24 April 2015

fat-loading: the breakdown

after my initial stab at a 10-day fat-loading regime i wanted to share a few quick insights and reflections - just in case you might be considering it in advance of your next marathon/race.
  1. it's a challenge to be creative and stay within boundaries.  my short list of go-to items included a whole lot of tuna, avocadoes, almonds, cheese, olive oil and chicken caesar salad.  most meals were a mix-and-match variation using those core foods.
  2. i tried to keep a log of each meal that i ate - and even found that to be tough ... which seems funny since i log every run/workout.  somehow i've got a full day and a half where i cannot remember what i ate.
  3. the first hard workout into the fat-loading schedule was a 16k Hansons Marathon Method tempo run (at marathon pace) - and after the first kilometre it felt like i absolutely hit the wall.  talk about pushing past your limits.
  4. i lost weight.  which seems strange when you let people know that you're maxxing out on your (healthy) fats.  but sure enough i dropped about two pounds, even when it felt like i was taking in more calories than i normally would.  my friend and unofficial advisor stan suggested that it probably had to do with carbs retaining more water than fats.
  5. there were some interesting recipes that i did try to tackle, including a cauliflower crust pizza.  while i still have some work to do in terms of really nailing the crust texture, it turn out too badly - if i do say so myself.

  6. A photo posted by patrick voo (@pbfvoo) on

  7. after all of this i think that i will be including a few more low-carb/high-fat meals into my regular diet.  even though by day three all i could think of was pasta and garlic bread, by day eight i was pretty ok with what i was eating morning, noon and night.
  8. and i'll fat-load again - maybe even longer in preparation for The North Face Endurance Challenge Series Gore-Tex 50-miler this july.  (psssttt ... if you're thinking of signing up for any distance at this event, use the promo code D30PVON15 for a 15% discount!)
of course the proof is in the fat-loaded pudding, so we'll have to see if there's a pay-off on race day in terms of a smoother transition from glycogen-burning to fat-burning as a fueling process.  keep an eye out for my race report to get all the goods!



  1. I did a short fat load before my last marathon, man was it hard to keep coming up with fatty foods to eat! I also dropped a few pounds, which was surprising because I was fairly lean at the time, but perhaps it was water weight - I didn't put it back on when I went back to carbs though. I did get sick during taper though, and I'm a little scared off of fat loading for future races, because I've heard it can be hard on your immunity.

    1. i'm with you terry! the fat load process was definitely a challenging one in terms of variety.

      when i switched to carb loading i quickly put back on a couple of pounds easy - and yes, i was wondering about a little sniffle that was coming on a few days ago, but several of my kids have been sick this week so it's likely that i was exposed to a few germs at least. all in all feeling good for the race on sunday though!