Zach Bitter, 100-mile world record-holder, has a reputation for following an unconventional diet known as the carnivore diet. This diet is restricted to eating only animal products.
Bitter has become one of the best ultra runners in the world–he finished 100 miles in 11:19:13 at the Six Days in the Dome event in Wisconsin in August to set his most recent world record, beating the previous record held by Russian athlete Oleg Kharitonov at 11:28:03. With so many questions about his diet, the American runner set the record straight on his nutrition philosophy several days ago.
While Bitter does eat a lot of animal products, he explained last week on the Joe Rogan Podcast that he’s not full carnivore and that he periodizes his nutrition like he periodizes training. “This gets brought up a ton, because I eat a lot of animal products, but I wouldn’t categorize myself as a carnivore. When you think of my lifestyle, if you took a calendar year and if you grabbed a single day out of there–a peak training day versus a recovery day would look so drastically different in terms of my energy demands. So things tend to fluctuate quite a bit and change quite a bit [with my diet]. So people see what I’m doing on a race day, or on a big workout day, or a rest day and think that’s what I’m doing across the board.”
Bitter explains on a recovery day he would consume a lot of animal products like salmon, eggs and red meat, but if he’s doing a big training run he reintroduces carbohydrates–he refers to carbs as rocket fuel. “If I’m doing something really strenuous, carbs are an advantage from a training standpoint.”
Bitter reminds runners that a lot of this research and advice surrounding carbohydrate intake is based on elite athletes, and that every runner has different goals and their nutrition should be considered alongside those goals. “When we’re looking at carbohydrate usage and performance, we’re looking at elite athletes and that’s not a very good comparison to the average person who’s out there running. Their lives are very different.”