Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Endurance Athletes Guide to Nutrition Part 6: Thoughts & Perspectives

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 higher 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: Writer for, 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 (as if this guys needs an introduction): 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:


Another great article on endurance nutrition and physiological processes is here.

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.

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Also, thanks to those friends who reviewed and provided input while writing this!


Ang said...

Loved the nutrition guide! I have read articles stating that eating "good" fats will not make you fat. It totally makes sense. They fill you up for longer as well. Glad we don't have to eat animal organs though, ugh!

Ian Simon said...

Works for me, too - I'm having my best ever season, having lost 10-12lbs through (loosely) following the Primal Blueprint. The only thing I'd had problems with was long training rides (most of my sessions are 2hrs or less), but I've got used to consuming a few more carbs before & during these and that's done the trick.

Great articles.

Dave said...

Thanks for all the good info. I enjoyed reading your insight. As it has been, I've actually realized that high fat diets work by accident. I had experimented a bit this season with different things, but found that once I added much more fat, both saturated and otherwise, like you, I was able to complete long training sessions (6+ hours) taking in many fewer calories than I previously had. Very interesting. I'll have to pick up a copy of the Primal Bluprint and give it a read.
Thanks again,

gwarm said...

Follow halotek

buy transcend by ray - the book and read on saturated fats.

Ryan Denner said...


Thanks for the links, I will definitely check them out. I briefly looked at them, and looks like lots of good stuff.