Ketogenic Triathlete?

I noticed a little traffic blip to my posts here on SuperStarch scamming which reminded me that AHS13 panel member on keto diets for athletes, and woo woo peddler, Ben Greenfield, would have completed his ketogenic diet fueled triathlon by now.   He has.  And for $9.99 you can get the full scoop on how it went.  No thanks.  Still, from reading the comments, one can surmise how he fared.

First, let me say this.  My hat goes off to anyone that can complete one of these races in any amount of time, etc. and all that jazz.  But at Ben's level, people don't generally compete in these things for recreation, there's money at stake -- whether it be endorsements/sponsorships or less directly involved in promoting his business.   So this was yet another publicity stunt, which is fine, but it doesn't seem to have been a success from any other viewpoint.  

I'm not a fan of his delivery, but Durian Rider is in fine form there in comments laughing at Ben.  

Kinda has a point there, eh?  So a quick skim of the comments and the race results, where Ben placed 26th overall, a full hour behind the event winner, and he "bonked" about halfway through the run.    Ben relates:
"I spoke pretty extensively with Peter Attia about this and we determined that based on my bike speed, projected bike power and caloric utilization, I was probably nearly 100% glycogen depleted starting the run - and there fore have three choices: 1) higher exogenous source of fast release sugars immediately or shortly after starting run (potential for stomach issues and not that healthy, but do-able); 2) higher intake of Superstarch per hour during bike (can cause GI distress in some people) 3) "loading up" in final hour of bike with "extra" calories (e.g. 400-600 calories of something like a BonkBreaker bar, etc.) going into run. A combo of the first and third option is probably what I'll do in Hawaii.
We're also looking into higher intake of amino acids, because a drop in AA's could also cause a bit of a bonk. So those are the basics.

And Z4/Z5 efforts are just fine in ketosis - unless you try to throw them in after pure glycogen depletion at the end of 8 solid hours of hard exercise - such as attempting to sprint out the last half-marathon of an Ironman.
Glycogen depletion?  You don't say!  But I thought you had like 30,000 calories of fat to burn so you don't need no stinkin' carbohydrate.  Guess not.  So much for the performance side of this art and science schtick.   I'd say Volek & Phinney have some 'splainin' to do -- speaking of which, did this study ever get published up?   Fat Burning Beast.  That was my post about Tim Olson -- "low carb" ultra runner.  Only he's not really a low carber after all.  Still, Phinney was quite coy on the details:
STEVE PHINNEY: I wouldn’t tell you the details even if I knew because it’s confidential research information. And I don’t think he’d want any of the details of what he’s doing to be public, because, realize, all of a sudden this guy knows absolutely that he’s got a remarkable competitive edge.
So what happened for Ben?  Where was his remarkable competitive edge?  
STEVE PHINNEY: When the starting gun goes off, 30,000 calories of body fat. Now, if you run this race typically your body will burn 10,000 calories over the 100-mile course, so he’s got enough to run the race three times over before runs out of fat fuel. But that’s because he’s a fat-burner. For the carb loaded runners, who are less adapted to burning fat, at the same starting line, even if they’d done their carb loading to the maximum, the most carb calories they’d have in their bodies is 2,000. Now, if you’re running on a carb fuel strategy, and you’ll need 10,000 calories to complete the 100-mile race, that 2,000 calories of carb stored in your body at the start of the race is only 1/5 of the fuel that you need to complete the race.
Sounds like Ben ran out of gas and took a page out of Tim Olson's book and turned to ... Coke.  Now Olson favors Sierra Mist as he seems to prefer less caffeine and real sugar vs. HFCS.  But Ben Greenfield, your ketogenic triathlete ... fueled by Coca Cola!!  Oh there was some superstarch too, but I guess in the end it doesn't really do the trick.   When the going gets tough, the ketogenic get "cracking".  

The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance -- except when you are actually performing, then chug carbs or you're gonna bonk.


John Smith said…
I once ran in the Death Valley Hellish 100, it is, as the name suggests, one hundred miles of running through the middle of Death Valley in the hottest part of the year.

To prepare for the race I consumed nothing but dried, ground Iguana testicles that had been mixed into a cup of coffee that had been softened with the milk of a domestic cat (you can milk cats if you do it just right).

Anyway for the 100 meters that I ran that race I was right in the sweet spot, everything was functioning on all cylinders, the Iguana testes and I were as one. Then I noticed I was standing all by myself in the middle of the desert, and went home.

Turns out that Iguana testicles are quite hallucinogenic.
Paleo Nouveau said…
Silly to think you can be competitive on an endurance event on keto. I will say this though, on a purely biological survival mode it is plausible that relying on fat reserves for survival trumps carbs. On a competitive environment keto is out of gas! Survival mechanisms are not equal to thriving and performance enhancing ones. A fairy tale for non athletes!
grinch said…
Nice strawman. Whoever said that ketogenic athletes never eat carbs? Ever heard of train low, race high?
Ben Greenfield said…
Killer blog traffic today from this post. Thanks!
carbsane said…
Yeah, ketosis is our natural protection in starvation. To preserve glucose and protein. Not sure there's any advantage past a day or so of "adaptation".
Ian East said…
"Ben placed 26th overall, a full hour behind the event winner, and he "bonked" about halfway through the run."

I take my hat off to Ben. If I had a bonk half way through a race, all I would want to do afterwards is sleep.
carbsane said…
I tipped my hat as well.
Sanjeev Sharma said…
Filipino psychic surgeon to James Randi:

Killer sales of Americans wanting to pay me to cure their cancer. Thanks!

Creationists to Judge Jones:
Thanks !

AIDS denialists to scientists:
Sanjeev Sharma said…
I see what you did there.

Too bad you weren't a fat burning keto-beast though
River Rance said…
Funny stuff. And getting called out by Durian Rider is priceless. It's the hucksterism one expects from Jimmy Moore. By the way, the JM podcast with Durian Rider is a classic.
John Smith said…
You are talking about bonk training. The training method itself is an acknowledgment that a lack of carbs limits performance, otherwise why race high?

It is an acknowledgment that to perform at your best, you need to be as full of glucose as you can possibly be. And that negates the "fat burning beast" hypothesis.

To be at your utter top beastfulness you need to be chock full of glucose.
charles grashow said…
Jimmy Moore on the 700 club
Paul Casimir said…
How well did the traffic translate into sales of fraudulent magic bracelets?
Cormac Kehoe said…
I stumbled across this post and got a little annoyed, even though I don't know who Greenfield is. The snark is way over the top here. Whether you agree with Greenfield's fueling strategy or not (and that's what he is employing, a strategy aided by adaptation caused by ketogenic dieting), you are glossing over what he is actually doing by claiming his result sucks. It doesn't suck. 26th overall is damn good, considering World Class professional triathletes raced. Greenfield finished 5th in his age group, 13 minutes behind the winner and less than 9 minutes behind second place, in a 140 mile race. By any reasonable account, his race was a success.

As for his fueling strategy, you seem to want to echo that asshat, Durian Rider, whose "bananas"daily fueling strategy sends him to the hospital. What Greenfield appears to be doing is to use a ketogenic approach to condition his body to maximize his % use of fat as a fuel while racing. Anybody with an prior involvement in endurance athletics knows that we don't ever go 100% with either carb or fat fuel source, and the harder you go, the more more carb fuel you must use. But if you are adapted better to burning fat, you need to use less carb. And that is his approach, using of super starch or whatever the hell it is called as a supplementary rather than primary fuel source. It is an interesting approach. I have no idea if it is the "best" approach, although "best" would have to be defined, considering the digestion variables involved with different fuel mixes. Perhaps he would be faster with a more carb fueled approach. Perhaps not. But it's an interesting experiment.
carbsane said…
Attia did some metabolic chamber tests running and eating some foods. I'm sorry I don't recall where these are, likely on his eatingacademy blog.

I'm not into endurance sports so I don't really stay up on the latest tweaks, but I know a proud sugar burner former paleo (even had a blog with Grok in the title!) who is leaner than ever doing tris, eating very high carb (more fruit and sugar than starch) and improving his performance.

Attia readily admitted his performance suffered (about 5% if memory serves) and it seems Greenfield's as well.
carbsane said…
I'm sure he was doing a buy one get one 50% off sale with codeword CARBSANEROCKS
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