When choosing a car, whether replacement, first car, new car, used car or a vehicle of a different style, what is it that we use for aid decision making? When buying a new swim wetsuit, a new bike, new running shoes for that all important 2021 triathlon season or the first Park Run of the year or maybe your London Marathon debut, how do we choose and why?

Does the same apply to food, supplements and drink?

Question is do we make choices based on functionality required? Or is it more of a desire for a specific item, based on emotion rather than logic or real needs? After all any car will get you there, wont it? Well as a starter for functionality what if the car is mechanically deficient, maybe it wont get you there after all, the functionality just wasn’t there after all! So we already have some criteria developing, the item must be functional and fit for purpose. After all a 20 year old saloon car probably wont win you that coveted hill climb in the Alps but might get you home and to work daily. Same applies for triathlon as an example, will that old mountain bike get you to the finish, sure as long as the maintenance is good and you can ride and you get nutrition and hydration, but will you win? If that is the desire, functional need or goal then maybe a racing bike is a better option for winning.

Does the same apply to feeding?

Let’s try to apply some criteria to feeding and see what comes of it. After all we humans are a biomechanical system with a cognitive ability, does this system need specific feeding or will anything do? Using the car analogy and the hill climb race, we as humans can continue to live/exist on almost nothing eaten or drunk, so there is a level of minimum that we need to even barely function but what of optimal functioning and who doesn’t want optimal function for optimal performance? I know that I prefer that to sub-optimal functioning, question is am I prepared to do what it takes for the mythical optimal?

Sub optimal or optimal functionality for the human, reality or myth?

Are there criteria for optimal functionality? I think so, but the challenge for humans is our very long lives and very short attention span, oh and the number of cells in our bodies and possibly the number of other biologics that live within and on us, bacteria of course play a big role in our optimal health, but that’s for another story. Two of these three factors play a big part in our decisions which are often not optimal for us but after all we are free to make our own decisions even if these result in sub-optimal health outcomes, strange that eh? But most people have a short term mindset, single day decisions to drink too much or eat too much on any given day in our mind has no impact on our overall lifespan or healthspan and is not really even considered, but should we? This doesn’t even take into account our external environment as highlighted in the previous post concerning air quality, water quality and stresses.

Criteria for human optimal functionality. Regarding feeding the human mind and body, are there optimal ways to do so? Clearly this is a huge industry and clearly there is little agreement AT ALL! This weekend is the Low Carb Conference in South Africa and they are talking about optimal nutrition and then the vegan movements are saying it’s all plants and nothing more for optimal feeding. So who is right? I think these two extremes LCHF and vegan are not so far apart in wanting optimal feeding but will never agree, well maybe one day with luck. So how about looking at essentials for optimal nutrition and see where that leads us; what do we absolutely need to LIVE and what do we absolutely need to THRIVE? I think the arguments between the two sides are not about functional feeding but about sources for optimal functional feeding (OFF). One side says low carbohydrates and healthy fats and the other says low fat with mostly carbohydrates. But everyone agrees that we need Amino acids, essential fats, essential vitamins and minerals plus water and some sat fibre to SURVIVE, so what we have to figure out is what are the criteria needed to THRIVE that demand these essentials? And can we do this based on a simple functional analysis of perhaps movement pattern recording (FitBit style for example) or do we need to measure more details such as pulse rate, blood pressure, height, weight, body fat mass, bone density? These easy to take measures can quite simply lead to a part of a functional analysis of individual needs. Add to these age, gender, ethnicity (genes) and we can see that a functional approach will enable individuals to determine their own functional needs and therefore self prescribe everything from the amount of water drunk to the right feeding patterns to THRIVE. This functional feeding is just a step to a functional lifestyle that can lead to a much healthier nation without lots of work or cost to the individual but will require the monitoring of parameters as mentioned.

Volume, quality, calories are the essentials of any healthy human feeding.

We have been provided with many formulae for how much we need in calorie terms and many studies show what the minimum RDA is for minerals and vitamins, but minimum wont cut it when we are looking for OPTIMAL feeding, will it? As each human is unique so must be our optimal functional feeding guidelines and the criteria for optimal will depend on living location, activity level, performance desires, travel, stresses from life, gender, size and most likely age.

Published by Dai Roberts Triathlon

Health and performance focused professional triathlon and running coach since 2010. Coaching runners since 2001. European AG champion and world championships AG bronze medalist. BEMER specialist and Independent Distributor. Coaching runners and triathletes of all ages from youth to world championships level. I trained under the IRONMAN coaching program alongside the US MASTERS swimming, USA Cycling and USA Track and Field program as well as UK Athletics. Lifelong learning, athlete centered and successful. Retired UK Military after 32 years service.

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