Finding the Balance Between Nutrition and Fueling

We discuss the difference between nutrition and fueling, and why focusing on performance versus health can lead to very different dietary choices.

Sports training and a healthy diet. Healthy nutrition for athletes. Sporting achievements. Supplements for athletes.

When it comes to what we eat and drink, we like to use a variety of terms like “diet”, “nutrition”, and “fueling”, although that last one might be particular to us athletes. Often, these are used interchangeably, leading us to believe that what is best for our performance is also best for our health. But that is not the case.

In today’s summary episode, we’re going to address why fueling and nutrition are actually two different things and why what may be best for us to perform during a race is the last thing we should be eating while sitting at the dinner table.

We’ll dive deep into several topic areas where the difference between fueling, and nutrition become very apparent. Should you eat or avoid carbohydrates? What about simple sugars? Should you focus on Foods or Macronutrients? Why nutrient density is so important, and then, finally we’ll sprinkle on a little bit about supplements.

Just like with all of our summary episodes, we’ll pull clips from many of our past episodes and guests. You’ll hear from top researchers, nutritionists, coaches, and athletes including Dr. John Hawley, Ted King, Joey Rosskopf, Phill Gaimon, Dr. Brian Carson, Dr. Asker Jeukendrup, Colby Pearce, Petr Vakoc, Dr. Timothy Noakes, Julie Young, Joe Friel, and Dr Stacy Simms.

So, grab your favorite gels, but maybe hold onto them until your workout, and let’s make you fast.

Episode Transcript

Rob Pickels  00:04

Hello and welcome to Fast Talk, your source for the science of endurance performance! I’m your host Rob Pickels here with Trevor Connor and Grant Holicky. Today we’re going to bring you through a summary episode about finding the balance between nutrition and fueling.


Rob Pickels  00:18

When it comes to what we eat and drink, we like to use a variety of terms like “diet”, “nutrition”, and “fueling”, although that last one might be particular to us athletes. Often, these are used interchangeably, leading us to believe that what is best for our performance is also best for our health. But that is not the case.     In today’s summary episode, we’re going to address why fueling and nutrition are actually two different things and why what may be best for us to perform during a race is the last thing we should be eating while sitting at the dinner table.


Rob Pickels  00:47

We’ll dive deep into several topic areas where the difference between fueling, and nutrition become very apparent. Should you eat or avoid carbohydrates? What about simple sugars? Should you focus on Foods or Macronutrients? Why nutrient density is so important, and then, finally we’ll sprinkle on a little bit about supplements.


Rob Pickels  01:05

Just like with all of our summary episodes, we’ll pull clips from many of our past episodes and guests. You’ll hear from top researchers, nutritionists, coaches, and athletes including Dr. John Hawley, Ted King, Joey Rosskopf, Phill Gaimon, Dr. Brian Carson, Dr. Asker Jeukendrup, Colby Pearce, Petr Vakoc, Dr. Timothy Noakes, Julie Young, Joe Friel, and Dr Stacy Simms.     So, grab your favorite gels, but maybe hold onto them until your workout, and let’s make you fast.


Trevor Connor  02:09

Well, welcome guys, we are here for another summary episode, which I really enjoy. And this one, we are going to be talking about nutrition in particular, these terms get used kind of interchangeably, but they’re very different things which is fueling versus nutrition. So we’re going to talk about what they mean, why they’re different, and why you have to think about both as an athlete and somebody who’s hopefully a little focused on your health. And as usual with us today, I have Rob pickles. And grant has joined us good to be here again. So I will point out, Rob and I are sitting here with our computers. I’ve actually got a second and third monitor just because why not?


Rob Pickels  02:52

His computer is literally eight feet wide at this point. And I’m not joking.


Trevor Connor  02:56

And grant walks in like hi guys pulls his phone out of his pocket sits down, ready to go.


Grant Holicky  03:02

Hey, we got to keep everything on brand here. Right? I mean, I got my flip flops on. I haven’t showered in days. Perfect. I’m right here. Rob’s gonna put that picture up on the website. Right?


Rob Pickels  03:15

That will be the cover image for this.


Trevor Connor  03:16

You did bring a water bottle. Yeah,


Grant Holicky  03:18

I’m hydrated. There we go. That was last week’s episode. Target. So


Trevor Connor  03:25

let’s start by defining some of these terms. And I will define nutrition, which is actually a little hard to define. But when we’re talking about nutrition, we’re talking about what you’re eating in the context of health. So overall, how healthy are you eating? What are you eating? How is it impacting your body? That’s what you want to think of with nutrition. It is not the same thing as fueling, which you’ll hear a lot of coaches and athletes talk about. So grant, how would you define fueling,


Grant Holicky  03:57

fueling is what you’re eating to perform. Right. So what you’re putting in your body in order to be a high level athlete. So I kind of look at those two things as nutrition as a very general term, and fueling is much more specific to what it is that we want to achieve. Yeah, for


Rob Pickels  04:12

me, the concept of fueling was was really foreign to me, especially when I was younger. But to put that into perspective, one of my first jobs was at a hair salon. You guys can learn a little bit more about me today, one of the owners of the hair salon, she was a bodybuilder, a figure model, I don’t know what you technically call it. And I was talking with her as I watched her eat one day and she had a very specific proportions of things on her plate. And she’s like, well, I view food as fuel, and really thinking about that concept of what does her body need to get through the workout today to recover from the workout today? That was priority number one. And I think that on the performance side, people might think about that. But I mean, to ask both of you, is that the way we should be thinking about this? Where do we want to go? You know, is it about nutrition or is it about fueling


Grant Holicky  05:00

I think you need both but fueling again, geared specifically for how you’re going to fuel workout. Nutrition, you need good nutrition to be a great athlete, you need to eat your fruits and vegetables, you need to eat those pieces of the puzzle. But how much is the beta carotene necessarily helping the workout? It is helping your health. But it might not be helping specifically what you’re going to go do on your animals today.


Trevor Connor  05:23

But we’re going to focus on that a bit. Because health is important. And I think often when you hear people talk about sports, nutrition, it’s heavily focused on fueling. And really the purpose of this episode is to say, yeah, there are things that are best for performance that are fueling, but aren’t necessarily best for your health and vice versa. And we need to make those distinctions because I think sometimes people don’t


Rob Pickels  05:48

know there’s one more distinction I’d love to make. And and that’s the word diet. I hear that thrown around. You know, Trevor, what are you what, how does diet fit into this?


Trevor Connor  05:55

This is the bane of my existence. I hate the word diet, because I think of it scientifically. Most people think of diet as something you go on, it’s losing weight. But the actual definition of diet is it is a description of what you regularly eat. So as a scientist, if I had somebody in a lab, and I said, What is your diet, we would have them keep like a three day or a seven day record of what they ate through those days. And that is the description of their diet. So you don’t go on a diet, you are always on a diet, you are always eating something. And that is your diet. There are just some diets that are healthier, some days that are less healthy, there are some diets that are more performance oriented, some that are really good for sitting on the couch and binge on Netflix.


Grant Holicky  06:44

Well, everything’s good for that. But I mean, I think one of the big things that we want to get into today too, is how this has changed over the last few years, especially as we talk about sport. I mean years ago that great quote out of beyond Dali, the cross country skier I think was if you burn, the firt is hot enough, everything will burn. And this is after somebody said why do you eat so many Big Macs. And that was his response. But now we’re starting to see again, I saw great video yesterday of the old Tour de France guys getting off their bikes and raiding a cafe and going out with wine and beer and all of this stuff. And that was their fuel. So we’re finding ways to fuel better. And we’re learning more about nutrition and the general approach that people need to be taking to be healthy as a person and healthy as an athlete.


Trevor Connor  07:29

And that’s a good point to throw to our first clip. This is from Episode 173, where we had Ted King, talk about the fact that the the mentality among the pro teams is starting to change and there is a little more focus on this is impure performance, we got to think about health.


Ted King  07:49

Yeah, I would say at some point in, I should say the vast majority of professional cyclists careers, they’re gonna have some semblance of an eating disorder. And I think it will run the gamut from very mild to severe, I don’t think I had anything terribly severe. But at some point, in my career, I would be on the verge of starvation. And a lot of that, actually, to be honest, was you spend enough time in a very traditional program like liquor, yes. And we would go to training camps and be riding five hours a day and, and fuel that on boiled spinach and boiled broccoli and boiled cauliflower just like the most ridiculous meal you’ve ever seen. And pasta, so they’re not actually starving you. But when you have a team doctor literally standing over the entire team, as we eat, it’s understood that everybody early season is overweight, it’s just sort of the general assumption. No matter how lean you are, you’re gonna be overweight, I know things are changing. I’ve been out of World Tour racing for six years now five years. So there is a much better understanding. But especially in a non traditional program like that, that sort of thinking does exist. I know that I’m not celiac. But that would be one way that I would could very easily control wait would be turn on and turn off eating gluten. And I don’t have any adverse reactions to gluten, it’s just a very simple thing to in the afternoon, say I’m gonna eat a carrot instead of eating a cracker. Instead of eating bread instead of eating cookie, instead of going to a bakery and having any sort of baked good because you know that that there is gluten in it. That was a simple way for me to control calorie consumption.


Rob Pickels  09:18

So we just heard Ted King talk about eating a carrot instead of eating a crack or eating bread instead of eating cookies. And he’s really pulling out ultimately, this distinction between something that’s healthy and maybe something that’s better for performance. So how do you guys see that playing into everyday life? Where is that choice kind of being made for us as we’re choosing things to eat?


Trevor Connor  09:40

To me, I really want to make this very important distinction. When we’re talking about fueling and nutrition. We’re talking about the difference between health and performance. And it’s really important to make that distinction because we’ve had a lot of talks in this episode, we brought up a lot of studies that show here’s what’s best for performance in and people hear that and go, that’s how I need to eat. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a healthy thing for you. The obvious example, which we’re going to dive into in a minute is you need those simple sugars to perform and erase simple sugar when you talk about nutrition is horribly bad for you. So it’s this back and forth. It’s kind of that tipping scale of when are you making choices about nutrition and your health? And when are you making choices about performance. And let’s quickly jump into this is from Episode 123. A quick quote from Joey rosskopf, on how he makes that distinction between eating healthy day to day and then what he eats during races.


Joey Rosskopf  10:41

Generally more hearty healthy foods and understood home training, not afraid of vegetables, whole grains, seeds, and all that healthy stuff that people recommend for a balanced diet, which is not really the case at races, depending on how I’m feeling. I usually opt for like, super simple, like a bunch of white rice and eggs. I mean, I’ve got no science behind it. But I can just imagine it as being pure fuel when I’m at a race.


Trevor Connor  11:14

So I’ll start off with an example of this distinction between something that’s good for performance versus nutrition, sports drinks, a good sport strength is optimized to help you hydrate during an event to help you get that fuel, get those carbohydrates so that you can do that high intensity activities, so you don’t bonk they are really well optimized. They are fantastic for performance. They are horrible nutritionally, they are just water, simple sugars, and a couple of electrolytes. This is not something when you are outside of a race or a training ride. You want to be sitting on your couch drinking, which a lot of people do. They go, Oh, it’s sports nutrition. This is healthy for me. It’s not, it’s no different from eating candy.


Rob Pickels  11:57

I think everybody knows a Coca Cola soda, right? Everybody knows that that is unhealthy. Well, you know what a bottle of Gatorade is the exact same thing. It just doesn’t have carbonation in it. And it has this sports sort of moniker to it. And so people assume that it’s healthy, but it’s not my son loves to just go to the you know, the cooler at the gas station when we’re on a road trip and get a Gatorade, you know, but for me, I think a lot of drinks in general can fall into this unhealthy sort of thing, right? Oranges, pretty healthy orange juice, really not doing anything for you, it doesn’t have all of the good things that go along with an actual orange,


Grant Holicky  12:34

right. And this is the key, right? We’re stripping away the fiber, we’re stripping away, those pieces of the puzzle that are gonna help slow down that absorption of the sugar help make it a healthy part of our diet. Because we don’t want to slow down the absorption of the sugar, right? I’m an athlete whose favorite thing, he’s always got a special bottle three quarters of the way through the race, and it’s just straight apple juice. And you know, like, because that’s what he likes, or you watch God, how great is a cold coke after a ride, but I cut cold cokes out of my post right thing, because I was trying to cut them out of my whole diet. So you went cold turkey. And so I want a cold turkey on it across the board. Because that allowed me to make a bigger change habit change in my whole life.


Rob Pickels  13:18

What if we flip this around? What’s healthy in everyday life that isn’t good for performance. But that’s


Trevor Connor  13:24

exactly it. I mean, I can make the argument of kale salad loaded with vegetables is really healthy, and you should eat that I would never tell an athlete 15 minutes before a race have that kale salad, you’re going to perform your best. It’s not great for performance in the short run.


Grant Holicky  13:41

Yeah, and I mean, same thing we’re going to talk about with the high amounts of protein, right and or you know that recovery, fuel those things that you’re trying to do, but even going out in in a nice lean piece of meat for a lot of people, that’s how they’re getting good protein in their diet on a daily basis. But you’re not gonna get a whole lot of fueling out of that over the course of a three hour race. If you eat it right before it’s gonna sit in your stomach, and you’re gonna have a hard time digesting it. So yeah, all these things kind of go back and forth.


Rob Pickels  14:08

Even if we back up a little bit bigger picture, right, and we talked about caloric balance, being in a little bit of a negative caloric balance is probably a good thing for everyday healthy living. But it’s definitely not a good thing for performance if you end up glycogen depleted or whatever else.


Trevor Connor  14:21

So the argument I’m going to make here is there is a time and place for performance oriented, fueling. And I think that during the event, I would even make the argument that’s not every ride. If you’re just going out for a recovery ride. You don’t need to be chugging the Gatorade and the gels. It’s really your hard workouts in your races. But I’m also going to make the argument even for a high performer when you are outside of that event, focusing more on nutrition is going to benefit everybody and to that point. Let’s do a throw. Now this goes all the way back to Episode 10. This is Phil Gaiman talking about making that switch with his neutral Should coach eating more natural foods and the impact and benefits that had for him.


Phil Gaiman  15:06

It’s real basic, like he’ll give you a meal plan. It starts with eggs and spinach for breakfast or eggs and kale for breakfast. And then you know, carbs depending on I ride, and then a recovery shake after the ride, and then a chicken breasts and then for dinner, a steak or a fish. And then, you know, for dessert, like some applesauce with almond butter in it like so we’ll have this sort of little meal plan that it’s something that like, it’s things that I like that are all healthy combination of stuff. And when I’m at home for a certain period, I’m religious with with that I kind of just eat that every day I stick to his plan, which is you know, it’s just drinking a lot of water eating a lot of greens, and a lot of lean meats and proteins and you know, good fats, your snack is cashews, it’s not a Snickers bar. There’s nothing, there’s nothing fancy about it. And I go into his office every week or two. And I’ll jump on a scale and I’ll do a skinfold tests, and we’ll see if we’re up or down and then we’ll, we’ll make an adjustment for the next two weeks. It’s very, it’s very systematic. And if it’s very obvious, it’s just you have to do it. I don’t think there’s any, like new tips that anyone’s invented. It’s just don’t pound all the pasta, you don’t need it. Yeah, honestly, like just waking up in the morning and chugging a liter of water was probably a big a big improvement for me. I mean, water accelerates, whatever. And obviously, it’s good for you. But I think it sort of fills you up first thing as well. So you don’t go to you know, a box of cereal.


Trevor Connor  16:23

So there’s all these myths out there that it is unbelievable dedication for pros, and it’s a struggle every day and they go out with family and have to avoid the desserts avoid anything that they enjoy. Is that the case for you? Or do you find that it’s pretty manageable sticking to the diet that you’re given?


Phil Gaiman  16:43

Yes, and no, I mean, any. I’ve read this, this applies to like, I mean, this is like an Alcoholics Anonymous thing. But any like breaking a habit or creating a habit takes 90 days where typically we’re like, psychologically, you have to force it. And then it’s just sort of part of your life. So that nutrition is I work with after rides, I had me do this kale shake, it’s kale or spinach, almond, butter, beet, and then apple juice to fill the cracks, you know, that we’ll use all the way up. So it’s like a big cup of green, red sludge. And I hate it. And I forced it down and I forced it down. And now with an hour to go on my right I’m creating a stupid kale shake. And it’s just a pattern. So it’s like when I when I go out to dinner, you know, if I go out with my friends back in LA or something, they have beers, and I might have a glass of red wine. And but it’s not like if your friends are are ordering pizzas and then making fun of you for getting a salad that they’re not really good friends or that fair enough. I don’t consider it ever like I don’t know that’s that’s never been my problem. I don’t consider it a war. And I don’t really know any guys who like, don’t have a pizza. I mean, Jerome and I’ve been going out to dinner every night with Mike woods and kill Ryan and Andrew talansky and got a big lamb shake the other day. Yeah, it’s it’s normal, you’re normal.


Trevor Connor  18:04

So now that we’ve talked about this difference between fueling and nutrition, I want to set the stage for the rest of the episode, which is we’re now going to go deeper into some common topics on when whenever you have a nutrition or a fueling episode, such as carbohydrates, macronutrient ratios, Whole Foods, electrolytes, and really show that when you discuss these things in the context of fueling versus the context and nutrition. It’s a very different conversation.


Grant Holicky  18:32

Yeah, I think without a doubt, my wife’s a registered dietician, and she’s talked about this a lot that you can have an elite athlete come in. And because they haven’t really learned the difference between simple sugar and a carbohydrate and a complex carbohydrate and all those pieces of the puzzle. They’re eating like borderline a type two diabetic, and we’ve seen elite performers be pre diabetic because of how they’re eating. And that that brings us to a great throw to Episode 112. From Dr. Brian Carson, he talks about in some cases, there’s not that huge of a difference between the metabolically impaired, and some elite performers.


Dr. Brian Carson  19:12

One of the things that we always struggle with when we’re asked to to kind of define, you know, what’s your research area? And what kind of populations do you work with, in some ways, I could be criticized for not being more focused, but I tend to work with across what we would maybe termed the health performance spectrum. So we work with people who are metabolically impaired right through to those who are competing at the elite end. And part of my response to that is the fact that the mechanisms within the muscle are very similar in terms of adaptation to exercise, and nutrition, regardless whether it’s for a health benefit or for an actual performance benefit. Now, the magnitude of those changes is very, very different between those two populations. But generally, the mechanisms of adaptation within the muscle, at least are very, very similar. So it allows us to work on on both those populations without kind of compromising our overall research area. So I would agree with your assertion around the use of fasted exercise for for certain health benefits, I think there’s a lot of evidence there for that. I think there is a lot of evidence there also in terms of driving the endurance phenotype within the muscle. And we’ll get into that even in elite athletes, the performance piece is a little bit more difficult, a little more unclear. We see adaptations in elite athletes, but then it doesn’t always translate to a performance benefit in terms of our tests. And there are certain reasons for that, which, again, we might get into later in the conversation.


Rob Pickels  20:39

So let’s dive deeper into this conversation a little bit and start with carbohydrates as a topic. And I think that there’s a lot of misconceptions about what carbohydrates are out there. You know, oftentimes, people think carbohydrates are just bread, but that’s not the case. Is it? Because I’ve seen a guy that’s like, I don’t eat carbohydrates as eating a banana. And so what do we got? What do we got to work with here?


Trevor Connor  21:00

Yeah, this one kills me because I get hit with that question all the time. When I tell people I don’t eat bread. They go, Well, how do you get your carbohydrates? Because when people think carbohydrates, they think bread and pasta, which are certainly high in carbohydrates, but sugars or carbohydrates, you find sugars, complex and simple. In fruits, you find it in vegetables, obviously, you find in really unhealthy foods like candy. But there are a lot of different sources of carbohydrates. It doesn’t just have to be bred and passed on. I actually eat a moderate carbohydrate diet, and I get all my carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables.


Grant Holicky  21:36

Well, I mean, I think the simple point here is, if we eliminated all the carbs from our diet, we’d all have scurvy, you need fruit, you need vegetables, my wife has a sweatshirt now front she trolls people with it just says eat more carbs. And that’s it, she walks around town with it on. And there has been a cost that on more than one occasion about like, well, you can’t live on bread, just like I’m not, I’m not talking about bread, I eat plenty of bread, but that’s not what I’m talking about. So that distinction is crucial here, and I think it’s missed a lot.


Trevor Connor  22:07

And what I want to do is just give the two minute explanation of carbohydrates, carbohydrates, there’s many different forms. You’ve heard simple and complex carbohydrates. simple carbohydrates are just your single molecule. So and in our body, there’s only three, it’s glucose, fructose, and galactose. That’s what our bodies can use. All carbohydrates are broken down into those three. So complex carbohydrates are just mixes of those. And the big difference between simple and complex carbohydrates is simple carbohydrates, you absorb them fast. They really so it’s basically a giant sugar bomb in your gut, it spikes your insulin, and you get all those negative effects of spiking your insulin, complex carbohydrates, they have to be broken down before your body can use them. So instead of this giant hit, they get broken down slowly, and you get this slow trickle of the glucose and fructose and sometimes galactose to your system. And your body does need your brain. So I’m going to correct anybody who does the keto diet, who says your brain can survive on ketones alone. That’s not true. You can survive without eating carbohydrates. But your body will convert about 40% of those ketones to glucose because your brain cannot survive without glucose, right?


Grant Holicky  23:28

So two great points here. One he just defined fueling versus nutrition in terms of carbohydrate, simple sugars as a sugar bomb in your gut. We need sugar bombs in our gut when we’re racing, right? We’re gonna mean if we don’t have them, we’re in trouble. But a sugar bomb in your gut when you’re sitting here recording a podcast is going to lead to really bad things just makes you sleepy. I mean, I’ve literally a bonked sitting at a table because of the response of having too much sugar and then not having anything else to bounce it out.


Trevor Connor  24:01

Another really important thing to remember that we’ve talked about, well, there’s a summary episode. So yeah, we’re summarizing, your insulin response is different when you are exercising versus sitting on the couch. When you’re sitting on the couch and eat a bunch of sugar, you spike insulin, and we could talk all day about all the negative health impacts of that. When you are exercising, and again, not on a recovery ride. I’m talking about working hard train your body shuts down the insulin response. So when you eat all those simple sugars, you don’t get that impact. It’s still not gonna say they’re healthy, right? There’s certainly a you were talking about this earlier. There’s a lot of pro athletes who basically are losing their teeth.


Grant Holicky  24:42

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s the thing. It is hilarious when you coach high level cyclists that how often they have to go to the dentist, and I mean, obviously some have more trouble with than others, but you sit there with gels and blocks in your teeth for huge amounts of time it’s going to rip up your teeth. Yep. But coming back to the one thing that you said before about your brain, there’s ample evidence of this in sport, carbohydrate mouthrinse is one of the coolest examples of basically anything for fueling in the world, all athletes have to do is rinse their mouth with carbohydrate in it, and their brain turns on to a higher level. That’s phenomenal. And that’s the best evidence out there that you need sugar for your brain. And so we have to stay on.


Trevor Connor  25:29

Now I will say this. So look, I’ve been asked about this because I really do push healthy nutrition. And simple sugars are horrible when you’re talking about healthy nutrition. But, and maybe we need to throw this in right here. We’ve had the episode where I talked about how much I love Swedish Fish. I was talking purely performance, but let me own it. This is from Episode 15. Here is when I said I love Swedish Fish. No. And that’s what I do. I try like Swedish Fish. When I’m under like we talked about this this weekend, because everybody laughed, we’re we’re on that a long ride up in the mountains. And being the Nutrition has been The Science Guy, I think everybody was watching to see what I pulled out of my pocket and pull out this giant bag of Swedish Fish. And one of the guys commented on it, he’s like, you eat those. And I go, Yeah, you know what the difference between this and half of the other products out there is and he goes, good marketing, I went yeah, and about two bucks. That being said, there are slight differences. A lot of the candy on the shelves, has a lot more fructose and glucose. And like I said, you really want that ratio of say about three to one glucose to fructose. And the candy on the shelf isn’t quite the right ratio, so it’s not as good. I’m from Canada, glucose is our primary sugar up there. So Canadian candy actually is pretty close to being as good.


Rob Pickels  26:50

So Trevor, we just came out of a clip talking about how much you love your Swedish Fish and how the ratio of glucose and fructose is, is really great for performance, right? And so when we have simple sugars like that as examples, how are they actually helping us perform.


Trevor Connor  27:07

So I’m gonna go back here to an episode that we did with Dr. John Hawley, who has really been the leading researcher on this because the keto diet was getting popular, he actually did some of the original research on high fat diets. And he was completely focused on performance, and has showed pretty definitively that if you don’t get those simple sugars, if you let your glycogen deplete, you can’t perform at a high level, because essentially glycolysis, which is that process where your body uses sugar for fuel actually doesn’t function as well. I’m trying to avoid some some big technical terms here. But it starts to shut down. And then when you’re in a race, and you need that sugar for that big one minute effort, it’s just not there. And maybe the best thing to do here is actually have Dr. Hawley and this is from Episode 23 talk about this.


Dr. John Hawley  27:59

One of the things that we did find is that when we look at these high fat diets, there’s no question that you start to use a lot more fat. And by definition, if you can use fat from that depo in your muscle, you can spare some of your glycogen. And the question to us was, you know, why not? Wasn’t it turning into a performance benefit? And the simple answer is, as you’ve correctly pointed out, we weren’t sparing glycogen in a positive way we were actually impairing the ability of the muscle to use glycogen. So there’s a quite different system here instead of being able freely to put the pedal down and use glycogen when the intensity is on here, the high fat diet actually put the brake on that so it was the opposite effect. So we’d given the muscle all these benefits would increase the capacity to oxidize fat and it was almost like riding with half your brake pad on all the time because we had impaired the ability of the muscle as you said Trevor to go through glycolysis and break down glycogen so this was a bad sparing if you’re like I’m not a good sparing. And again, I might add that the mechanisms by which high fat diets do that are completely different and the unpolarized from the fact that when you train low it’s a completely different mechanism. But yeah, good point glycogen sparing as we thought of it, as in the old days of a good thing here was not a good thing. It was actually glycogen impairment.


Trevor Connor  29:20

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Rob Pickels  29:58

For me, I’ve really been falling Weighing Dr. Holly’s research Dr. Burke and that group, because it’s been so insightful into how carbohydrate and fat play into performance, but one thing that I want to point out is, that group, as far as I know, actually set out to support a high fat diet for performance. And through all of their research, I mean, almost at a 180 in terms of what the recommendation is. And for me, that’s very telling, it takes a lot of evidence to sort of really sway a mindset like that. So I think that’s pretty strong. Well,


Grant Holicky  30:31

yeah. And when you set out to do research, I mean, we see this all the time, there’s really good research saying that climate change isn’t happening. If you want to target something in you, subconsciously, you’re drawn that way a little bit. So as a researcher, if you’re coming out of something going, Whoa, we need to go completely the other direction, pretty big deal


Trevor Connor  30:50

really is. And what I find really interesting about this is that research when they were trying to prove the benefits of a high fat diet, they did that with Professor Noakes. And I don’t think they’re on the the best speaking terms as my understanding now, we’re going to hear from Dr. Noakes in a minute. But he stayed on the high fat, and really promotes even a ketogenic diet for performance. But I think something we need to address quickly here. Again, the evidence for carbohydrates for performance is the negative impact of protein and fat, when you’re trying to perform, you can consume a little protein, but both protein and fat, slow down your digestion. And when you are trying to get calories into the system, so your body can use them consuming too much of those, when you are exercising hard, it’s going to slow things down, it’s going to shut your gut down, you’re going to start feeling bloated. The last thing you want to be consuming.


Rob Pickels  31:45

And for me, you know, I like to do long distance things as everybody knows, and there’s quote unquote research out there supporting the use of amino acids preventing some muscle damage. But man, I can’t do it anytime I even have something as simple as amino acids out there not even protein not even eating a beef jerky stick but amino acids. My stomach’s inside out. I can’t deal with it. It does absolutely does not work for me to have protein.


Grant Holicky  32:08

Yeah. And I think everybody’s a little bit different. But without a doubt. I mean, Trevor hit the nail on the head time, right? If you’re gonna be eating fat and protein, you’re gonna need time before you’re gonna go train hard. It sits in there, it feels heavy, it slows everything down. He gets sluggish. Those are the things that are kind of battling back against you if when you’re taking in fat and protein, but carbohydrates, they work great and race setting. They work great in a training setting.


Trevor Connor  32:38

And another researcher who’s worked with Dr. Haldane is very much in the same camp as Dr. Jochen droop, who we’ve had on the show a few times. And I think this is a good place to bring him in. This is from Episode 83, where we asked him if he felt there was any health issues with carbohydrates and racing. And here’s his answer.


Asker Jeukendrup  32:56

Well, I think generally dose in terms of the immune function, those changes are usually positive. So generally, carbohydrate, higher carbohydrate intake will help the immune system. So from that respect, I don’t think there is any health concern. And in terms of bacterial translocation that I said, I don’t think that really is the big issue suddenly not like related to the carbohydrate intake, if it is this more related, I think, to the fact that people become extremely hard, extremely dehydrated, or very long periods of extreme exercise. So I haven’t seen any evidence of negative effects of this. We also have to put this into a little bit of context here, because I talk about large amounts of carbohydrate because it feels like we’re taking on a lot of carbohydrate. But say we’re taking 90 grams of carbohydrate per hour, that is 360 calories. 360 calories, even for a professional cyclist is only 1/3 of the calories they would be burning for the average cyclist, maybe it is 50% of the calories they’re burning in the in that hour. So we’re not talking about sort of overeating or it is a fairly large amount of carbohydrate, but it’s not a ridiculous amount. So we need to keep that context in mind because I always get the questions. People will again wait, no, you won’t, because you’re still burning a lot more than you’re actually ingesting.


Rob Pickels  34:26

So we’re coming out of hearing a couple different researchers talking about the performance benefits of carbohydrates. But that’s not the whole story based on this episode. What are the health sides of carbohydrate?


Trevor Connor  34:36

So yeah, when we start talking about health and simple sugars or carbohydrates, we have a very different story here. And I think almost we should do an episode at some point just talking about the health impact of simple sugars because there’s a huge body of research on this but simple sugars impact everything from cardiovascular disease to cancer. Matter of fact, Dr. Hugo Sol Milan, who we’ve talked with him On she’s doing cancer research and showing what you see in cancer cells is a breakdown of their metabolism that become entirely sugar dependent. So I’m not going to dive too deep into this just because they even get started. It’s a real long conversation. But that is the research that’s coming out right now consuming simple sugars when you’re outside of activity has dramatic and very negative health impacts. Now I am going to say complex carbohydrates is different vegetables are healthy for you. And this is where I hate what you see on the other side where you get the Keto people that are saying, oh, you know, any carbohydrates bad for you? So I can’t eat vegetables?


Grant Holicky  35:38

Right? I always think one of the big things that’s missed about humans, right is that nobody ever pretended were purely carnivorous. Nobody’s ever looked back and said up carnivorous animals are omnivorous. I mean, obviously, we meet but meats, meats, delicacy, no matter when you’re around, it’s hard to find, you have to rely on plants, nuts, all these other things. And so eliminating every carbohydrate from your diet is dangerous. It’s borderline dangerous. But as Trevor was saying, I mean, to me, just I look at kids and what we’re feeding kids, and it’s so easy to give them simple sugars, and then it changes their palate for the rest of their lives. And they’re going to want that for the rest of their lives. We’re talking about people with a sweet tooth. And I’m sure some of this is genetic, but a ton of it is environmental. And then you have to become an adult that chooses to change those habits. So without a doubt, the simple carbohydrate that we need for exercise that we need for training is really, really dangerous than the rest of our life. And we have to make that distinction.


Rob Pickels  36:42

Now, I want to throw a question to you guys, I think the first place that we can go to when we talk about simple sugars in our diet is sugar that is added to things right you get processed food, everything exactly. It’s in juice and everything else. How do you feel about maybe more complex carbohydrates that are very quickly digested like saltine crackers, I know my kids love, crackers and cookies and things like that. It’s not technically a simple sugar, but it’s really high glycemic index, are we seeing the same problems there too?


Trevor Connor  37:10

Well, I think you just touched on the right word, you need to look at glycemic index and glycemic load. And you can find there’s apps for your phone where you can look up any food and it’s going to tell you the impact. I’ll give you the short explanation here there is a difference between glycemic index and glycemic load glycemic index, they basically feed you enough of the food to get either 50 grams, or 100 grams of carbohydrates from that food, and then they look at the impact on your insulin. The issue with that is to eat enough fruits or vegetables, to eat enough to get 50 grams, you have to eat a lot. Like I think it was for watermelon, you had to eat an entire watermelon. That’s fantastic. So some of these fruits will have a very high glycemic index, but you would never eat that much. Right. So they came up with glycemic load, which is what is the impact it has on your insulin, when you eat a standard serving, and all of a sudden fruits and vegetables are all very low glycemic load foods. And as it you have to look at glycemic index on a scale of zero to 100. Where 100 is glucose if you just consumed straight glucose, but white bread is actually scored above 100.


Grant Holicky  38:21

Yeah, and this comes back to talking about being able to do a whole episode right peanut butter. How much sugar? Can you cram into peanut butter? Oh,


Rob Pickels  38:28

there’s a whole bunch. And there’s a whole the good stuff. No, not the good stuff.


Grant Holicky  38:33

Come on pickles.


Rob Pickels  38:34

I grew up on Skippy. Oh.


Trevor Connor  38:37

But another thing to know about another food that’s kind of unique is milk. Dairy. At one point, they said, Well, this is amazing for diabetics, because it’s extremely low on the glycemic index. So it was a way of getting some of these nutrients for diabetics without spiking their insulin. But strangely dairy even though it’s very low glycemic index, so it doesn’t spike your blood glucose. It has dramatic impact on your insulin really spikes your insulin as much as eating white bread.


Rob Pickels  39:05

Interesting. I didn’t know that. You know, Trevor, something that you pointed out is, let’s say we take an equal amount of sugar and strawberry are really any fruit that’s out there. They’re not equal, right? Because that sugar has very high density of sugar of the simple sugars of the stuff that we’re talking about being bad. But whenever we have fruit, it’s almost hard to overeat fruits and vegetables. It’s hard to overeat because of the water because of the starch because of the you know, on digestible components of that. Exactly.


Trevor Connor  39:35

This is exactly what the glycemic load was getting at it’s how much would you normally eat and you’re not going to eat a lot because of everything that you’re saying.


Grant Holicky  39:42

Even the uptake of fructose happens differently in your body with or without fiber present. And that is a really big key to so if you’re having that fructose without fiber, high fructose corn syrup and a lot of cases, how your body puts that to fat, how it takes it up and puts it to fat. Totally different Then when you have it with fiber well, and


Rob Pickels  40:01

the reason for that fructose, I don’t, we can go down a rabbit hole on this. I’ll try to keep it quick. But fructose is really, really different because it’s metabolized directly in the liver and can only be metabolized in the liver. And there’s nothing that really really limits the metabolism of it. So that’s where the fiber comes into this, right? Because that can slow down the situation. But that’s why fructose can lead to a lot of lipogenesis a lot of fat creation, because you create a situation where the liver glycogen stores are full, and you’re bringing in more fructose, what’s the liver going to do with it, it’s going to turn it into fat, that’s the only other way it can store process and we’ll do


Trevor Connor  40:37

one of two things will either convert it to fat, or it will convert it to lactate and then pump lactate into the blood. And this is why kids that eat a lot of sugar at perpetually high lactate levels in their blood, and they also have fatty liver disease. So this is why it’s saying we can do a whole episode on this and we probably should. But when you are talking simple sugars, as you said, we want to differentiate this look at that glycemic load fruits and vegetables are different. But when you’re getting those simple sugars from processed foods, the health impacts, it’s great for performance. health impacts are horrible.


Rob Pickels  41:10

So let’s hear from a researcher who’s done a lot of study in this area on how carbohydrate can actually maybe push people into an unhealthy situation. And that’s Doctor notes from Episode 46.


Trevor Connor  41:23

What most athletes need to know is that most of us are recreational athletes and a recreational athletes can do all he needs to do or she needs to do on a high fat diet. The only exceptions are the elite athletes who clearly may need carbohydrates to perform optimally in events lasting let’s say from a minute or two to two or three hours. And they may benefit by eating more carbohydrates. The reason I stress this is recreational athletes are much more likely to be insulin resistant and overweight. And if you’re insulin resistant, you are heading for diabetes if you need a high carbohydrate diet, so learn from my experience, I ate a high carbohydrate diet for 33 years, and I could not outrun the bad effects of the bad diet. So eat a very healthy diet with lots of healthy fats and healthy proteins and minimal carbohydrates. And if you’re insulin resistant, you will be healthy or your life and you’ll avoid all these chronic diseases of lifestyle.


Grant Holicky  42:17

So what Dr. Noakes is talking about is the dangers of simple sugars in terms of the big diet, but we need to talk about nutrition on the whole. And we need to look at this a little bit. And this is one of Trevor’s so boxes, so let’s just get him going on this right away.


Trevor Connor  42:34

Are you sure you want to do this? I


Grant Holicky  42:35

want to do this,


Rob Pickels  42:36

Trevor? The ball is on the tee. Yep, no, now I’m


Grant Holicky  42:39

going to step back, step back. So


Trevor Connor  42:41

I think the analogy I’m Canadian I play cricket, is I’m supposed to hit a home run off of this. So what I’m actually going to do is take a big bat and just like pound this ball into the ground and beat it to death. Perfect. So get ready. This is yeah, one of my soapbox is because first of all, we’ve been talking a lot about sports nutrition. And when you go to sports nutrition, it is carbohydrates avoid fat and protein or a certain amount of protein. But it’s all about macronutrient ratios. And just to clarify, macronutrient ratio is the mix of carbohydrates to protein to fat. So that’s what we’re talking about. We’re talking about macronutrient ratios. But I have an issue that the nutrition world in general focuses on these and you commonly hear the conversation is a high carbohydrate diet good for you or bad for you as a high fat diet good or bad for you. And I think that’s a mistake, I think is one of the biggest mistakes we make in the nutrition world. So an example that I love to give is when people come to me and say, well, carbohydrates are really bad for you look at Skittles, because they’re really high in carbohydrate. So I go, Well, that’s great. So broccoli is horrible for you, too. And I go, how can you say that and I go, Well, Skittles are a carbohydrate. Broccoli is a carbohydrate. So if you’re saying carbohydrates are bad for you, you’re saying broccoli is bad for you. It’s a ridiculous thing to say. Same thing. It drives me nuts where I see people get on a ketogenic diet and go, Oh, this is really healthy. I use stick of butter every day. I’m gonna fill you in a little secret, and I’ll send you the research if you want. But I don’t think you need research for this one. Eating a stick of butter every day is not healthy for you. And this is what happens when we focus on macronutrient ratios instead of saying we’re trying to eat food here. And what are healthy foods? What are unhealthy foods? Broccoli I’m going to make the argument is healthy for you. It’s a carbohydrate, Skittles are unhealthy for you. It’s called carbohydrate. Butter. Not so great. It’s a fat. Avocados is a fat, it’s healthy for you. So we can keep going like this. You really need to focus on the foods and we’ve lost that.


Rob Pickels  44:44

Well let’s throw back almost 100 episodes to Episode 126 Where Julia young really discusses sort of the need between macro and micronutrients.


Julie Young  44:54

As you said that, Trevor it reminded me I have a client that you’ve been on it for, probably Gosh six month or so, but a plant based diet needs totally convinced it’s the way to go. But you know, I think it’s back to your point like it’s more than those macronutrients. It’s the micronutrients. And those are so those are like the most valuable players. And he is just, he’s starving all the time. But he’s in he’s just like, ravenous and can’t get enough to eat and but he’s convinced it’s the right thing for him. So I agree with you, I think there’s too much focus on the macronutrients. And I also think we really want to think in absolutes, and it’s kind of easier, like, Oh, I’m just gonna do all this or all that. And, and I think we always need to think of context and like, what are our goals, they think of, kind of this whole high fat diet trend. And, you know, if we think about like, it was really initiated by the ultra runners and their, their demands are so different than a road cyclists, for example, where that endurance, that ultra endurance runner is typically running their events at that, you know, aerobic pace is relying on those fats, whereas the road cyclists is hitting every intensity level, known demand, and they need to be able to be flexible in terms of accessing those fuels. So I think it is it’s so easy to want this one size fits all type diet, and I think it’s, it’s confusing right now, there’s so much information out there and kind of conflicting information, nutrition, can become an obsession. And I think it’s, again, it’s important to figure out individually what works best for you. And based on your goals. And, you know, I agree, like they’re, you know, not all carbohydrates are created equally. And you can make better choices, I think, you know, in terms of trying to get faster, trying to make good choices, and everything in moderation. So you can, you know, fuel your body so you can train harder to get faster. And I think oftentimes, we get a little sidetracked with so much focus on nutrition, of course, it’s important, but at the end of the day, it’s it’s filling your body well, so you can train harder and recover better. And that’s going to make you faster.


Grant Holicky  47:02

Well, and I mean, this is a product of research a little bit. I mean, I hate to say it that way. I mean, we’re all do research or love our research here. But research tends to put everything in very quantifiable places, right? This is the amount of fat this is the amount of protein this the amount of this. And as you’re saying, Trevor, we lose sight of what is that? What food is that? What else is in the food? And I’ve said it a bunch of times, but I’m really big on fiber. And it’s super important to have fiber in our diet, maybe not right before we go race, but we need to have fiber in our diet. So what are those carbohydrates we’re taking in? What do they look like that fiber in them? Because we need fiber? And most of our population is way below on that? What are the vitamins in it? What are the minerals in it? What are we getting out of this food, beyond just the fueling molecules that are composed within it. And that’s a big part of the puzzle here. And we want to simplify everything we it’s so much easier to sell on that on TV or radio when we say low carb or high carb or whatever. But this again, comes right back to what you’re saying. What’s the difference between nutrition health and fueling?


Rob Pickels  48:08

Yeah, I think if we go really big picture on this, and we just look at populations. I think that there are healthy populations across the world that have very different diets from each other. But maybe the commonality is the fact that it’s unprocessed and natural. They’re eating whole foods. You know, it goes back to say the eating an orange versus orange juice. At the end of the day. If we stop kidding ourselves. I think that we all kind of know the difference between what’s actually healthy out there. And, you know, maybe maybe that TV dinner that says, you know, the healthiest thing in the world because it’s from healthy choice isn’t actually a healthy choice.


Trevor Connor  48:45

Now you’re helping me beat that softball into the ground. We’re just so you’re whacking bowling. So this is a good place to throw in a segment from Colby Pierce and Episode 83, where he possibly had a bigger soapbox about this than I did.


Colby Pearce  49:01

I think cycling sports in general have a massive double standard that astoundingly hypocritical. And it kind of pisses me off a little bit if I went into a 711. And I was just a quote normal human, because I’m not you know this, but I’m a superhero because I wear spandex. But if I was a normal person who had, you know, job, worked in a cubicle, that kind of thing. And I went to 711 and came out with a box of cake frosting and three gate arrays and a Snickers bar and a KitKat you’d be like, Why are you eating that crap, but for some reason, it’s acceptable for us to eat these in the middle of a 50 mile ride. I should back up if you were a conscientious person who believed in whole food diets, you know, eating things that you could find on a forest floor on a farm, you would be like that is the worst food you could possibly eat is hyper processed bike racers triathletes, sportsmen, we all eat all the foods come in plastic wrappers, they’re all hyper processed. I mean, some less than more and I whenever I eat a bar or convenience food, which is what it is, realistically, you gotta be honest. It’s a convenience food. I search for the foods that are the least processed and durable as being a great example right? At least by Here’s a great example of when they existed side by line. But I always searched for Whole Foods, I mean, eat a freaking banana. But for some reason, it’s acceptable for us to eat gels, gels or cake frosting, let’s be real, like they’re just straight up sugar, you can put fancy expensive amino acids in them and a few other things. There’s a cake frosting man, and that is not healthy. It’s not healthy for your teeth. And yes, the insulin response is curbed when you’re three hours into a hard bike race, but that doesn’t excuse all the other problems that being concentrated packets of sugar cause you Now ultimately, you got to put fuel in the tank to run the drag racer, I get that. But they make things like purple potatoes and basmati rice, Alan published a whole cookbook on delicious real food alternatives you can put in your pocket. So I think if you’re talking about training the gut to handle things like 74 grams of refined table sugar, and have fun with that. I don’t think that’s I think that’s a fool’s errand. To be brutally honest, anyone who thinks that they need to do that for sport is, even if you’re making a lot of money as a professional triathlete or cyclist, kind of doing it wrong, in my opinion, your there will be a cost for that the human body is not a machine, we don’t pour sugar down a hole endlessly and not expect consequences. Now, I sound like a total soapbox preacher, here, I was a pro cyclist air quotes for years. And I ate lots of gels and lots of bars. So I get it. Now, just to be clear, like I still race my bike, I still ride my bike quite a bit for someone who you know, isn’t paid to do it, that’s eight to 12 hours a week, plus some gym and occasional big weeks on top of that, unless I’m literally dying, I will not need a gel for the rest of my life, I will never have another highly processed energy bar again, period done. I don’t put sugar mix in my bottles. Even if I’m doing old route, which is 35 hours rotting in one week. You just don’t want that stuff.


Trevor Connor  51:40

So the issue that we run into, or maybe this is a good thing when we’re talking about performance is performance based foods are really simplified down to those macronutrients. When you’re taking a gel when you’re getting a sports drink. It’s really just carbohydrates. There’s very little else in there except for maybe some electrolytes. So again, we’ve already kind of beat this to death, talking about carbohydrates, which is one of the macronutrients that can be good for performance. But I think the point that we’re trying to make is when you are talking about health, you need to get out of that mindset. And you need to focus on what are the the foods I’m eating get to something that’s a little more natural, because performance based foods are generally not in any way natural at all. So I think this is a good point to hear from Petter vac arch. And I know I’ve mispronounced that. My apologies. This is from Episode 112, where he talks about digestive issues that he started having because of too much simple sugars and how he’s getting to trying to eat more naturally.


Petr Vakoc  52:41

Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do. Because like, based on my experience, I’m not 100% Sure, but I believe it’s mainly the high amount of fructose that I consume during the races, or even during the hard trainings, which is the main cause of my digestive issues. But I think in general, like eating so many carbs, and especially so much of simple sugars, so this is a perfect time to cut most of it and focus on eating real food, which also has the benefit of filling you more I would say because now probably for most of the people, the training volume is quite limited. And the intensity as well as there are no no real ghosts on the horizon, an opportunity to give the body a little bit of a break and opportunity to heal up, I would say some of the damage that that’s caused by the nutrition that’s necessary for the for the highest performance. So for me it is just to eat as much food in the natural forms and limit the sugars as much as possible. I still consumed some around some of the more intensive trainings, but also what I tried to do an hour just use maltodextrin instead of the glucose fructose combination to really cut the fructose and see if if that’s the case. And if it helps, and yeah, at the moment with like the generally very healthy nutrition that I’m trying to follow. Now I have the benefit will be also I would say some longer term healing effect on on the gut, and hopefully less digestive issues when we are back in the racing times.


Grant Holicky  54:40

I love this. This is a little bit off the topic of what we’ve been going but you know, there’s really really good research out there on recovery food, right and everybody talks about having your recovery drink your recovery shake or how important this is. There’s research out there that basically says, you know that Windows ridiculous doesn’t really matter. You’re going to eat a full meal Later that night, yeah, great, awesome, you’re good. This stuff that you need the electrolytes, the protein, the carbohydrate, the fat. If you’re eating well balanced meals, you’re going to find a lot of the things that you need to recover from hard effort during the hard efforts a little bit different story. But we need to get back to like real food man.


Rob Pickels  55:25

Yeah, and I think that you just brought up a really great point grant that I want to emphasize, if we just focus on a diet of things that we know are natural, that we assume are healthy based on just common sense. And we eat a variety of things. You know, Trevor, what I’m hearing from you is that the macros, the balance, all of that is just going to work itself out, right? That if we focus our whole life on pasta, we’re going to be out of whack. We eat sports, drinks, and gels all the time, we’re going to be out of whack. Hey, you know what, eat some chicken, sometimes eat some salads, sometimes eat some fish, eat some fruits, eat some vegetables. If we do that day in and day out, meal in and meal out, then we don’t have to stress so much about exactly the number of calories, exactly the number of B 12 that we get, because we’re going to be getting it in the amount that our body needs.


Trevor Connor  56:14

So I think as we come out of this conversation about eating foods versus focusing on macronutrient ratios, this is a great place to throw in another segment from Episode 173, where we hear from Dr. Noakes talking about the health issues with Ultra processed foods.


Dr. Timothy Noakes  56:34

In the last 100 years, we’ve gone through this ultra processed food highly industrialized diet, which is completely different to what we’d ever eaten before. And the problems arise when you start eating highly addictive foods and highly addictive foods include refined carbohydrates and sugar. And that’s what swung the balance away from the our ability to control our weight. So to get back to the point, the the reason why the low carbohydrate diet works very well for some people, not for everyone, but for some people, and by and large, a majority of people is because they’re insulin resistant, and they hyper secrete this hormone insulin, I suspect there are many other hormonal abnormalities. And it’s this abnormal hormonal milieu that causes them to be perpetually hungry. And so they over consume calories, regardless of how motivated they are. They just can’t stop eating, I once interviewed a guy who had lost 400 pounds weight. And I said, Tell me what was your condition when you ate 620 pounds or something. And he said, I was perpetually hungry, I could eat a full meal. And within within half an hour, I’d want to eat another meal. And that’s the reality. So in my opinion, weight control is about making sure that you get rid of your crave food cravings. And a lot of those food cravings are sugar addictions or addictions to other Ultra processed foods. And so there’s a whole body of evidence rising now that this ultra processed foods high sugar, high refined carbohydrates that have upset the brain. And now the brain can’t calculate accurately, the calories in calories out balance. And so as a consequence, you tend to put on weight. Now for those people who have a sugar addiction, perhaps a bit of carbohydrate addiction, it’s very clear that the best diet for them is one that restricts the foods to which they are addicted. And those generally is carbohydrates and sugar, and ultra processed foods. And once they take Ultra processed foods out of their diet, they find that they’re not hungry all the time. And they can eat less frequently. And it’s much easier for them to fast for 16 or 18 hours. And their weight loss becomes much easier for me because I have type two diabetes, I have to be wary about the carbohydrate content of the diet. Because I can’t assimilate carbohydrates. I can’t cope with it. And my glucose goes out of control so that for other health reasons i i restrict the vegetables and the carbohydrate containing vegetables particularly. So I think what’s happened is that we are saying it’s low carbohydrate. And for people with diabetes, it’s clearly low carbohydrate is very important. But for the person who is carbohydrate tolerant, it’s not that cutting the carbohydrate that’s important. It’s cutting the ultra processed foods and eating real foods and energy dense foods you described. And that’s what we’re going to come with. I think in the end, we’re going to realize that the carbohydrates are toxic for a proportion of the population. But the bigger problem is the lack of nutrient density in the ultra processed foods and of course, the addictive nature of those foods. So I think in the end, we will come to an agreement that that what we thought was the problem with eating too much carbohydrate. It’s not it’s eating foods that are not nutrient dense, and they’re Ultra processed. And the focus really needs to shift away from focusing. It’s just the carbohydrates to saying no, it’s ultra processed foods that you gotta love, and you got to replace them with nutrient dense food.


Rob Pickels  1:00:14

For many of us in North America, the road racing season is winding down, you can test your end of Season fitness with fast talk labs, just scheduling inside Advanced Test with us here inside test results will reveal your VO two Max up to date training zones, anaerobic threshold, carb Max fat Max VLA Max, then it will suggest a path forward for better training and fitness. Learn more at fast talk So I want to follow up on something that Dr. Noakes was really emphasizing at the end of that, and that’s nutrient density being one of the most important drivers of factors that we should be choosing. Yeah, this


Trevor Connor  1:00:54

is a really important one to me as well. So, you know, sorry to jump on another soapbox. But my two big ones are foods over macronutrient ratios, and then focusing on the nutrient density. So we’re talking about the micronutrients as your vitamins, your minerals, but there’s more, a lot more than just the vitamins and minerals that we know. And they get lumped into all these categories like polyphenols and these terms that if you ask scientists what they really mean, it’s all these things we haven’t classified yet. There are a ton of nutrients that our bodies need. And getting that nutrient density is really important. I am a big believer that hunger signals are not an on off switch. We’re not just hungry, and anything will satisfy it. Our bodies are usually hungry for something. And it’s not just calories, it’s often nutrients. And so if you eat something, that’s Ultra processes, Dr. Noakes was just talking about that has low nutrient density, your body’s gonna go great, I’ll store all those calories. Thank you very much, but


Grant Holicky  1:01:51

I’m hungry again.


Trevor Connor  1:01:52

But you didn’t give me what I need. Right? And this is why you can hear about people go into McDonald’s putting down 1000 calories and going I’m still hungry.


Grant Holicky  1:02:00

Right, right. And I think, you know, listening to your body, getting an idea of what it wants, it’s going to tell you the cravings are there for a reason, right? When you drink a glass of water, and it suddenly tastes good, drink more water, I mean, your body’s going to tell you some of these things. But at the same time, we evolved to get the big hit of calories whenever we can. So those fats and those simple sugars come along, we’re going to eat the heck out of them. Because body doesn’t know when it’s going to get those again. Now we live in this world that we’re in, so we can get it whenever we want. But our body hasn’t caught up with that world yet. Our evolution has not caught up with that world yet. So we need to be really careful about those pieces that


Trevor Connor  1:02:43

you bring up a really good thing because I hear people all the time say why are all the things that are bad for me? Why do they taste it tastes that way, there’s a simple explanation. So the two things that humans crave the most are sodium and sugar. Tell me about it. We do as we talked about brain cannot survive without sugar. So we do need it. Our bodies can’t survive without salt. But when we were evolving, both were very rare and hard to find. So we evolved so that when we encountered them, we can go on full, it’s just passed by, right, right. I’m eating this, I’m eating this right now. So we ate it just very sparingly. And often there was a long period of time between them. This is the first time we have salt and sugar so readily available, and our bodies don’t know how to handle having so much. So I think before we move on from nutrient density, this is really worth offering. We created a chart where we took the different food groups so basically took the top 20 foods and each food group and then rank them on their nutrient density. And this chart is actually up on episode 173 on the web page if you want to see it, but I just want to give you the order from most nutrient dense foods to least nutrient dense foods. So top of the list, not surprising vegetables, then seafood, then fruits, then lean meats, then hard boiled eggs. Now we’re getting to the the lower level of the chart where you are basically having less nutrient dense foods, legumes, starchy roots, whole milk, whole grains, and then finally nuts and seeds,


Rob Pickels  1:04:25

nuts and seeds coming in last. So this was


Trevor Connor  1:04:28

ranked by calorie and the nuts and seeds actually have a lot of good nutrients in them. They’re just really calorically high


Grant Holicky  1:04:35

incredible. So I think this whole idea right of micronutrients and what we need and and we’re not going to go into all of them. There’s so many of them. But a great example on something that’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue is electrolytes or sodium, right and there’s more electrolytes in just sodium but sodium is such a hot button issue and we’ll talk about why in just a moment. But if you want to hear all about it like Sure, let’s just go back to the last episode, we just did a whole episode on this. There’s a ton of great information in there, and you’re gonna get a lot out of it. But I want to touch base just briefly on sodium because this is such a huge component in processed foods, right? I’ve had an athlete, a really high level athlete, but he was a early Pro, he didn’t have any money. He was living on canned goods and processed foods because they were cheaper, and it was a little bit easier to get and he was working and all this stuff. His sodium intake was so high during his training, and during his just everyday diet, he was having to take salt tabs for Olympic distance triathlon, like that’s off the chart, you don’t need that much. And Rob, you’re mentioning this about heavy assault sweaters, right, and how that plays into the equation too.


Rob Pickels  1:05:49

Yeah, I think oftentimes, people who claim to be a salty sweater and and I’m certainly one of them, and I fall into this trap, you know, salt crystals on my helmet straps. On my jersey, my wife took a picture of my bib shorts, because I had like a Rorschach inkblot, you know, but oftentimes, the people that sweat the most salt also have extremely high salt diets. And if you manipulate the diet, again, that diet being the common things that they’re eating, right, going back to that earlier definition, then you also see their sweat, sodium change as well. So those things are really happening in concert, your body is just dumping the sodium out any way that it can, you know, through the sweat is a way to remove a lot of it. So 100%, people need to be thinking about what they’re taking in in their daily diet. And when we do have these processed foods, the sodium is probably high. That’s probably why you’re a salty sweater. Think about this as a holistic full circle situation.


Trevor Connor  1:06:42

And this is a good place to throw to all the way back to Episode 15. Dr. Stacy Sam’s talking about the dangers of too much sodium chloride,


Dr Stacy Simms  1:06:51

because sodium is in different compounds. So most people associate sodium with sodium chloride, and they think that table salt and that kind of stuff. If you take too much sodium chloride, the chloride ion dissociates in the intestine, and changes, the membrane potential allows intestinal cells open up releasing endotoxins. And this can contribute to an increase in core temperature rise because it’s a toxin, and also contribute to GI distress and reduces the integrity of the contractile mechanism of the intestine. The other aspect of taking in too much sodium is with water, they’re sodium. So if you’re ingesting too much sodium, then water is going to come to the sodium that’s in the digestive tract. So it’s a fine balance. And this is where a lot of triathletes, and to some extent, age group, cyclists go awry when they start taking salt tablets, when they’re taking sodium chloride into taking high doses. And chloride, people are trying to take one to three grams of sodium to match sweat losses. And they start doing that it’s way too much. The upper in that you should take per hour as a heavy sweater would probably be 1000 milligrams.


Trevor Connor  1:08:01

So we’re not going to go too much further into electrolytes and electrolyte laws, because we quite literally just did a whole episode on that. And that was our last episode. So I’d say check that out with Dr. Kenefick. The only last thing I’m going to mention here is we talk about the needs for sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, the various electrolytes, but what’s actually even more important, is the ratio. And there are 1000s of studies showing the importance of the ratio of these nutrients to one another. So one key ratio is sodium to potassium, typical Western diet is about two to one sodium to potassium, that healthy human diet should be about one to five to one to 10. So we are way out of balance too much sodium, not enough potassium. And again, if you look at most sports drinks, they’re gonna be very much on that western side. So there’s another example of performance versus nutrition. Now, the really critical one is calcium to magnesium, which really should be right about two to one, you go too far below too far above all sorts of negative health impacts. So this is where you have to be careful about just supplementing, you have a lot of people that go, oh, well, I need more calcium. So I’m going to take a calcium supplement. In America, women tend to be about four to one because of the calcium supplements are taking. And there’s a huge amount of research showing the negative impacts on that. And that’s why women have caught up to men and heart disease.


Grant Holicky  1:09:24

So you just hit on supplements, right? And we’ve been talking so much about real food versus processed food. This is where real food versus supplements comes into play, too. We get so caught up in this idea of what we need to supplement our diet with. We need this. We need this. We need this. Well, there’s two huge dangers to that one is one I don’t think people many people think about. I’m terrified of supplements. And yes, every doper since the beginning of time has blamed their positive on a supplement, but it’s also actually happened. So I don’t take a multivitamin. I’m not going down that road. I’m going to try to alter my diet. it so then I’m getting everything that I need. And that makes for a lot of fiddling because you change, you get older and things like that. But that idea of don’t just depend on those supplements, those things that might be completely performance oriented, might not have huge health benefits, right. And Rob will argue me on caffeine and caffeine has huge performance benefits, though in moderation, some health benefits, also in above moderation, which is not very hard to get above moderation these days, some really, really dangerous repercussions for individuals, My blood pressure’s up through the roof when I was drinking caffeine, so I backed off that caffeine. So all of this stuff is really dangerous. And it brings us to a really good piece from Joe Friel, from Episode 65. Talking about avoiding supplements, and really taking the time to eat real food.


Joe Friel  1:10:53

Yeah, basically, I think athletes should avoid all those supplements. There’s a significant amount of research that shows that some of the ones that are relatively benign, actually have some doping products involved in them also be something because they’re produced on the same production lines, as some of these other supplements are illegal for athletes to use. And so I think athletes put themselves at risk of being found positive for something that that’s primarily for the, for the pros, I suggest they just not use these things. And quite honestly, some of the stuff that we’ve all we thought for years is very beneficial, is actually been proven to be not beneficial at all, and finance that in some cases, have been proven to be detrimental to performance. take vitamin E, for example, vitamin B, there’s some, there’s some vitamin D studies there, don’t show very good things about fish oil, which we’ve talked about for decades as being healthy are now being shown to have no benefit at all, and go down the line that this it’s really doesn’t come down to supplements, it comes down to diet. That’s what it’s all about eating real food, not taking pills to satisfy whatever you think your needs may be because athletes are usually wrong about what their needs are. And they’re just guessing taking things that are totally useless. And in some cases may be detrimental knowledge performance, but also the tested for dopey.


Trevor Connor  1:12:13

So I just want to emphasize something that you brought up and also Joe brought up there actually can be a bit of a danger to supplements. And this is not one study, there have been multiple studies that have shown that taking a multivitamin actually correlates with increased all cause mortality, and decreased longevity, which I’m sure a bunch of people hear in that and go and say what, and there’s two reasons for this one is, again, it’s correlational. And generally, people that take multivitamins tend to eat an unhealthy diet, because they’re compensating. But the other side of it is it goes back to what I was just talking about the importance of the ratios, the balance, and multivitamins are not balanced.


Grant Holicky  1:12:56

Now they’re quite off the chart, and it can lead to real bad things.


Trevor Connor  1:13:01

All right, we’ve been going a while here. And I gotta admit, I could keep going. This is a fascinating, fun conversation. So we will have more episodes where we talk about nutrition. But let’s wrap this one up. So I think this is where we get to our take homes or recommendations. And Rob, why don’t we start with


Rob Pickels  1:13:19

you? Yeah, for me, it’s it’s a take home that I have often right? And that’s everything should be done with purpose. If you’re going out for a bike ride or a run, you should have a purpose to that. Is it an interval day? Is it a base day, and the same thing should be applied here as well, there are times where eating with performance in mind is the right thing to do. It’s not the right thing to do all the time, you can’t use a hammer to fix every problem in your life. But nutrition is probably the thing that we ought to be focusing on the majority of the time just like bass in our training, majority of the time. So just be mindful of why you’re putting that thing into your body. What is it doing for you? Is it there to help you do the interval as hard as you can to win the race? Or is it there to help you be as generally healthy as you possibly can?


Grant Holicky  1:14:06

Well, and I think that leads me to my take home is that I think it’s really dangerous. We tend to not think holistically about our athletes and about athletics in general. We get very myopic in terms of what is it going to be good for performance or what is going to be good for fueling. But if you’re not healthy, who cares? You have so much of your life that’s lived outside of the athletic realm, and a bad diet is gonna affect your happiness, your ability to perform your energy levels, outside of sport, all of these things and there’s just way too much at play. To put that at risk. And the other big thing that I want to add in our take home my take home is the individual ality of all of this. You really need to listen to your body. You really need to pay attention to what you feel well on what works for your daily diet, what makes you feel good, and hold on to those pieces and Trevor mentioned this really early on in the episode that we do three day diet logs to get a really good idea of what somebody’s diet is. I cannot beg people enough to do this for yourself two days of a week, and one weekend day, you’ll be shocked at what you eat.


Trevor Connor  1:15:17

So I think my take home going back to the analogy of just beaten a softball under the ground, there’s just a little bit of the cover left, and I just think I want to finish destroying this.


Rob Pickels  1:15:30

Is this a TV and a field with a sledge hammer? Oh, no, that was a fax machine and a field with a sledgehammer. We’ve


Trevor Connor  1:15:37

talked about we want to do video of this podcast. So I think the video for this was just me beating the crap out of a softball for 10 minutes. So like, I gotta go back to what we talked about the very beginning, which is the difference in the definition between nutrition and fueling. And I almost wish instead of talking about sports nutrition, we just talked about sports fueling because it’s not nutrition. It’s not about health, it is about performance. And I hope that we’ve got the message across that if you care about your health, you need to separate these two things. There is a place for performance fueling, but it’s not even every single workout. It’s pretty infrequent through the week. All told it I just want to emphasize the rest of the time you are gonna be better off both with your performance and with life. If you focus on nutrition, and that’s getting away from carbohydrates, fats, protein and focusing more on what are healthy foods, what are unhealthy foods, and getting that nutrient density in your diet, and a little fried chicken every once in a


Grant Holicky  1:16:40

while. Amen. Everything’s about moderation.


Trevor Connor  1:16:43

softballs so beaten up and then just had to do that. Just bring it back


Grant Holicky  1:16:48

everything in a little bit of moderation. Even Swedish Fish, even


Rob Pickels  1:16:52

Swedish fish, especially Swedish Fish.


Rob Pickels  1:16:57

That was another episode of Fast Talk. Subscribe to Fast Talk wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcasts. Be sure to leave us a rating and a review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual.   As always, we love your feedback. Join the conversation at to discuss each and every episode. Become a member of Fast Talk Laboratories at and become a part of our education and coaching community.


Rob Pickels  1:17:24

For Dr. John Hawley, Ted King, Joey Rosskopf, Phill Gaimon, Dr. Brian Carson, Dr. Asker Jeukendrup, Colby Pearce, Petr Vakoc, Dr. Timothy Noakes, Julie Young, Joe Friel, and Dr Stacy Simms. Grant Hollicky, and Trevor Connor, I’m Robert Pickels. Thanks for listening.