A few words may be added about the diet of athletes. Usually it has been based on an excessive supply of meat, on the assumption that the wear and tear of muscular tissue is great and that meat is the source of strength and less fattening than other foods. The nervous energy of carnivora is quoted in this connexion. Although the race-horse is the fastest animal for a reasonable distance, the carnivora can maintain a short burst of speed which is even greater. Possibly a liberal meat supply may be good for the short distance runner, but it certainly is not a suitable diet for prolonged exertion. The general principles of training are the reduction of weight by the removal of superfluous fat, and the improvement of the tone of the muscles and heart, inducing "long wind" and endurance.
Chittenden's experiments on athletes strongly support the view that a high protein diet is unnecessary. The average daily N-excretion of eight athletes on a reduced protein diet was 8.81 grammes for the lot. The average for each individual ranging from 7.39 to 1007 grammes. This 8.81 grammes of urinary nitrogen is obtained from a protein intake of 55 grammes. The results were much the same as in soldiers on a prescribed diet. The strength of the athletes was markedly increased. They all felt more efficient. The meals were selected from the articles mentioned below.
Coffee, rolls and- butter; bananas, fruit; hominy with sugar and cream, farina, Indian meal, baked potato, boiled rice, or oatmeal.
Coffee, bread and butter; spaghetti, potato, stewed tomato, boiled onions, string beans, fried hominy and syrup, oysters, cold tongue, baked apple.
Soup: pea, cream of celery, bean, tomato; fish, bacon, sausage, chicken, lamb chop, steak; fried or boiled potatoes, spinach, lettuce, celery, apple salad, Lima beans; cream puffs.
Such a diet, when compared with some of the diets taken by boat crews, football teams and "strong men" is extraordinarily small and suggests that the latter are grossly overfed.
Boat crew (America) ....
A "strong man".......
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The training diet should be a mixed one of proteins, fats and carbo-hydrates; divided into three meals a day which should be of simple, easily digestible food, and should be eaten very slowly so as to ensure efficient mastication. There is no objection to the use of tea, coffee, cocoa, beer and light wines in moderation. On the whole, water is better than stimulants. No one food should be decreased unduly, except that in hot weather, and to a less extent in cold, the fats should be reduced and partly replaced by carbo-hydrates. Sugar is a most valuable source of muscular energy. Miners in hard work consume large quantities. Probably coffee and sugar is the best stimulant and food to take before entering on a prolonged trial of endurance.