important nutrient for childhood brain development. Conversely, it
suggests that carbohydrates are probably the worst foods for brain
Past research on nutrition commonly focused on how dietary fat
was thought to be the main cause of obesity and heart disease.
Since fat had more calories, gram for gram, than sugar, it was
widely believed to be the biggest culprit in causing obesity. It
sounded like it made sense. What’s more, there were some
studies that seemed to suggest that there was a statistical
correlation between the prevalence of heart disease and the
amount of fat consumption in some countries.
In the last few years, however, various researchers have gone
back and reexamined those original studies and found that they
were terribly flawed in their design and their analysis. The man
who first proposed that fat in the diet caused heart disease and
obesity, a man named Ancel Keys, had apparently rejected any
evidence that didn’t match his theory—and there was a lot of it.
Nevertheless, Keys was so successful in convincing others that
his research was valid that he persuaded the U.S. government to
adopt his point of view, and his low-fat-diet advice became the
cornerstone of U.S. nutritional policy for more than 40 years. In
fact, last year, for the first time ever, the U.S. nutritional guidelines
panel actually increased the suggested amount of dietary fat
Americans should consume in their foods.
SO WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN FOR CYCLISTS?
Besides helping mountain bikers lose weight so they can go
faster uphill and in races, adding saturated fat to one’s diet can
offer other benefits for cyclists. Saturated fat in the diet is a
critical nutrient for hormone production in the body and thus for
testosterone formation in men. Increasing the amount of saturated
fat in the diet raises testosterone levels in men naturally without
violating anti-doping rules. Professional bodybuilders commonly
add coconut oil, which is very high in saturated fat, to their diets
to increase the size of their muscles and reduce belly fat. In the
same way, higher testosterone levels can benefit mountain bikers
too. The hormone boosts endurance, raises pain tolerance levels,
makes muscles grow larger, increases physical strength, improves
agility and causes abdominal fat deposits to shrink.
A further side effect of adding fat to one’s diet is that bones get
stronger. This link has been reported with olive oil consumption,
Tasty goodness: Adding cream to our morning cup of coffee
might be good for us after all.
The Mediterranean influence:
The creamy sauces of French
cooking may have helped preserve
the healthier physiques of the French
people. This calamari at Pedaler’s
Fork scored high on our taste meter.