Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Athletic Nutrition and Body Composition By Gordo Byrn

Athletic Nutrition and Body Composition
By Gordo Byrn
2/25/2008

I was having a chat with a friend this morning and it reminded about a few things that bear repeating with regard to nutrition and body composition. Here is my attempt to share 15 years of working on my personal nutrition. I am going to share training secrets that enable me to out-train athletes that are up to 20 years younger than me.

As athletes, why do we eat? We eat to enable us to out-train our competition -- period. Most people (myself included) have a ton of emotional baggage and misconceptions tied up around eating. It helps to constantly remind yourself that your optimum nutritional strategy is the one that supports your ability to maximize your long term training load. Fuel for long term training -- long term is important.

Nutritionists, like many technicians, have a bias towards quantifying their answers. They talk about body composition being the result of "calories in, calories out". This could be true but it is completely ineffective for me, and my clients. I prefer to look at body composition as the long term result of four factors:

Anabolic effects on lean body mass (increases)
Catabolic effects on lean body mass (decreases)
Fat burned
Fat stored

The focus on energy deficits enhances catabolic effects and impairs optimal fat usage -- you starve yourself and wonder why you don't seem to lean out // or // you chase an increasing power-to-weight ratio as your competition blow you to bits by out-training you. To train well, maximize your power. To race well, maximize your run split.

Many athletes think that catabolics effect would be great -- a lot of men tell me of their dream to "go catabolic" for a few months and breakthrough on their running. Bear in mind that: (a) you can't control the muscle that you lose; and (b) non-drafting triathlon is a power sport -- the strongest athlete tends to win. I would gladly carry an extra kilo of power -- any day. As I age, the anabolic effects of focused, specific strength training are a key part of my training program.

I recommend that you focus on the following:

- Eat Real Food
- Small, frequent meals
- No refined sugar after 2pm -- have an honest look at your relationship with sugar (this is a biggie for fat storage)
- Eliminate cereal, bread and pasta from your diet
- Sports nutrition products used only during training sessions that last longer than two hours // else bananas and water
- Lean protein with every meal

People write novels about effective nutrition. If you focus on the above then you will make progress. Anything else is a distraction from what matters. The above will also help you optimize your fat burning -- make sure that you are eating something every four hours across the day and every hour when training.

What is Real Food? Real Food is food that doesn't have an ingredient list. Any product that contains five or more ingredients doesn't even qualify as 'food', it is a food replacement -- sports nutrition is food replacement. Never consume (or support) products that contain hydrogenated, or fractionated oils.

Real food need not break the bank -- my mother-in-law raised three kids (solo) while applying what I write here.

You'll notice that I didn't mention percentages, calories, or grams of macronutrients. That's because the combination of a training diary and a mirror are far more effective than a calculator and a scale.

All my best,
gordo