5 Day diet/exercise challenge


Four years ago, I started using the ketogenic diet to help manage my COPD. In this challenge I want to share with you my experience with a range of diets I have tried and how they can improve your symptoms and quality of life.

To begin with I’d like to make a couple of points before you read on. I am not a doctor or trained medical professional. What is outlined here is based on my personal experience and undertaking this challenge is at your own discretion. If unsure, please consult your doctor. I will include studies at the end of this article.  The diet plan outlined here is not a KD (ketogenic diet). However, it is an introduction to a low carb diet similar to what I used before embarking on the KD. For those of you looking to start the KD it is advisable to ease into it as jumping straight in can be rough and demotivating. For me easing into the KD made the transition easier and more sustainable over the long term.

Why cut the carbs?

Carbohydrates aren’t all bad and you can still have certain healthy carbs on a low carb diet. My experience is, purely by cutting certain carbs especially pasta, rice, bread and potatoes, my breathless was noticeably decreased. There has been published studies showing the benefits of low carb high fat diets improving pulmonary function, so my experience is not unheard of. I’m sure some of you reading this who have adopted low carb living are nodding in agreement. For me one of the first things I noticed when going low carb was a reduction in my use of my rescue inhaler, something which has continued over the years.

I still eat carbs on a daily basis but the carbs I eat these days aren’t processed, they’re from leafy green vegetables, asparagus, brussel sprouts just to name a couple. The other reason cutting processed carbs is beneficial is the effect it has on inflammation. Since changing to a low carb then KD way of eating, I have seen a dramatic drop in inflammation. Along the way I have collected data showing this change which is the subject of a case study to be published.

So, this is a brief outline of some of the benefits of adopting a low carb way of eating.  Hopefully after 5 days you may experience some subtle changes. If you don’t, I urge you to keep going down this path. Noticing changes in symptoms can take longer for some people and the reality is this way of eating might not be the best for you.


In the context of this 5 day plan the main purpose of exercise is to help lower blood glucose levels. You may ask why would I want to that? In my experience I feel at my best when my blood glucose level is low. High blood glucose levels are associated with inflammation and bacterial infections. A study which looked at blood glucose levels in COPD patients admitted to hospital, found those with high blood glucose levels had more severe infection which lasted longer.

Exercise has the ability to burn glucose and fat depending on the intensity of the exercise. Over the 5 days of this plan aim for 1 hr of exercise per day. This could be 1 continuous hour or 30 minutes in the morning and night. The type of exercise is up to you and will depend on your level of fitness. For those of you with heart rate monitors don’t exceed a heart rate of 130 bpm during your exercise. For those of you who are more experienced with low carb and exercise try doing your exercise in a fasted state. For example, exercise first thing in the morning before you have anything to eat. I always feel fantastic after a fasted workout.

Please be sensible when exercising, this isn’t about trying to break yourself, its about looking after yourself. For those of you who are less mobile exercise will be anything which elevates your heart rate, walking, chair exercises, etc… If you are unsure of your limitations but want to do the 5-day challenge, then just make this a diet challenge, you still may see benefits.

Diet Plan

The table below is an example of my low carb diet plan at the start of my journey. Yes, there are some processed carbs in here, but they are low GI and shouldn’t cause a big spike in your blood glucose. As far as beverages are concerned the emphasis is on no sugar. Tea, coffee, water, electrolytes and the suggest smoothies are fine. NO soft drinks, fruit juice, flavoured milk. If almond milk is not your thing then go for a whole milk product with low sugar content. Remember sugar and processed carbs spike blood glucose and this is what we are trying to avoid. When choosing your protein for meals look for fresh organic alternatives.

The more sugar and processed carbs you currently have in your diet the more challenging adapting to this will be. But this is a challenge, and challenges aren’t meant to be a piece of cake (ha-ha).  Engage your willpower and complete the 5 days and see how you feel at the end. If nothing else, you will be giving your body a well needed detox.

For those of you well versed in low carb, try adding time restricted eating to these 5 days. Skip breakfast and have your first meal of the day after 11am. Bulk up lunch and dinner so you’re getting in those calories. Combining time restricted eating and a fasted workout is a strategy I have used for some time with success, as far as reducing my symptoms of breathlessness.

If you have any questions you can either FB message me or email at [email protected]

5 Day Meal Plan

Meal  Day 1  Day 2  Day 3  Day 4  Day 5
Breakfast  Smoothie  Omelette  Bacon & Egg hash  Eggs and avo  Egg wrap with parmesan and avo
Lunch  Tuna & Salad  Chicken wrap  Tuna, quinoa salad  Turkey wrap  Salmon & Salad
Dinner  Salmon and avo salsa  Chicken 1 tray bake  Zoodle Bolognese  Steak and salad  Salmon 1 tray bake


Couple of pointers: each meal type is interchangeable.  I don’t need much variety in my meal selection so tend to find something I enjoy to eat and have it on repeat.  For example my go to breakfast is bacon and egg hash, its quick and easy and I enjoy eating it. Leanne prefers to make a quick smoothie and has a smoothie each day for breakfast.  We tend to have more exciting meals for dinner with more variety but for the purpose of this experiment I have kept the meals simple with minimal preparation and ingredients.

About protein – a protein serve should really be about palm size 100-150grams in weight if that’s what you prefer to use.  You can have any protein of choice.  If you don’t like tuna, substitute for chicken etc

Herbs and seasoning are key – don’t be afraid to use salt and pepper, garlic, chilli, paprika, Moroccan seasoning, lime, lemon.  We have a couple of pre made salad dressing we purchase as the amount used is minimal.  I can provide the names of them but I am unsure if they available everywhere so you may have to find a substitute.  Please do not substitute with a creamy dressing – a balsamic vinegar or dressing is fine.  Our dressing staple is Praise brand Deli Style olive oil vinaigrette with roasted garlic.  This shouldn’t be stressful.  You will have your personal tastes so don’t be afraid to experiment with flavours – what’s the worst that can happen right!!

Drink plenty of water throughout the day.  Free range eggs are best.

If you need a snack between meals a few berries is a good option or almonds and macadamia nuts – please no more than 10 – 12 nuts.  Pumpkin seeds (not sweetened) can add some crunch to a salad or are ok in between meals if necessary.


Breakfast Smoothie


  • • ½ cup mixed berries (frozen is good)
  • • 1 cup almond milk
  • • 1 teaspoon chia seeds (they will expand and help to thicken the smoothie and help with feeling full)
  • • 1 scoop whey protein (can be flavoured or unflavoured but must be with as few additives as possible ) should this say no sugar or carbs. This can be substituted with ½ cup rolled oats if access to whey protein is difficult

  • Add all ingredients to a blender or nutribullet type   implement and mix.  


Lunch -Tuna and Egg Salad


  • • 1 tin tuna with olive oil (snack / lunch size tin)
  • • 1 hard boiled egg (can be soft boiled if that’s your preference )
  • • Handful of sprouts – can be bean sprouts, alfalfa, broccoli sprouts
  • • 1 cup baby spinach leaves, or rocket or lettuce of your choice
  • • Squeeze of lime
  • • Salt and pepper

Note – you could add a couple of slices of tomato if you like or ¼ avocado.  A sprinkle of pine nuts or pumpkin seeds can add a bit of crunch


  • Mix all ingredients in bowl or on a plate and enjoy
Dinner – Salmon and avocado salsa (serves 2)


  • • 1 salmon fillet per person (fresh is preferable but can use frozen if fresh not available to you.  Remember the portion size
  • • 1 x avocado
  • • ½ punnet solnado tomatoes or cherry tomatoes depending where you are and what’s available to you
  • • ½ capsicum (I use yellow but any colour is ok)
  • • ¼ red onion (finely chopped) or 2 x shallots
  • • Salt and pepper
  • • Squeeze lime
  • • Garlic to taste (must be minced garlic
  • • Chilli to taste (must be in the paste form) optional
  • • Fresh parsley optional

  • Lay salmon on a baking tray, sprinkle with a dash of olive oil and season with seasoning of choice.  Cook in the oven for desired length

To make the salsa

  • Dice all ingredients into cubes approx. 1cm or to desired size if you prefer it to be larger pieces
  •  Add squeeze of half a lime – this is good for flavour but also assists in keeping the avo from browning.
  • • Add garlic and chilli to taste
  • • Salt and pepper
  • • Mix until all combined

If you have access to some fresh parsley that can             add some nice freshness to the salad



Breakfast Omelette


  • • 2 eggs 
  • • 2 tablespoons water
  • • 1 rasher bacon (diced)
  • • ½ zucchini (diced)
  • • 1 teaspoon cream cheese
  • • Sprinkle parmesan cheese

  • • Dice and pan fry bacon until cooked to desired taste – remove from pan – leave any bacon fat in the pan
  • • Beat eggs with 2 tablespoons of water – add to heated small frypan (omelette size)
  • • Once the egg starts to cook add cream cheese and stir to dissolve cream cheese
  • • Add bacon and zucchini – continue to cook until firm
  • • Add parmesan and finish off until the grill to melt cheese and brown on the top
  • • Remember to season as desired
  • • Serve and enjoy
Lunch – chicken wrap


  • • Low carb wrap (small) 
  • • 2 x chicken tenderloins
  • • Morrocan seasoning or seasoning of choice
  • • Salt and pepper
  • • 2 slices tomato
  • • ¼ avocado
  • • Couple of slices of capsicum
  • • Rocket, or baby spinach or lettuce of choice

  • • Sprinkle chicken tenderloins with desired seasoning and cook either in pan or use a sandwich press if you have one
  • • Cut up salad
  • • Warm the wrap slightly in the microwave (this makes is easy to wrap
  • • Make up the wrap, cut in half and enjoy
Dinner – chicken and vegetable 1 tray bake

  • • Small chicken breast ( pounded slightly to make a bit thinner)
  • • brussell sprouts
  • • Broccoli or broccolini
  • • Green beans
  • • Asparagus spears
  • • Salt and pepper
  • • Lime (optional)
  • • Pine nuts (optional)

  • • Cut vegetables to desired size (I cut brussell sprouts in half, take the woody end of broccolini, top and tail beans and remove woody part of asparagus)
  • • Coat them is a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper
  • • Lay them on a baking tray
  • • Season the chicken as desired and lay on top of the veggies
  • • Cook in the oven until the chicken is cooked
  • • I like to squeeze lemon or lime on the veggies etc a couple of minutes before removing them from the oven
  • • A sprinkle of pine nuts add more crunch and flavour
  • • Serve and eat



Breakfast – Bacon and Egg hash


  • • 2 eggs
  • • 2 rashers bacon (rind removed and cut in half)
  • • Teaspoon of butter 
  • • Salt and pepper
  • • Sprinkle Parmesan cheese

  • • Melt butter in small frypan
  • • Add bacon to pan and cook turning once
  • • Crack eggs straight over the top of the bacon
  • • Season with salt and pepper
  • • When eggs nearly cooked to your taste, top with cheese and grill until cheese slightly melted. Reminder – eggs will continue to cook under the grill 
Lunch – Tuna and quinoa Salad


  • • 1 tin tuna with olive oil (snack / lunch size tin)
  • • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • • 1 cup baby spinach, rocket or lettuce of choice
  • • 3 mushrooms, sliced
  • • ¼ capsicum
  • • Squeeze of lime
  • • Salt and pepper

Note – you could add a couple of slices of tomato if you like or ¼ avocado.  A sprinkle of pine nuts or pumpkin seeds can add a bit of crunch


  • • Mix all ingredients in bowl or on a plate and enjoy
Dinner – zoodle bolognese


  • • 3 or 4 large zucchinis (made into noodles using a vegetable spiraliser. If you don’t own one and don’t want to get one the zucchini will need to be cut into long ribbons.  This is taking the place of spaghetti)
  • • ½ kg of mince (can be beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, veal or pork)
  • • Bolognese sauce (you can make your own using your own recipe or use an jar of organic pre made sauce
  • • Salt and pepper to taste

You can use a bit of creative licence here to make your Bolognese sauce. You can add mushrooms if you like.  I think most of us have a favourite Bolognese recipe.  Just ensure any pre made sauce is no in organic with as few additives as possible


  • • Make zucchini noodles – zucchini will loose a lot of water so it’s a good idea to make them and allow them to drain for a bit of time so you don’t end up with soggy zucchini noodles.
  • • Cook your Bolognese sauce to your taste
  • • Add the zucchini noodles or ribbons to the sauce and mix through to soften and warm the zucchini
  • • Once cooked / heated – serve
  • • The zucchini is best when it is not overcooked
  • • You can top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, salt and pepper



Breakfast – Egg wrap with parmesan and avocado


  • • 2 eggs
  • • 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
  • • ¼ avocado sliced

  • • Preheat sandwich press or pan
  • • Crack eggs into the bowl and whisk
  • • Add parmesan cheese and mix to combine
  • • Pour mixture onto sandwich press or frypan and cook for 2-3 minutes
  • • Flip onto the other size and cook for further 2-3 minutes.  The egg will resemble a large pancake
  • • Place egg wrap on a plate and top with avocado
  • • Roll up and enjoy
Lunch – smoked salmon wrap


  • • 4 slices smoked salmon
  • • ¼ avocado
  • • 1/8 capsicum
  • • ½ cup rocket or baby spinach
  • • Salt and pepper

  • • Slice capsicum into long strips
  • • Slice avocado
  • • Lay 2 slices of salmon out flat so they are overlapping slightly 
  • • Top with half the salad ingredients
  • • Repeat for remaining salmon
  • • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • • Roll up and enjoy
Dinner – Pork cutlet and vege  


  • • 1 pork cutlet
  • • 1 tablespoon Moroccan seasoning or paprika
  • • Salt and pepper
  • • ½ cup broccoli
  • • 1 zucchini
  • • 6 asparagus spears

  • • Preheat oven 
  • • Sprinkle pork cutlet with seasoning
  • • Chop vegetables
  • • Place pork onto baking paper and bake for approx. 20 minutes or until cutlet is cooked through
  • • Put veggies in steamer and steam until cooked – they are best if slightly crisp still
  • • Serve pork and veggies and enjoy



Breakfast Smoothie


  • • ½ cup mixed berries (frozen is good)
  • • 1 cup almond milk
  • • 1 teaspoon chia seeds (they will expand and help to thicken the smoothie and help with feeling full)
  • • 1 scoop whey protein (can be flavoured or unflavoured but must be with as few additives as possible ) should this say no sugar or carbs. This can be substituted with ½ cup rolled oats if access to whey protein is difficult

Add all ingredients to a blender or                 nutribullet type implement and mix.  


Lunch – chicken and cheese wrap


  • • 1 low carb wrap
  • • 2 x chicken tenderloins
  • • ½  cup lettuce
  • • 2 basil leaves
  • • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • • 1 teaspoon cottage cheese
  • • Sliced tomato
  • • Salt and pepper to taste

  • • Preheat sandwich press / frypan
  • • Slice tomato
  • • Finely slice basil
  • • Place chicken on sandwich press or frypan
  • • Cook 4-5 minutes or until cooked through
  • • Remove chicken and cool slightly
  • • Warm wrap for 30 seconds in microwave
  • • Spread mustard
  • • Add lettuce, tomato and cottage cheese
  • • Add chicken
  • • Salt and pepper to taste
  • • Wrap and enjoy
Dinner – steak and rocket salad


  • • 1 steak around 100-150gr
  • • 1 teaspoons oregano leaves (dried)
  • • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • • 1 tablespoon tabasco sauce
  • • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • • Salt and pepper
  • • 1 cup rocket
  • • Handful pine nuts
  • • 6-8 cherry tomatoes or solnado tomatoes
  • • Handful parmesan cheese
  • • Splash of praise Deli Style olive oil vinaigrette with roasted garlic or balsamic vinegar

  • • In a bowl add oregano, garlic powder, tabasco, lemon juice and tamari, salt and pepper
  • • Place steak in marinade 
  • • Ensure steak is well covered in marinade and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
  • • While you wait add rocket, tomatoes (halved) to a bowl with parmesan and pine nuts 
  • • Cook steak as desired
  • • Before steak is cooked dress salad with dressing and serve with steakStudy references:








Study references:

The Effects of High-fat and High-carbohydrate Diet Loads on Gas Exchange and Ventilation in COPD Patients and Normal Subjects – https://journal.chestnet.org/article/S0012-3692(16)47500-8/pdf

Effect of supplementing a high-fat, low-carbohydrate enteral formula in COPD patients – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12620524/

Role of airway glucose in bacterial infections in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease –  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091674917317438







7 responses to “5 Day diet/exercise challenge

  1. Buongiorno Russell grazie per l’enorme lavoro che fai e per l’ottimismo che profondi.
    Ti chiedo se oltre alla dieta , per migliorare il tuo stato di salute , fai uso di integratori.
    Se si quali ?
    Un abbraccio.
    Pietro Peroni

  2. Russell,
    60 years young with emphysema & COPD 4 diagnosis May 2021. I was laying in hospital bed with inflammation of lungs two weeks ago reading your article. It was a real motivator. I have adopted your diet and it is really helping. I have worked up to a 60 min slow jog maintaining an 80% max. Really feel great. Thank you Russell!

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