The Right Fuel for Optimal
Ran Track in HS but had BAD allergies
Exercise Induced Asthma
Healthy Diet is Supposed to
Some Meat and Fish
Fresh Veggies and Fruit
Gluten, Soy and Corn Issues
I, and a lot of other people have issues with grains
Which Led to…
My Diet Now
Paleo or Primal Diet, Lower Carbs
No Processed Foods
Allergies and Asthma Greatly Diminished
Brain Fog/Lethargy Went Away
Energy and Endurance Went WAY Up!
Joint Aches Went Away
Muscle Soreness and Achiness Down
Less Burning During Riding
Less Blood Sugar Highs and Lows
The Athletic Performance Fueling
Typical Riding/Race Fuel is Often: Carb Load with
Refined White Flour, Grains and Sugar, i.e.
Pancakes, Pasta, Pizza, Cookies, etc.
Fuel During a Race/Ride is Often Sugary Substances
Like Gu, Shot Blocks, ―Energy‖ Bars, Candy
Bars, Gatorade, and other Energy Drinks
What Happens to All This Stuff In Your Body?
Carbs for Fuel
Carbs Converted Into Glycogen in Liver and Stored in
Liver and Some in Muscles
Used for Short, Intense Bursts of Energy Primarily
The Rest is Stored in the Body As Fat, Which Also
Raises Triglycerides and LDL (BAD) Cholesterol
Blood Sugar Ups and Downs
Glycogen Has Limited Storage, so Most of it is Burned
Through in About 20-40 Minutes.
Then What Happens?
Well, Typically Your Body Is Supposed to Start Burning
What Happens Though When Your Body is Lazy From
Easy Access to Glucose From Sugary, Starchy
When You Burn Through it…
You May BONK!
Lactic Acid Buildup
But Aren‘t We Supposed to
Burn Fat for Energy?
Two Fuel Systems
-For Short Intense Efforts
-Lasting Anywhere from 20-40 Minutes
-Think Sprint Intervals
Fat Burning System
For Longer, Sub-maximal Efforts
Lasting from 40 Minutes and Beyond
Has to Be Broken Down, Metabolized
If Not Frequently Utilized, Body is Not as Efficient in
Using This Energy Source
What‘s the Problem?
The Problem is When You Over-Utilize One Fuel
System, the Metabolic Pathway Becomes Fast And Easy
And the Under-Utilized
System Becomes Slow and
Difficult to Access
Is Sugar Evil?
Most fructose that we eat, whether it is from table sugar
(sucrose), or high fructose corn syrup, or fruit juices
gets made into fat instantly in the liver.
Our bodies cannot convert fructose to glucose (the
usable source of suger in the body), so fructose is sent
to the liver to be turned into fat.
Most energy and sports drinks use sucrose or high
fructose corn syrup as the primary sweetener.
Given that the average exhausted athlete still has
TENS of THOUSANDS of fat calories in their body‘s
energy reserves, but is running out of glycogen (from
carbs), why would you add a sugar that cannot be
burned for energy,
And will be stored as FAT?
Carb Loading Theory
The Beloved Mainstay of Sports Nutrition is the Carb
Loading Theory for High Intensity Performance.
From two Danish Scientists in 1939 who gave athletes
either a diet that was high fat, high carb or mixed for 7
Then they rode bicycles to exhaustion. The finding—the
more carbs the longer they could pedal.
This was followed by a study that showed muscles held
more glycogen with carb loading diets.
The diets used were from 4-10 days long.
However, Scandinavian explorers in the Arctic spent
years traveling through the Arctic consuming a diet of
The key is that it takes between two to three weeks to
adapt to the higher fat diet.
Then endurance IMPROVED.
Another Study Fats Vs. Carbs
In another study, subjects were given low calorie diets
forcing their bodies to utilize stored fats.
They were tested on a treadmill before the diet, after
one week and after six weeks.
Average times on the treadmill were: 168 min before
the diet, 130 min one week into the diet, and 269 min
after 6 weeks.
AND both the pulse rate and O2 consumption showed
they were working LESS hard on the last test!
One More Test
5 lean bicycle racers who were highly trained
Fed a mod protein and HIGH fat diet
After four weeks on this high fat diet, their peak aerobic
power was unchanged and duration at the same power
output was the same.
The big change was muscle glycogen. On the test at
the four week point, the riders had HALF as much
glycogen in their muscles and used only a QUARTER
as much glycogen in their exercise!
What Does This Mean?
Given the proper time to adapt, the body actually gains
more endurance from a high fat/lower carb diet, AND
The body actually uses LESS muscle glycogen.
So there really isn‘t a big connection between muscle
glycogen and work performance in this case.
Another approach to having “extra”
glycogen – train your body to use less
The alternative to maximizing the availability of CHO is to conserve
CHO by maximizing the capacity to oxidize fat. The essential
theory underlying this strategy is the reciprocal relationship
between FAT and CHO in terms of providing energy for exercise.
TCA (Krebs) cycle
Free Fatty Acid
Fatty Acyl CoA
ATP Fuel for Muscles
Fat exponentially increases the production of a molecule known as
ATP. ATP is the master energy and strength producing molecule
within the body. The more you have, the better you perform.
A single fat molecule can produce a whopping 129 molecules of
In contrast, if you are not consuming enough healthy fat the body
is forced to utilize an inferior source of ATP production -
A single carbohydrate molecule produces a paltry 38 molecules of
Do the math – fat yields more than three times the energy as a
High Fat vs. High CHO
Baseline 2 weeks 7 weeks
What Does Your Body Prefer
At rest all skeletal muscle prefers fat for fuel, using
glucose only when insulin levels are high and blood
sugar needs someplace to go.
During sustained exercise, fat is still the preferred fuel
at intensities up to 60% of max effort.
Above 60% glucose is preferred, although this is less
preferred if adapted to a low carb diet.
Glucose is broken down into lactate and released back
into the bloodstream after it is metabolized.
What About Sprinting?
Performance in high-intensity exercise like sprinting depends
mainly on two factors that are significantly affected by diet: oxygen
Obviously on a lower carb diet, the primary fuel will be fat rather
Fat wins over glucose because of its energy density - it yields
more ATP than glucose.
Since it's more energy-efficient, it's more oxygen-efficient, because
more energy is produced per unit of oxygen.
So Fat Wins, but it‘s Harder to Access…
What About Lactic Acid?
Other studies have shown that athletes also produce
much less lactic acid during exercise as well, or it is
What is noticeable is that there is much less muscle
soreness and burning from this type of diet, whether it
creates less lactic acid, or more likely,
Less INFLAMMATION which makes the muscles not as
sore and speeds recovery.
And One More Thing…
A lower carb diet—
Reduces levels of small, dense LDL (the worst kind of
Raises HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), and that
biomarkers of inflammation are reduced by a well-
formulated low carbohydrate diet.‖
And Triglycerides are also greatly reduced.
Lower Carb + Higher Fats
Explorers Used This Diet to Explore the Arctic
Diet consisted of a Little Protein and Mostly Fat
Key to Adaptation
It Takes the Body 3-4 Weeks to
Adapt to This Fat Burning
Process and to Build Up an
Accessible Fat Burning Metabolic
Fats are essential for our
body to function properly,
Let‘s Talk About Fats
All Fats are not the same!
Some of the fats we‘ve been
told are healthy are NOT
Some fats are high in Omega
3 fatty acids and some are
high in Omega 6 fatty acids.
We get far too much Omega
6 fatty acids in our diets
What‘s Wrong With Vegetable Oil?
An overabundance of
Omega 6 fats compared to
our intake of Omega 3 fats
creates inflammation in the
Omega 6 fats come from
vegetable oils, vegetable oils
from grains (corn oil) and
seeds (canola oil).
Olive oil is high in Omega 6
oils, but it has many other
Some Saturated Fats Are
Actually Very Good for You
Coconut Oil—This Medium Chain Triglyceride is
Immediately Metabolized and Usable for Energy
Grass Fed REAL Butter Which Contains Tons of
Vitamins, Minerals and Nutrients You Cannot Get
Fats from Grass Fed Beef (grain fed is high in Omega 6
fats), Whole Eggs, Avocados, Nuts, Grass Fed
Fat is good...
Fats are important for many metabolic processes:
Transporters of fat soluble vitamins
Important in the synthesis of Vitamin
D, cholesterol, and steroid hormones.
Structurally important in cell membranes
Fat can be classified by its structure:
Unsaturated: contain double bonds between carbons
Saturated: single bonds between carbons
Too little fat...<10%
Risk of becoming deficient in essential fatty acids and
fat soluble vitamins.
Could affect fat mobilization and oxidation, important in
Lower circulating levels of hormones
(insulin, testosterone...important ones if you want
to build lean body mass)
Higher Inflammation, Longer Recovery Times
The Downside of Fat
Fat is slow to digest and be converted into a usable
form of energy (it can take up to 6 hours).
Converting stored body fat into energy takes time. The
body needs to breakdown fat and transport it to the
working muscles before it can be used as energy.
Converting stored body fat into energy takes a great
deal of oxygen, so exercise intensity must decrease for
this process to occur.
So Burning Fat for Energy for
Longer Efforts Will Bring
Your Body Will Become More Efficient at Burning Fat--
Both Dietary and Body Fat
Decreased Lactic Acid
You Burn Less Glycogen, so Glycogen is Spared in the
Your Energy Stays More Stable
Because Riding or Racing
Demands We Have Full Tanks
I like to LAYER on my fuel.
Start with healthy fats for a base, plus healthy proteins
Add in a good supply of non-grain carbohydrates such as
sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, white potatoes and
other starchy vegetables.
Don‘t forget a big serving of vegetables, which are also a
healhy complex carbohydrate.
PRE Race and POST Race
And don‘t forget protein and complex carbs within an
hour after a long ride or race.
Use REAL food as opposed to concoctions and
powders and mixes. My favorite quick post race/training
ride for protein is grass fed natural beef jerky, if you
cannot sit down and have a good meal.
Be generous with salt. Most of us athletes, especially if
you eat lower carbs, need SALT. This helps with
reduction of cramps and heat tolerance as well.
Drink plenty of water!
You’ll have the energy needed to get
through a race or a ride and have
enough for the finish!
Fueling ONLY with Sugar, Grains and Energy
Drinks, Gels, Chews, Candy Bars, Energy Bars means
your body only uses the most accessible energy
It Also Means you Burn through it Faster.
Raises Blood Sugar (which falls later)
Stores Body Fat
Generally Don‘t Easily Access Stored Fat for Energy
Fat in an athlete‘s diet will NOT make you fat, it actually
helps your body learn to access it‘s own fat stores more
It prevents bonking
It provides a long lasting energy source
It improves endurance
It helps reduce inflammation, and speeds recovery time
I do not know everything there is to know about this.
This is an ongoing science.
I have experimented with diet ad ways to fuel my body
over the last four years I have been riding/racing, and I
notice I feel much better, and race better on a lower
carb, higher fat diet that includes some complex carbs
right before racing.
While some principles of diet hold true for everyone, we
are all individuals and there is NO cookie cutter
approach that works.
We athletes are in some stage of recovery almost
continuously during periods of heavy training. The key
to optimum recovery is rest and diet.
While I believe that a primitive/Paleo style diet is best
for health, I also know that athletes need to modify their
diets to meet the high demands of training.
Listen to your body and give it what it needs.
Most of all, eat REAL food.
Stephen Phinney MD, Phd, Jeff
Volek, Phd, RD, “The Art and Science of Low
Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making
the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate
Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable
Lauren Cordain and Joe Friel, “Paleo for Athletes”
Shane Ellison, MS, The People’s Chemist