Nikki Kimball: On Depression, A Fat-Adapted Diet, and Ultrarunning

July 30, 2015
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Photo credit Paul Nelson

Photo credit Paul Nelson

On this show we’re joined by professional ultrarunner Nikki Kimball, one of the most accomplished ultrarunners alive as well as a physical therapist out of Bozeman, Montana. Nikki gives a candid interview on her struggles with depression and adopting a low-carb/high-fat diet for better performance in sport and in life.

Nikki opens up about female-specific issues when being fat-adapted from her experiences, answering all those burning questions you’ve had and especially: Is LCHF for female athletes a good idea and safe? While the answer is most certainly: “it depends on the individual” we still get a close account on what to expect based on Nikki’s experiences.

Topics  discussed:

– An intro on Nikki’s ultra career,

– The documentary “Finding Traction” that followed her journey in getting the Vermont’s Long Trail FKT – 5 days, 7 hrs, 42min, 272 miles,

– WS100 this year, and her struggles going into the race. She still finished top 10, making her the first female to have 10 top-10 finishes including two wins!

– Her intense battle with depression and how she manages it to still live an awesome life (and how diet plays a role!)


– How Nikki ate and fueled for years before taking the high-fat route, including being vegetarian.

– How and why she went the fat-adapted route,

– Her approach to fat, carbs and protein; in terms of intake, timing them with training, racing, her season, etc?

– What kind of carbs does she eat, and cycling in carbs,

– How long did it take to feel and be fat adapted?

– Experience as a woman specifically who prescribes to LCHF,

– How did her body react high fat diet – pros and cons?

– Hormonal balance: did hormones out of whack or did hormones improve,

– Fatigue management,

– Cognitive effects,

– Performance effects?

– Addressing high-end speed when LCHF,

– Higher clarity in races,

– Ability to race with few calories and still perform even better,

– How she fuels for races and what she eats during,

– What are her carb/sugar go-tos if used in a race,

– Intermittent fasting (IF) for female athletes,

– Hunting,

– and more!

Comments (9)

  • Kathy Dreiblatt says:

    Shame on you for not viewing the movie, Finding Traction, first, before interviewing Nikki! It is an amazing film and opened my eyes to this amazing athlete!!! It is on YouTube for free!!!! She is awesome!!!! Good for you for interviewing this amazing woman!!!!!

    • Tawnee_Prazak says:

      I know Kathy, you are right! It was wrong to not watch it prior, but it was an unfortunate timing thing. Don't worry, I've since watched the documentary (and LOVED it). Since getting to know her story and meeting her, Nikki is easily one of my all-time favorite athletes. Nothing but love, respect and admiration. Glad you enjoyed the interview with her.

  • Niki says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for this amazing interview with Nikki. I haven’t been this inspired by a podcast in a long time. Thanks to Nikki for her openness about tough subjects like depression and PCOS, the latter an issue I deal with personally. I’m also intrigued by her diet which is making me consider taking a second stab at fat adaptation and even eating red meat (which I haven’t eaten in 17 years!).

    Great, great interview!


    Topanga, CA

  • Hanna Blackledge says:

    Great, inspiring interview – thank you! I hope you will invite Nikki again.

  • TomekB says:

    Thanks for this great interview. Finding a lot myself in Nikki’s experience (avoid meat to be skinny and fast). Lot’s of carbs for me it resulted developing an inflammatory arthritis (ankylosing spondylitis), which symptoms I’ve had for years. Changing diet — adding fat, quitting grains — made all the difference. I just hope, as Nikki mentioned, young athletes never get in that trap of low-fat artificial diet! Thanks again for this interview.

  • I loved this interview. I struggled with the same issues: ammenorhea when I was low fat high carb, PCOS but not being obese and depression. Now on a low carb diet and triathlete, runner, everything is fine. I tend to gain muscle easily too because PCOS women have a lot of testosterone 🙂

  • Thank you for the interview! I am a big fan of Nikki Kimball. She is AMAZING!

  • Adrian Bañales says:

    Nikki Kimball has been a woman who has inspired me to raise my daughter to run just finished watching the documentary Finding Traction and as for myself I am in X athlete and now I enjoy running but after watching this documentary and the metaphors in the eat the way it does documentary describes the innately human desire and how our bodies were built for this purpose of Runners and endurance running has drastically Changed My Mind Set On the goals that I aspire to accomplish one day for myself but most importantly being a father to a one and a half year old daughter who I love dearly and I have always thought about how I want her to achieve and fight for all her dreams no matter how hard or unachievable they might be. I don’t want her to be judge and treated differently in our society because like Nikki said she has two ovaries I want her to be comfortable in her body I want her to be comfortable and who she is and enjoy the fullness of her Womanhood that she is a nurturing and caring and feminine at the same time that she can be dominant and fierce and competitive and strong and agile. Nikki thank you so much for this documentary and how it has opened my eyes to women’s sports how you inspired me to pursue long distance running as a while but most importantly teach my daughter how to love Outdoors and run, but how to embody both her feminine Womanhood and at the same time embody the Ferocious and neatly competitive side of her and enjoy both sides

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