Jan 14

High Fat Fail + 5-Spice Roasted Veggies

Ever think something sounds fun… only to learn it is just the opposite?


I wish I didn’t make this mistake so often…

Last week I decided to experiment with a high-fat/low-carb diet.  Nut butter, oils, avocados, nuts, egg yolks, red meat… it sounded like a brilliant idea!  Notsomuch.

Nut butter needs toast or oats.  ‘Nough said.  It turns out that all of those thing are delicious… but much better with a carb.  Runny eggs need a piece of bread to soak up the goop.

Red meat is better on a bun… but this was still good:

Bison burger topped with a runny egg


But it wasn’t just the carbs that had me regretting the high fat thing.  Regret is the wrong word.  I learned a lot, and I do not regret that.  Here are the side effects:

  • Constipation – this was the worst; I am grumpy without a good morning poop (TMI?)
  • Gas/Bloating – I could clear a room in 5 seconds
  • Lower energy – I felt like I was in slow motion
  • Slower muscle recovery time – leg day soreness lasted FIVE days
  • Hunger – fat digests faster than carbs, so I would eat and be hungry an hour later
  • Lower veggie intake – veggies have carbs and I found myself cutting them in order to keep my carbs low
  • Flat muscles – even after a hard bicep day I didn’t have the same “pump” I usually do


Polar FT4 Chest and Bicep Burn

Hard workout, yet pretty flat-looking


PLEASE do not take this as a deterrent if you are on/want to try a higher fat diet yourself.  Like I said in the ab/nutrition post, diet is personal.  This was just my experience.  Don’t be afraid to experiment!  You will learn a lot about your body.


One of my favorite things about Heather’s Meatless Monday challenge is that it forces me to try new things.  Like this week – Turnips.



I know I’ve had turnips before… but I can’t remember when!  After a little research I learned that turnips are a lot like rutabagas, and have a potato-like taste (but better…. I hate potatoes).  Long ago I made Rutabaga Fries, complete with a vegan cheese sauce.  I liked it, but for some reason I don’t often buy veggies in that family.

Sunday while on my weekly grocery trip I picked up a turnip.  When I got home I realized I had no idea what to do with it… but with potato on the brain, I decided to make a roasted veggie dish using another fun find: a purple sweet potato!  It tastes a lot like a sweet potato, but slightly less sweet.



I diced my new finds and tossed them with the usual suspects: oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion, and rosemary.  Then I decided that such cool veggies couldn’t be treated in such a pedestrian manner.  And that’s how I ended up with Roasted Turnips & Purple Sweet Potatoes with Five-Spice.  And brussels, but that’s too long of a title. ;)

A little sweet from the ‘taters, heat from Chinese 5-Spice, and a whole lot of staying-power from the starchy.  I’ll be enjoying this in my packed lunches at work all week.  If it lasts that long.


Five-Spice Roasted Turnips & Purple Sweet Potatoes

Five-Spice Roasted Turnips & Purple Sweet Potatoes

  • 1 turnip
  • 1 purple sweet potato (can use regular sweet potato)
  • 1/4 C red onion
  • 1 T fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder*


Preheat to 450°F.

Slice turnips and potato into 1/2-inch-thick cubes.  Toss with onion, rosemary, oil, garlic, and 5-spice in a roasting pan until well coated.

Roast  for 20-25 mins, stirring once halfway through.

*Note: Chinese 5-spice can be found at most major grocery stores and Asian markets.  It’s a blend of Szechuan pepper, cinnamon, fennel seed, cloves and star anise.


I told some of you today would be it, but the 6 hour endurance training cram session recap is coming tomorrow… sorry!

Have you experimented with your diet?  What did you learn?

Have you ever seen a purple sweet potato?



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  1. Sue

    It’s interesting to learn how you felt on a high fat, low carb diet. A friend of mine went paleo a while ago, and her experience has been the exact opposite: less bloating, faster recovery, more energy, less hunger, etc.
    I personally feel better on a low fat, plant based diet. Too much nut butter or cheese and my stomach hates me.
    Lately, I’ve been fascinated by the frutarian/low fat raw vegan diet. At first it sounds extreme and restrictive, but the results speak for themselves. Those frutarians are fit!

    1. Laura

      I was really hoping that would be the bcase for me! I think everyone’s bodies just have different requirements to function well.

      I agree with you on the vegan/raw diet. I do that periodically and it always feels fantastic!

  2. Tara @ Sweat like a Pig

    I think everyone responds to high fat/low carb differently. Fat actually digests slower than carbs, so I don’t get how you would be so hungry after eating! My carb intake is way down since I started Paleo but your body adapts. You have to give it a few weeks for your body to adjust. I know you’re not doing a Whole30, but the high fat/low carb idea is similar. They have a great guide as to how you will feel on this kind of diet, including some details about digestive issues! http://whole9life.com/2012/06/the-whole30-timeline/

    Stock up on leafy greens so you don’t have to cut your veggie intake!

    1. Laura

      I actually read up on Whole 30 when I started this… it was part of the inspiration! I think I just need to carbs as I try to build and grow. I wouldn’t be opposed to trying it again after I make more gains.

      The veggie thing was hard because I am such a variety person… carrots, brussels, etc.

  3. Jessie

    Very interesting & intriguing to hear how you felt both mentally and physically on a high fat, low carb diet. Some diets work better for others, and obviously this one causes you to have some major gas :) Ha Ha!

  4. Andrea

    Just goes to show that everyone is different and you have to find what works for you! I LOVE all high fat foods… but I really struggle if my diet is too low in carbs. I don’t care that I can have a whole avocado or a ton of nut butter if I’m super carb depleted! Carbs fuel your brain and I turn into a zombie without them! LOL!

    1. Laura

      That’s how I felt! Like a nut-butter filled zombie. :)

  5. Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean

    never tried it but i think my experience with high fat low carb would be very similar to yours!

  6. Angela @ Happy Fit Mama

    I’ve experimented a little with high fat/low carb…similar experience. It’s not for me but works for some.

  7. Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen)

    LOVE purple sweet potatoes! I also love the white (I think they’re Korean?). So good! I think it’s great that you played with your diet. I love being in tune with myself now and being able to make changes and really see what these changes do for you is fascinating. Since I’ve played with my carbs and proteins, I’ve seen HUGE changes in my muscle definition. Max told me last night that I am ripped. That felt pretty good.

    I’m with you though, I really need my veggies. You can take all the other carbs away, but I really have to have my roughage!

    1. Laura

      I saw those pics on your blog – you ARE ripped!

  8. Miz

    Ive never ever eaten a turnip.
    Im in.

  9. Fran@BCDC

    I think I experimented this week and I’m not happy about it. Saturday and Sunday I told myself I could eat whatever I wanted. Now I feel kind of crumby. No more! I’m sticking with my healthy eating and that’s all there is to it. The roasted veggies look delicious!

    1. Laura

      It’s god to do those things from time to time – if onyl to remind yourself that yes, healthy food IS want you want. :)

  10. Laura @ Mommy Run Fast

    Love those beautiful purple sweet potatoes! You’re so right about diet being a personal thing, but I have the feeling I’d react the same way. I do try to incorporate some healthy fat at almost every meal, but in moderate quantities. Another lesson learned- that’s a good thing!

  11. Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers

    I just saw purple sweet potatoes in the store the other day. They’ll make such beautiful sweet potato fries for Clemson games mixed with the regular orange ones!

    1. Laura

      Go Jackets!!!

  12. Khushboo

    Interesting takeaways from the high fat/low carb diet. Lately I’ve been doing the ’3 meals a day’ thing instead of 6-7 and I like it much more than I thought I would. Its nice to only have to think about food thrice a day :-)

    1. Laura

      I do love eating all the time, but you are right – it can be tiring when life gets hectic!

  13. Lee

    Well at least now you know. (I am very tempted to say, “And knowing is half the battle.” Okay, I did say it.)

  14. Meg


    Love your honesty!

    Live and learn, right, twin!?! Oh goodie goodie – I love this because I CAN RELATE SO MUCH

    I triiiiiiiied higher fat lower carb for a teenie bit this summer JUST to see what would happen and I was always hungry and looked so depleted!

    Art has me eating a ton of carbs now (more than I ever have before) and I FEEL SO ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

    It’s funny how some people prefer low carb and some high, but you have to do what feels right for you!!!!! :):):):)

    So happy you experimented! It’s fun to learn more about your body :)

    I seriously love you so much, honey <3

    1. Laura

      I have a theory that it has a lot to do with my body knowing I need to gain… it would be interesting to try it once I get to my goal. For now, bring on the carbs! ;)

  15. Heather (Where's the Beach)

    I don’t ever recall having turnips before, but surely as a kid somewhere along the way…but maybe not. I’ve never really played around with my diet in terms of carbs, fats, proteins. Well, I sort of have but not like this. I have found that I feel better when I try to keep my proteins higher. I try to keep carbs less processed but don’t really count them per se. I guess I feel like I need them more b/c of the running though. Right now not being able to lift heavy, however, it’s making me feel like I need to really rethink my diet.

    1. Laura

      I feel much better on a higher protein diet too. And yes to the less-processed carbs. Less-processed anything, actually. The fewer chemicals, the better!

  16. Sam @ Better With Sprinkles

    Definitely interesting to see the high fat/low carb to higher carb/lower fat comparison. Like you said, we all react differently to certain diets! I’ve been experimenting with adding more fats in my diet, but I haven’t noticed any real differences yet.

  17. Amanda @ Romancing the Unusual

    I have found that higher fat; lower carb really does wonder for the way my body looks- less bloating/ less water retentions, etc. But it is tough to keep it up for very long. I don’t count carbs at this point, but I stay aware of them- especially the starchy ones. I think it’s good to experiment and find what works (or doesn’t work) for you! :)

  18. Kierston

    I love 5 spice!!!! So good!

    We’ve played around with my diet to see what works and what doesn’t when it comes to results. Like you said, diet (what you eat – not a specific type of diet like a fad diet) is very personal. Our bodies have different needs and everything we do has to be personalized to make it work and to get after the results you may be looking for :)

    Thanks for sharing your experiment!

    1. Laura

      Agreed! I was a skeptic for years, but competing has put is so in touch with my body that I can detect side effects easily when my diet is off.

  19. Michelle @ Eat Move Balance

    I was just posting about purple sweet potatoes last week. I made chips (for the day my husband was watching the Viking’s game!), and I also roasted them with turnips (on Friday’s post). Aren’t they pretty?!?

    I experimented with a high-fat diet, and like I mentioned before, it didn’t work out for me either. Very similar results as you. I do much better with moderate healthy fat intake, higher amounts of protein and lots of veggies! :)

    1. Laura

      I swear pretty food tastes better. :)

      Good to know you (and others) had a similar experience. All I ever hear is how great the high fat diet is.

  20. Danielle

    I love roasted veggies so that combo sounds amazing to me although I’ve never tried turnips before. Now I have a reason to try them out!

  21. RavieNomNoms

    Interesting take on your adventure. I think different diets affect people in different ways. I have never been a fan of the diet you tried. Doesn’t make me feel good, I think that is a big part of it too. Your body has to FEEL good while doing it otherwise it makes it a chore and that is never good.

    1. Laura

      Exactly! Eating should never be a chore. :)

  22. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets

    The purple sweet potatoes with the turnips and brussels sprouts look so pretty. I have a crush on potatoes…the prettier they are, the more I have to buy. I can’t even resist fingerlings because they are so darn adorable. It’s weird, I fully admit that.

    So the high fat, low carb might not be your thing….not so long as you want to socialize with others. Your honesty cracked me up, and while it was TMI, I agree whole heartedly. Anytime I get sick or go on vacation, my digestive system goes out of whack, and it’s just plain shitty (pun intended).

    1. Laura

      Cute food is irresistable! How about those mini Thai bananas? I buy them EVERY time.

      Awwww… it was TMI, wasn’t it? ;)

      1. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets

        Not really. Not for me anyway.

  23. Alex @ therunwithin

    i am pumped you posted a turnip recipe , I just bought some this weekend and wasn’t sure what to do with them yet. i have never experimented with a truly high fat diet but this kind of makes me not want to, constipation drives me bonkers. like bonkers.

    1. Laura

      Let me know if you try it!!! And YES – constipation makes me insane.

  24. Sierra @ Posh Meets Pavement

    When I eat lower carb, my stomach also tells me about it. I feel like I need veggies in my diet for some some of fiber/ruffage. Drinking lots of water helps big time.

    I do find that when I eat high fat, my sweet tooth mellows out. I don’t know if it’s mental or not, but I my normal nightly sweet cravings disappear.

  25. Nadiya

    That’s really interesting that you’ve noticed that on a high fat/ low carb diet. Maybe it just needs some adjustment time because it has a lot to do with the bacteria in your gut. The once in your gut at the moment are not used to this kind of a diet.

    Personally, I used to eat a very high carb diet because carbs are cheap & quick- perfect for a student. However, I felt like I was on a constant energy rollercoaster going from being sugar high to brain dead. Now that I add more fat/ protein to my diet I feel much more stable lol! I guess it’s all about balance.

    1. Laura

      I should have added that it’s about the right carbs – the carbs I cram in are mostly from veggies, sweet potatoes, oats, and Ezekial bread. Low sugar and low sodium!

  26. maria @ lift love life

    I experiemented with a high fat, low carb diet and it didn’t work well for me either. My energy dropped drastically and I also experienced a few other similar problems as well. But I definitely was a lot fuller with all that fat, and that’s something I still try to maintain right now with eating a healthy fat at every meal. But I agree that PB just needs some delicious oats to go with it! You do what works for you girl!

    1. Laura

      I’m thinking after this I may just up my fats slightly… I didn’t dislike the fats, just need my carbs!

  27. Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen

    Does going vegan count as experimenting? Although, to be honest, I guess I have experimented a bit within veganism, as far as adding back in the Greek (and goat’s milk) yogurts that my stomach will accept, or every so often eating shrimp or other seafood…and then that one time I essentially ate an entree covered in butter sauce.

    It is SO interesting how quickly food can affect your body, in both good and bad ways. Eliminating dairy initially helped my skin clear up, and veganism in general has made me feel GREAT. However adding back yogurt (with all of its probiotics, I’m sure) has meant better digestion and less tummy troubles than I was having over the summer. SO vegan + yogurt is the way to go for me right now. :)

    Sorry, that was so long.

    The other thing I’d like to say is pairing Chinese 5-Spice w. Rosemary is GENIUS!

    1. Laura

      I didn’t know the yogurt was helping your digestion too… interesting. Makes sense though! Cheers to Greek! And 5-spice. Hmmmm… what about a Greek 5-spice sushi dip?!

  28. Olivia Hill

    I love how you’re experimenting and finding out what diet works best for YOU. It’s an inspiration to me! I’m thinking I wanna try out a higher fat diet and see what happens.

    1. Laura

      Awesome! Please let me know what you learn!

  29. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    It’s so funny because this diet you’re talking about, high-fat/low carb… Is my life, and I have lived this way for 10 or so years! (And I feel awesome)… I think there is about a 2-3 week period where people experience everything that you experienced, but then they surpass those feelings and the energy starts to come back! I seriously have more energy than a small army, and I truly believe it’s because of my diet! ;)

    If you give it another go- I will give you ALL of my secrets! ha ha!! PS: I loveeeeeee runny yolks… And they taste AMAZING with tuna!

    1. Laura

      I just want to know all your secrets in general ’cause you are awesome. End scene.

  30. Purely Twins

    so glad you found what works for you!!! we do not eat one extreme over the other, we get a balanced of everything. we have thought about playing around with our carb intake but we love our carbs…and our fats ;)

  31. Allie

    Oh well, ya live and learn, huh?! It’s cool that you are trying out different things to see what works for you!

  32. Heather @ Better With Veggies

    I want to find a purple sweet potato! I had no idea what to do with the turnips and googled for inspiration, what a wonderful invention indeed! I’ve also decided that simple is not a bad thing, I want to try more simple recipes myself (not promising anything).

    1. Laura

      I am SO glad you did this. I would have never known that I like turnips so much!

  33. Lisa

    I LOVE turnips! So good. Parsnips are amazing too. I think they taste the same maybe actually. Very interesting with the high fat experiment! How high is high fat like 50% calories coming from fat…just curious. I don’t think I could manage doing a high fat diet. I find it doesn’t satiate me as much as carbs/protein does. At least you tried it out and learned for yourself!

    1. Laura

      To me, parsnips are a little sweeter… maybe slightly close to a carrot?

      I was getting 40-50% from fats. That was easy, but going without carbs was a challenge!

  34. Kristina

    I think the only experiment or rather, change, I’ve made diet wise is my juice fasts I sort of regularly do. I don’t even feel like my plant based diet is something I “changed” or had to get used to, because even as a child I rarely ate meat (I thank grilled cheese and then later, bagels and cream cheese, for my childhood nutrition – supplemented with Instant Breakfast because my mom was always trying to fatten me up – such a skinny kid!).

    very interesting to hear your experiences – most don’t sound pleasant.

    aren’t roasted turnips THE BEST?? I love the purple potatoes too…

    1. Laura

      Random fact: I was such a picky kid that I wouldn’t even eat grilled cheese. I dunno what was wrong with me.

  35. Tina @ Best Body Fitness

    I am the SAME way! I have to have my carbs otherwise my body is very angry with me in many of the same ways you described. I get more bloated/soft looking/feeling when they’re not in my diet. And my workouts suck.

    1. Laura

      I should have thought to ask you if you’d tried this! Sucky workouts make me angry. Bring on the carbs! :)

  36. Jody - Fit at 55

    I LOVE that you shared your experience since it really does show that each person is unique & what works for one does not mean it will work for another! Are bods are different & our goals are different. I am like you – it is not for me not only bod wise but just lifestyle wise… I need to enjoy what I eat too YET eat so I can look as I want to…. GREAT INSIGHTS!!!

    LOVE the recipe too & still looking for purple sweet potatoes – have been for a while now! Are they sweet or not as sweet like yams are sweet?

    1. Laura

      They are sweet, but slight less so than Garnet sweet potatoes. The recipe would certainly work with either though!

  37. Parita @ myinnershakti

    I saw purple sweet potatoes at the farmer’s market last weekend. I’ll have to buy some next time! And I totally agree with you on the diet thing…it’s so personal. What works for one person may not work for another. :)

  38. Amanda @ .running with spoons.

    The same thing happened to me when I ended up cutting down on carbs – no energy, bad mood, and holy.wow did my stomach get jacked up. I’ve done tonnes of experimenting with my diet over the years and I think I’m finally at a place where I more or less know what works. It’s such a pain in the butt to go through that trial-and-error process, but definitely worth all the frustration… or at least that’s what I try and tell myself ;)

    1. Laura

      Totally worth it! It’s hard to be patient, but I geek out on information. :)

  39. Hannah

    I feel like this reads as an ode to moderation. Which is why I’m currently dipping my chocolate into almond butter. Sugar carbs + high fat FTW.

  40. Brittany @ Delights and Delectables

    I love me some roasted veggies!! I have tried messing with my diet, and I felt the same way on a high fat/ low carb diet… it was miserable! I could never be paleo. I would die. ;)

  41. lindsay

    i think we have the same genetics. When i did that a LOOOOONG time ago, i was super cranky, feeling blah, and needed veggies.

    oh my day isn’t complete with out a good morning sit down on the thrown. My husband and i fight for it. how’s that for TMI

    1. Laura

      Hahaha – everyone should start their day on the throne. ;)

      P.S. You need a second bathroom.

  42. Choc Chip Uru

    That’s quite the interesting diet to try but I suppose you need to experience them all to see which one works best :)

    Choc Chip Uru

  43. Hayley @ Oat Couture

    Ooh I made a turnip, carrot and sweet potato mash just yesterday, thanks to it being a surprise in my veg box! First time eating turnip in aaaages too! Was delish! Agree with you about the high fats thing being a bust, think it’s just best to get a good mix of everything, some things more in moderation than others obvs! ;)

    1. Laura

      I *almost* made a mash! That sounds great – love the carrot addition.

  44. janet @ the taste space

    Sorry to hear about your high fat flop… well at least you are kind of in your off-season, right? I remade my Chinese 5 spice stir fry this week and loved it. Can’t get enough of the spice. :)

    1. Laura

      I still need to make that one! I swear I have your entire blog bookmarked.

  45. Carol @ Lucky Zucca

    I can’t remember if I’ve ever had a turnip either! Glad you learned so much from trying new things with your diet. I wish I paid attention more so that I could figure out correlations between how I feel and what I eat better. All I really know is that I need veggies in *every* meal, high protein in the morning and lots, LOTS of water throughout the day. And avoid sugar bc it makes me tired.

    1. Laura

      It sounds like you know a lot about how your body functions! Those are some great guidelines. :)

  46. Fit Missy

    Honestly I’ve been on a high fat diet – including avocado, nuts, nut butters, etc daily and low carbs and luckily I am not gaining weight. I really enjoy eating like that.

    1. Laura

      That’s great! It can be a great way to lose weight.

  47. Mary Legare Whaley

    Hahaha! I love the morning poop comment. I relate 100%. Totally kills my mood when my morning doesn’t start off right. I love purple potatoes! It took me a long to find them, our Harris Teeter tends to run out quickly because they only offer organic in small quantities. But they’re super good (and fun bc they’re purple). Have you had purple cauliflower? I’ve never tried it, but it’s another one of those fun colored veggies I’d love to try. I don’t mess around with diets. Especially those that eliminate a food group or one that limits carbs/fats/or protein. I strive for balance. I do focus on low to no sugar (except for natural, fruit sugars), and I avoid animal fats. Fish oils, nuts, olives—those fats are fine. And I’m a sucker for breads, rice, and grains. I’ll never kick carbs. Carbs are my boo.

    1. Laura

      I agree with you – eliminating a sinlge food group just feels wrong.

  48. Calee

    It’s interesting to read your reaction to this. I never heard of anybody doing high fat/low carb combo before, and it doesn’t sound like a good idea.

    One thing is that fat doesn’t digest faster than carbs. It stays in your stomach the longest. But everybody is different.

    And I seriously cannot function with out my morning poop. Ask Mark. It’s a bad scene. lol.

    1. Laura

      Really? A ton of people do it. It’s sort of Paleo, but it can also be a weightloss strategy (not my purpose, obv). Apparently my body burns through fat more than carbs. My trainer said it isn’t uncommon.

      1. Calee (@chimes) — life + running

        oh man. i wish my body burned through more fat than carbs lol.

        1. Laura

          My friend Jess says high fat low carb is the only way she can lose!

          1. Calee (@chimes) — life + running

            It’s so weird that everybody’s bodies are different. I did really, really well on the low-fat diet of the last several decades. High carb, low everything else. But all those carbs make my tummy hurt (except veggies — so I’m amping those up!). So… conundrum.

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