The OFM Story
“You guys are leading the science.” -Jeff Volek RD/PhD
It’s important to realize most innovators were considered “crazy,” “wrong” and “heretical” long before their innovations were viewed as "innovative." Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, Walt Disney, Steven Jobs, Hewlett & Packard and others faced this ridicule yet worked tirelessly ahead of their innovations becoming adopted as the new norm.
My name is Peter Defty and I am one of the pioneers in fat-adapted performance. This work, first on myself beginning in 2001, and subsequently with athletes I coached, eventually led to some stunning athletic performances all based upon optimizing fat metabolism.
Because of the overwhelming bias toward carbohydrates as the necessary energy source for athletes & athletic performance these performances were dismissed as 'anecdotal' and ridiculed by the mainstream sports experts. This did not deter me because what I was personally experiencing coupled with what athletes I was working with were achieving told me fat adaptation was real. Humans are meant to metabolize fat as their primary aerobic energy source.
In 2010 a friend suggested I contact Dr. Stephen Phinney after reading an article on him. This led to a meeting where I shared these results with Dr. Phinney who immediately stated not only were these results real but he was genuinely interested in learning more. It turned out Dr. Phinney had a keen interest in fat adapted performance and, like me, knew it offered much more than the dismissive attitude it was given by experts like Louise Burke and Chris Carmichael.
“However, those at the coal-face of sports nutrition can delete fat loading and high-fat diets from their list of genuine ergogenic aids for conventional endurance and ultra-endurance sports.”
- Louise Burke, PhD
"To think carbs make you fat is wrong. You're fat because you're not exercising... Low-carb diets are exactly what you should not do if you're active...Carbs are the fuel that drives your life; suddenly everyone's forgotten this. If you're working out five days a week, you need a minimum 60 percent [daily caloric intake] of carbs a day.” -Chris Carmichael
Like other innovators, I was working outside the confines of conventional sports nutrition and performance. For years the results we were achieving were real and consistent yet ridiculed by the “experts.”
The Long Road...
Dr. Phinney had to abandon the athletic performance side of Low Carb for decades after publishing his seminal bike racer study in 1983 which called into question previous research. Our meeting gave him a cohort of subjects to study who were not only fat adapted but winning competitions and setting records, something considered impossible. This led to the 2012 "Western States 100 Study" (Volek et. al.) in which the winner that year (was a fat adapted athlete I coached) also set a Course Record (CR) . OFM and Vespa were also profiled by Drs. Phinney & Volek in their book, “The Art & Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance.”
Though "The Western States 100 Study" never made it to publication the data was so compelling Drs. Phinney & Volek recognized the need for a more controlled study which led to the ground breaking FASTER Study (Volek et.al.). Publication of "Metabolic characteristics of keto-adapted ultra-endurance runners" (Volek & Phinney et. al.) in 2016 finally validates what we were achieving in the real world of competition for the previous ten years.
This did not happen overnight. I began using the concept of fat based fueling in 2001 after running my first marathon doing all the “right” things. I “bonked” and immediately looked for a solution rather than accept this experience as normal for endurance athletes. I looked to the Maasai and the science of evolution for inspiration and proceeded to include a lot more protein and fat from natural animal sources in my diet while cutting back on carbohydrates instead of eliminating them. It worked flawlessly as I ran 3 marathons over the course of 3 months without any issues, steady energy flow and quick recovery.
At this time there was virtually no public information on keto and fat was clearly shunned for performance as an energy substrate. Sport was (and largely still is) all about using carbohydrates to fuel athletic performance. I had little to no nutritional education at that point but did have the problem solving skills and Biology degree from UC Davis which allowed me to start reading and thinking about the topic and how it applied to human performance. ]
Like most innovators I was roundly ridiculed for suggesting fat adapted performance was possible even though athletes I worked with were winning competitions and setting records. Similarly, Vespa, had been suggesting the same through use of their product. At the time of my introduction to Vespa in 2006, Vespa was the ONLY product available which approached fueling & performance using fat, specifically one’s own body fat.
All of this years ahead of the current “keto” movement. Today, our fat-based performance innovation continues with the small team I have built around the concept of Optimizing Fat Metabolism (OFM) for performance and overall health. We continue to refine and achieve “Real Results” with athletes just like you!
If you would like expert advice on how Fat Adaptation could work for your health and your performance check out our coaching options here