Ultrarunner/Clinical Nutritionist Offers His Take on High Fat Diet for Endurance Athletes

Ultrarunner/Clinical Nutritionist Offers His Take on High Fat Diet for Endurance Athletes

Carwin LIDr. Carwyn Sharp traces his interest in nutrition to his undergraduate days when he earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Human Movement Studies at the University of Queensland. He also holds a Master of Science in Kinesiology and Exercise Science from Ball State University and a Ph.D. in Clinical Nutrition/ Nutritionist from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.  He also has 14 years of coaching experience including as the Head Performance Coach at Elite Training 4 Athletes. In addition, he is an accomplished athlete with a marathon PR of 2:46 and is a competitor in ultra-distance running races.

Today, Sharp is Chief Science Officer for the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). NSCA LogoHis interest in nutrition is personal as well as professional.

“I got into endurance sports and more recently have been dabbling in a high-fat diet,” Sharp says. “There are a lot of endurance athletes using high-fat diets. You’re training your body to utilize fat.” This approach avoids the problem of carbohydrate-dependency for athletes whose workouts or events, such as marathons or Iron Mans that last three or more hours and require replenishing of the carbohydrates.

“If you’re dependent on a high-carb diet, which most athletes are, you can have a problem,” Sharp says. “You’ve got enough fat to last for days. It intrigued me. The benefits of the high-fat diet opposed to the high-carb diet are pretty evident.” The downside to high-fats diets, he says, is that it leads the body to excrete sodium at a higher rate than carbohydrate users.

I felt better once I had taken the extra sodium. Since then, I always have it around just in case.

“You need to replace a lot of fluids and a lot of electrolytes,” he says, especially in the high-altitude area like Colorado Springs where I live.

I was looking for a product I could take during longer workouts. When you go out on these long training bouts or race events, having something palatable is very helpful. A lot of times when you’re running, you don’t have access to soup along the way. You want something tasty as opposed to water and tablets. For me, I was having some GI problems. I have a fairly sensitive stomach. You want something in liquid form.”

Sharp met David Belaga of The Right Stuff at an NSCA conference and tried the product during the 2013 Leadville Trail 100 (mile) race in Colorado.Leadville Series

“I was really dehydrated,” Sharp recalls. “I felt better once I had taken The Right Stuff. Since then, I always have it around just in case. I recommend it to athletes. I recommend it to anybody who’s interested in trying a higher-fat diet. It certainly something worth trying. One of the keys is that it is a no-calorie product. I think some people consume too many calories.”

[Editor’s Note: The Right Stuff® is NSF Certified for SportCertified for Sport Mark_Blue 633KB which means every batch is tested and cleared not to contain any banned substances, heavy metals or any other adulterants; learn more: http://nsfsport.com/listings/certified_products_results.asp ]

Improving Nutrition Habits for High School, Collegiate and Professional Athletes

Improving Nutrition Habits for High School, Collegiate and Professional Athletes

Tavis PTavis Piattoly, who played football and other sports in high school, dropped 50 pounds in the summer after he graduated, before he enrolled in Louisiana State University as a pre-med student. Now he offers High School and other athletes the expert nutrition he wishes he would have known as a 17-year-old who got used to fast food before practice and Chinese buffet afterwards.

“I wish I’d had the knowledge then that I have now,” Piattoly says. “I wouldn’t have made such bad decisions. There was no one there to tell us.”

NO Saints croppedPiattoly switched his major to dietetics with an emphasis on sports nutrition and achieved his goal of working with the New Orleans Saints, for seven years. He’s worked 12 years with Tulane University and now operates his own My Sports Dietitian (www.mysportsd.com), an online education and software platform for athletes, parents, coaches, athletic trainers, and coaches that offers phone apps for tracking nutrition, one-on-one counseling for athletes, and a mentorship program for young sports nutrition students and practitioners.

Logo Tulane croppedSince he started at Tulane in 2003, Piattoly has seen rapid growth in staff Sports Dietitians in Division 1 schools, now totaling about 75. He believes the focus is spreading to the 8 million high school athletes and their parents who are seeking safer and more effective performance.

Focus on When and What You Eat

“You can change behavior more with a 14-year-old than a 28-year-old,” says Piattoly, who starts with a focus on when the athlete eats and then focuses on what they eat. “Now we know nutrition can give athletes a performance advantage if they time their intake correctly. High school athletes are underfueling their bodies to support their activity. Nutrition can make a good athlete great – or a great athlete good.”

Athletes who train five hours a day, maybe in two different sports, should eat about every three hours, he says. When Piattoly advises an athlete, he starts with a three-day food log to be sure they’re not energy-deprived – then starts replacing the breakfast doughnuts or toaster pastries with shakes, eggs, and oatmeal.

It all starts with timing. That’s the first nutritional strategy I employ.

“It all starts with timing,” he says. “That’s the first nutritional strategy I employ. If we can fix the ‘when,’ we can fix the ‘what.’ Ninety percent of the kids I work with are highly motivated. They realize nutrition is the piece they’ve been missing all along. Parents are a critical piece, especially Moms. Mom is usually the food provider for the athlete, or sometimes it’s a single dad.”

Piattoly helped a small-framed high school linebacker gain 50 pounds by his senior year and earn a college scholarship. He worked with a high school quarterback to add 20 pounds of lean muscle so he could attract college scouts.

“It’s all about teaching them to get enough calories to support what they’re trying to do,” he says. “It’s the missing component, it’s the secret weapon, it’s the component that leads to success in everything else.”

The food-first approach incorporates supplementation where appropriate, including The Right Stuff for heavy-sweating athletes and those susceptible to cramps. “In the New Orleans area, it’s really humid,” Piattoly says. “We use The Right Stuff with a lot of our athletes that are heavy sweaters. It’s good for any athlete. We get a lot of sodium in our diet, but when we sweat it out at accelerated rates, we need to replenish it. Our body needs it.”

Interest in nutrition is expanding to younger ages because it both helps prevent injury and enhances performance. “We’re going to see this field continue to expand throughout the collegiate level, high school, club teams,” Piattoly says. “It’s going to trickle down, just like athletic trainers did in the past”