Fighter Food!

dennis grace amazing at
Tue Dec 10 22:10:00 PST 1996

Greetings Cosyns,

Lyonel here.

Gnith queried:
>OK, this may sound like a goofy question, but ...
>What do you heavy fighters eat before practice/tourney/war?
>I've always had general energy level problems in athletics that I've
>combatted with diet/aerobic exercise regimens to varying degrees of success.
>Armored combat has been no different for me.

I know what he means.  I've had the same problems all my life.  During my
first few years in the SCA, I asked the same questions, and the answers I
got most frequently were, "Eat oatmeal for breakfast," and "Stuff yourself
with pasta the night before battle."  I was also told (as I had been told by
gymnastics and wrestling coaches in high school) not to eat anything two
hours before a heavy workout.

The result:  I got hungry.  I got REALLY hungry.  I'd get--no, not halfway
through the day's fighting--TWO HOURS into the day's fighting (tourney or
melees, made no difference) and I'd have to sneak off to stuff myself with
sandwiches just to kill the hunger pangs.

"Well," said some of my weight-lifter buddies, "you just need to replenish
your carbs throughout the day.  You're just hitting the wall.  Drink
something like All Sport or Gatorade or somesuch."  One friend even
suggested Coke.  Don't laugh.  If you're going to drink All Sport or munch
Power Bars, you might as well drink Coke and munch Hersheys--they're all
just a bunch of easily assimilated carbs.

>So what do YOU eat on the day before/day of combat? Pasta? Peanut butter?
>Bean burrito? Carrots? Orange juice? Power bars? What quantities? What do
>you think of things like ginsing or that energy paste stuff that long
>distance runners use?

It's too complicated to go much into details here, but I found most of my
answers in a book, _The Zone_, by Barry Sears.  Sears advocates a program of
balanced whereby you receive 30% of your calories from protein, 40% from
carbs, and 30% from fat.  Sears also points out that no matter what you take
into your body in the way of food, it's essentially gone--in terms of
mormonal and metabolic effects--in four to six hours.  Those of us with fast
metabolisms need to eat at least every four hours when we're awake.
Moreover, if we don't eat the right kinds of foods--particularly the right
kinds of carbs--we get hungry faster.  

Can you guess which carbs your body burns fastest?  No surprise:  pasta,
cereal, breads, concentrated sugars without fibre (like candy, cookies,
Power Bars), carrots, and bananas.

My experiments (on myself, primarily) suggest that your best bet is to eat a
balanced meal about two hours before a workout (no more than 600 calories).
I eat a lot of tuna and turkey, quite a few apples and tomatoes, and get my
fat from olive oil, olives, and peanut butter.  For a quick pick-me-up, try
drinking 8 to 16 oz. of 1% milk 30 to 60 minutes before your workout (for
fighter practice in the park, that usually means just before I get in the car).

I would be happy to answer additional questions on this matter; although, I
strongly recommend Sears's _Zone_ to all of my serious athlete friends.  I
have been following a Zone-favorable diet for about ten months, now.  I lost
fourteen pounds and three inches from my waist in the first six weeks, and
I've had no trouble staying at about six percent body fat, so I'm sold on
the program.  

Hoping I don't sound like a zealot, I remain

Yours in Virtual Service

Sir Lyonel Oliver Grace

PS--Kein, why would you want to drink the blood of losers?

Lyonel :^>


Dennis G. Grace
Postmodern Medievalist
Division of Rhetoric and Composition
Department of English
University of Texas at Austin
amazing at

Si hoc legere scis, nimium eruditionis habes.

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