HFLC Experiment – part 1

By enlarge I’m very good at sticking to the advice on this website. I plan my training, test my fitness regularly, rest when I need to and generally try and be the best rider that I can. You might have noticed that there is one very large area that I have so far left out – Nutrition. There are two primary reasons for this; for starters I’ve not yet had the opportunity to study it in great detail, secondly I am terrible when it comes to following any sort of dietary plan.

I’ve mentioned plenty of times that I used to be rather large – 80 kg to be precise, at the modest height of 5.’6. Don’t get me wrong – I try my best yet still can’t resist the lure of a slice of chocolate cake (or 3 as if has been known to turn out). Recently, it has turned into a balancing act – making sure I ride far enough to burn off all those calories. I’d never be classified as overweight, in fact people often point out that there is ‘nothing of me’. Yet somehow I just don’t feel healthy – eating lots of sugar almost never fails to put me in a bad mood and leave me unable to concentrate. Much as I enjoy bread, pasta and rice they often leave me feeling bloated.

There has been much hype in the news recently about the possible benefits of a High-fat Low-carb (HFLC) diet. As we all know, saturated fat has been demonised in recent years. However, it seems that the recommendation to cut it from out diets was not entirely based on sound research. Just type “saturated fat and chd” into google for more information – I’m not going to try and explain it all in the course of a single post, far better to take it from respected sources.

As a Cyclist – I’ve always been lead to believe that a high carb diet is best for performance. What I have read so far suggests that a higher fat diet will not directly make you faster and that it is best to make exceptions (i.e. consume more carbs) before, during and immediately after Cycling. My interest lies more in the supposed increased ease of weight control, I’d like to see if it is possible to get back down to Race weight without deliberately restricting my calorie intake and living with the resulting hunger.

To that end, I’ve decided to try this diet and see what happens. Going into it I am skeptical – it is hard to believe that the advice I have grown up with may be largely wrong. I am not a convert to or follower of this way of thinking – I’ll give equal attention to both pros and cons which I may experience. ¬†Every couple of weeks I’ll write a post detailing how this ‘experiment’ is going. I am hoping that writing about it will make me that bit more motivated to stick to the plan.

What exactly is this plan? I hear you ask. For the next month (starting today) my diet will consist of the following:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Full-fat dairy (i.e. double cream, butter)

Likewise I’ll be excluding these:

  • Grains (pasta, bread, cereal, rice etc)
  • Fruit – apart from during and immediately after rides.
  • Low-fat dairy (i.e. skimmed milk)
  • White potatoes
  • Energy bars and gels

It is going to be a tall order to say the least – especially at this time of year, my thinking is that if I can follow this diet during the festive period then sticking to it will aways feel easy thereafter. I’m going to be realistic, there is no way I’ll be-able to completely avoid the foods listed above. To that end – I’ll allow myself three ‘open meals’ each week. I will also make a small exception when it comes to eating immediately after a ride, allowing myself a milk-based recovery drink and some fruit within a specified time window.

Just to be clear, all this series of posts will really tell you is whether or not this diet works for me. Every individual is different and just because something works or doesn’t work for one person doesn’t mean that you should or shouldn’t change anything. There are just as many sceptics of this approach as there are advocates, the debate is unresolved. Nutritional studies tend to be observational in nature, making it difficult to draw definitive conclusions. ¬†Also, beware of reading blogs by anyone who calls themselves a Nutritionist – it isn’t a protected term, meaning that anyone can claim to be one regardless of actual qualifications and knowledge. If I give out any advice over the course of this series of posts I will state my source or at the very least provide a link to wherever the information came from.

Here are some books and articles that may be of interest:










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