I have been watching the Olympics - I LOVE it. The cycling, rowing, athletics, gymnastics - you name it I watch it.
It seems most olympic teams have nutritionists. In fact, for the bigger teams, most separate disciplines have their own nutritionists. I am assuming most of those are conventionally CW trained and recommending a basically CW diet (with "tweaks" on macros/calorie intake for different sports). I've seen a few features comparing breakfasts, for example, for a top track cyclist, swimmer and runner - all consuming oats, whole grains etc - as well as lean protein and veggies/fruit. I was very impressed by Michael Phelps and his 5000+ calorie cooked breakfast with pancakes and a few other things. Most seemed carb heavy (and I don't just mean starchy veg) as you'd expect for people training hard. But there were LOTS of "non primal", "inflammatory" things there - and most diets seemed low fat.
So, I was wondering?? Would those phenomenal athletes perform/feel/recover/train any "better" if they were Primal??? They look in pretty good shape to me (!) but from a primal perspective are they simply managing well/storing up trouble for later/under-performing/not feeling as great as they could??
I suppose the first thing you need to remember that all those individuals went through an extended performance based selection criteria over many years, so anyone who had any food sensitivities would likely have had performance issues and not made the cut.
The other factor is age, most are relatively young and hence any damage is repaired quickly, so I doubt there would be much performance advantage through being paleo or fat adapted except possibly in some of the endurance events, where they could save their glycogen stores for the final sprint to the finish.
I think most of them suffer some form of repetition injury when they get a bit older, just because of the excessive repetative training, kind of like advanced wear & tear on a specific body part.
It's very common for athletes to have worn out immune systems and to catch 10 colds a year due to the stress of training, and possibly their diets.
I've always wondered if that might be better for them if they replace a lot of grains with liver and ate more veg.
I have heard anecdotes of athletes recovering better with a higher fat diet. For some events though I'm sure the athletes are well fat adapted. The 10km marathon swims for example I'm sure could not be done relying on glycogen.
[QUOTE=Gary Conway;925735]It would be interesting to see how more elite level athletes perform on a primal diet. I think the most famous example is Djokovic's success coinciding with going gluten free. I'm sure many sports men & women would benefit from going paleo...[/QUOTE]
Agreed. It'd be very interesting. I would LOVE to see some experimentation along these lines. Djokovic is definitely the most famous current example. Gluten-free seems to have helped him a lot.
I think most elite level athletes are going to require vastly different macro ratios (probably extremely high carb) and a much greater amount of food than normal people, but I'd love to see if they performed any better getting those macros/calories from primal sources (ex: in Phelps' case, sweet potatoes in place of pancakes, or whatever...)
It would also be interesting, just for the fun of it, to see what happens to those same athletes if they tried to train/compete low-carb (keto/fat adapted). I suspect performance would suffer greatly, but there is the school of thought that carbs are unnecessary and beta-oxidation of fatty acids would provide all the energy an athlete needs (given that the pathways were sufficiently trained/reinforced). Of course, no elite athlete would ever jeopardize their career by doing this kind of self-experimentation, but I wish someone would -- because it'd be fun to see.
In [URL="http://dinosaurtraining.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-fortress-of-strength.html"]this post[/URL] from Brooks Kubik's Dinosaur Training blog, Mr Kubik talks about the Kazakhstani Olympic weight lifting team. They won 4 golds and blew the competition away. He talks a little bit about their gym but also addresses their diet:
[QUOTE]As far as diet and nutrition goes, the
lifters follow an ordinary diet -- but
eat huge amounts of food to fuel their
hard, heavy workouts!
The Kazakhastani diet is pretty simple.
Lots of meat, mainly lamb, horse meat
(yes, you read that right), and beef.
The Kazakhstani were a nomadic race,
and horse meat has always been part of
their diet. The athletes eat so much
of it that the government flew a huge
amount of horse meat sausages to London
so the athletes could eat their usual
fare. Kazakhastan's two time Olympic
gold medal winner, Illya Illyin, is on
record saying that horse meat is their
secret weapon and that horse meat and
chicken are the best foods for weight-
In addition to meat, the Kazakhastani
diet includes milk and yogurt. They
don't stop with cow's milk, either --
they use milk from sheep, goats, mares,
[B]They eat basic whole grains, including
barley, wheat, melon, and rice, and
fruits and vegetables, which vary
depending on the season and the part
of the country you are in.[/B] [/QUOTE]
Looks can be deceiving.. Just because they are lean, & appear to be healthy doesn't mean they are necessarily healthy.. Anyone can "look" great if they are strong, & can burn a lot of calories.. & their bodies can use & dump probably any type of calorie put in their system.. One of the byproducts of running on a fire-hot/fast metabolism is the ability to utilize any form trash you put into your body.. The metabolism doesn't care what it is, it will use everything for energy becuase its constantly starving..
I had a friend that ran marathons constantly, guy dropped dead of heart attack @ 45 yrs.. Knew another guy that was very lean, healthy, very much into endurance fitness.. Also dropped dead of heart attack in early 50's.. Never would've guessed it by looking @ his physique & performance..
Primal blueprint will get us lean, & assist in looking fit.. But, most important, I think we're building something that is sustainable & nourishing our body the way its meant to be fed.. We're creating balance, & running on natures fuel.. Gluten is NOT good for my body.. Sugar is TOXIC.. I believe this.. Regardless of my ability to burn & use it, I will calm down & stop burning so much energy before I feed myself toxins..
An Olympian runs REAL HOT, then cools down, HOT, Cools.. (Similar to a nitro-methane race car that runs HARD & fast, then blows up (Sugars effect on the body).. Contrary to the deisel fuel in a truck (Fats in our diet, low sugar) that is built to last & run forever..) Adrenaline is really only a friend of the body in a "Fight or Flight" situation (like being chased by a lion or lifting a car off a trapped person (you've heard stories of this).. Marks talks about this quite a bit, that dangerous "high" runners & athletes get addicted to.. I think the body would prefer cruising in ebb & flow rhythms, lower stress & running calmer.. Inflammation is kept @ bay, Habits are sustainable & easily repeated
I do think there's a compelling lesson to be learned in looking @ the Sprinters physiques vs. Long Distance runners.. (both male & female)
Most high level athletes have a myriad of health issues as they age primarily from the rigors of excess exercise strain and possibly all of those calories hammered down to sustain it when younger.
I don't look to them for anything regarding health. I'm sure that some of them could eat Primal and see improvement, but others just recognize and accept the trade off of short term performance for whatever pain that will follow.
[QUOTE=Neckhammer;925875]Most high level athletes have a myriad of health issues as they age primarily from the rigors of excess exercise strain and possibly all of those calories hammered down to sustain it when younger.
I don't look to them for anything regarding health. I'm sure that some of them could eat Primal and see improvement, but others just recognize and accept the trade off of short term performance for whatever pain that will follow.[/QUOTE]
If we remember, at the beginning of Mark's book, he tells us that he was a high level athlete in some running sport, and that while he could do this and that and post impressive times, he admits that he was NOT HEALTHY. His body was constantly breaking down.
I think it's just that, a trade off. Whenever you take one thing to the extreme, other things will suffer. At the same time, there are examples of athletes that play at the highest level (Steve Nash) but are healthy as an ox. Nash is primal and he's still in All-Star form at age 37 or 38.
I was capable of hiking as fast as I possibly could at altitude up and down steep mountains 30 miles a day eating only sugary candy (not chocolate), cookies, cheeze-its and artificial cheese powder in my pasta. One day I managed to go 30 miles before 3:30pm, starting at my usual time of 6am. I got stronger and could accomplish more and more the longer I did this. I was absolutely shocked at the performance levels I was able to achieve on such a poor diet. I don't believe for a second that a better diet would have gotten me better performance. However, a better diet probably would have saved me from problems down the line when I quit doing this and probably would have given me a better mood during the effort. Some day I hope to try it again on a primal diet and see if I can achieve the same or better, but by then I will be significantly older.
[QUOTE=sbhikes;925886]I was capable of hiking as fast as I possibly could at altitude up and down steep mountains 30 miles a day eating only sugary candy (not chocolate), cookies, cheeze-its and artificial cheese powder in my pasta. One day I managed to go 30 miles before 3:30pm, starting at my usual time of 6am. I got stronger and could accomplish more and more the longer I did this. I was absolutely shocked at the performance levels I was able to achieve on such a poor diet. I don't believe for a second that a better diet would have gotten me better performance. However, a better diet probably would have saved me from problems down the line when I quit doing this and probably would have given me a better mood during the effort. Some day I hope to try it again on a primal diet and see if I can achieve the same or better, but by then I will be significantly older.[/QUOTE]
You make me want to go long-distance hiking so badly!
And now, an actual question related to the topic at hand:
I'm just wondering, what about the athletes that don't even really [I]appear[/I] healthy? Ex. I know weightlifters have a lot of muscle, and there must be some advantage to being so big (or they wouldn't be), but how does that gut help 'em out? Would a leaner person with the same muscle mass do as well?