We have all been told by the experts what we should eat, how many times a day we should eat, portion sizes etc. This is OK for the average person. But what about me? I am anything but average. Average has never worked for me, and it doesn’t work for most people either, because most of us aren’t average.
For a start, as runners we are all super fit athletes, right? Well, we like to think that at least. So portion sizes are slightly different for us and eating once or twice extra through the day can be beneficial to us. So really we aren’t average.
My main point here is that diet should be a very individual thing. But until we learn a lot more about genetics and can use that information to create individual eating plans that are perfect for that person, we have to go on gut feel (pun completely intended) and a few other bits of information.
If you look at how the human race evolved, we may have all originated on the plains of Africa hunting wild animals and eating seasonal fruit and vegetables of some sort. But since those days many thousands of years ago, we have spread out to all corners of the globe and evolved very differently depending on availability of certain types of food.
If you look at Asian cultures, they tend to eat rice as a staple of their diet and still stay thin and healthy. Looking at it on a more genetic level, many Asian cultures and some European cultures, who have grown up in societies that historically tend to consume more starch, have a tendency to produce more Amylase (a salivary enzyme) to break down the starches more easily.
But then you feed that same starchy diet to a typical Westerner and they gain weight, lose energy and get sick. We also see that they tend to be more insulin resistant (early sign of type 2 diabetes) while the Eastern societies tend not to suffer from the same rates of diabetes. Their insulin / carbohydrate tolerance seems to be more evolved.
If you take a look at other cultures who tended to consume milk at a higher rate, their genetics allow them to produce more lactase. Lactase is the enzyme used to process lactose in milk. These people tend to have less lactose intolerance than the Eastern cultures. Lactose intolerance is quite high in Asian societies.
Take a look where your ancestors came from. I’m not talking about your parents, grand parents, or even great grand parents. These kinds of adaptations happen over centuries. Take a look at where your culture evolved from, what kinds of foods were available and what kind of environment they lived in. All this information can hold many clues as to what your perfect diet should involve. If you want to get the most out of your body, and as a runner I am sure you do, this information is invaluable.
Next week, I will continue this topic as there is a way to discover what your metabolic type is and what your body really needs.