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Team KP @ Locarno Tri 2008

Team KP @ Locarno Triathlon: Age 3-5
Cereal Killers?????
Sun May 11, 2014 12:36 pm KP nut
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I saw this thread a while ago:

It got me curious so I also bought:

As I was keen on seeing some scientific data which the book promises.

I've got a strong interest in nutrition alongside a whopping dose of scepticism as I think the diet/nutrition industry is full of the biggest #@?# and biggest con-artists known to man. However I am also an empiricist so if there is data I am keen to know about it.

The essence of Noakes, Volek, Phinney et al is:
* We are not adapted to eat grains and cereals. They are making us fat and diseased and are often killing us.
* We are designed to eat mostly fat, with some protein
* Therefore if we eat a high carb diet, along the lines advocated in the USA Food Pyramid we will
- get fat
- produce inflammation via metabolic processes that your bodies struggle to cope with which in turn makes us stiff, sore and impedes recovery from exercise
- develop diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancers
- crave sugar and therefore need to snack all the time
- struggle with appetite regulation again making us need to snack all the time
- be unable to burn fat efficiently making us hugely reliant on regular intake of carbs during exercise to prevent us hitting the wall.

Further, the ‘experts’ know this and grain-based recommendations are politically motivated.

On the other hand if we switch to a High Fat, Low Carb diet:
- We will adapt to burn fat giving us boundless energy from the tens of thousands calories of stored fat we all have
- Low glycogen will cease to be a limiting factor in endurance sport: you can run all day in ultras without the hassle of trying to stomach gels etc
- We will achieve effortless weight loss and a lean body composition
- Recovery will be better
- We will have less joint and muscle pain
- We will develop a well-regulated appetite and experience little or no hunger.
- We will have less disease.


But really??? Seriously??? What is the evidence?????

The 'Paleo' argument does not convince me remotely. It is nicely romantic to imagine we should eat like our Paleolithic Ancestors, but romantic notions are not very scientific.

Firstly I doubt we can make any sensible assessment of the health status of Paleolithic hunter gatherers. And even if we could and it turns out they were phenomenally lean, strong, virile and long lived we could not attribute that to their diet. It may be to do with 1000 other things: the outdoor lifestyle, the lack of environmental pollution, the fresh air, the lack of processed food, the activity levels, sleep patterns, the overall calories (far lower than today one can reasonably assume) the timing of eating (periods of fasting) etc etc etc etc
Second we can't realistically emulate the paleo diet anyway. I browsed a few Paleo and 'Primal' books and sites and discovered things like 'Paleo Brownie Bites' made of almond flour, coconut cream and palm oil (or whatever!) Ie foods in concentrations and combinations never seen by our ancestors. They may not have been eating Hob Nobs but they sure as hell weren't eating Paleo Brownies either!

Evidence from zoos is mixed. Noakes says elephants in zoos do better on their ‘natural’ diets and are obese and sick in zoos that don’t give them that. On the other hand extensive studies on wolves in captivity show that wolves do far better on commercial dog food than on the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food diets advocated by the pet industry version of Paleo. (Yes it really is called the BARF diet!!)

So it is unconvincing that Noakes forms his argument along these 'we are not adapted to...' lines. Agriculture has been around for 12,000 years. Wide-spread obesity only for about 30. Not sure how an allegedly politically motivated shift towards agriculture can really be blamed. It seems far more convincing to see the problem as being the ultra modern one of widely available, cheap, heavily promoted, highly calorific nutritionally bankrupt ‘fake’ food. But I guess it is less scientifically interesting to say ‘eat less crap’.

The Noakes talk was also irritating in its relentless use of anecdote as a substitute for data. He roundly condemns 'Association Studies' as being meaningless, even large scale, longitudinal studies that one assumes had a degree of matching. But then he happily cites total nonsense as evidence (if not proof) of the effectiveness of his diet: This cricketer came off his meds! This team scored more runs!! This group of people lost weight!!!

(Incidentally, I have discussed Noakes under 'Paleo' because the basis of his argument seems to be about evolutionary adaptations which is the Paleo one. But in practice I think he is actually High Fat Low Carb....)

High Fat, Low Carb
On the other hand, data IS presented on High Fat, Low Carb. And it seems reasonably robust. The Phinney and Volek book cite peer reviewed intervention studies allegedly showing improved performance, better blood markers, increased recovery etc on high fat, very low carb diets. I have not read the papers myself but they look vaguely credible as they appear in journals as opposed to newsletters etc

Given that I ticked every box on the 'Are You Carb Intolerant' questionnaire and given that I am highly, highly motivated to find a solution to my recent dips in form and given that I work in this area and therefore have an interest in exploring new ideas thoroughly, I decided to give it a go for a month. The diet is extreme. To achieve all these effects you need to virtually eliminate carbs - 25-50g per day only. So I have spent a month eating mostly fat. Salads drenched in oil, fatty meats, fish, eggs and high fat dairy. The promised reward of boundless energy and the ability to run forever was highly attractive as I am trying to be (or rather stay) an ultra runner and I have been seriously struggling with energy levels and with recovery. I also bloat easily and really, really struggle to tolerate gels and energy drinks during long endurance events. The Volek, Phinney books say it take 2 weeks to adapt (Keto-adaptation). I gave it 4.

And the outcome:
- Weight has remained exactly the same.
- Body composition has remained exactly the same
- Energy levels are more stable (no post lunch dip) but are no better overall
- Training performance is way way down. I feel like I am running through treacle
- Appetite is well controlled. I don't snack or even want to and I can go far longer between meals
- I feel vaguely sick after every meal.
- I don’t enjoy the food. (All that grease!)
- Muscle soreness/stiffness are not noticeably different

So all in all, it has achieved nothing particularly worth having and has compromised my training. Anecdotes don't mean a lot and n=1 proves nothing but I can clearly state that the diet does nothing for me so there seems no reason for sticking with it.

But what about those studies? They may be small and rarely replicated but there are some apparently well controlled intervention studies that show the benefits discussed above. How can they be explained? Well I decided to re-visit Matt Fitzgerald's Racing Weight and read that the Atkins Diet (which is basically what Noakes, Phinney and Volek are now advocating) is the best selling diet book in history! This is not a new idea. This is not a small band of scientists in the wilderness, although that is how they present themselves. This concept is wide-spread and been around for decades and has been exhaustively investigated. The overwhelming consensus is that Atkins is unhealthy and detrimental to performance.

So those promising new studies probably represent nothing more than the effect of ‘bottom drawer syndrome’. If you conduct some research and find a result that is new and challenges conventional wisdom there is a strong motivation to publish. If you conduct a trial and there is no effect and you don’t find anything out at all, there is strong motivation to shove it in a drawer and find something more interesting to do.... So small unreplicated trials on their own really don’t tell us very much either. It is when trials are replicated repeatedly that they become convincing.

Fitzgerald also makes the point that the worlds best athletes - such as Kenyan distance runners - eat very high carb diets. So if people can achieve world class performance on carbs then I think they will do for me....

So back to normal eating for me, then.....Phew. Pass the fruit bowl. I'm dying for an apple!! Surprised

Magpie, Carlito, Foggy and Sue: Thanks for reading 'n' advice!
"It always seems impossible, until it's done" (Nelson Mandela)

My Outlaw Race Report:

Sun May 11, 2014 1:32 pm sooooooooz
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My take on why obesity has risen in the last 30years?..because it's become acceptable to be fat. Whereas previously it was somewhat of a taboo and fat people were ridiculed by society for their shape and accused of being lazy and considered unattractive. Fat people would cover up and keep a low profile. How things have changed!
Mon May 12, 2014 11:29 am magpie
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Balanced diet seems best option as for obesity seems to be prevalent amongst fast food eating non exercising kids which has always been thus.
I read the flying scotsman by grahame obre which had some very interesting personnel insights into athletic diet one of which was a recommendation for time trial riding a quick release carb/fat with a medium release carb supplement with a cheap delivery system yep he swore by a buttered jam sandwich Very Happy
next year is going to be our year this year is a learning experiance(ye won nowt again)

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