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on May 4, 2012
This is not an completely unbiased review. Having "caught" a bad case of Type 2 diabetes a year ago I quickly discovered Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars and followed his (still somewhat controversial) ketogenic diet plan, and began to devour as much information as possible on low-carb diets. Although I found inspiration from many places (including Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health (Vintage), and Dr Feinman's blog), the more I read, the more I came across Phinney and Volek.

Their companion volume The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable gave me the best possible practical guide and scientific justifcation for pursuing a low-carb lifestyle, and gave me the confidence to reduce my HbA1c from 10.2% to 4.5% (a properly non-diabetic number).

However, as a keen runner training for a half-marathon, I had still had significant concerns about attempting endurance events without resorting to carbohydrate fuelling that would disrupt my ketosis and aggravate my diabetes. Despite many hours trawling the internet I couldn't find much quality advice on ketosis and athletic perfomance, and had many questions relating to "liver-dumping" and the necessity for pre and post exercise fuelling. This book answered every question and I devoured it in a single sitting.

After adopting their advice (as predicted) I ran two of the worst 5k races of my life, followed by rapid improvements week by week, which eventually led to me knocking almost 2 minutes off my 5k PB. I can't wait to run my first carb-free half marathon later this year.

It's too easy to say that a book changed your life, but in this case both the "Art and Science Books" have fundamentally impacted my health and my athletic performance.

Very highly recommended.
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on August 4, 2013
Well written, highly credentialed and experienced in subject matter authors, well documented, and thorough coverage of the topic. They basically make the case that high carb diets and carbo-loading for endurance athletes is outdated. And they make the case that the exact opposite is what yields the best results: high fat, low carb. One reason that high carb might still be so prevalent is that it takes 2-3 weeks for your body to adapt to a low carb, high fat diet. Results don't come until after you are fully "keto-adapted." Most athletes are apparently not patient enough to go through this frustrating adaptation process.

Ketones are the breakdown products of fats that your brain can burn for energy. But, if lots of sugar from carbs are present in the blood, then the brain will not burn ketones, only sugar. It takes two weeks of consistently maintained target blood levels of ketones in order for the brain to produce enough ketone pumps to allow enough into the brain cells for normal energy production. The main inhibiting factor for high blood ketone levels is insulin. The only way to keep insulin levels low enough to allow ketones to rise high enough is to stay away from high amounts of dietary sugars and carbs.

Along with low insulin levels comes the transition allowing muscles to burn fatty acids instead of glucose. Since body stores of glucose are at best 2 hours worth of energy, and fat stores are essentially unlimited, we see that muscles trained to burn fat instead of glucose as their primary fuel is optimal for endurance sports. And, not only will your muscles never run out of fuel (even if you don't refuel during your race), but neither will your brain. In fact, the worst part about "hitting the wall" due to low glycoge/glucose stores during a race is mental confusion due to low blood glucose.

In a study of several non-athletes who were keto-adapted, researchers injected insulin into the subjects until blood glucose levels fell below 30 (normal is 70-120). At this low level, not only did the subjects not fall into a coma, but they didn't have any symptoms of low blood sugar! This is because their brains were burning fat (ketones) for energy, not sugar, making the low glucose levels irrelevant to proper brain function!

Obviously, there are non-athletic implications for a low carb diet: natural diabetes control, weight loss (targeting fat loss), and preventing symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). It turns out that about 70% of people with seizures are cured by a keto-genic low carb diet.

The coolest part of the book is biofeedback available with an inexpensive "ketone" testing machine similar to a diabetic blood sugar testing machine that allows you to know in black and white whether your diet and exercise routine is working or not. If you aren't getting the results you were promised, but your blood levels of ketones are too low, then you know it's because you are doing something wrong. You can test your blood after eating certain foods to get immediate feedback on that food's impact on your body as far as ketones (and thus indirectly insulin) are concerned.

The nova max ketone tester is the one I use because its test strips are about half the cost of the other brand. You can find and purchase these on amazon as well.

Now that I am keto-adapted for a few weeks now, I have noticed a few differences in my running workouts. 1) My energy is much more stable throughout the workout, 2) I seem to get less dehydrated during workouts (this is likely due to the fact that burning fat uses less water than does burning sugar), 3) I don't seem to have to breath as hard (this might be due to the fact that burning fat gives off 25% less CO2 than burning sugar), and 4) The runners high is less obvious at the end of my workout (upon reflection, I think that this is because I seem to have a low level of runners high all the time now, not just after running).

One downside is that I seem to be thirstier between workouts. In the book they say that when ketoadapted, the body shifts from conserving sodium and peeing out potassium, to conserving potassium and peeing out sodium. This may explain why I am thirstier since if I am peeing out my salt, I can't retain as much water, thus am more dehydrated easier. It is interesting that even though I feel more dehydrated between workouts, my mouth is much more moist during workouts. Maybe this is because I'm not breathing as hard during the workout?
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on October 15, 2013
I'm a cyclist and by using the contents of this book, my performance and endurance has gone off the charts. Living in solid nutritional ketosis I can fast for 24 hours and still pull off a 50+ mile ride at PR intensity. I've done that a few times on my training rides, then recently I did a 65 mile Gran Fondo and finished in the top 2% of thousands of riders. I drank water and a little electrolyte mix. I've been turned into a fat-burning machine! Thanks a millions Dr's!
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on December 20, 2015
You can get all of the information in this book in the various YouTube lectures by Volek and Phinney. I would recommend their other book for more detailed info on low carbohydrate diets.
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on June 14, 2017
I probably should write a review when I finish the book but I couldn't wait. This book is excellent, so far! I'm on chapter 4 but loving all the scientific information and research. I am currently on a LCHF diet (started up a few weeks ago), I feel amazing but the true test will be when I start training for my long distance races (15k trail race and half marathon) for this fall. Training starts next month, so I wanted to give myself plenty of time to become fat adapted. I've been down to 50g of carbs a day and over 300g of fat. My goal is to get below 30g of carbs. I have celiac disease and feel that even gluten free grains still affect me (rice, oats, etc) which is why I decided to do a LC and grain free diet. I feel amazingly better and plan to keep up with this lifestyle. I'm just really hoping that I'll be able to kick butt in my upcoming races without needing carbs (like this book promotes). We'll keep y'all updated!
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on February 28, 2016
A very convincing but technically challenging read. I bought into it and now I am on the keto diet t largely as a result of reading this book. I had to read it several times as it is unlike a novel or a biography and includes lots of technical terms and fine points that are hard to digest for the non-medical professional. It has lots of research behind it. The authors are research proffs in universities and not book retailers etc.There are no grandiose claims but strong, science-based arguments to look at this model of eating, exercising and losing weight. My own interest is in increasing energy and improving recovery from workouts etc. so it really fit my interests. The weight loss and control is a free bonus of the high fat, low carb, low protein diet.
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on June 7, 2013
Just about every nutrition manual for training sets aside low-carb eating for the duration of training and races, in order to avoid the "bonk". I read about the Paleo approach to training thinking it might help, added carbs to my diet, and promptly gained 10 pounds. Instead of working my tail off, I seemed to be adding it on, even though I was running, swimming and biking more than I had been. This book transformed my thinking.

I've followed low-carb, specifically Atkins, for 14 years. I've known the entire time that this way-of-eating (WOE) is the one that my body responds to best; it's healthy & everything works properly when I eat right. When I began to add carbs to avoid the bonk, things began to not work properly. Phinney's scientific evidence that an athlete can go farther and longer burning fat than burning carbs was exactly what I needed & the puzzle pieces all fit now.

In a delightful example of serendipity, this book was recommended to me about 2 1/2 weeks before my first tri of the season. Phinney recommends at least 2 weeks of "keto-adaptation" to avoid the bonk. I raced a sprint distance, shed 15 minutes from my overall time (although I attribute more of that to more training this year than the diet), and most importantly--NO BONK. I drank an Atkins shake before the race, along with a cup of bullion, and drank water throughout the race. No Gatorade, no carb-loading the night before, no bonk. I've found that keeping my body in ketosis for training and races is far more motivating than vanity when cake, cookies & pasta call my name. I'm so grateful for finding this book and recommend it along with "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living".
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on April 15, 2017
Conflicting information about the ketogenic diet abounds. This is one of the few scholarly sources of information I could find. Excellent source for those interested in a low carb lifestyle. Once of my top go to books (another is also by these authors). This book has more practical advise than The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, but both books are excellent.
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on September 18, 2016
It's not a light-reading book. I consider myself a smart guy but there were times I was left scratching my head.
If you don't have a background in biochemistry, the booklet might be hard to follow at times.

It seems power packed for its size, though.

The publishing quality is absolutely horrible!! I was reading it in a plane and some of the pages came off. They need a better binding company :/
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on March 31, 2015
fantastic review, very indepth. For those (like me) who felt carb loading and frequent carbohydrate snacks during long efforts were the "only way to do things," this book is like turning on a light and finding a totally different room.

The science is fascinating, and I am in the middle of week 5 of a trial of low carb living while attempting to maintain my cycling routine. Weeks 1-2 were pretty rough, probably a 50% decline in power and felt lousy throughout. Finally, by day 19, the mitochondria started to wake up! I am now down about 13lbs in a month, and starting to produce times and speeds I could only do after significant amount of training towards end of the season. Certainly the weight loss has helped, but I just didn't think this was possible on a diet devoid of appreciable amounts of carbohydrates.

My typical diet probably consisted of 400-500g of carbs a day. Now, I eat roughly 40-60g/ day. This book is a great read for skeptics, and especially athletes who struggle with weight or insulin resistance.
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