I entered Paradise Aid Station at mile 27 in 4th place and left in the lead. I’d been running with Gary Robbins and Avery Collins since the start, and our lead pack had slowly eroded to the three of us. I left Paradise with Avery and Gary in tow and settled into a combo of running and hiking. As we ascended past the crowded Manoa Falls and a couple of switchbacks, I looked back and didn’t see them. That was the moment it began to dawn on me that my “experiment of one” and my recent diet shift of utilizing OFM (Optimized Fat Metabolism) principles was working. I felt good and relaxed. I told myself to not push yet, it was still early. I kept running smoothly and enjoying the humid jungle ride.

Leaving Nu'uanu, mile 53 with my lights. Photo by Jiro Ishiduka.
Leaving Nu’uanu, mile 53 with my lights. Photo by Jiro Ishiduka.

Rewind to 7 weeks prior…

I was a mess. I’d been fighting a candida/yeast issue in my GI tract since June and a staph infection I’d picked up in South America. I’d had to go on antibiotics for the staph, but this caused the yeast to get worse. I was dealing with my 4th major candida flare-up. When it would flare, I’d usually miss a night of sleep itching out of my mind, I was sick and tired of dealing with this issue.

In a desperate state, I started researching anti-candida diets online and came across a Paleo forum talking about yeast and candida and that the Paleo lifestyle could help heal it. After all, yeast feeds on sugar and it made sense to cut out any yeast-feeding foods, especially starchy, sugary carbs. Plus, it helped that my wife had wanted to go Paleo for several years. She’d been dealing with some insulin resistance/hypoglycemia symptoms since her 20s. She already had two Paleo cook books. So, we embarked on cutting out grains, legumes, sugar, wine, beer and even coffee for good measure (I did bring back red wine in moderation after 4 weeks). It was 7 weeks from race day when I got full-on crazy strict — even through the holidays. I had no choice. I just couldn’t deal with another yeast flare-up.

The first week was horrible. I was lethargic, moody, and my workouts sucked. My kids were not hip to Dad’s new grouchy shortcomings. My body was deep in carb detox, starved of my normal intake of sugar, caffeine, and rice and potatoes. My body needed time to adapt to new fat-optimized pathways. I took my carb intake down to 15% of my daily intake, mostly from fresh veggies, about 20% protein from good natural meat sources, while upping my fat intake to 65%. I was combing the web for food ideas, trying to find new habits. I started reading Vespa’s OFM strategy. I started researching fat adaptation and listened to hours of podcasts on LCHF (Low Carb, High Fat, Moderate Protein) diet, the science, the theories. This led me to email my friend and Altra teammate, Zach Bitter for support and tips. I knew he’d been strict LCHF diet for several years and I was in need of advice.

I started to come out of the carb-haze on day 8 and by 2 weeks in, I was feeling better. I cycled myself into ketosis. The yeast amazingly cleared up within that first week and I was starting to have consistent energy throughout the day. No lows, no crashes. I started to experiment with some carb-fasted runs with good success. I found I was able to run a 17-mile run after an 18-hour carb fast on only water and one s-cap, with the last 12 at 50K race pace without any issues. I wasn’t even that hungry after the run. Not my normal.

I started to go on my long 4-5 hour runs with only 50 calories per hour of Roctane drink with no bonks. I lost 7 pounds in the first 10 days and then stabilized at my high school weight of 135 pounds. My energy levels were solid. Recovery seemed to be faster too. Biggest bonus — zero yeast symptoms. I was definitely encouraged.

Fast forward to the race…

As I came back to Paradise at mile 47 still in the lead, I was stoked. I felt good, I had no bonks, despite going on half the calories of my normal 100-mile nutrition plan. As I left, I yelled over my shoulder at my crew, Jesse Haynes, “It’s working! It’s working!” I was just as surprised. I had fretted quite a bit before the race, back up gels in all my drop bags, how much to take per hour? How would my body react? Sure it seemed to work in a 4-5 hour run, but what about at 12 hours? 16? My normal regimen was out the window, the regimen that had been working for years in 100s with good success.

As I pushed up the hill to see where 2nd place was at nearly halfway though the course, I was stoked to see Gary 18 minutes back and Yassine not too far behind him in 3rd. I’d increased my lead more since the last checkpoint. I continued to grind away on the three mile climb back up to Paoua Flats and then up to Bien’s Bench (Rod Bein’s father’s memorial bench) and descending the steep, technical and slippery Nu’uanu Trail. I was pushing on the down and meeting other runners coming up when I stepped to the edge to avoid a woman runner and slipped off the trail on the slippery rocks. I tumbled off the trail and just happened to quickly grab a bowling ball sized rock before I did a face-check. I clung onto the rock to avoid slipping down the 70 degree slope below the trail. The woman standing over me with wide-eyes asked if I was okay. “Yeah, I’m okay.” I was scrapped up but fine, luckily. I pulled myself back up onto the trail and took off again.

Lap 3. Photo by Allen Lucas.
Lap 3. Photo by Allen Lucas.

At Nu’uanu on the 3rd lap, I grabbed my lights from Jesse and was out to see if I was getting a further gap. To my surprise, Yassine had pulled into 2nd on the descent and was looking good — 24 minutes back. I kept grinding up, running as much as possible on the steep ascent and quickly met Gary too. I pushed the pace down to the Nature Center (Start/Finish), hopping rocks and roots and dancing my way to the bottom. Jesse was ready and I grabbed refills of Roctane and downed another Vespa and took off up the rooted Hogs Back climb. I came through the top short road section where Mike Arnstein (last year’s winner) had a fresh coconut aid station. Every lap, I chugged straight from a fresh coconut on my way through. What a treat. Thanks Mike. One of the things I truly love about the ultrarunning community, the willingness and want to give back. Solid.

I flipped on my lights on the descent on lap 4 into Paradise and continued to increase the lead on each out and back section over Gary (now in 2nd) and Yassine in 3rd. When I left mile 80 for my final lap, I had about a 50 minute lead. I was very relaxed at that point. I felt good, I still had juice in the tank if I needed to make another move and I would see my competition two more times on the final lap on the out and backs. I decided to cruise the last 20 and enjoy the aid stations and just keep from getting hurt on this gnarly course.

This is when I started to think about post-race food. I wanted some protein and asked the aid station if they had bacon. Nope, just ham. I ditched the bread, ate a small piece of ham and cheese. They informed me that Paradise had bacon. 7 miles away.I stopped and chatted with Mike and thanked him for the coconuts. We chatted for a minute or two and I left with one of my water bottles topped off with raw, fresh coconut water poured straight out of a freshly hacked coconut. Sweet nectar.

I came into Paradise on a bacon hunt. Thanks to Jen McVeay, a long time staple at HURT, I mowed down 3 pieces. However, I got the 3rd piece only with the stipulation that if I won, I had to credit the bacon (which I happily did at the awards ceremony…thanks again Jen…that bacon was the bomb).

At Nu’uanu I had a half a hamburger patty. I hike more on the climbs and was keeping an eye on Gary, still 45-50 minutes back with 7 miles to go. My headlamp started to dim on the final, technical descent to the finish, which had me going slow to pick my way through the rocky jumble, but thankfully was enough to make it to the finish. I crossed the line in 21 hours, 22 minutes for my 14th 100-mile win and my 23rd hundred mile finish. So thankful and excited to grab another win and feel better than I have in a while, health-wise. Paleo and OFM are working well for me and I feel strong and excited for the 2016 season! Especially with both Western States 100 and Hardrock 100 on the schedule — a mere three weeks apart.

The LCHF diet has been amazing. I just can’t say enough. I was able to go on half the calories I normally would intake in a 100-miler (GU Roctane, Vespa, unsweetened banana chips, and few orange wedges mainly). It’s a different, less traveled road, but worth it for the health benefits. My post-race recovery was like nothing I’ve experienced before. Truly unbelievable.

Also a big shout out to the HURT 100 volunteers and all the crew that make that race what it is. It’s a special one. And, all the folks who ran. Solid to see everyone laying it down out there and fighting that gnarly course. Thanks Gary, Yassine and Avery for pushing me to a solid finish. Giddyup!

Know more about the nutritional angle…

To understand how we’re wired and why grains and legumes aren’t very good for us metabolically, I highly recommend: Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint (probably most aligned with his stuff personally — great intro and info on his website), Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution (great mix of why and how of Paleo), and the first book I read on the subject (yeah, I like to get my geek cap on), Volek and Phinney’s, The Art and Science of Low Carb Living (deeper science angle). All worthy reads.

A Big Thanks…

Special thanks to my wife and kids and their tireless patience and putting up with all the training. Big shout out to Zach Bitter and Peter Defty at Vespa for all the consulting on OFM to help me get it dialed in before the race. Stoked to be on an even more dialed nutritional path than I was before.

Huge thanks to my stellar sponsors and all their support, Patagonia and the killer threads; Altra who are constantly improving and fine-tuning the footwear line; Magda at GU for the special Bronco Billy Brew Roctane; Bryce and Tina at Ultraspire for the handheld bottles; Rocho at Black Diamond for the lights; Rudy Project for the Rx glasses; Barlean’s for the fat supplements and all the organic coconut oil I use daily. And my local peeps, FootZone, my running community and Recharge for the great scene they’ve created with recovery, treadmills, workout facility — awesome addition to my training routine. Lastly, big ups to the Big Man upstairs for keeping my path straight and safe. Giddyup y’all.

HURT 100: Experiment of One and OFM

63 thoughts on “HURT 100: Experiment of One and OFM

  • January 25, 2016 at 6:12 am

    Jeff – great job at HURT and great report – Impressive. I am interested in the LCHF/OFM process. You mentioned that you listened to a few podcasts – what were they? Where would I start to learn more about this? Thank you, Rob

  • January 25, 2016 at 6:34 am

    I would like to look into LCHF diet. What are some good sources of info? Any good books or web sites? Is the Vespa site a good place to start? Thanks and congrats on your win!

  • January 25, 2016 at 7:33 am

    Rob and Jeff,

    Couple of resources I recommend. Read the OFM info on the Vespa site. Read this article in Ultrarunning online by Peter Defty from Vespa on the FASTER study. Also, listen to some of the Real Food Reel podcasts, especially episode 30. Also, a good podcast series on the FASTER study on Endurance Planet: Part 1 and Part 2. Giddyup.


  • January 25, 2016 at 7:39 am

    Also, another note…I would start with Primal Blueprint diet (which is basically what I’m doing…paleo with addition of raw/cultured dairy). Concentrate on your fat intake too. Most folks going to a Paleo-style diet tend to up protein for calories or fruit, instead of fat. Protein is moderate to optimize fat metabolism since the body has a pathway to turn excess protein to glucose (gluconeogenesis).


  • January 25, 2016 at 9:03 am

    So awesome Jeff! Looking forward to see you continue to cursh hundos!

  • January 25, 2016 at 9:12 am

    ^^^ Awesome – Thank you!

  • January 25, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Thanks Zach. I appreciate all the insight bro.


  • January 25, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Hi Jeff,
    Congrats on an amazing performance, 5th best time of all time for this course in those very hot/humid conditions is no joke! It was a pleasure sharing some miles (yards?) with you and see you do your thing! Interesting report on your OFM experiment.
    All the best for your WS/HR combo!

  • January 25, 2016 at 9:32 am

    Hey Guillaume,

    Thanks. Awesome to hang out. Looking forward to our paths crossing again.


  • January 25, 2016 at 9:40 am

    Awesome Jeff! Glad you found OFM and are experiencing, quite exactly, what Zach Bitter and other runners have found with fat adaptation and strategic carbs while racing. The even energy levels, the use of less calories while racing, and the recovery have been truly amazing. After Mountain Lakes 100 in 2015, my recovery was 5 days, which for me is about 12-14 days quicker because of OFM. Plus, bacon rocks!

  • January 25, 2016 at 9:50 am

    Thanks Cameron. Recovery has been crazy. And, bacon has no substitute! 😉


  • January 25, 2016 at 10:52 am

    Great write up. It’s really cool to read about your experiences with the diet change. I’ve been eating this way more and more for the past few years and am only just now getting back to doing some endurance events and the feeling is great.

    Good luck with the rest of the season. Can’t wait to read some reports from your other races and hearing about training, eating, and life.

  • January 25, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Thanks Brian.


  • January 25, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    I’m not disputing that the LCarb diet is working for people in ultra running, but where’s the discussion point about how animal based foods are a really bad environmental problem; or living with compassion towards animals…are those 2 things worth ‘winning’ a race for? I’d rather run slower and sleep better knowing that my dietary choices aren’t at the cost of our animal friends that also want to live on a planet that’s not suffering from animal agriculture. And all the grass fed nonsense… it’s not what most people buy when they want to try a diet like this. #slowdown #betterKarmaIsWorthIt. Maybe try coconuts and avocados….

  • January 25, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Hey Mike,

    Thanks again for the coconuts. Those were awesome during the race. First off, the low carb diet obtains most of the daily calories from fat such as coconuts and avocados (60-70%), which I eat daily in fairly large amounts. Most people misunderstand the Paleo diet and consume high protein, but it’s actually moderate protein. I do agree that most folks don’t think about where their meat comes from. I think everyone should consume less meat and also vote with their dollars when they hit the grocery store. I do. I only have small portions of meat daily from sustainable practices. I grew up on a commercial farm in the midwest (hogs, cattle, corn and soybeans). I’ve seen what those kind of unsustainable practices are like firsthand. That doesn’t jive with me. I buy my grass fed/grass finished beef from a local small rancher direct. Supporting my local economy and a friend. I also have my own backyard organic chickens for eggs and grow a garden. Animal husbandry can be done in a sustainable way with compassion. I take care of them, they take care of my family.

    I’ve never met a rancher who was a cold-hearted killer void of compassion, just some aren’t enlightened on good practices due to a bad commercial model. I tried the vegetarian thing for 7 years and it didn’t work with my metabolism. I have canines and I take that as an evolutionary sign that I was meant to be an omnivore. Everyone is different and if that lifestyle works for you, more power to you. I choose to buy local/regional and sustainable whenever I can, whether meat or fruits and veggies.

    The other part of this conversation is the fact that folks buy fruits and other seasonal food out of season, supporting a fossil fuel model that is a major environmental issue as well. So, that’s another thing to consider when people buy that mango out of season. Thanks for the comment, and thanks again for the fresh coconuts.


  • January 26, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Jeff is spot on. Certainly buying loads of commercial meat is unsustainable. But by taking this approach we are ignoring the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Everything we are doing currently commercial wise is unsustainable from plant growth to animal raising for food. I believe that if we all ate like Jeff; buying quality sourced meat and not overdoing it and return much of the land to grazing rather than commercial farming; we would see a much more sustainable outcome. The truth is we don’t need a lot of meat to survive. A little bit goes a long ways as Jeff has found out. Plus, most people don’t currently use the whole animal. If this practice was made use of then we would see our consumption of animal products become much more sustainable. If we are really going to talk about sustainability we need to look at everything not just meat production.

  • January 26, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Exactly, Zach. Anyone interested in more sustainable meat and food production, check out what Joel Salatin is doing in Virginia at Polyface Farms. I’ve read several of his books, he’s truly a revolutionary. Also check out this 10-minute video on his farm and philosophy. His model should be repeated throughout the world. Pretty cool stuff. He has a ton of videos on youtube if you google him. Knowledge is power.

  • January 26, 2016 at 10:57 am

    The diet you guys are promoting pushes a lot of people to give it a shot, and they’re not going to old-mcdonald’s farm to get it. That’s the reality. It’s indisputable that clearing land for grazing is destroying environments around the globe. Eating meat is proven unnecessary for human health as seen in entire populations and religions that don’t eat meat for thousands of years and are still doing fine.
    I could take EPO and I would run faster, but it’s crossing a moral line; it’s just not necessary; same with meat. It’s a luxury at the end of the day that is very selfish. I wish more people would own that reality.

    It might in fact be a boost in performance, but the animal isn’t interested in helping out here; nor are the trees that are cut and all the creatures that need them in old growth forests. It’s not the year 1800 and we’re breaking in the wild west with few food options; it’s 2015 and the more we promote a food choice that destroys our planet the more we need too look in the mirror and ask ourselves if our lives mean something for good when it comes to setting an example in food choices. Meat is a selfish choice.

    And I agree Mangos in NYC in December are also a choice; a choice which burns tons of unnecessary fuel to fly them in from South America. I tell those people they should eat potatoes like the Irish did and other local options. For me; well I left the cold climates for the home of our species, the tropics. I cut each one of those coconuts myself for the HURT 100, took me about 12 hours to climb all those trees(went through about 500 coconuts). I did it to share my love for really simple natural foods with others. I’m so glad people enjoyed them at the race; I opened each one myself for about 28 hours; enjoyed every minute of it. I don’t think people would have been as excited if I was handing out bacon, cheese or chicken wings. Just sayin…

    I eat nearly all of my calories from within a bike ride of where I live. I’ve been eating almost all raw fruits and vegetables for 9 years now, still doing ok without meat. I’m not trying to say everyone else sucks if they buy mangos in december or go to uncle Joe’s farm to buy his chickens; my point here is that I think it’s worth questioning your choices over time and be open to making changes. I made steady steps to be aware of my lifestyle and choices, an ultra run of sorts… the goal to get as closely inline with how nature intended for my existence. I believe we were created to run/walk very long distances and eat what’s ‘easy’ to catch; easy to digest, easy to prepare and regenerates quickly; fruit as the ideal option.

    Ok guys, I hope I didn’t get myself into a mess posting here… I usually stay out of places where people want to throw fruit at me to get off the stage; thanks for keeping my posts up to show another opinion.

    -Mike Arnstein


  • January 26, 2016 at 11:34 am


    First, I do respect your opinion. And I do appreciate your effort to provide coconuts. Very cool gesture no doubt. However, you still misunderstand my point. Not saying clearing land for grazing. I’m saying convert existing land (there is plenty of it in the world already to feed our expanding population). For example in the midwest, most of the farm land is corn and soybeans, monoculture (millions and millions of acres). Highly sprayed, highly subsidized. If it wasn’t subsidized, the market would crash. It’s not a sustainable practice whatsoever. I know, I grew up in that scene. Plus, that big Ag model of corn and soy (all GMO with chemical residue) becomes cheap filler in the middle aisles of the grocery store. That’s something you and I should be a united front on — pushing people to eat more fresh fruits and veggies.

    Farming needs to go back to a permaculture model of rotation of animals and edible plants (i.e., real food), mirroring a natural ecosystem. Beef, poultry, pork (yep, bacon), all of it can be done to mirror wild grazing patterns, all while restoring and building raped and damaged soil so those millions of acres of sprayed, toxic soil can heal, all while feeding us in a responsible, sustainable way.

    I respect your choice to move to a tropical island, choose to eat only local fruit, but I don’t think the average American is going to adopt an all fruit diet, or even a vegetarian diet. Plus, most folks don’t even live in a locale where that’s even a sustainable option, with out of season fruits and veggies being flown in on fossil fuels. I’m sure you wouldn’t want every American to move to Hawaii so they could eat sustainable fruit. Not a sustainable model either. What I am saying it that people should support their local/regional farming economy by supporting sustainable practices in fruits, vegetables AND meat.

    What I want to get across out of this discussion is that people should back off on their meat consumption, look to their local farmers and support them by arming themselves with knowledge and choose to support a farm directly who is using sustainable practices. There are lots of them if you go to your local farmer’s market with a little knowledge and talk directly with the farmers. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) during the growing season and get all your vegetables and fruit from a farm close to home. Grow a small garden. This keeps the money out of big Ag pockets and is a positive vote with your dollar.

    BTW: No mess, bro. I appreciate you being respectful and you’re entitled to your opinion. I just don’t fully agree with it, only part of it. So, we’ll have to agree to disagree. :)


  • January 26, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Hey Mike, definitely no negatives with hearing your points and you voicing your beliefs. I have always and always will love hearing from you.

    Like Jeff said, I definitely don’t advocate for clearing any forests to create grazing land, but rather free up land being used negatively (mono GMO chemical farming) and return it to grazing. I do strongly believe that lots of these widely varying approaches to real food, whether it be vegan, vegetarian, paleo, primal, fruitarian, etc… Is such a huge improvement on the standard American diet that ultimately it is a step in the right directions. I totally respect your journey to finding what has worked for you. My biggest point all along for folks is that they take their own N=1 journey to find what works best for their health; rather than jump on the back of a cookie cutter program, because someone told them it works. I think both you and Jeff spent an incredible amount of well invested time getting to the approaches the both of you use and because of it both of you are much healthier and happier than the average person.

  • January 26, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    I truly appreciate the difference in opinions shown in this thread. It’s always interesting to read, study and evaluate what is happening and to sit back and watch the results.

    I personally choose to eat meat, with the same caveats as Jeff and Zach and yes it’s selfish – but it’s my life and my lifestyle so that is my choice. It’s my own journey and my own choice. I want to find what works for me without someone forcing anything down my throat – pun intended :-).

    Thank you to all of you for your differences, opinions and choices!

  • January 26, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    Great read – I have toyed with the transformation to this diet as I have been a follower of Zach Bitter for quite some time now. He has great stuff, however, I am still uneasy how this will affect my heart over the long term? Are there any lengthy studies that this diet does not put undue stress on our hearts?

    Way to rock your 100 !

  • January 26, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    Good topic guys….almost as entertaining as the race report!
    Coming from someone who should an will soon explore this OFM diet, Jeff and Zach do an excellent job at expressing the importance of buying whatever I eat locally from sustainable sources.
    Speaking as one person who will be rushing out to try this, I won’t be attempting in a way that will support unsustainable practices. Not everyone, including myself, can move to a place where they can ride their bike to all their calories, but should do their best to limit the negatives given their life circumstances. Appreciate the passion on both sides guys!

  • January 26, 2016 at 8:02 pm


    I’d recommend doing your own research, but I would highly recommend reading The Art and Science of Low Carb Living, Volek and Phinney do a deep dive into the studies on LCHF diet and both are leaders in this area of nutrition. It definitely gets in the weeds in order to speak to health care folks who want the science end (like triglyceride particle size in the blood, which really matters with regard to heart disease), but worth the read to understand how the high carb, low fat recommendations got engrained in our science as well. Also, this blog post references some studies on LCHF too. The blogger has been on a LCHF/Paleo style diet for 6 years and talks about his lipids panels, etc. (he’s around 60). Good read. Keep in mind, if you’re toying with the diet, going high fat and still keeping your carbs semi-high can keep you in a gray area and you won’t see the health benefits associated until you get your carb load fairly low because you’ll still be giving your body an insulin response. Personally, I keep mine in the 50-150g range (depending on how hard I’m training)…my baseline carbs being fresh veggies and most of my strategic carbs being fruit and occasionally sweet potato to get me above 100g in bigger training load times (still not a ton overall). Most of my extra calories are coming from fat (coconut oil, coconut milk, olive oil, avocado oil, avocado, and grass fed butter mainly). Good luck.


  • January 27, 2016 at 8:38 am

    Nice read and confgrats to a great race. Cool to hear about your results with new diet. I’ve also experienced some good results from that the last six months espessially with racenutrition. Will def read up now

  • January 27, 2016 at 11:34 am

    Bronco Billy,

    Thanks for that reply. I have read that book by Volek and Phinney. I just never really saw any data or research on the long term affects of this diet with the heart. I know ultimately I have to make the decision and what works best for me. Since a lot of you runners out there are the very example of n=1, I thought I ask on this blog. I appreciate all of your forthcoming. Thanks.

  • January 28, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    Very good read and encouraging to hear of the success of the nutrition plan. My question is in regard to fruit. How much do you include day to day in your diet? I have been attempting to follow the same principles and struggle when including fruit as it seems to trigger cravings for processed sugar/carb foods. Thanks.

  • January 29, 2016 at 8:05 am


    I have very little fruit daily, half a piece of fruit or small handful of berries, etc. When in solid training block, that might become a full piece of fruit somewhere after the workout. And, try to have it with fat. Spoonful of coconut oil before I eat it or berries with a little cream poured over them. If you’re having any other carbs besides veggies, like sweet potato, beer, extra coffee, etc…those can all knock you out of fat burning and cause the cravings too. For me personally, I only have veggies for carbs daily/weekly and use the fruit strategically with fat during training blocks.


  • January 29, 2016 at 9:32 am

    Thankls for the reply regarding fruit intake. Any chance you’d be willing to share a sample day or two of your meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks)? Thanks!

  • January 31, 2016 at 12:01 am


    Here’s a pretty typical day’s menu…

    3x day (morning, afternoon, evening)
    12-16oz Phat Herbal Latte: Dandy Blend Herbal Tea, Rooibos or Chicory Root Tea with tsp of coconut oil, tsp of butter, 1 oz coconut milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, whip in blender

    2 eggs cooked in Coconut Oil or Grass-fed butter, sea salt, pepper

    Lunch Run of 1-1.5 hours

    Mixed green salad with extra veggies cut up on it, avocado and handful of leftover meat or can of wild-caught sardines in Olive Oil, sea salt, pepper

    Afternoon Snack
    Depends on training volume: Half to full piece of fruit, celery with guacamole or sunflower seed butter, or half-cup of berries and cream, or smoothie of berries, raw milk and 2 raw eggs (whip in blender).

    Roasted Mixed veggies in Coconut Oil/Butter/Sea Salt/Pepper/Garlic with palm-sized portion of Grass-fed steak (Usually make recipe out of a Paleo Cookbook: Against All Grain). 1-3 helpings depending on training volume.

    I typically use fruit as my strategic carbs when I need to add more carb calories in bigger volume days of running vs. starches like sweet potato (but do eat few times a month, especially around long runs).

    Hope that helps!


  • January 31, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Thanks so much for the rundown….I appreciate your willingness to share.

  • February 2, 2016 at 9:21 am

    I just wanted to say Thank You to you guys… I have been reading on this continuously over the past couple of weeks and have started my own journey down this path. It is intriguing and logical.

    Thank you for your willingness to share!

  • February 3, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    Hi Everyone!

    There is an emerging body of really top notch science (the kind of stuff that does NOT make it into the media) strongly suggesting that agriculture, particularly the monocropping most commonly used has much more detrimental effects on the environment and carbon release than grazing livestock…..ruminant animals whether wild or domesticated are part of nature’s biological systems for a huge part of the world’s savanah’s and other grassland systems….taking them out of the system is now being seen as a key factor in desertification, not as the cause…..interestingly enough the predators (including humans) that prey on these ruminant herds are also critical because they cause the herds to “bunch” so they move often and graze, forage, trample, urinate and defecate in an intense manner which is key to water retention, biomass inoculation, fertilization ….what is coming out is this natural system actually yields a net carbon sequestration, maintains and enhanced vegetation and provides food sources for all. Anyone interested should look up Alan Savory and the Savory Institute.

  • February 3, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks Peter.


  • February 7, 2016 at 7:47 am

    Hi Jeff,

    Woo I see you’VE change diet suddenly the comment section went taboo lol. Anyway it’s nice to hear from you after the UTMB fall, I thought you take a long break. It’s always a nice read from you, always an inspiration. Keep it up or shall we say, giddyup!

  • February 8, 2016 at 8:50 am

    I’m obviously biased and in the crowd with Mike Arnstein. However, I think we must all admit our own bias…and the bias of “scientific studies” and articles on BOTH sides of the whole diet debate. Looking at studies and seeing bias is part of interrupting data and acessing validity. So there’s that.

    Arguing about one side or the other on diet brings out the same passion as people that argue about something like religion. It’s a tough one and people get pretty worked up.

    That being said, I obviously support Arnstein’s points on the environmental costs. Flying oneself around and flying around fruit in general is quite bad…but the pollution and resources used to feed, water and graze and process livestock is much, much greater. I don’t believe that this is even a close comparison. And crops? Most grain in the US is used to feed livestock….not people.

    I wish I was joking, but cow farts (methane release) is a serious problem! We have droughts in California, but we’re wasting tons of water on trying to sustain livestock on such a huge scale.

    Historically healthy and prosperous cultures throughout time have consumed things like fruit, legumes, fresh greens and grains. Heck, rice and beans and corn and fruit sustain a ton of people around the world right now…and if they didn’t there wouldn’t be enough energy/resources to go around (for everyone to eat Paleo type of diet). Not even close. And how is butter part of the Paleo diet?

    The best distance runners in the world are also high-carb (carbs mainly coming from things like ugali, rice, legumes and fruit). Obviously refined sugar and highly processed food is bad for people.

    If you believe in evolution (and I believe that if you believe in Paleo you must as it is part of the timeline), you’d believe our very close ancestors are primates. What do primates eat (even gorillas with much sharper teeth than we have as “canines” are pathetic)? Mostly fruit and veggies. For sure not a high % of protein and fat from other animals that’s for sure.

    Finally one of the reasons Paleo/LCHF caught on is because of the initial (quick) weight loss and the addictive nature of how eating fat resonates in our brain. Most of that initial weight loss is a drop in water weight from cutting back on carbs.

    There is no doubt that a shift in diet and strategic carb depletion yields adaptations that allow one to burn a higher % of fat while running a relatively higher intensities (and for longer periods of time). No doubt about it. But why is that better? – and How does it allow you a competitive/healthy edge?

    Right now it appears that there simply isn’t a lot of long term data on the health of those on a Paleo diet…as (like Atkins) it is still relatively new.
    However, there is long-term data on plant based diets (HCLF) and it is the only type of diet that does the following: reduces risk of Heart Disease/stroke, reduces risk of Obesity, reduces risk of Cancer, reduces risk of Diabetes. No other diet has been scientifically shown to do that.

  • February 8, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Hey Sage, I think the whole nutrition debate is healthy in that it brings about lots of different options that mostly point out the harms of artificial ingredients and highly processed food. Different as some of these eating styles are I find it hard to believe the way you, Michael, myself, and Jeff eat are not far better than what is standard for most people.

    To respond to some of your points…

    I think Jeff is agreeing with you, and I know I am, that commercial farming whether it be meat or mono-crops, is bad. I completely agree these mass factory farms that transport in grain and water to feed is bad long term. What Jeff and I are advocating for is natural sustainable farm practices where the animals are part of the natural environment. Jeff mentioned an example of this in one of his above comments.

    I also agree that the amount of meat being consumed is excessive. There is no need to be eating pounds of meat daily. A little bit certainly goes a long way; especially if it is sourced right. As Americans we certainly over use food and could certainly stand to push away from the table and focus more on less food but higher nutrient density.

    To your point about gorillas. They also have enormous guts that can handle high levels of vegetation and make it bio available to them. Have you ever seen the gut on one of those things!!!

    I think some aspects of “Primal” or “Paleo” would require a belief in evolution, but I know for me personally I don’t see it like that. I think there are definitely some issues with the whole “Primal” idea, which is why I don’t consider myself “Primal” although I have been lumped into that group before.

    I completely agree that lots of the world’s top level endurance runners are super high carb. They are also mostly East Africans. I certainly will not argue that a high carb approach works well for them, but I would also point out that I am not East African. My genes and the way they are expressed are different.

    I think the big picture that comes out when all these different approaches come forward with seemingly a degree of success is that everyone is different and that one must approach health and nutrition as an individual. Jeff and I both tried many things, listened to the feedback that our bodies, and at times blood panels, told us and found what makes our lifestyle work. It seems you and Mike have also done this and just happen to have had that success with a very different approach. More evidence to diversity and the need to try things for yourself rather than follow blindly.

    I’m glad you joined the discussion here Sage! It’s always cool to see what others are doing with great success. You certainly fall into the successful category :)

  • February 8, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Thanks for your comment, Zach. It’s well thought out and brings up some more points…

    Considering the US (and ironically other 1st world countries) has some major health related issues from heart disease, Type II diabetes, obesity etc. things need to change for sure. I believe these are all directly related to diet.

    No doubt that anything highly refined and highly processed is not healthy. Fresh, organic food and nutrient dense food is better Period. Aren’t veggies and fruits the most nutrient dense foods you can get though? – So shouldn’t we be eating mostly those then?

    I may be wrong (I often am), but I actually think “grass-fed beef” and what are often called “sustainable meat farming” practices actually aren’t as sustainable as people think. While they produce better “quality” beef and the cow may have a slightly better life experience, the amount of land and resources they take up actually generates more of an environmental problem.

    I think the best bet for sustainability for meat eaters would be to hunt in an overpopulated area of deer and have that be a meat source [of course I don’t think animal meat is necessary in a healthy diet, but that’s beside the point]. Fresh, organic local meat that one would have to kill and gut and preserve and store themselves would be the best process for the environment. Pigs and cows and chickens can just not be consumed as much as the US is consuming them as a whole (too much IMO) considering many are consuming meat everyday and the world population growth is exponential with limited land/resources.

    On genetics: Populations of our ancestors over time have developed a way to adapting to harsh environmental and dietary challenges…the human body is amazing at doing that! We share over 98% of our DNA with primates…and as humans are about 99.5% or higher with all of the same DNA…that’s across all races of the world….so you may have more in common with East Africans than you think! From the Inuits with seal meat/fish based diets to northern Europeans with more of a dairy/milk influence this has been reflected in different cultures food choices (and tolerances for that matter). We can live and run off of a lot of stuff that’s for sure (and we’ve evolved to do that over time quite well)…. but is it optimal for our long-term health and the environment though?

  • February 8, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Hey Sage, totally agree that we have way more similarities as humans than differences. However, I also believe that the gut biome and how that is structured will differ from person to person based on parents and previous dietary habits. I think the amount of carbohydrate usage that a person can tolerate ranges quite a bit from person to person. I would also be curious to see the longevity in high level endurance sports the elites that follow a high carb diet have. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are plenty that have super long careers and healthy post competition lifestyle. My guess is those who can tolerate more carb. have longer lasting careers and then those who cannot tend to burn out of fall off much sooner.

    In regards to the sustainability of farming. I think we are partly ignoring the big issue and that is that we as humans have, or at the very least are well on the way, grown past what is beneficial for a balanced planet. We are very unsustainable in general regardless of what approach is taken, because we simply dominate like any species with no big deterrent would. This is a whole different discussion though. I completely agree that your description of the most beneficial meat eating consumption would be hunting it ourselves. I would love to be in a position to eventually do this, or at least buy from someone who is doing this (hunting overpopulated animals naturally living in nature). I think the sustainable farming that Jeff and I are talking about are still a bit more sustainable than even the grass fed farms you are speaking of, which I agree can also outgrow their sustainability. Here are a couple examples of what Jeff and I have been talking about, which are more in line with permaculture than with simply trying to raise meat for food.



  • February 8, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    Hey Sage

    You admitted to being wrong often….well, I am old enough to be your father (OK, I am not being Darth Vader) which means I have made way more mistakes in life but , on occasion, learned from them and it has given me the ability to step back a lot of times to test my bias.

    So I applaud you for this and here are some things to test your bias on and you may find the answer is much more complicated than the reductionistic way the human brain wants to work….

    Defending Beef is a great read….written by a vegetarian who used to have the same bias as you but as an environmental lawyer looking into the cattle / methane/resources debacle came to a far different conclusion on things than she originally thought…


    Again, people should look into Alan Savory’s work with Holistic Grazing as one incredibly large piece of the carbon sequestration puzzle with ruminant livestock creating a net carbon sequestration on a grand scale when utilized in the natural patterns of predation.

    Zach is also correct about the anatomy of the human digestive tract. It is much closer to a dog than a pig or gorilla. The human colon is half the length and size of that of a gorilla. Our Caecum is underdeveloped.

    Humans evolved to have big brains and traded their big guts for it when they had this nutrient and calorie dense diet of animal fat and protein combined with cooking and tools which required less chewing and digestive capacity. This is something that is not debated in anthropological circles. That being said the variability is wide with some humans needing very little animal fats and proteins while others require a lot more. We are robust and adaptable and this never ceases to amaze me.

  • February 8, 2016 at 10:30 pm

    Food Fight! I knew it was a questionable decision for me to post my opinion at a BBQ! I think the best way to end the argument is a race! I’ll admit that Jeff beat my HURT win time last year (by a few minutes), and Zach has crushed me in the track 100 times; BUT; I bet Sage could give Zach’s AR a good test; and it’s worth noting that the HURT CR is a mind bending 19:35 by a vegetarian Gary Robbins! Human’s can do really well on all kinds of diets. My hope is that the ‘race’ and ‘performance’ is a 2ndary priority for viewers.

    I still don’t hear much discussion about compassion and consciousness.
    Zach, Jeff how about you guys report back to us what it’s like to hang an animal upside down and butcher it? Let’s get real about the reality animal based foods. If you guys are so tough, how about you post some vids of the joys of slaughtering animals so you can run far and fast?

    The older I get the more I realize that we’re all going to slow down, and ultimately the goal should be to eat in a way that sets a kinder example; that leaves this world more sustainable for the next generation; to be more selfless. Winning is fun and self serving for the most part, but setting an example for the next person is honorable.

    Promotion of animal based foods from a position of power and success is ultimately harmful in my opinion. Thanks for letting me share my opinion.

    Jeff I will gladly climb coconut trees for you anytime and I hope you’ll reconsider plant based again.

  • February 8, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    Mike, Sage, Peter and Zach…

    Thanks for commenting. I’ve always had compassion for animals, even ones I eat. I think everyone should know how and where there food comes from (including veggies and fruit). Now, I won’t post any videos, but I have harvested my own meat from everything (including venison, poultry, beef, pork, and fish). I grew up on a farm and shot my first deer at age 14. It put meat in the deep freeze for the family for winter. That’s the way life was, well heck, has been for the vast majority of our species for tens of thousands of years.

    I totally respect everyone’s decision to eat however they wish, but just beware of where your DNA comes from. Hunter gatherers…that’s a fact. Can’t escape your genes. Agriculture has only hit our genes a mere ~333 generations ago. Most, not everyone, but I emphasize most homo sapiens are not going to be able to escape that giant gorilla in the room. We don’t do well on grains and legumes. We can argue on this blog ’til we’re blue in the face with opinions and theories and wax poetic, but that big glaring fact won’t change one bit. Trumped by our genes!

    In that light, I’d say a majority of humans will do very well, as much as our modern society allows, mirroring a primal-type hunter gatherer diet. Some will do well on mostly plants-based diet, but a lot won’t and don’t. On my personal journey, I’ve tried the vegetarian thing, then the whole foods organic thing…and on both of them I felt less than optimal. Which led me down this path of no grains, no sugar and OFM.

    And as pointed out previously, there are good sustainable practices to mirror wild grazing that we previously commented on (thanks Peter and Zach for the information you provided) if you so choose to consume meat. I don’t want this to turn into a veggie vs. meat thing. That’s not the point, the point is eating good, wholesome, sustainable food. Vote with your dollar and hopefully some of this info leads us to better health and a more sustainable planet for my kids and their kids, kids.

  • February 9, 2016 at 2:44 am

    Peter, great article and thank you for posting!

  • February 9, 2016 at 10:34 am

    This is a fascinating topic and yes, is a little like who individuals defend religious or spiritual viewpoints. Opinions and attitudes aren’t necessarily altered, but everyone has their say. At least in this case, it is respectful!

    The modern world is an incredibly complex place. There are so many levels that this topic can be discussed on, and there is no doubt that the background of the one defending their view has a large impact on this.

    Complexity arises because of differences in nationality or culture, socioeconomic status, body type and tolerance to certain types of foods, and even exposure to new diets or ways of nutritional strategies. My body cannot tolerate high amounts of fat. I don’t know if this is an exocrine pancreatic insufficiency or what, but it influences what I eat. But it wasn’t always that way, and so I have changed over time and so have my nutritional needs.

    I come from the Midwest too., and grew up on lots of meat and processed food. I was relatively poor but put myself thru school and now have attained an economic privilege that is fairly new to me. This no doubt influences my food choices now. As above, it wasn’t always this way.

    I’m also white and American, like most of the ultra running community. It has always been this way for me, and likely played a role in my relatively easy attainment of personal success.

    I don’t even know how to approach this topic sometimes, because it involves so many things. Meat is actually cheap (fast food) but not healthy. We live in a world where we can actually make food choices with compassion for both animals and ecosystems, and the fact that there are individuals doing both makes me optimistic.

    There are no simple answers right? Ranching can be beneficial to both humans and ecosystems if done with thoughtful practice. Although deforested already, lands in grazing always have the potential to be turned into subdivisions and parking lots, causing runoff, heat islands and consolidation of culture into a bland mess. It could also be turned into organic or conventional vegetable production. What’s better, and what’s worse? I don’t know. And in spite of whether the production of food is wholesome, the distribution of the food in a petroleum dependent economy is a complicating factor to any argument.

    We don’t live in a hunter gatherer society but we can honor our roots. We should also make choices with current society and nature at large in mind, which heretofore we have never had the privilege of doing. We can clearly make choices in direct opposition to those things that are explicitly bad for our bodies, minds and progress as a society. That is progress and awakening, and whether meat or veggie, as long as the consumer is in an internal struggle to make a choice over the obvious detrimental mindless options of conventional society, then that is a good way to start.

    Much of this will involve options that are available to the individual. we should also be compassionate towards each other because we all have choices to make, and they are all different depending on who we are and where we are from.

  • February 9, 2016 at 10:40 am


    Well said.


  • February 9, 2016 at 12:11 pm


    Great race and report, and thanks for sharing your typical day’s eating plan — it helps to “see” it in that format.

    We met briefly at Grindstone, and you mentioned reading Joel Salatin’s books and his work at Polyface Farm…did you know that the Gstone start/finish is just next door to Polyface? In fact, we drive straight through his land on the way to the Boy Scout camp. Just a fun fact.

    Best wishes for your 2016 season!

  • February 9, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    Hi Sophie,

    I didn’t know that was his land!! Now I have to come back and run Grindstone again and take a farm tour. Thanks for sharing.


  • February 9, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for your response. I have a better idea of where you are coming from. My own bias, of course was/is being raised on the West Coast as a vegetarian (30 years now) with parents that came to Boulder back in ’70s as vegetarians.

    You write: “We don’t do well on grains and legumes” and say that is a fact? And that agriculture started only 333 generations ago? I’m curious what strong evidence makes you believe that these are cold, hard facts?

    Realize that lectins in Beans/legumes are inactivated by soaking them in water and/or cooking them….Long term scientific research on legumes has shown that they are a vital predictor of longevity in Blue Zones (Darmadi-Blackberry, Wahlqvist, et al. 2004; Menotti, Kromhout, et al. 1999). Corn/maize and rice and beans have been diet staples that have allowed our ancestors to really thrive (and thankfully is still supporting a vast majority of the world’s population right now). Actually if everyone ate Paleo there simply would not be enough energy/resources in the world to feed everyone right now…in the future that will only get worse…

    Is it really ideal to revert back to what our Paleo ancestors (who lived rather harsh, short-lived lives) ate out of desperate necessity 12,000 to 2.6 million years ago? Were they milking cows for butter and having coconut oil in their tea as well?

    This can also be turned into a low carb vs. high carb “debate” as also. High carb athletes that I can think of Rob Krar (eats some fish though, but mostly vegetarian), Steph Howe, Lizzy Hawker (extensively vegetarian and eats lots of bread), Max King, Mike Wardian (vegetarian)….just to name a few top runners I know. If we’re looking for a “performance edge” in running from our diet…that’s a pretty decent line-up of runners.

    There are “scientific, peer reviewed studies” on all fronts of this diet debate…many funded by the meat-diary industry in the US. Again, besides hunting, any meat/diary that is purchased at a store is going to be extremely inefficient in terms of water/landuse, pollution from methane etc. How we utilize the energy from the sun is also key in that equation.

    Us that are plant-based admit to bias as well (and “propaganda” that is in just about every single nutritional/diet book under the sun). But again, this is my cold hard fact:

    Long-term data on plant-based diets (HCLF) have shown over and over that it is the only type of diet that does the following: Reduces risk of Heart Disease/stroke, reduces risk of Obesity, reduces risk of Cancer, reduces risk of Diabetes and increases Longevity. No other diet has been scientifically shown to do that.

    In closing, I’m linking to a YouTube video by a Harvard archeologist that totally “debunks” all the “scientific” ideas of what Cordain has used to coin the big business that is the “Paleo diet.”

    See you on the trails,

  • February 9, 2016 at 3:36 pm


    I’m not a “Paleo guy” or a “Primal guy”…I’m just a guy on a life journey that’s tried a lot of stuff in 44 years of life. Vegetarianism, Whole foods (soaked, fermented, raw, etc.), Paleo, Primal…so, if you want to label me, I consider myself a Flexitarian — constantly evolving my food/health view based on research, reading and bodily experience. Yeah, I do okay with dairy, I like butter, I put it in my tea. That’s my choice. And yours not too.

    With regard to HCLF being the way, well, I’d say look around. We’ve been doing that heavily for 40 years now and Americans are worse off than ever, health wise. I’d recommend reading Volek and Phinney’s The Art and Science of Low Carb Living to understand the science behind the high carb eating, especially grains and legumes and how it effect most folks and why LCHF approach can be appropriate for a lot of folks, especially those with Metabolic Syndrome (hypoglycemia, type 2 diabetes, MS, etc.). Good read if you’re interested in food and metabolism, and seeing more science and different than conventional wisdom. Good background on where and why our conventional wisdom on HCLF science recommendations came about too. Worth your time to expand your knowledge on nutrition.

    Some folks are going to choose to eat meat, and some, like you and Mike, won’t. I think we can have both camps — responsibly. I do recommend looking into the permaculture practices of agriculture. Our current conventional model is horrible. I would totally agree. No one should support that industry (stay out of the middle aisles of the grocery store and don’t buy commercial meat, please!).

    However, I totally and respectfully disagree that we can’t sustainably raise meat and feed them what they were meant to eat, grass, mimicking wild grazing in farm/ranch settings. There is plenty of land in the world to feed our expanding population. Problem is the conventional model of monoculture has raped, mismanaged and polluted our best farm land in the world. Land that should be growing fresh veggies, tubers and fruits on a permaculture model with a few animals mixed in their for natural fertilization and food as well. It can be done compassionately and responsibly AND feed everyone.

    Lastly, I have seen that TedTalk video on the Harvard Professor. My best answers to her points would be to check out Robb Wolf’s thoughts on her points. He can speak to it better than I. Good to hear both sides of the case for sure. Like I said before, I’m a Flexitarian that has decided to kick out grains and sugar for a bit and felt WAY better and listened to my body. Now I’m sharing that experience. Simple as that. There’s no ONE way. Giddyup, bro. Happy eating.


  • February 9, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks Jeff- gotcha. The multiple references to “Paleo” and your ratios of fat/carbs/protein mentioned in your writing above made me presume that that is what your diet is now. But I get it – you’re flexible…and that’s a good thing for sure!

    Perhaps the mislabeling of “HCLF” vs “LCHF” (i.e. many studies cite a ‘low fat ‘diet being 30% fat when in reality plant-based usually should come in around 10% fat) and generalizations have helped create our country’s health care mess. Knowing from the Nutritional courses I took at Cornell University, you can’t just isolate ratios of macronutrients and analyze blood cholesterol without taking into account multitudes of variables in a diet/lifestyle over time.

    Volek and Phinney’s latest study with ultra runners was funded by the Atkins institute….that kind of bias is rampant in all publications (on both sides).

    Finally, I totally agree with what you wrote here in your comment above:

    “There is plenty of land in the world to feed our expanding population. Problem is the conventional model of monoculture has raped, mismanaged and polluted our best farm land in the world. Land that should be growing fresh veggies, tubers and fruits on a permaculture model with a few animals mixed in their for natural fertilization and food as well. It can be done compassionately and responsibly AND feed everyone.”

    However, I believe that it directly contradicts with the idea that everyone in the world can eat grass-fed meat (and a high percentage of fat and protein from animal sources so that they can be in ketosis). Cows take up a tremendous amount of space and land to graze…this has been causing a huge deforestation problem across the world. The energy demands to sustain a lot of meat eating and animal products for the world’s population to consume at ratio you’re describing is simply too great nowadays…like not even close.

    Great discussion and diversity of view-points. I’ll look into what Rob Wolf has to say. And I’ll admit to inherent bias, but that’s because I’m left-wing/ animal-loving/high carb vegetarian/ social media addict!


  • February 9, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    Food Fight aside, Jeff you forgot to include the ‘Gear breakdown’ details. always love that

  • February 9, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    Hey Sage — this keeps coming up with folks who misunderstand LCHF diet. It’s actually moderate protein…not high protein. So, little goes a long way. Not sure where that comes from, but it’s only about 10-15% protein, part of which comes from eggs. So, not a ton of meat. This is a BIG misunderstanding with the Primal and Paleo-style diet protocols that is constantly unknowingly touted by opponents.

    And yes there are biases on both sides for sure. With regard to the FASTER study, yes, they were funded by Atkins (somebody had to and it sure wasn’t going to be General Mills), but the findings are quite interesting no matter who funded them. In contrast, many of the HCLF scientific data has been funded by the big Agri biz. So as you said, biased on both sides.

    With regard to your comment “I believe that it directly contradicts with the idea that everyone in the world can eat grass-fed meat (and a high percentage of fat and protein from animal sources so that they can be in ketosis). Cows take up a tremendous amount of space and land to graze…this has been causing a huge deforestation problem across the world.” Well, I highly recommend looking into Alan Savory’s work at the Savory Institute, his research and findings over the past 50 years contradict your claim. Basically what I was saying and what I’ve witnessed growing up on a farm — the problem is in mismanagement.

    Here’s an excerpt from Savory’s history to give you a little taste…

    In the 1960s Zimbabwean wildlife biologist-farmer Allan Savory made a significant breakthrough in understanding what was causing the degradation and desertification of the world’s grassland ecosystems and developed a way to restore the land to health using livestock as his primary tool.

    For centuries we believed livestock were a major cause of desertification, but Savory’s research showed that the cause lay in how those livestock were managed. His solution involved mimicking the behavior of the formerly vast herds of wild grazing animals he had witnessed as a young biologist. He devised a simple method any pastoralist can use to move massive amounts of carbon and water from the atmosphere back to the soil and begin reversing thousands of years of human-caused desertification – on the scale required, which no technology imaginable can accomplish. In the process, we can feed more people and enhance societal well-being.

    So, to my earlier point, there are strategies to improve our planet while using grazing animals in a healthy, wild-mimicking, sustainable way that not only feed people MODERATE protein, but improves our major shrinking of native, natural grasslands. This problem is not only caused by conventional meat production practices, but also industrial agriculture/grain model…both are bad, unsustainable practices that should be abandoned for the long-term health of our planet. This helps grow smaller mammal and fowl habitat, watershed and fish habitat and build healthy soil, etc.

    However, I know we probably aren’t going to see eye to eye on this subject of meat-eating vs. not, so we probably should call this one a truce and have a beer the next time we see each other. 😉

    But, thanks for your thoughts and opinions. Never did I imagine mentioning my N=1 LCHF diet would arouse so much discussion. Cheers.


  • February 10, 2016 at 2:53 am

    Gentlemen (Jeff, Zach, Sage, Mike and others that have participated in this thread)…

    I have to say that this has been one of the most interesting, informative and eye opening discussions that I have read in a long time via the internet. You guys have kept it civil and stated your research and opinions in a way that I would love to see in every discussion on passionate subjects.

    I, for one, have learned so much from this thread and the referenced materials that I thought I was back in college! It’s been refreshing to increase my knowledge from both sides of the spectrum.

    Now to do some serious experimentation and find out what works best for my personal journey. Without you guys this would not have happened in as deep an educated and knowledgeable manner.

    Thank you – Thank you – Thank you!

    See you on the trails,


  • February 10, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Thanks for the comment Rob. I do appreciate Sage and Mike’s perspective and and their professional and civil manner in this discussion — they are obviously passionate about their nutritional decisions, as am I. We all have strong opinions, but I’m glad we can talk about them and not resort to the typical online name calling and throwing “virtual” stones. That gets us nowhere for sure.


  • February 10, 2016 at 9:58 am

    Also, for those interested in the wild grazing concepts the Savory Institute is advocating (Peter and I mentioned in earlier comments), check out this 3 1/2 minute video to quickly understand the broad concept and Alan Savory’s Ted Talk Video. It’s pretty cool stuff and as usual, our understanding of desertification and deforestation with regard to livestock is wrong. I highly recommend watching his Ted Talk to understand the science of large grazing herds and their importance to our vastly shrinking grasslands.


  • February 10, 2016 at 10:55 am

    @Rob: Thanks man! Glad you like the discussion.

    @Bronco: I agree. We’ll have to have a beer for sure! Agree to disagree. This will be my last post on there as like you mentioned we could just go on forever with points/counter-points. There are things that I have undoubtably stated that I consider “facts” and you consider “opinion” and vice-versa.

    You cited 20% protein in your blog post as your dietary target ….so I was rolling with that. “Moderate” protein is a relative term… to me 20% is “high.” In that regard, with a 65% Fat intake you must be taking in a lot of refined oil then!

    I’ll look more into Savory’s stuff, but again I’m biased with a Dr. Esselstyn and T. Collin Campbell influence (as well as what most scientists cite as human-induced climate change…and livestock is a big, big part of that). So I agree with the mis-management idea…it is a people problem.

    We’re far from the days of wild ancestors of cows roaming grasslands though. For grasslands some grazing is one thing, but again we’re cutting down trees and forests (rainforests!) and grazing cows ( for both meat and dairy) in places where I don’t think they should be. This is done at a totally unsustainable scale – and again, if most of the world wasn’t high-carb vegetarian this wouldn’t be possible I don’t think.

    I think this “debate” sparks a lot of passion with “sides” because essentially this isn’t a “diet or experiment of N=1.” While we are all different (very very slightly genetically), the diet you described can be labeled as HFLC and its still very close to “Paleo”…which is surprisingly common and a diet that many people follow ever since Atkins and now Cordian. Just like I can say many people are HCLF and there are many (that I know) that are also vegan…. much so to a degree of a cult-like mentality! We’re not as unique as we think we are though, as our diets are actually quite similar to rather large and passionate groups of other people that generally eat similar things and read similar books/studies. So it’s really a study of (N = hundreds of thousands) and I’ll personally be interested to see the long-term effects of a HFLC diet and putting the body in ketosis for many years.

    Finally big Ag and big Ag funding (at least in the US) doesn’t help support vegetarian/HCLF diets very much….they grow most grains for livestock and they are very invested in dairy with tons of $ at stake.

    I’d rather get my veggies from local gardens, which scale very very well with produce and energy demands/returns….and i’m sure you would too?!


  • February 10, 2016 at 11:40 am


    Agreed on most of these points, especially big Ag and Conventional meat practices. Bad, bad and more bad and I try to avoid supporting it. Plus, the meat is not healthy. If I don’t have a good meat choice, most of the time I’ll eat vegetarian at a restaurant (we luckily have locally raised options here in Bend at a few cool eateries). And yes, my protein does hit 20% sometimes, but never more. Most weeks it’s in the 10-15% range. As an athlete, I strategically sneak my protein intake up (usually in the form of eggs from my own chickens and wild-caught fish) a little during bigger training volume and tend to feel better.

    I do highly recommend Alan Savory’s stuff. He’s not advocating cutting down forests, but fixing the world’s lost/desertification of native grasslands (somewhere in the ballpark of 70% of the world’s grasslands have been lost due to loss of wild herds, conversion to grain farming and conventional/mis-managed livestock). North America’s arid west being a perfect example. Even after having grazing livestock off it for 70 years, it hasn’t come back. And since we don’t have the massive wild herds anymore, we have to mimic it with livestock herds. His on the ground research and resulting evidence is amazing, especially in Africa, N. America and S. America. All in the Ted Talk, so quick and easy to get the gist of it.

    All that said, I would hope that everyone reading this would take this away

    When you buy food, vote with your dollar and know where it comes from, read labels and be educated. Don’t eat highly processed carbs…you’re just supporting big Ag’s bad, toxic practices. Get as much as can from locally-sourced food, mainly in the form of fresh produce at your local/regional farmer’s markets.

    And, if you’re like me, and believe we’re metabolically meant to consume some meat, buy it from local/regional sustainable source(s). Get to know a local small rancher and buy direct if you are on a budget. Again farmer’s markets are great places to find these sources. If you are a meat-eater, don’t eat as much meat either. A little goes a long way people! That way you can afford to buy better meat and not support big Ag/bad practices in the process. If you do eat meat, share the Savory Institute’s stuff on social media. The more people know about mis-management of livestock and the desertification/deforestation the better. Knowledge is power.



  • February 18, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    I think we actually mostly agree Jeff!

    But keep in mind that most grain grown in the US is used to feed cattle…so most people can keep eating meat. The population is simply too large and poor to consume grass-fed meat on a regular basis.

    And I’m not sure why you would bank everything on Savory’s ideas? Apparently there is no evidence to his claims (see link below).

    “Well managed livestock” are ideally replacing what were “wild herds”?

    I think we believe what we want to believe…what supports our value systems.

    Again, a plant based diet has been proven to improve many markers of healthy…including the #1 killer in the US (heart disease). No other “diet/type” can claim that!

  • February 18, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    In all fairness here, there’s good data and testimonials that HFLC improves many healthy markers too — including Cancer, MS, Type 2 Diabetes, Lipid panels, etc. Google away, you’ll find plenty. Plant-based is a good direction, not arguing that, but let’s be fair, it’s not the ONLY way.

    I never claimed to “bank everything on Savory’s ideas.” However, I do think he has some good ideas. Definitely more in-line with what the former grassland environments were vs. the existing model of monoculture commercial farming we have in a majority of our former grasslands. I do think some of his ideas mixed with some solid permaculture practices, a good dose of prudence, would incorporate nicely into many, many existing farms and ranches all over the United States. Crop and livestock rotation, water capture techniques, no till planting, cover crops, variety, bio-diversity, wild-mimicking…list goes on and on. The farm benefits from reclaiming and restoring some natural grasslands (70% of which have been lost on the planet). Another benefit is healthier food and cleaner water. Strategically placed thick, lush pastures getting naturally fertilized instead of chemically is a lot better for our watershed than over-producing GMO corn and soybeans, and using synthetic fertilizer and roundup.

    And, stuffing a bunch of GMO corn into a cow (in turn making it sick) so people can buy that steak cheaper — not cool. Please don’t support any industry that has piss-poor practices. Actually, the same thing goes with all types of food. Veggies, fruit, and grain products. Doesn’t matter. Know that anything with conventional wheat, corn or soy — majority of the middle aisles — cereal, bread, crackers, bagels, tortillas, cookies, flour, chips, soda — good chance a lot of it’s sprayed, genetically modified, and chemically fertilized. Know how and where your food is produced. Take the time to learn. Otherwise, you’re ignorantly voting that it’s okay to abuse animals, spray insecticides and herbicides all over land and food, and let it leech into our waterways and aquifers, slowly poisoning the people.

    We’re all slightly different metabolically. We all have to take into account our ancestral histories and cultural backgrounds. A plant-based diet for some may not work for others. I happen to be one of those others. So, I accept it, do my absolute best to support clean avenues. Try to buy local, buy regional, buy smart. Read, learn, search for the truth in labeling and the truth in food. That’s all I’m truly trying to get across with this discussion to be honest. So, whatever you most align with…vegan, LCHF, HFLC, vegetarian, paleo, primal…whatever. Take the time to slow down, read, search for the truth and support clean food. Giddyup y’all.


  • February 20, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    I find it strange that not a single commenter has said anything about Jeff’s reasoning behind starting the LCHF diet; the dreaded CANDIDA ALBICANS infection. It’s a legitimate health issue that literally destroys your quality of life. If you’ve ever experienced it, you’ll basically do anything to make it go away. If I was told I’d have to eat dog food and only dog food, I’d do it.

    Ugh, if there’s ever been anything I wouldn’t wish on another human being it’s candida. Jeff, you mentioned the itching, and that’s only part of it. The general feeling of overall shittiness is indescribable. Your body basically betrays you by attacking itself in order to fight the infection.

    It’s what led me to try LCHF in early ’13. Whenever I’ve wavered from the diet, like tried to re-add grains, beans or sugar I’ve had a flare up.

    Some of us actually can not consume large (or even “moderate”) quantities of carbohydrate safely.

  • February 20, 2016 at 7:57 pm


    Indeed man. With you there. It sucks. I’d wish it on no one. LCHF has it under control after 2015’s crazy flare ups. Thank goodness.


  • February 23, 2016 at 4:53 am

    First congrats on a great run :) As a guy who has yet to run his first ultra, watching what all of you do constantly amazes and inspires me. Second I will freely admit I’m lucky enough to have Peter helping me turn from a morbidly obese couch potato into a guy who is going to run the Boston Marathon in 8 weeks and finish much stronger than I ever imagined.

    The various diet viewpoints are interesting and the debates are fascinating. Michael, after seeing you on 60 Minutes and then hearing you with Rich Roll I tried your method. Didn’t work so well for me personally. I had terrible digestive issues and actually gained weight. I was SO glucose sensitive that that amount of carbs was keeping me in dangerous places from a blood sugar perspective. I switched over to LCHF (note the High Fat!) and it’s been great for me. My blood sugar has stabilized into normal ranges, I’ve lost over 70 pounds, and I’m now in the boat where a Vespa and some S!caps can take me on a 17 mile run. Before I would have been chugging sugar and paying for it on the toilet.

    I don’t eat a ton of meat. I might top 8oz in a day but it’s rare. I try and source my meat locally and grass fed. I get most of my fats and carbs from vegetable sources and a little bit of dairy. I think people like Peter, Vinnie Tortorich, Phinney and Volek, etc; are making a lot of sense in their arguments and that it seems backed by emerging data. Are there “true believers” on both sides that can give a particular way of eating a bad rep? You bet!

    I’m an experiment of 1. I know I won’t change anyone’s mind, and I do encourage everyone to do their own research. My wife remains a Vegan and is perfectly happy and healthy doing it. I’ve read pretty much every book on both sides of the equation, watched all the competing documentaries, listen still to podcasts who espouse both angles. I just know what is working for me. The sustainability issue is an interesting one no doubt, but there are tons of arguments about the sustainability of over farming especially when it comes to water consumption. You have to make choices, and all you can do is try to make the best choice that works for you.

    Just the comments of an average guy who will some day run his first 100 😉

  • February 24, 2016 at 8:55 am


    Thanks for your story. Good luck at Boston. Glad you are on the right path…the path that’s working for you.


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