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The Outdoor Athlete Book by Courtenay and Doug Schurman

Train Today for
Tomorrow's Challenges

Services > Nutrition--Individual Variances from The Outdoor Athlete

The Outdoor Athlete

Chapter 5: Nutrition--Individual Variances

Excerpt from The Outdoor Athlete, Schurman & Schurman, Human Kinetics 2009

Every outdoor athlete has unique dietary requirements as well as individual goals, and there are probably as many suggested eating plans as there are individuals. Evidence (Price, 2008) suggests that eating the foods your ancestors ate may be more important than following the “healthy diet” defined by government agencies. If your ancestors lived in tropical regions, you may perform well on a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet, whereas if your ancestors grew up in harsh northern climates you may do better on a diet high in protein and fat. You may already have discovered that certain foods leave you energized and satisfied, while other foods make you sluggish or otherwise uncomfortable. Such postprandial reactions can indicate which foods are best—and which are worst—for you.

The explanation for the way the optimal diet differs among individuals is that bodies vary greatly in how quickly they break down and convert food into energy. Some people break down food very quickly, while others take much longer to convert their food. If you eat a meal of pasta and tomato sauce (a high-carbohydrate, low-fat, low-protein meal) and feel a sudden surge of energy less than an hour after eating followed by lethargy, or if you still feel hungry shortly after eating a big meal, you may convert food to energy very quickly and your body might do best when fed foods high in protein and fat that take longer to metabolize. Conversely, if you feel sluggish after eating steak and a salad (which is a low-carbohydrate, high-protein, and high-fat meal) it is possible that you convert food to energy slowly. In this case you may do better eating meals higher in carbohydrates, since carbohydrate is processed more quickly than protein and fat are processed.

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