50km in 3 hours 57 with No Carbs – Yes, it’s Possible! Meet Primed Ultra Marathon Champion Andy Pope

Written by Ultra Marathon Running Champ Andy Pope

“Age 45… 50km on no carbs… in 3hrs 57… 1st place

Really? Yes, really.

Andy and Jeff Suazo

A Primed/Lower Carb, Higher Healthy Fat (LCHF) lifestyle will probably make you a stronger runner. One thing is a certainty though, it will make you a healthier runner. It is not a magic cure or a fast track to the podium – I should add to the title that I train five or six times a week and have been running and racing a long while; Primed/LCHF is a part of the formula and illustrates what is possible. Running and racing are an individual journey and if you transition to a Primed lifestyle this will become a part of your journey. Yes – lifestyle – not “diet”; the vast majority of traditional “diets” fail. Diets imply short term, largely unenjoyable ways to lose weight. The Primed focus is long term health, a permanent change – Weight loss, increased energy levels and how you feel will all take care of themselves in time.


You will have to throw out some traditional thinking along with pasta and rice when you start the journey. You are possibly used to running/exercise to control weight, or at least that is what you think you are doing. You will now eat (more) to control weight and health and run to de-stress, train for a race or just get outside… but calorie counting is out along with carbs and sugar.


I used to dread rest (or injury) periods. I would feel “unhappy, fat, lethargic and unhealthy” relatively quickly, in fact so quickly that my wife dreaded non-running days. I now enjoy rest periods before a race or when I feel like it and eat all I want, usually lose weight and feel great.

Andy Pope

I’ve been on my Primed journey for getting on for three months. If you do train and or race regularly and want to start be aware that you are likely to experience energy deficiency over the first week or two as your body transitions – I ‘bonked’ badly on my first race a week or two into Primed – rather than the expected energy gains (”as advertised”) I was crawling over a 21k finish. But several weeks later I ran the first 42k of the 50k race in just over 3 hours and felt great. Eight days after that race I am training 20k in an easy 1hr30minutes.

Fat Tank

My wife who has also joined the journey (about a month after me) was incredibly disappointed at not losing weight quickly even though she felt better and was notching up belt holes, but after two months she is a consistent 5kg lighter and dropping more kilos almost by the week. Like any change it’s easier when you understand the ‘what’s’ and ‘why’s’. Being told to give up processed foods, sugar, pasta, bread and rice overnight may not seem easy or appealing but if you read around the subject and find out exactly what wheat and sugar, amongst other culprits, are doing to you, you may never look at bread in the same way. I certainly haven’t.

Andy Pope run on fat

Likewise you need to be ready with alternatives and to plan your meals a little bit more than you do today. I have found it particularly difficult on travel days (which I do a lot) – to find a service station or airport with anything but sugary pastries and loaded sweets is almost impossible. You also need to know what to shop for and where to find some less common items.

To this end a Chad Davis has been a great partner on this journey, terrific inspiration and hugely helpful resource to navigate the many questions I have had. My goal is to complete 100k race in January 2016 and make full use of the potential extra energy supplied by a high fat lifestyle. I am enjoying experimenting with, amongst other things, buko juice, as an electrolyte as opposed to my old favourite Pocari Sweat. While I have lots to learn and many tweaks to make, one thing is for sure, the night before the 100k I will not be joining the carbo-loading party.”

Andy Works at Atlantis Dive Resorts & Liveaboards

Atlantis beauty

Atlantis Dive Resorts & Liveaboards at Peurto Galera, Dumageute and Azores offer beautiful accommodations, great food and so many wonderful, fun and healthy activities. From scuba diving, uunderwater photography to liveaboards Atlantis is a tremendous vacation venue for the whole family. Spa treatments are also available.

Here are some of the fabulous Primed meals available at Atlantis Dive Resorts & Liveaboards at Peurto Galera, Dumageute and Azores.

13 thoughts on “50km in 3 hours 57 with No Carbs – Yes, it’s Possible! Meet Primed Ultra Marathon Champion Andy Pope”

    1. Thanks for the comment Rb. I was just listening to Professor Tim Noakes and he also highlights that this method makes a healthier runner who does less damage, recovers faster and gets faster. Win, win and win. Cheers.

  1. The truth is that not all foods high in carbohydrates are bad for you.
    What worked for me, was to rotate higher carbohydrate days and lower carbohydrate days instead of eating them at a constant all the time. This allows you to still eat carbs from clean sources, without adding body fat and enables you to better utilize fat for burning as fuel, as opposed to burning carbs and muscle tissue for fuel (more about carb cycling: http://everydayhealthhero.com/can-carb-cycling-help-you-lose-weight/ ). Since late January I have been using this method and really noticing a difference. I’m not starving myself either. There is also a motivation thing, it’s much easier to survive low-carb days when you know that the high carb days will come after them.

    1. Dear Vanessa,
      Thanks for your reply to Andy’s great story. I agree with you and our Primed Lifestyle definitely includes carbohydrates. They are delicious and nutritious for sure. We love spinach and all leafy greens, bananas rock, squash, carrots and other vegetables are wonderful carbohydrates that are good for you and taste wonderful.
      The distinction is that we try and avoid the cheap, processed carbs that have become all too prevalent in today’s society. Hence, we avoid grains and other highly processed foods as much as possible. These are inflammatory and less than optimal nutrition when compared to proper carbohydrates like your fruit and vegetables.
      Of course, it is up to each individual to experiment with their carbohydrate tolerance as some are more affected then others.
      I really appreciate you sharing your success here and wish you even more.
      Cheers, Chad.
      P.S. I’ll ensure Andy reads your comment too.

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