If you read my last blog about my new goals of climbing three major North American bigwall routes in the next five years–and you know anything about me, you already probably realized that I may have bitten off a lot to chew given where I am currently and where I will need to go in my training and climbing to have any chance of success. It’s not uncommon and honestly it seems to be the only way I can force myself to make progress. You have to force yourself out of the comfort zone of challenges that you know you can complete and move into areas where things are really up in the air.
Training for me always starts from the simplest things I can control–the “widest parts of the funnel” in order to benefit the more nuanced components down the line. Another way to think of it is a less gentle quote I’ve heard: ‘You can’t out-train a crappy diet’. That seems simple enough. Just give me the best diet and I’ll stick to it, right? Well, given that we live with type 1 diabetes, that is not so simple. Some of the richest sources of fuel for our bodies are also the hardest to integrate into good blood sugar management–which is also in the “wide part of the funnel”.
I always looked at carbs as the enemy. Carbs make my blood sugar go high and low blood sugar is the goal. I slept with Dr Bernsteins book under my pillow at night and I’d gently prod friends to cut back on their carbs because the ketogenic diet is the truth. Everyone in crossfit and on the internet can’t be wrong can they? Maybe. Maybe not. That’s not the point–they can all be right in their own diet, with their own body but that overlooks three main issues I’ve noticed that I have to address as I am training:
- Blood sugar is only one health outcome, not the end all be all measurement of good health.
- There are no universal truths in diet
- There has to be room for flexibility and adaptation.
I have had A1Cs that are not shabby. usually in the 6’s, lets just say that. I have found that level of control by cutting my carbohydrates and relying on predominately fats and protein for energy. My problem was that the zip, the fire, the power–was simply missing. I usually felt tired and I had a hard time getting solid training sessions in and I would feel like I’d gone 10 rounds with 1990’s Mike Tyson for days following a workout (my recovery was dismally slow). I was taking a lot of insulin relative to the carbs I’d take in–my ratio went from 1:10-12 to 1:6-8. I felt like I had to constantly be correcting my blood sugar because it would always want to creep steadily upward, even hours after eating–and working out would often make it go higher rather than turning the trend around and bringing me back down.
Here is a snapshot of my previous ketogenic diet:
- Occasionally Steak
- Eggs in staggering quantities
- Raw unsalted nuts
- Green salad
- Sugar snap peas
- green beans
Point being, my diet wasn’t crappy–the ketogenic diet just wasn’t a good fit for me. It was meeting the criteria of blood sugar management but it was still failing to make me feel energetic and active. So I decided to try and up my carb intake for more energy a few months back–which did show some promise. Using my new CGM, I’d see measurable increases in my ability to train when I’d eat more carbs–but I wasn’t hungry enough to hit my targets and my blood sugar was always sluggish in responding to my insulin so I drifted away from really getting the fuel I needed.
I had been sticking to the Ketogenic plan, and I want to stress that it definitely did do well in terms of helping me hit my blood sugar targets with enough insulin. It was only when I threw in the athletic goals with their training demands that this measurement of “good diet” started to look less complete. I also want to say that I don’t mean this as a slight to anyone who is way into the Bernstein method; I get it. It works to keep blood sugar down–and perhaps my adherence to and application of the ketogenic diet methods were imperfect, but it’s these impasses that force us to examine our methods–to learn and grow.
So I have completely overhauled my diet, plugged it into my training and that is going to be the focus of my next blog or two; going through the process I am using to better adapt a new diet to greater physical demands. Because there are no universal truths or quick fixes in diets it’s certainly going to have some trial and error that I hope you and I both can learn from!
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