Jonathan Clinthorne’s journey with Atkins started at 20 years old while he was in college. “I had been really active in high school but once that stopped, I gained a bunch of weight, and that’s where low carb eating came to the forefront for me,” he says.
Jonathan was also intrigued by low carb’s connection to science. “I wrote a paper about using ketogenic diets for the treatment of epilepsy, and in doing this research, learned more about the science behind low carb diets and how they work,” he adds.
He started slowly, with daily short jogs, biking to class and figuring out a way of low carb eating that fit in with his college schedule and social life, generally following the principles of Atkins. Fortunately, wings, steak and burgers (without the bun) were easy alternatives to late-night pizza.
“I lost about 65 pounds in seven to eight months and started increasing my activity level,” he says. He lost even more weight once he started running farther and longer. Eighteen months into his journey and after a 100-pound weight loss, he reached his maintenance weight of 145 to 150 pounds.
His love of running took on a life of its own, starting with a half marathon. Since then he has competed in over 50 ultra-marathons. Instead of the traditional high carb approach to training for endurance events, Jonathan stuck with his low carb lifestyle, partly inspired by The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance, by Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney. (Jeff Volek and Steve Phinney are co-authors of The New Atkins for a New You). Atkins ultra runner Zach Bitter also follows the same low carb training principles.
During training for an event, Jonathon might eat 70 to 80 grams of carbs a day. “That seems high to some low carb people,” he says, “but when you’re consuming 4,000 calories a day, it’s a relatively small percent of energy.”
Three to five days before a race, he drops down to Induction levels, to make his body as efficient as it can while metabolizing fat for energy. He’s looking forward to his next race, the Cascade Crest, a 100-mile trail run through the Central Cascades of Washington State, in August.
To bring his low carb lifestyle full circle, Jonathan ended up earning his Ph.D. in nutrition, and currently works for Atkins as the Nutrition Communication Manager. “Working with Atkins is a good fit, because I believe in what they do,” he says. “As we see more and more research about the effectiveness of low carb diets, it is hugely rewarding.”