Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"Food and Macronutrient Intake of Elite Kenyan Distance Runners"

Not what I'm going to eat, but interesting:
"...Athletes carried out most of their training collectively as 1 group 2 times a day, typically before breakfast and dinner. The morning run (06:00) comprised a 6 to 9 mile run carried out at either moderate or fast running pace (e.g., 11 to 15 mph) depending on athletic specialization and instructions received from the coach/manager...."

"...Total fluid intake was modest and mainly in the form of water (1113 ± 269 mL; 0.34 ± 0.16 mL/kcal) and tea (1243 ± 348 mL). No water was ingested before or during the early morning run, although only a modest amount of water was ingested after training and not by all athletes. Similarly, only a small amount of water was ingested after the afternoon run by a small number of the athletes. No water was ingested during the run...."

"...Endurance athletes are advised to strive to maintain fluid balance before, during, and after exercise to avoid a detriment in performance as a result of progressive dehydration (2). In the present study, given the greater need for fluids as the Kenyan runners lived and trained in a warm, high-altitude environment, their fluid intake was fairly modest and comprised of water (1113 ± 269 mL; 0.34 ± 0.16 mL/kcal) and tea (1243 ± 348 mL). No fluids were ingested before or during training, although only a modest amount of water was ingested after training and not by all athletes. The previous two dietary studies in Kenyan runners (14, 6) made no particular reference to fluid intake, especially in relation to exercise training, and therefore it can be assumed that no specific strategies were adopted as in the present study. Although the drinking habits of these Kenyan runners is somewhat contrary to current dietary recommendations (2), it has recently been argued that some degree of dehydration could benefit marathon runners by increasing the pressure gradient across their capillary beds, increasing capillary flow rates, and decreasing intercapillary distances (9). It is common practice among elite Kenyan distance runners to consume considerably less fluid than is recommended. The overall significance of this has yet to be experimentally determined...."

"...The food and macronutrient content of elite Kenyan runners fulfilled most of the recommendations for endurance athletes for CHO, fat, and protein intake, but not for energy (i.e., negative energy balance) and fluid intake (2).... If anything, there would appear to be room for considerable “improvements” in the nutritional practices of elite Kenyan runners, with particular reference to energy balance and fluid ingestion, assuming current recommendations would indeed be advantageous and not detrimental to the running performances of elite Kenyan runners...."

"...As the Kenyan runners in the present study appeared to be in negative energy balance, maintaining the recommended protein intake would be vital for the health of the athletes. Negative energy balance can result in loss of muscle mass and increased risk of fatigue, injury, and illness (2). It is tempting, therefore, to ascribe the relatively fast “turnover” of elite Kenyan distance runners to this particular feature of the Kenyan diet (i.e., negative/borderline energy balance). Individual Kenyan runners tend to do well for a short time but “drop out” of the world running circuit or are unable to reproduce earlier running performances (personal communication with Brother Colm O’Connell, head coach of St. Patrick’s High School, Iten, Kenya)...."

"...The fact that the athletes in the present study lost weight lends more credibility to the accuracy of food intake being lower than energy needs; it appears less likely that the athletes underreported food intake...."

This: "...assuming current recommendations would indeed be advantageous and not detrimental to the running performances of elite Kenyan runners..." is a big assumption. I'd go with detrimental...

I also find the fact that they train in a maximally-fasted state very interesting, as I'm sure it helps them overcome the high-carb diet they're eating. Their bodies must rely on both stored fat and carbs for fuel.

I wonder what their Respiratory Quotient is when resting and exercising?