What is a Keto diet? I’m so glad you found Flipping 50 TV! This is the opening episode for season III! Share your comments with me and share the episode with friends!

In this episode I answer 61-year-old Catherine’s question, “How do nutrition requirements differ when training for an endurance event?”

Minute Made

Specifically, Catherine has been following a Keto diet.

What is Keto?

A Keto diet is also called low carb, high fat – about 60-80% of calories from fat

About 10% of calories come from carbs, 20% from protein, and the remainder from fat. From person to person carb intakes vary- or should – so Catherine’s carb intake while training for triathlon will need to be higher than someone less active.

She’ll want to be sure to keep the carbs around her training times- pre, during, and post.  Otherwise her diet can remain relatively the same, if she has already shifted her diet and low intensity training for a period of time that allowed her body to use fat at higher intensities.

Keto Diet Concerns

Proper hydration and mineral balance – for anyone, an athlete at high heat and humidity this is a definite concern.

Side effects of a Keto diet

Side effects of a Keto diet can include constipation, fatigue, and frequent urination,

Weight loss is nearly immediate because you will shed water weight when you don’t eat carbs: for every 1-part carb you eat, you store about 3-parts water. As soon as you limit carbs you begin to shed that water.

Why a Keto diet (also called metabolically efficient)

If you teach your body to shift- (gradually) to a fat burning at higher levels of intensity common digestive issues and the need to fuel during exercise are reduced.

The body prefers carbs or the glycogen stored in your muscles from carbs during exercise. That said, shifting can be uncomfortable and a slow process, but it can be done. At low levels of activity you use fat. Right now… at rest, you’re burning nearly 100% fat for fuel. The harder you exercise the more the body naturally uses glycogen first.

Why Small Frequent Meals are Not Your Best Friend

When we feed the body regularly there’s no reason for it to burn fat. Those 5-6 small meals a day? If you want to lose fat, they’re getting in the way. There’s zero evidence that those mini meals – or grazing and snacking  – burn more fat. There is plenty of evidence that shows frequent eating increases fat storage and halts fat burning.

How many more people stop at fast food restaurants when drive-through was installed? They didn’t want to take time or make the effort to go in… but as soon as it was easy to drive through or get delivery fast food sales tripled. It’s the same for your body.

If you’re exercise progressively increases the biggest change is to pre-during-and post exercise needs. During the 24 hours following significantly hard or long workouts an increase in protein can help repair muscles.

My recommendations for exercise and nutrition … for women who are eating a balanced diet but want to lose fat or optimize their lean:

  1. Before long, endurance exercise at low levels – hiking, kayaking, cross-country skiing – less to eat, with focus on protein and fat.


  1. Before higher intensity exercise – a little carbohydrate with small amount of fat/protein will help fuel a strong start and continued energy for exercise at higher intensities more comfortably. During high intensity exercise over two hours plan to refuel every 60-to-90 minutes. If you’re training for a race, practice during training what you’ll do on race day.


Triathlon and hiking don’t have the same kind of fuel needs. You’re going to be exercising at much higher overall intensity to complete a triathlon. Fuel appropriately.

Put Back in What a Keto Diet and Lifestyle Take Out

The more restrictive a diet is the more micronutrients through food alone are restricted. A well-formulated supplement regimen can be imperative for preventing long term depletion, adrenal fatigue, or disease.

Catherine is currently doing a daily multivitamin for over 50, calcium supplement with D, and collagen. She may want to upgrade to a multivitamin with non-compete technology at a minimum for any active woman. Catherine’s additional needs are based on her daily micronutrient “depleters.”

Exercise depletes micronutrients:

A, B, C E, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, zinc, alpha-lipoic acid, CoQ10


A Keto diet depletes micronutrients: B vitamins, calcium, magnesium


Stress depletes micronutrients: A, B vitamins, calcium, selenium, zinc, iron, magnesium, omega 3 and a few others

*This is just a partial list of micronutrients depleted to illustrate the common denominators.

Frequent training at high levels, or for long duration, both increase cortisol. Low level over 75 minutes or high intensity 45-60 minutes, begin to increase cortisol in a negative way. Overall stress reduction is really important for a midlife or older woman training for endurance events.

If retirement finds Catherine able to train with low stress elsewhere in her life, with time not training spent resting and she’s able to meet increased sleep needs she’ll experience less stress than someone working and training so that’s on her side.

Catherine reports signs of fatigue. That’s common for someone doing an endurance event. It’s tricky to balance training progression, rest & recovery, and listen to your body. As a coach, I always want someone undertrained vs. overtrained. When in doubt, rest. Fatigue could be insufficient nutrients and or hormone imbalance.

Goals, Micronutrients, and Meals

Catherine’s goals are to reduce inflammation and time nutrition so that she has plenty of energy during training and race day. She wants to recover quickly from each workout so she’s ready for the next. Long term she would want to focus on maintaining lean muscle and bone density.

Based on the earlier assessment Catherine might want to consider how to bump the following micronutrients:

After Exercise Nutrition

Nutrition timing post exercise for most older adults should be 60 to 120 minutes. For Catherine’s increased frequency and intensity of training her post-exercise smoothie or high protein meal can come sooner.

She needs 20-35 grams of protein to prevent muscle loss, moderate carbs, and fat for replenishing and antioxidants & antioxidants to reduce inflammation. Research shows older adults can benefit from exercise comparably to younger subjects if they have almost double the protein (40 gm compared to 20).

My favorite recovery smoothie is packed with all of the above. Every ingredient has anti-inflammatory properties.

keto diet

Need strength training? Check out The Whole Flip by clicking the image.

Post Exercise Recovery Smoothie

Regularly check in with your level of fatigue. If training leaves you wanting to rest and recovery the rest of the day or sleep changes such that you don’t want to get up, or can’t stay asleep: these are signs of over training in someone who normally sleeps well and wakes rested. Get all my favorite (and Flipping 50 community favorite) smoothie recipes PLUS the guide to extra superfood additions.

keto dietMuscles in Minutes

Above all whether you’re exercising or training for an event you want to avoid adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is a risk if following a training program too rigidly. Listen to your body’s need for more rest between sessions and or reduce the volume and increase intensity of specific workouts.

Training for endurance events in a traditional way – with significant volume – as an older adult, along with altering nutrition – is a lot of change, potentially a lot of stress on your body, at once.

During my most recent Ironman training I wrote my own program that allowed me to keep cortisol to a minimum, and maintain body density and muscle mass, as well as balance hormones through six months of progressive training. Here’s a link to my schedule. 

Make sure you keep up with some strength training both for injury prevention and bone loss from increased biking and swimming. They’re both great for muscles and health but remove the bone benefits of weight bearing activity.

Best Rest  

Track how well you recover. This will tell you how well your nutrition is meeting your needs. Slow recovery signs include constant soreness, or fatigue, or reduced capacity to exercise without feeling increasing difficulty.

Take a simple resting heart rate each morning while you’re still lying in bed. Monitor what happens after long training days, rest days, and moderate days.  A heart rate elevated by 5 beats over your normal for more than a few days is in indication you need to back off training and have a big recovery week.

You can also monitor heart rate variability, in other words, measure between heart-beats.

Say you have a resting heart rate of 60 bpm. You might think the time between each beat is a second, but it’s not. In fact, the more variability you have between heartbeats the better. It could be .8, 1.2 seconds and so on. The more predictable your heart rate variability the more you will do best with a recovery day instead of a training day.

It requires a special monitor and app. Both are taken first thing in the morning. Start with resting heart rate.

Another simple option is to track your sleep number, or your Sleep IQ, like I do with my Sleep Number bed. I prefer it to a wearable device. Resting heart rate, heart rate variability, and your Sleep IQ help you target your rest and training both. The first step is listening to fatigue, but if it’s daily and it’s cumulative it’s a good idea to start looking at a better balance between rest and training.

The Key Flip of the Day: You can try new things at any age.

Need help increasing your muscle? Try the 5-Day Flip with me. 

Have you got a question? Send it to me at flipping50TV.com and and maybe I’ll answer your question on a future episode!

fit after 50 Debra AtkinsonGetting fit after 50 is something I research, talk about, write about and share every day for the last 4 years. Before that I did so probably 50% of the time every day for 30 years. I was working with older (than 50) adults already as an undergrad.

This time though it’s personal. Getting fit after 50 is after all a personal journey for each of us. I’m typing on the keyboard in the raw, unedited version in order not to filter, not to be politically correct (is that even a thing in 2017?), just to share a special message with you on this Thanksgiving Day 2017.

My fit after 50 journey

I’ve been here before. Here as in Cozumel, Mexico, and a few days before an Ironman triathlon. Then again like so many other things in life, repeating a race is never the same. It’s nice to know the venue. It’s nice to have some familiarity. It’s nice to know that you’ll run into exactly the right people you needed to meet along the way.

Then again, I’ve never been here before. The last trip here I was comfortable in several positions that allowed me to create a living, an identity, and security that afforded me the ability to choose to be here. It was here that I decided I was too comfortable and too secure and it was time for change. I may in fact have come back for another pivot. [More on what comes out of these next few days in future posts.]

This current trip to fit after 50 has been more cerebral than physical. In more ways than one. First, in ways that give me reason to question what the h— I’m doing! I feel so physically good, no aches, no pains, no even minor injuries along the way. Then I’m reminded that I haven’t earned soreness! I haven’t put in a lot of miles running.

But I’m back. I went somewhere, I don’t know where, but thankfully I have found myself again. That’s what training in this way has done for me. If you’ve listened to the special podcast I posted today, you’ll hear Margaret Webb mention the confidence that comes from running. I’ve experienced a change in myself that I’m grateful for today.

Getting fit after 50 is not about toned arms, losing jiggle from thighs, or losing cellulite. Those things may be the motivation that gets you started but the thing that keep you going will be the way it makes you feel…about yourself. You’ll be empowered to do more, take risks, and get outside your comfort zone.

This trip, I’m uncomfortable. Someone recently commented that this is the lifestyle of the wealthy. I laughed out loud reading it. It’s anything but. It’s a matter of priority, of messaging… myself and people around me… about living fully. It takes time, and it takes some discipline but time passes anyway. It’s a matter of choosing how we spend our time. The life of an entrepreneur is not always glamorous. It’s just like the reality of triathlon. I remember first seeing an image of a triathlete on the cover of a magazine. Svelte, toned, confident. The reality is when you’re training you may have snot across your face, you will smell like you need a shower for hours, and you’ll be visiting port-a-potties or learning to eliminate on yourself. Hardly the glamour life.

But the confidence that comes from getting dirty and doing things that make you lose yourself to simply get from point A to point B is priceless. It comes down to just you. You have goggles, and a bike, and running shoes. Yet, they only do so much. You are responsible. It’s refreshing. Not everything in work is like that. Most things in fact are not.

When there’s a risk that you won’t finish or the possibility of reward  when you do and you’re willing to take that chance and fail it boosts your confidence in ways staying safe and doing the guaranteed outcome does not.

The stories from most of the age-group (meaning not “pro”) athletes here are about races they’ve failed to finish. Those are the stories they tell first! The ones where it went smoothly are not the ones they tell. It’s the struggle and then the getting back to a starting line that stays with them and they share with new acquaintances.

Permission to fail in your fit after 50 journey

So, fail. Go for it. There’s the saying/question, “what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail.” Maybe the better question is what would you do if you had confidence you could fail and still be thrilled with who you are and what you’d done?

I have found myself comparing recently. I’ve got so much I want to do and share with so many of you. We have work to do, so that everyone feels that they too can change their health and make healthy choices every day. Until there’s no “but… it won’t work for me” and it’s simply about which path to open up possibilities… we have more work to do. I’ve been looking at all there is to do and ignoring all I’ve done. The last four years have been a complete restart, reboot, in my life in every possible way. Fit after 50 begins between the ears.

In the end, it will end there too. We will of course, age. Our bodies will show wear and tear but they can renew and the brain and mindset can be young and youthful for as long as we breath. Let’s do this together. What’s your fit after 50 journey going to look like? If you could not fail, or better yet, if you give yourself permission to fail and still do it anyway?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Susan McNamee is doing her 8th of Ironman triathlons Sunday November 26, 2017. She’s 65. A little over three years ago she had done one just a few months before. She’s been busy and she’s thriving on the triathlon lifestyle. Hear her #nevertoolate story. Prepared to be inspired. She’s definitely still got it!

Back in August of 2014 Susan was a guest on the show after her second Ironman triathlon right in her backyard in Boulder, CO. She’s not only completed the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile marathon that collectively makes Ironman triathlons, 8 times over the last four years but she’d done numerous half Ironmans, and Olympic distance and sprints as well.

She is a connector in the triathlon community and at 65 she’s a “sponsored” athlete getting companies to support her efforts with clothing, sunglasses, and nutrition to name a few. It’s any young athlete’s dream and she’s relatively new to the sport.

In case you didn’t hear that first podcast, Susan couldn’t swim before she signed up for her first Ironman. Swimming 2.4 miles in open water (a lake, river or ocean) some degree of proficiency is required. Susan swam that first one buoy to buoy. She’s told a few stories of having to do that in rough water since then too but she’s made many improvements since that first IM three years ago.

Ironman triathlons may not be your activity of choice. There’s no denying the dedication, discipline and willpower that it entails. Athletes give some things up in order to get the chance to train to race. They willingly sacrifice for early mornings and early bedtimes to experience the joy that comes from movement.

Every athlete has a story. There is something that motivates a person to do what most people can’t or won’t. It may sound sexy, but it’s often anything but. A cover of a triathlon magazine never looks quite like a finish line for Ironman triathlons when an athlete comes in after swimming in a lake, riding through heat, wind and then running into the night. It’s as dirty and sweaty as most people ever get. At the same time there is something incredibly cleansing about getting from start to end on your own power with your own mind.

Want to connect and follow Susan?




The emotion of Ironman triathlon has caught me.

I keep telling myself that I can write this in a week or two.

But I can’t.

In two weeks it will be over. As my fingers type this post out it’s Wednesday. One week from Sunday I’ll be doing this thing.

It wasn’t the experience I thought it would be.

It never is.

Neither this sixth experience of the emotion of Ironman triathlon or any of the marathons I’d done before were what I expected. I’d always based that expectation on what had happened during the one before it. Though that isn’t what I’d done with this one since I’d purposely planned to do less volume and more intensity it’s compulsive to compare.

You go to yoga, you compare your outfit to the one in the front of the room. You compare your pose to hers.

You go to the store and compare contents of your shopping cart to the one you pass in the isle.

You compare your dirty car to the spotless one in the parking lot.

It’s worth trying. But it’s hard not to compare how I felt going into the last week-to-10 days before other races and the emotion of Ironman triathlon events I’ve done. There are things that tell me I’m normal at this point in time.

Like the inability to think straight.

Like the check and recheck of reservations and times for bike shipping and race checkin that I find myself doing.

Like the lists of last minute things that are probably 80% unnecessary but somehow must make me feel like I’m more prepared.

Like the feeling I’m not ready, I haven’t done enough, I should have done another long run, or gotten up earlier on those swim days to fit in work, appointments, and longer swims more consistently.

It’s hard to ignore the fact that I’m doing this one in survival mode rather than full on training mode. I’m testing the bare minimum of training with a less-is-more approach.

It’s hard to ignore that I’ve put together a lose training program for myself based on three different coaches I’ve worked with, my time and travel constraints, and that it’s at this point not having a coach becomes most challenging.

The emotion of Ironman training is a leg of the race no one talks about. They talk transitions (from swim to bike, and bike to run) and about nutrition and sleep. But this is the stuff that media broadcasts talk about and stir up.

It comes down to wanting it and overcoming the discomfort during the race. It comes down to planning the hydration, and nutrition more carefully than anything else because at this point you don’t control anything else. You’ve done the work or not. You’re as strong and as aligned as you’ll be, you have as much endurance and stamina as you’re going to have.

It’s now about not doing anything silly in a last workout that will waste energy you want to be there on race day. It’s just about staying tuned up.

It’s about not gawking at elite bodies when you arrive or listening to stories about other people’s training or what they’re going to do even in those last few days approaching the race.

It comes down to now having planned the work, working the plan. You have to trust yourself and stay your course.

I’m staying at a hotel away from the main expo and the meetings. It’s away from the finish line enough to matter. I nearly ended up at the race hotel but it was full by the time I was booking and then it became a need for dependable internet. Like football coaches take their teams to hotels the night before a game, and golf coaches book their teams away from the rest of the competition, controlling your environment and the stimulation you have is important.

In the end, it comes down to your mindset. Your body is what it is at this point. Your job is to let in only the thoughts that help you and release the others. You need details and facts and then you need to avoid all else. O.P. (other people’s) fears, dreams, worries, plans … can’t be yours. This is where the emotion of Ironman triathlon can make your experience or rob you of it.

I’ve kept this post “safe” until now. Have you noticed? I drifted into “you” instead using “I.”

I feel pretty vulnerable right now.

My honest reveal of emotion of Ironman triathlon right now? I am most worried about the run. Of all things I’ve put in less time on my feet and fewer miles. Both.

I remind myself I can walk it and inevitably there will be a significant amount of walking. I’m OK with that. Strategy-wise I plan to follow a run-walk from the beginning. An Ironman triathlon isn’t a speed race, at least not for me.

I also remind myself that I could not possibly feel worse starting the run this year than I did in the Cozumel Ironman triathlon 2012 when I had nothing but water and a single Power Bar during 112-miles on the bike. I managed to wrestle a teenage volunteer out of a half a banana at some point over half way though the bike leg. [By comparison I was used to taking in at least 4-5 times that.]

In 2012 I had just tearfully watched my son play his last season of high school golf, sign a letter of commitment to play golf at UNI, and was contemplating leaving my job, and hadn’t shared that with anyone yet. I wasn’t without other [besides the physical] stressors at that point in time. The emotion of Ironman triathlon that year was mixed in with so much of life I can’t be sure what I felt that day. I do know I was done. Cooked. Toast following that race. And then absolutely fine the next day.

This year I’m prepared. I’ll have more than enough food on me, and be prepared to add my own electrolytes to my water. I also know the impact of the emotions of Ironman triathlon better and plan to harness it.

Though I have a level of apprehension, like anyone would or does when you set a goal, a meaningful one, and you’re about to do it, it’s different. It’s as if I have a shield between me and the apprehension. No one is bleeding or dying or going to because I do or do not do this event or do it in 30 minutes more or 30 minutes less time than I predict.

emotion of Ironman triathlon training time The real emotion of Ironman triathlon

At this point in the last long bikes (last Sunday), last long runs (this last Monday), and last long swims (this coming Sunday), I have tears. I go to my “why,” as I insist every client and every participant in every program do. That “cry why” is a crucial reminder for me of two things: the significance and the insignificance of this race.

The significance for me is not about a physical feat. If you’re on the outside looking in it may seem that is the focal point. It’s so not. Perhaps for elites or even age group athletes who’ve switched to focusing on wanting a podium finish that’s true, too. For me there’s no denying that additional tone or a new definition from a little more swimming is nice… but it’s so minimal… you (and I mean you), can achieve that in two short swims a week, the “extra” from endurance training is minimal.

It’s where my friend Dr. Stuart McGill might say the juice isn’t worth the squeeze. In less eloquent terms, the threshold of no returns was passed a long time ago in endurance training. I’ve in fact been more toned and defined on a fraction of exercise… 20 minutes a day to be specific.

The significance comes down to every person and every memory I’ve loved and felt deeply in my life. It’s what brings the tears at the starting line of a race or during the middle of these long workouts this week. I am glad to be alive. I’m glad for every person who by no accident has been in my life or is there now. All those bittersweet and poignant moments flood in. Monday on my run I found myself thinking about my oldest (10-year old) great nephew. I had been thinking about his dad who was killed in June of 2016, and how doing this race has significance for me in living fully. He has been such a shining example. I have put things off during the past. I’ve decided not to do things… yet, or that the timing isn’t right.

It’s never right. And the plain truth is life, and death, are never convenient. You better get on with it. I’m traveling to Cozumel alone, but I don’t feel alone. The people around me most likely to go along just can’t right now. Someone said, so you just like to do these things yourself? I was taken back a little… and laughed… “No, no, of course not, I just don’t let that stop me!”

 I am way past asking for permission. I don’t need someone to go with me to have someone be with me.

All those people will be with me. Every one of them, along with a few angels.

emotion of Ironman triathlon training swimIt’s never been and will never be about race day for me. It’s about the human race. The simplicity of using a strategic plan to change the status of the human body and increase the strength, stamina, and change markers of aging. (More on telomeres, mitochondria, and brain function when emotion doesn’t win over science in my topic!)

So this race has significance. I decided Monday during my trail run that I am giving my nephew my medal. I want the memory not the medal after all. And, you know, I get the t-shirt! Really what I treasure is the race water bottle truth be told.

This race is also so insignificant. The emotion of Ironman training is the emotion of life. I’ve thought about what could go wrong. And really, it doesn’t matter.

The last time I did Cozumel the water was pretty choppy evidently. I didn’t realize. But a hundred or more athlete’s day ended there. They’d gotten sick. That could happen to me I suppose. I could realize what it was when jellyfish sting me this time and get hung up on that.

I could have some issues with heat and humidity on the bike. Wind was an issue last time as well. You never know what could happen on a bike. It’s not just you; a tire, a chain, or another rider could be an issue.

On the run, I clearly remember getting off the bike in Cozumel last time. I said to myself I must have been blocking this memory. Run, or cover, 26.2 miles now? Really?

Then again, it’s just a long workout, with friends, and a buffet. During long rides that had to be done on my trainer I watched 100-mile ultra runs on Youtube.com and reruns of Ironman world championships in Kona, HI. They’re inspiring. And just as you have to surround yourself with people who are choosing to eat better, sleep earlier, be less addicted to sugar and work and wine, and to exercise regularly even when it’s not convenient, I surrounded myself with people who think 100 mile runs are normal.

That makes what I’m about to do seem more balanced.

It’s the power of the mind and the emotion of Ironman triathlon that makes athletes want to return to it. You might say I’m crazy. Yes. Come on in. I’m crazy about life and experiencing it. You will not find a place where the human spirit is challenged or cherished more than when you’re reaching for something that other people say can’t be done. Or that you yourself wonder if can be done. Does it excite you and scare you both?


In the end… if a flat tire ruins my day or I struggle with not feeling good, it really is not the purpose of this whole exercise to finish the race. The purpose is to sign up. To start. No matter what I’ve still got another day of beach vacation in flip flops to face the tough decision about the chair by the pool or the chair by the ocean. No one is bleeding and no one is dying. It’s a tropical vacation for crying out loud.

emotion of Ironman triathlon training bikeMy niece, who became a widow a year and a half ago at age 34, said something to me one Sunday morning when I ran into her in the parking lot at the gym. As I was going inside to swim she was returning from a bike ride in the canyon.

“I want to get better riding on gravel.”

Who does that? Who says that?

I thought to myself on the way home after my swim. She’d been riding on gravel at that point for 14 months since Bill was killed.

We are all stronger than we think. You just don’t know what you’ve left unused until you look for it. Most of us don’t until we have to.

I’ll go. I’ll start. I do believe I’ll finish. I also believe this doesn’t define me. Not if I finish or how I do. What defines me is how I think about it after.

Harness the emotion of Ironman triathlon. It’s available to you, too. You don’t have to do an Ironman, a triathlon, or a race for that matter. You do have to find something that scares you a little, that attracts you, and you have to say, “yes” to the fact that it’s not convenient, it’s not the right time, and do it anyway.

The emotion is about the message. Who are you? What message are you sending yourself about who you are? When you find something that at first feels like a distraction taking time and energy away from what appears on your to-do list, it may actually be the beacon that makes the rest so much more clear and meaningful.

P.S. The next post will be on Thanksgiving from Cozumel. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving early!

P. P.S. I’ll be testing my hormone levels to report on cortisol and adrenals within a couple days of my return on the 28th. I’ll compare them to the pre-training test done last June. I’ll also update body composition and weight changes along the way along with the self-report on sleep quality, stress, levels and mood and function.


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