We welcome Dr. Craig Broeder as our guest blogger this week! He will be presenting a talk on Performance Nutrition at our Saturday, Sept 8th Open House.
I am often get asked the question, “what is the best diet I should follow to keep me healthy and perform my best?” There is not a single best answer to that question. That is because each of us are made up of our own unique and specific genetic profile. While we are genetically similar, we are also genetically unique at the same time. Twin studies looking at a variety of health related items like diet and exercise clearly show that while twin pairs have very similar responses; between twin pairs, the responses are extremely unique. These studies illustrate that the response to the same health intervention can be completely different in two individuals simply based on genetic differences. Then, the question arises; ”why do most mainstream health professionals believe that the best approach to diet recommendations is a one size fits all approach like eating a low-fat diet and high carbohydrate diet is best for all individuals to optimize the persons overall health and wellness.
Recently, data suggests that there are some individuals that are consuming 50-65% of their daily food intake in carbohydrates. In these individuals, even healthy carbs like whole grains create an increase in fasting triglycerides and an increase in oxidized LDL concentrations. Elevated levels in both of these components dramatically increases a likelihood of diabetes, heart disease, or stroke. In contrast, these individuals see a decreased concentration in oxidized LDL concentration when they follow a high protein, quality mono-unsaturated fat, and low carbohydrate diet.
On a personal level, I have spent a majority of my life living the high quality, high percent carbohydrate lifestyle following primarily a vegetarian and vegan diet pattern. As an ultra-endurance cyclist and researcher, we are taught about the importance of carbohydrates in regards to cycling success. Yet, as I get older, despite a very high quality diet of natural primarily unprocessed carbs, low fat, and moderate protein, I found my triglyceride and cholesterol levels rising to dangerous levels. Thus, I began to seriously question whether or not I reached an age where following what is considered for many an extremely healthy diet pattern was not only wrong for my metabolic profile but extremely harmful.
The same principle holds true for athletic diets. Why do most athletes eat the same thing most days of the week? When you consider that in today’s world of scientific sports performance training usually includes endurance, strength, power, interval and recovery days, why is an athlete consuming basically the same the amount of calories and foods every day?
For example, high intensity training days like strength and interval training require higher protein intakes to rebuild muscle or increased antioxidants to help repair muscle fibers. While long distance endurance days (long runs or cycle days 90 min or greater) require more carbohydrate for maintaining blood glucose levels during the workout and help in the replenishing muscle glycogen. And, one of the most important aspects of tailoring your dietary needs to your workout goals for a given day is that different types of workouts require different calorie output levels. Over-training literature strongly suggests that the number one cause of over-training syndrome in athletes is not so much about too much training per se; but, too much training with inadequate vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and macro-nutrient calories to match the training demands and recovery needs of the workout.
So, if you would like to achieve better workout results, the first step to improving your training program is a quality diet program that closely matches your training needs and goals.