High-Performance Nutrition: Mike McKnight (The Low-Carb Runner)

Tayson Whittaker: All right. Michael McKnight, super excited to have you on the podcast today, I wanted to start off with a question about what your morning looks like. What have you eaten so far? And what have you been doing so far?

Mike McKnight: So every day is a little bit different. But today, well. so basically, me and my wife on it. Just started here. As it is everywhere, I guess. But we started something where I live in Cache Valley called Run club. And basically Monday through Friday, from 8 30 to 9 kids ages. You know, I think our youngest is 3 years old. Who's my daughter? Actually from 3 year olds all the way up to 18 years old. Come and run for 30 min, and just see how far they can run throughout the whole summer and then me and my wife just kind of sit there and they have bracelets, and we can scan their QR. Codes, and it keeps track of their mileage for the whole summer, and so, with that little like 30 min commitment every day, like I've had to shift my routine just a little bit and so I am getting up at about 5:30. So I got up at 5:30 today, and I did an hour and a half run in the mountains as soon as I got back. I typically like to get most of my nutrition from real food. Historically, that's been like eggs and beef liver almost every morning after my run. but today, since I was on the go, I still want to prioritize getting some food. I essentially made a little bit of a smoothie concoction. I poured in some raw milk, some protein, some collagen, and then just a little bit of blueberries. to get a little bit of carbohydrate in there and then took that with me to run club and That's how I got my fuel for post run. So that's all I've had today, so far. But it's a little bit different just because of how busy we are.

Tayson Whittaker: Yeah. And from some of the conversations I've heard, it's. This is kind of. And we, I guess we can stay right into this, but, like you, you, you do eat carbohydrates and and your tag, or kind of what you're known for is the low carb runner, not the no carb runner. Right? So like you do work super strategically. And one of the questions I see a lot of times and have experience with people that have come on the trail with me has been kind of this concept of like they're so fearful of coming out of like ketosis and and what not that they're like, even on trail, where they're doing big like, significantly more effort that day and burning significantly more calories. It's kinda like the plague still too much in carbohydrates. So I'm curious what your thought is on that facet there.

Mike McKnight: I mean. So yeah, you're right. I'm the low card runner, not the no card runner like not even the Keto runner like, you know, I post a lot to my Instagram stories about the carbohydrates that I utilize, and I still get people who are like, that's not Keto. And I just reply, like, Well, yeah, like, I'm not key to like I should. I'm strategic, Keto, but I'm not full time. Keto so. But yeah, I I get it like, when I first started. I was like, I I say, carbophobe like people who do a low carb approach. I do think it's easy to get fearful of carbohydrates. You know, if somebody's like eating this way to like lose weight, slash, maintain rate, then I sorry, maintain weight. I'm not going to pass any judgment there. But I do feel like if people want to get the most out of their nutrition, then they're essentially just like kind of doing their bodies at this service by completely eliminating carbohydrates. My goal with everything is just to be just low enough, that you know. For example, you know, I went from my run first thing this morning at 5:30 in the morning, and that was after not eating all night, like I don't eat before I go for my run. And so I found that, like anywhere from a hundred to 150 grams of carbohydrates, at least, with my body a day when you factor in that short little fast from sleeping, and then going into running the next morning every day, I'm always going into some low grade level of ketosis. so every day my body is familiar with that. But I don't believe you need to be in it full time to be efficient at it. And so my goal is just to be able essentially like, if you can utilize glucose and fat, then I don't know why you would choose to not do that because they're both gonna have benefits. Basically.

Tayson Whittaker: Yeah. yeah, it seems like, from what I understand, you're kind of eating. Maybe around 20% of your calories come from carbohydrates, that kind of a rule of thumb or and you cycle them up a little bit and down from I think that's I think that's really key. Why, why would you still eat carbohydrates? Because with any cult-like following, which, like the Ketogenic diet has. And you know, like I have family members that have done it and it. And it's so funny because they'll do it. They'll lose weight. They'll, you know, they'll kind of go through that cycle, and then they'll come off of it, and it's like this big swing to the other side again, and and so I always, you know, I'm always trying to find the good in things, because obviously it's something about it is working for people right? But why? Like you said you're doing your body a disservice if you're not eating carbs. I think that was what you just said, but, like obviously you, you believe that some carbs are necessary. So why, what do those carbs do when you consume them for you?

Mike McKnight: Yes, I'd say 2 themes. the first thing, and you just kind of touched it, like people who follow straight keto diets, carnivore diets. It's very. It's not common for somebody to be a hundred percent true to it. It's very common for people to like. Maybe binge on the weekend, or just like you said, come in and out of it, and just almost swing completely to the other side. In my opinion, like a hundred percent of my carbohydrates are coming from raw milk like there are sugars and milk. So you're getting carbohydrates there? fruit, and then raw honey And so a hundred percent of my carbohydrates come from that. And I found that, especially with the fruit and the honey. It's very sweet. And I do believe that the majority of people's metabolic issues come from eating foods with added sugar. Once you rid yourself of that, I don't think eating fruit and honey is gonna mess up your metabolic health. At least I've seen that with myself. I've used continuous glucose monitors often just to make sure and like, after eating a big bowl of fruit and honey like I hardly see any spike with my glucose, and so I do believe, added sugars are the culprit, and so simply eating a little bit of fruit every day. I I found, at least for me, like it's taken away my cravings for, like the ice cream and the candy, and the cookies, and all that stuff people tend to eat when they're too strict and so I do believe the flexibility is good because it helps you stick with it, and then to from a performance standpoint. I always just relate it to like a car that's either equipped with nos or not equipped with nos and like, I'm sure, people. It's like, you know, you have a generic car. And yes, like, you know, when you look at what a car can do, like a dodge charger, or whatever like it has some speed. It has some pickup, and so I always say, like that's like the huge reserve of fat that all of our bodies have, like you can do great things off of your fat, but once you add in carbohydrates, it's essentially adding in a canister of nose, and like no one can debate like once you hit that button, your car is going to go a lot faster for a short amount of time and so I believe that that's what carbohydrates are. It's like you have your baseline of fat burning. You intake some strategic carbohydrates that help you hike faster or run faster, or whatever for a short period of time. And then, since you're dipping in and out of ketosis daily, your body is not gonna have a hard time just going right back into like that steady state of of fat, burning

Tayson Whittaker: gotcha. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And have you noticed that by doing that your body adapts to burning fat quicker like is that is that? Do you feel like there's a huge learned behavior of your body to be able to switch to burning facts, like all of our bodies, have the ability to burn fat right? But it sounds like you, you kind of look at it almost like a muscle that can be trained.

Mike McKnight: Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, just like with any muscles like, well, maybe that's a back example. But like, when I did start, I did a shit keto diet for probably like 6 to 8 months. I do think it's important, especially if you like. Had a high carbohydrate diet your whole life like, you know. For me, I ate a lot of pasta. I eat a lot of take out food, I add, like a bowl of ice cream every day mountain do every day, and so I was hardly ever tapping into my fat storage. And so for me, like, yeah, my body wasn't used to it. And so I had a longer adaptation period than a lot of people but after that, 6 to 8 months in my body became super familiar with burning fat consistently. That's when I started adding in more strategic carbohydrates. And you know for me, I don't test my ketones, because I feel like if you get too caught up in that, that it can cause a lot of worry. people get too over analytical on those key tones. And so for me, like the only marker that I use to measure. My ability to burn fat right now is just how I'm able to sustain a fast. And so I do implement strategic, intermittent fasting. We're all fast from 18 to 24 h, sometimes a couple of times a week. And I believe that I can do that without having severe hunger pains. Then that's still a pretty good indicator that my body knows how to bring fat for fuel. Because if you don't, you're gonna have a brain fog. You're going to feel weak and tired like it's hard to fast if you're not a fat, adapted person.

Tayson Whittaker: Yeah, you're fasting more than once a week.

Mike McKnight: Yeah, I mean, like, I take Sundays off from running. And so I'm usually doing at least an 18 h fast on those days. And then I do have at least another day during the week, where I do lighter mileage, slower mileage, and I'll do like a 16 or an 18 h fast on that day.

Tayson Whittaker: Yeah, man, that's pretty wild. I mean, it sounds like you've worked your way into that so that it is sustainable for you coming from maybe another perspective. It's like man that's crazy. That's a lot like I actually tried to fast once a week for the first part of this year, and you know me, and you can relate I was also a very big kid, like I grew up overweight. I like all through school like my goal is to be able to run a mile without having to stop like they never do. They'd always make you run a mile and gym like once a semester, you know, and I mean it. It was very difficult for me to do without just getting sideways. A can have to stop. And I just mean I was the opposite of a runner, right? And so IT kind of shares that with your background and origin story as well. And I've lost my train of thought here. But like I guess what? What? What? I I have a relationship with food that can be challenging where it's like man I can. I can binge right. And I can eat. And so I think that idea of kind of probably working your way into stuff is to be a little bit more sustainable because I again I I was struggling because when I did the fast once a week I'd come off of that really hungry. And then I would. typically throughout the week kind of make up for it, and probably a bit of a scarcity mindset of eating if that makes sense.

Mike McKnight: Yeah, absolutely.

Tayson Whittaker: So maybe what I was doing wrong is I wasn't just I I wasn't, you know, doing a more like with those fast doing a little bit more of a fat, you know. Fat proteins approach. You think that could have been part of it.

Mike McKnight: if you weren't doing that, then I do think that is a part of it. Yeah, I mean you. You get more satiated off of fat and protein versus carbohydrates. And so, if that's like the majority of what your diet is, and you know your body is going to have more fuel to burn essentially when you have to do those fast.

Tayson Whittaker: Yeah. the guy who edits this podcast would kill me if I didn't ask this, he struggles with it when he starts running and he starts increasing his miles. He gets really hungry, and he starts gaining weight, and is how he puts it like he starts. It's eating, you know, because it doesn't make sense right? He's burning more calories, but somehow he gains weight, and he gets really frustrated with that. What have you seen before? Do you have any thoughts? And he's done things he's done like 0 carbs before. you know he's kind of cycled on and off a few diets similar to that. But right now he's eating like a common standard standard diet, you know, and he's just finding that he's getting really hungry. And obviously, then it's correlating to him, gaining a few pounds, even though he's running more miles than he ever has.

Mike McKnight: So like the times that he's done 0 carb, does he still have issues with gaining weight even when he ramps up his mileage.

Tayson Whittaker: I think the problem is, when he starts ramping up his mileage, he starts to feel too low energy. So that's been part of when he's switched. But I think. you know, if I'm reading between the lines, it might be possible that he's still doing like full ketosis instead of like we kind of do. We teased him a lot because he'd come on our trips and like an overnight trip, and he'd bring like a big old salami like that was, that was the only thing you brought to eat, right like maybe some that's in a salami and like 0 carbs. You know what I mean. So maybe breeding between the lines. Maybe that's the issue is that he's, you know, it's all or nothing with the carbs.

Mike McKnight: Yeah, I mean, it's hard to say without knowing exactly what he's doing every day. But I mean, if he's doing a standard American diet that makes sense to me because I mean it's an ultra process like your body is gonna like, burn through that. You're gonna have a huge glucose spike and crash. And then, just like, keep eating because it's only a couple of hours after eating a high carb meal that you're gonna want to start eating a lot again. So I would guess that he's just getting in too many calories from just having so many crashes. And then you know what I'm saying. Like higher carb, you eat the more you're gonna eat throughout the day because you have stronger hunger cues versus somebody who's fat adapted like I mean, essentially, it turns into an issue where you're not getting enough calories, because you're just always full, because you're just always bringing fat. And so I would guess that he's either just eating too much. But I like burning carbohydrates too fast. That, or like when he's doing the 0 carb approach, I mean because it is possible to gain weight if you're not getting enough calories, because your body is going to start storing that as fat, because you're not eating enough. And so yeah, I mean, it's such a hard balance to figure out like you can't eat too much. You can't eat too little, but I would guess he's either eating too many carbs, and he's just continually eating, or he's not getting enough calories in his body, storing the food as fat versus burning it.

Tayson Whittaker: And so I recently won the Coca-dona 250 congratulations on that. That's a cool achievement. And I mean, and obviously you're so well achieved in these long runs. I'm curious about something like the Coca-Cola 250. How do you balance what you eat? And what is it that you're eating out there right like, do you go significantly? More carbs in efforts like that? Or do you stick to like the 30, you know, 20 to 30% rule, just really interested kind of what that looks like when it's obviously, that's a very long effort. Right? Is that like around 60 h or longer.

Mike McKnight: It's a cocadon. It took me 69 h. So almost 3 days, 70 h.

Tayson Whittaker: So yeah, I'd love to hear kind of how that balance works with diet. And in an effort like that.

Mike McKnight: Yeah. So I believe that the longer the distance, the more you can get away with doing less carbohydrates, just because, like you're going at such a lower effort I mean scientifically, the higher your heart rate is, the more glucose you're going to need, because the more glucose you're burning whereas the lower your heart rate like, even if you're not following a low carb diet like that lower heart rate is gonna send you into some level of fat burning. And so I don't do as many carbohydrates for these longer multi day efforts. But that being said, I do get the majority of my carbohydrates on that first day, because I do like, at least in my own experience, and from the like experience. A lot of the people I coach have had. that first day. Your stomach can struggle trying to get used to like everything that's going on, like, you know, exerting yourself, and then on top of that, trying to digest food every hour. And so I found that if I just do simple carbohydrates for the first, like 12 to 16 h in the form of gels in the form of fruits. it helps my stomach adapt to what's going on, and then, after that, 12 to 16 h, I'll I'll start doing more fats, more proteins, more real food you know I'll have bundles, burgers I've had my wife take me at the steak in the middle of a race before. I've done chicken wings before. So as the race goes on, I do a lot more real food. a lot of times. I'll bring my own food just because. I'm trying to do everything I can to help me get to the finish line as quickly and as efficiently as possible, and like in a lot of these races when they're cooking food on the grill, or whatever they're using seed oils, which I don't touch because of the inflammatory response. And so I'll bring my own food, or I'll bring like butter and have my crew tell the aid station to cook my food and butter, and not in any other kind of oil but yeah, it's Coca-dona. I did a lot of raw milk just because I was having stomach issues in the form of real food. Anytime, like an actual piece of food, touched my tongue. I'd start gagging, and I'd have a hard time swallowing it. which has happened to me before. Sometimes it's a race, and at that point I have to switch to liquid calories and you know, I grew up on a dairy farm, so I'm used to drinking raw milk and drinking a lot of raw milk. So I had no issues. Just like, you know, I'd come into aid stations. I'd chug a bunch of milk and then take off kind of a thing. So that's and proteins are what I end up shifting my focus to. After about 16 h of running in these races.

Tayson Whittaker: Yeah, I mean, do you think on that day one, too, like you're you're the most fresh. So you're probably going the fastest as well. You're probably burning a little bit more carbohydrates that day, anyways, because you're you're maybe I don't know just to just a thought there. I imagine it's hard to hold back on, you know. You know, it's a long race, right? But it's still like, gotta be hard to hold back because you got guys that are just gonna take off right?

Mike McKnight: Yep, it's really hard. But I mean, when I first started I would get caught up in the hype and go out too hard, and then blow up and have to walk a lot. But you know Coca-dona ended up being, I think it was my tenth 200.

Tayson Whittaker: wow!

Mike McKnight: And so I I I I'm I'm used to people taking off too fast, and I'm comfortable. Just kind of hanging back and knowing that if I hold back I'll be able to make up a lot more time on day 2.

Tayson Whittaker: Yeah. yeah. I mean you've got an incredible track record of these big, long distance races, right? And I I mean, do you still hold? I I think you held the course record on like the Moab. 240, right?

Mike McKnight: yeah. in a weird way. so that year they had to reroute the course for snow, and so I did get the course record. But that was for the snow route. I I do believe that I still have, like the overall, like record for fastest time, that anybody just ran the Moab to 40. But that's not on the original course. So there are 2 course records right now for that race.

Tayson Whittaker: Gotcha, still just an absolutely incredible record for these long distance efforts. And one of the questions, I think that that does just come up. The most is like again we do have. So we put on an event called the 100 Mile challenge. So we have hundreds of people that sign up to kind of do this Diy challenge with us this summer, where they'll either do a hundred mile hike in one shot, or they can sign up to kind of do it stacked. But A lot of them that are coming from a Keto background there, I think they're just searching for what they can take on trail. That might be, you know, not too bulky, not too difficult to take on trail. So I guess in that sense, and from your background, you know, are there things that they could take on trail that are going to be high protein. High fat you know. You're kind of a lot of times, I would imagine, for you like you're running from aid station to aid station but or else just running with no calories which you've also done a lot of But is there is? Do you have any ideas of just a quick hit list of things that could work for snacks or meals in a scenario like this, where there, what you know, many of our people are trying to hike about 20 miles a day back to back to back for about 5 days.

Mike McKnight: Yeah. So I mean, from a meal standpoint. There's a lot of good dehydrated mills out there like that are key to, and low carb. Don't utilize seed oils. I forgot the name of them. I can look them up and send them to you later, if you want, but you already hydrated meals you can utilize, but from a snacking perspective, like, you know, I've done a lot of like efforts where I'm out multiple hours on my own, like there is an event that I did not an event. But there was a trail. You're in Utah, right?

Tayson Whittaker: Yeah, we're in Cedar City down here in southern Utah. But I'll actually be heading up this weekend to hike in Cash Valley should have just coordinated and done this with you in person. Jeez, I didn't really know about that.

Mike McKnight: I'm here this weekend, too. You have to tell me where you're going. We're

Tayson Whittaker: oh, Man. Brigham, our designers from Cash Valley, and he put together a route, but it's just or just going up on top to a few lakes. It's a white pine lake.

Mike McKnight: You're gonna have snow. There's still snow up there.

Tayson Whittaker: Yeah, he had us order some micro spikes and a few things he's like we might still be going through. Dang.

Mike McKnight: I think a week ago there's still about 30 inches up there

Tayson Whittaker: 30 inches.

Mike McKnight: Oh, I mean, I'm sure it's down to maybe 15 or so now. But yeah, there's a good amount up there still.

Tayson Whittaker: It's good to know, good to know.

Mike McKnight: But anyway, so I did the you, or sorry the you into a Uinta, or I forget what it's called the. It's like an 86 mile route to the you into Uintas

Tayson Whittaker: part of the Highline.

Mike McKnight: Yeah, yeah, the Uinta Highline route. I did the whole route a couple of years ago. And you know there's no aid stations for that. So I had to carry all my food for that, and I'd say, like the 3 things I utilized were macadamia nuts, just because they're pretty like

Tayson Whittaker: like crazy calories. Prounce. Right?

Mike McKnight: Yeah, yeah, they're secret fat fatty. Yeah. So macadamia nuts and then beef sticks. you know, like I buy a lot of those epic things like Venice, and bars and turkey bars, or whatever and then the other thing I don't know. I doubt you've heard of this. But have you heard of Keto Brick?

Tayson Whittaker: No, no.

Mike McKnight: I mean, they're expensive, but I mean they're essentially a mill replacement, but they look like gold bricks. They're super thick. whenever you have time, but, like I'd say one brick probably weighs like a pound, maybe, but like there's a thousand calories, there's 96 grams of fat, and then there's 36 grams of protein, and then I believe there's like 500 to the 1,000 milligrams of sodium. So you got your fast. You got your calories, you got your electrolytes, and the only way is about a pound. So I think those are awesome for mid race fueling. If you have to carry some calories.

Tayson Whittaker: I I think the biggest question I have with those are, are they edible?

Mike McKnight: Oh, they're so good.

Tayson Whittaker: Okay,

Mike McKnight: I mean my kid. He's 6 years old, and like a lot of nights when he was ready for dessert, he'll ask for a Keto brick like, I think they're pretty tasty. Yeah, they got better. They actually just came out. Do you know who Mark Bell is? The body?

Tayson Whittaker: Yeah.

Mike McKnight: So he has his shake steak, I believe, is what it's called, which has, like some liver, spleen, and heart like powder in it, and so that keto brick just came out with like a, it's like a chocolate Brownie keto break, but also has some liver and pro it. It's basically utilizing that shaking. shake steak shake that that mark has created

Tayson Whittaker: interesting. Yeah, I'm gonna have to. I mean, I just pulled them up. So I'm gonna have to do a little more digging, and I'll let you know if it passed the taste test or not. I mean, that sounds super helpful, right? I mean, when you're out there in these efforts. yeah. Any other quick hits come to mind. Those 3 are awesome.

Mike McKnight: I mean granola, like there's at national groceries. There's a grain free granola that all utilize sometimes that has like a little bit of honey to sweeten it, but they got like pumpkin seeds in it cash, using it like a bunch of different nuts. bound together with a little bit of honey, and those are calorically dense like protein bars, like, I mean, I do a lot of protein style type bars and jerky and nuts. Basically. you know, or mostly what I utilize.

Tayson Whittaker: So all right, I I I gotta take this in a different direction here for just a second. So the guy that took second at Cocadona. Josh Perry. Right? So I've had him on the podcast after he set the FKT on the Pacific crush trail. I brought him in to talk to him, and he blew my mind right because he's walking like 20 h a day, typically and then But his diet blew my mind. He he! He was eating about 12,000 calories a day during

Mike McKnight: what?

Tayson Whittaker: This? PCT, yes, yeah. And it's like 3,000. This is how he breaks it up. Okay. There's about 3,000 calories of nuts and stuff like that which I totally expected. And he's like, I ate about 3,000 calories like any kind of bar. Just think like cereal bars, granola bars, any kind of bars right? And then he eats 3,000 calories of gummies, any kind of gummies, fruit, snacks, gummy bears? Yes, yes, and then to top it off 3,000 calories of various assortments of M&M’s. That is, that's his diet. And I mean he crushed the FKT. For the Pacific Crest trail on that diet.

Mike McKnight: Okay, so he's getting 6,000 calories from gummies and M&M’s.

Tayson Whittaker: Yeah. Well, this. My jaw hit the table when I was talking to him about this. I was like, like, I was thinking, like, you know, because I think I'm like a bit of a strategic thinker. And I just, I'm thinking, like he's got nutrition dialed, and all this, and he's just like Nope, he's like I get enough protein in to like help with muscles and stuff, and then like from there. It's just calories like that's all he cares about is just calories And but just it was insane. And so I actually read a post on his Instagram after the Coca-dona. And it just kind of was like, yeah, I had a little bit of a stomach issue. But then, kind of through hiking gut and legs like set in, and I was good to go like he's gone back to like. So I'm sure, when he was racing you liked it. That's what he's doing right? I mean, like, if he's going through a town or something. Yeah, like he has to stop. He has to charge stuff because he has to. He has to track it right, and he's doing it unsupported. not a supported model. So like he's getting food when he is stopping at its places. But no, he's not stopping at all for meals, like he's hiking non-stop, never stopping, I mean. And that's that also blew me away, too, because I'm like, so how much do you like jogging and running? He's like, I don't run anything like I don't. I didn't. 0 running, and I'm like what the heck. But then it kind of made sense, because he's doing this, you know, toward us, to their hair approach where it's like he just never stops. The only thing he tracks is like break time. So he'll like time. How much time it takes him to go to the bathroom, because you know what I mean, because like that, because otherwise he'd be tracking like 20 h a day of like movement time versus like 20 min a day of like stop time. He just doesn't stop.

Mike McKnight: That's wild. He did tell me that when I passed him that like when I passed him at Cocadona, and he started running with me a little bit. He's like this is the first time I ran this whole race I was like, Wow, you're way up here. Yeah, that's true. Yeah, he's cool. I like him.

Tayson Whittaker: He's a funny guy. I like him, too. So what would be the benefits right? So like you've got polarizing diets here. You've got the Josh Perry Diet, and you've got the Michael Mcknight diet here. Why do one or the other

Mike McKnight: I mean, you just gotta do it. It works for your body like you know. I I don't believe there's one style of nutrition that's right for everybody. I mean, I have said multiple times, though, that like if I ever get to a point where I stop performing well at these races, and I wonder if it's like nutrition related, I'm gonna have a really hard time deciding what to do, because, like, just from a health standpoint, I feel so good eating this way. I've never felt better. I've never felt healthier, and so, like you know, I would have a hard time shifting my diet to run better. I'm guessing that's never going to happen. But I mean, yeah, I just feel so good eating this way. But yeah, I mean, from a racing standpoint, like, you know, there's vegans that are thriving in the also running world. I don't know if you knew. Do you know who Andrew Glaze is?

Tayson Whittaker: Yeah.

Mike McKnight: Yeah. Do you? You know about his 100 mile running streaks?

Tayson Whittaker: No.

Mike McKnight: no. So Andrew Glaze, he's a runner based out of California. And he follows a Vegan diet, and like he's been running a hundred plus mile weeks, for I want to say, like a hundred 80 weeks, like he's approaching 200 weeks. Yeah. he races a ton like he did. He did a hundred k. so Coca-dona starts on a Monday 3 days before, on a Friday he did a race in California. That was a hundred K. He finished Sunday morning, drove to Cocadona, and then he ran Cocadona and so like he is just like putting in these huge miles like all the time, and he's following a Vegan diet, and one of the biggest like criticisms of of a Vegan diet is just that like, you're not getting it enough to like bio available protein. that your body is just gonna break down because you're not getting enough nutrients from a Vegan diet, but he's out there proving everybody wrong, like, you know. It takes a lot to run that many miles a week consistently for that long. So you know I I I firmly just believe that, like everybody's body, thrives differently, and Josh thrives off of gummies and M&M’s and I thrive off of raw milk like nothing wrong with that.

Tayson Whittaker: Both are just as surprising, just saying I can't imagine drinking milk and then just running, you know, like, I'm pretty sure that's like challenge material for Instagram and Tik. Tok. no, that's super interesting. As long as you can trust this guy right after the liver King. I don't know what you can trust anymore. So, but that does bring up a really cool point, though, about what you're doing and doing some of this research. I didn't realize this, but someone that I've been very enamored with recently has been Jeff Browning all right, and he follows your diet as well, or close to it, or his variation of it. Right?

Mike McKnight: I would say I follow his diet he's the one that got me onto it

Tayson Whittaker: yeah like I listened to a podcast around Hard Rock 100 time frame last year And again I ran my first Ultra last year kind of got interested in any of this not very long ago. Right? So I'm really new. anyways. So I was listening to this and it just. It's mind blowing the longevity he has. And for me, that's a huge priority for myself, is it? I decided in my early twenties, like all the things that I love doing, are heavily related to my health, my ability to stay healthy and be able to do them right like, whether it's hiking, whether it's running, whether it's riding bikes or dirt bikes, or if you know, just fill in the the blank like everything I love to do or hunting, you know, like it's it's so related to my physical ability to do those. And so this long, this concept of longevity is really interesting. And obviously he's out there crushing 100 miles at 50, something years old which is insane. And one of the things he talks about a lot is like his, his recovery period from from doing this kind of a diet. So I'd love to hear what your experience is recovering after some of these, and how that's changed with this type of approach.

Mike McKnight: Oh, yeah, it's a night and day difference, like I mean the example I always give people when it comes to this is you know, in 2017 and 2019, I did what 's called the triple crown of 200 for those listening. You don't know what that is. Basically, there's the Bigfoot 200 in August, the Tahoe 200 in September, and then the Moab, 240, and October and the triple crown is doing those 3200 in the same calendar year. So you're essentially doing 3200 in the span of 60 days and in 2017, my first time doing it. That's actually 4 months before I started. The triple crown is when I started my low carb journey, or whatever you want to call it but, I I I had to hang kind of this carrot in front of me for those 3 races that year, where, like I reached a certain point in all 3 races, where I was just like ready to quit. But then I and I know a lot of people will think this is not healthy to have to do this, but I essentially had to bribe myself like. If I finish this race, then I can spend the next 3 days eating my junk and so I use that I got that. I use that as motivation to get to the finish, and then I'd spend 3 days like I need to. I I I need to find the picture and send it to you. But I remember, after my first 200, I went, and I got like I went to 5 different fast food chains to pick up different little pieces of food that I liked like I went to KFC. And I got a bucket of fried chicken. I went to A and W. And got a basket of deep fried cheese curds. I went somewhere else, I think maybe Red Robin, to get some onion rings like it was a big, deep fried meal that I had, and like I did that after all those races. But between those races, like I I I couldn't run once because I was so inflamed. My legs just swelled up and ballooned up. My joints hurt like I was basically just trying to survive between those races, and then, like a few days before the race, I was just like holy cow. I hope my body figures out how to just get through this because I don't know how I'm gonna do another 200 miles And I had it. Band issues and all the races. I developed a stress fracture at the Moab 240 like it was a train wreck. But I still finished all 3 races. I somehow still got the overall like combined triple crown of 2 hundred's record that year. I don't know how. But you know, after that I was like, okay, like all these things went wrong. I'm gonna come back in 2019 and try to try and do better. And in those 2 years, I did a lot more studying of my approach, my nutritional approach, and I realized that I did it completely backwards, because from what I read after the races. Those are the times that you want to be the strictest with your food choices. because obviously, the breeding, the seed oils, like all that stuff is what caused my body to balloon up and slow down recovery so in 2019, I essentially did like a carnivore diet. The first 3 days, 3 or 4 days after those 2 hundreds, and, like, you know, within 5 days I was running again. I had no swelling, I had no inflammation. I had no issues. I ended up winning all 3 of those 200 that year, and set some kind of record on each course that year. And then I ended up beating my triple crown 2 hundredths time by it was like 44 or 45 h. It was a monumental difference, and the biggest thing that I did differently was like I was very clean with my nutrition between those races. And so that was kind of like a really eye opening moment for me, and that's I'd say, was the pivoting point for me, where, like I stopped, like I do believe in the 80-20 rule. Like I, I coach people with this nutritional approach. And I'm just like, Hey, you know, if you need to allow yourself 20% flexibility each week to have a little bit of stuff. That's not the best. Then do that. But for me, I don't do that anymore. Just because I like just saw how better I recovered the stricter I was. So you know, for me, I now just view food as not something to be enjoyed, even though I do love eating this way like for me, it's just like I look at it as just part of my training, like, you know, I want to eat this way. So I recover faster to get ready for my next race. But yeah, the biggest benefit I've seen with this approach is just how low the inflammation is, and then how much quicker you recover after a big effort.

Tayson Whittaker: Does that inflammation also help like I'd imagine that it also helps inflammation. Stay loud during the efforts. Right? So like a lot of our listeners that are going out. If they're doing a 5 or a 7 day effort a lot of times. What you'll see is they start to develop an issue day 2 day, 3 day, 4, you know, and then it just kind of they have to deal with that there and past And I'm I'm kind of guilty that, too. I I did a 20 mile run on Friday, and I felt pretty ginger like my knees felt a little swollen and ginger kind of over the weekend, and you know I so I guess I I guess my curiosity is like, does this also help in the moment from from developing injuries in the field on these massive efforts.

Mike McKnight: Oh, yeah, yeah, at least in my experience. I remember there was a big effort I was doing, and I was just really creating some chicken wings. And so I have. My wife still picks them up, and typically I get chicken wings from buffalo wild wings because they actually deep fry, their wings in beef shortening instead of seed oil. And so but in this effort she just went to some random store and got me some, and I didn't even think about how they were probably deep fried and seed oils. and This is a multi day thing. I had it at like 11 pm. At night, and then I went to bed, and I woke up the next day and my legs ballooned up, and that was the first time they ballooned up in a long time and I was just like, Oh, like it's the seed oil. It's like you idiot, Mike, And so like, for now like that's why, when I go to a race, I have my crew bring butter to the Aid station and have them do it. I even bring like. Do you know the brand's siete?

Tayson Whittaker: hmm.

Mike McKnight: Um siete, they mostly are known for creating Hispanic foods. But one of their child children, or has a celiac, I believe, and so all their products don't have gluten in it, and Gluten's inflammatory They have tortilla shells that are based with almond flour And so, like a lot of these races, I'll bring my own siete almond flour tortillas, and just you know I'll be like, Hey, guys, I'd like a case to be at the next stage station. So go ask the volunteers to make it for me, but give them my tortillas. and so I do bring a lot of my own stuff. So I can, you know, avoid those potential ingredients that would contribute a little bit of inflammation during the actual event.

Tayson Whittaker: Yeah, I notice it a lot with carbohydrates, just instant inflammation and bloat. So if I was to say, eat a pizza. I get so thirsty afterward, and I'm like I'm a 200 pounder right? I'm a big dude so I can see myself, if I have a weekend of eating, and I know there's a lot of carbs in there. I can actually see the scale, I mean, I can jump. It's not been off I mean it. It has happened before I've gained a full 10 pounds, like before I went for a run on this day, and then, like had a bad weekend, or maybe a 3 day weekend, get back on the scale, and I'll be 10 pounds heavier. And I've noticed, too, that I think potentially I'm going to lose it with no Gluten gluten. I think that may be related to my swelling. the part part of like where I also like specifically not just water attention, but actually some additional swelling from from the gluten itself. But I feel like I feel like that might be a little bit more common than but I don't know. I've never tried not doing seed oils or anything like that. That's a whole nother realm of watching things.

Mike McKnight: Well, if you want to watch for that, you're gonna have to go down. And yeah.

Tayson Whittaker: It's a rabble.

Mike McKnight: You're never going to eat out again. Everybody uses the oils. It's crazy.

Tayson Whittaker: No, and ha! And babes basically everything at the store with seed oil in it, you know.

Mike McKnight: Yeah, that's why I eat the same thing every day. That's why I don't eat out anymore. And if I do eat out, I do a lot of research to make sure they don't use seed oils, or to make sure that they take requests like when I go to Texas roadhouse or something I'm like, Hey. I might be telling a little bit of a white lie, but I'm just like, Hey, I have a seed oil allergy. So please just cook my steak either in butter or just flat on the grill with no oils added to it so it does take a little bit of commitment. but yeah, Gluten, most people have an inflammatory response to it, I mean scientifically, carbohydrates. Water holds on the carbohydrates. And so when you do have a bad weekend of eating a lot of carbohydrates like that 10 pounds that you gained like I guess 9 pounds of it is just water weight.

Tayson Whittaker: It'll come back off if I eat better for a few days and exercise.

Mike McKnight: Yeah, and I'm guessing that your stomach does feel a lot more jiggly like. That's what happens to me, too. Like, whenever I have a higher carbohydrate week. like I used to do sushi every Friday night before a long run. But now, like I legit, just do me eggs, raw dairy and fruit like, and that's it. But yeah, like, when I would do sushi, I would gain 5 to 10 pounds, and most of it was waterway, and my stomach like had a lot more jiggle to it like

Tayson Whittaker: you're speaking my language. That's exactly what I ate. After that 20 mile run. I literally.
speaking my language that's exactly what I ate after that 20 mile run I literally went to a Chinese buffet and ate sushi

Mike McKnight: It's so good, like simple carbohydrates with rice. And then the pro team, like sushi, is so good. But there was another thing I was gonna say, So there is me and a buddy. We just started a podcast, where we talk about food, basically like we're calling it the primal show, and we teamed up with the company called Levels Health, and they sent us a continuous glucose monitor. And we were going to do this thing where, like the Monitor is going to work for a month, we're going to do the first 2 weeks eating our own typical diet just to see. you know what the data showed. And like, I said, at the start of this podcast. Like, I would eat a big bowl of fruit with honey. My blood glucose was like 80 before I ate it, and the highest that went up to is like 90, which, like for anybody that knows anything about blood glucose levels. They say the normal range, I believe, is like 70 or 80 to 150. And so it's a wide range. But like. I was still on the low end of that range, even after eating like 60 grams of carbohydrates in the form of fruit But Towards the end of this experiment. We're gonna try doing the standard American diet for a whole week. just to see what would happen with the glucose. And like, you know how long it would take to potentially, periodically, just rise and so long story short, we only lasted a day. We did not last a full week but like so and the thing was, as we told everybody, we're just going to eat how we used to eat, and for me, I'm sure you've heard of Panda express? Yeah. So before I ate this way, like Panda Express, I probably ate there like no joke. 3 to 4 times a week, like I was a dick like I'm when everybody asked me the foods I missed. So like, do you miss it? Ice cream? Name is cake and stuff, and right now I don't miss any of that. But I miss deep fried Chinese food. I love that stuff so it's so good, so like my first meal is Panda Express I had it on a Friday night. Interestingly enough, my glucose only spiked to about 110, and so for me like that confirmed that. Like, if you're metabolically healthy, like one bad meal a week is not going to jeopardize your health. If you're okay with all the other negatives that come from it, which I was not okay with, and what I mean by that was, I didn't sleep well that night. I woke up with the biggest headache of my life And then that run that day, that run. It was my long run. I'd done that real route multiple times and like I ran it no joke 2 min per mile slower, just because my joints ached. I just felt super fatigued and dead. I have that stupid headache. I couldn't get rid of not to give too much information, but like I had diarrhea like crazy, and like those negatives, lasted for 3 days, like I had a headache for 3 days I had diarrhea for 3 days. My energy on my runs were junk, and so I'm sure a lot of that's just because of how strict I am. But you know, for me that's not worth it like I would much rather just be strict and feel good, and feel fresh and feel healthy.

Tayson Whittaker: Well, you can adapt to diets at an extreme level, right? I always remember I lived a couple of years in Malaysia, and you'd actually bring something that was finally sweet and good to taste, and like the people there would try to eat it, and they would just take like 2 Byte and be like, Oh, my gosh! I'm gonna be sick like I can't. I can't even touch it right. And I mean, they just knew so quickly that they couldn't. And I'm over here like dude. Just keep it coming. I haven't had sugar in so long, you know. And so I think I think in so many ways like the body You know it does adapt, and it does just just totally Anyways, I know I know. One thing I wanted to talk about was your broken or broken into breaking documentary. It's a documentary about you breaking the Colorado trail FKT. Which is, which is awesome. We're gonna go to a hundred miles of that trail this summer as a team here at Outdoor Vital. So I'm excited to go. We're gonna go kind of through the San Juan, start on the San, one side out of Durango there. So, looking forward to that. But I do remember you like ate a doughnut in that right, and you got so mad that donut cause like it's like making my knees hurt, or, you know, like it was pretty like pretty immediate how fast you can pick up on things which I think there's so many people walking around that are in pain all the time, but they're in so much pain they can't pick up on it like someone like you could.

Mike McKnight: Yeah, you're just chronically used to it. And it's just how you live your life. And once you cut that stuff out and see how good you can fill you to. Yeah, you notice it pretty quickly. And I'm like you know, everybody jokes with me, and I agree. It's like it's like you probably had issues after that donut like, not because of the donut, but because you're 400 miles into this thing, and like, I do agree with them to an extent, but it's like so like what happened was like, my knee was like just kind of in this gray area from mile 300 to 400 where it was like kind of sore kind of tender. Didn't feel right. I had to do a lot of mobility work to keep it feeling okay. And then I went, and I had that donut. And then I left. And then, like 5 miles later, like it, just like went to crap

Tayson Whittaker: And so do you over, yeah, yeah.

Mike McKnight: And so, yeah, I do believe the initial issues stem from just high mileage. But I also believe that the high sugar content of that donut which I hardly ever have, and then the gluten in that donut, which I never have just like, was enough to just like send it over to the other side. So my mileage does wear the body down. But nutrition

Tayson Whittaker: that that documentary was awesome. I really enjoyed it. It was. How fast did you end up completing the Colorado trail?

Mike McKnight: It was 7 days and 13 h.

Tayson Whittaker: Yeah, just a phenomenal effort for sure. And then that country is It's no joke right like I like the San Juan's even that. That's kind of the section I've been in more, and they're just insane like you can get to a trail head. And already, like I did this last year. I pulled up to a trail head late at night, and I was feeling like minor altitude sickness before I got out of the vehicle. You know what I mean because I was what I would like. I don't even know what I was. I was like above 11,000 feet, or they're close to 12,000 feet at the trailhead. You know how high those mountains are, and just how brutal they are. But I need to let you go. I need to wrap this up with a quick question. How many eggs a week do you eat
Mike McKnight: Just me about 4 dozen a week?

Tayson Whittaker: 4 dozen eggs? Yeah. Do you do the thing and just eat them raw. Just drink them

Mike McKnight: I mean like this morning with me, how quickly I had to get out to that run club thing like that protein shake that I made. I did add rye to it, but I mean when we're done here I have a few coaching calls, but for lunch I'm probably going to scramble up 6 or 7, 8. So I have a good 8, 8 or so eggs a day. Probably

Tayson Whittaker: That's crazy.

Mike McKnight: Well, I've been delicious like tired to be there

Tayson Whittaker: right. And going back to that topic of of longevity I was listening to something a a month or so back a couple months back, and about them doing a big study about like Centennials, people would have lived past 100 years, and the only thing that they could find in their diets that was like consistent to to help them. Like, you know, they're hoping probably to find like. Oh, they ate this every day, and I helped them live this long. But the only thing they found was that they ate basically the same diet every single day.

Mike McKnight: Really, yeah.

Tayson Whittaker: And I thought that was really interesting. And it probably goes really well for what you and Jeff are doing. And it's just kind of eating that consistency you dial in for your body. And who knows? Maybe going to be like 150 years old still running these ultra. So

Mike McKnight: I want to be opposed to that. I mean, like it eliminates decision fatigue, too. Right? It's like, Oh I'll go to the grocery store and buy 4 dozen eggs, 6 pounds of ground beef, some butter. And, like, you know, this is what I'm having every day.

Tayson Whittaker: Well, thanks. So much for coming on the podcast again, I recommend everyone. Go watch that documentary as well as Just follow you on Instagram, the low carb runner. you do coaching calls as well. So if anyone listening to this is probably more on the running side of things than anything, maybe maybe just do diet calls like Dietitian type calls but anywhere else that people should reach out and find you.

Mike McKnight: Yeah, Instagram is the best. And then I have a contact form on my website, which is low. Carb, dash runner.com.

Tayson Whittaker: Okay? Awesome. Well, thanks so much. This was super enlightening. I know I got a lot out of this, and I wish I had a little bit more time, because I'm interested, even from a selfish perspective. I'm gonna run the tush or mountain race at the end of July, and I'm like a man. Should I even start to attempt any of this stuff, or is it? Just don't mess with it at this point. I don't know. I mean just I guess yes or no on that.

Mike McKnight: I mean, if you're not a low car, that's kind of a quick time to try to adapt.

Tayson Whittaker: Yeah, I won't. I won't mess with it at this point. But anyways, thanks again, Michael. It was awesome to have you. And just a wealth of information.

Mike McKnight: Yeah, thanks for having me, and let me know if you have time to chat when you're up here this weekend.

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Tayson Whittaker