just wanted to share on some topics that have come my way these past days:
1. Fatigue in the athlete.
This topic is one close to my heart and nudged me to say a few words today about your ‘Why’ and ‘What drives you as a triathlete’. Think about this as it is important…..
2. Super article summarising why would you as an athlete consider sports nutrition above the average diet; click to read the full article and here is a summary.
The average gym goer, cross-fitter, or weekend cricketer (think baseball with a tea break) doesn’t really need that much detail in their diets. But if you are a professional athlete training six hours a day, six days a week, and say perhaps swimming over 400km a month… well diet is more than just eating enough.
Sports nutrition is not the reason individuals will be winning gold medals at the Olympics, it just isn’t. They, their training, attitude and mindset are the reasons.
But sports nutrition is the foundation and means by which these athletes can put the hours, months, and years of work into their bodies (and minds) without breaking them.
Sports nutrition is the application of years of rocket-science in the building of bodies, recovery of bodies, and the supporting and optimising of athletic performance.
Sports nutrition is understanding that the molecular composition and timing of consumption matters, in a context, in a lot.
Sports nutrition is the applied mathematics of optimising the biochemical soup of an athlete’s body maximising their power, speed, strength, and endurance capacity.
Sports nutrition is taking the most complicated scientific research and packaging it up into an easily understandable message and practice for an athlete to turn into a daily habit.
3. Here is an interesting article on the diet obsession of the world this month: spotlight on Chris Froome. I am adding some of my own comments here lest you fall prey to reading this blindfolded as many around the world are believing that Froome doesn’t eat carbs!! Breakfast of Champions:
A few key words….
Note the use of periodised low carbohydrate availability depending on training. This is better conducted in preseason and is very complex to achieve in athletes training more than once a day
Key sessions!! Not all sessions or every day.
NOT no carbs but low carbohydrate availability...this is dependent on activity levels (intensity, duration, frequency) and training demands.
High intensity work requires carbohydrates. The amount depends on your fat adaptation but most athletes in general need carbohydrates at higher work intensities. We utilise carbohydrates as a fuel in increasing proportions over fat as the intensity rises above 65%of VO2 max. How much at each specific work intensity is vastly different for athletes dependent on their diets and training. This can be assessed quite easily in a lab.
Fat adaptation as it stands is not linked with performance benefits relevant to iron-man / triathletes /pacy endurance athletes . But health, mitochondrial biogenesis and other metabolic improvements seem to occur so the question is complex about whether of not you should do this and will it benefit you. Most athletes do not have metabolic issues; but some do!
Low carbohydrate availability and training in a fasted state is catabolic (leads to muscle breakdown). Improving aerobic capacity and endurance is metabolically and enzymatically counter to preserving strength and power….so its complex when we discuss training on a low carb or keto diet and makes nutrition strategies even more important regarding the whats and whens in relation to food content and timing.
Who fares well on high fat diet? That depends!!! Some with insulin and metabolic or blood sugar problems do great. Others may experience thyroid and adrenal issues.
CLEAN natural real foods.…this is a massive part of the message always. There is a vast difference between processed high glycaemic index and processed fat containing foods and a potato or whole grain rice and a stick of Kerry gold.
Nutrient density…most healthy foods contain a big spectrum of many nutrients….I don’t believe that for example all carbs are bad…why would we have an abundance of fruits, root vegetables and grains growing to nourish us?!! For some they are a vital and affordable food group. The issues happen when the food industry gets involved!
What else is in food? Additives, chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, unnatural food products of processing are not healthful for any of us least of all an athlete
Food should not be the enemy, nor overly restrictive nor our source of identity!
4. And today this paper showed up in my radar and one I must sink my teeth into and will add some more comments if relevant : The impact of sleeping with reduced glycogen stores on immunity and sleep in triathletes. This is another study exploring the training in a low carbohydrate availability realm. 3 weeks may be insufficient to show immune and adrenal perturbations. The lowered sIgA would concern me as this is a marker related to fatigue and suppressed immunity but may only be an early warning light here.
Low carb night eating may impact sleep in certain athletes so if sleep is compromised there may be different tactics that can be used to achieve low carb availability without compromising sleep.
I don’t recommend daily training in a low carbohydrate state for ironman or ultra endurance athletes for many reasons. But correctly planned into a training schedule this approach can be very helpful.