October 18, 2016

Introducing Coached Advisor Caryn Zinn

Dietician, Caryn Zinn

Last week we announced that three leaders in the areas of nutrition, physiotherapy and mindfulness will be joining the Coached team to support our staff and our members.

The goals of the Coached advisory board are to …f

  • Help to strengthen our coaches knowledge in their area of expertise so we can offer you better, more holistic support and training programmes
  • Provide custom content for Coached training programmes and blog
  • Interact with our members via a quarterly webinar Q&A
  • Be available for consultation to members (additional rates apply)

Caryn is the first of these advisors we’d like to introduce so without further ado ..

Meet Caryn Zinn

Caryn, you’ve been a practising dietician for 21 years now and have changed your philosophy from high carb low fat to lower carb healthy fat. Can you tell us how that came about?

It’s long story, but to cut it short, I basically took a good hard look at the evidence and reflected on my practice, and along with a whole lot of logic, it dawned on me that eating food that is whole and unprocessed and as close to how nature designed, it the way forward in nutrition. The important thing is tailoring the level of carbohydrate to people’s individual needs.

You hold a Masters in Sports Nutrition. What advice do you have for athletes who are reliant on carbohydrates/sugar as a source of fuel when training?

My advice would be to work towards becoming a “fat burner” rather than a “sugar-burner”, which is a process of reducing added sugar and total carbs (again the level to which you do this is individualised) and increase healthy fat intake. During training, athletes should be relying on fat (ideally the fat that’s sitting on the body) as fuel and then be able to use carbohydrate when it is really needed. This state if called becoming metabolically flexible.

Have you seen any evidence that LCHF impedes sports performance?

Yes, there is lots of evidence to suggest that if you do this as a “stint” i.e., for a week or two only this will reduce performance in the short term. This is definitely not what I would suggest for athletes. The way that I work with athletes is that this is a lifestyle choice and they need to be in it for the long haul. It doesn’t need to be restrictive either. The key point is getting it right for each athlete, and this means taking into consideration the duration and intensity of training and lifestyle circumstances to guide the actual carb or fat prescription.

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What are the benefits of LCHF in endurance sports?

Who wouldn’t want to use body fat (of which we have unlimited stores compared with that of glycogen (carbohydrate) as fuel? This is the main advantage, as when you become metabolically flexible, you’re able to be less reliant on carbs, you don’t hit the wall and you don’t need to constantly feed yourself sugar every 20-30 minutes during training and racing. It’s just a lot healthier for the body long term, too.

Lots of people still believe that eating fat will make you fat and cause heart problems etc. What are your thoughts on that having done a doctorate in weight loss?

Any nutrient in excess will cause weight gain, it’s not dietary fat per se that will do this. In fact, we know that carbs and refined sugar raised blood fats more than dietary fat does, so we have got this wrong I’m afraid. It doesn’t mean you can eat as much fat as you want though, total calories DO still count. On the heart disease front, we know that the saturated fat (animal fat) – heart disease relationship is not causal and never has been. The science is not settled here. But we do know that not being scared of it and including it in the context of a diet that is whole and unprocessed is not harmful.

What are the benefits of LCHF in day to day life?

The benefits are vast. Benefits I have seen with my clients include improved energy, better sleep, more even moods, reduced inflammation – that’s been a huge one (from reduced joint pain to improved skin conditions, and even a reversal of an ongoing prostate problem). You also tend to eat less food overall and fewer times per day (so not being totally dependent on food) because you feel satiated from the added fat.

We have gone through so many different diet fads and there’s so much conflicting research on diets, do you think lower carb healthy fat is here to stay or is just another fad?

In my book, it’s definitely NOT a fad, like anything, you can make it one, but the way I work with my clients it is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.

What are some of the most common nutritional mistakes you see athletes making?

Being addicted to sugar is a big mistake, but of course, this has been guided by us, and the food industry. For athletes that adopt LCHF eating, some mistakes include not doing it properly i.e. not enough vegetables, salt intake too low, eating too much protein and fat and at ties going to low carb when it’s not required.

Please tell us what you like about the Coached approach to coaching and why you’re excited to be involved as a team advisor.

I love the Coached training philosophy, in particular, the complete and supportive environment for athletes. A nice consistent message with plenty of support is the way to go to achieve goals.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Just that LCHF eating is not only for athletes; it should be for athlete’s families too. Everyone can benefit in some way by eating whole food.

Coached RunningBen PulhamBen Pulham is a former professional triathlete and the founder of Coached, a heart rate training programme that helps you optimise, track and enjoy your training.