ultra Trail 100k | 100 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Scout Mountain Ultra Trail 60k | 60 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Maine

Pineland Farms 50K Trail | 50 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

Pineland Farms 50 Mile Trail | 50 miles | May 29, 2016 | website

Michigan

10k Run | 62 miles | May 30, 2016 | website

Yankee Springs Trail Double Marathon | 84 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Missouri

Go! KT82 Trail Relay | 82 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Nebraska

G.O.A.T.z Gravel Classic 60k | 60 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

GOATz Gravel Classic 60K | 60 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

New York

Cayuga Trails 50 | 50 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Oregon

Bend Beer Chase | 70 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

TrailFactor 50k | 50 kilometers | May 30, 2016 | website

Walk The Line Relay – 2 Person Team | 33 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Walk The Line Relay – 3 Person Team | 33 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Walk the Line Relay – Solo | 33 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Rhode Island

Gloridays | 44 miles | June 05, 2016 | website

South Carolina

El Diablo | 220 kilometers | June 03, 2016 | website

Hell Hole Hundred – 100K | 100 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Hell Hole Hundred – 100M | 100 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Hell Hole Hundred – 60K | 60 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Utah

Squaw Peak 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Virginia

Old Dominion 100 Cross Country Run | 100 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Washington

Pigtails 100 Mile Challenge | 100 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

Pigtails 150 Mile Challenge | 150 miles | May 27, 2016 | website

Rainier to Ruston 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Rainier to Ruston 50M Ultra | 50 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Soaring Eagle 10 M Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Soaring Eagle 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Vashon Island 50K Ultramarathon | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Wisconsin

Kettle Moraine 100 km Trail Run | 100 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Kettle Moraine 100 Mile Trail Run | 100 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Kettle Moraine 38 Mile Night Fun Run | 38 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Kettle Moraine 50 km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Ragnar Relay Chicago | 194 miles | June 10, 2016 | website

Wyoming

Rocky Mountain 50k | 50 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

02:23:59 CLOSE

02:28:43

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Website – talkultra.com

Race Day Nutrition (Part Two) – Marc Laithwaite

©iancorless.com_TCC2015_Day1-9778

So last week (Part One Here)we finished by talking about how many calories you use during an event and how to make a quick calculation of fat and carbohydrate contributions. To recap, we said:

80/20: If you are struggling to ride 50 miles / run 15 miles even when fuelling yourself throughout, then apply the 80/20 rule. That means 80% of your fuel is carbohydrate and 20% is fat.

65/35: If you can ride 50 miles / run 15 miles comfortably using fuel, then apply the 65/35 rule. That means 65% of your fuel is carbohydrate and 20% is fat.

50/50: If you can ride 50 miles / run 15 miles comfortably without using any fuel whatsoever, then apply the 50/50 rule. That means 50% of your fuel is carbohydrate and 50% is fat.

Let’s give ourselves a simple scenario. Tom is 43, weighs 82 kg and is racing Ironman triathlon, he falls into the 65/35 category and his main objective is to complete the event without major disaster and to run as much of the marathon as possible. When Tom is riding at his Ironman pace, he is using 820 Kcal per hour, so the calculation works like this:

Fat contribution:  820 Kcal x 35% = 287 Kcal

Carbohydrate contribution: 820 Kcal x 65% = 533 Kcal

Step 1: Discard the Fat

The calories which come from fat do not need to be replaced, even the leanest athlete has ample fat stores for the longest endurance events. Step 1 is therefore to discard the Kcal from fat and focus on the carbohydrate contribution. Carbohydrates is the fuel which must be replaced!

Step 2: Focus on the carbohydrate

For Tom, our calculated figure is 533 Kcal of carbohydrate per hour, so this is our target to replace during the ride. It’s often easier to work in grams as most foods are also measured in grams. Each gram of carbohydrate contains 4 Kcal, so we calculate grams of carbohydrate as follows:

533 Kcal per hour / 4 = 133 grams per hour

Step 3: Apply the maximal intake rule

You may remember from the last couple of weeks, we discussed that the maximum amount of carbohydrate you can take during exercise is 60g per hour. Tom is using 133 grams per hour (just to clarify, that’s not excessive and is realistic). If the maximum Tom can take is 60g per hour, that means there’s 73 grams (133-60) that he’s losing and can’t be replaced every hour.

Step 4: Work out the race total

Tom’s bike time is estimated to be 6.5 hours. If he’s losing 73 grams of carbohydrate per hour which can’t be replaced, what does that add up to over the total bike ride? Well, the calculation is simple: 6.5 x 73 = 474.5 grams. That means that Tom will lose 474.5 grams of carbohydrate, which he can’t replace, by the end of the 6.5 hour bike ride.

Step 5: Work out your time to collapse

The big figure missing here is the actual amount you have got stored in your body, is losing 474.5 grams a big problem? The average human stores 400 grams of carbohydrate stored in the muscles,  and 100g is stored in the liver. There’s also approx 25g circulating in your blood at any given time. For the astute amongst you, the problem has already struck you squarely between the eyes. Tom, sadly, will not be running the majority of the Ironman marathon.

Does this happen in the real world?

Definitely, take a look at the photo below. This is some data for an Ironman athlete taken this week, male veteran, approx 68 kg with a long history of endurance competition. There’s 12 minutes of data on the screen, the first column shows the power output (watts) and the third column shows time in minutes. Prior to this the rider warmed up for 10 minutes at 100-120 watts. Now look at columns 11, 13 and 14 on the far right hand side, they show Kcal per hour, fat% and carbohydrate%. Consider that 120/150/170 watts is not high intensity, despite that and the previous warm up, you can see that the carbohydrate use is very high. Take into account that our athlete is only 68 kg and that Kcal per hour will be greater in larger athletes.

IMG_0534

Would these fugures be similar for running?

Yes, pretty much. The Kcal usage is slightly higher when running at a similar intensity, but the fat usage tends to be a little higher also. I’d suggest that the fat usage is slightly higher as running requires less ‘fast twitch’ fibre contribution, cycling requires a cretain amount of ‘stregth’. Running intensity also tends to be a bit more consistent. Cycling can be hard on the uphill and then rest and freewheel on the downhill, but running is less so.

Should Tom withdraw his entry right now?

Hang on… we know that people can ride the full Ironman bike and then run the marathon. We also know that people run 100 miles, so there’s got to be a catch, these calculations can’t be correct. Will Tom be completely depleted of all carbohydrate even when taking in the recommended 60g every hour?

No, indeed he won’t and the calculations are not so clear cut as above. Your body is pretty clever so it will make some changes along the way to help you out. Throughout the event, your metabolism will switch, so it’s reasonable to suggest that by the time the bike has ended, 50-60% of Tom’s energy will come from fat, rather than the 35% contribution at the start point. That means he’ll only be using half the amount of carbohydrate every hour, compared to when he started.

That’s good right?

In some ways yes it is, it’s saving your carbohydrate stores by halving the amount used every hour. But you need to consider why this change occurs. Your body switches to use a larger amount of fat because it’s ‘RUNNING OUT OF CARBOHYDRATE’ so whilst every cloud does have a silver lining, let’s not look too positively on this change.

As most people struggle to metabolise fat, having to rely upon it will lead to a drop in pace and performance. If we continue our theme of ‘clouds and silver linings’, at least the slower pace means you will be using less Kcal per hour (slower pace = less energy required) so that also helps to reduce the amount of carbohydrate required.

Is anyone else getting concerned here or is it just me?

It’s ok, there is an answer. The 2 key areas for improvement are economy (Kcal per hour) and substrate ulilisation (fat or carbohydrate). If you are aerobically fit, you will be more economical than most people. In fact, for endurance performance, economy is perhaps the most important thing. We can define economy very simply as ‘how much energy do you need to ride or run at any given speed?’

If you take your unfit pub mates for a run, you may well trot along at 8 minutes per mile and hold a comfortable conversation. Your mate on the other hand, may be breathing like a bulldog in a hot car, blowing out of most parts of his body. He will be using far more energy, require far more oxygen and use far more calories. People are like cars, some can go a long way using only a small amount of fuel and some require a regular filling due to their poor economy.

The second thing to consider is substrate utilisation. This simply refers to the relative contributions of fat and carbohydrate towards your total energy need. We’ve discussed this above and in pretty much every blog in the last 6 weeks, so hopefully you’re already familiar with this concept. If more of your energy comes from fat, you’re less likely to run out of carbohydrate. The best athletes in the world require a small amount of energy (Kcal) to ride or run at race speed. If a large chunk of that energy requirement comes from fat, their total carbohydrate use is very small indeed.

The new Tom… we can rebuild him

By making changes to Tom’s training and diet, the new version arrives for the Ironman triathlon using only 700Kcal per hour and 55% is being provided by fat. A quick maths calculation reveals the following:

1. He’s using 315 Kcal of carbohydrate per hour on the bike, compared to the previous figure of 533

2. With his intake of 60 grams per hour (240 Kcal), he now only has a deficit of 75 Kcal per hour compared previously with 292 Kcal (73 grams)

3. As a consequence, Tom runs the whole marathon and Tom becomes a LEGEND…..

Do you want to become a legend? If so, do the calculations and work it out for yourself, then let’s go forwards from here.

– Marc Laithwaite

About Marc:

Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.

2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.

In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.

In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.

In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.

Check out the endurance store HERE

Endurance Store Logo

Race Day Nutrition (Part One) – Marc Laithwaite

©iancorless.com_TCC2015_Day5-2539

In recent articles, we’ve discussed the 2 main fuel sources for endurance exercise (fat and carbohydrate) and how you should optimise your body to burn fat, thereby allowing you to save precious carbohydrate stores. When it comes to race day then the game and the rules change completely. As a recap, when training you should:

1. Ride or run at the correct intensity or follow a specific protocol such as Maffetone
2. Avoid fluctuations in intensity, remember that average heart rate or power output are NOT the critical figures, it’s TIME IN ZONE that counts
3. Eat foods which are balanced with low GI carbohydrates and fats to encourage fat usage and avoid sugar spikes
4. Avoid gels and sugar products based on point 3 above

If you follow the above guidance, over a 12-16 week training period, you can teach your body to utilise a greater amount of fat as fuel and also to use less calories overall, making you more economical. The important thing to remember is that ‘training’ and ‘racing’ are 2 separate things and your fuelling approach should reflect this.

What happens during the race?

Okay, let’s presume that you have trained correctly and maximised your fat burning potential and fuel economy. You reach the first event of the year and when riding or running at race pace you are using 700kcal per hour, 50% of which comes from carbohydrate and 50% of which comes from fat. You only need to worry about the carbohydrate loss as that’s the one which is critical, so let’s focus on the 350kcal of carbohydrate which equates to 88 grams of carbohydrate (4 kcal per gram).

The limitation of carbohydrate intake

Here’s the big problem, you can only absorb approximately 60g of carbohydrate per hour. Imagine that there are small boats, which ‘ferry’ carbohydrate across the intestine wall into your blood stream. Unfortunately you only have so many ‘ferry boats’ so no matter how much carbohydrate you throw in there, the amount which can be ferried is limited to a pretty standard 60g. For our example above, that means that you’re going to fall short. You’re using 88 grams per hour and you can only replace 60 grams per hour. That’s a 28 gram / 112 kcal per hour deficit.

So I can’t just eat more?

Unfortunately not. If you eat more, it’s unlikely to be digested and will simply sit in your stomach or intestines without providing energy. There are a lot of people who suffer from gastric problems during long distance events and this is generally caused by eating too much food which they are unable to digest. It’s really important that you understand, eating more food doesn’t mean you’ll have more energy and it may well mean that you’ll face stomach upsets. I stress this point knowing how obsessed Ironman athletes in particular become with regards to feeding on the bike.

A deficit of 112 Kcal per hour doesn’t sound too bad

No, it doesn’t. But that is based on the presumption that you are only using 700kcal per hour, bigger people and less efficient people may be using more. It’s also based on the assumption that 50% is coming from fat and that may not be the case at all, in fact, as much as 80-100% may be coming from carbohydrate. What makes this worse is that bigger people can’t necessarily take on board more fuel, the 60g limit still pretty much applies. It’s a gut issue, it’s not about how big your muscles are and how much you can store in there.

So the 3 things you might want to know are:

1. How many calories do I burn per hour?
2. How many of them come from fat and carbohydrate?
3. How much should I be taking in as a consequence?

As a start point, you can probably work out your calorie usage by using a heart rate monitor or power meter. Run or ride at race pace and it’ll do the calculation for you, although the power meter is a lot more accurate than the heart rate monitor, it’s still a start point. Warm up, then do an hour at your ‘race pace’ and work out the figures. It’s amazing how many people who consider their training and racing to be ‘serious’, still have no clue how many kcal they use when racing. How can you have any grasp of nutrition requirements without knowing this figure? Once you’ve calculated that figure, apply the following rule:

80/20: If you are struggling to ride 50 miles / run 15 miles even when fuelling yourself throughout, then apply the 80/20 rule. That means 80% of your fuel is carbohydrate and 20% is fat.

65/35: If you can ride 50 miles / run 15 miles comfortably using fuel, then apply the 65/35 rule. That means 65% of your fuel is carbohydrate and 20% is fat.

50/50: If you can ride 50 miles / run 15 miles comfortably without using any fuel whatsoever, then apply the 50/50 rule. That means 50% of your fuel is carbohydrate and 50% is fat.

Are those figures accurate?

Absolutely not, I just made them up. They are by no means 100% accurate but they will give you a good start point and will allow you to calculate an approximate figure. The running figures are less ‘straight forwards’ than the cycling, as the impact of running can really fatigue your legs, so you may find 15 miles difficult, even if your fat burning and fuel economy is good. for cycling, the impact is low, so it’s more likely governed by metabolism and fuel.

Ok, so what’s the next step?

Here’s what we’re going to do. Prior to next week you are going to do a 1 hour ride or run at your ‘race pace’ and then using your cycle power meter, GPS or heart rate monitor, calculate how many calories per hour you are using when exercising at that intensity. I feel this is a pretty important thing for you to understand if you are to race successfully. It’s easy with a power meter for cycling, it does the maths for you. Most heart rate monitors will use your age and weight to work out kcal per hour. There are some tools on the internet such as: http://www.braydenwm.com/calburn.htm which can help to give you a basic idea.

Go forwards my endurance friends and do the maths, next week, we will be looking at planning your intake.

Until then, stay healthy.

– Marc Laithwaite

About Marc:

Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.

2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.

In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.

In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.

In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.

Check out the endurance store HERE

Endurance Store Logo

What really makes us fat

A CALORIE is a calorie. This truism has been the foundation of nutritional wisdom and our beliefs about obesity since the 1960s.

This is a post form The New York Times available here published June 2012

Vintage Images/Getty Images

An early 20th-century photograph titled “Big Man of MO, 630 lbs.”

Bittman: Which Diet Works? (June 26, 2012)

What it means is that a calorie of protein will generate the same energy when metabolized in a living organism as a calorie of fat or carbohydrate. When talking about obesity or why we get fat, evoking the phrase “a calorie is a calorie” is almost invariably used to imply that what we eat is relatively unimportant. We get fat because we take in more calories than we expend; we get lean if we do the opposite. Anyone who tells you otherwise, by this logic, is trying to sell you something.

But not everyone buys this calorie argument, and the dispute erupted in full force again last week. The Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of a clinical trial by Dr. David Ludwig of Boston Children’s Hospital and his collaborators. While the media tended to treat the study as another diet trial — what should we eat to maintain weight loss? — it spoke to a far more fundamental issue: What actually causes obesity? Why do we get fat in the first place? Too many calories? Or something else?

The calorie-is-a-calorie notion dates to 1878, when the great German nutritionist Max Rubner established what he called the isodynamic law.

It was applied to obesity in the early 1900s by another German — Carl Von Noorden, who was of two minds on the subject. One of his theories suggested that common obesity was all about calories in minus calories out; another, that it was about how the body partitions those calories, either for energy or into storage.

This has been the core of the controversy ever since, and it’s never gone away. If obesity is a fuel-partitioning problem — a fat-storage defect — then the trigger becomes not the quantity of food available but the quality. Now carbohydrates in the diet become the prime suspects, especially refined and easily digestible carbohydrates (foods that have what’s called a high glycemic index) and sugars.

UNTIL the 1960s, carbohydrates were indeed considered a likely suspect in obesity: “Every woman knows that carbohydrate is fattening,” as two British dietitians began a 1963 British Journal of Nutrition article.

The obvious mechanism: carbohydrates stimulate secretion of the hormone insulin, which works, among other things, to store fat in our fat cells. At the time, though, the conventional wisdom was beginning its shift: obesity was becoming an energy issue.

Carbohydrates, with less than half the calories per gram as fat, were beginning their official transformation into heart-healthy diet foods. One reason we’ve been told since to eat low-fat, carbohydrate-rich diets is this expectation that they’ll keep us thin.

What was done by Dr. Ludwig’s team has never been done before. First they took obese subjects and effectively semi-starved them until they’d lost 10 to 15 percent of their weight. Such weight-reduced subjects are particularly susceptible to gaining the weight back. Their energy expenditure drops precipitously and they burn fewer calories than people who naturally weigh the same. This means they have to continually fight their hunger just to maintain their weight loss. The belief is that weight loss causes “metabolic adaptations,” which make it almost inevitable that the weight will return. Dr. Ludwig’s team then measured how many calories these weight-reduced subjects expended daily, and that’s how many they fed them. But now the subjects were rotated through three very different diets, one month for each. They ate the same amount of calories on all three, equal to what they were expending after their weight loss, but the nutrient composition of the diets was very different.

One diet was low-fat and thus high in carbohydrates. This was the diet we’re all advised to eat: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean sources of protein. One diet had a low glycemic index: fewer carbohydrates in total, and those that were included were slow to be digested — from beans, non-starchy vegetables and other minimally processed sources. The third diet was Atkins, which is very low in carbohydrates and high in fat and protein.

The results were remarkable. Put most simply, the fewer carbohydrates consumed, the more energy these weight-reduced people expended. On the very low-carbohydrate Atkins diet, there was virtually no metabolic adaptation to the weight loss. These subjects expended, on average, only 100 fewer calories a day than they did at their full weights. Eight of the 21 subjects expended more than they did at their full weights — the opposite of the predicted metabolic compensation.

On the very low-carbohydrate diet, Dr. Ludwig’s subjects expended 300 more calories a day than they did on the low-fat diet and 150 calories more than on the low-glycemic-index diet. As Dr. Ludwig explained, when the subjects were eating low-fat diets, they’d have to add an hour of moderate-intensity physical activity each day to expend as much energy as they would effortlessly on the very-low-carb diet. And this while consuming the same amount of calories. If the physical activity made them hungrier — a likely assumption — maintaining weight on the low-fat, high-carb diet would be even harder.  Why does this speak to the very cause of obesity? One way to think about this is to consider weight-reduced subjects as “pre-obese.” They’re almost assuredly going to get fatter, and so they can be research stand-ins — perhaps the best we have — for those of us who are merely predisposed to get fat but haven’t done so yet and might take a few years or decades longer to do it.

If we think of Dr. Ludwig’s subjects as pre-obese, then the study tells us that the nutrient composition of the diet can trigger the predisposition to get fat, independent of the calories consumed. The fewer carbohydrates we eat, the more easily we remain lean. The more carbohydrates, the more difficult. In other words, carbohydrates are fattening, and obesity is a fat-storage defect. What matters, then, is the quantity and quality of carbohydrates we consume and their effect on insulin.

From this perspective, the trial suggests that among the bad decisions we can make to maintain our weight is exactly what the government and medical organizations like the American Heart Association have been telling us to do: eat low-fat, carbohydrate-rich diets, even if those diets include whole grains and fruits and vegetables.

A controversial conclusion? Absolutely, and Dr. Ludwig’s results are by no means ironclad. The diets should be fed for far longer than one month, something he hopes to do in a follow-up study. As in any science, these experiments should be replicated by independent investigators. We’ve been arguing about this for over a century. Let’s put it to rest with more good science. The public health implications are enormous.

Gary Taubes is The author of “Why We Get Fat.”

The book is available on line via Amazon