i finally managed to achieve vegetarianism at the age of fourteen, very much against the wishes of my parents who were firmly of the belief that the mantra 'meat to live' was a thoroughly necessary requirement. it took them to pop off for a couple of weeks' holiday to allow a substantial degree of dietary subterfuge. this change in eating habits has lasted ever since.
only about three years later, when studying to be the next big thing on the british art scene, i met a boyfriend and girlfriend in my year at college who both claimed to be vegans. yes, we did indulge in the usual star trek jokes about them apparently not possessing pointed ears, but so into this exaggerated vegetarianism were they, and obviously not into star trek that i fear not even a smile was raised. the bloke in particular was tall and stick-thin, the very figure of a man who likely had to run around in the shower to get wet. though veganism has infrequently been an attraction, i've always figured it to be probably a step too far, for me at least.
grant petersen's latest book 'eat bacon, don't jog' is the sort of volume that would have vegans scurrying to find a pair of organic cotton gloves to lift it off the bookshelf. if, like me, you have operated under the cyclist's necessity of stuffing our faces with every carbohydrate known to mankind, whether constituted in breakfast, lunch, dinner, energy bar or gels, mr petersen's contention that we are doing it all wrong, might well come as something of a surprise. as the man says in his introduction "(this book) will derail your thinking on food and workouts. In it, I'll explain why your attempts to lose weight permanently have failed, and how eating nutritious fat and enduring short bursts of intense exercise will reverse that."
yes, you did indeed read that correctly; grant petersen, owner of hippy dippy rivendell cycles did actually promote the eating of fat. and nutritious fat at that.
the basis of this contention lies with an entirely different approach to what you and i have been given to understand "...your body converts carbs into a kind of sugar called glucose, and the glucose goes into your blood." so far, so good; that pretty much falls into the basis of the system under which we have all laboured for most of our cycling careers. however "Your body treats glucose in your blood as poison, and your pancreas leaps to the rescue by secreting insulin, a hormone that that determines where your energy comes from; what you burn for calories."
once again, mr petersen tells us nothing that we didn't already know. or, if you're sufficiently immersed in dieting to gain power and stamina, probably should know. the book continues in this vein to assert that it is this insulin that prevents your body from burning fat as its primary energy source, and also the very stuff that keeps you hungry, pressing you to consume more carbohydrates and start the process all over again.
to exit from this loop, petersen's solution is that you cut back on those carbs to lower your insulin levels and thus promote the use of fat as a source of energy. "...eat loads of fat and almost no carbohydrates and don't get fat." we're probably all very much aware that the never-ending series of articles pushed in our direction via the cycling periodicals and seemingly endless number of athlete's cookbooks, generally advise very much the opposite. and bearing in mind grant petersen's previous book 'go ride' which often seemed contentious for the joy of so doing, there's the sneaking suspicion that he relishes every minute of this contrary stance.
that, however, doesn't make him wrong.
you need only read a few of his single page chapters to start making comparisons with the atkins diet, and petersen himself makes no bones about this juxtaposition citing this as the first of four low-carb diets in chapter 13. sadly, there's no way that i can check the veracity of his dietary contentions, not even in the short term, for it seems that eat bacon, don't jog has no tolerance level for any form of vegetarian, let alone vegans. i daresay the clue was in the book's title, for a quick scouring of the index reveals no instance of any non-carnivore diet and in fact only references mention of vegetables on pages 41 and 42.
thus, the recipes contained in the rearmost section are rife with cheeses, butter, ghee, eggs and cream. few of them would agree with either my vegetarian stomach or philosophy. vegans would be well advised to steer well clear. (in the bibliography he cites lierre keith's the vegetarian myth as one of his influences.)
however, no matter how eccentric and reactionary i think grant petersen may delight in being, his logic might take some beating. i am well past the point of having any great desire to train for anything; i cycle because i enjoy cycling. however, according to grant "(exercise) is a good thing for many reasons, but weight loss isn't one of them. So enjoy your hikes, walks, rows, bike rides, and swims without any regard for the calories they burn up" that alone ought to raise more than one or two hackles. this is based on the apocryphal notion that because we burn so many calories riding our bikes, we're hungry enough to immediately replace them when we get home.
but petersen vociferously advocates his recently discovered dietary knowledge with perhaps too little perspective. and though i doubt it would bother him much, he comes across just a tad too self-righteous and dogmatic, something that all but verges on arrogance. he decries conventional thinking as "...the biggest lie in health." perchance a tad paranoid? the author is now sixty and claims to be the healthiest and fittest he's ever been. but i'm rapidly approaching the same age, having been a vegetarian and carbo loader for over forty years. i still fit into the jacket i wore on my wedding day, i take a size small in bibshorts and i like to think i too am fitter and healthier than i've ever been. the last time i visited my general practitioner was in 1994, and i've not had a day off sick in twenty years.
perhaps i'm the exception to petersen's proposed new rules, but i very much doubt i'm the only one, the existence of which seems not to be taken into consideration in 'eat bacon, don't jog'. i mean this as a criticism right enough, but assuming his logic and science are sound, there's every possibility that this may be the ideal diet and exercise book for many a velocipedinal carnivore.
i'll have to leave it to someone else to verify.
thursday 12 march 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................