Pre-Race Pasta Feed? How 1970s… Let’s Eat Food Instead!

How many times have you heard it, read it… even done it? Fueled up the night before a race, a training day or even a not-so-long event with pasta and bread, perhaps far beyond what you could comfortably consume? The original technique of ‘carb loading’ was developed in the 1970s and was used by many endurance cyclists, cross-country skiers, and runners prior to their long-distance races. Unfortunately, in the past 40 years, the odds of developing diabetes increased by 40% from the 1970s to 1980s and then doubled between the 1970s and 1990s (1). Next, in the 1990s, we were told to go low fat, low calorie and from then until 2014, the average percentage of obese adults increased from 11.12% to 28.60%. As of 2014, 34.9% of the US population was obese (2). Athlete or not, low fat, high carb is not the way to go. So it saddens me every time I see yet another ‘pre race pasta feed’ at the athlete welcome dinner or pizza, cookies and even donuts offered at the finish line of marathons and ironman races alike. Eating gluten, even if you don’t have Celiac disease, is still inflammatory (3). And even though you may be pounding out countless hours at the pool, in the saddle or on the trails, the calories  from refined carbohydrates don’t get ‘cancelled out’ simply due to caloric intake versus expenditure. Wouldn’t you want to provide your body with the most nutrient dense, alkaline, anti inflammatory foods possible? A diet rich in seasonal, leafy green veggies, a full complement of rich fat sources from pastured lard to coconut oil and from olive oil to avocado, starch when indicated and timed strategically and protein? Arguably, this begs the question which I’ve been asked many a time: isn’t meat (slash chicken slash pork slash any flesh) inflammatory and acidic? Yes.  Indeed it is.   If all one’s diet consisted of was meat, meat and more meat, it would, in fact, have a net acidic load. Which is precisely why a real Paleo approach recommends an appropriate balance of acidic and basic (alkaline) foods (i.e., grass produced or free ranging meats, fish and seafood, fruits, and vegetables) and will not cause osteoporosis in otherwise healthy individuals (4) We need protein, and we need to be mindful of where we source it. As a recovering vegan, I can speak to this on a personal note and share that it took me a good two years to transition from no animal products to finally giving in and eating my gateway protein, fish, and then having the epiphany that if i boycott all meat / fish / chicken / pork as being all under the same category from Monsantos to the local ranchers, I was actually not doing anything helpful to further animal welfare. By not supporting the small fisherman and ranchers who are doing things the right way, we keep the demand for what they have to offer low, the prices higher than what we see in the markets for the inhumanely sourced options and remain stuck in a standstill. Sourcing your proteins mindfully allows you to support animals being raised in the most humane manner possible and ensures you’re getting the purist food with the least harm done to your  bodies and the planet. And as athletes, putting our bodies through the rigors every day and then offending them with sugars, be they real or fake, is just as must of an insult as enjoying a cigarette after a marathon training run. No joke. Eat real food.  And if you’re an athlete, think about it even more.   You not only want your body to function for day to day activity, you want it to perform, possibly at a highly competitive level. So… give it food! Enjoy my recipe for a simple trussed, chicken recipe, a staple which we enjoy many a Friday or Saturday night before a long weekend of training to come. Speaking of which.. time to get the oven started!   (1) “Incidence of Diabetes in US Doubles in 30 Years.” Medscape Log In. Medscape, n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2016 (2) US Obesity Levels, 1990-2014 – Obesity –” ProConorg Headlines. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2016. (3) Klein, Sarah. “Inflammatory Foods: 9 Of The Worst Picks For Inflammation.” The Huffington Post., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2016 (4)