Food for Performance

OTTE Gear Todd Fairbairn Thanksgiving 2020

January 31, 2021

I have been reading a book called Genius Foods by a health and science journalist named Max Lugavere who watched his 58 year old mom develop dementia and wondered how much food played a role.  As the title says, food (and lifestyle) impacts your brain and performance.  As I am now firmly in middle age I am always looking for ways to hold onto my youthful edge and this book has helped shift my behavior.

I am sharing because I know a lot of our OTTE Gear customers are athletes, some of you have the time and inclination to participate in intense competitions like The Tactical Games and Crossfit. For others, your work or daily life require physical prowess. At a minimum, I want to assume that you are performance-oriented and therefore I thought you'd be interested in Genius Foods

Like many guys my age with school age kids, we don’t always eat the best food: we eat the uneaten scraps off plates, drink too much booze after a long day, are tempted by the drive-in options around every corner.  I've been doing that for 15 years now and it caught up with me.  I gained 20 pounds; my knees and hips ached; my gut was tight as a drum and getting bigger; my pecs were getting soft and doughy. I stopped running as a cardio workout, I woke up groggy, and my wife complained that I was asking the same question five times. I also started getting heartburn when I slept and it was getting bad, to the point where I was wondering if I was having a heart attack. 

Turns out my shitty diet was to blame for a lot of this….

One of the things Max recommends is a list of foods that are proven to help with memory, inflammation and general health: avocados, blueberries, extra virgin olive oil, eggs, wild salmon and grass-fed beef to name a few. There are also foods to avoid like sugar, chips, pasta, breads and processed foods that are packed with sugar and use all the crazy Franken-oils with long shelf lives. 

For January, I cut way back on pasta and bread, chips, desserts. I also cut out booze.  I added in kale, broccoli, turnips, parsnips, beets, brown rice and spelt, and kept my protein pretty much unchanged.   I have been feeling great, clear-headed, well-rested, and have had noticeably more energy. I am not sure if this is just the "high" of knowing I am treating my body well or if my body and brain are rewarding me for treating them better! 

Another thing Max recommended was fasting either for 16 hours/day every day or engage in back-to-back low calorie days. Since I am not a scientist nor a nutritionist, I won't get into the details, but if you are interested, check it out on your own. I will say that I have been fasting 2 days/week for the past 5 years and have gotten used to it, enjoy it and feel benefits from the practice.

My takeaway: Having a "genius foods" diet makes me feel better, more alive, more "ready". The mental fogginess and the pain of not sleeping well were motivators to make permanent lifestyle changes.

That said, I love food too much to think I will cut out pizza & beer or burgers & fries entirely.  And, food is love, and love is a balancing act filled with the Godly and the Forbidden. IMHO, breaking bread with family, friends, co-workers, your unit, etc., is a BIG, MEMORABLE and ENJOYABLE part of life and those moments can't always be steamed veggies and brown rice. 

So - balancing act? Let me know what you think - what is your experience and what are your thoughts on the topic? Come see me at SHOT show 2022 and let's talk!