Matt Fitzgerald thinks you need to start eating like the world’s elite endurance athletes. When it comes to that, the man knows best: He’s an endurance coach, nutritionist, and author of Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance. And if that weren’t enough to put your trust in him, he flew around the world to report on the diet habits of top athletes from over 25 countries for his book The Endurance Diet: Discover the 5 Core Habits of the World’s Greatest Athletes to Look, Feel, and Perform Better. The following takes a look at the core principles Fitzgerald picked up during his travels, and how you can incorporate them whether you want to cut weight or win an ultramarathon.
If you’re like most endurance athletes and exercisers, you have been exposed to many contradictory claims about what constitutes the optimal diet for endurance fitness. You have probably heard or read that a meat-free diet, a low-carb diet, an ancestral diet, and a host of other diets are best for people seeking endurance fitness. But you probably have not heard or read that the diet shared by virtually all of the world’s most successful endurance athletes is the way to go. That’s because it was only recently discovered that elite endurance athletes all over the world share a common set of eating habits.
It’s true. Elite endurance athletes in every sport and in all parts of the planet eat the same way. Underneath superficial differences in their specific food choices, the world’s fittest people share a common set of eating habits that constitute what I call the Endurance Diet. Unlike familiar weight-loss and general-health diets, most of which were invented by a single person or group of people, the Endurance Diet evolved over many generations inside the crucible of international competition. Through this process, eating habits that impeded performance were gradually weeded out and only those that best supported it survived.
The Endurance Diet comprises five eating habits that are present in the diets of nearly 100 percent of the athletes I interacted with both directly and indirectly in my research. Expressed in the form of rules, they are as follows: