Meet Donal O’Neill, a fit and healthy ex-professional athlete. His is a battle against global government dietary guidelines that have been advocating low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets as the means for a healthy lifestyle since 1977.
In his youth, Donal was an advocate of the carb-rich sports diet. That all changed when his dad, an ex-professional sportsman himself, had a heart attack.
Cereal Killers 1 introduces us to Donal and explains the story behind his carb-crusade. Armed with enlightening knowledge about the effects of a high-carb diet on the human body, Donal rejects this traditional way of eating. Instead, he gorges himself on fats. We follow Donal for 28 days as his body adapts to a new, fat-rich lifestyle. The results are remarkable, and Donal is officially a low carb-convert. Sadly, his convictions don’t align with the popular approach to sports nutrition and so, Donal has sought to find answers.
In the second instalment of Cereal Killers (entitled "Run on Fat"), Donal tackles traditional nutrition head on. He sets out to debunk carbo-loading principles and the ‘benefits’ of a carbohydrate-rich diet for elite athletic performance. His is a high-fat alternative.
Donal’s journey leads him to approach several global pioneers in the nutrition industry, including Stephen Phinney. At the time, Phinney is mentoring one Sami Inkinen, an amateur Ironman champion and elite sportsmen.
Sami was frustrated with his repeated ‘bonking’ – that is, the slang term for running out of steam while training or competing. He approached Dr Stephen Phinney, a highly experienced physician-scientist and expert nutritionist, who won Sami over with his compelling evidence against high-carb sports training. Sami has since changed his eating habits, removing almost all carbohydrates from his diet and replacing them with natural fats. The results, Sami confesses, were immediate.
The endurance athlete inside Sami was impressed with his renewed levels of energy, but wanted to see whether the diet held out as a viable long-term option. He wanted to test whether it was ‘bonk proof’. He and his wife would take this to the extreme.
Given the adventurous nature of the couple, they opted to row across the Pacific Ocean from California to Hawaii, a distance of roughly 4400 kilometres. Their low-carb, high-fat diet would need to supply each of them with between 5 000 and 8 000 calories per day, while they were at sea. Preparations were intense and meticulous. It was an expedition of a scientific nature as well, and regular blood tests would document their progress on the diet. Sami is a stickler for numbers and so made sure that every calorie was accounted for; that every blood test was timeous; and that the couple’s response to prolonged high-intensity exercise was well documented.
Meanwhile, Donal continues his quest for low-carb, high-fat solutions for elite athletic performance. He approaches several other pioneers in the field including Professor Tim Noakes and Dr Peter Brukner.
Dr Peter Brukner reflects on his experience with English football and Australian cricket and suggests that the major long-term benefit of a low-carb, high-fat diet is the anti-inflammatory effects. Recovery is massive in modern-day sports. This reduced inflammation means that sports men and women can recover faster after a game, thereby getting more quality training before the next game.
The main critique of the diet is that it’s an unhealthy fuel supply to working muscles.
The progress of the intrepid Sami Inkenen and Meredith Loring across the Pacific Ocean shows this to have no basis. The couple reaches Honolulu in record time. It’s a massive victory for the low-carb, high-fat dieting technique in relation to sports performance. In addition, it’s a huge boost for the research of long-term effects of the diet. Sami himself is well-pleased and declares the diet ‘bonk proof’. The truth is now clear: Fats are a far more consistent fuel supply than carbs.
While traditional sports nutrition still needs to catch up, increasingly, people are growing more aware of the benefits of a low-carb high-fat diet and its popularity among active men and women is growing exponentially.
We’re excited to announce that Donal has partnered with us and that, as the Banting experts, Real Meal Revolution has now included the Cereal Killers series in our Beginner Banting Online Course, to give you more Bant for your buck. All of our course participants can follow Donal’s journey and learn from his experiences as a carb-free crusader.
Whether you’re a sceptic, a beginner Banter or have been Banting for a while, our Online Programe is a fantastic resource for everyone. Learn about the basics of Banting, receive tips and tools to help you manage your new Banting lifestyle and find support in the form of our online forum and personal instructors.