Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Inconclusive





        Since I only update about once a month you might recall an article back in May about “new ideas” or something along those lines. It was the start of the training season and I figured that was the safest time to give some nutritionally experimentation a gander. I did some research (googleing) and started looking into the optimum diet for humans. With today's culture's concern over nutrition and the industry that has formed from it you can imagine how hard it was to filter through the waist before finding some logical literature. Needless to say this is what I've concluded so far.
          One theory suggested lots of meat off the bone, organ meats (liver), fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. I don't care much for liver, so that was out. There was a arsenal of low carb diets. A full blown low carb diet is out of the question for full time endurance athlete. One ancient system of nutritional guidelines had me fill out a questionnaire about myself to determent what kind of body type I was and then gave a range of lifestyle choices. I was somewhat turned off by some of the dos and don'ts. For example: a diet that tells me not to eat grapes is not worth the stress in my opinion. Another factor that I personally had to take into consideration was the everyday shenanigans that I'm doomed to. On a limited budget and a team atmosphere any out of the way needs are not worth the inconveniences.
       The one that grabbed my attention the most was the one that claimed we should eat what our ancestors ate during the influential stages of human evolution. In other words, we should eat like cave men. I was much too cheap to buy the online book but from what I could gather, cave men ate a lot of fruits, vegetables/plants, nuts and all varieties of meat or fish. Not eaten was, legumes (bake beans, hummus, and even peanuts), dairy (that one made cringe), grains, and obviously refined sugar. When you break it down the outcome result is similar to a low carb diet just with out dairy, and fruits and vegetables were encouraged. Some foods were questionable, such as potatoes or honey.
        For already mentioned reasons I couldn't give this a full on effort, but I decided to give some parts of it a go. I like meat and fish and since the OTC offers a good variety of fish that part was an easy go. I consume a lot a dairy. Cold cereal with milk in the morning and a lunch and dinner that is enveloped in cheese was the norm. I also ate a lot of natural peanut butter. The more research I did on peanuts the more I started to blame that pseudo nut for my latent kiwi allergy. The realistic goal I set was no dairy, no peanuts, less grains, and more fish/meats for a month. I didn't really plan on eating too few grains, more so on the more oatmeal and less granola aim. Milk was an easy out with our good friend Mr. almond milk. Cheese wasn't going to be easy. I eventually found a non soy based dairy alternative that behaved and tasted close to cheese. But it's not something you could snag at a gas station. And so I was off. I had a two week training camp in Bend, OR, a few weeks of OTC life and a week back home to see what might happen.
       Well folks there is a reason why this article is titled “Inconclusive.” I started out at a weight of 68 kilos (150lbs). By the end of the month I was down to about 65 kilos (143lbs). You could draw something from that, but then again historically speaking I always loose weight around the May/June time of year. Energy levels were inconsistent. Some days it felt like I was going into the over training zone and other days I had that springy fresh feeling in the legs. We didn't really have any physical test on the schedule to get any exact numbers. I was supposed to do a max V02 treadmill test and maybe the S.W. Collins 5km running race. Equipment failure put a stop to my V02 test and I simply opted out of the running race. If my memory of CHS chemistry serves me right a proper scientific test is supposed to have as little uncontrolled variables as possible. Obviously that was not achieved in my experiment. I was hoping to just feel better and have better recovery times. With the amount of unknowns it would have to a significant difference to rule out any variable. On the other hand if I felt neutral or even worse it would make my every day life a little easier. Just try and dodge dairy for three months in central Europe. Ironically peanut butter is hard to find in Euro land; so that absence could be done I guess.
Haven't come across many
nutritionist that have anything
bad to say about grilled salmon.
         The only credible conclusion I found was that as a full time endurance athlete carbohydrates are a must. The best proteins and fat sources will never burn as smoothy as a bowl of oatmeal in the morning. Fruits and vegetables simply don't supply enough energy. Most people I know don't get enough fruits and vegetables so don't take that last part too seriously. I also found that I like the taste of almond milk and it's not too overly expensive. I also like the taste of almond and cashew butter more than peanut butter. There not to cheap... unless you live at the OTC. I guess I still need a food processor though.
Power Bar supply came in
this year.  
          I did some more researching to better my knowledge of nutrition. I looked into the difference in oils and fat sources. I haven't even mentioned the glycemic value of foods and the potential that can have on endurance performance. I could go into detail about how I feel about some of the common ingredients we see on food labels. There is also the growing difference between food that is supposed to be good for you and food that is supposed to keep corporate CEOs happy. I'll save those for another article because it's a long (and sad) story. But for the record, as a general rule of thumb the less processed a food is, the better it is for you.
I like to think of it as
engineered mental
recovery food. 
           So there you have it, almost nothing, that is. Life is not worth living with out feta cheese. We might not have had the lactose intolerant issues of today had cave men discovered the glories of a cow earlier, but we're doing okay either way. None of these small changes will go very far in Europe. I still think peanut butter made me allergic to kiwis and I can pretty much remove peanuts from my diet if need be. Stick to extra virgin olive oil or just regular olive oil, if your cooking. I'll go into more detail on that one later.

          In unrelated news I'm in Jericho, VT fighting off heat exhaustion. It's Lowell's 31st today. We celebrated with mass start time trial. I had good chance at a decent race until I missed the last two targets. How original is that? And now to go run aimlessly for an hour or so.  
Forgot to mention, at age 25 I decided to
give the old coffee addiction a try.
... also inconclusive.
P.S. This was written on Sunday. Am back in the OTC where internet is on pace with 2012. Much unlike Jericho. More pictures to follow after the 5hr ride. 

1 comment:

Hilary said...

Interesting findings. I thought with all your research you might be interested to know that I am a collegiate biathlete, and xc skier with some food restrictions....I don't eat dairy (for health reasons, I'm sensitive to it), I'm vegetarian, and I'm gluten-free. I've found for me if I stick to my "diet", though I wouldn't really call it that, then I feel tons better. Of course I will also admit that its taken trial and error to learn what I need to eat before/after certain workouts to make sure I get the right nutrition, but for the most part I usually don't have a problem.

Good luck in your training!