Friday, April 22, 2011

Athlete K

Here's more info on K, a customer and athlete who eats a lot of fatty Mangalitsa products.

As I've written before, I have many fit customers that primarily buy fatty products like bacon, lard and lardo. Whether they primarily do weight training, CrossFit or as in K's case, competitive stair climbing, they are very fit and healthy people.[1]

If you live in America and someone mentions bacon or lard, you will routinely hear people say that bacon and lard:

1) Are unhealthy.
2) Make one fat.

People say this with annoying certainty.

Yet when you see people like K, especially shirtless, you realize that fatty Mangalitsa products don't necessarily make you unhealthy or fat. As K says:
When I am not training a lot a larger portion of my calories come from fat, anywhere from 35 to 60 percent on a normal day.
Obviously, if eating fat makes you fat, you'd expect K to be fat, because on his "off days" most of his calories come from fat and on his training days, he's eating something like 1000 calories of fat.

Furthermore, that's his usual diet. Day in, day out, he's eating fat, fat and more fat.

Here's K on what he eats:
I basically eat as naturally as possible and, in doing so, loosely follow a paleo type diet and try to limit "cheating" to special occasions like cake at birthdays and cookies at Christmas. Also I am an athlete so I match my food to my training which essentially means I eat more carbohydrates in the form of rice, sweet potatoes and fruit when I am doing a lot of endurance (45+ minute workouts). The two things that remain constant though are that I eat plenty of meat and fat and LOTS of green vegetables (literally pounds a week). To get an idea of things I eat below are some foods that are frequently on my grocery list.

Greens: broccoli, kale, spinach, chard, collards

Root Vegetables: carrots, beets, parsnips, sweet potatoes

Dairy[2]: plain Greek yogurt, pasture butter, cheese, heavy cream


Meat: beef (usually grass fed), bacon, lard, chicken livers, whole rotisserie chickens

Fish: whatever is fresh and wild, canned sardines (lots of these)

The fact that modern people like K are so healthy, in addition to the fact that our ancestors ate a lot of fat and weren't obese is enough to convince me that eating fat doesn't make one fat.[3]

In return for Mangalitsa products, K answered a bunch of questions about his diet and exercise routines and provided photos showing what shape he's in.

Profile of K

K is a competitive stair racer. He regularly wins. It is a very particular sport. Here's an article about stair racing.

Basically, people race up flights of stairs, as quickly as possible. The race is so long that by the time the runners finish, they'll have been in pain for a very long time. After they finish, they remain in pain for a long time, due to overheating and lactic
acid buildup in their muscles.

In K's own words:
The general stats, I am 27 years old and my current body fat percentage is around eight percent but it has been measured as low as 6.1%.

K needs strong legs for his sport. As he explains:
To those that say I am skinny and probably can't bench much, I would say that they are right. I can bench little more than my body weight but my primary goal right now is to run up buildings fast and for that having big bulky muscles is more of a burden than a benefit.

He continues:
When I am not training a lot a larger portion of my calories come from fat, anywhere from 35 to 60 percent on a normal day.

In terms of protein I eat around 160 grams per day and I generally limit carbs to about 150 grams.

Note: that's approximately half as many carbs as the typical American
Currently I never go into ketosis[4] but a few years ago when I was really focused on getting a low body fat I would limit carbs to less than 100 grams.

When I am in heavy training mode I eat the same foods but with a much heavier focus on carbs to restore glycogen right after a workout. If I had to guess it is probably about 50-25-25 carb-fat-protein ratio. This varies wildly however because I am always hungry when training a lot, eating close to 4,000 calories a day, and fatty foods are the most satiating.

My workouts always challenge me physically and mentally but they are generally short, only cycling workouts last over an hour and strength sessions never go more than 45 minutes total. Because I compete in stair races I focus primarily on legs and do full body strength exercises, basically I never isolate the arms. Below are some sample workouts:

- Warm-up, 5x5 set of front squats, as many rounds as possible in 15 mins of (20 kettle bell swings, 20 box jumps, 20 d ball slams, 20 burpees), 2,000 meters on the row machine, cool down

- Spin class (1 hour)

- Run (30 mins -- 1 hour)

- 160 floors of intervals on stairs in tall building -- add a weight vest for extra fun (45 mins)

I asked him what he'd want if he had $50 to spend on Mangalitsa. His answer:
If I had $50 to spend on Mangalitsa I would go for the fattier stuff - bacon, lard and belly. I am also a hunter and eat a fair amount of game and the fatty richness of Mangalista complements game really nicely.

1. As I've mentioned before, by eating a Mangalitsa-based diet similar to theirs, I've also lost around 30 pounds of fat, in addition to gaining strength and endurance. I'm somewhere around 16% body fat right now.

2. He's eating dairy so this isn't a "paleo" (Stone Age) diet. Dairy is from the Neolithic era.

3. If you want to get more scientific, experts like Dr. Mike Eades (a friend and Mangalitsa fan), Dr. Gary Taubes and Robb Wolf argue that animal fats are healthy.

4. Here's more info on ketosis.

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