About a month ago, Angela Naeth, an athlete of Chuckie's, and probable dominant force in the 70.3 circuit in a year or so, wrote a blog post about caloric needs. This served up quite a bit of motivation for this post, and for probably the next 6 or 7 posts ("uh oh", I am sure you are probably thinking).
Towards the end of her post, she mentioned that she wants to be a fat-burning machine. Now, please don't confuse her with some tv-ad, or aerobics instructor circa '92. For athletes that like to go long, I think this should be a primary objective in their training - right up there with actually putting in the training time.
For those of you that know me, you know that I am big into nutrition, and that I am a proponent of Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint (specifically, the eating portion, because, well, I like to eat, and eat well). He argues that fat should our primary fuel source in just about all of our daily activities, and that the consumption of good fats “promote the burning of both dietary and stored (adipose) fat as fuel” (did he just say eating fat helps burn fat? whoa...). Although he specifically doesn’t doesn't talk about endurance athletics being part of the PB, I would argue that the same approach should be taken for endurance athletes, especially for those that go long (not to be confused with being long) - we need to train our bodies to burn fat as a primary fuel source. (As an aside, Mark does talk about a fat in an endurance athletes diet here, which I think is one of the few very good articles on the internet regarding endurance nutrition). Let's face it, to endure anything, requires a number of things, including stamina. Stamina requires energy, and the body can store a very finite amount of energy.
Chuckie is also a proponent of a high fat diet, and even during his “hey-day” of being a professional stud, he consumed a lot of fat calories, despite what “others” told him (you don’t even wanna know what he puts down these days). He and I spoke about diet at length (again, not to be confusing with anything here) when I was up for a visit a few months ago, and he believes that training is the main driver (“98%” as he said) for making the body burn fat as fuel. I mostly, but not completely, agree with him (although the exact percentage is still unknown).
Mark talks a lot about gene expression, and basically argues that what we eat and do will modify our genes and actually change our genetic makeup (nothing too drastic here, but he is definitely onto something).
Part 2 will be a little personal story in why I believe in this stuff...