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The Endurance Diet

Bill Misner Ph.D.
Posted: Fri | 24 Jan 2014
Tags: Knowledge


It should be understood that choosing your foods for efficient fuel transfer directly effects the rate of active energy metabolism required for extreme endurance demand. The "Best" dietary selections are the same assembly of food combinations that produce healthy cardiovascular function resulting in longevity with quality of life. Prior to World War II, during the first half of the 20th Century, the traditional American dietary protocols resulted in virtually no degenerative disease from circulatory inefficiency or other types of disabling diet-related disorders observed in our modern era which can hospitalize and/or prematurely take human life.

Five Diet Types are compared, favoring 4 protocols which show positive results from the health indices of those who practice them. Indeed, any one of the four dietary plans improves the macro-protocols of the "WESTERN DIET". Today's "Western" diet should be avoided; it is dramatically unfavorable. Review links it with 8 out of the top ten causes of death in America! Comparative analysis of dietary protein, fat, and carbohydrates from the recommended 4 exemplary model diets is distinctively concludes that health and dietary choices are inter-related. Diet should support bioactive markers of health as indicated by cardiovascular efficiency and the absence of typical accompanying degenerative disease disorders. The dietary plan that accomplishes this best is a the model diet for endurance athletic performance.

1. TRADITIONAL*[1A]: PROTEIN FATS CARBOHYDRATES DISEASE RATE EXERCISE RATE 12%-33% 21% 45%-65% NIL-LOW MODERATE-HIGH Characteristics of the Traditional daily diet: *[The ratio of polyunsaturated fats to saturated fats is 1.41, or for every 7 grams of artery-clogging "bad" fats, 10 grams of good fat were eaten to balance lipid profiles, no dietary sugar eaten=0, 60-150 grams daily of soluble and insoluble fiber, and under 700 milligrams sodium ingested per day.] Cardiovascular Disease and a number of degenerative diseases we have in America today were virtually unheard of at the turn of the century!

2. THE AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION *[1B]: PROTEIN FATS CARBOHYDRATES DISEASE RATE EXERCISE RATE 15% 30% 55-60% LOW MODERATE Characteristics of the AHA diet: *[fat intakes are recommended as no more than 5-10% saturated fats to 20% poly-mono unsaturated fats, translating to a ratio to 1 saturated "bad" fat for every 2-4 "good" mono-polyunsaturated fats]

3.**"SYNDROME X" DIET[2]: PROTEIN FATS CARBOHYDRATES DISEASE RATE EXERCISE RATE 15% 35-45% 45% NIL-LOW MODERATE Characteristics of the "SYNDROME X" DIET diet: **[fat intakes are recommended as no more than 5-10% saturated fats to 30-35% poly-mono unsaturated fats, translating to the ratio of 1 saturated "bad" fat for every 3-7 "good" mono-polyunsaturated fats]

4. THE "ENDURANCE DIET"[3]: PROTEIN FATS CARBOHYDRATES DISEASE RATE EXERCISE RATE 12-20% 20% 50-60% NIL-LOW HIGH Characteristics of the ENDURANCE DIET***: ***[fat intakes are recommended as no more than 3-5% saturated fats to 15% poly-mono unsaturated fats, translating to the ratio to 1 saturated "bad" fat for every 3-5 "good" mono-polyunsaturated fats, Fiber intake ratio is 30 grams soluble fiber to 10 grams insoluble fiber, less than -10% of the carbohydrates as simple sugar, and sodium intake restricted to 1100 milligrams per day, with a minimum of 100 ounces fluids per day]

5. TODAY'S WESTERN** PROTEIN FATS CARBOHYDRATES DISEASE RATE EXERCISE RATE 31% 44% 25% HIGH LOW-NIL Characteristics of the Western daily diet[1]: **[The ratio of polyunsaturated fats to saturated fats is 0.41, or for every 2 grams of healthy fat eaten 5 grams of artery-clogging "bad fat" from meat or dairy is eaten, refined sugar contributes all of the carbohydrates, only 15-20 grams of dietary fiber are eaten, further contributing to cholesterol and fat reabsorption to elevate blood serum lipids remarkably, Sodium intake exceeds 7000 milligrams, while alcohol intake of 7-10% of the total calories adds itself in at a whopping 7 calories per gram.]

Why should athletes avoid the modern WESTERN DIET? You cannot possibly perform athletic bests if you are literally killing yourself with a knife and fork! The wrong combinations of too much Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, Simple Sugar, Sodium[processed or salted foods], lack of plant-sourced fibers and phytonutrients are the hallmarks of this deadly performance-limiting diet. The results from eating a WESTERN diet appear in our mortality rate:

#1-Heart disease 726,974
#2-Cancer 539,577
#3-Stroke 159,791
#4-Chronic pulmonary 109,029
#6-Pneumonia/flu 86,449
#7-Diabetes 62,636
#9-Liver/cirrhosis 25,175
#10-Alzheimer 22,475
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

NOTE: NOT Related to diet:
#5-Accidents 95,644
#8-Suicide 30,535


[HOW MUCH AND WHAT KIND OF PROTEIN-FAT-CARBOHYDRATES] PROTEIN requirements for endurance athletes were determined by a series of research studies done by the Colgan Institutes and others[4] based on urinary nitrogen balance in which athletes were evaluated after sedentary activities, endurance exercise, strength exercise, and power-speed exercise.




Strength-Short Distance Speed

2.0 grams/kg. bodyweight

Ball Sports-medium distance running

1.7 grams/kg. bodyweight

Endurance-long distance running

1.4 grams/kg. bodyweight

Protein is rated according to the weakest single amino acid of its essential amino acid profile. The highest score from the PDCAAS-protein rating is 1.0. The only sources of protein with a "perfect" Predicted Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score of "1.0" are from Soy, Whey, or Egg Whites.

Most meats are in the 0.90-0.92 range, peas-0.73, Oats-0.57, peanuts-0.52, rice-0.47, corn 0.42 and wheat 0.25. Cereal grains combined with vegetables, legumes, nuts, or seeds provide a complete 1.0 PDCAAS if ingested within a 24-hour window. There are ways to combine protein sources of less than perfect 1.0 PDCAAS proteins to tally a 1.0 PDCAAS score, IF the dietary proteins are ingested within a 24-hour period.

The optimal protein intake for an endurance athlete is 1.4 grams protein per kilogram body weight. The exceptions to this rule are when endurance efforts exceed 6-hour duration or if speed work is extreme, which may raise the need to 1.7 grams per kilogram bodyweight. There are means to combine proteins of a less-than-perfect 1.0 PDCAAS protein to tally a 1.0 PDCAAS score, when dietary protein sources are ingested within a 24-hour period. Most of us get enough protein, but most of us are eating poor protein choices such as meat, poultry, or dairy byproducts which contain a high saturated fat and cholesterol content.


"High protein intake from these sources is may result in directly causing health problems in time. High protein diets cause serious metabolic changes that lead to bone loss and kidney stones. Red meat, poultry, fish, shellfish,and eggs are acidic in make up. Vegetable foods are alkaline by nature. The body guards its acid-base balance (pH) carefully so that all of the pH-dependent biochemical reactions take place normally. The dietary-derived acid load from high-protein animal foods must be buffered. The primary buffering system of the body is the bones which dissolve for that purpose into phosphates and calcium. The alkaline phosphate then buffers the animal-food derived acid. This is the first step in bone loss that leads to osteoporosis. The second step leading to osteoporosis consists of changes in kidney physiology caused by the acid, the sulfa containing amino acids (plentiful in meat), and the increased solute load, all resulting in a loss of large amounts of bone material, including calcium, into the urine. The presence of this bone material in the kidney system also lays the foundation for calcium-based kidney stones.

The Nurse's Health Study recently found women who consumed 95 grams of protein a day compared with those who consumed less than 68 grams a day had a 22% greater risk of forearm fractures! (Am J Epidemiol 143:472, 1996) Metabolic ward studies done on people have found a negative calcium balance is created when 95 grams of protein are consumed with 500 mg of calcium. The calcium intake must be raised up to 800 mg before calcium balance is achieved (the calcium entering the body is the same as the amount leaving). People following the Zone diet commonly consume 100 grams of protein and less than 800 mg. of calcium. Athletes attempting to follow the Zone diet will consume 140 grams or more of protein a day. Even with a very high calcium intake of 1400 mg daily these people are still in negative calcium balance."[5]

DIETARY FATTY ACIDS suggested as ideal for health are as follows: The AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION[AHA], Dr. Gerald Reaven M.D.'s "SYNDROME X"[SX] and TRADITIONAL DIET[TD] resulted in excellent blood lipid profiles suggested to halt vascular disease and are therefore an ideal dietary fat ratio for both health and endurance performance. The ENDURANCE DIET's[ED] fatty acid profile is supported by cultural reports from dietary practices of American's in the first half of the 20th century [TRADITIONAL], Tarahumara Indians, Hunzas, Abkhasians, and Vilacamba's. The ENDURANCE DIET fatty acid profile may result in a combinate of optimal cardiovascular health resulting in maximal athletic endurance performance.

The *MODERN WESTERN[MW] dietary fat protocols resulted in the most degenerative disease and the highest rate of cardiovascular disease. *AVOID MW; It has produced too much degenerative disorders and cardiovascular disease, opposing optimal health for endurance performance.









1 SF:2-4 PMUSF










7 SF:10





1 SF:3-5





2 SF:5



Dr. Ron Kennedy M.D. wrote this about cardiovascular disease: "This is a disease of modern civilization. Never before have people so young had atherosclerosis. As recently as the year 1900, heart disease was very rare. It may be that airborne industrial pollutants, as well as herbicides, pesticides and preservatives in our food, have something to do with the development of atherosclerosis. Even more likely is the advent of hydrogenated fats, e.g. margarine, the development of which perfectly coincides with the increase in vascular disease. The cholesterol content of these plaques can be handled by shifting to a no-fat, high-fiber diet. Plaques actually decrease in size, and the cholesterol content can eventually disappear. Lipid peroxidation itself can be halted by the liberal intake of antioxidants such as Beta-carotene (the precursor of vitamin A), mixed tocopherols (vitamin E) and vitamin C, so no further damage is caused to the arterial tree."[6]

CARBOHYDRATES[CHO] is the performance fuel-of-choice for endurance performance and muscle glycogen stores. When CHO is depleted, it is said to be a performance-limiting factor. Quite frankly, human biochemistry has a love affair with the chemical fuel substrates known as Carbohydrates. It is much easier to convert blood glucose(CHO) and/or muscle glycogen(CHO)than to convert fatty acids into ATP for any of the 3 systems for which we spend energy during exercise. The rate of ATP-synthesis from FAT is only 0.5 mol/minute, but from CHO it is double, or 1.0 mol/minute. During a high 90%+ VO2 Max effort, when only CHO is burned, the rate of expenditure may approach upwards 2.4 mol/minute.

(AT A VO2 MAX=30%-65% EFFORT)






























*Table derived by combining the approximate values shown from the research of Ahlborg(7-8) and Costill(9)



*Table derived by combining the approximate values shown from the research of Ahlborg(7-8) and Costill(9). **Blood glucose levels are monitored by the liver. When levels fall, the liver donates its glycogen or converts amino acids into blood glucose. During prolonged activities amino acids may be cannibalized from lean muscle mass to account for 5-12% of the total energy required for prolonged exercise.

Serum blood sugar levels are better maintained by complex long-chain carbohydrates than the higher insulin-response induced by simple sugars(short chains). Jenkins(10-11) demonstrated this below by comparing blood sugar responses of simple sugars(short-chain CHO) to other CHO or(long-chain CHO).











Sucrose, Glucose


-10 to -15




+1 to +2


Maltodextrins or

+25 or +30

+10 to +15


Other CHO

+25 or +30

+10 to +15


Sucrose, Glucose


 -10 to -15




+1 to +2


Maltodextrins or

+25 or +30

+10 to +15


Other CHO

+25 or +30

+10 to +15



{The blood serum glucose response is expressed as a percentage of taking the
same amount of glucose CHO}
cornflakes, carrots, parsnips,
instant potatoes,
maltose, honey........................80-89%
bread, rice, potato...................70-79%
bananas, raisins, candy bars,
shredded wheat........................60-69%
All Bran, peas, yams, table sugar.....50-59%
potato chips, sweet corn..............40-49%
canned beans, black-eye peas, apples,
ice cream, milk, yogurt, tomato soup..30-39%
kidney beans, lentils, fructose.......20-29%
soya-beans, peanuts...................10-19%


(1) For EACH hour of exercise, consume 1-2 grams complex carbohydrates for EACH pound of bodyweight. The recommended ceiling for total carbohydrate intake depends on size and activity level, but most endurance athletes need 600 to 900 grams per day during training.

(2) When not exercising or racing, the ideal carbohydrate choice is listed in the table above, creating 50% or less of the glucose insulin-response. Dietary sugars should not exceed 10% of your daily caloric carbohydrate intake. Long-Chain Carbohydrates are the best choice during exercise demands, permitting the most calories to be absorbed through gastric chambers. It should be noted that the liver can replenish muscle glycogen from ingested carbohydrates at the rate of 4 calories per minute. Endurance exercise creates a deficit of roughly 10 calories per minute at above 60% VO2 Max rate efforts. There is therefore a time when fat is mobilized into the energy cycle as the primary fuel, as is noted in the Ahlborg(7-8) and Costill(9) Table above.

(3) Intermittent carbohydrate small meal loading of 200-300 grams long-chain maltodextrins or complex carbohydrates within 30 minutes of cessation of workouts, during workouts, but no sooner than 3 hours prior.[4]

(4) Avoid the use of niacin-rich supplements or foods prior to a workout session.[12]

(5) Avoid simple sugars such as sucrose, fructose, or any type of high fructose corn-syrup solids before or during an exercise session.


Magnetic Resonance Imagery[MRI] remarkably shows a very impressive example of "You are what you eat" and may be viewed from the reference link below[13]. Magnetic Resonance Imaging was performed on 3 subjects, a vegetarian, an "omnivore"(standard WESTERN DIET), and a diabetic "omnivore". The 3 Carbon 13 MRI's were interpreted by a Doctor, an MRI Technician, and a Lipid Biochemist. The evidence from only 3 images is not a validating, reliable conclusion, but it certainly does beg the question, favoring consideration for dietary use of a high plant-sourced raw organic foods for generating healthy muscle mass composition. Those who ate the "cow meat" showed marbling in the muscle tissue sites exactly like the meat they ate, while those who ate a high plant-sourced diet showed a healthy well-developed vascular system for their corresponding low fat muscle mass!

No more extraordinary truth than for every calorie unit we do not burn we either store it as muscle glycogen in limited amounts, exercise-stress induced lean muscle mass in limited amounts, and adipose fat tissue stores in unlimited amounts. No one has put nutritive facts more succinctly than the well-known sportscientist and endurance athlete, Ellen Coleman, M.P.H. R.D.:

"When it comes to weight control, what matters isn't carbohydrates and insulin, but calories. A person's weight depends on how many calories are taken in compared to how many are burned off. Eating a high percentage of calories from carbohydrate doesn't make a person fat--they must eat too many calories relative to their needs for insulin to lay down fat[14-15].

Paying attention to calories is critical for weight control. When people are encouraged to eat more carbohydrate and less fat, some get the wrong message. They think they can eat as much high-carbohydrate food as desired, as long as the food is fat-free. The result -- these individuals can't lose weight because they eat too many calories in the form of low-fat sweets and extra large portions of starches. Instead of blaming their forks, they blame the carbohydrate. The bottom line--a person can't eat an unlimited amount of carbohydrate by cutting down on their fat intake.

Cutting back on dietary fat does reduce total calories more than cutting back on dietary carbohydrate, because fat supplies more than twice the calories by weight. Dietary fat is also more likely to promote body fat storage than is dietary carbohydrate[16A]. However, a person who cuts back on fat calories but adds them back in the form of carbohydrate calories is not going to lose weight.

Carbohydrate, not fat, is the preferred energy source during exercise at or above 70% of V02Max--the intensity at which most endurance athletes train and compete. Athletes don't usually work out long enough to burn significant amounts of fat during exercise. Rather, it is the caloric deficit resulting from the exercise session that promotes body fat utilization."

No diet improves access to the body's fat stores so that more fat is burned during exercise[14-15] without caloric intake being reduced to lower levels than a higher caloric expense.

In contrast, Thomas Incledon, MS, RD, LD, LN, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, Director of Sports Nutrition Human Performance Specialists, Inc., wrote to me in a personal post to me this view on how nutrient timing impacts body composition:

"Data from animals is convincing in demonstrating eating immediately after exercise results in more LEAN body mass than when eating the same number of calories 4 hours later.[16B] Data on female athletes eating a large evening meal preserves LEAN body mass as opposed to eating the same number of calories for breakfast.[16C] Small meal frequency may or may not benefit all athletes as research has not yet agreed on the small portion vs. large portion entree-protocols."[16D]


During exercise, serum glucose levels increase while serum insulin levels fall. This occurs due to the exercise-induced rise in the catacholamines(epinephrine and norepinephrine) and growth hormone, which inhibit the release of insulin from the pancreas. This enhances liver glucose output by making the liver more sensitive to the effects of glucagon and epinephrine. The hormonal changes which occur during exercise also prompt greater fat oxidation.

Endurance training also causes several major adaptations in the muscles that increase fat utilization. First, endurance training increases the number of capillaries in the trained muscles, so that the muscles receive more blood and oxygen. Second, endurance training increases the activity of the specific muscle enzymes that are responsible for burning fat.

Carbohydrate feedings 30-60 minutes before exercise do raise insulin levels and lower blood glucose, but these responses are temporary and will not harm performance. This insulin response does not impair fat mobilization or cause accelerated glycogen depletion [18]. Furthermore, endurance training increases tissue insulin sensitivity, resulting in lower plasma insulin levels.

Consuming carbohydrate an hour before exercise can actually improve performance[19]. Carbohydrate feedings three to four hours before exercise also enhance performance by "topping off" muscle and liver glycogen stores [20]. Lastly, carbohydrate feedings during exercise lasting an hour or longer aid performance by providing glucose for the muscles to use when they're running low on glycogen [21-22].

The claim that a high carbohydrate diet promotes greater body fat storage is also unfounded. Insulin is not a "monster" hormone -- it is required for the transport of glucose into the body's cells, where it is used to fuel all activities. Insulin-mediated glucose uptake is also necessary for muscle and liver glycogen synthesis -- the primary fuel for endurance exercise[17, 23]."


["What should I eat for Endurance performance"]

1-PROTEIN SOURCES AND AMOUNT: Current thinking from a variety of nutritional researchers suggests protein-to-carbohydrate caloric ratio of 3 or 4 units Carbohydrate to 1 unit protein result in the best rate of recovery from extreme exercise expense. It is therefore suggested athletes choose enough whole complete proteins in small meal portions from Whey, Soy, or Egg Whites in order to meet the 1.4-1.7 required grams protein per kilogram bodyweight. The following Combinations of the offer a complete PDCAAS 1.0 profile score:

-BEANS with[Cheese, Corn, Nuts, Rice, All Seeds, Wheat],
-BROWN RICE with[Beans, Cheese, Sesame Seeds, Wheat],
-CORNMEAL[When fortified by Lysine],

Lean Meat is not the optimal protein, but if you must eat red meat, poultry, or dairy byproducts, it is suggested that once per week be imposed. The exception to the "Anti-Meat Rule" is fish, which contains enough essential fatty acids to balance the "Bad" saturated fat and cholesterol content. WHEY PRO-100 & SOY PRO-100 after a hard workout is an excellent source of dietary supplemental "complete" protein.

2-DIETARY FATS FROM PLANT SOURCES should outnumber dietary fats from animal sources optimally 5 to 1, minimally 3 to 1. During the course of 24 hours food intake, a single serving of red meat, poultry or dairy products such as cheese or whole milk, should be followed or preceded by 3-5 servings of foods containing Canola Oil, Olive Oil, or from the high Essential Fatty Acid food sources. Essential Fatty Acids[EFA] not made by the human body are Omega-6 and Omega-3 EFA's. Sources of Omega-3 are Flaxseed Oil, Hemp Oil, Chia Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Soybeans, and Kukui or Candlenut Seeds. The recommended Optimal Daily Allowance is 2-9 grams from an Omega-3 fatty acid source. Sources of Omega-6 are Safflower Oil, Hemp Seed Oil, Chia Seeds, Kukui Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Walnuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Corn Oil, Almonds, Cashew Macadamia Nuts and Grapeseed. The recommended Optimal Daily Allowance for Omega-6 is 9-18 grams per day. OMEGASOURCE is an excellent essential fatty acid supplement to take in addition to natural food sources to insure you are meeting EFA requirements.

3-CARBOHYDRATES from complex or long chain in variety is preferred in a ratio of 9 complex units to no more than 1 simple sugar unit. Simple sugars should be avoided during athletic events due to interfering with the mechanics of fluid and electrolyte balance, hindering the gastric rate of absorption. It is ideally recommended that simple sugars be kept less than 10% of the total dietary carbohydrates selected. You can eat simple sugars during exercise but they may influence gastric absorption rate, electrolyte and fluid uptake significantly. HAMMER GEL & SUSTAINED ENERGY contain NO simple sugars.

4-SODIUM RDA requirement for a sedentary subject is 500 mg., while endurance athletes are wise to maintain their dietary sodium intake to slightly over double RDA values at 1100 mg. Sodium has one of the strongest links to high blood pressure of anything we eat, although only one American in five has the genetic hypersensitivity to sodium that makes it raise our blood pressure to dangerous levels. Too much sodium, however, can produce other damaging effects in body systems like your kidneys and your heart. Sodium loading prior to an event should not be practiced unless it is in the Sodium Phosphate form. Sodium is absorbed rapidly during an endurance event at the rate of 300-600 mg. per hour in hyperthermic conditions while 100-300 mg. rate may be present during hypothermic conditions. Sodium absorption rate is depletion-dependant and may vary among individual biochemistry significantly. ENDUROLYTES have been designed to supplement electrolyte depletion in extreme endurance events.

5-FIBER from plant-sourced foods is indicated for removal of toxic wastes, reducing blood lipid cholesterol, triglycerides, and especially, lowering harmful LDL's. A major cause of fatigue in Americans is bowel tonic irregularity from eating too little soluble and insoluble plant sourced fiber. To maintain bowel wall muscle tone, a minimum of 30 grams dietary fiber must be regularly consumed. The rate for most Americans is 15-20 grams per day, which delays toxin-refuse elimination, delays bowel transit time, which contributes to higher "Bad" cholesterol and triglyceride levels. As noted above, 30 grams soluble fiber plus 10 grams insoluble fiber is a minimal fiber recommendation. Complimenting optimal tone in the bowel is a balance of "Good" bacteria to "Bad" bacteria. DIGEST CAPS are formulated to provide 1.5 billion good bacteria to enhance absorption of nutrients and for control of putrefaction rates in gastric channels.

What should one eat to optimize their potential endurance performance? The recommendations suggested here will no doubt be critically argued for eons of time by sportsciences, athletes, and scholars of nutrition science. Any deviation from our current MODERN WESTERN diet will improve health and exercise performance. Since human cellular environment is "resynthesized" 98% anew every 180 days, it is suggested that 90 days is the time necessary to activate change of measurable note in either health or performance. Since dietary choices are tied firmly to taste, lifestyle, emotions, gender, and activities, unless the athlete is motivated to respond at the numerical evidence presented, the ENDURANCE DIET is merely a practice in mental gymnastics. To the athlete who adapts to any or all the dietary premises presented here, it is predicted that proportionate gains in health, lower BMI, lower bodyfat weight, higher energy state, and performance gains will be commonplace.


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