Zach Bitter is an endurance athlete and coach who also happens to be the 100 Mile American Record Holder and a 12 Hour World Record Holder. What is his secret to success to training for, winning and recovering from these grueling races? A low carb diet!
In the past, Zach followed a high carb diet, which is typical of many endurance athletes. But once he started training for ultra-marathons, he noticed it was getting harder to recover from these grueling events, plus he was experiencing energy swings during the day and had problems sleeping at night. Zach decided to focus on his nutrition, and he credits Jeff Volek, M.D., Ph.D., co-author of The New Atkins for a New You, for showing him how a low carb diet could help. Almost immediately he started sleeping better and had consistent energy. After a month or so, he noticed improvements in his performance and recovery. Since then, low carb has become a way of life for Zach. Even if you’re not an endurance athlete, you can have a winning low carb pantry and kitchen with these tips from Zach:
What low carb “tools” do you always keep in your pantry or fridge and why, and how do you use them?
Historically, I've used the slow cooker and portable glass containers for leftovers the most. They have always paired well for me. I could put a bunch of ingredients in the slow cooker at the beginning of the day and by early evening have a great meal with plenty of leftovers for future lunches. I try to use glass containers for my leftovers as they are easy to clean and I prefer to not reheat food in plastic. My go-to tools may have a new addition as my wife just bought a spiralizer. I do most of the cooking, so I take that as a sign she wants some low carb noodle substitutes.
I almost always keep butter/clarified butter in the fridge and sea salt in the cabinet. Nothing livens up a steak like a nice layer of butter and sea salt on top!
What essentials do you use when you’re on-the-go to stay on track with your low carb lifestyle?
I have a cooler that I always keep with a fresh set of silverware and a steak knife in its side pocket. When I need to hit the road for work or training, it is easy to grab the leftovers in the fridge and throw them into the cooler with some ice for a good on-the-go meal.
What food do you always have on hand in your kitchen for quick and easy low carb meals and snacks, and to help you meet your training goals?
I base a lot of my meals around a fatty cut of meat. My favorite is steak, but any meat will do. It’s easy to pair with some steamed broccoli or a sweet potato if I'm in peak training and taking in some low glycemic carbs. I always try to have some form or fermented vegetable in the fridge as well. My favorites are sauerkraut and kimchi.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about how you plan, prep and cook?
Two other popular cooking items I use include a grill and a cast iron pan. A lot of my breakfasts start with heating up a cast iron pan with a bit of coconut oil or clarified butter before frying some eggs or reheating last night’s dinner. It's rare that my wife and I don't fire up the grill at night before dinner when we are home and have some time to cook.
Are you ready to give your diet and kitchen a low carb makeover like Zach did? Check out these low carb tips.