by Shane Borza; MHR & ICF(c) Certified Coach

I am not a nutritionist, although I have worked with one, and do not have any certifications on diet or food BUT I have been an athlete my entire life and experimented with various diets. Keeping in stride with my minimal/naturalist approach please see my tenants on performance mountain food.

To put a title on it, I follow a high fat/low carb diet with cyclic ketosis and intermittent fasting. What does all that mean? Well, I primarily eat meat and vegetables and, sometimes, I don’t eat at all. I tend to skip breakfast on weekends and only eat brunch and dinner. Learning to fast from dinner on, eat during daylight hours only, have less snacks, drink only water, etc – has changed, not only my life, but also my body and my energy. More below.

I was brought up in the 80s and 90s on the typical high carb diet and wolfed down Power Bars on a daily basis (the banana flavor was my favorite). Although my friends and I sometimes drank protein shakes, it was mostly carbo loading the night before a race that was the staple of our diet.

As I was predominantly a runner and skier, and young (high school and college) I could routinely get by with eating cereal and bagels for breakfast with pizza and pasta, or rice and potatoes with meat, for lunch and dinner every day. Although I was constantly burning, I was constantly hungry and bonking during races. To combat that, I – of course – drank Gatorade and gorged on the aforementioned Powerbars like it was my job.

In 1999 I left for four years in the Service, which got me into serious weight training for the first time ever. Through the mentorship of a friend at the Police Academy, I began using Creatine and Protein Powders on a daily basis, which I had also never done before.

If you’ve ever been in the Military, you know that Basic Training and your Academy are basically 3-9 months of 12-15 hour days. You specialize in getting yelled at, running in formation, and doing calisthenics. But, to go to the gym and perform heavy weight training on top of that – what were we thinking?!? We were basically breaking ourselves down all the time, so ate like horses in an attempt to keep it all at bay.

Suffice it to say, I got the biggest, heaviest, and strongest I’ve ever been (a whopping 180 lbs for me). Looking back on it now, I see there was a lot of intermittent fasting and high fat diets all over – we just didn’t call it that back then. The biggest change for me was to go from a lifetime of ‘eat whenever you want/as many times as you want’ to ‘eat three meals – when we tell you – and that’s it’.

These days – ironically – I’m in year five of both intermittent fasting and eating high fat. My daily routine looks like this:

  • 6-8am Breakfast: Bulletproof Coffee (coffee+grass fed butter+brain octane oil)
  • 12-1pm Lunch: Meat & Veggies
  • 3-5pm Snack: Hardboiled Eggs (2-4 w/ sea salt) & Herbal Tea
  • 7-9pm Dinner: Meat & Rice

I then fast from after dinner until lunch the following day.

Below are the rules my Nutritionist gave me. And she’s legit, as she’s trained several Olympians who went to the Rio Games:

  1. Eat a rainbow – Her words, “If you go grocery shopping and look in your cart and don’t see every color in the rainbow you’ve failed – go back and get more colors!” 
  2. Eat high fat – Her words, “Fat is your friend! You can’t eat enough healthy fats. Start eating hard boiled eggs every day.”
  3. Prep your food – Her words, “Part of shopping for food is putting it away properly. Get in the habit of coming home and washing everything, drying it, prepping it to eat (cut it up, etc) and putting it (preferably) in glasslock containers. This will keep it freshest longest.”

Am I going to give you a diet or tell you what, when, or how to eat? No. I am, however, going to suggest – specifically for the mountains – to follow a couple simple rules.

Performance Mountain Food

  • Make the best choice available – don’t beat yourself up over any one meal
  • Eat high fat foods and meals – ensure these are natural ‘healthy’ fats
  • Eat simple, whole foods – as close to it’s natural state as possible
  • Fresh is best – eat actual food, not out of a can, freezer, or box
  • Experiment – eat a variety of foods, try things you’ve never had before
  • Abandon measurements – don’t count calories, micros, macros, etc
  • Enjoy your meals – eat what you like, make your meals satisfying
  • Grow your food – start a vegetable or herb garden, trade flowering plants for edibles
  • Shop in the perimeter – don’t buy things in the aisles of the supermarket, the perimeter is where meat, dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, and freshly prepared foods are
  • Drink water – stop drinking calories, drink to hydrate
  • Focus on nutrition from food – spend money on higher quality fresh, whole, organic food instead of supplements, pills, and powders
  • Follow Pavel’s advice (the founder of Strongfirst) – “Vegetables for nutrition, meat for strength.”

The above is an excerpt from my new book Total Mountain Fitness. If you found this helpful and would like to receive the free ebook version, please sign up here: https://mailchi.mp/ae63a765f76e/totalmountainfitness