Friday, April 9, 2010

Simply Smarter

Do you remember in the late 90’s / early 2000’s when Chevron really started pushing Techron? Their entire pitch was based on the premise that their fuel was the best to put in your car. It has technology to help your car run longer. Techron could help clean your engine parts. It even kept the new car smell longer (ok, maybe not that). The point is that Chevron started a movement focused on how the intake of a vehicle can vastly improve its performance. Shell premiered its own line of enhanced gas products. Valvoline debuted its line of oil enhancing products focused on keeping engine parts clean and smooth. Day after day we continue to be bombarded with messages expressing that what goes into a performance vehicle (or even your neighborhood minivan) has a direct correlation to how well that vehicle runs.

So what about the vehicle of the human body?

Lately I have been trying to answer the question of nutrition for triathlon training. As you would expect, most of the literature suggests that I have a balanced diet consisting of the healthiest of foods – whole grains, natural fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish. But why? Isn’t a calorie a calorie? Does it really matter from where I source my carbs, proteins and fats if they all total the right figures? Why can’t I live off of the McDonald’s menu?

These are all questions I have had floating around my head (read: stomach) as doubts to the science of fueling my body to perform. But to sustain biking dozens of miles, or running a marathon, or even just making it through a week of training without severe digestive issues, I have realized that my body must be treated like the performance machine it is. As I progress through this lifestyle, I realize more each day that I am asking my body to be a Ferrari, but feeding it the cargo for a garbage truck. How can I expect to be the fastest on the race course if I am weighing myself down with Big Mac’s that don’t digest fully? How can I aim to drop unneeded body fat when I am fueling my body with the low density lipids and trans fat laden in chili con queso? I have recorded evidence that I perform much more strongly after a dinner of sushi and edamame than a cheeseburger and fries.

Recently I have actually had to come to grips with the effects Mexican food has on my body pre-training. As you may have noticed from previous posts, I have a deep rooted passion for Tex-Mex foods. However I have noted through my scientific process of journaling the foods I eat (down to the actual calories and nutrition mix detail), that certain south of the border foods take the air out of my tires pre-training. I have thus sworn them off before training, and will only enjoy them on my off days. I’m fearful of what other foods will fall off my list. Will I no longer be able to enjoy a nice glass of wine with dinner? Are the days of the chocolate chip cookie numbered???

My current deliberations have led me to believe that to properly fuel my training, I need to adjust my intakes to align more closely with the foods our bodies were meant to digest. That means increase of beans, carrots, fruits, fish, etc. That also means a significant decrease in the amount of alcohol, cheese, FOIE GRAS, and other unnaturally occurring materials entering my body. Just thinking about what sugar can do to a GAS TANK has led me to cut way back on sweets (farewell tiramisu).

At the end of the day, my goal is to be the fittest, fastest and foodiest triathlete there is. The quest to not be this guy continues…

- The UE

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