July 28th, 2012

A different kind of diet

And speaking of diets (which we were)…

If you’re an elite endurance athlete, you’ve got to pack in those calories—up to 6,000 a day—if you don’t want to start dropping too much weight while you’re training.

That may sound like heaven, but it can get to be quite a chore, because it takes an awful lot of food to reach that total. So unless you want to be grazing continually, like a cow, your diet had better consist of calorie-dense food.

Most opt for a fair amount of junk:

“You can only eat so much oatmeal and tofu,” says Dr. Joyner. And the calories don’t add up. A bowl of oatmeal gives you just 150 calories, while a cup of tofu only boasts 175. But processed junk foods — candy bars, cookies, Pop-Tarts — provide more energy-replenishing calories per gram. Even when restricting their diet to pizza and ice cream, some athletes still shed weight.

Here’s how to do it without eating a lot of junk. It’s exhausting just contemplating that list.

To most of you: don’t try this at home. Or away from home, for that matter.

7 Responses to “A different kind of diet”

  1. expat Says:

    Via Real Clear Politics, here is a piece that shows how complicated we are:


    Blame those extra pounds on granny.

  2. expat Says:

    Here is another piece I stumbled on:


    Sounds like those boring 50s family dinners were good for you.

  3. SteveH Says:

    I think i keep a decent weight because i’ve never really found an interest in food. It would be interesting to know if that’s an inherited trait. I think it is.

  4. foxmarks Says:

    Junk is also quick. All that training time doesn’t permit sitting down to a table full of delicious calorie-dense Creole-Soul food.

  5. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    This level of caloric intake does not surprise me at all. Many years ago I was one of the adults who accompanied a Boy Scout troop on a one week, 60 mile backpacking trip in the Sierras. 8.5 miles a day with a forty pound pack will burn a lot of calories. We tried to plan the food so each boy would get at least 5000 calories a day. At that time, the easy keeping, high calorie foods were raisins, nuts, Spam, hard cheese, oatmeal with sugar, and hard candy. Not a diet you woulld want to eat for extended periods. It all turned out well. Although a couple of the adults lost some weight our boys all stayed energetic and lost no discernable weight.

    A high level athlete’s energy expenditures would be on the same or larger scale. However, they have much better choices in foods, not having to worry about spoilage. With my voracious appetite, I can only dream of being able to eat like that. My days now are nothing like walking 8.5 miles on mountain trails.

  6. Dan D Says:

    Before my knees got burned out from excessive mountain biking, I used to routinely ride three to five hours daily, hard rides in steep mountain terrain. Occasionally I rode a particular route that was a day-long trip, seventy miles, over several good sized mountains.

    After that long ride, dinner was a salad, a large pizza, two beers, and a huge chocolate milk shake, containing at least a quart of ice cream. Invariably, I lost weight because that was all I could handle eating that day and the calories were insufficient to replace what I had burned.

    Once my knees gave out, riding had to be cut back sharply, and with advancing age I now have to watch what I ate. During the ten years I was most avidly biking, I ate whatever appealed to me, and simply could not gain weight as I wanted to with weight lifting exercise.

    Friends who were much more serious about their biking than I was were the type who rewarded themselves with a bowl of Grape Nuts… not my style at all.

  7. Occam's Beard Says:

    It’s not really junk – it’s just high calorie food, which for most people equates to junk, but when you seriously need calories, you need ’em in a dense form.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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