“Athletes have an inability to recover from one beat down to the next”
Dave Ellis presented twice at GAIN on fuelling athletes and supplementation. He is quite simply the best person I have seen talking about nutrition and feeding athletes in the real world. We shall be doing a live Q&A with Dave next week for our athletes and parents.
Stimulant dependent generation
A combination of lack of fitness, short off seasons, travel, pressure to perform and overall stress lead athletes to seek stimulants.
This means that there “are a bunch of landmines out there, that can go off at any time.” As a coach, you must realise what is happening, and be ready to adjust your training accordingly.
The stimulants come in different forms: over the counter ones like caffeine drinks or high fructose ones; or hidden in “herbal remedy” type health drinks or pills.
Chinese Grasp on supplementation
The slides, stats and videos that Ellis showed on the supplementation factories and warehouses were shocking to say the least.
Metal filings, hair, dust and bits of plastic are some of the things discovered in the food batches sampled. As they are sold by weight, metal might be heavier by volume than powder!
All the Vitamin C sources for fortification and supplements in the USA come from China. The quality control is not good, whether by accident or design. (This report from the FDA shows 615 supplements have been identified as tainted since Jan 1st 2008).
Talking of design, Ellis made some clear points about how the profit driven industry has a massive influence in the things we eat and buy.
It is a political landscape, where Gatorade pay the NFL $1.1 billion to be the official supplement provider to the league. Ellis can’t give Vitamin D supplements to NFL players because Gatorade don’t make them.
The profit driven industry create poor research studies, then publish them in pseudo science journals, then spin the poor results to the health industry.
This comes to you the reader via newspaper articles or adverts featuring sports stars drinking sugar drinks.
Over trained or under recovered?
Ellis talked a lot about the stressors involved in serious competition and their impact on the athletes. Training volumes and intensities are not that great for college and professional team sport athletes.
Instead, the players do not recover enough due to other factors. His BIG 4 contributors are:
- Lack of sleep
- Binge eating patterns
- Inadequate hydration
- Missing post workout supplement/ food timing
3 step approach to fuelling
Here comes the real world application. Ellis shows how he sets up eating stations or works with teams to get these 3 key steps followed:
1 Less down time due to illness: eat fresh foods and vegetables. This should be put on your plate first.
2 Energy critical for work: slow and fast releasing carbohydrates, to be periodised according to your activity that day.
3 Less muscle soreness and improved recovery time: low, medium and high fat protein sources. Use a variety throughout the day, and only low fat proteins on rest days.
The poster shown on the right lists all the foods that are recommended and how they contribute to this pattern of eating.
This was not some lecture by a pseudo scientist talking about lipids and pathways and a diet based around marathon running. Nor was it a fad junkie trying to promote the latest supplements.
Instead, it was a highly informative and practical look at how important nutrition is and how athletes can improve their performance through simple changes.
I have taken his 3 step approach and showed it the athletes I work with. I provide our athletes with one of these posters, and they are really useful.
The history of supplements: read how teenage gullible boys became the target market.