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Sick of gels and powders? If regular sports nutrition makes you gag, eating natural could be the answer…
We spoke to Warren Pole, founder of 33Shake to find out more about these new superfood shakes.
Here’s what he told us:
As a long time ultrarunner I began my journey into big miles with an equally large pile of nutrition guides, and before I knew it was ingesting more processed sugary cack than you could shake a fat kid in a sweetshop at. It kept me going, but the price I paid in misery, shockingly bad wind and endless dry retching at the trailside was just too high. It didn’t sort out my bonking problem either.
As a fitness journalist I was lucky to meet a lot of the world’s best endurance athletes and would quiz them on their diet. They were all keen on real food over processed supplements, and superfoods kept cropping up in the mix.
One big breakthrough was learning about burning fat for fuel. By altering your training and diet, you can significantly raise the threshold below which your body burns fat for energy – the higher this is, the longer you can race or train on your natural reserves which is easier, cheaper and a lot calmer on your stomach and mental state than riding the never-ending series of sugar crashes of regular gels and so on.
So I junked all sports nutrition products and saw a big jump in performance. But what to eat in the meantime?
More research and more interviews revealed several key things needed for an ideal endurance diet:
- Good fats to promote most efficient fat-burning
- A massive nutritional and alkalysing hit to boost immune function and prevent post-exercise immunosuppression (PEIS – where heavy training or racing leaves you with no immune function temporarily and prone to every cough and sneeze going)
- Plenty of natural anti-inflammatories for perfect recovery and antioxidants to mop up the free radicals that will age you faster than Benjamin Button which are brought on by endurance efforts.
Oh, and all of this needed to be as unprocessed and natural as possible – processing decimates any food’s original nutritional values.
While I understood the theory and saw tangible benefits on this diet, it was impossible to stick to while also juggling work, family and social life. I’d repeatedly end up starving and falling off the wagon into an entire pack of Mr Kipling’s Cherry Bakewells, sending me right back to square one.
Then I met Dan, a vastly experienced superfood nutritionist who’d spent ten years blending raw superfoods for maximum nutritional benefit and to treat a range of common ailments with huge success.
Five years ago I would have dismissed the likes of hemp seeds, goji berries and reishi mushrooms as hippy food for nutters. But that was then. As my own endurance experience had intensified and I’d learned how important a solid nutritional base was, and as I’d seen more and more top level performers swearing by the same stuff, I was now ready to listen.
I told Dan what I needed, and he set to work to mix me up a blend I could take daily as a breakfast shake that would pack the ultimate endurance nutritional punch. It tasted awesome and sorted my diet out with almost no hassle – making porridge took longer. And then I saw the results.
Within three months I’d knocked an hour off my 50 mile PB on the same course. Sure I was a year more experienced, but an hour? Could it be the shakes?
Indeed it could because the year carried on this way as I smashed all my previous bests, and ran further and faster than I ever had culminating in finishes at the 75-mile mountain epic that is the Laveredo Ultra Trail and the monstrous Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc.
Better still, I didn’t get sick all year (still haven’t got ill since in fact) and recovered better than ever. Traveling for work or racing was also no longer the dietary tightrope it had been – I just threw a few shakes in my bag.
So last year, along with another partner, the three of us went into business making these shakes.
The company’s called 33Shake (it’s a shake, and it has 33 superfood ingredients in case you were wondering where the name came from).
And for more on fat burning, beating post-exercise immunosuppression, why traditional sports drinks are rubbish and all sorts of other endurance related matters, check out our blog.
You can find out more about 33Shake at www.33shake.com.
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