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Can a vegan go keto? In her book, Vegan Keto, Liz MacDowell explains exactly how to do it and she provides some wonderful recipes to help you on your journey. On this episode, we discuss her book.
Allan (1:25): Liz, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Liz MacDowell (1:30): Hi Allan. Thank you. It’s so nice to be here.
Allan (1:34): When I saw your book I was like, “I’ve got to get her on my show”, because it’s Vegan Keto, and I’ve had this conversation with various people over the years. I’m one of those folks right now that’s kind of the backlash against bacon. I’m like, “Please, let’s stop talking about bacon. This is not the bacon diet.” Unfortunately, most people that are vegetarian and vegan, that’s all they hear.
Liz MacDowell (2:02): Exactly.
Allan (2:04): I know they’re saying I can eat bacon, but they’re hearing you eat bacon. It’s a really hard message to explain to folks that we need to get away from the bacon.
Liz MacDowell (2:17): It’s so true. It’s almost like keto has a bit of a PR problem. It was so enticing at first to everyone to hear, “You can eat bacon”, because bacon is that food that’s always kind of tossed back and forth by doctors as either going to kill you now or going to kill you in two years. So people were excited to hear they could have a healthy diet with bacon, but I think it became the overarching message that it’s burgers and bacon and cheese and eggs.
Allan (2:43): We could’ve said the same thing about mayonnaise. You can have all the mayonnaise you want. It’s the perfect fat, if you get the right kind of fat in your mayonnaise. So if it’s an avocado-based mayonnaise, you can just eat as much mayonnaise as you want. That’s not the message of the keto diet, but unfortunately I think that’s where a lot of folks have kind of taken it.
Liz MacDowell (3:05): Exactly. It definitely seems incompatible at first when you think vegan diet and then you think ketogenic diet.
Allan (3:12): Right, but the other side of it is, I’ll be the first to admit that when you’re doing ketosis and the ketogenic diet, you are being restrictive in your food choices. When you’re being vegan, you’re being restrictive in your food choices. Putting the two together is now a compound of, you have to be very, very selective about every bit of morsel of food that goes into your body to meet both of those requirements.
Liz MacDowell (3:47): That is very true. It’s funny, I’ve been doing this for so long and I just kind of eat what I want now, but you’re practiced at it, you know what you can eat. So I don’t feel as though I’m being restricted at all. But then you think about it. When you go to a restaurant and the waitress asks if you have any dietary concerns, it’s almost embarrassing. I just don’t say anything at this point; I just order a salad.
Allan (4:11): Yeah. It’s like, “Don’t even give me the menu.”
Liz MacDowell (4:18): “I will just be ordering vegetables sides, thank you.”
Allan (4:23): And then just say, “Bring me some olive oil to spice it up a little.” And that was one of the interesting things – I’m starting to see this trend in the conversation. I had Dr. Will Cole on not long ago. His book is Ketotarian. He does show you in the book how you can be vegan and do this, how you can be vegetarian or pescatarian. He kind of blends it out there to say you can find an eating style and you can still make it work for keto. But I’m just now starting to hear this message come out, despite my telling people you can. It’s restrictive and it’ll take a lot of work, especially at the front, as you said. But you’ve been doing this for a while. That kind of surprised me, because I really have never heard of anyone sustainably doing this. And so, I’d like to share your story if you don’t mind.
Liz MacDowell (5:23): Yeah, absolutely. I first stumbled upon keto I think through reddit, where I stumble upon most things, in 2012 over the summer. And it was a period of my life where I hadn’t really been eating that well, I’d put on some weight, I was feeling lethargic, tired and sick all the time, and was really looking for a way to feel better both physically and emotionally, really. Because when you’re not feeling your best physically, you get really depressed. I don’t really know how I stumbled upon keto, but at some point in time someone directed me to this keto page where I started learning about all these blood sugar regulation issues, which hit home for me, because I had been hypoglycemic my entire life. And then you just read more and more. And the more I read about it, I thought it couldn’t hurt to try a high fat diet. I’d tried a super high carb diet, as I think most vegans go through the high carb phase, and that was disastrous for me. I know that works for some people. I’m not at all maligning that way of eating. I think that if it works for you, awesome. I just am not a person who can pound 300 grams of carbs a day and feel okay.
Allan (6:44): That was one of the struggles I had. I kind of stumbled into ketosis myself. I was eating Paleo, effectively, but I was keeping my protein at more of a moderate level, which by nature means I was eating more fat. So, with that I started noticing some physical changes – my breath, my energy level, that I just couldn’t explain. I know I’m eating high quality food, but I’ve eaten high quality food before and I didn’t feel like this, and my breath didn’t smell like this. Then I started doing some research and that’s where I came upon ketosis and I’m like, “Okay, let’s figure this out.” I went and got some stuff, and sure enough I’m in ketosis. And then I started reading up on it and understanding some of the other health benefits of it. There are so many studies out there that show that the vegan and vegetarian lifestyle, way of eating are also excellent ways to protect your health. I tried the pescatarian. I knew I couldn’t just play the figuring out the proteins thing. I know there are vegetarian bodybuilders and vegan bodybuilders out there. I know it can be done; it’s just I don’t have the mental energy to do it week in, week out. I know once I got past the dip, it would’ve been fine, but it was that first thing. So I said I’m going to do pescatarian and allow myself to eat fish, and I’m going to eat vegetables and grains and the whole bit.
And what I found was that I was hungry all the time, which caused me to binge on fruit and nuts. And I had to have food with me everywhere I went. I had food in my truck, food at my desk. I was pretty much eating all day, every day, just to keep my energy level. And I would do steel-cut oats in the morning for breakfast, but still by 10:00 I was starving. So I brought myself three servings of walnuts, and I had other food in my office. I just would sit there and binge for the rest of the day. So, there are ways that are going to help us be more healthful and we have to know ourselves, which is what I really appreciated about your story. You’ve now found that balance. You said, “Okay, I know what I can eat. I know how to eat this way.” Now, to do this, I think where most of us think that the vegan aspects of this would make it extremely difficult to hit your micronutrients. I had trouble thinking I could do it with the protein. But we also now have this consideration on, how do I get enough fat into my diet without just drinking olive oil? Can you talk a little bit about the macronutrients? But then I think the bigger story in the end is going to be the micronutrients, because we’re excluding so many foods. There are two layers of complexity here – the macros, which already seem challenging, and the micros, which add a whole another level of depth. Can you go through those a bit?
Liz MacDowell (9:46): Yeah, absolutely. I think part of what makes keto a little bit less intimidating than I would say a Paleo diet for vegans is the moderate protein aspect of it, because you don’t have to worry about hitting 100 grams of protein or 120 grams of protein, which honestly on a keto diet would be totally impossible to do without supplementing. Obviously depending on factors, but for most people I think you would really need to consume a lot of protein powder in order to achieve that 100 grams, 120 grams.
Allan (10:23): And the reality is, most of us don’t need that. When you look at what our output is and our muscle-building capacities, particularly those of us over the age of 40, we just need that maintenance level of protein, which is really a moderate protein. It’s not as high as Atkins or some Paleo paths would have you believe.
Liz MacDowell (10:42): Absolutely. I think that’s another thing where keto is actually less intimidating, because you really don’t need as much protein as people tell you you need. I think we’re all very afraid of not getting enough protein in our culture, which is crazy because we don’t have protein deficiencies all that often. But to hit those macros, I rely on things like hemp seeds, which provide omega three fatty acids, just fats in general; and a good dose of protein for very few carbohydrates. Olives are a great source of fat. I like coconut. I prefer to eat whole food sources as opposed to pouring oil on things. This is so silly, but I feel like I’m getting more food if it’s a whole food source, which volume-wise is true. And also because the olive obviously has a more rounded profile of nutrients than pure olive oil. But I think it’s mostly that I just like eating.
Allan (11:43): There are things that we’re getting from plants that we don’t necessarily get if we’re eating what would effectively be a fortified or processed food. And even if it’s cold pressed, olive oil did go through a process.
Liz MacDowell (11:59): Exactly. And heating it to cook your food, you lose a few more nutrients. Less so with the minerals, but still there is some nutrient loss. Again, I really enjoy eating food. I think you get a whole slew of other benefits. There are so many phytochemicals in plants that we don’t even understand their purpose, but you see studies over and over that show supplementing with the vitamin is okay, although sometimes deleterious to your health, but consuming the whole foods provides added benefits that are greater than the sum of its parts.
Allan (12:36): You hit on a couple of things as you were going through there. There is a higher likelihood with the restrictiveness of trying to be vegan and keto. There are some supplements that you’re going to have to figure out. The big one I know of is the B12. You’re only going to get that from meat and eggs, but if you’re not eating meat and eggs, which you wouldn’t be in vegan, you have to find out your B12. You can measure B12 when you go in and get a blood test, so you can see if you’re deficient, which most vegans probably are. But you supplement. And there are other micronutrients you talked about in the book that I’d really like to spend a little bit of time on.
Liz MacDowell (13:29): Absolutely. So you definitely hit on the big one, B12. What’s sneaky about B12 is your liver can store up to seven years of it. You might not know that you’re slowly becoming deficient year after year because your blood work is showing that you still have enough B12, but eventually it runs out. I read a lot of studies while writing this book, and one of them I was reading showed that a surprising number of meat eaters are also deficient in B12. I think part of that can be attributed to the fact that B12 isn’t really in the food, but rather it’s synthesized by gut bacteria. And so, if we have unhealthy gut flora, it could potentially lead to… I’m kind of spitballing here, but it could potentially lead to a B12 deficiency. I recommend B12 for vegans across the board, keto or not, because as you said, if you’re not eating these animal foods, and even if you are eating these animals foods, sometimes people are deficient. So, testing is important and just keep in mind that if your test shows you’re fine, you should still be aware of your B12 intake.
Vitamin D is another one. I take a vitamin D supplement as well. I’m very pale, so the sun just scorches me, so I don’t like to rely on endogenous production. I think vitamin D is another really important one for vegans because most of the food products that contain it are eggs or dairy milk. Those are things we’re just not consuming. B vitamins are obviously very important for energy production. They’re most commonly found in meat, really. You can find them in grains as well, but the ketogenic diet would not have grains typically.
Allan (15:24): Or at least very little of them, because you would hit your threshold pretty quickly.
Liz MacDowell (15:29): Right, exactly. Not a substantial amount or a significant amount. I actually don’t supplement B vitamins because I put nutritional yeast on of all my food. Not all of it, but you know what I mean. I try to get nutritional yeast in every day, which is a fantastic source of protein. It’s low in carbs and it contains a spectrum of B vitamins. You can even buy nutritional yeast that’s fortified with B12, which would eliminate the need to purchase a separate supplement for that.
Allan (16:01): Okay, cool. I didn’t realize until I read your book how fundamentally good yeast can be. It has a cheesy taste, so I’ve got to figure that out. You had a recipe in the book about these flax seeds that were sort of like fake Doritos. I’m going to try those. We’re recording this ahead of time, but I’m planning Ketofest, a Minifest here. I don’t know if you know Carl Franklin of 2 Keto Dudes, but he wants people to do these keto Minifests, and I agreed to host one. So Carl’s coming down here to Pensacola for us to do this thing. When you’re listening to this, it’s already passed. But I’m planning on making those for that event. I’ve got the recipe, I’ve got the ingredients on my phone, ready to walk to the grocery store later and pick up those things. So, I will be introducing the world to your recipe tomorrow.
Liz MacDowell (17:09): Amazing, thank you! I’m so excited! You’ll have to let me know how they turn out.
Allan (17:13): Absolutely. Now, you had some other items in there that I guess vegans don’t have to so much worry about, and that was the zinc and iodine.
Liz MacDowell (17:29): And magnesium and calcium, I think I list in there too. Exactly, these are minerals which are obtainable by eating whole foods. And in the book, as you know, I list out all the sources. Hemp seeds actually appear on a lot of those lists. I really love them. I’m going to keep telling people to eat them because I think they’re fantastic. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of zinc, magnesium as well. A lot of these foods also overlap. It can be overwhelming at first to look at a list and say, “Oh no, I have to eat an ounce of that, an ounce of that, and an ounce of that.” But really, a lot of the times you can get double duty out of some of these foods.
Allan (18:10): That takes me to the next topic. When we go on what’s perceived as a restrictive diet… It’s funny, I’ll read a study about keto or about at least the high fat, low carb. And a lot of times the researchers will go through and I don’t think they like the conclusion. And so, they’re going to make a statement in their conclusion that, “This is unsustainable, therefore we should throw it out.”
Liz MacDowell (18:41): We have read similar studies, I see.
Allan (18:45): They basically poopoo their whole study. They still need to get it published because they’re looking for a university and they have to get published, and they’ve done all this work. They just don’t like the answer, so they say, “It’s unsustainable, so just do it the way we’ve been telling you to do it.” I can say for a lot of people that really are wanting to get into keto, but there’s this fear factor of, “I’m eliminating all the foods” – I can tell you when I first went Paleo, I had dreams about bread. I mean literal dreams, like I used to dream about women. But this was bread. Kind of an interesting dream to wake up from and say, “Do I smell bread cooking?” You put some guidance in your book about stress-free ways to get into keto, and I really appreciated the tips that you had in there. Would you mind sharing those?
Liz MacDowell (19:46): Thank you. Absolutely. I think my biggest thing is – and I mention this in the book too – my favorite adage is the best diet, or the best exercise routine, or the best supplement routine, or insert a thing here, is the one you can stick to. If you start right out of the gate with this tiny list of acceptable foods and this super strict schedule for eating and all of your apps and all this madness, it’s kind of like a second job to try and achieve this diet. It’s probably not going to work unless you’re already doing that with a different diet. I always think that you should ease into it and do what’s best for your body. And if that’s going cold turkey and diving in and hitting that 20 grams a day and giving up everything you’ve ever loved food-wise – if that works for you, that’s awesome. But it doesn’t really work for everyone. So, I often advocate just easing your way into it and picking a reasonable number of carbs to stick with, or even ignoring tracking altogether for their first little bit. Just focusing on eating low carb foods and seeing how you feel.
Allan (21:01): I completely agree and I think that’s one of the cool things. When I first saw your book listed, I thought it was a cookbook, just a cookbook. I was pleased to see that it wasn’t, that it had this other stuff in it to help someone. To me that is one way if you want to ease into this – to buy a book that has some recipes in it, and try the recipes, using them as a substitute for the meal you would have had otherwise. So if normally you would have had a dinner with an animal product, and potentially you would have had some starches and probably even some high glycemic vegetables, like carrots or whatnot – now you’re going in and saying, “Here’s an entree and here’s a side from this book. I’m going to have a ketogenic meal.”
Liz MacDowell (21:54): Exactly. And that’s one of my favorite ways, is just one meal at a time, or even one food group at a time. If you rely heavily on rice, maybe try switching out for cauliflower rice and see how that feels. I guess the most that you can do for yourself is be kind and listen to your body and understand that you are not like everyone else. You might not function all that well if you go from eating 250 grams of carbs a day down to 20 grams a day. I think most of us struggle with that at the beginning.
Allan (22:27): Absolutely.
Liz MacDowell (22:29): I think that when people take this “all or nothing” approach, some are great at it. Some people need that, but for others it can be really intimidating and kind of scare them off.
Allan (22:39): Okay. Other tips that you had?
Liz MacDowell (22:47): Don’t necessarily listen to people on the Internet – that’s a big one.
Allan (22:51): But they’re so sure of themselves.
Liz MacDowell (22:54): I know. They’re so angry about it too. I didn’t realize my breakfast impacted your day that much. I see this all the time. Someone posts a picture of their meal and then the comments on Facebook in the group, or on Instagram are like, “That’s not keto” or, “I can’t believe you’re eating this” or, “Who told you you could eat that?” Calm down, don’t listen to that. If that’s what makes your body feel good, then eat that food. Sometimes it’s genuinely people wanting to help someone else and saying, “I don’t know if you realize, but this has this much sugar in it”, or whatever. But you do see a little bit of unnecessary food policing, and I think that a big factor is to tune that out for a little while.
Allan (23:37): I’ll admit, there’ve been times when I saw something on a forum or something that was out there, and it was really more I didn’t want other people doing this.
Liz MacDowell (23:49): For sure.
Allan (23:53): She probably listens to the show; I’m calling her out again. But she would go to McDonald’s and tell them she wanted the McDouble, and give her two McDoubles but only give her the meat and the cheese. Basically she’s got four beef patties and the cheese that’s on each one. So, four slices of cheese and four beef patties, and she would eat that as a meal. I said I think that’s far too much protein. That would probably knock me out of ketosis because of the amount of protein. And she came back and says, “No, I tested. I’m staying in ketosis. It’s great. And I’m lifting heavy.” It works for her and it’s great. At that point I said, “Okay, I’m glad it works for you.” We’re all very, very different in the way that food affects us. I wish it was that simple – one size fits all, and then life would be beautiful. But unfortunately, there are foods I can’t eat because they adversely affect my health. And so, I do agree. Taking what you’re saying, someone is probably coming from a good place, but they’re not recognizing that what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, the motivations of what you have and the limitations of what you have are all there. So, I completely agree with you on that one.
Liz MacDowell (25:24): You also raise a good point though, in that I see a lot of things tagged on social media, I think to get more views, saying, “This is a keto recipe”, when in no universe it’s keto. Like the main ingredient is banana or something. So I think that’s another one.
Allan (25:38): And they’re not always that bad. But there are some of them where it’s like, “Okay, fine, but we don’t need keto cookies. We just don’t.”
Liz MacDowell (25:53): I think there are a lot of products out there that we don’t really need, that we’re kind of being told we do need.
Allan (25:59): Yeah. And I knew it was coming when keto started building up and everything. Now they’re selling fat bombs, now there are all these exogenous ketones.
Liz MacDowell (26:11): They’re everywhere. There’s an MLM for them.
Allan (26:14): Right. It’s cool to occasionally have some kind of treat from the past. It’s cool to say, “I would love to have a keto pizza.” And it’s cool – have a keto pizza. But everything you’re eating shouldn’t be the same kind of foods you were eating before. We’re in this to be healthy, so you start transitioning over to whole foods.
Liz MacDowell (26:46): I have a rule with myself where if I want that kind of junk food thing, I have to make it myself. If you really want it, then yes, you’ll go through the effort to spend an hour, an hour and a half in the kitchen, making the cookie or the donut. I guess it’s not really that long, but you know what I mean. You’ll go through the effort, and then it’s kind of worth it.
Allan (27:08): And as a special treat, because you’re saying, “I really do want this.” So when we were talking about your mock Doritos, they’re made with flax seeds. Everything that’s going to go in there is ground flax seeds and yeast. I’m going to lay them out and I’m going to put them in the pan and cook them. I think the total cooking time, all in, is 30 minutes.
Liz MacDowell (27:32): Yeah, it’s pretty simple.
Allan (27:34): So, I’m going to get two cookie sheets and make enough that everybody can try some. I’m going to have your book open to that page, printed out sitting right there and say, “If you guys want to take this home, there you go. Go get the book, because there’s a lot more in there.” There are 60 recipes in the book.
Liz MacDowell (27:52): That’s awesome, thank you.
Allan (27:55): This is a treat. I’m having people over to my house and we’re all keto. So I’m like, “Let’s try this treat.” But that shouldn’t be the staples of your everyday eating.
Liz MacDowell (28:04): Right, exactly. And I think it’s so easy to forget that. Although I’ll admit while I was writing that book, they became the staples of my everyday eating, because I was so hesitant to waste anything.
Allan (28:17): It’s both. I’ve tried to develop different types of recipes and tried to experiment with the food to try to get different effects and see what things are doing. And as you’re doing that experimentation, you eat what you made, and sometimes it’s not good, but you’re not going to throw that food out.
Liz MacDowell (28:37): That’s so true.
Allan (28:39): But I stumbled across something – I call it “Allan’s fluff”. It’s the weirdest thing. Again, it’s not vegan, so anyone that’s looking at vegan, this does not fit your profile at all. It fits mine.
Liz MacDowell (28:51): I’ll just ignore the parts that don’t apply to me.
Allan (28:53): All of it doesn’t apply, but I guess you could make it part of it. But it’s sour cream, and it’s vanilla-flavored, but unsweetened – basically it’s sweetened with Stevia – protein powder. Now, I’m using a whey protein, but you can use a pea protein. Again, it’s vanilla-flavored. When you mix those two things together – basically about a cup of the sour cream, so eight ounces of sour cream, and a scoop of the protein powder, so about 27 grams of protein – it fluffs up like whipped cream. Vanilla-flavored whipped cream. Yes, it’s delicious. So yesterday – again, we’re planning something coming up, and I was thinking, what if I put pumpkin spice in that? What would that be like? I was testing that, and of course I had to eat my creation. It was good. I stirred it too much, so now I know I need to put the pumpkin spice in while I’m stirring it together, so I don’t break it down, because it will break down if you keep stirring it. So, you’re experimenting; you’re learning new ways to make food or make things interesting. For me it’s a great dessert or just a little afternoon snack if I want something like that, but it’s not something that I’m eating on a daily basis.
Liz MacDowell (30:15): Right. Something I do in the summer actually is really similar to that. In the summer I say because my kitchen’s like 96 degrees and I just can’t be bothered sometimes. But I’ll take full fat coconut milk, and mix it with some protein powder and toss in a couple of frozen berries, like a quarter cup, and mix all that up and it becomes very fluffy and delicious.
Allan (30:35): Cool, awesome. And that’s all I’m saying – experiment and have fun with your food, because too many times when we stress out about food are the things that we can’t eat. And instead, start exploring the things that you can and the flavors and the textures and the different things that you want out of your food to make it that much more enjoyable, and quite frankly, delicious.
Liz MacDowell (31:00): Absolutely. And nutritious. The more variety you eat, the more nutrients your body is taking in. That’s always good. It’s funny too – I think since going keto, the foods that I eat on a regular basis have actually expanded. I feel like I get more variety in now because you’re paying so close attention at the very beginning to the foods you can eat, that you realize there’s a whole section of the supermarket or there are whole types of foods or vegetables that you never really thought about before that are great for keto, like so many different types of greens that I’d never tried before. Now I try to regularly eat mustard greens and dandelion greens – all the stuff that I never thought about before.
Allan (31:49): I snuck some dandelion greens in with some kale and spinach. My wife doesn’t know the difference. She just knows, “It tastes good. He made it.” But I knew it had a different nutrition profile than what we would normally eat, because I took the time to experiment with something else.
Liz MacDowell (32:07): I do that to my husband too – I sneak little bits of all the vegetables into food. You have to sometimes.
Allan (32:15): If I’m doing the cooking, you’re subject to what you get.
Liz MacDowell (32:18): Exactly. Cook’s rules.
Allan (32:21): Yeah. Now, you also told a personal story about some struggles you had when you first got started in exercise. Of course as a personal trainer I want to delve into that a little bit, because people will come to me and they’re like, “I’m keto, but I was told I shouldn’t exercise.” And I’m like, “No, that’s the exact opposite. You have to exercise.” As you put in the book, in the very beginning of this, while you’re going through adaptation, it can be a struggle. You’re going to feel much more fatigued and not have the performance. So I would say, don’t start keto one week before you’re going to do a 5K which you’ve been training for for months, because your performance is going to be off the charts bad. So, can you tell a little bit about your story and then how you would encourage folks to work towards exercising appropriately?
Liz MacDowell (33:21): Absolutely. And I’m laughing at that situation, but really with it, because I’ve been there. Not with a 5K, but as you mentioned, I talk in the book about when I first started keto, I thought I could just do exercise as normal and continue on my merry way, running on the treadmill or outside or whatever. And it turned out to not at all be the case for me. I hit a wall so hard. At the very beginning your body feels like lead, your muscles have nothing to give you. I was holding on to the sides of the treadmill; it was amateur hour. I listened to what was right for my body, which was I slowed the pace down and I realized that something had to give, and for me that was the speed at which I was doing things, or I guess the intensity. I know this isn’t right for everyone, because everyone’s body is different, but for me what I had to do was kind of dial it back, slow down, lay off the intense exercising and be a little more gentle with myself, and then ease back into it. But for some people they can eventually push through the first few terrible workout.
Allan (34:32): Yeah, and a lot of it’s going to depend on the type of work that we’re doing. In my example, I was lifting heavy, but that’s very anaerobic-type work. I just do a quick set and I’m done. The energy that I need is all coming from APT, so it’s there. For that set, I don’t need to go to muscle and liver glycogen. I have all the energy I need to get that done. I take my two-minute break and everything is reset and I go in again. When you’re running, or any kind of aerobic exercise, that’s where I see most people will have the most difficulty. If they haven’t set their mindset to understand that there’s going to be that decline in performance, it really can be disheartening.
Liz MacDowell (35:23): For sure. There are ways to improve your performance though. I’ve seen really great results with a lot of people that I’ve worked with them and I just know. Simply adding in a few extra carbs before their workout – just make a smoothie, put some berries in it, and then give yourself that sort of bridge, like the bridge energy to get yourself through that workout.
Allan (35:46): You’re timing your carbs in such a way that they’re optimal at the time you’re going to most need them. And the other side of it is because of the aerobic work that you’re doing and burning off the muscle glycogen, when that hits your system, your body’s not going to initially need to have a huge insulin spike to protect you from it, protect your brain from it. It’s going to say, “The muscles are working and they’re going to need this.” Insulin not only shuttles the blood sugar to fat cells, it also shuttles it to the muscle. Even that little spike of insulin is not a bad thing, if you have the energy expenditure to make up for it. So I agree – meal-timing is really key. And then the other side of it is, just sticking with it.
Liz MacDowell (36:37): And insulin is anabolic too, so it can help you to help those gains.
Allan (36:43): It does. So you can time the meals if you need to. My trainer at the time, we would have conversations about this, because he really didn’t understand what I was doing when I first started talking to him about it. He knew what ketosis was, but he was like, “No, no, no. I don’t want you coming into the gym in the morning having not eaten. You need to eat before you come here.” I said, “No, I’m coming in. I’m completely fasted. That’s how I’m going to train. I don’t really want to lift weights in the morning, but that’s when you can train me, so that’s when I’m going to do it.” And I would go in completely fasted and have the energy to do it. That said, it was expenditure and then rest, expenditure and rest. So that was very different. I have a friend that runs distance and she puts on well over 100 miles a month. Her husband’s gone keto and he said he did 11 miles. So, a lot of people see performance improvement after they get through to that adaptation, which can take several months. But once you get to full adaptation, your body learns how to manage the glycogen stores to allow you to do. Now, anything over, say, 90 minutes, you might need to refeed a little bit of carbs, but for anything less than 90 minutes, unless you’re really, really busting your butt, your body will adapt.
Liz MacDowell (38:16): Yeah. And along those lines, I think you just learn how much you need to refeed and when you need to refeed. I love hiking. I love hiking mountains. The White Mountains in New Hampshire are so much fun, and some of them are fairly sizable. You’ll have 5K, 6K feet of elevation gain, which is super fun. But it also is very intense and takes a little more than an hour. I tend to find that on those days I need to bring along carrots with me as a snack, or even an apple, which feels like such a weird treat, but there you go. At the end of the day I’m still in ketosis, because over the course of that day, you’ve used up all of that sugar.
Allan (38:55): Yeah. It never really had an opportunity to impact your metabolism, because it was immediately being shuttled into the work that you were doing.
Liz MacDowell (39:05): Right.
Allan (39:06): Cool. Liz, if someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about this book… I’m interested to try some of the other recipes as well, but it’s not just a cookbook. There are 60 plus recipes in here and a lot of great information to help someone get into ketosis, but beyond that to understand how you can be vegan and keto. Where would you like for me to send them?
Liz MacDowell (39:34): MeatFreeKeto.com is my blog, where everything is, and that will have links to Vegan Keto, which is my cookbook – vegan keto book, and all that information.
Allan (39:46): So you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/348, and I’ll be sure to have links to the book and to Liz’s website MeatFreeKeto. Liz, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Liz MacDowell (40:00): Thank you so much for having me. This was such a fun chat.
Allan (40:09): If you enjoyed today’s episode, would you please take just one moment and leave us a rating and review on the application that you’re listening to this podcast right now? I’d really appreciate it, and it does help other people find the podcast, because it tells the people that are hosting these podcast episodes out there on their apps that you’re interested and they know that other people like you might be interested. So please do that. If you can’t figure out how to do that on your app, you can email me directly and I’ll try to figure it out for you. Or you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Review, and that’ll take you to the iTunes where you can launch that and leave a review there. I really appreciate the ratings and reviews. It does help the podcast, it helps me, so thank you very much for that.
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