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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

What is Keto Krazy?

Even if you’ve just crawled out from under a rock or awoken from a long Rumplestiltskin-like sleep, you’ve probably heard about Keto (short for Ketogenic Diet). It’s everywhere: on talk shows, morning news programs, radio, TV, social media, magazines, and books. There are many cookbooks, blogs, how-to guides, documentaries, and Facebook pages full of transformational stories. So what’s the big deal?

At Infinit Nutrition Canada, we don’t endorse any particular diets, but there are a couple of staff members who eat this way or have at least tried it (including yours truly).  Ketogenic diets (and its kissing cousin, Paleo) are not going away, so I thought you all might be interested in knowing what the hype is about.

I first became aware of a ketogenic diet about 10 years ago when a friend of mine, who happens to be a physician, gave me the lowdown on it. I was not as plant-based back then, so it was easy enough to dive in, and my husband joined in the crazy sounding quest: eat lots of fat and protein, slash the carbs, and lose fat; we both convincingly dropped body fat and overall mass in a month.  These days, I purposefully cycle in and out of Keto.

So - eat fat to lose fat?  Well, that’s certainly one of the tenants of ketogenic eating. It really flies in the face of everything we’ve heard since Duran Duran was hitting the charts (the first of many  80s references in this blog). Even Michael Jackson could have told you that fat was ‘Bad’ in those days (I’m sorry - I can’t help myself). I’m feeling a bit nostalgic, so before we dive into the Ketogenic way of life, I thought we’d have a look at some of the dietary trends that have come along over the last few decades. Stick around - this is fun! And see how many 80s songs you can find in the text along the way.  Seriously, if you were Wide Awake in America, you might remember some of these crazy diets and trends...

In the 50s, people still largely ate at home: meat, potato, veg.  No internet, not much TV, no video games, and lots of outdoor play as we grew up (I say WE, but I was not yet born, FYI). There was not a great deal of talk about diets as there was little need for them.  Those bent on ‘slimming’ cut portion sizes and counted calories. Obesity stats on this side of the pond were about 10% of the population, and that’s obesity, not just overweight. Obesity was then defined as 20% above ideal.  Compare that to today when the CDC estimates that 75% of us will be obese or overweight by 2020. Ulp! Something has gone terribly wrong. Let’s look at the next decade.

In the 1960s, Jean Nidetch founded Weight Watchers. As you well know, this organization is around today with group support and food tracking as essential parts of the program. It would be unfair to count this among the fad diets as it really is intended to be a lifetime shift in behaviour.

In the 1970s, dieting started to become a big business opportunity. Dr. Herman Tarnower addressed the problem with the infamous Scarsdale Diet: limited carbohydrates, no fruit save grapefruit, some proteins, some fats, no dairy, and was very restrictive in terms of calories. As an unfortunate aside, this poor fellow met his demise at the hand of his ex-mistress. At around that same time, folks were talking about Dr. Atkins and his revolutionary Atkins Diet.  He touted that carbohydrates were to be avoided and that protein was to be embraced (within limits). Dr. Atkins famously died of a myocardial infarction in 2007, but it was apparently not related to diet. You can read a bit about it here, if you wish. It seems as though fad diets were really having their day in the 70s because at around the same time that Atkins was getting famous, Frances Moore Lappe’s: Diet for a Small Planet  was also worming its way into the press, although it was still firmly in the ‘hippie’ realm. It was the first of its kind to encourage us to give up meat as being unsustainable for the planet, and ‘combining proteins’ became the next big thing.  While I wouldn’t describe this as a fad, the necessity of combining proteins has come into question in the scientific community, and the terms ‘complete’ and ‘incomplete’ proteins are all but obsolete.

The 80s (finally!) brought us The Cabbage Soup Diet (need you ask?), The Beverly Hills Diet (eat only fruit for the first TEN DAYS and then carbs and protein must be eaten separately after that), Jenny Craig (no need to cook - just heat and eat the pre-made meals), Richard Simmon’s Deal A Meal while people were Sweatin’ to the Oldies with him.  Alright, so the 80s was amazing for music - but for dieting, not so much.

The 90s had us eating low fat everything. Even today, this ‘trend’ continues to make its way into products. But while the fat went down, the sugar went up.  Dean Ornish, author of Eat More, Weigh Less was onto this and wanted us to cut down on refined carbs, lower fat intake, and eat more whole grains and vegetables. Friends star, Jennifer Aniston made The Zone Diet hugely popular in the mid 90s.  This was about keeping carbs, proteins, and fats in certain proportions: 40/30/30. About this time, we started to hear that sugar was bad (so companies got better at giving it different names and continued to put it in their products). Oh, and do you remember the Blood Type Diet??  Enough said about that.

Along came the new millenium and we figured it all out and lived happily ever after!  Harumph. I wish. The year 2000 brought us Jared and the Subway Diet. Seriously - cured meats, nitrates, oversized white buns (Subway’s not Jared’s)... this was the answer to the dieter’s prayers?!  So many diets, so little time... Here are the big ones: The South Beach Diet, Atkins (gets popular again), The Pink Diet, Raw Food Diet, Vegan Diet, Paleo Diet, The Mediterranean Diet, PBWF (plant-based whole food), and finally the trend that leads to this blog post: The Ketogenic Diet.  Whew! I’m almost too tired to write the rest of this post. Snack time…

Okay, some of those diets in the last paragraph could be called lifestyles rather than diets, so we needn’t quibble about it. I’m back to the beginning before I’ve come to the end.

What is Keto, Ketosis, and the Ketogenic Diet?

Let’s start with the easiest one.

Q: What is Keto?

A: It’s the short form for ‘ketogenic’. See?  Easy.

Q: Okay then, what is ketogenic?

A: A ketogenic food or diet is anything that supports the body to get into, or stay in, a state of ketosis.

Q: And the million dollar question is… what is ketosis?

A: Come on Eileen, that is a bit of a harder question. The simple answer is that ketosis describes when your body is primarily burning fats as its source of fuel, rather than carbohydrates. Now for the longer answer: carbohydrates are an easy source of fuel for your body.  They convert to glucose which the body can use immediately, or we readily store it in the form of glycogen in our muscles and liver. Glucose/glycogen is the go-to fuel because it’s so easily accessed, whereas fat tends to be stored and coveted by our body for those rainy days of potential starvation.  The only way to circumvent this is to deplete your stores of glycogen and force the body to burn those fat stores. This is no simple task because we are hard-wired to protect those ‘hard-won’ storage supplies. It’s not easy to Beat It. When these fats are finally broken down, they produce ketones - a type of fatty acid.  The release of these ketones is what leads to the condition of ketosis - basically a fat-burning state. When your body starts dumping ketones, they can be detected in the urine and the blood with a simple test. Now for some FAQs:

Q: Why do people want to get into ketosis?

A: There are a few reasons:

To burn excess body fat
To deprive the body of sugar and combat sugar-fuelled diseases
To help reduce seizures in people with epilepsy
Reduce addiction/dependence on simple carbohydrates and processed foods

Q: How do you get into ketosis?

A: Well, there are a few ways.  One way that some people kickstart a Keto diet is a 24 hour fast with only water from 6 PM to 6 PM.  Another quick way is to deplete glycogen stores through high-intensity exercise: cycling, running, weight lifting, HIIT workout. This would be coupled with a low carbohydrate intake. Ketosis is a delicate state and requires a lot of effort and monitoring to stay within this fat-burning range. A few grams of carbohydrate can bump you out and then you’re back to square one.

The most popular way, albeit slower method, is to choose foods that will put the body into a state of ketosis.  This is a Ketogenic Diet. Very, very low carbohydrates means avoiding even complex carbs like brown rice, sweet potatoes, fruits, whole grain oats, and beans.  Carbohydrates come only in the form of vegetables low in natural sugars, some nuts, seeds, and high fat dairy products. Fats and proteins are consumed in much higher amounts than traditional diets. So with this method, even if you’re Hungry Like The Wolf, you stay away from bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, sweets, milk, sugar…  F.Y.I, this diet can be done as a person who eats meat, as a person who eats a vegetarian diet, or as a person who eats a vegan diet. I fall in the middle these days, but I have cycled on keto while eating vegan - suffice it to say that I ate a lot of soy-based food: tofu, tempeh, seitan (for a while, I couldn’t even look at tofu without gagging (maybe you never could). Here is a keto calculator that you might want to try.  There are plenty out there.

If you manage to eat in this way, and use diet alone, it will take your body a full 48 hours to get into a state of ketosis. And unless you really manage it carefully with enough water and electrolytes (LINK TO KETOLECTROLYTES) and alkaline foods, you will experience the dreaded Keto Flu - a feeling of lethargy and general malaise with headaches and muscle fatigue. Most people go through this every time they fall out of ketosis and have to climb back in, which is why they work so hard to stay in it, counting macros and tracking their food intake.   There are plenty of apps that track for you. You might like this one:

Q: Is a Keto Diet for me?

A: I’d say do your own research and decide for yourself!  No one knows you better than you. You can talk to you doctor - it’s becoming pretty mainstream, and it’s been recommended for certain medical conditions for decades, so he or she will have heard of it.

Q: Where can I get more information?

A: There are lots of great blogs and info sites out there.  Here are some you might like:

Q: What kind of foods should I eat?

A: Real foods, whole foods. Many Keto folks supplement their whole food diet with protein and support products. Because I eat a mostly plant-based diet, I personally take a dose of extra protein ‘bolus’ in my morning smoothie, and then at least one more time during the day. I am the number one fan of Infinit Raw and I don’t know how I’d stay in ketosis without it. Meat eaters can generally use a bit less than I do, but most still supplement to some extent.

Q: Why did Infinit create the Keto Krazy brand?

A: We’re doing a Keto line of products because our customers have asked for this.  Many of our products are already keto-friendly, but our customers have asked us to tweak some of the other favourites to make them in line with keto. At Infinit, we feel like we have the knowledge and the products to support our customers and the keto community.

Q: Why the heck is this blog 4 pages?!

A: Sometimes I just like to Push It.

Well, dear readers, have you tried any of these diets through the decades? Have you tried keto or paleo?  Did you find the 80s references? Perhaps you prefer the 90s? What’s your story?

Thursday, November 15, 2018

"Be Like Mike" - Movati Mike

Last week, we made a visit to our good customer, Movati Athletic in Burlington.  As always, when I get a chance to visit, I had to fit a workout in - I love their facilities.  As I am still in bike mode and chasing 13,000 km this calendar year, I spent an hour on the Matrix stationary bike doing the rolling hills workout.  While riding, I was already thinking about the great shower and steam room! After 60 min. of hard work, I headed down to the change room.

I had a quick shower (you cannot imagine the luxury of a Movati shower - you’ve just got to try it for yourself) and then went into the steam room.  After a few minutes, this fellow entered and we struck up a great conversation. Mike shared with me that he works out every other day; exercise is part of his way of life – a fit 71-year-old. I love seeing that. I have this saying: You have to keep moving to keep moving.  Mike exemplifies this perfectly - you see, if you keep moving and working those muscles, you kind of earn the right to do it again tomorrow, no matter your age.  I was surprised to learn that Mike had had a triple bypass surgery 19 years ago and is equipped with a pacemaker. Mike is a lucky one, a smart one. I remember that I saw a sobering stat in the documentary, Forks Over Knives, I believe: the most common symptom of heart disease is sudden death. Obviously, Mike had a warning shot across the bow and lived to make the necessary changes.

Darcy speaking with Mike at Movati Burlington

I asked Mike what lifestyle changes he had made following his surgery (I assumed correctly that his heart disease was attributed to a poor diet and lack of exercise).  At the time of his surgery he was 240 pounds, and today there he sat almost 20 years later, below 200 pounds (a reasonable weight for his large frame). Turns out Mike was a shot putter and discus thrower for Canada in the 60’s and 70’s. In those days,  he was a muscular 270 pounds. Mike told me that he switched his diet up and he started a regular exercise regime. He also mentioned that the best thing he ever did was join Movati Athletic in Burlington last January. He is a fixture there and it shows. I just love seeing this. No matter your age, you can make a change. We found this out in the study we supported under the direction of Dr. Stu Phillips where men with a mean average age of 73 showed increase muscle mass with a multi-ingredient protein supplement and omega 3 when combined with routine light resistance training. See resistance training study here.

Mike mentioned a friend of his who suffered a severe heart attack at around the same time. He also had bypass surgery, but sadly, unlike Mike, he made no lifestyle changes, and unfortunately, he passed some years ago.

Mike asked me what I do; I let him know about Infinit Nutrition Canada and if he had ever tried any of our products sold right there at Movati. He hadn’t, so I told him to come see me in the Café and I would buy him our protein/coffee drink: Cold Brew. He asked me about our brand, “Can you buy it at GNC or Popeye’s?” I said, “ No - really Mike, I think we would be lost in stores like that. A lot of products use a lot of marketing hype and it’s hard to compete with that.  We offer the best protein period – comes from Fonterra in New Zealand. Honestly, it’s not for everyone, but those who use our products, love us.”

I was happy to see Mike come over to the Nutritional Café and I fulfilled my promise and bought him an Infinit Cold Brew – he chose to have it on the rocks.  He couldn’t believe a protein could taste like that – 21 g and in a coffee. He was an instant fan, and he made my day. Mike also went on to say that this would be perfect for his wife; she struggles to get enough protein in and he thought this would be a perfect solution:  something she gets to have, instead of has to drink.

This is why I do what I do - I absolutely love seeing people living their life to their fullest potential.

Be like Mike – either get moving or keep moving: this way you earn the right to keep moving!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Road to Ironman: Flavour Fatigue & Hitting Nutrition Goals

We're welcoming back Andrew from STAC Zero for the 3rd Installment of Road to Ironman. Have you missed the first two posts in the series? Catch up here:

Flavour fatigue sounds simple enough -- and a bit trivial, actually -- but it is something very serious when it comes to performing at your best.  If you're in the middle of a race, your body reacts differently to flavours than you might imagine, and the nutrition which you know that you desperately need might seem unappealing, making it impossible to follow your plan.  I've heard of this happening to even the pros, and recently experienced it myself due to some of my own mistakes.  

With the weather warming up, my training has progressed outdoors from my self imposed training prison -- and this has led to me needing to carry 100% of my required nutrition on my rides.  No more sneaking up to the kitchen to mix up another bottle of Infinit if I felt like I was lacking some energy.  Although the individual flavours are excellent on their own (my own preference being the fruit punch, which is curious given my typical aversion to overly sweet sports drinks), but due to poor planning, I had run out of all but the orange flavour.  Mixing up 4 bottles of a single flavour, I headed out on my planned 4 hour ride.

The first 3 hours felt great -- I was right on my power target with an exertion that felt relatively easy.  I had noticed that I was actually feeling so good that I didn't keep up with my nutrition targets.  Then it started to hit me -- I could feel the bonk coming.  But, at this stage, I had already drank so much volume of a single flavour that I was really fighting being able to finish my nutrition.  I knew that I would feel better once I drank it, but just struggled to get it down.  Flavour fatigue had hit me.  I had heard about this countless times, but never experienced it so acutely until now.  It's amazing how something you previously enjoyed can become so difficult to palate when you're pushing your endurance limits during long training sessions!

Having stopped, I was able to compose myself and eventually finish off another bottle.  I started feeling much better right away -- the best part, after only a few minutes, I was able to continue the ride, eventually finishing more or less on schedule and on pace!

Having learned my lesson this time, I now make sure to always pack all 3 of the flavours on any long ride or even indoor training session.  Being able to quickly and easily go back and forth between the Infinit flavours is a sure way to be able to avoid any of the issues coming along with flavour fatigue.  I would highly recommend this to anyone -- if you're investing in adapting to a proper nutrition strategy, giving yourself multiple options is the only way to go.  Seeing that I manage to go through the bags of the custom blend fairly quickly, it only made sense to have all 3 flavours on hand at the same time ,meaning that I could switch flavours depending on my preference that day -- or even better, give myself the option for long rides where I don't know what I'll have a taste for!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Bike Windsor Essex - Creating a Bike-Friendly City

We recently had the opportunity to connect with Oliver and the team from Bike Windsor Essex; a non-profit organization in Windsor, ON that is focused on getting more people out cycling. They are advocates for safer cycling infrastructure, and public and government acceptance and support for cycling as a legitimate means of transportation.

"We believe cycling is an important aspect of forward thinking regions. We believe that supporting cycling can improve the health, economy, and environment of our local community."

Through a number of yearly initiatives, Bike Windsor Essex is focused on creating a safer city for cyclists, and encouraging the general public to get out and ride by offering bike clinics, cycling-based events, a bike-repair shop, and more.

Bike Windsor Essex hub in downtown Windsor. Photo courtesy of Jenn Escott. 
Bike Windsor Essex is located in downtown Windsor, ON, on the corner of University Ave and Pelissier St. Their HQ is home to their Bike Kitchen, as well as their Wrench Up program and cycling courses. The Bike Kitchen provides a unique opportunity for avid and amateur cyclists alike to learn to maintain, repair and build their own bicycles. The staff accept donated bikes in any shape, refurbish them, provide use of tools and work stations to the public, provide cycle safety and bike repair education to schools and cyclists, and more.

Through their refurbishment program, Bike Windsor Essex has created the Earn-A-Bike program, which allows low-income youth and New Canadians the opportunity to refurbish a donated bike, which then becomes their own once it is in safe, working condition.

The non-profit also offers the Wrench-Up program, which offers maintenance and repair classes for beginners and experienced cyclists. These are monthly classes that allow students to learn how to maintain your bike yourself, or brush up on your repair skills. The course content will cover the basics of your bicycle, how to recognize if it's not working properly, fixing flat tires, roadside repair, an intro to bicycle adjustments, and basic fitting. 

Bike Windsor Essex Bike Kitchen. Photo Cred: Jenn Escott
Additional programs offered at Bike Windsor Essex include educational seminars, which are ideal for schools, cycling classes including an introduction to cycling, and CAN-BIKE Certifications, as well as community rides and bike rentals

So how can you get involved? Bike Windsor-Essex offers a series of membership opportunities that give you exclusive access to their bike kitchen, Wrench Up program, and discounts at local Windsor hot spots. You can also join in on their initiatives and become a volunteer, or donate old bikes to their refurbishing program. The Board meets the first Tuesday of every month, and the community is encouraged to talk about current campaigns, road challenges, and upcoming cycling events. 

Bike Windsor Essex also offers a series of events throughout the year, with their keynote event being Bike to Work Day on May 28/2018. Bike to Work Day exists to encourage people to leave their cars behind and get out and ride to work, bringing the community together to educate on the benefits of cycling. All of us at Infinit are participating, and we would love to have you join us! Stay tuned for a follow up blog post on Bike to Work Day, but in the meantime, register to participate in this years ride here

For more information on the Bike Windsor Essex initiatives, or to get involved, visit their website at

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Paris To Ancaster - What a Blast!!!

From the Paris To Ancaster site here is a description of the race: For over a century the roads of northern Europe have been home to the toughest bicycle races in the world. The most famous of these, Paris to Roubaix, takes place each spring over brutal cobblestone roads that have been preserved in their historic condition for over 100 years. Inspired by this classic race, the Paris to Ancaster has taken place for the past twenty four years over the roughest farm lanes, trails and gravel roads we can find. Combined with unpredictable spring weather and the largest field of riders assembled in Canada, it has become a classic race experience for everyone from average riders to Canadian Olympians.

After hearing how great this race was and seeing a roll call from Geno (East Side Riders Cycling Club) just after New Year's I thought, I have to do this.  With no arm twisting at all, Steve Tymczak was in.  I had a strong training base going into the ride ~4000 km, but how do you prepare for this race?  Think you just get to the line, then grin and bear it. 

Dinner with some of the Windsor-Essex Gang - 30 more behind!
Geno had made everything super easy for the newbies - we dropped the car off at the Ancaster arena, picked up our race plates and then we had a bus back to the hotel.  Most of the Windsor Essex crew were all staying at Arlington, then dinner at Stillwaters - great group, few beers and some good stories from past races.  Weather for the race was looking quite favourable from previous years - was going to be dry from the skies, cool at the start, and of course there would be muddy sloppy sections, just because that's the nature of the beast at P2A.

Race morning we had a short 3 km spin to the start - one of the best, most chill starts I have ever been involved with.  Steve and I were in wave 3 which started at 10:20 am.  There was a good energy at the start - not a nervous energy that you sometimes get in larger races.  Steve Fleck as always, making things interesting with race announcing (@stevefleck ) all through the day; counts us down to the guns firing.  Quick climb up the road, sharp right and a nice steep climb to get things going, then soon after it was a 6 km rail trail to space things out.  

Every surface you can imagine we seemed to ride on, including the thickest, stickiest mud I have ever encountered.  The last "mud shoot" was crazy long and deep.  I started in wave 3 - so by the time I made it there - I was surrounded by wave 1 and 2 folks - quite busy, so trudging through on foot was the my best option.  The mud was so thick, I feared I was going to lose my shoes and by the end I honestly thought my bike was being held down by something, something other than gravity and the extra 20 pounds of mud!  After the final mud shoot it was a few trails and then the famed climb, after 70+ km of up and down, windy sections and sloppy terrain it was a challenge, I did manage to pedal all the way up.  I was really proud to finish 387th overall, with field of 1452 completing the 70km race.

How did I fuel?  Out of convenience when riding my mountain bike I use a camelbak - I find that I am able to drink more and I have grown accustomed to having the pack on my back. I like the convenience for tools and to stuff any layers that I take off during the race.  My main custom blend right now is: Darcy's Road Blend - 290 cals, 4 g protein, 68 carbs and 379 mg of sodium.  I am a fairly heavy sweater - I took in 3.5 servings (2100 ml 3.5 servings) during the 2:57 race.  Took on some Repair as soon as I could - I was feeling pretty good today!

Talked to so many riders this weekend, most have completed this race year over year, and now I understand why.  Great to have an early season race to train for.  I am certain I will be back for my 2nd next year.  For now I need to rest up, this Saturday - I am riding a 375 km (24 hr) Fleche Randonneur ride.

Happy Riding!

- Darcy Haggith, President, Infinit Nutrition Canada

Friday, April 20, 2018

Road to Ironman: Beginning the Journey

Andrew Buckrell is back with the second installment to the Road to Ironman series! Before you begin reading, catch up with the first post of the series here:

"To start off my training "journey", coach Alex VanderLinden from Healthy Results had prescribed an easy ramp up in volume, focusing on building a lower intensity aerobic base, rather than my "all or nothing" training style I had followed for shorter distance events.  Seeing as my progress had somewhat plateaued and I was no longer making significant running or cycling gains, I knew it was time for a change, and welcomed the external input.  For full disclosure, I should note that previous training sessions were purely based on making myself hurt -- regular intervals of very high intensity repeated over and over, with no macro scale periodization or general training philosophy.

Following the recommendations of Darcy from my initial phone consultation, I used a spreadsheet that he had developed for measuring and quantifying sweat rate.  It was no real surprise to find out that I'm well above the average sweat rate (1.8-2.0 L/h of sweat -- gross!).  This provides an excellent baseline for the amount of fluid that I'll be losing during exercise.  Knowing that it's impossible to replace everything, both Darcy and Alex independently recommended taking in about 1 bottle per hour, and 300 calories -- bang on a single serving of the Infinit Custom Blend.  This will make sure that I keep well hydrated throughout the course of long workouts and competition, provided I manage to stay on track.

I ordered up my first few batches of the custom blend, the composition of which was shaped by a conversation with Darcy.  Not really knowing what to expect, I was surprised by the lack of overpowering sweetness that you usually associate with sports drinks.  This was a bit of a shock to me -- given the carbohydrate concentration, I was anticipating something overly sweet.  I'm very happy to confirm that you quickly get used to this, and I will continue to want to dial back the flavour concentration as I further adapt to the flavour.

I've always been adamant that you need to race like you train.  Nutrition is no exception.  I've been extremely regimented in following the race hydration plan with training sessions.  I'll admit that the first few sessions involved some mild GI distress -- my body just wasn't used to taking on this kind of nutrition in liquid form.  This is why you should never try something for the first time in a race!!!  Had I been racing, it would have been a disaster.  However, I fortunately experienced this in training at home, and after doing a few workouts with "race-day nutrition", I've adapted, and can now easily take on quite a number of bottles of Infinit during a long workout.

The next stage of my training (and guest blog post) deals with flavour fatigue and dialling in the proper nutrition for a longer workout."