No matter, it's interesting and usually makes for good reading over my morning coffee (the non butter kind). But this one article struck me as it seems to get it right, or at least half right. Based solely on something I've been trying this training period I have found that cutting some carbohydrates after lunch has helped me in two ways. First it keeps my weight down (good for an edurance athlete) and second it seems to help my recovery and ability to tackle an early morning workout feeling light and refreshed.
When I say carbohydrates though I mean only a certain kind. Pasta, bread, rice, noodles. Those kind. All foods that in their whole form (minimally processed, whole wheat versions) are common in my diet, but lately only at lunch time or breakfast. But here is where I differ in strict definition of the article. I don't super protein and fat load at my last meal of the day either. Here is the thing about fat, it's much more calorie dense than carbohydrates or protein. That can be ok and I love nuts, seeds and avocado for their nutritional boost as well as fats, but oils don't add anything to my nutrional benefit in balance with their calorie load so I avoid them. Protein is a great recovery food and I eat it all day, but some protein, namely the animal variety has two problems at the end of your day, first it is generally loaded with fat. Second it is very slow to digest and takes much more stomach effort to process (about twice the hydrochloric acid) and that includes dairy. For me, the last meal of the day should clear my stomach quickly and get moving through my digestive system ASAP. This allows for me to have my blood circulating my body while I sleep and not sitting around my stomach. I wake feeling light and ready.
So here is the rub, my dinners have been highly focused on one particular carbohydrate, the vegetable. Big salads (with no dressing) and steamed or stir fried veggies (in water or vegetable broth) have been the focus of my last meal of the day. Always at least 3 hours before I head to bed. I feel this does two things, it clears my stomach quickly (even though these are very large meals and often contain nuts and avocado) and secondly they are very nutritionally dense. It's my thought this gives my body the tools to heal while I sleep. And since it's a clean carbohydrate I tend to wake with a glucose storage and glycogen in my muscles that feeds my early morning workout. Plus all the fibre avoids a sugar spike and my mornings usually start off with a very ...ahem....regular start where I don't have to worry about Mother Nature calling during the workout.
Protein is the hallowed macronutrient today and athletes chase it like the holy grail. It is a massively important component of our diet. I tend to focus on it within 90 minutes of my days key workout. I continue to eat it throughout my day but it's not a worry or focus. Despite this I've seen some great strength gains even with light gym workouts and my legs have greatly improved their strength during this training cycle. My personal thought is athletes could benefit a lot more from focussing on fibre, fruit, vegetables and healthy fats as a part of their diet than protein. While a great building tool for our body, protein is the dirtiest fuel we burn behind sugar and fat. It's just not an efficient delivery system of energy.
So like the article suggests, it might be time to retire the huge pasta dinner the night before the big race. It'll only leave you full, bloated and lacking energy come morning time. It'll also likely give you a sugar load that isn't the nutrional slow release of fibrous vegetables. Focus instead on plant based proteins, fats and vegetables. You might just find yourself waking up as some version of Popeye and lose some much needed fat in the process.
One caveat though for the person that doesn't as a habit eat a plant heavy diet. If you fibre hasn't been part of your dietary lifestyle consider experimenting first and don't do this the first time before a big race. You may just find you are glued to the toilet and cursing my very existence if your body isn't used to fibrous foods. It'll get easier with time as your body adjusts and gets healthier. Just don't go blowing your big race day by trying something very new to you even if it pays off in the long run.