Friday, August 20, 2010

My LFRV days are over

It's official: my 4-month Low Fat Raw Vegan experiment ended on August 1st. The main reason for this was my alarmingly low weight. On July 31st I weighed 59 kg (130 lb) only.

I totally freaked out when I realized that:
  • this was my lowest adult weight ever (as far as I know),
  • it resulted in Body Mass Index of 18.2 (anything less than 18.5 means you are way too underweight).
It was measured at 5 AM, fully loaded/rested/tapered/recovered, 3 hours before the start of Swiss Alpine K78 trail run. By the way that particular race was my main fitness test for this year, and I didn't achieve my goals. My time was 55 minutes slower than last year and I felt weak right from the start. Also my earlier extreme trail race experiment failed with a DNF largely due to lack of energy.

I'm crazy enough to try new lifestyles, but I'm not stupid enough to continue with them if the expected results are not there.

Also about the same time, I happened to read Denise Minger's life-changing critique of The China Study.

What's more, her ashtonishing example of the Tuoli people of China shows that dairy, meat and wheat are not necessarily unhealthy, as long as they are not spoiled by the Western food industry. The Tuolians also seem to lack the Western concept of food variety. For example, Tuolians don't eat vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, plant oils, seafood, and so on. It's really just dairy, meat and wheat, which results in the following macronutrient breakdown: 46% fat, 35% carbohydrates, and 19 % protein. Yet their total mortality and disease rates are lower or similar compared to the other counties in China.

I used to be on a high fat low carb diet before this stint with low fat high carb - I guess I'll be a medium fat medium carb paleo runner in the future. After three weeks of reduced intake of fruits (compared to a frugivore diet), I'm happy to report that my weight has normalized around 64.8 kg (143 lb), which means a 20.0 BMI. That's probably quite perfect for a marathon/ultra trail runner.

However, unlike quicker and younger dudes like Tynan, I won't start eating meat just yet. I fully accept that The China Study may not scientifically prove that animal protein is the cause of disease like cancer. Still, even bad scientists can sometimes draw the right conclusions. I believe that people changing their diets away from animal-based processed foods towards plant-based raw foods will continue to enjoy great health benefits.

According to UN and mostly anyone paying attention to our environment, a major shift like that in our lifestyles is a must, if we plan to live on this planet for much longer.


Primal Runner said...

I've largely been following the LFRV lifestyle for the last 18 months and have experienced the same sort of disappointments in races as you seem to have had. I've gone into ultra races where my coach has expected me to compete for the win only to find myself lacking energy at the first major climb.

I'm currently reassessing my food choices in the hope to regain successful race performances.

Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Jakuko said...

Thanks for the interesting comment!

I'm also reassessing my food choices for the next year. Currently I seem to prefer vegs, eggs, pseudo-grains, nuts, seeds, dairy and fruits as well as some legumes.

I dislike meat, seafood, grains, vegetable oils, 'superfoods' and most processed foods.

I've started drinking tea, mate as well as coffee again.

After LFRV I noticed that sweet foods like honey or dates do not appeal to me anymore. I might still use them during some longer races though.

Good luck for your races! Please let me know if you find out what improves both your overall health and race performances.

Primal Runner said...

Sounds like your diet is very similar to mine. After 811rv though I still find it hard not to get up and eat fruit for breakfast. While my health and general well-being felt optimised while LFRV it was during my training and races where I realised I was heavily mineral deficient. Especially in iron even though I consumed iron-rich plant material with Vitamin C sources as recommended. Became evident when even though my fitness was improving running 160+km per week my strength on the hills (leg strength) diminished. Breathing became much more difficult and I was forced to walk more often. After a race disaster I experimented with a dosage of Iron supplementation for 2 weeks and saw immediate improvement in my strength. Maybe I can't take in non-heme iron sources.

I also know what you mean about the sweet food thing as I've discovered the same thing with bananas. I still eat them but I can't eat them every day like I used to. Enjoy your tea and coffee. I'm just finishing up a cup. Nice on a cold morning...

I'll keep you informed with my ongoing experiment. It was actually your blog which guided me on my current path.

Good luck to you too. Please keep us up to date with your ongoing diet changes. If you want to contact me for futher discussion you can email me at primalrunner at gmail dot com as I would like to hear more about your food choices.

Jakuko said...

This is excellent Primal! What you describe sounds exactly like my LFRV experience.

I definitely noticed the breathing difficulties and diminished muscle strength when I was running all over the Alps in July.

I didn't take salt as 881rv says it's a no-no, so after about 30 km in the mountains I had to adjust my watch band looser, as my wrists were swelling like crazy. That's a sure sign of salt (& possibly other minerals) deficiency. In my K78 race a month ago I was able to take some sea salt at 40 km aid station, and I believe that alone saved me from a DNF.

I was also often feeling terribly cold although I had good gear, especially at altitude in challenging weather.

I'm still blending a fruit/berry smoothie in the morning. I'll throw in plenty of greens. What you say about iron sources is interesting. I'll gmail you about that soon.

Primal Runner said...

Your experience with mineral deficiency relates to similar experiences I had while racing. I also started cramping in my quads/inner thighs which was a new experience. Went back to taking s-caps during ultra races and experienced no further cramping issues.

Fruit/berry green smoothies are definitely still in my diet. Plenty of kale, spinach and romaine along with some hemp and pumpkin seeds.

Karen said...

Were you on fruit only or eating green veg as well? And what was your daily calorie intake like?
I am looking to improve my diet and was considering LFRV.
I try to keep my iron up by making sure I get vit C with my iron donating veggies BTW

Paleo Runner said...

I was eating lots of vegs, especially greens - and I still do. I just don't eat fruit that much anymore. My daily cal intake was (and still is) around 3000-4000.

Feather Story said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I realize this is old, but I just happened across it. One thing that stands out is that you said you consume 3000-4000 calories a day. As an athlete that is pretty low for a low-fat, plant-based diet and sometimes even for higher fat diets. As a very petite mom of two, I easily consume 3000-3600 calories a day on an lfrv diet. Also, a good many athletes on this diet supplement(lightly) and/or add salt. Just wanted to encourage you to take what works for you and leave the rest. It seems like the salt thing is one that a lot of people bring over with the general lfrv message. Especially athletes. I also have to wonder if your fruit was totally ripe. I just can't imagine not liking sweet fruits unless you didn't combine them well(with lots of water for smoothies) or they weren't ripe. Anyway, thanks for the read. :)

Trail Plodder said...

Thanks FS! You are right, I wasn't able to get enough cals in due to low fresh fruit quality etc. Fortunately I was able to figure it out by myself. I'm now back in the game with a more flexible 75-95% LFRV plan that seems to work very well. On some heavy training/racing days I may need over 5000 cals.