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Can a Triathlete Eat What they Want?

Posted Nov 18 2009 3:10am

That was the title of an article I read recently in “Inside Triathlon” magazine.

One of the more nutrition interesting articles I had read in a whileit was more a commentary of the dietary requirements of elite athletes than a how toor a how much for weekend worriers.

The article started with a breakdown of the infamous diet of Michael Phelps. In case you missed out on the detailslook at the pic at the top of the page. And keep in mindthis is not a one or other menuhe eats everything. I feel stuffed just reading about it.

What I took away from the article was that there are a group of elite athletes out therewho among everything elsecan manage to eat whatever they wantincluding foods that would make a nutritionist have a heart attackand still seem to excel in their sport.

In factthe article goes as far as to say there is no real documented evidence to suggest an increase in performance with an enhanced or healthier diet.

But hold on before you stop in to Tim’s for a double dozen Boston Creamsthe article does go on to state that even though this meal plan worked for Phelps at the last couple of Olympicsit won’t work for everyone.

The article is also careful to point out that although in some casesa fairly crappy diet might not hinder performancethere are also health issues to think about.

The reality is that at that level of performancethe body burns so much energythat it’s an absolute necessity to supplement the diet with calorie dense rocket fuel. Think about that last 1 hour long killer kick ass masters workout you barely survived. Now think about doing that same workout for 4 to 6 hours a dayevery dayusing a body that has been genetically designed to be a metabolic machine. Now those 12000 calories don’t seem so out to lunchpardon the pun. Can you imagine trying to fuel those workouts on garden salads and tofu?

So in my own wordseveryone is different. What works for MP might not work for Craig Alexander or Lanceand certainly not for me. Practice and experimentation is key to finding out what works best for the individual. Over the yearsI have found that my body seems to be sensitive to an overabundance of carbs. When I bump up my protein intakeand supplement it with mainly veggies and fruitand keep starchy carbs to a minimum of amount of high quality whole grainsmy body responds positively with better performance and better body composition.

So unless you are a genetic freaktraining 6 hours a daydon’t follow Phelps dietand expect to win 8 gold medals at the Olympics. Stick with what you know.
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