Ketones and Crossfit - Amanda Allen & Cliff Harvey
A Candid Interview in which Elite Athlete Amanda Allen discusses here results with Keto//OS and Scientist/Naturopath Cliff Harvey gives the science behind her results.
This interview goes far beyond Physical Performance into Depression, Alcoholism and mental Illness and truly illustrates the scope of the benefits of exogenous ketones.
Q: When you compete at the level that you have, at the level that you do, would it e a fair thing to say that you know what's going on with your body?
A: I know everything that's going on with my body. Every 1% of every moment, of every decision, of every movement, of every recovery, of everything. It's the only way to reach the top. To be the expert in the field of self-knowledge.
Q: Obviously everything that goes into your body and you have dealt with, tried, and had been presented with a lot of different supplement over the years?
A: I've worked a fine line with aging and performance, at the highest level and probably one of the toughest sports in the world and enter ketones about 3 months ago. I'm 12 weeks in. You know I wish this had been part of my story years ago. Because what I see it doing with me now is extremely exciting. I'm still excited everyday by what I am experiencing in terms of performance, recovery, mental clarity, motivation and the list goes on.
Q: You would consider yourself an endurance athlete, not a strength athlete?
A: That's absolutely my background. That's where I've come from and that's what I'm comfortable doing along grind. So any strength gains, I have to work doubly hard to achieve them.
Q: So what has this done for you from a strength stand point?
A: I was just reflecting on that today. 12 weeks ago began a cycle with testing and as embarrassed as I am to say, my back squat was only 90 kilos. But what I have done is turn that around in 10 weeks, I'm doing work out with 95 kilos back squats without trouble. That's a fairly significant improvement in a pretty short space of time for a 47 year old woman. If you ask me. What I achieved in this last 10-12 weeks is quite phenomenal. And I'm still having to recalibrate my understanding of my own body.
Q: From an endurance standpoint, you're already in that league level. What's it done for you there?
A: I came off from a workout without the level of fatigue I've known to experience. And same with frame, I'm 10,12 seconds off my personal best from 5 years ago and I'm walking away from these workouts not understanding why I'm not flooded on the floor unable to move and that is happening even during the workout. I'm not at that ragged edge that I've had to control with every fibre of my being. I'm liking it to be holding myself to the fire but not being burnt anymore. And if you know what it's like to be a high level athlete, to hold yourself there and know that that's the place you have to go that others aren't willing to go. It burns but you now, how to manage that pain while that pain is not what I've known it to be in the past. It's not the fire that I've always held myself to. I am fascinated to hear what Cliff has to say about why that is so? Because I'm staggered by the depth and breath of the benefits of ketones in every area that is required to be the athlete at the level that I've become.
Q: (To Cliff) why is Amanda, why are so many athletes at all these different levels finding and experiencing what Amanda is experiencing? Let's start with from a strength and from an endurance standpoint during this high outputs of exercise.
. I think some of the reasons for this is predominantly through the neuro benefits. There's a lot of neuro benefits from ketones. They're providing fuel directly to the brain. The biggest limiting fact outside of the fact that if you're just not strong enough, the biggest limiting fact is whether you are going to do really well in a 1 hour lift is basically how well you're facilitating the body from the brain. It's that neuro physiological connection. It's probably derived from fuelling their brain better. They have more available fuel. It can also be that ketones, we suspect a very stress protective. When you're taking ketones, there's less need for the body to basically to free up glucose to use as a fuel line to that stress response. I noticed that I was much better on my rounds when I was on a ketogenic diet than not. And I think that was predominantly because I was less stress. I was less anxious and so I was less likely to burn out of gas in the way that you will when you're fighting a dude for 5 minutes.
Q: You are getting back into the power lifting world?
A: Yes. I'm working back from some pretty serious back injuries. Really interested in the effects of the ketones, basically for reducing inflammation and helping with that neural repairs as well. I've done a lot of fighting as well so, I've sustained a few brain injuries and if anything's gonna help to heal nervous tissues is cool in my book. It's predominantly due to that neural repair effect.
Q: Back to you Amanda, the volume of training that you do, that you have to do from a related back inflammation we'll ask Cliff about it. But how is this doing for you? Recovering from workout, not just right after but after throughout the week. What is it doing for your life outside the box?
A: This is just what I find so extraordinarily fascinating and powerful about ket0nes, I am so hypersensitive to inflammation and has been. Aging is a war against inflammation. High level athletic performance is a war against inflammation. The faster I recover, the better I am from the next athlete who will line up against me. I've done everything in my power throughout my years in crossfit to reduce inflammation and I can go so far down that rabbit hole. What I've done is I've relied on magnesium significantly. I've relied on floating and infrared saunas and with the work that I'm doing, with my businesses I'm as higher level stress
I've ever been in terms of my outside world, beyond training. My training, I've doubled it. I'm doing double days now for the last few weeks and I feel no soreness, I have no injuries, I am training 3 1/2 hours a day at pretty intense level and I am backing that up over and over and over. I don't have my vitamin Bs and my magnesium. I'm not relying on that now that I have for 7 years now on monthly, 6 weekly basis. I don't have the supplements that I've always relied on to reduce my inflammation as one aspect of my inflammatory management protocol.
Cliff: An interesting has popped up in the research recently Joe, as well which is that inflammation can reduce ketogenesis right? So people who are highly inflammatory. Even though ketones reduce inflammation, when people are heavily inflamed and they're trying to get into ketosis, that will inhibit they're ability. It's an interesting one because it shows a really valuable role for helping people to reduce that inflammation so that they can also begin to produce their own ketones.
Q: What's the other aspects of what this is doing for Amanda and I why are people getting a sore and why are people experiencing this?
A: You're getting an interesting cross section of effect. You're getting fuel that you can use really easily. You're getting a reduction in inflammation in terms of recovery. A lot of the recovery is neural recovery, right? So, with fuelling your neurons very effectively and if we have happen to sustain some brain injury, neural injury, of some sort as a lot of people will, even if they haven't been hit as much as I have they might have still damaged their brains through alcohol, drugs or high sugar intake and all those types of things. The body is not gonna, or the brain is not gonna be able to use glucose effectively anyway. The glucose transporters get really damage. So, ketones are gonna help with that. They're gonna help to fuel. Interestingly some many other effects though, ketones will change the gaba glutamate ratio that will allow the brain to be more relaxed. It increases the amount of the neuro regenerative effect which is really cool because typically people used to think that once you destroyed brain cells, they're gone. And now we know that these very noble compound can reverse that. All of these things are critically important in recovery and performance and obviously is I'm sure Amanda will talk about is some pretty interesting effects for depression, bi polar anxiety or all these types of things as well.
Q: What has this done to you and the neuro benefits that this has. What’s this done to you for concentrating, focus level when you’re actually doing a workout?
A: (Amanda) actually standing in the fire. That's my analogy for really being in that zone and pushing yourself to the place you must go that others are not willing to hold themselves to and I think that really sets the elite apart. What I'm finding recently is that I'm not being burnt by that fire. I don’t feel the fire is as hot. And I'm able to sustain that performance without that level of boarder line aguish. There's another aspect to that mental side that I'm finding fascinating and would be really interested in Cliff's feedback.
Is this level of motivation that I have had to manufacture with white knuckle determination, with every fibre of my being to turn up to that gym and do that 6 hours training day after day after day, that training that no one ever sees. This holding myself to the fire. Like I have to manufacture almost artificially manufacture motivation and what I'm finding over this last 12 weeks is a level of, almost like a childlike joy and glee and motivation. It's flooding me like a natural experience of motivation. I'm having to recalibrate all the things that I've had to come to understand and the structures and strategies I've had to put in place to be the level of athlete I've been. And this stuff is coming to me naturally. I would love an answer to why that is so? And wouldn't every athlete on the planet who's chasing their best wants to know and wants to experience that for themselves.
(Cliff): I think so much of the game of competing at the high level and I’ve been there to some degree myself as well, is that it's the mental game. As a man who talks about it, it can be difficult with putting yourself through the fire day in, day out to actually have that motivation and inspiration to get to the gym and train every day. I think part of that obviously is the neural connection again, and I think that when the brain is fuelled really well and you got all those other benefits. Basically it's a systemic effect. When you've got that fuel, you got the reduction inflammation. You’ve got all those things working together to help to recover better. You're probably just that a little more resilient to the effects of the training. And that's really what's we're starting to see when we're not wanting to the gym. The beginning stage is what we call over reaching. One of the best ways to work through over reaching is to gain more fuel. We know that beta hydroxybutyrate also provides a very base level of euphoria as well.
Q: Can you share a little bit about your experience and what this has meant for you?
A: Look, this is nothing I could have ever hoped for. You learn to cope. You learn to manage, you learn to have strategies. I honestly thought that I've probably reached the loftiest standard of health and well-being that I could hope for. Having suffered with depression for so many years and having achieved what I had in the face of that. Suddenly I find that there is a exogenous ketones that can provide this benefit. It's a heightened level of well being that, it's indescribable and maybe that's the unfortunate thing, the only way to truly know is to go and take ketones and know for yourself and that's basically what I had to do. I want this experience for everyone else who suffers and who's ever suffered and struggled. My mother, I eventually convinced her to taking ketones. Today is her 3 weeks and she's been on 24hr suicide watch. She's been suffering for well over 18 months. Majority of my adult life chronically in the last 18 months and 3 weeks on ketones and she's taking 1 sachet a day. She's 70 years old. She's back at crossfit. She's started 2 years ago, and left it. But she's back doing crossfit. She's done 2 crossfit classes a week. She's out riding her bike. She's done 30km bike rides by herself in the cold. She's been out for what she calls "shuggles". They're cross between jogging and shuffling. This is something that absolutely blows my mind and it's nothing at 70 years old. She would have ever hoped for herself. She's had a lot of medication and a lot of support from mainstream. But this is something that she's like a gleeful child. I haven't seen this in my adult life from her. 3 weeks. That means a whole lot to me.
Q: What would you say to the athletic world that is so skeptical about anything new? What made you decide to try this?
A: A very dear friend had been on ketones for a while and she had hounded me of how wonderful it was. I just wanted to truly know for myself. I need to speak from a place of personal experience that's what I have to offer and that's how well I can inspire others. It was a simple personal experiment which I really held no hope for. I just needed to know, I believed it was probably another fad and within 3 days was without a doubt not a fad and not a lie. You know I've lived with as I've talked about, depression and alcoholism but I have sugar and always had sugar cravings. That's the lesser evil if I'm looking at alcohol. And those cravings every day I have no control over the food I ate so I exercise more to maintain at least a level of healthy body weight. But in 3 days I had no cravings. I wasn't looking for that block of chocolate in the afternoon and after dinner at night and to not be able to stop. I had zero cravings for 3 months which for me is another, for anyone who's been a slave from those cravings knows what kind of an extraordinary phenomenal freedom that it's providing to me and I had to admit inside 3 days there was no doubt. It's remarkable. The list of benefits knows no depth.
Q: What's the science behind why people are from the simplest stand point of craving less carbs and sugar?
A: We know that there are physiological drive as for sugar right? And without anything else considered we need to deal with those at some level. We can't just override compulsive behaviours through w_lline. It's gonna be physiological drive. It's gonna be other behavioural conditional things that are coming in as well. So if we can't take out that physiological driver and other words your brain is screaming out for glucose because it's had some injuries and things like that and it needs fuel or your body is screaming out for glucose because it needs to produce a stress response. All these things are basically playing in together. If we can take that big part out of the puzzle then someone, like Amanda for example is obviously extremely good, strong will power is committed, is functional and all those types of things. Then you can step over the hurdle. So you go to basically remove the physiological blocks so then you can exercise your will power. You can use your neuro psychophysiological bridge and then put in place the behaviour in order to get further.