For back to the middle of the pack runners looking for new year’s inspiration to lose some weight, run faster, or both; Chris Albright’s story of how his ketogenic nutrition plan may do it. We asked Chris some questions on how changing his diet has improved his running and overall lifestyle.
NWDC: How did you get started in trail running?
Chris: I was an avid road runner for a few years before I turned 40. I wanted to do something big for my 40th birthday, so I signed up for the Bunker to Bonneville 50K September 2016. Prior to that, I hadn’t run anything more than a half marathon on road. After all the training on trails and the race itself, I really haven’t looked back. I fell in love with the trails and mountains all over Oregon and SW Washington.
NWDC: What is your nutrition plan and why did you start it?
Chris: I started following a Therapeutic Ketogenic Plan about a year ago. This means keeping my carbohydrate intake to under 20 grams a day. No processed carbohydrates and no sugars. I followed this plan for about 4 months. My goal was to drop weight and improve on my 50k time.
I currently am still staying in Ketosis for the most part. I have bumped up my carb intake to around 50 g a day. I keep track of my caloric intake at 2200 calories a day after adjusting my calories burned during exercise. I’m keeping my macronutrients at 55%Fat, 35% Protein and 10%Carbs. I still enjoy a cold beer and pizza after a long run or race though.
I started this plan originally, because of weight issues and unhealthy eating. I wanted to see what my potential would be if I actually tried to improve my lifestyle and health. I have to admit, I have made leaps and bounds. Literally.
NWDC: How has it changed your running?
Chris: Before this nutrition plan change of mine, I was 215 lbs, very slow and my 50K time was 8 hrs and 30 min. It would take days for my body to feel better after a long run. I would tap into and deplete my glycogen stores almost every run.
Since I started eating this way, I also changed how I train. I am following a Heart Rate Based Training Plan. All my long runs are done with the HR staying at or below 135 BPM. This is allowing me to burn fat for energy and leave my glycogen storage for when it’s really needed. I no longer hit the so-called “Wall”. I went from an 8 hr 30 min 50K to a 6 hr 5 min 50k within a year. Also, dropping to 160 lbs from 215 has helped with speed and mobility on the trails.
NWDC: How has it changed your body?
Chris: Other than the 6 Pack I lost after High School that is back, There are a few perks that I am finding.
Mentally, I seem to have more clarity. My mind seems sharper and not in a fog all the time. My energy levels have shot up. I’m always trying to find something to do and just can’t sit around. I’m functioning on 5-6 hrs of sleep with no negative effects. My recovery seems to greatly affect by it also. Eating less food that causes inflammation is allowing my body to bounce back much quicker. And the obvious, my knees are much happier not carrying the extra 55 lbs.
NWDC: How has it changed your lifestyle?
Chris: I understand better what my body needs. I don’t drink alcohol nearly as much as I used too. My body doesn’t crave the processed carbs like pasta and bread. I have found that there are a lot of alternative sweeteners out there that are great for a Ketogenic Diet. I’ve gotten to the point where it just feels natural to eat this way.
NWDC: What are the biggest challenges?
Chris: I think one of the big challenges for me is keeping my food option rotating. It’s way too easy to get in a rut with eating the same things over and over because it matches the macros you need. I tend to get burnt out on meals after about a month.
The other big challenge for me is making sure I am prepared when traveling. Too many a time I have shown up somewhere and they didn’t have foods that matched my style. They are making this a lot easier with Low Carb Protein Bars and other snacks. It is getting easier and easier.
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