Endurance Athlete's Sample Diet-Final Thoughts
I am sure that you find some of the things I write about to be a little debatable, like grains being bad, and saturated fat being good – all I asked is that you read it with an open mind. Ideally, you completely agree, switch your diet, and run (and swim and bike!) with it. Otherwise, I hope it at least gives you a different perspective and something to consider for your diet and nutrition needs. Honestly, when I first started reading up on the concepts of the Mark’s Primal Blueprint, it took me a little while to really “get it”. Some of the theory went against everything I had been told, so I don’t expect you to get it immediately either.
Since writing these articles, I have picked up a copy of “The Paleo Diet for Athletes”, which I talked about very briefly in Part 1, which I will do a book review on. There is a lot of overlap between the Paleo Diet and Primal Blueprint, but they aren’t the same. I will talk about similarities (to back up my position), and differences for you to think about.
Some of you may also wonder if I am the only person who believes that a high fat diet is healthy, or even optimal, for endurance athletes. I can assure you that I am not. Here are a few others that believe in a high fat diet, and their associated successes:
• James Walsh: 1st amateur at Xterra World Championship 2008,
• Chuckie V: former Olympic cyclist, and Ironman Canada Champion
• Joel Filliol: Current Head Coach for British Triathlon, was the Head Coach for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. All of the athletes he coaches adhere to a high fat diet
• Simon Q. Whitfield: 2000 Olympics gold medal winner in triathlon, 2002 Commonwealth games in Manchester, Silver medalist at 2008 Olympics
On a personal note, I recently did Wildflower Long Course (Half Iron distance), and took 50 minutes off of my time compared to the previous year (2009: 4:51:06). Although I made a lot of changes this year to my training (with the main thing hiring a very good coach), James and I discussed how diet and nutrition must have certainly had an effect on my performance.
In terms of where I get my information, I get it from 3 main sites, in addition to other research I do:
The reason why I believe this works is not because it works for me, but because it just makes intuitive, innate sense. From an evolutionary standpoint – our ancestors’ diet consisted of a high protein, high fat diet. When they ate, they ate the entire animal, including all the organs, which are typically higher in fat than the pieces we eat these days. Back then, although cavemen had their own stresses and health issues to worry about because they weren’t afforded the modern healthcare and awareness we have, they didn’t have diabetes, heart disease, or other societal-inflicted plagues we are causing ourselves.
• Eat real foods that are naturally occurring. Minimize or completely eliminate processed foods (except for race fuels during races, or race type efforts in training)
• Eat a lot of good fat (monounsaturated and saturated fat are good for you, all others like polyunsaturated and trans aren’t)
• Carbs when necessary
• Eat when hungry, not when you aren’t – there is a difference between hunger (needing to eat) and appetite (wanting to eat)!
• Supplement with anti-oxidants and Omega 3’s
Thoughts? Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear them. If you don’t want to leave a comment, feel free to contact me by emailing the site first, and it will get forwarded onto me.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Also, thanks to those friends who reviewed and provided comments while writing this!
Written by Ryan Denner. Ryan Denner is in his 4th year of endurance athletics, with his 2009 focus being Race Across America. He raced RAAM as part of an 8 person team – Team ViaSat, finishing 2nd in the division. Ryan enjoys researching diet and nutritional aspects, relevant to athletes and non-athletes alike.