Life is rarely a series of absolutes. There are few times when we always ‘do this’ or never ‘do that’. Oftentimes an answer to a question from a client might be prefaced with ‘it depends…’.
And this is not meant to be a cop out. For example let’s look at a few examples.
If a young athlete asks if they should be taking a particular supplement the answer might begin with ‘it depends’. How old is the athlete? What does their nutritional profile look like? Is the supplement being considered safe and effective? And are there other ways to achieve the same outcome by tweaking the athlete’s eating habits before investing in a supplement?
Or another client might ask if they should add sprints to their training program to enhance fat loss. Rather than a outright yes or no we might ask the client if they have any current joint pain or injuries. Sprinting puts exceptional stress through the feet-ankles-knees-hips and low back. An individual with current issues at these joints may realize additional pain and problems from an activity with high velocity and impact.
Additionally we might want to know how this person moves? Have they already been doing some high speed running? How old is the client that is considering sprinting? What type of footwear and surface will they be sprinting on? And what other training will this individual be doing in the days prior and after some sprint training?
In other words this is not Vegas and simply a condition of whether or not to double down on 11. It’s not that cut & dry.
Consider as well the notion to eat only protein and veggies.
On the one hand this sounds very simple and possibly effective in terms of a healthy nutritional approach. By eating a variety of protein sources this would supply all of the essential amino acids. And by including animal protein sources you also be assured to get a reasonable amount of saturated fat. And the vegetables you will pair with your protein with provide sources of vitamins, minerals, fibre, some hydration and potentially some healthy fats & protein.
The benefits of following this type of nutritional approach can be great in terms of reducing sugar and processed foods.
This approach can also help reduce the amount of inflammation in the body due to the type of foods many eat in a fast-paced, convenience type of world.
And this type of approach can also help someone who may have problems with bacteria in the body. Cavities and gastrointestinal issues are commonly associated with high sugar diets.
So for the average person that may have some pre-existing health issues a diet of protein and veggies in the short term may provide some benefits to improving health.
But most people who have been training for a while are not average. Those already eating healthily are not average. And athletes are definitely not average.
So this would not be a recommended approach for someone who is not average. And the reason simply comes down to a diet of only protein and veggies lacks the energy an active person requires to fuel and recover from training.
Consider the following image.
Here we see three different exercise intensities (Low,Med,High) and two lines representing the energy supplied at those intensities by either FAT or CHO (carbs). As the intensity of exercise increases so too does the demand for carbohydrates.
These carbohydrates will typically come in the form of starches including cereals, breads, rice, pasta and tubers (yams, potatoes). The problem becomes that an individual eliminating these from the diet will not have the energy to fuel or recover from their workouts.
Anyone who has tried to eliminate carbs and while continuing to train may notice a lack of energy, loss of training effect, difficulty waking in the morning, plateaus, irritability, lack of interest in training and potential injury. However once carbohydrates are re-introduced into the plan many of these symptoms are are reversed and new gains may be achieved in training.
The take home message is that there are nutritional approaches for the diseased and different ones for those wanting the best from their training. While an active person may experiment with only protein and veggies in the short term this will not work in the long run.
To bring this all full circle to where we started this post we would definitely want to know what the person interested in sprinting eats. If carbs are lacking from the profile this will not work out as well as it possibly could.