Q&A on Thanksgiving Mind Games, Jan Ullrich Effect, and Food as Medicine

We gathered some of our favorite nutrition-themed questions on the psychology of food, the advantages of eating before or after a big meal for weight management, winter weight, and much more.

Thanksgiving dinner

American Thanksgiving marks the beginning of Eat-O-Rama season in the U.S., a nearly month-long eating binge from late November through the New Year, when all rules fly out the window. See a cookie. Eat it. See a pie. Eat it. See an entire turkey leg. Eat it!

We thought it would be a perfect time to talk nutrition with Trevor, a proponent of The Paleo Diet, and Ryan Kohler, who once said on this program that kids should just eat ice cream all the time… or something like that.

We gathered some of our favorite nutrition-themed questions for the occasion, so let’s dig in like it’s a bowl of mashed potatoes.

Thanksgiving mind games

This first question we’ve saved for this special occasion. Brenda Castile from Essex, Connecticut, writes:

“Thanksgiving! I love it. I love the food, I love the drinks, I love the desserts. I love being around family. All of which means I’m exposed to calories and germs, a cyclist’s worst nightmare. And, as usual, it comes just a couple of weeks before I want to be at my best for the finale of ‘cross season.

So, how can I have my cake and eat it too? How does someone who takes the sport seriously, as I do, but who also has the perspective on ‘normal’ life to know that I shouldn’t boycott a special gathering that I love for a chance at a dinky medal at ‘cross nationals this year.

Am I just playing mind games with myself? Can I splurge for a day, do my best to limit my exposure to germs and other creepy crawlies, and then get straight back on the wagon the next day, no worse for wear? How do I keep the mind games from making me feel guilty and exposed right when I want to be buckling down for a chance at amateur glory?”

Binge before or after?

This next question comes from Sid Merriman in Dover, Delaware. He writes:

“Simple question: before or after? Thanksgiving is a time for feasting and turkey trots, but do I feast first and then trot, or trot then feast?

My wife and I debate the topic of timing every year. I want to get my turkey trot in first, then binge like there’s no tomorrow—which means she’s pushing back the Thanksgiving meal until late afternoon to accommodate my schedule. She wants me to eat first, so that I get to the turkey trot later in the day to work off that ginormous plate of pecan pie—which means I’m pushing her to have the Thanksgiving meal at or before noon so I have time to digest 8,000 calories before running my brains out. Who’s right, me or my wife?”

Avoiding the Jan Ullrich effect

This question comes from Casey Hickock in Bend, Oregon. He writes:

“When I was first getting into cycling in the late 1990s, I remember watching the Tour de France on TV when Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich were battling. When it came to Jan, a topic of conversation that always seemed to pop up was about his weight, and how much he would put on in the off-season and how hard it would be for him to lose it the following season.

Well, I know how the man must have felt. Leaving everything else from that era aside, can you help me avoid the seemingly inevitable weight gain of winter—I slow down, the food and beer seem to get richer and more plentiful, and the weight gain speeds up. Every year it gets harder to shed the weight come spring. Surely, you’ve heard this before or even dealt with it yourself. I imagine discipline is key here… but besides that, what can I do to avoid this up and down cycle year after year?”

Food as medicine

This question comes from Brad With. He writes:

“I recently read an article by Trevor where he discusses health issues, inflammation, and sickness during his cycling training. I’ve raced bikes for about 18 years in Colorado. I have been plagued with frequent colds (8-10 a year), digestive issues, and Celiac disease. I have also had a bout of viral postural orthostatic tachycardia (POTS) syndrome. I also had a rare and serious pneumonia that almost took my life in 2012.

I always felt that there was possibly a major factor contributing to these problems. I am seriously considering whether it’s the food I’m eating. I’m trying to find some evidence that a drastic change in diet could contribute to improving my health. Paleo is one of the avenues I would like to try. I would like to find other (anecdotal) evidence that Paleo has improved the health of others.”

Winter ride food

This question comes from Sebastian Fleischman in Brunswick, Maine. He writes:

“Last year I moved from Georgia to Maine in the middle of winter. I didn’t ride all that much, but when I did I always had trouble finding foods that were easy to eat when it was 50 degrees colder than I was used to.

There’s the practical side of the foods—how to unwrap something with giant gloves on, and what won’t freeze in my pockets. But I’ve gotta think there are other caloric considerations, given that my body is working to ride and stay warm simultaneously.

What suggestions do you have for winter ride food that take into account all these things?”

References

  • Alicia, F., Kristine, B., Maud, M., Mélina, B., Graham, F., Valérie, J., … David, T. (2020). Does exercising before or after a meal affect energy balance in adolescents with obesity? Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, 30(7), 1196–1200. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.numecd.2020.04.015
  • Chacko, E. (2016). Exercising Tactically for Taming Postmeal Glucose Surges. Scientifica, 2016, 4045717. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/4045717
  • Farah, N. M. F., & Gill, J. M. R. (2013). Effects of exercise before or after meal ingestion on fat balance and postprandial metabolism in overweight men. British Journal of Nutrition, 109(12), 2297–2307. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1017/s0007114512004448

Episode Transcript

Chris Case 00:12
Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of Fast Talk your source for the science of endurance performance. I’m Chris Case sitting down today with coach Ryan Kohler and coach Trevor Connor. At least in the United States, maybe in Canada is true too, but Thanksgiving in America marks the beginning of what I have dubbed eat-o-rama season. It is a time when people just go hog wild for almost a month until Christmas is over with until New Year’s is over with. If you see a cookie stick it in your mouth. See a turkey leg stick it in your mouth, see a pie eat it. Right? Therefore, I think it’s a perfect time to have a nutrition-themed q&a episode with you two guys since you know a lot about nutrition. Presumably, you like to eat, Right?

Trevor Connor 01:12
Ryan is kind of shrugging, saying sometimes.

Chris Case 01:15
So here we go. We gathered up some of our favorite nutrition-themed questions. We’ve been saving some of these for a while. Time to dig in.

Trevor Connor 01:32
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How To Handle Your Eating Around Thanksgiving?

Chris Case 02:30
Let’s start off with one that’s specific to Thanksgiving. It comes from Brenda Castiel in Essex, Connecticut, and she writes “Thanksgiving! I love it. I love the food. I love the drinks, I love the desserts. I love being around family, all of which means I’m exposed to calories and germs a cyclist’s worst nightmare. And as usual, it comes just a couple of weeks before I want to be at my best for the finale of ‘cross season. So how can I have my cake and eat it too? How does someone who takes the sport seriously, as I do, but who also has the perspective on normal life to know that I shouldn’t boycott a special gathering that I love for a chance at a dinky metal at ‘cross nationals this year? Am I just playing mind games with myself? Can I splurge for a day, do my best to limit my exposure to germs and other creepy crawlies. And then get straight back on the wagon the next day, no worse for wear? How do I keep the mind games from making me feel guilty and exposed right when I want to be buckling down for a chance at amateur glory.” Ryan, I’ll start with you here.

Ryan Kohler 03:48
Brenda talks about this dinky metal and amateur glory and then also talks about spending time with family. So we’ve got to set our priorities. I think that’s my takeaway here. I mean part of it is we have done a great job at demonizing calories from certain types of foods and certain you know, I’m sure a lot of these foods if we listed out the things on the Thanksgiving table, we’d see a lot of quote-unquote bad foods. And I think that’s what gets us to think about this mindset. But as an amateur racer, you’re gonna see family, have fun, eat some good food. You should enjoy the food. Do you want to go and eat seven chicken legs and a whole pie? Probably not that much

Chris Case 04:41
If you are eating chicken on Thanksgiving you are doing it wrong.

Ryan Kohler 04:45
Oh Turkey. Not Chicken, turkey.

Chris Case 04:47
Thank you.

Ryan Kohler 04:47
Whatever the other white meat.

Chris Case 04:51
That’s pork.

Trevor Connor 04:51
My first Canadian Thanksgiving living in the US. I was living in Boston. Nobody would celebrate with me, I was feeling really sad and down. So I went to Boston Market.

Chris Case 05:06
Oh God, yeah that is awful.

Trevor Connor 05:08
I bought their half chicken and sat there in Boston Market feeling incredibly homesick incredibly sad for myself eating chicken on Thanksgiving.

Chris Case 05:18
On your Thanksgiving.

Trevor Connor 05:20
The real Thanksgiving.

Chris Case 05:21
Oh sure, the real Thanksgiving. Okay, back on track Ryan, take us back on track.

Ryan Kohler 05:27
So my point being that whether it’s chicken or turkey that you’re eating, everything comes with a consequence. So you have to balance that out, if you want to do well at this amateur race coming up, then maybe you just dial it back a little bit. But I think splurging is fine. I mean, if you do it for a day, it’s fine. If the race is the next day, probably not a good idea. If the race is two or three weeks later, why not enjoy it? And I think when you’re done, don’t think of this as a bad thing. Think of it as hey, this just occurred, I’m going back to my plan now.

Chris Case 06:06
That part of the question is most fascinating to me. And I know I haven’t given you a chance to answer, Trevor, but maybe answer and answer this subsequent question that I have based on this question from Brenda, which is this mindset thing. I don’t want to call it infatuation. But you see it time and again, the guilt that endurance athletes bring upon themselves, I feel like for no good reason sometimes. And I don’t know why that is. One meal is not going to ruin a season, one cookie is not going to ruin a race what would you say to that?

Trevor Connor 06:44
So my answer to that is our bodies- this goes back to the whole homeostasis thing and, this is kind of a fun question. So I don’t want to get too deep into the science.- But our bodies like to maintain homeostasis. And there is some truth to that with weight as well. So you’re right, one meal our body is going to want to go back to the way that it’s use to. It’s not going to suddenly put on three pounds, it can’t take off. So you’re not going to get into much trouble there. So the answer I wrote here is one day is really not going to have an impact. It’s when you do the successive days. And that’s where you see people get in trouble on the holidays. It’s not just they wolf down on Thanksgiving dinner, it’s that they were binging the days before they have the Thanksgiving dinner. And the next day, they’re like, well it’s still Thanksgiving and they keep eating.

Chris Case 07:36
It’s eat-o-rama season it just continues on.

Trevor Connor 07:39
That’s where you start seeing your body going, okay, now I’m putting on weight. Now we’re going into a different mode. And that is going to have an impact on you. And it’s going to be hard to reverse that. So you have to be careful about that I always tell my athletes you have one day, enjoy it, don’t worry about it. You might wake up the next day and not like what you see on the scale. But three days later, you’re gonna be right back to where you were. And I just had that experience myself. I was just up in Canada for Canadian Thanksgiving. So we recorded this in October case anybody’s confused. So I was just up there. And actually, I was pretty good during Thanksgiving. But the following weekend, some college buddies came to visit me. And I didn’t want to make them feel uncomfortable because I’m always trying to eat well and they did not want to eat well, necessarily. So we went out to lunch the first day on the Saturday. And I just said to them this weekend, I am not eating well. So don’t worry, and then ordered lunch that even I was looking at going this is disgusting. I hope somebody sends in this question because at one but we have to have a debate whether poutine is the tastiest thing in the world or a concoction from hell. I kind of go with the ladder.

Chris Case 08:51
I cannot answer that question because I’ve never had it.

Trevor Connor 08:55
Yeah, I had a very big bowl of poutine.

Chris Case 08:59
I know it sounds gross to me.

Trevor Connor 09:01
Yep. Look that weekend, as soon as that happened, and I took the stoppers off of myself. I probably took the stoppers off a little too much by the next day It was like chips, candy, give it all to me and I could not stop eating. And then my friends left and my dad’s like, what do you have for dinner? And I’m like, I’ve been binging all weekend. Let’s order a pizza, he’s like is a large good enough? And I’m like, yeah are you getting any? I wanted an entire large pizza to myself. And yeah, this was the horrifying thing I got to the next day I flew home I stepped on my scale. I was eight pounds heavier. It was all water. And I ended up ultimately putting on like a pound and a half which will come off in the next week. So kind of where I’m going with that story is even something that disgusting, It was just two days it didn’t probably give me a heart condition. Besides that no I’m right back to my normal weight. You can handle a day or two without too much impact. And I think it’s important for endurance athletes to recognize that. When I hear people go, no, I have those days and I seem to keep putting on weight. You’re probably having a lot of those days. One day here or there and generally eating well, you’re gonna be fine.

Is Eating Before Or After Exercise Better?

Chris Case 10:22
Well, let’s move on to another question. This one comes from Sid Merriman. He’s in Dover, Delaware, and he writes, “simple question, before or after. Thanksgiving is a time for feasting and turkey trots. But do I feast first and then trot or trot then feast.” He goes on to write, “My wife and I debate the topic of timing every year, I want to get my turkey trot in first, then binge like there’s no tomorrow, which means she’s pushing back the Thanksgiving meal until late afternoon to accommodate my schedule. She wants me to eat first, so that I get to the turkey trot later in the day to work off that ginormous plate of pecan pie, which means I’m pushing her to have the Thanksgiving meal at or before noon, so I have time to digest 8000 calories before running my brains out. Who’s right? Me or my wife?” Trevor, I know you like to wade into domestic disputes all the time and act as mediator, so who’s right here?

Trevor Connor 11:34
So this one I actually spent a fair amount of time researching because I was really interested is there any science behind this of the impact of eating before or after exercise? I did the whole thought experiment in my head and I can think of a whole lot of reasons to eat before a whole lot of reasons to eat after. But I will start with these three studies that I found that will not clarify this at all.

Chris Case 12:01
Okay, great.

Trevor Connor 12:02
Because the first one effects of exercise,- I couldn’t find any for athlete’s. So this was more looking at weight management and people who are overweight, or diabetic. And so obviously somebody who has diabetes, it’s a different scenario, different case. But anyway, -so you have to hear all this with a grain of salt. But here’s the first one does exercising before or after a meal affect energy balance in adolescents with obesity. And their conclusion was, these primary results suggest exercising immediately before or after a meal produces few differences. So that was the first study the second study this called effects of exercise before or after meal ingestion on fat balance and postprandial metabolism in overweight men. And they said the present findings suggest that there may be advantages for body fat regulation and lipid metabolism exercising before. Then finally, exercising tactically for taming post-meal glucose surges. So this third one writes, the results show that a light aerobic exercise for 60 minutes or moderate activity for 20 to 30 minutes, starting 30 minutes after meal can efficiently blunt the glucose surge. So you got one study says no difference, one study that says benefits after, another study that says benefits before. So I hope we’ve answered that question.

Chris Case 13:29
Ha ha. But who’s right the man or the woman? Ryan?

Ryan Kohler 13:37
I’ve been researching this for over 10 years. The wife has always right.

Trevor Connor 13:41
Ryan is married.

Chris Case 13:44
Yes. Very good answer Ryan. I like the way you do your research, very succinct.

Ryan Kohler 13:51
I’m not arguing here. Yeah.

Chris Case 13:53
Yeah,

Trevor Connor 13:54
I’m gonna go with the man is right. I’m divorced.

Chris Case 13:58
Well, yeah I’m happy that you took it in the serious direction, Trevor, to shed no light on it. But it’s interesting that there has been plenty of research done on this is, there are so many variables at play here. The size of the meal, the type of the person, trained, untrained, we’re talking weight loss, are we talking performance? You know, there’s so much that could be asked. It’s hard to hard to answer that question. But thank you for being a bit nerdy on it.

Trevor Connor 14:27
Sure. Look, I actually wrote up some bullets of the pros and cons of each if you want to hear those.

Chris Case 14:33
I do.

Trevor Connor 14:34
And this is just kind of a thought experiment. Like I said, I looked through the research and went well, that doesn’t help at all because it says everything. And again, this wasn’t athletes, so you have to take with a grain of salt, but the argument I would have for running after the meal, so eat first, then run.

Chris Case 14:50
Assuming you weren’t going to puke up a giant turkey leg.

Trevor Connor 14:53
Yeah, that is one of the questions.

Chris Case 14:55
How long do you have to wait?

Trevor Connor 14:57
Right, can you do that? But we’ll get to that in the other arguments. But the arguments for running after. The issues with running before is you have to fuel. So you’re going to eat more through the course of the day, because you have to fuel for the event, then you do the event, then have your giant dinner. Running can make you hungrier. So that means that you might eat more at that big meal. The benefits of running after is it’s going to help you regulate insulin, and help your body to absorb that huge glucose hit that you probably hit yourself with. The argument for running before is, we all know that turkey dinner is really sedating. You don’t want to do anything after so you might not be able to run after that big meal. And exactly as you said, can you really eat 2000 or 3000 calories and then go run an event? I’m sure a lot of people would have GI issues with that.

Trevor Connor 16:02
Chris is laughing because he knows I’m saying the nice version.

Chris Case 16:06
Yeah I mean, how many porta potties are on that turkey-trot course.

Trevor Connor 16:09
I could tell you my strategy because I do this, is we have our turkey dinner up in Canada at normal dinner time. So I actually like to mostly fast that day, because I do have my fasting days. I’ll go out for a run, that actually shrinks my stomach a bit so I’m less hungry for dinner and I don’t feast as much then I don’t feel too guilty about the dinner I’m about to eat. So I’ve kind of enjoyed that and that’s what I did this year. But I think if I was going to make a suggestion, I might, if you can have long enough of time in between, I would consider if you have four or five hours to eat first.

Ryan Kohler 16:57
Hey, I’m Ryan Kohler, head coach and physiologist at Fast Talk Laboratories.

Trevor Connor 17:01
And I’m Trevor Connor, CEO of Fast Talk Labs. Between the two of us Ryan and I have over 40 years of coaching and clinical experience from juniors to Masters, national-level athletes to club riders.

Ryan Kohler 17:12
Our team at Fast Talk Laboratories is pleased to offer new solutions and services. Now you can get the same guidance and testing available to athletes at national performance centers.

Trevor Connor 17:22
No matter where you live or train our virtual performance center can be your support network to get faster, to get answers, and to get more enjoyment from your sport.

Ryan Kohler 17:32
Schedule a free console, we’ll discuss your background and recommend a path forward.

Trevor Connor 17:36
Book a coaching help session, we will help you push your thinking and find new opportunities. We can troubleshoot challenges and find solutions. Even if you’re working with a coach, we can help support you and your coach by bringing a neutral science-based perspective to your training.

Ryan Kohler 17:51
Schedule inside test you can do from anywhere in the world. We can reveal incredible insights into your personal physiology and strengths as an athlete plus next steps to improve your performance.

Trevor Connor 18:01
improve your nutrition with a consultation tailored to your needs, or create a personal race-day nutrition plan.

Ryan Kohler 18:08
We can even help you with workouts and skills we offer in-person and virtual sessions to guide key workouts or improve technique. Fast Talk Laboratories is here for you, wherever you are. See how we can help at fasttalklabs.com/solutions.

How To Stay Disciplined In The Offseason

Chris Case 18:28
All right, well, let’s move on that was a great question. Great answers. Let’s move on to another one. This one comes from Casey Hickok, he’s in Bend, Oregon. And he writes “when I was first getting into cycling in the late 1990s I remember watching the Tour de France on TV when Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich were battling. When it came to Jan, a topic of conversation that always seemed to pop up was about his weight, and how much he would put on in the offseason, and how hard it was for him to lose it the following season. Well, I know how the man must have felt, leaving everything else from that era aside, can you help me avoid the seemingly inevitable weight gain of winter? I slow down, the food and beer seem to get richer and more plentiful, and the weight gain speeds up. Every year it gets harder to shed the weight come spring. Surely you’ve heard this before or even dealt with it yourself. I imagine discipline is key here. But besides that, what can I do to avoid this up and down cycle year after year?” Let me put it this way to you Ryan. He says I imagined discipline is key here, Is discipline the only thing here?

Ryan Kohler 19:46
No, there’s a new method that I just talked about that’ll work. It’s called discipline.

Chris Case 19:51
Oh, ah, disciplinary.

Ryan Kohler 19:54
Yes. You slow down so you’re doing less training, less volume and food and beer go up. So we’re throwing that equation off. It’s clear as daylight here. So, I mean, if you don’t have the discipline, maybe try to keep some of that volume up. You could try to offset that. I mean, there’s ways you can go about this. It’s the fact that you recognize it and he knows what happens. At least he can make some adjustments there. But yeah, there’s no easy way around it. It’s discipline either do it or go through this process every year?

Chris Case 20:36
Well, let me ask you this for either of you or for both of you. Is there good reason, are there benefits to actually putting on some weight In the offseason? You’ve been running lean all year, maybe you’re getting depleted? Maybe an addition of some weight not a lot, but some is actually a good thing in the offseason?- quote, unquote, offseason winter season for most people, -when if they are outside, maybe that extra weight is actually beneficial helps with immune response, it helps with some of these underlying things that keep you healthier. Do I have that wrong?

Trevor Connor 21:20
My answer is that depends, it depends on where you’re starting from.

Chris Case 21:24
Sure.

Trevor Connor 21:24
So, if we’re talking about somebody who’s cyclist skinny.

Chris Case 21:28
Mm hmm.

Trevor Connor 21:29
Which let’s face the facts that can start to verge into the not quite healthy like being too skinny. For a lot of us, our racing weight is pretty darn low body fat percentage is pretty low. And it’s actually a stressor on the body to maintain that weight.

Chris Case 21:47
We’re talking sub 10% body weight or eight percent. Sorry.

Trevor Connor 21:54
Yeah, that also depends on what scale you’re using. But yeah, if you’re getting down to using, what most people see, using the Siri formula if you’re down in that 6-8% range, you’re pretty darn low. And yeah, put on a few pounds in the winter. It’s good to destress you a little bit, which is good. It’s not unhealthy, you’re probably actually getting back to a little healthier weight. And there’s also some benefits, like I always try to put on three or four pounds in the winter, because I spent a lot of time riding out in the cold and it helps keep me a little bit warmer. If you already have a pretty decent spare tire, no, there’s no benefit to putting on any sort of extra weight.

Chris Case 22:40
Okay, so, Trevor, back to the question here from Casey, anything other than discipline that gets people through the winter without putting on 20 pounds?

Trevor Connor 22:53
I’m really glad Ryan gave that answer. Because I really was struggling with some sort of creative, great answer to this question. And you might look at my bullets here the first thing I wrote was you said the magic word discipline. Only little thing I can offer is be really careful if you’re trying to maintain your weight better about that offseason. So you’ve just finished your previous season, you finished all your big volume training, and now you’re kind of getting off the bike and training significantly less. The fact of the matter is, it takes time for your body to adjust, your body’s still gonna be hungry like as if you’re training really hard. And some of our listeners are probably gonna go wow, I noticed this, where you notice that you’re still eating a lot, you’re not exercising as much, yet your weight isn’t changing. So why is that? Why am I not dropping weight? When you’re training hard, one of the acute adaptations is for your body to put on blood volume, because that increases stroke volume. So when you’re training really hard you will add several pounds of water weight. When you get to that offseason you stop training hard, your body actually doesn’t like to maintain that adaptation so you’ll start losing that water. This is also why a lot of really hard training cyclists talk about in the offseason, if they bend down and stand up too quickly, they can almost pass out because their blood volume has gone down so much of the blood pressure hasn’t adapted. And they actually can’t get enough blood up to the brain, if they stand up too quickly. So you might be looking at the scale and go well my weight isn’t changing. You’re right your weight isn’t changing but your body composition is because you’re actually putting on fat weight but you’re dropping water weight and then it’s later on when you start training again your body starts reading the water weight then suddenly you go wait a minute I’m four pounds heavier what happened? So you do have to be careful in that transition period, probably one of the toughest periods of time if you’re trying to maintain your weight.

How Can Diet Change Your Inflammatory Issues?

Chris Case 25:01
Very good. All right. Let’s move on to a question from Brad Withe. He writes, “I recently read an article by Trevor where he discusses health issues, inflammation and sickness during his cycling training. I’ve raced bikes for about 18 years in Colorado, I’ve been plagued with frequent colds, he says eight to 10 a year, digestive issues and celiac disease. I’ve also had a bout of viral postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. And I also had a rare and serious pneumonia that almost took my life in 2012. I always felt that there was possibly a major factor contributing to these problems. I’m seriously considering whether it’s the food I’m eating, I’m trying to find some evidence that a drastic change in diet could contribute to improving my health. Paleo is one of the avenues I would like to try. I would like to find other anecdotal evidence that paleo has improved the health of others.” Trevor, I know you have this bias inherent in you as owner and CEO of the Paleo diet, but also having studied this extensively from graduate school to today. What would your answer to Brad be?

Trevor Connor 26:23
Well, ironically, you’ve already heard me talk about this on the show. That was what convinced me of the diet as I ended my cycling career, if you want to call it that, because I was same thing, I was getting sick eight to 10 times per year. And it was just impossible to train. And when I transitioned to eating a paleo diet, I stopped getting sick. And that was one of the things that really convinced me. But let’s take the Paleo diet out of this and just talk in general about anti-inflammatory diets. And last thing I’ll say about the Paleo diet is I do think it’s an anti-inflammatory diet. Certainly, when somebody tells me they’re having these sorts of issues or getting sick that frequently, I don’t think this is always viral infections would be my guess. And I’ve read a fair amount of research on cyclists and the frequency with which they get URI, upper respiratory infections, showing that viral infections couldn’t always be detected. And some of the belief here is this is just an inflammatory response, it feels like being sick, and it’s not a response to a virus. So when he’s getting sick that frequently, when he’s having these other conditions, this to me is certainly without doing the research on it, without doing a blood profile, certainly, so far, the profile is somebody who has inflammatory issues, and would really benefit from reducing that inflammation. And diet is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to do that. So he doesn’t want to make the big change, but I think he has to. Whether it’s a paleo or another diet that seems to have anti-inflammatory properties- or shouldn’t call anti-inflammatory, but is not an inflammatory diet, -is really the way he should go. And when I wrote back to him, because he did send this email to me and I sent a response. Basically, what I said is you need to, unfortunately, make the big change, and you got to be religious for a bit. Because if you only go halfway, you might still be containing enough of the foods that are setting you off, that you’re not going to make a good judgment of that diet. So you’ve got to spend six months, being pretty darn religious, see if that improves things for you. And if it does, that’s when you can start re-adding foods that you like, and you kind of re-add them one at a time and see how your body responds. So that’s called an elimination diet. Not pleasant. But frankly, when I’m doing well, that’s all I eat all the time and actually feel great.

Chris Case 29:15
It’s a subjective thing. Yeah.

Trevor Connor 29:17
But it might be a little tough to do. But if you’re having that many issues, and yeah, you’re doing something a little tough with your diet, but you’re not getting sick all the time not having the issues you have it seems to me like it’s a pretty good trade-off. And then if that works, and really helps him then finding those things that he can still eat that he enjoys that don’t set them off is the way to go.

Chris Case 29:39
Yeah. And you think six months is the timeframe that you should try this?

Trevor Connor 29:44
That’s what we always recommend. I mean, Ryan I would love to hear what you have to say about this but I’ve seen too many people that do it for three weeks and go the diet didn’t help me.

Chris Case 29:51
Yeah, sure.

Ryan Kohler 29:55
Yeah, I fully agree with that timeline. I mean, just reading this think about what are those things that are going to promote the good health and anti-inflammatory properties as a piece of that. And it’s that nutrient density, I think we’ve talked about that quite a bit. And we know what kind of foods you get those from, it’s those colorful foods. And he definitely has some of these issues going on. I mean, with celiac, as an example, that’s a lifelong adherence to no gluten. So in a way, it helps to create some of that elimination diet approach that we’ve talked about, but you really need to give yourself that time to adapt to it. And we’ve gone through a gluten-free approach, because I have one kid with celiac, so we’ve had to do that as a family. And that was quite the change. And it wasn’t something that we figured out in a matter of weeks of how to adapt to that approach. But yeah, it takes a lot longer. But then you do notice over time, you take things out, and when you need fuel, then you figure out what those are. And in my experience, it’s typically going toward more nutrient-dense choices.

Chris Case 31:12
And I think something you’ve said many times before too Trevor is, you’re giving yourself six months, because there’s probably going to be a lot of ups and downs before your body stabilizes, you might actually go on to what is considered a better diet. But you might feel worse for a period of time.

Trevor Connor 31:29
Your body doesn’t like change. It’s very rare that you make a big change, and you don’t feel a little worse initially. One of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons is when Lisa Simpson finally gets the whole family to eat vegetables, and they’re all sick that night. Because none of them have eaten vegetables in years. So going with what Ryan is saying. So again, we created that chart of the nutrient density of foods. And we actually got a really good response to this, I still have to write back about one of our listeners took a close look at it and said that he felt that fish was inappropriately high, because fish is so high in B-12, that kind of biased it. To tell them the truth I’ll answer this right now I will write a response. I actually do agree with them and Dr. Cordain and I had that debate. So on the nutrient density chart, it goes fish, then vegetables then fruit, I would actually go vegetables, fish and then fruit, so I’d flip it. But you look at any definition of an anti-inflammatory diet and vegetables, fruits, fish that’s basically the basis of any anti-inflammatory diet. What is inflammatory? That’s your processed foods that you’re grains, my whole thesis was on the inflammatory properties of grains. So get away from processed foods, and then eat lots of fruits, vegetables and fish. He also has some autoimmune issues. And when you get into elimination diets for autoimmune disease, again, you can look this up, we actually have an article on this. There are some other foods that you have to eliminate that people are kind of surprised by, that can also set off autoimmune conditions, eggs, and more of the egg white than the yolk. That always shocks people, because I might get this mixed up. But as I remember the egg whites are very high in like proteins, which are not good for a lot of people with autoimmune diseases. Also good to eliminate obviously peanuts, good to eliminate tomatoes. Yeah, so tomatoes are part of the nitrates family. So frankly getting rid of all nitrates. But people are always surprised when you say eliminate tomatoes from your diet.

Chris Case 33:49
Well, it sounds like Brad says he’s looking to try it. He sounds like he needed a little bit more convincing and hopefully he got what he was looking for. And we’ll try this and it will help.

What Foods Should You Bring On Cold Winter Rides?

Chris Case 34:05
Let’s take one final question. This one comes from Sebastian Fleischman up in Brunswick, Maine. He writes, ‘last year I moved from Georgia to Maine in the middle of winter. I didn’t ride all that much. But when I did, I always had trouble finding foods that were easy to eat when it was 50 degrees colder than what I was used to previously. There’s the practical side of the foods, how to unwrap something with giant gloves on and what won’t freeze in my pockets. But I have to think that there are other caloric considerations given that my body is working to ride as well as stay warm simultaneously. What suggestions do you have for winter ride food that take into account all these things?” Ryan, I’ll start with you. What would you say to Sebastian here?

Ryan Kohler 34:55
So one question or consideration would be how long he’s riding, if this is a ride and say he is going out for an hour or two, you can probably get away with focusing on warmth, and fueling yourself a little bit more heavily beforehand, and not have to worry too much about the practical piece where you just can get through that. If this is much longer, then yeah, now we have to consider the accessibility and the types of foods. When I was on the east coast as a river guide years and years ago, we would go out in March and April on the river, and it was in the 30s, and extremely cold. So we would always have a fairly high-protein breakfast before going out. And what comes with that is the higher thermic effect, it takes the body more energy, it creates more heat as you digest higher protein. So we kind of use that as one way to help ourselves stay a little bit warm as we first got on the water. So I would look at that as an option for some of these rides, where if it’s like an hour or two, and he doesn’t really need to eat too much during maybe just increase the number of calories coming in beforehand get a little bit more protein. Likely he’s not doing high-intensity interval workouts out there, thinking maybe if it’s snowy or cold, you’re moving faster, you probably just want to keep it steadier. So that could work. You know thinking about on the practical side here, bottles we have good access to the insulated bottles now, we can put some warmer fluids in there help keep things a little bit warm. In terms of fueling, blocks, bars, those things generally don’t do well. And it’s the consideration of well, can I store them inside my jersey and keep them close to the body? Maybe as long as you can still access them that way. I’m a fan of gels, I do eat gels, and I actually like to bring those in the winter, because they’re still edible, they might be a little bit chewy, a little more solid, almost, but still edible. And they’re fairly easy to open, when you have gloves on, you can use your teeth to open them and just get food in that way. And then I also love sandwiches, I mean, nut butter with some bread stays pretty well and you can eat that cold or warm. So there’s a lot of options. And for something like this, I would just start trying things out. Working with athletes here in Colorado that we’re doing some of the ski mountaineering races over the years I mean, that’s a constant battle for them because they go uphill and they get warm. And they have to figure out well now when I’m skiing down, there’s now more of a breeze and that Windchill goes down then their fluids freeze or their blocks get frozen on the way down. So it’s really a trial and error but consider how long you’ll be out. What can you do before? Maybe preload so you do less. But if you are out there for multiple hours and you need stuff, then yeah, see if you can pack it as close to the body as possible. Use some insulated bottles and find foods that you can still chew.

Chris Case 38:11
Mm hmm. Yeah. We did an episode- I don’t know maybe a year ago or close to it- with a cyclist who has competed at the Iditarod bike Invitational several times, he’s almost a specialist in riding in very cold environments and also having to deal with sending packages to different postal facilities in the middle of nowhere. Where the box is going to sit inside, so it can’t melt and then going to be outside in frigid temperatures and it can’t freeze. And he said he eats a lot of nuts. And he eats a lot of chocolate because those two things if you think about them don’t really change, no matter how cold it gets. The chocolate will get harder, but it doesn’t ever really turn into a teeth-breaking exercise, at least you hope. His final point was you really don’t want to be having to thaw things in your armpit for an hour before you eat it, which you know who would? Trevor I’ll turn it over to you. What other tips do you have here for Sebastian?

Trevor Connor 39:26
I read this and you know, I’ve spent how many winters training up in Canada where I ride outside almost every day. So I’m like I am the guy to answer this.

Chris Case 39:35
Yeah.

Trevor Connor 39:36
So I was try to think of what I do. But here’s my issue. So I got to go on a tangent here. You know how the best thing in the world is cookies fresh out of the oven. I can’t stand that. Take a cookie fresh out of the oven, put it in the freezer for two days.

Chris Case 39:53
That’s what you like?

Trevor Connor 39:54
Then I can’t get enough of it. So I’m not generally a fan of Clif Bars. But let me tell you I go out on a day when it’s like zero degrees Fahrenheit, which is like negative 20 Celsius, I will buy a Clif Bar just to put it in my pocket. And when it’s at the point where biting into it, it’s 50-50, whether my tooth or the Clif Bar is going to break first. I Can’t Get Enough.

Chris Case 40:15
Wow, That’s interesting.

Trevor Connor 40:16
So don’t follow any of my advice is basically what I’m saying. So I actually want to first address one of his lines here, he said “but I’ve got to think there are other caloric considerations, given that my body is working to ride and stay warm simultaneously.” Ryan, really interested to hear what you have to say. But I actually don’t agree with that. If you are dressed appropriately, whatever your training, you are generating heat, that’s not an issue. I think it’s a much bigger strain on your body in hot weather, to keep you cool, than it is on your body on a cold day, as long as you are dressed appropriately to keep yourself warm. So I don’t see it being that big an issue. As a matter of fact- I’m actually going to be serious- my own winter training, I find I don’t need to eat and drink as much in the winter, I tend to dress quite well keep and myself warm, your body’s not going to be sweating a lot of fluid if you’re dressed properly to cool you down. So you don’t have a ton of fluid loss. I find I don’t need to drink as much.

Chris Case 41:28
You don’t drink to begin with. So you’re kind of a bad example in that way, too.

Trevor Connor 41:32
Yeah. Well, I have done like six-hour rides in the winter on half a water bottle.

Chris Case 41:36
Yes, I understand, I tend in that direction too

Trevor Connor 41:40
You do that too so you can’t judge me.

Chris Case 41:42
I know.

Trevor Connor 41:43
But do you eat the frozen Clif Bar?

Chris Case 41:45
I certainly have had them, but it’s not what I crave.

Chris Case 41:49
Well, next time hand it to me because I will enjoy it.

Chris Case 41:51
Because I live in a bakery and so fresh baked cookies are readily available at all times, essentially.

Trevor Connor 41:58
So my suggestions are the things that I have found work, I agree with Ryan, the thermos, try to keep that water warmer. If you drinking really cold water, your body does have to work to heat that up.

Chris Case 42:10
What about having just vodka in your bottle?

Trevor Connor 42:14
Well, good luck staying on the road. But otherwise, you’re doing fine.

Ryan Kohler 42:17
Yeah, in the winter, it’s like you said the with the intensity being so low, you can almost eat whatever you want. Because you can throw one of those little portable, microwavable soup things you know? Those are great. Probably heat one of those up and have it or stop midway if you know where to find one. I mean, there’s a lot of ways to get warm stuff in. But yeah, I think how to dress for it, I think is so huge. And yeah I agree with Trevor on that this could be like a year or two to figure out how to dress appropriately for that stuff. So if anything in the winter, I have trouble sometimes just being overdressed and actually having to shed layers because of how drastic the temperatures can change from when the sun’s behind the clouds to when it’s out and finding that layering is not easy.

Trevor Connor 43:08
So I think the worst winter choice I ever saw was out for a base metal ride with a friend and we stopped at a gas station and he bought one of those gas station microwaveable burritos that he microwaved in the gas station and ate on the ride. I’m not even making a statement of how good or bad this is as ride food, he just actually ate a gas station burrito.

Chris Case 43:32
Hey, it’s one level up from the hot dog things that are sitting there on those rolling gizmos for 6-12 hours before you walked into the store right? So he didn’t go to the bottom of the barrel.

Trevor Connor 43:49
Okay, want to hear the worst gas station food story ever?

Chris Case 43:52
I think we’re going to.

Trevor Connor 43:54
Which has absolutely nothing to do with cycling but you just made me realize I have to share this. So you know at the gas station, they have those horrible like in the paper packages pies. like a cherry pie or apple pie.

Chris Case 44:06
Yeah sure.

Trevor Connor 44:06
They’re all like 500 calories each. So when I was in school, we had this challenge called 40 rise which was from sundown to sunrise. You had to do 40 shots of rye with a friend so 20 shots each.

Chris Case 44:21
Okay.

Trevor Connor 44:22
But between the two of you had to do 40 shots of rye. Since I was not a big drinker, I had decided not to do the 40 rye but one of my friends and I decided instead we will do 40 Pies. We treid to eat 40 of these.

Chris Case 44:38
at 500 calories a clip.

Trevor Connor 44:41
We failed at 24.

Chris Case 44:43
Oh my god. So you each had 12? Or was it an imbalance did you have 16 and he only had?

Trevor Connor 44:49
It was a little imbalance and he was the one to throw up. But we tried, we tried hard. That has nothing to do with cycling.

Chris Case 45:00
No, but that is a perfect way to end a nutrition-themed podcast about eating disgusting pies and puking. So I think we’ll call it there.

Ryan Kohler 45:12
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 review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in Fast Talk are those of the individual. As always, we’d love your feedback, join the conversation at forums.fasttalklabs.com to discuss each and every episode. Become a member of Fast Talk Laboratories at fasttalklabs.com/join and become a part of our education and coaching community. For Chris Case and Trevor Connor, I’m Ryan Kohler. Thanks for listening.

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