Friday Group Ride #439

Friday Group Ride #439

I stopped eating meat. I bought a tub of protein powder, and then another. I found myself wandering up and down that aisle at the grocery store, you know the one, and wondering if I needed more of the stuff in the bottles on the shelves. I did not expect this.

I have not spent a lot of time working on optimizing myself. I don’t take vitamins. I don’t take fish oil. I only recently learned that there are Omega-6 fats. I don’t know what they do, but I admit, I’m curious.

As a person past his putative prime, I have only recently come around to the idea of trying to remain healthy and spry, rather than actually just being healthy and spry. There is the idea of lifespan, i.e. how long you live, but also the idea of healthspan, i.e. how close you are to optimal health during your lifespan, as articulated by Dr. Peter Attia, who might be too earnest for me, but still says a lot of things that make sense.

Some of my curiosities were also fed by this version of the Outside Podcast.

Athletes (charitably) my age should, evidently, be consuming more protein than younger folks, but also, possibly, incorporating some sort of collagen into their diets to promote cartilage repair. I can confirm that I do have a lot of cartilage that needs repairing, thanks to roughly 40 years of regular soccer.

And then the fad of the moment seems to be to fast, and that can take on all sorts of guises, pro-longed, intermittent, micro, partial, etc. I have not undertaken a fast myself, but I do understand that it has some influence on how the body partitions fuel (i.e. chooses to burn glycogen or fat). Many of the keto-inclined diets also seek to effect fuel partitioning.

I will say loudly and insistently right here, right now, that I am not a scientist, I am not advocating for any of these solutions, and my general attitude is probably like yours, in that I think if I eat reasonably and move a lot, I’ll be ok. But. I’m more curious now than I’ve ever been before, and that’s driven mainly by feeling slower overall than I ever have before, despite a strong and consistent exercise ethic.

This week’s Group Ride asks if you’ve tried any of these ideas. Are you even curious about this stuff? I mentioned at the outset that I stopped eating meat, which I did mainly as a gesture of sacrifice (rather than a real, actual sacrifice) in the cause of combating global warming. My take away from 4-5 months without meat is that I feel better, with more energy generally and fewer mood swings. Your results, as they say, may vary.


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  1. motorthings

    I could use a lot of collagen too, but have not seen any evidence that ingesting it allows it to go where I’d like it to. Have you seen any? My curiosity this month is about CBD, and am leaning towards testing some of Floyd’s product. There is a lack of scientific data backing up the anecdotal claims, but I’m game for the experiment.

    1. Author

      MotorThings, That Outside podcast touches on the collagen thing a bit. The reporter came at it from a pretty skeptical point-of-view, but still thought collagen was worthwhile, so I sorta felt persuaded. On the other hand, a good friend of mine is a prominent marijuana researcher, and she says she has not seen any studies that support the benefits of CBD in isolation. My sense is that there are a million products on the market, very few of them have been tested adequately, and most of them contain a long list of ingredients that make singling out CBD and its effects almost impossible. That is not to say that it doesn’t work, but this woman literally reads all the studies, and she is not convinced anyone knows what works and what doesn’t as regards CBD concoctions. I would only add that a lot of this stuff is pretty innocuous to try. In other words, I’m unaware of serious deleterious effects from consuming 45-60g of protein a day, or some small amount of collagen, or even from rubbing CBD oil into your quads. So that skews things two ways. First, it increases the likelihood of placebo effect, and second, it lowers the barrier to entry. We can try this stuff. I just don’t expect a clap of thunder and the appearance of the fountain of youth.

  2. Quentin

    I’m not that curious because I’m not motivated enough to make any significant changes, yet. I’ve been married to a vegetarian for 20 years, which has meant that my diet is maybe 80% vegetarian. I told myself my cycling and diet was preventing me from gaining weight and keeping me healthier than many of my age cohort. It was probably partially true, but now I find myself in my mid 40s and my weight is slowly inching up. I haven’t yet decided whether I should care about it and try to ride more and/or eat less. I accept that I’m not as fast as I used to be and I haven’t ridden competitively for decades. But, I do feel a small hint of vanity and a desire not to spend money on bigger clothes nudging me the other way. Just not enough to think seriously about any diets yet.

  3. Road Mike

    I’ve been on a whole-food plant-based diet for a few years, and in addition to various other benefits, it has made it fairly easy to stay slim without experiencing hunger (I turned 50 this year). Whole plant foods are much less calorie dense than processed foods packed with refined sugar, flour, and oil, so I can eat as much as I want. Also, in spite of doing regular strength training, I find I don’t need protein supplements in order to build muscle.

  4. scott g

    From the movie Sleeper, where the hero wakes up 200 years in the future……

    Dr. Melik: This morning for breakfast he requested something called “wheat germ, organic honey and tiger’s milk.”
    Dr. Aragon: [chuckling] Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties.
    Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or… hot fudge?
    Dr. Aragon: Those were thought to be unhealthy… precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.
    Dr. Melik: Incredible.

  5. James

    Get lots of quality sleep. Don’t stare at a computer/TV all night long.
    Move a lot, try and do some strength training a few times a week.
    Eat a clean simple diet (if you can read the ingredients on a label, you probably shouldn’t eat it).
    Enjoy the company of friends, laugh, and don’t stress over the senseless things in life.

  6. David

    My mantra is “everything in moderation.” Well….almost everything. My wife swore off red meat 10 years ago and I followed suit (just to make life easier) – at home anyway. I do eat red meat very occasionally when eating out. I eat a largely plant based diet……mostly because I like that sort of stuff. I don’t drink alcohol – again because I just don’t like it. And I don’t obsess over diet or even use any supplements. I weigh the same as I did when I joined the Navy back in 1985.

    I retired at 53 (I’m now 57) and I’m riding more miles, more consistently than at anytime in my life. I feel more fit and stronger (and faster by default) than ever before. I don’t race, I just love to ride fast.

  7. Michael

    After 43 years of not eating meat, I really don’t know what it would be like to eat it. I stopped because I hated the taste of red meat, so it was not a sacrifice. I have tried various meats, like lamb and llama in Argentina and pork in Romania and pancetta in Italy, because they said it was the best, but I don’t seem to discern the difference enough to want a second bite. So, that is easy. I love good wine, so I have a glass of that most nights, and perhaps that is leading to my very slow weight gain. I am now about 6 pounds heavier than I was thirty years ago, but I suspect my slowness is not just due to more weight. Maybe more protein, perhaps fish, would help me build more muscle mass. The problem is that it has to be something you like eating if you are going to keep doing it. So Robot, I’d say do what feels and tastes right, what doesn’t feel like you are always sacrificing something. All those jars of stuff – if it is not enticing, why do it?

  8. Aar

    Unintentionally, I wound up in something like an intermittent fasting routine. My version is eating light to no dinner. It’s been key to 85 pounds of weight loss. The other key has been increased green vegetable, reduced meat and significantly reduced simple carb consumption.

  9. Parker English

    A girlfriend used thoughts about animals as conscious beings in leading the way to our experimenting with vegetarian eating back in 1972. We’re still friends but only I’m still vegetarian — except for leather when not reasonably avoidable. Giving up meat and fish as food seemed remarkably easy, perhaps because I so much hoped it would be. Went from 195 to 185 pounds over several months; push-ups and chin-ups seemed a little easier, as did jogging. Immediately learned vegetarian food is cheaper; years later, that it’s healthier; and years after that, that it stresses the planet less. Thinking only about hunger and taste, my protein needs’ve been adequately met by cheese, yogurt, soymilk, nuts, pnb, various beans, and cream for morning coffee.

    While trying to help my increasingly sore knees, a sports doc discovered my body contained almost no B-12, a not uncommon result of vegetarian eating that can diminish energy. After a year of daily pills and monthly injections, don’t feel any more energetic; the GI tract works better, however, a not uncommon result of adequate B-12. A coupla years before that, a pcp said I needed more D — apparently, my very liberal use of daily sun block to protect my cancer-prone skin prevents what’d otherwise be normal absorption of D from an outdoorsy life. Almost two decades ago, a surgeon recommended daily 1000 mg of C as a prophylactic that works for some people against colds; and it has for me. Only other pill for me is a daily 25 mg of HCT for slightly high blood pressure, something for which my father’s kindly life-force hopes his genes aren’t responsible. If I were sure some other supplement would increase my strength/stamina without adverse effects, I’d certainly experiment with it. Am not sure now, however.

    Injuries had already excluded chin-ups and push-ups, but my arm strength and jogging stamina didn’t begin to weaken noticeably until around age 65 — lighter weights for curls and slower times for shorter runs. Dexterity also diminished by then. The distinction between being spry and trying to remain that way didn’t occur with respect to cycling, however, till age 74. Indeed, till then my yearly mileage had increased by two-thirds after retirement at 70. The concept of fitness-as-hygiene is still part of my sense of self, but my body just doesn’t support the old criteria for it. I’m one of those who’s glad that, while regrettable, this feels ok, I don’t have to put additional time and effort into keeping-myself-young exercise . . . and who doffs his hat to those with more ambition.
    The same girlfriend who led me into vegetarianism led me into a half-dozen three- or five-day fasts. What I remember that might be relevant to athletes who want to remain spry is the self-control over the pain of hunger that’s involved; and that wanting such self-control to exist helped in making it so. Of course, the pain within fasting is smaller than that within a day of fitness cycling, but it can last longer.

    A Muslim-type fast from sunup to sundown each day for a month lasts longer than just three or five days. Because I had several Muslim friends while living in Nigeria during the ’80s, I experimented with that type twice during a Ramadan. Again, self-control’s involved; but its waxing and waning feels different from that in full-time fasting. I could still jog close to sundown every other day, but was a little light-headed while doing so. Am not now tempted to either type of fast myself, but am glad to’ve had the experiences they involved back in the day.

  10. Lyford

    I was mostly vegetarian for a few years. I’m still mostly plant-based with fish and eggs as occasional animal protein sources — which my body seems to like — but the rest of the meat aisle has little appeal. When traveling or visiting I’ll happily eat what’s offered, meat or not, but I don’t crave meat at home.

    I seem to recover better since I became more disciplined about post-ride refueling which includes some protein.

  11. Gary

    I found out about ketogenic eating from Peter Attia and his (lengthy) video on YouTube ( Peter himself is a very interesting person and medical doctor. He challenges assumptions in a scientific way and doesn’t take “common knowledge” at face value without some quality data to back it up.

    Keto works well for me for weight loss, less hunger/craving, and general simplicity. I’m definitely a carb addict which I think is why the benefits were so noticeable to me. There’s also a zero chance I will ever stop eating meat, just my choice and preference.

    I have done stints of suppliments, vitamins etc and can’t say I notice any difference. Perhaps long term it helps, don’t know. My biggest fundamental issue with all the potential products is how you measure the results. Were you low on something, took something and then could see a measured difference with testing? How do you decide what to take in the first place? I’ve taken the high road and just avoided the entire process. YMMV……..quite a lot potentially.

  12. Tominalbany

    Three of my four grandparents died from cancer. Two of them had coronary issues that ultimately led to their deaths. My father’s had a triple bypass and is on meds. My mother is also on meds. I took all of that as my warning a very long time ago. As such, I’ve done my level best to live in a reasonably healthy way yet, not forget, I’m going to die someday anyway.

    So, moderation and intelligence is the key. I eat very little fried food and don’t eat a ton of meat. I love veggies so it makes it easy to inhale them. My weakness? Cookies and candy. I try not to go nuts and try to keep them out of the house. Hard with a wife and two kids…

    That said, I’ve tried to always think before I eat or do anything. I like beer but don’t drink much as it makes me sleepy and useless anyway. I’ve exercised regularly for the last 30 years or so. I’m still below my college ‘beer-and-pizza’ weight.I am edging closer though. And I have issues in my knees and hips/back. I’m only 53 and hope to have another GOOD 30 years on the planet. We’ll see.

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