Keto & Running

2014

Twenty-four years of living with diabetes. A friend shared his son's brain specialists advocated a ketogenic diet as part of his treatment plan. For a person living with diabetes in 2014, the word ketone was used in sick-day protocol and from a person who had recently been in the hospital with diabetes ketoacidosis, DKA. It is a fatal condition that requires medical attention immediately. 

I was curious what a ketogenic diet was and why a brain specialist recommended it. I began gathering any information I could regarding a ketogenic diet. I watched the movie "First Do No Harm' with Meryl Streep. A film about a boy whose severe epilepsy, unresponsive to medications with terrible side effects, is controlled by the ketogenic diet. I read the studies done by Volek and Phinney regarding low carb diets and exercise. I read anything I could by Peter Attia. Over a few months of research, I got curious enough to try it in July.

There are a few different ways to transition into a way of eating where your cells adapt to a ketone-primary fuel source from a glucose-primary source. In my first keto transition, I chose carbohydrate restriction. It took about three days before the sugar cravings subsided; it was a reasonably easy transition after that. 

I enjoyed the stable glucose tracings on my continuous glucose monitor. My energy increased after the first few days, and initially, my insulin requirements dropped drastically. 

There are benefits and drawbacks to following a ketogenic way of eating, and since 2014, this area of weight loss and nutrition has received as much praise as it has criticism. People swear by it, and people swear at you for thinking it is a good idea. This back and forth exists as much in the realm of diabetes as it does outside of it. 

That summer, I had a few days to explore the Sawtooths Mountains before a friend's wedding in Boise. One day I set out to run a 19-mile trail. After about a month of following keto, I was immensely impressed with how little I needed to fuel to complete, with energy and stamina, the mileage. For many years, I had played with carbohydrate supplementation during exercise. Keto and training was a fun new area for me to explore. 

As a health coach, I often get asked if I recommend a specific diet and lifestyle for all my clients. Here is my answer to that question from my FAQs on my website:

I have found a way of eating and lifestyle habits that serve my goals as a person living with diabetes. However, I firmly believe in the concept of each person has a unique food and lifestyle to serve their bio-individual needs. I work with my clients to figure out what will work for them on an individual, case by case basis.

Photo: A photo from my run in the Sawtooths.