Why Is Diet And Recovery Important?

Bear with me…

Specifically…what does diet and general quality of recovery impact? In my mind…there two potential things.

  1. Ability to perform work/complete workouts.

  2. Assist or hinder adaptations.

I’m sure about #1, and have experienced #1. Not so sure about #2…can poor diet inhibit positive adaptations, even if one is completing all prescribed workouts?

A more streamline way of asking this…can diet affect improvement independent of workouts? Or is diet merely a tool to facilitate greater work capacity/workout compliance?

well obviously #2 is true if you make the diet poor enough, so the question is really how much does diet matter above the baseline of standard western diet.

But is that actually true??

If 2 people with the same genetics, same training history, same ftp, follow the same training plan with 100% compliance, but one does it following ‘the endurance diet,’ and the other one lives off of pizza, beer, and doritos…will one be faster than the other at the end of the plan?

I honestly dont know the answer. I mean obviously if you make the bad diet poor enough you could argue that person would never complete the training plan…but thats not really what i’m referring to.

I would bet that it depends on whether they get the same macros or not.

First off, macro’s are not likely to match, so there’s that. Secondly, it’s not just macros, but also how hard something is to digest and process for your body, which in turn might make you sleep worse. Beer = alchohol = liver working to break it down. Eating worse is often sugar spikes. Different foods probably influence hormones. I’m sure we can come up with many ways it impacts, but it’s a good podcast question too.

All very true…BUT the same question remains…do those things make it more difficult to complete workouts, or do they blunt adaptations?

Eat a healthy meal say an hour before a workout then a day or two later repeat the workout but after eating some chocolate cookies. Then come back and let us know if the two felt different. I’m pretty sure you’ll know after eating the cookies :wink:

My assumption is based on some fundamental principles of how trainerroad works. Basically you need to be producing the most work for the most amount of time you can to get the most adaptation. Intervals allow you to get more work in at higher wattages than you could if you were just riding continuously hard. If you don’t reach the peaks that you would if you were recovered and fueled, you won’t see the adaptations you could.

I’m also curious as to the specific mechanics of how diet affects performance gains.

But how about using a less extreme example? It may obfuscate the issue by using a hypothetical that rarely exists among endurance athletes. Who here eats junk food 21 meals per week?

Instead, let’s compare a diet that is squeaky clean to a diet that’s “kind of clean”. For example, someone who eats fast food and/or pizza 2-3 meals per week, which may include fried food, but skip the soda. So that’s unhealthy eating for 1/7 of their total meals. On top of that, some vegetables, but maybe only 5-6 days per week. Finally, white rice, white bread, and flour pasta, in lieu of the brown variety or alternatives like quinoa.

The assumption is that the macros and micros are all there in both cases. Total calories also controlled in both cases.

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You’ll probably feel better with the cookies, as long as they’re not too greasy. The sugar will be available to fuel the muscles almost immediately, whereas the healthy meal will sit in the gut. Best to eat a meal 3 hours before the workout.

Post-workout is a completely different story. Those cookies will do nothing [good] for you an hour or later after the ride.

You don’t. Trust me! I’ve a fairly robust gut but felt queasy after the cookies and they were a make I’m used to.

The pizza and beer rider would probably be malnourished and have micro-nutrient deficiencies. Go watch Supersize Me and see how the McDonalds affect the guy.

I know personally I feel like crap the next morning if I eat crap food and drink alcohol. I also see my HRV dip the day after indulging in take-out and booze.

Anecdotally, I experimented with diet 25 years ago when I was racing and had some breakthrough performances. Being in my twenties I had a kid’s diet and one night it would be pizza, one night a burger, one night something else - I ate out every lunch and 3-4X per week for dinner.

I tried the Zone Diet was was a whole food diet based on macros 33.33% each of carb, protein, and fat. It really helped but ultimately it was really hard to cook, measure, and track calories so I fell out of compliance … unfortunately.

I say unfortunately, because that kid’s diet led to weight gain after I stopped racing and riding 200 miles per week. It’s taken me 25 years to get back to an almost all whole foods diet.

that movie was pretty much fake nonsense…it did have a huge effect on me when I watched it to, so I’m not just randomly trying to shit on it out of love for McDonalds or something

Recovery to increase supercompensation cycle.

Diet to increase number of supercompensation cycles over time.