Applied Biology

The Tucson Trail Runners rediscovered ketone adaptation by accident.  The Tucson Trail Run Series has been conducted in the mountain ranges surrounding Tucson, Arizona, since 1978.  These are multi-hour endurance runs to the tops of the peaks in many cases.  Most of the regular participants use the series to train for ultramarathon endurance races.  I’ve been the series co-administrator since the 1994.  If you’ve read the tabloid-like book “Born to Run,” it misses the first year the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico won the Leadville 100 after they used the Tucson Trail Run Series to train for Leadville.  I paced a Tarahumara runner that year at Leadville.  Tucson Trail Runners know how to run.  I like to think of us as the American kin of the Tarahumara, since the mountains we use are the northern-most Sky Islands of the Sierra Madre Occidental biological communities.

Some of us started experimenting with low carb diets to lose weight.  To our surprise, other things happened.  I was frankly skeptical of the claims of ketone-adaptation; learning to use fat-derived ketones in place of glucose.  When friends tried low carb diets, they lost weight and gained dramatic improvements in endurance and recovery.  I asked other trail runners to experiment.  They did.  All had similar results.  Runners at this level are very, very experienced.  They know their bodies, they understand performance.  Non runner friends who experimented got similar results.

We were all surprised.  You could be as well.

Here’s a good lecture by Dr. Steve Phinney discussing the art and science of low carbohydrate living and performance. Steve and Jeff Volek were the pioneers who I didn’t believe at first when I read their book on low carbohydrate performance. Paradigm shift required.

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