Enduring Nutrition

Meet Shane Ellison, founder of HealthFX.  An organic chemist by training, Shane has seen the ugly side of the pharmaceutical industry.  He is on a crusade to re-educate a misinformed populace on solid health and nutrition practices.  News flash:  good health and prescription drugs have nothing in common...  His concepts are guided by science, pure and simple.  OK, maybe not so simple...but with Shane, you'll get no BS hype - and there are no shortcuts.

Yes, HealthFX is the primary sponsor for team HealthFX.  It should be obvious by now, however, that I'm not one of those "brought to you by x, y, and z!" types.  I am no sellout and in fact probably don't do as much as I should for my sponsors.  But, you can be damn sure that if I do talk about a product and/or company favorably, it's simply a result of positive experiences and a desire to share the knowledge.  I'm a workng stiff just like you, where my $$ goes is important to me.

Shane has been my nutritional advisor since '03.  Before I met Shane, I bought into all the high carb-low fat craze that most sports nutrition experts tout.  Yet, every time I'd pick up my training, I'd eat even more and gain wait.  WTF?  Whew, glad those days are gone.  Compared to '02, my typical race  weight is 10-14 lbs less with lower bodyfat, increased power and endurance...a lot of this is a result of nutrition choices. 

Every now and then I get a HealthFX email with some real gems.  Shane spends a lot of time writing, more than I do ;)  The latest is too good not to share.  So here you go.  This is my biggest "secret", and now the words out.

Here's to your good health.


The Athletes Deadly Mistake 3 Benefits to Avoiding

It By Shane Ellison, M.Sc.
www.healthmyths.net © 2006
www.health-fx.net © 2006

Most athletes have ignored the warning not to eat sugar. They usually pay more attention to fat and carbohydrates. This mind-set is courtesy of the self-appointed nutrition gurus who promote low fat, high carbohydrate eating plans. This is a deadly mistake.

Most low fat, high carbohydrate foods are loaded with sugar or "sugar mimics." These include sucrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed proteins, trans fat and milk sugars such as lactose and maltose. In many cases, these food adulterants are being fed to an athlete’s body every time they put something into their mouth. The body responds by pumping mass amounts of insulin into the blood stream.

Insulin is the nutrient taxi. It escorts glucose and other nutrients into the muscle cells. It is also the chief fat storing hormone. To the athlete, this means an artificial feeling of energy coupled to fat storage. But the real danger lies in sugars ability to create a metabolic nightmare later in life.

High insulin levels lead to a medical condition known as insulin resistance or Syndrome X. Today, Syndrome X is an epidemic among children and adults. An estimated 80 million Americans suffer from this slow but insidious killer.

Similar to those who consume excess alcohol and develop resistance to it, excess insulin numbs muscle cells. Muscles no longer react to it. The insulin receptors within the body become "jammed." Unable to gain entry into muscle cells, glucose (blood sugar) remains in the blood-stream. Blood sugar skyrockets.

Recognizing the rise in blood glucose, the pancreas attempts to curtail the danger with yet more insulin production. The blood stream becomes toxic with exorbitant amounts of insulin and glucose. Syndrome X begins to take its toll on the body. It leads to the clinical diagnosis of depression, premature aging of the skin, hypertension, heart disease, type II diabetes and cancer sometimes in that order.

To avoid insulin resistance, athletes must stop making the mistake of lowering fat intake while increasing carbohydrate consumption. Instead, they must increase their consumption of healthy fat and protein while lowering carbohydrate intake. Basically, this is the antithesis of what the "gurus" promote. Rest assured though, it is in complete accord with science. Three benefits of increased fat intake await:

1. Athletes will lose fat and build muscle.

Unlike carbohydrate, consuming healthy fat does not cause a spike in the fat storing hormone insulin. Instead, it keeps insulin levels low (or controlled) relative to sugar and carbohydrate (carb) consumption. When insulin is controlled, the body is better equipped to take part in fat burning courtesy of "thermogenesis." Thermogenesis is the conversion of fat to heat and physical energy (lipolysis). The best athletes in the world have mastered thermogenesis either through diet, supplementation, or both. Sparking it is the Holy-Grail for eliciting lean muscle mass and even raw athletic power the kind that sets apart the weak from the strong.

Be careful, the wrong kind of fat will make you fat. That would be the trans fats coming from food served out of a window (think Wendy’s).

2. Athletes will have far more energy and endurance

When thermogenesis is active, the body can utilize fat as a substrate for heat production as well as ATP production. ATP is the master energy and strength producing molecule within the body. The more you have, the better you perform.

A single fat molecule can produce a whopping 129 molecules of ATP. In contrast, if thermogenesis is not being activated the body is forced to utilize an inferior source of ATP production carbohydrates. A single carbohydrate molecule produces a paltry 38 molecules of ATP! Do the math fat yields more than three times the energy as a carbohydrate!

The difference between fat and carbohydrates as fuel substrates is the difference between sustained energy and "bonking." Promoters of sports gels and sugar fortified energy bars and drinks ignore this basic biochemistry or don’t understand it.

3. Athletes will not age-prematurely

Everyone has heard of the endurance athlete who was seemingly healthy yet keeled over on his morning bike ride from a deadly heart attack. Excess sugar consumption plays a leading role in this sad fate due to its ability to leach essential nutrients from the body. Such nutrients include fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K. The outcome is a dying cardiovascular system unfit for physical fitness resulting in a premature heart attack.

Trash the carbs and sugar. Eat healthy fat. Healthy fats can be obtained from coconut oil (in tea or used for cooking), cod-liver oil (contains omega-3 fats known as EPA and DHA with the added value of vitamin D), olive oil, avocados (omega-9), eggs (raw, scrambled, hard-boiled, whatever), fish, nuts, seeds, chicken and grass fed beef. Adhere to this basic nutrition science and you’ll break personal records guaranteed.  

About the Author

Shane holds a Master’s degree in organic chemistry and has first-hand industry experience with drug research, design and synthesis. With his keen ability to sift through scientific literature and weed out fact from fiction, Shane has empowered thousands to assert their health freedom by saying "no" to prescription drugs. Learn more about his books Health Myths Exposed and The Hidden Truth about Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs. Get his FREE Life-Saving Health Briefs at www.healthmyths.net. His nutrition supplements that work can be found at www.health-fx.net.      

Published Saturday, October 21, 2006 6:15 AM by Dave
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# @ Saturday, October 21, 2006 8:33 AM

Nice article.

Nutrition has been a real challenge for me. I eat well, but not well enough. I grew up with nutrition guru's, not the kind that Shane talks about, but people like him. My grandma has written about 30 books on the subject.

Sugar is a plague. America is fat, I think, not just due to McDonalds, but because we mass consume white sugar. Soda is a giant killer. My aunt, who sadly passed away 2 years ago from cancer, used to compare drinking soda to eating spoonfuls of sugar right out of the bag.

Thanks for the article.

Adam Lisonbee

# @ Sunday, October 22, 2006 4:57 PM

Good post, Love this subject. I used to be 300lbs. when I was 20 years old, 15 years later I'm 180 (winter weight) and compete do endurance mountain bike races and can't imagine being like that again.

I agree the low fat/high carb thing just seems to make me HUNGRIER. My problem is controling portion sizes of those those good fats, proteins and carbs.

During events I've been using Hammer Perpetuem which has a tiny bit of fat, protein, and carbs. I mix a double batch and it last for a few hours at a time and a find that my body does MUCH better with that than shoving gels down my throat every 30 minutes.

Adam's right about the soda stuff too. I hardly ever have soda, but I do put sugar in my coffee.I used to think I put a lot in, 'till I commpared it to how much surgar is in like ONE can of Coke! EEESH!!!

I hope to check out more writings from Ellison. Thank for the info Dave!

What's his take on beer? Oh wait I don't want to know :)



# @ Sunday, October 22, 2006 6:34 PM

And there I was thinking this would be crazy news to most folks. It was to me when Shane first told me his ideas. Maybe I'm old skewl.

Jason, wow! That is amazing, really. Way to take charge and hey, I saw that trophy so you are doing more than competing, you're kicking some booty too.

On the sweetener thing - Shane is really big in Stevia. I've been using it for a couple years now, zero calories, it's natural, and it's really sweet. It does have slightly different sweet flavor that some aren't so fond of, but you might give that a try.


# @ Monday, October 23, 2006 8:30 AM

Watch out with the Stevia!

Dave is right. It is a great alternative. I use it in the manufacture of The drip and Whey Advanced. But if you want it to be palatable you have to use Stevia Extract in its powdered form from NU NATURALS.

There are thousands of steviosides from the stevia plant. Most of them taste bitter. But Nu Naturals uses the absolute sweetest/sugar-like stevioside. Even my 5 year old girl and wife think its sugar. And trust me, if the women like it, so will the men!

Women are born with a sugar radar, they are always on the look out for sugar...But that is another article about sweetness and its chemical cascade in the female body resulting in happiness...Once this cascade is controlled, women abandon those annoying mood swings...men too, but to a much lesser degree...Men get man boobs while women suffer from uncontrolled mood courtesy of the "sugar cascade."


# @ Monday, October 23, 2006 10:30 AM

Interesting. Sounds a similar message to the ideas of people such as Maffetone, Art de Vany or paleo advocates like Gordo Byrn.

Anyway, principle is one thing, practise is another. So, what does Dave Harris eat on a typical (training) day?


# @ Tuesday, October 24, 2006 4:36 AM

Hmmm...typical training day food...

It's hard to summarize a typical day's food cause it all depends on timing of the workout(s). Some generalities, though:

- Fruit and/or veggies at every meal. More fruit in the am, more veggies in the pm.

- veggies: salads on light training days, steamed on heavier days. The steamer is my friend...

- almond butter goes liberally on everything. Rocket fuel!

- common foods are eggs, fish, nuts, avocados, oatmeal and brown rice during heavier training or pre-event.

- most of the above are foods served by Zia's Taqueria. It's right around the corner from my house and is da bomb, so I'm a regular. They've got wifi hotspot too if you need internet...here's where to find them.

Zia's Taqueria
Traditional Mexican flavors...burritos, tacos, quesadillas, dailyspecials and soups. simple, tasteful, authentic food. Beer and Margaritas 11AM-8PM. 6:30AM Breakfast burritos and coffee.

3101 Main Ave


Anyway, that's my big picture plan. There is one glaring omission, and that would be chocolate. Chocolate and coffe, those are my vices ;)


# @ Tuesday, October 24, 2006 4:33 PM


What with convenience and cost constraints, my rapantly fast metabolism (for want of a more accurate scientific phrase) and occasional IBS I'm still working on my 'ideal' diet, so always on the lookout for ideas...

I guess you're when out training you're still on polymeric carb drinks and gels, rather than, say, putting coconut oil in your bidon and sticking a lump of cheese in your jersey back pocket?


# @ Tuesday, October 24, 2006 5:47 PM

This must be Duncan from the UK, yes? I can hear your accent in your writing :)

Training nutrition is a totally different subject. For going long, electrolytes are a big deal. Recent research also indicates certain amino acids can delay fatigue, I think this is because they get burned for fuel eventually and leave a higher proportion of tryptophan in your noggin. Sugar gets bad after about 4 hours too. Take all these things together and you want a drink with electrolytes, amino acids (or possibly protein), complex carbs.

I've been using eGel and eFuel for a few years to fulfull these requirements, and it has been the bomb. Mix in some enduralytes (they are unbeatable) when it's really hot. I also eat bananas like a monkey, typically aiming for 1/hour.

For really long events (or training rides over 5 hours), there comes a point when solid food is needed, and that usually comes in the form of almond butter and honey tort wraps, but in a 24 it could be anything I can get my mits on that tastes good. The palette is unpredictable in 24s...oreos, oatmeal, soup in the night is almost universal.

The last couple of months I've been experimenting with using The Drip, a HealthFX product, with eFuel. It has proven to be an awesome drink mix, really satisfying because of the protein content. The downside is that it wasn't really made to be used in ultra events and has 1000mg vit C per serving, so after say 6 hours I've ingested close to 10g vit C and my gut goes south. I hope to work with Shane to make an ultra endurance formula...we'll see where that goes. That has become my standard drink for rides of 6 or less hours now.

So there's a few more ideas...what works for you?


# @ Wednesday, October 25, 2006 2:14 PM

Yup, Duncan from the UK.

As for me, the starting point is a carb drink, though I'll tend to have one bottle/Camelback with water and one bottle with extra-strong energy drink. (Too many years training on just water and solids?) As long as it has sugar, salt and tastes okay I'm not too fussy. I remember proving the efficacy of sugar/salt solutions when I was living in Sydney and out for a 127 mile road ride with a visiting friend in mid-summer. Over half way round his legs went south, plus he maybe even started having heat stroke; got some Gatorade into him at a gas station and he was soon fine! Not sure where I sit on simple/complex carbs, not sure it makes so much odds really and I nowadays I'm sceptical of most claims. IMO, since most of the effectiveness (say 95%) is from having a sugar/salt solution, the marketing and product differentiation has to reside in making the most of that last 5%, leading to selling points of minor and ineffective tweaks. (Not to mention all the suspect studies used in support of the products - e.g. use of isopower cycling to failure, not using iso-calorie comparitors.)

Having said that since I've been here I've been using Hammer HEED which has more of the complex carbs, and it does *seem* distinctly good. OTOH back home, where I have most of my experiences, the choice is really limited so experimentation is difficult. Also back home most of my long training would be in winter and spring, so cold weather. Since I don't sweat so much, this means getting all the fuel from a drink is out of the question (unless I want to stop for a piss every 30 minutes), so I'd use solids more - typically bananas (to save money), and then energy bars or occasional gels (mostly kept for emergencies). One or two of my training influences are old school, hence I have tried going on purposefully limited calories before now. Still not sure where I stand on this approach; from what I've read most science doesn't approve of the notion, it can be a recipe for miserable training experiences, and it's hard to support more intense and thus effective training efforts, but still there is a certain naive logic in it... (Just consider this - back in the day, my main personal proponent of this method, Ken Platts, rode a 100 mile time trial in 3hr 48 on a drop bar road bike with standard box-section rim wheels on three bottles of water.)

Otherwise, for me bars (especially the orginal Powerbars) and gels are both good for racing. Gels are a great instant pick me up. Which, as it happens, is entirely consistent with the original inspiration for their design. (See the Lore of Running for more on this.) I have no experience on the ultra-racing (e.g. 24 hr) that you do, so cannot comment on that. Right now I'm doing very little (aside from 9.5 total miles/day commuting only averaged 1.5 rides/week this year - eek!), but I did ride the Whiskey 50 in May. For that 1 Camelback of water, two 700 mill bottles of HEED mixed extra strong and 1 gel was good for my 4 hour ride time, and meant I didn't need to waste time on aid stations (though I had to carry more).

Anyway, one of these days I'll head out the door with a bottle of water and a lump of lard and see how I get on ;-)