This is a pretty tall order that I have been persuaded to do by you guys, but I’ll do my best
My background is reading nutrition from the age of 19 to answer why my Dad was hit by a massive heart attack & died far too young for an ex-gifted athlete. I used that knowledge to assist my own elite competition (to 1980) to World Bronze & European Champion at Roller Speed Skating & later to numerous British Titles over all distances at ‘age-group’ triathlon (to 2000) with a 2hr 34’ marathon & other similar performances between.
I used the latest research – snippets like Vitamin C, E, Ginseng, anti-oxidants etc – in an attempt to combat the superior facilities, financial support & quality in numbers at European &World level & witnessed many drug-assisted cheats in my time namely from Italy, Belgium & (latterly) America. My first real weight-training coach (1974) was Len Sell, an ex-(natural) MrUniverse, who told me never to take drugs & that you can get the same development but it takes a little longer. I told him I was into longevity so certainly wouldn’t! My next meeting of this sort was with a guy 10 years ago who told me about his emergency days in hospital taking poison from his system due to his anabolic steroid use. He looked 10 years older than his real age & wished he had never started them – they had really changed his life!
In the modern era, besides constant ‘smart’ training & ‘specificity’, the food you eat and the water you drink will not only determine whether you have the energy in your choice of sport to carry you through but whether you can advance as quickly as the next person of equivalent talent. It also will affect whether you spend more time in ‘sick bay’ breaking your progression or whether you reach your full age potential, as most deaths are caused by deficiencies.
The key error, as I see it, in modern nutrition is to eat in a way contrary to the way the body was designed. Most people have in excess of 30,000 calories of fat in storage which is meant for low to medium energy expenditure, yet use the carbohydrate energy system which has a limit of about 2000 calories. Fat fuels 9cal/g whilst carbs fuel only 4cal/g which is why the body chooses it. The carbs were meant for ‘fight or flight’ but of course are needed today for sprint-type/explosive sports like football, tennis and hockey. Of course, as we move to more extreme distances or higher endurance work the need for carbohydrate supplementation comes in as anybody who has run a marathon at near their best can testify but today this is easily remedied by a tube of gel or carb drink as you have probably seen the tennis players take.
For the general sportsman or non-athlete it is better to focus on eradicating the ‘empty’ calories (apart from the odd treat ) & focusing on staying hydrated & getting some protein at every meal in conjunction with the equivalent of a bag or two of salad per day or the equivalent weight of mainly non-starchy vegetables or fruit. In the 50s when I grew up, we used to walk everywhere, hand-wash our clothes, wring them through a mangler etc. Life was tougher & we played outside from morning to night – no TV! Potatoes were used to fill stomachs because we couldn’t get/afford the protein that is available now. In the poor countries they use similar vegetables like yam for the same purpose & have pot-bellies and mal-nutrition. We use potatoes, corn, fizzy drinks, bread, alcohol etc besides the ‘poisons’ within the array of packaged foods to fuel our ill-health while sitting around most of the day & wonder why baldness, obesity, diabetes etc are a regular event.
Drink pure water rather than the various caffeine drinks on offer & do not drink with meals – drink before – otherwise you will be diluting the acids/alkalis needed to digest that food. De-caffeinated drinks are even worse as they contain the residues of the process, whilst pure fruit juice is fine but is dehydrating on its own. Alcohol is a priority fuel (7cal/g) which the body will try to use immediately; if not it converts to fat very easily. It is difficult to build muscle with alcohol in the system as it lowers testosterone so you would be wasting your time following training with alcohol that day if building muscle is the aim!
If you eat protein every 3 hours-ish you are unlikely to suffer from tiredness, low blood sugar, hunger & should start to feel very comfortable if this is combined with the salad/veg/fruit prescribed above. Protein is fish, fowl, eggs, meat, nuts (ideally not peanuts), seeds, pulses & whey. The latter is the holy grail of modern performance enabling athletes to train more, eat more protein & hence put on more muscle. It is ‘clean’ protein & can be digested in under an hour & even poor digestions can use it. I use Maximuscle Natural as this is pure, clean whey of the best form – tastes like skimmed milk & can be used with gluten-free cereal & fruit for breakfast. Cheaper ones are normally a carbohydrate mix, contain aspartame or poorer types of whey which cause gut problems
With training, protein enables muscle to be built which provides power, grace, shape & performance! Muscles are the furnace to burn (unwanted) fat from your system & keep you from ‘falling apart’ as you ‘mature’ so look after them & keep them toned. Your body will convert muscle to energy if it is not used – it is programmed to survive – 4cal/g against 9cal/g as before so use it or lose it!
By reducing weight to optimum (for your sport), improving your power to weight ratio, skills & balance; learning to breathe through your nose to improve your fat burning & relaxation while training or being active and as a result keeping healthy, you should find progression fairly easy.
Reading books like: Lean Burn by Stu Mittleman, Body Mind & Sport by John Douillard & The Atkins Diet (up to supplementation & special low-carb produce) will expand your knowledge along the right lines………………
Exercise is not an option, it is a necessity!
Written by Pat7