Avoid Nutrition Fads, Chart your Own Course!
Updated: Feb 13
by Liesl Begnaud
Keto, Plant Based, Vegetarian, Vegan, Protein “super shakes”, “Perfect greens”, Gluten free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free, Counting Calories, Tracking points, Simple Carbs, Complex carbs, “good fats”, Whole Foods.
Any of these eating styles sound familiar? As athletes it is important to fuel well for a better training and racing experience. It doesn’t matter if you are racing a Sprint or 140.6 long distance triathlon, a 5k or a marathon, fueling well will help your performance. Healthy eating doesn't need a special name or gimmick!
However, there is an overwhelming amount of information available on which program or cookbook to buy, various "cleanses," and what carbs you should eat. Over the many years of my endurance training and racing, before I figured it out, I tried it all: I’ve counted calories and tracked points; I drank super shakes of every brand and protein type, soy protein, whey protein, pea protein; I’ve eaten only meat and vegetables; and I’ve eaten a plant based diet. I have worked with a licensed nutritionist and done blood tests x, y, and z to determine if I have food allergies. I’ve done a 10 day cleanse and 30 day eating plan and even that “lemonade, cayenne pepper diet”.
Don't try this at home!
Take it from me, these fads are just that - fads! Nutrition and sound eating are not a fad.
All of these efforts and food choices are made for WHAT? It’s important to ask yourself WHY you want to eat a particular way. Are you pre-diabetic and a doctor has told you to change your diet? Do you have a celiac diagnosis so it's essential to avoid gluten? Are you allergic to certain foods? Do you need to lose weight for your long term health? Or are you just trying to “keep up with the Joneses”?
Forget what other people are doing. Do what is right for you!
It seems like every month a new “fad” way of eating or new product comes out targeting athletes. There is an obsession with diet and weight and somehow correlating it to our training and racing. Even the “pro” endurance nutritionists who research and provide statistics and data only present one option that is not a one-size-fits-all model. Just because the blog includes great reviews and raves on a certain eating path, does not mean it’s the best for you. Comparing yourself to the pros or the competition in your age group does no good.
Focus on what is good for your health.
Team MPI coaches can provide general guidance and advise on nutrition periodization. Just like frequency and duration of your workouts vary during your season, so do your nutritional needs. It’s important to dial in your own caloric needs and how you are going to get the nutrition you need to fuel your performance and fuel your off season. I recommend talking with a Registered Dietician/nutritionist. Read nutritional articles with interest but with caution and recognize that not all eating styles or fads are healthy. The important thing to remember is that your nutrition needs are uniquely your own.