Automatic Endurance Training
Ok, do I have your attention? My apologies. Your diet is not bullshit, and you shouldn't let anyone tell you it is. We've all gotta make money, you lazy shit: Or at least that's what my grandpop keeps telling me. And some of us (yes, myself included), are trying to make money by telling you what to do. This actually isn't a terrible line of work, IF undertaken with good intentions. Unfortunately, you'll come across more than a few people interested only in peddling their particular protein shake, vitamins, or brand of non-dairy trickery. They don't give a damn about making you better; they give a damn about making your wallet lighter. I'm no saint, and so I'm admittedly interested in both. Though if I had to pick one, rest assured I'd rather make you better. That's why the blog is free. That, and I otherwise couldn't get anyone to read my writing: Harper Collins told me to go fuck myself.
So you're vegan? cool. I support that. Only vegetarian? That's cool too. What's that? You go out daily and murder bison with your bare hands, eat its flesh raw in the fields, then make boots from its hide? Alright, man! You do you. There's no one diet that's right for everyone, and I'm inclined to believe there's no one diet that's "right" for anyone. Our bodies are extremely good at adapting, and THRIVING with what's on hand, which is one of the many reasons why homo sapiens are still around, and homo habilis is not. We're the latest, greatest, baddest iteration of the Ape (Unless you count our inferior strength and knack for starting worldwide conflict). Your body is going to use what you put into it, and poor health is often associated with quantity, not purely quality (okay, usually it's high quantity of poor quality).
Alright, alright, gluten "intolerants," stop chucking loaves of bread at me. This doesn't apply to EVERYONE. But it does apply to most people. There are people with special dietary needs, and these people know they have special dietary needs. Their doctor has told them so. If your doctor hasn't told you so, and you don't burst into flames every time you drink a glass of milk, then you're better off focusing less on what you're putting in your mouth, and more on how much you're putting in your mouth.
Don't believe me? Usain Bolt ran a World's best in Beijing eating nothing but chicken nuggets. Marshawn Lynch famously used to eat Skittles in the weight room. Boom. Roasted. But their sports are strength based, you whine. Low weight isn't as important for them, you plead. Endurance sports cause different stress on the body, you opine. To which I reply, if you're treating your endurance sport as a one-speed, non-explosive endeavor, you're never going to make a significant gain. A road cyclist, runner, swimmer or triathlete has more in common with a track sprinter than we're usually ready to admit (Gebreselassie kicking down Tergat to win Gold in the Sydney 10,000m, or Wiggins winning a bunch sprint in Romandie come to mind). The truth is, without explosive speed, you'll never win. Even the great mountain goats have to attack. But that's a different discussion for a different day. (As a counter example to Usain Bolt, I'd like to offer Dave Zabriskie: a vegan who rode the Tour several times, only breaking his diet for a can of sardines, and a suitcase full of EPO).
In the meantime, have some confidence. You're not doing it wrong. If someone tells you "You need to be eating this," gently remind them that we're all different; what works for one, may not work for all, and they can go get stuffed for all you care. As long as you're taking in adequate protein, getting enough fat, and some carbs for your explosive work, you're going to be fine. No one Macro is the devil: They all have their time and their place.
If you've made it this far without writing a scathing review on Yelp, I'd like to offer a caveat or two: First, your body needs fat. Don't cut all fat from your diet. Your brain will turn to mush, or worse, you'll bonk. Second, eat protein. I don't care if you get it from elk, or your neighbor's lawn clippings; if you're embarking on a strenuous training program, you need a baseline of 2g/kg of LEAN body weight (as per the recommendation of Team Sky). Without protein, you won't get stronger. Simple as that. And don't underestimate the power of not hating what you eat. Happiness goes a long way to performance.
Now go eat something.