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.
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What a day! The JFK 50 Mile was a race I haven’t done in seven years. I did it in 2011 and 2012 when I was very new to the sport of ultramarathon running. I had rough days both times, so coming back I had one goal. Regardless, put together a solid race. I had limited time with 3 months separating my 100 mile and 12 hour WRs, and only about 4-5 weeks of focused training after returning from Greece, so I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad worried I was going to repeat my ‘11 and ‘12 experiences. I took it very easy in the Appalachian Trail (approx 2 hr 4 min) and opened up as best I could once I hit the very runnable C&O Canal (split a 2:46 marathon on the canal). I found myself in 13th place off the AT and 19 minutes behind the lead at mile 27. As the flat miles built up I gradually moved up the field, eventually pulling into second place around mile 35. At mile 38 word on the course was I was 10 minutes back from the leader Seth. With a sliver of hope I kept pushing. Ultimately, I ended up just under four minutes behind Seth at the finish with a time of 5:42:06 which is the 9th fastest time on the historic course. Stoked to pull off a solid day and huge congrats to Seth for the win and an amazing debut. He ran hard and strong. 👍🏃♂️📸: @mark_godale . . . @altrarunning @xendurance @unicityinternational @fatissmartfuel @drymaxsocks @squirrels_nut_butter @buff_usa (gear & list)
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.”
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📸: @jeffgenovaphotography Here was the peak four week block I used to prepare for my 12 Hours at the Pettit Center (swipe to the left to see data). Inspired by the principle of keeping things close to race specific as I got closer to the race itself. Most of these runs were at or just under goal 100 mile effort with a few session at or near threshold. After watching @walmsleyruns and @jared_hazen at WSER this year I wanted to revisit a slightly more aggressive build from a volume stand point. It comes at a risk, and does require a solid base, so you don’t overreach, but boy it gets you mentally ready for the day. @altrarunning @fatissmartfuel @unicityinternational @drymaxsocks @xendurance @squirrels_nut_butter #altraathlete #run #race #ultra #training #fitness #worldrecord
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.”