Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Paleo Diet

Being an athlete, the conventional wisdom tells you to eat lots of carbohydrate and avoid fatty foods, if you want reestablish your muscle glycogen after a workout and avoid getting fat.
Last year, I visited Tucson for 14 days in March. I had just read a very recommendable book by Loren Cordain: "Paleo Diet for Athletes". Basically the whole paleo concept revolves around the understanding of our digestive system as still being millions of years old and designed for a hunter-gather lifestyle. 10.000 years ago farming got organized and grains and dairy products was introduced to our diet. Since our digestive and hormonal system is designed for overcoming short periods of food shortage, we´re now living in a society where food is abundant, cheap and unfamiliar to what we were to designed to eat.
Carbohydrates wasn´t easy accesible to the gather-hunter and since the primary fuel for the brain is glucose, several ways of conserving and preserving this vital fuel has evolved.
But too much carbohydrate causes problems for the body as it has too get rid of this, somewhat toxic, glucose from the bloodstream. The key hormone is insulin, a storage hormone, that stores the glucose in muscle cells and converts any surplus as fat.
Besides getting fat, too much carbohydrate can also cause stress to the insulin receptors, resulting in diabetes 2, a disease that´s skyrocketing in the western societies, along with obesity.

If you wanna look further into this revolutionary way of living, have a look at:

or search for Loren Cordain, paleo diet, evolutionary fitness on the internet.
Now, changing your eating habit is not an easy thing to do, as it´s founded in psychologically, physiologically, sociologically and lots of other logical reasons. But moving to a different environment for a while, gives you a chance to to try and change your habits as the food you normally buy, cook and eat is not available.
Here in the US, there´s so many processed foods and products to buy and I find it safest to buy non processed food whenever I can. That includes vegetables, fruit, nuts, fish, beef, chicken, eggs and plant oils and then cook it at home. I´ll choose organic products if possible.
I´m not a fanatic in any way and my favourite "nutritional sin" is energy bars!
I can go through quite a lot of soft, mushy, delicious Cliff Bars in a day if I let myself have ´em, so I try and restrict them to rides and after rides as a weel deserved snack.
So enough about food for now.
This morning I met with The South West Hand Cycling Team, for their long Sunday ride out West.
Another chilly morning, as we met at 8 am and rode the first hour along the river.
25-30 riders showed up, including two tandems, and they were riding a very disciplined paceline, where you´d have 10-15 seconds in the wind, before peeling of and dropping down the line. I was in PowerCranks mode for the first two hours and switched to fixed cranks at the South end of Sandario, as I knew Ajo Rd would be bumpy.
Joel and Sandy Thompson orchestrated the paceline and the pace, so everything went smooth and easy. I had a 5 minute stretch on Valencia when I rode 150 HR/95+ rpm´s by myself and could tell that I wasn´t fully recovered from yesterdays ride.
I skipped the coffee downtown and headed home straightaway, to get some recovery starting from the 140 km/4.34 hr ride.
I regret that now, because sitting down and chatting is very beneficial for me as a foreigner and for the group as an adhesive component in the motivation of group riding. I won´t skip it next tme!

This week, running has sufffered due to moving to a new neighborhood and learning my way around and accumulated fatigue from the many hours on the bike. Hopefully things will get a little more balanced next week.

Running: 34 km - 2.27 hrs

Cycling: 676 km - 24.41 hrs

Total: 710 km - 27.08 hrs

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