Don't eat the Christmas Cookies! (and other dietary nonsense)
published 12/18/2017 - Training for Climbing and Bouldering

It‘s that time of year again, tons of food, delicious treats and drinks are waiting on every corner to be devoured and enjoyed in the company of family and friends.

But as a climber we can‘t eat that, right?
We have to be light to finish off that project next year!
So let‘s not eat the Christmas cookies and have a yummie kale smoothie instead - it‘s almost the same, isn‘t it?

That seems to be what a lot of the athlete / fitness / climbing nutrition advice seems to be these days.

But before you ask for my personal killer healthy non-fat, low-carb, gluten-free christmas cookie recipe, I have a confession:

I eat the real thing.

The kind of cookie containing flour, butter and yes, even sugar!
The kind that the „nutrition experts“ are telling you to avoid.
The kind that actually tastes good!

 

Eating, bodyweight and health is a topic that is very present in the climbing community.
And bodyweight certainly does play a large role in climbing.
Anybody who has tried to climb with even a light weighted belt knows how surprisingly hard that extra 2kg make a route or boulder.

But the approach taken is often so wrong.
We focus too much on bodyweight, when the actual discussion should be about body composition. It is the „useless“ weight that we carry around that should be the target of any attempts to modify bodyweight, not the complete body itself.
Some people are even worried they carry too much muscle and that‘s what makes them heavy and unable to climb harder. I can‘t even begin to convey to you how wrong that is.
Unless you are a world class bodybuilder or cyclist with a thigh circumference of 100+ cm, loosing muscle to improve your climbing should be the last thing for you to think about.

So ideally we would focus on body composition, maintaining or even gaining muscle while getting rid of the fat.
But how to do that?

Even spending just 5 minutes on amazon or google-ing for „diet“ will certainly make you more confused than ever on what to do and what approach to take.

„The 3 Step Diet“ - „The 5 Step Diet“ - „The New Abs Diet“ - „The Low-Carb Diet“ - „The High Carb Diet“ - „Big Breakfast Diet“ - „The No Breakfast Plan“ - „The Southern Beach Diet“ - „The Jesus Diet“ (I swear, I‘m not making this up!)…

So where the heck to start if you want to get serious about improving your body composition?

Let‘s check what actual true science has to say about the subject.

The first thing researchers found when comparing the effectiveness of popular diets in regards to moderate weight loss is, not the details of the diet itself mattered but
1. Caloric Deficit - caloric intake has to be lower than TDEE (i.e. You can only lose weight if you eat less than your body consumes during the day)
2. Dietary Adherence is key (only if you stick to your chosen diet for a longer time without „cheating“ too much, can you expect solid results)

The other thing they found when asking what diet is best for health is
3. „A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention“

That suddenly doesn‘t sound too complicated does it?
And it‘s a great start to an otherwise hugely complicated subject!

Another time we will take a closer look at different details and research that we as athletes can make use of in order to optimize our body composition without sacrificing muscle, strength or health.
But for now, let‘s get back to the Christmas cookies!

So yes, I eat the real Christmas cookies, yes, that‘s really ok and yes, I believe you should do it too!
You see, every time you decide to eat one thing or to not eat something else, you are making a decision about what‘s important to you.
It‘s just that only some of the time we are truly realize that‘s what we are doing.
It does get dangerous when you start making these decisions unconsciously, just eating everything (or even not eating anything!) „just because“.

But making the decision to eat a few Christmas cookies during the holidays can be a very healthy thing.

It might express that what matters to you right now is

  • feeling good
  • enjoying the company and sharing a meal
  • feeding not only your body but just as much your soul
  • trying new things
  • the taste of your favourite drink or food
  • ...

At least these are some of the things most important to me during the holidays.

I don‘t want to tell you what to do, what to think or what to eat.
But I do want to make you think a bit about preconceived notions, about common misconceptions, to help you choose more consciously, with awareness and intention.

 

After all, you can enjoy some Christmas cookies and still send that hard project next year!

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