Rebuilding My Body with Beef: A Journey to Health and Athletic Success
Hi Dr. Baker,
My body was rebuilt with beef. I grew up eating a pasta heavy version of the SAD. Hit 270lbs at the age of 21. Dropped to 150lbs in about 10 months on a calorie restricted vegetarian diet when I was 22. By 23 I had developed cyclical vomiting syndrome and IBS as a result of my vegetarian diet.
At some point during my search for GI relief I was introduced to Dr. David Pyles, a postdoc at UC Davis. This was probably 2005 or 2006, I was slightly alarmed that Dr. Pyles was dressed in a loincloth. Apparently, the loincloth was a costume that Dave created for Burning Man and continued to wear daily for many years. He explained this crazy hunter-gatherer diet that he was on where he would eat only meat for several days, then eat only plants for several days and alternate between the two.
Adopting a Paleo Diet and Embracing Physical Fitness
I did not immediately adapt Dr. Pyles’ diet; instead, I drifted back to the SAD for a couple of years, and while my digestion improved, my weight shot up to an all-time high of 290lbs (pic included). A few years later, I was browsing a bookstore and found a copy of Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint.
I thumbed through the first few pages and read the Grok cartoon. It made sense, I did not actually buy the book but I did adapt a paleo diet like the one caveman Dave told me about. This was 2010, in addition to my diet changes, I started running, lifting, and alpine skiing. After just a few months, I had lost some weight and was confident enough to start swimming. I then decided to take a job as a lifeguard at the local swimming pool.
Triathlon Training and Road Bike Racing: Finding Success and Sponsorship
In 2011, the pool where I worked started a triathlon club. Our coach was Amy Charity (she went pro in women’s road cycling in 2013). I became her star pupil, showed up for every practice, every running race, every bike time trial, even started racing in the local mountain bike race series (I won the novice division that year) and started following Amy to practices with our local road bike race team.
We did two triathlons that summer. I was the fastest local athlete in the second one. (actually from Routt County) A week later, I competed in my first road bike stage race. Adding larger amounts of animal products to my diet (I was probably eating 2+ pounds of animal products a day back then in addition to a bunch of fruit and veggies).
The following summer, I went a bit crazy with the sport. I was the fastest local finisher and won my age group in both triathlons. Won my age group at the local 12-race Steamboat Springs running series. Competed in 5 endurance mountain bike races ranging in length from 60-100 miles and competed in our local 6-race XC mountain bike race series.
I also managed to win my age group at sprint and a half ironman triathlons in denver with fairly large fields. And I managed to compete in 42 seperate USAC sanctioned road bike racing events that summer. That fall I purchased a cyclocross bike and participated in cyclocross races in denver every weekend. That winter I signed up for cross country skiing lessons and picked up a copy of Loren Cordain and Joe Friel’s “paleo diet for athletes”.
Unleashing Athletic Potential: Improvements in Skiing and Considering Freestyle Competitions
2013 was off the hook. I followed the advice in paleo diet for athletes to the T. I was literally weighing exact portions of raisins and turkey breast out post workout. I started winning the overalls at smaller triathlons and running races. Second place overall in the running series that year. Won the sport category in mountainbiking that year and picked up my first sponsor “guerilla tags” after a podium finish in a local triathlon. Also ran my first Olympic distance triathlon with a sub 36 minute 10k at the end (sub six minute miles after the swim and bike).
I started targeting longer triathlons and had some excellent results winning my age group frequently at half ironmans. I couldn’t quite hold my pace all the way to the finish and had a repeated problem of bonking with about 2 miles to go. Nonetheless even with my 6:30 mile pace dropping to 10/mile for the last couple I was still winning my age group by like 20 minutes but was often 10-15 minutes off the overall podium (frustrating in a four and a half hour race.)
Exploring Keto and its Impact on Performance
I Continued to road bike and cyclocross as well. That summer professional triathlete Heather Gollnick moved to town and noticed my frequent local race wins. She offered me a performance based sponsorship with her Ironedge Triathlon team for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
The winter of 2013/2014 I started racing in cross country skiing and decided to train for a powerlifting competition. I posted very endurance athlete numbers: 300 squat/ 180 bench / 465 deadlift I weighed in the upper 190s which put me in the 208lb class I believe. 2014 went okay, I was training for Ironman boulder with a high volume training schedule and my diet was no longer working as well.
Struggles and Burnout: Return to Standard American Diet (SAD)
I still managed decent race performances and still raced very frequently but my GI was no longer happy and my IBS and CVS came back. Ironman boulder was a bust with my predicted sub 10 hour finish turning into a puke filled 13 hour death march.
The winter of 2014/15 I read about Zach Bitter and his ketogenic diet. I went “ahah, what if I do a few months of base training on a keto diet? maybe I can train myself to be more fuel sparing on the half Ironman and start winning some overalls?” I noticed that my GI symptoms immediately got better, my top end performance dipped but my work and recovery capacity dramatically increased.
Rebuilding with Primal Endurance and Cyclocross Racing
My version of keto was a low veggie high animal product version. Probably 3+ pounds animal products per day: Cheese, Yogurt, red meat, salami, cream, butter, coffee, a little coconut oil(at first), and some nuts (at first). I simultaneously became the leanest and the most muscular I had ever been.
The Journey to Success
That summer I bought my first single speed mountain bike and went back to the paleo diet for athletes protocol. I managed podiums and hit PRs in the first 2 running races and my first ever single speed race. Then I started to get sick again and saw mediocre performance for the rest of the season.
Struggles and Setbacks
In 2016 I burned out completely! I went back to the SAD and tried to compete a few times with some of the worst results of my life (4:45 half Ironmans turned into 5:45).
Discovering a New Approach
In 2017, I read Mark Sisson’s “primal endurance” and spent the year rebuilding on a very high meat version of his periodized keto/ TKD plan. I did a few local races but avoided triathlons and anything long. Fall of 2017, I got a singlespeed cyclocross bike and started racing in the singlespeed category in cx. Out of my first 8 starts, I took 4 wins, 2 2nds, a 4th, and a flat tire. Then they moved me up a category.
Unleashing the Beast
After 6 years of racing in Cat4 and never taking better than 10th, I had finally moved up and almost instantly once I got on that singlespeed on a meat heavy diet. The little 120 lb jockeys with pencil thin arms have an advantage on a cyclocross course when they have gears, but take away that crutch and all of a sudden 185lbs of muscle becomes less of a hindrance. Now singlespeed racing has become my thing.
Embracing a Meat-Heavy Diet
Because of my eating habits: (I’ll grab a double cheeseburger with bacon at mile 40 of a 60 mile training ride while everyone else has coffee and muffins) my nickname on the bike race team is “the butcher”.
Performance and Achievements
The last couple of years of training and racing on a meat heavy diet have been excellent. Last winter, I read an article from Georgia Edes and started actively avoiding plants except for targeting small amounts of carbohydrate around races and key training sessions.
Conquering Challenges and Pushing Limits
Last summer, I took second in the steamboat running series and won the 30-39 age group. Won a sprint triathlon. Finished midpack in the pro/open in the 50 mile Steamboat Stinger mountain bike race, then proceeded to take 3rd place male in a sprint triathlon the following morning. Raced in the local town challenge mountain bike race three days later then took 5th place singlespeed in the 144 mile gravel race 3 days after that.
The Power of a Carnivore Diet
The following weekend I ran a 50k ultramarathon. The following weekend I won my age group at the 10k at 10,000’ running race next day I took second in the Oak creek 6k no fun run. I also held my own in the expert series of xc mountain bike racing and made a point of joining the roadies on plenty of long rides on my singlespeed also improved my times at all of the local road bike time trials. Held my own in the pro/open singlespeed cyclocross division all fall as well.
After reading dr Baker’s book this winter I have gone full carnivore, centering my diet on several pounds of fatty red meat. No plants, lots of eggs, some dairy. A couple of weeks ago I put up my first 320lb squat at a bodyweight of 190. I am literally the strongest I have ever been at 35yo. My recovery is ridiculously fast. My work capacity is near endless.
I’ve noticed that If I adhere to smart training tactics like heart rate limiting, complete recovery heavy lifting, alactic sprinting, etc I can train my base for hours a day, day after day and actually become stronger and faster rather than breaking down. I call it “sled-dogging” sled dogs eat a high fat all meat diet run for many hours day after day and actually show less stress from day to day. Just like a human on the proper diet.
This year I have already signed up for four triathlons, round 3 at the 144 mile single speed race, The running series, and the mountain bike series. This winter I have competed in all of the local cross country ski races (classic and skate) and some ski mountaineering races on my telemarks with climbing skins. I have a cross country ski marathon coming up at the end of the month.. Ill probably do a ski-mo race the day before.
One place I’ve noticed that has really improved since adding more meat is my alpine skiing. I’ve lived in a ski town most of my life and have always enjoyed skiing. The last couple of years, this year especially I have been skiing much more aggressively. I like to ski the moguls and I like to ski them hard and fast.
Since going full carnivore it seems i now have the energy and the confidence to launch aerial tricks off the cat tracks in between the mogul sections. Ive always been a wimp when it came to air time. Now I’m considering competing in freestyle skiing. I think the goal at this point is to use the carnivore diet to be able to compete at an elite level in a huge variety of sports while gaining physical strength as I age.
Results are not typical. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.