the intersection of food and performance

English: Flying soccer kick

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The video below is long, but the topic is, in my opinion, an incredibly important one.  Peter Attia of NuSI (read more about NuSi and dietary research here) posted this presentation on his own blog last week, in which he tells the story of how he came to give the talk – I encourage you to go read his post so you have an idea of what is going on here.  However, I wanted to write up my own thoughts on this, just to put it in the context of soccer performance.  First, check out the video after the jump – be sure to watch all the way through the Q&A that follows – and then I will offer some of my own thoughts.

Obviously, the thing I enjoyed about this is that is condenses many of the things I have written about here into a single, data-driven package.  One key take-home from all of this, is that the conventional wisdom on sports drinks, the interplay of caloric intake and exercise in weight loss, and how food fuels performance is probably wrong, or at least very incomplete.  There are other ways to think about eating that, if done correctly, will NOT degrade athletic performance.  I have previously noted that elite athletes might benefit from conventional wisdom (carbohydrate-driven) eating, but Peter’s presentation now suggests that even that hedge might be inaccurate.  Finally, he notes that by running our bodies as fat-driven machines might have benefits when it comes to cancer prevention and/or treatment, which is something in which I have also taken a significant interest.

Ok, so the talk made me happy, because it supported all of my personal biases when it comes to diet, exercise, obesity, and wellbeing. Most of you probably don’t share my thoughts on the subject, so it may have been a bit less comforting for you. However, I encourage you to think carefully about all of this – how confident are you in the conventional nutritional wisdom? Has the last 30 or so years of diet and exercise mantra made us healthier, or do you still see countless unhealthy-looking parents taking their overweight children out to the soccer fields in the hopes that the coach will “run them a bit”? Finally, are we really helping our kids by following conventional wisdom in fueling their performance, or are we setting them up for unhealthy eating habits that will be hard to shake as they grow older? You know where I come down on all of this – my hope is that parents, players, and coaches will all start giving this more thought than it is currently being given.

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