You Are What You Eat!

Another Boring Week

Its absolutely crazy how much time training takes up. Its not just the 4 or 5 hours a day I spend at the track or in the weights room, the two hours before training, where I wake, take my daily measurements, eat, and then have about 45 minutes which I don’t seem to be able to be productive in before I head to the track to do my mobility work before the session starts. Its also the getting home and being completely knackered and not being able to do anything for a couple of hours while your brain and body reverts back to normal before you can actually be productive.

These past two weeks, not training, you suddenly become aware of how much time you would have for other things if I didn’t train. And it suddenly begins to dawn on me, what would I do if I wasn’t training? I’d probably get a proper job for a start (it would be nice to be able to afford to buy things) but even then I’d have a whole heap of time that I could utilise compared with now. Its a scary prospect. I mean I keep training because I love the sport, and enjoy every minute of it, but is the fear of having to enter the real world also driving me to keep going?

Its an interesting concept, or at least I find it interesting, I’ve just always thought that I’d be self-aware enough to know when to call it time, but then again, maybe thats what all delusional people say to themselves.

See what happens to me when I’ve got a few weeks of no training?!? My brain kicks into over-drive and I over-think everything. Hopefully I’ll be back to my normal self next week, sedated by the voluminous start to winter training. In the meantime I’ve also been over-thinking this blog and how I should really start with the basics.

The Basics

Is the aim of the basics to get them so drilled in, that you don’t even consider them basics, you consider them normal, everyday, mundane?

In the learning cycle, this would be referred to as attaining unconscious competence, when you perform the basics supremely well and don’t even have to think about them. The problem then comes when dealing with people who are not at this same stage of learning. To assume the basics, as the saying goes, will only make an ass out of you and of me (ass-u-me). And it is this assumption which brings me up to this weeks discussion topic of basic nutrition.

I actually already had a large post written on gut bacteria and pro-biotics (I’ve had a lot of time on my hands this week with no training to fill my days), and don’t worry, I’ll put that up next week. But I have a tendency to get ahead of myself. I mean if i start out by posting about supplements before I’ve even discussed diet then it creates confusion in my order of priorities, so let me be clear, diet is far more important than what supplements you take.

You are what you eat

To me the fundamentals of sports nutrition, the fundamentals of nutrition in general, needs to be the understanding of the phrase “You are what you eat”.

As an athlete the proteins that you ingest are the amino acids which are actually going to be used to re-build you muscles after training.

The fats that you eat are going to be used to build the lipid bilayer that surrounds each and every cell in your body.

The carbohydrates that you eat are going to provide the fuel for every muscle contraction that you perform.

This is why it is important to eat a good healthy and clean diet, because everything that passes your lips is fundamentally going to become a part of you. You literally are what you eat.

Post-race Maccie D’s

The number of athletes at a meet that you’ll see finish their race and then head straight to a fast food establishment for food. I can’t lie, I’ve done it myself. But considering this is the first food that you ingest after your competition, just take a minute to consider what is going into your body.

The protein is from a cow thats spent all its life cramped up and hardly moving, fed on a poor diet its ill most of the time and so has to be on high levels of antibiotics the whole time to stop it dying.

The fat is a highly processed “vegetable” oil (they use that word specifically to make it sound healthier, it is not), a fat that we are not supposed to be able to eat in such high quantities, which actually needs to be chemically extracted from the source and smells so bad that they need to bleach it otherwise noone would eat it.

The carbohydrate is a white bread bun, so processed that most people wouldn’t even know what the initial plant looks like, so devoid of nutrients that companies will actually add substances like folic acid to the bread so that it has nutritional value.

The other option is being prepared. Having a tub with you with a farm raised chicken breast, a roasted organic sweet potato and some brightly coloured vegetables coated in a light olive oil.

I know which one I’d rather be using as the building blocks for my body.

Poetically Emotive

So no, I didn’t go into macronutrients breakdown, I didn’t discuss calories or carb-loading, I honestly think the fundamentals of nutrition  come down to eating real foods. I don’t think theres many people in the world who would disagree that if you sit down to every meal and theres always some protein and a mix of vegetable you’re 90% of the way there (except the vegans, damn you vegans).

You’ll also notice that I’ve not even touched on any science, not that I’ve peer-reviewed and referenced any of my other blog posts so far, but sometimes I think a philosophical approach can keep us out of the confusion kicked up by the “nutrition industry”. This is why I like the concept of the Paleo diet, not that I feel comfortable enough to proclaim myself paleo though.

The concept of eating the foods which we’ve eaten for hundreds of thousands of years makes complete sense. All of these foods probably have some negative consequences on our systems, whether science can demonstrate this or not, but we’ve adapted so that our bodies can handle these issues and gather what they need from these natural foods. As soon as we move away from these foods which we and our ancestors are used to, you’re basically introducing a foreign substance and a new stressor.

I don’t know if we’re adapting quick enough to these new foods (read processed carbohydrate, increased gluten content of grains, processed fats), and the negative consequences seem to be obesity and poor health. I don’t know about you, but sticking to foods which our species has been intaking for long enough to know the consequences seems like a better bet. I’ll let the lazy people be the lab rats for the long term effects of microwave lasagne thanks very much.

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