If you are an endurance athlete, you know fueling is one of the biggest challenges and that the success or failure in your sport can literally hinge upon getting enough calories. We are told by the ‘experts’ about our limited glycogen reserves and how this limitation dictates the ingestion of copious amounts of carbohydrates to supply the energy demand of high level athletic performance . . .
There is a better way
There is another pathway innovators and early adopters in endurance sports are choosing that is aligned with our native physiology. In this Podcast Highlight with innovator, Bryce Thatcher, we delve into the plethora of benefits through optimizing fat metabolism. These include:
- Enhanced performance including longevity in sport
- Eliminating the ‘bonk’
- Eliminates the need to carry copious amounts of fuel all the time
- Exponentially accelerated recovery (from preventing cellular damage you have to recover from)
- A vastly simplified diet consisting of whole foods
- Long term health and vitality
Introduction to Optimizing Your Fat Metabolism
For those unfamiliar with the term, optimized fat metabolism (OFM) refers to training the body to burn fat as its primary aerobic energy source . . . think about it for a moment . . . the reason we store tens of thousands of calories as fat is because this is the energy source we are meant to use most of the time, while reserving the limited glucose/glycogen stores we possess as our “Fight or Flight” energy or as a “bridge” fuel to fat burning whenever energy demand increases.
For Bryce Thatcher, this began with an experience many endurance athletes can relate to: the burden of carrying a bunch of energy gels on his long, self-supported rides while setting some Fastest Known Times (FKTs) on mountain biking trails like the White Rim Trail in Utah. Early on he found himself needing 30 packets of Gu Energy Gels. The inconvenience of carrying these on self-supported rides, along with the “GU fatigue” of consuming so many, led him on a quest to find a better solution.
Like any true problem solver / innovator, Bryce began a series of experiments by embarking on extended bike rides without using calories . . . first starting with two hours then progressively increasing the duration consuming only water. The outcome was astonishing. He realized he could significantly reduce his reliance on gels, needing only one packet per hour, without compromising on his high-output performance. This experience wasn't just limited to biking. He shared that he now runs for 2-3 hours weekly, consuming only water, without a hint of fatigue.
How Fat Burning Can Work for Endurance Racing
Bryce's success isn't an isolated incident. Notable elite athletes like Jeff Browning and Peter Mortimer have adopted similar lifestyles and this has yielded winning and record setting performance results. As Bryce articulates they all share a common diet, free from processed foods, echoing our ancestral dietary patterns. This fundamental lifestyle shift is credited as the secret behind their outstanding performances, robust health and longevity in sport.
The overarching message from Bryce and his peers is clear: To unlock peak performance, athletes should consider looking to the past. Our ancestral physiology and metabolism were crafted for robust health. In contrast, today's modern environment, laden with processed foods, can work against our natural strengths. By embracing a fat-adapted lifestyle, athletes can harness the power of their evolutionary heritage.
This does not mean that the modern fueling tools are eliminated. By optimizing fat metabolism, they actually can be used more effectively using significantly less while yielding a much higher level of performance and, most importantly, without the ‘unintended consequences’ from their overconsumption which, physiologically / metabolically, amounts to sugar.Bryce Thatcher, spotlighted through his pioneering innovation in hydration (ultraspired.com), serves as an inspiration for those looking to elevate their endurance performance. His story, along with those of other notable personalities like Jeff Browning, Peter Mortimer and many others, showcase that with the right fuel, our bodies are capable of remarkable feats without being dependent on external calories. By drawing inspiration from our ancestors and adopting OFM, athletes can redefine their limits to achieve unparalleled levels of what we call “Higher Health & Peak Performance”.