Former 2:24 marathoner, now in my late 40s and hoping to maximally flatten the curve of my slide into senescence and mediocrity • Magazine writer, book editor and author, and commentator on the sport of distance running since 1999 • Adviser and confidant of other perambulators • Paradoxical hater of exercise fanatics • Chihuahua whisperer Sentence-fragment impresario

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Eat a variety of shit and eventually die

(Condensed version: Anyone claiming to have a revolutionary dietary strategy capable of producing massive breakthroughs in running, cycling or anything else is either a fraud or a fool. Athletes and others have been eating food and performing physical exercise for a long time, and the range of nutritional regimens allowing for very good performances is very broad, as a simple review of the dietary habits of the world's best distance runners establishes absolutely.)

After over 30 years of reading articles and books about sports nutrition, and taking a few courses that at least touch on these. I remain mesmerized by the fact that people are as enthusiastic about seeking absolutes and embracing dichotomies in the realm of sports nutrition as they are in other areas of sport, and of life in general.

"It's the mileage, not the speed!"

"No! Quality, not quantity!"

"Too much mileage kills young runners!"

"Al that speed burns kids out early!"

Sound familiar? It should, because it's the same kind of black/white nonsense we're seeing the golden age of carbohydrate demonization:

"You can run a thousand miles on just Crisco and vitamin B-12 shots!"

"My ass! You need the complex carbs for the finishing kick!"

In the 1980s there was the magic Zone Diet (40/30/30). Around the same time there was the rabid wholesale shunning of fat, an idea that first took root in America's burgeoning obesity problem and quickly staggered into the athletic world. Then, about the time everyone with a pulse decided he or she needed a marathon medal to make life complete but didn't necessarily want to train for it, along came Atkins and the same warlike mentality toward carbs that the nation had only recently harbored toward fats. (Watch out, proteins, you're next.)

It should not be that hard to figure out, looking at the diets of top athletes and mixing in a modicum of common (?) sense, that keeping carbs fairly modest during everyday training and ingesting them like crazy in the heat of all-out competition are hardly contradictory ideas. Yes, you can make yourself more efficient at oxidizing fatty acids at any given intensity level through practiced carbo limitation.

Yes, you need some quick carbs if you're running or cycling on the red site of threshold. But how have we reached a point where these ideas are not immediately determined to be complementary? Prime the carb pump by going easier on them on an everyday basis and load up at key times.

Hasn't it always been this way? Are endless arguments like this one maybe a case of biochemistry glut among the masses?

Good lord, if we had really evolved in such a way that we all needed some tricked-up Fabonacci sequence of macronutrients to travel longish distances pretty quickly, chances are good we would have disappeared a long time ago.

1 comment:

  1. Always great advice from the top Author on the Sport in the World. Your very smart. You really do it all Kev. Great Blog, fast running times again, Awesome New Book! My favorite part of it all is your really healthy!