This section is from the book "Diet And Food Considered In Relation To Strength And Power Of Endurance, Training And Athletics", by Alexander Haig. Also available from Amazon: Diet and Food, Considered in Relation to Strength and Power of Endurance, Training and Athletics.
Naturally those who take an unusually large amount of exercise will require an extra allowance of albumens to produce the extra force, and it may be gathered from the researches on these points, which I have already published in "Uric Acid," that for cycling exercise and my own body, the urea produced is proportional to the distance traversed, that is to the work done, being about 1 to 1/2 grains of urea for a mile, or from 3 to 4 1/2 grains of albumen for a mile; and as my weight is about 125 lbs., this gives from .024 to .036 grains of albumen per lb. per mile.
And if we take it that from 75 to 80 miles is as much as I am likely to do in this line of exercise on any given day, and that 125 x 9 is my ordinary allowance of daily albumens when sedentary = 1,125 grains, then 125 x .03 (which is half-way between .024 and .036) and the result multiplied by 75 = 281 grains of albumen extra, and this added to 1,125 = 1,406 grains, say, 1,400 grains.
In other words, I should have to add to the diet of sedentary life the equivalent of 2 ozs. of cheese, or a pint of milk, to enable me to perform daily the above amount of exercise.
If I did not provide the proper amount of albumens, I should either break down under the exercise and training, and fail to produce the required amount of force, or I should take the necessary albumens from my albumen reserves, or my body tissues, as far as they might be able to supply me, and so lose weight, and then break down when they came to an end.
I have known people who have attempted to produce considerable amounts of force while living on a diet of cabbages and potatoes in insufficient quantities, with little or no milk and cheese, and the result has been a break-down, both during the exercise and afterwards, resulting in prolonged debility with considerable cardiac and general muscular failure, and a marked loss of body weight; and no doubt the amount of weight lost would have accurately corresponded with the amounts of force and urea produced.
I do not mean to say that the above figures and quantities will hold for every one; but I give them because a rough guide is better than none, and because I wish to show the way in which my experience has led me to regard the matter; to believe as quite certain, that nothing comes out of nothing, and that without the necessary quantity of albumens no force can be produced.
Practically, it comes to this, that a man who requires about 1,200 grains of albumens per day for ordinary work will want about 1,400 grains for training and the hardest exercise he is capable of doing, i.e., he has to add about 1/6th to his ordinary diet.
Beyond the above rough guide it may be said that, if the day's work is not done easily and without any undue fatigue (Physiology And Pathology Of Fatigue), and certainly without anything approaching exhaustion, an increase of albumens is required, and should be tried to see if it produces an improvement.
It is a good rule to take somewhere near the calculated quantity of albumens in the form of milk, cheese and bread, and then, if on account of some increase of exercise there is an increase of appetite, to let that appetite expend itself on such good, useful but not strong foods as rice, potatoes and fruit.
If, however, the increased appetite is sated on such a concentrated food as cheese, too much albu-men may be taken, and this may cause dyspepsia, and upset the course of training entirely.
During actual severe exercise, milk is probably the best food to take; its digestion, as we have seen reason to believe in fig. 2, goes on quickly, and its albumens are soon available for the production of force; and this, I believe, agrees with the common experience of athletes.
Milk is easily and quickly swallowed during a temporary halt, but if time is available, it should be taken only in small sips, and not in a big draught; and in this way it will be more quickly, completely, and satisfactorily digested, while if any quantity above half a pint is taken in a draught it will tend to form into large masses of curd, which may not only prove slow and difficult of digestion, but by their bulk may more or less seriously interfere with respiration and circulation.
Another way of treating milk is to mix it with oatmeal, or a little dilute gruel, or barley water, which not only improves its chances of satisfactory digestion, but increases its nourishment value.
Cereals are good foods for training, because, as we have seen, they give out a steady supply of albumens, force and urea, over a series of hours, and their salts act as stimulants to digestion, circulation and nutrition.
An absolute excess of albumens will do little harm so long as exercise is plentiful and regular, and taken under climatic conditions that favour warmth and perspiration; but under the opposite conditions it may cause high acidity and retention of uric acid, and lead to rheumatism and other troubles.
It follows absolutely, from my researches, published in "Uric Acid" and elsewhere, that a diet entirely free from all animal flesh, tea, coffee and similar alkaloid-containing vegetable substances, is far and away the best of all kinds for training and athletics.
As shown in the preceding pages, the material (albumen) for the production of the required force can be made absolutely certain of, and is not lacking either in quantity or quality in the foods to be used; and at the same time the enormous practical advantage is obtained of making sure of a free circulation through all the tissues, nerve-centres and muscles alike, keeping them both well supplied with fuel, and also free from waste products and refuse, during their time of trial.
Hitherto the knowledge we now have has been applied more or less hap-hazard, or by rule of thumb, and yet even so, it has achieved some wonderful results.
Some of these I have already recorded in "Uric Acid," and another conies to hand in an article in the Daily News of June 29, 1898. It is from their Berlin Correspondent, and is headed, "A Vegetarian Victory - Meat-eaters Walked off their Legs."
It then goes on to describe how fourteen meat-eaters and eight vegetarians started for a 70 miles walking match. All the vegetarians reached the goal, and it is said "in splendid condition," the first covering the distance in fourteen and a quarter hours. An hour after the last vegetarian, came the first meat-eater, and he was "completely exhausted." He was also the last meat-eater, as all the rest had dropped off after 35 miles.
Now these results, so far as I know, were produced without any scientific knowledge, and in more or less ignorance of the facts above stated; and if so much has thus been achieved, how much more may be possible if we apply our knowledge with care and thoroughness, if we ensure sufficient albumen and force, while rigidly excluding the poisons which cause friction and jar in the machinery.
I must leave those engaged in practical athletics to test these points and record the results; and once they grasp my points and the great practical gain they promise, I feel sure that they will not be slow to do so; indeed, as the above and other records show, the thing is already being done; but I now suggest that, with a little more scientific knowledge, it might easily be done still better.
Though even as it is, the way in which cycling and other records are made and held by vegetarians, small as their numbers are when compared with meat-eaters in this country, is really remarkable, and points, I think, to their very decided superiority both in pace and endurance.
And the results of the year 1900 seem to show that those vegetarians who hold records, have but little to fear, except from their fellow vegetarians.
I would also point out to pathologists that, if I am right, and if the poisons in meat and tea do cause friction, especially vascular friction, throughout the body, it is evident that training and athletics, as at present carried on, upon a diet containing these poisons, must also be carried on at a ruinous strain upon the vascular system, especially the heart and large vessels; and speaking as a physician, I believe that more or less serious functional or organic trouble in this system is no very rare result of the process, even in the young and presumably healthy, as evidenced by such signs as palpitation, sleeplessness, dyspepsia, and more or less hypertrophy and dilatation of the heart.
Thus it is evident from the above walking record that the meat-eaters, or at least the one who persisted, ran considerable danger of doing himself serious injury, and on his arrival he had to be given brandy and put to bed; while the vegetarian feeders were little, if any, the worse for their performance.
I by no means wish to assert that men or animals who live entirely on a uric acid-free diet may not dilate and strain their hearts by over-exertion; comparative anatomy alone contains sufficient evidence in the moderator band of the herbivorous heart that such a thing is possible; but I do maintain that, for reasons which are as clear as daylight, the meat-eater and tea-drinker is much more likely to do it, and to do it badly. He may produce the same amount of force as the man who is free from these poisons; but he will consume a greater quantity of albumen in doing it, and he will produce it at a far greater cost in pressure and strain upon all his tissues and organs, so that they will both wear out sooner, and more frequently give rise to functional disturbance, as the result of the treatment to which they are subjected.
Then since the last edition of this book was ready a very remarkable record has been published by Mr. E. H. Miles, the well-known tennis champion,1 who narrates that altering his diet has not only cured him of several serious or threatening diseases, but has given him 50 per cent. more power and endurance, both in muscle and brain.
His results are the more valuable, because being a champion his performances have been on record, and there is no doubt about his improvement at a time of life when, as he himself points out, he ought to have been deteriorating.
1 "Muscle, Brain and Diet." Swan, Sonnenschein & Co., London, 1900.
I have discussed some of his records and a few points in which he appears to have misunderstood me in "Uric Acid" (prev. ref., pp. 329, 366, 797), and shall not repeat this here, but those who fear that strength and endurance cannot be attained, to say nothing of being greatly increased, on a non-flesh diet, should not fail to read his book.
His results are also an important testimony to the value of Protene, which he uses largely, and being engaged in active pursuits appears to digest without difficulty, and with considerable advantage as to saving of time, and convenience in carriage of food.
I note that he seems to take it by itself and before his other food, which may be a matter of some importance, as it appears that nuts and other indigestible foods do better when taken in this way.