Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Bye-bye carbs

In January/Feb the big news came out in the media from Prof. Tim Noakes, who essentially told us that he'd been wrong and that we could tear out the chapter on nutrition in his book, 'The Lore of Running' and to toss it in the bin.

Noakes was referring to his 'old' premise that a high-carb diet is the way to go and that you can shovel them in but to play it easy on the fats. His new tune is to say no to the big carbs, which are the bad guys in our societal plague of obesity, diabetes and degenerative diseases. Noakes has been taking his own 'medicine' and he's lost weight (like 15-odd kilograms) and has improved his running performance.

Other current dietary trends include the Dukan Diet and the Paleo Diet, both of which are in a similar vein; say no to the cereals and grains, which offer up the most common carbohydrate form - starch - in our diets.

Dukan is all about high protein, low fat and low carb and it has a four-phase structure where the first phase focuses on a dash of rapid weight loss for two weeks; next phase is a slower and more steady weight-loss regime over weeks and months; then consolidation (slow incorporation of some excluded foods) and then stabilisation in the fourth phase, which is about maintaining your newfound, desirable weight.

The Paleo Diet aims to take us back to our roots, before we began cultivating fields of cereals and grains. It's a 'hunter-gatherer' style eating programme.

They say, "What we should really be eliminating in our diet are grain products, excess sugar, vegetable oils, legumes and dairy, some of which are at the very basis of the US food pyramid."

I've got two friends in NZ who have been into Paleo for a while and it seems to be working very well for them. Both are sporty.

All of these make quite a lot of sense to me and for a few years now I've kept a grip on my starch - especially wheat - intake. Nothing serious but you generally won't see me chowing down on a big starchy meal. I generally just feel better if I have a starch as part of a dinner once a week, not more. It's cutting out my lunchtime sandwich that is actually the hard part because a basic cheese and tomato sandwich is my all-time favourite - and it is convenient.

I'm aiming to be a bit more mindful of my carbs; fortunately my natural inclinations don't make this very difficult.

The difficult part for vegetarians is that Noakes, Dukan and Paleo are all very meat-based, high-protein lifestyles. Meat is easy. Veg equivalents are a little harder to be organised about.

Driving back from the weekend away, I declined the offer of a cup of coffee (I don't drink coffee - never have). The guy in the car commented something to the effect of, "You don't drink alcohol or coffee and you're vegetarian... geezzz". When you put it that way I feel like a big-time tree hugger. But, it works for me. Hahaha.

Some links:
- Noakes: A PDF of a column written by Noakes in the Discovery magazine (Winter 2011)
- Noakes: Article on Health24 (Mon, 27 Feb 2012)
- Noakes speaking to John Robbie on 702 radio (23 Jan 2012)
- Article in Modern Athlete (Tim talking about the effect of no-carbs on his body and running) (Jan 2012)

1 comment:

andrew siddle said...
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