Have you guys seen how incredible Usain Bolt is? Does anyone know what his diet is? In my humble opinion diet counts! Maybe he's on the paleo diet, probably not though, that's just stupid.
I've been meaning to write about this for a while, maybe I'll use this as the starting point for a much better post (when I have the time). But you cannot look at elite athletes and make any comparisons to what a normal person should do.
Imagine a graph with two axes. One axis is "performance" and the other is "health". You can pick what ever metrics you want for performance: it could be mile time, Fran time, max deadlift. I don't care, it's just whatever you want to measure for performance. Likewise for health, you can pick whatever you want to measure: leanness, weight (I hate that one), how you feel day-to-day, are you always sick, etc.
So now, when we all found paleo (and probably crossfit) we were pretty low on performance and low on health. So on that graph you're imagining you put a dot near the origin. As you go along with paleo (and crossfit), you probably start performing better and your health gets better, so if you draw a line from where you start the line will slope upwards as both performance and health increase.
However, that line cannot go up forever. There will be some point at which you need to make a decision: do I get healthier giving up performance, or do I get faster, better, stronger giving up some health. That's where the elite athletes are. They are not pictures of health because they push their bodies too hard (and probably eat crap to fuel that work).
For us normal people, usually if we do something that helps our performance, it makes us healthier, or if we do something to help our health, it makes us perform better. That's why we think we can extrapolate to the elites, but we cannot.
Note: there's another axis I'm not talking about and that's longevity. For example, it's pretty well known that (severe) calorie restriction increases longevity. However, you'll be cold, sick and have no sex drive. Do you want to live forever but give up on day-to-day health? Some people do. I do not.
You have to pick where you want to live in that plot and work towards your goals.
One thing I've noticed and also assumed is that just by default, the diets of athletes in other countries are usually of a higher quality than in the US. Even if it's just a small margin, some of the food quality in other places is of better quality and from a better source.
There was a documentary on BBC2 about why Jamaican's are so good at running, it was to do with the slave trade, a sort of man-made, forced evolution whereby only the fittest survived the horrendous conditions of the boat-trips across the slave routes
No matter what anyone eats they will never be able to outrun Bolt
My friend saw the whole Jamaican team coming out of nanddos during there stay in Birmingham , so I guess we can assume bolt is a fan of chicken. Maybe extra spicey piri piri sauce gives him that extra kick lol
I remember reading in Born to Run that one of the greatest ultra marathoners ever liked Pepsi and pizza at races. Ultra elite cardio bunnies can actually survive on pretty crappy diets as long as they're pumped with glucose, it seems ; )