A Green Light for Nutrition

When it became clear that the pandemic would alter the 2020 racing season, I was motivated to try some new things as an athlete in the hopes that it might inform coaching decisions and how I write training programs in the future. One of the things I had always wondered as an athlete was, if I was not racing long course, could I change my body composition and lose some body mass that might help me when I did return to long course racing. I am cautious about editing my diet due to having had an eating disorder in my young adult life, but I felt confident if I hired the right nutritionist who had the knowledge and the personality to support me, I would be okay.

This was the goal that eventually led me to Scott Tindal of Tin Lane Co. I had seen Scott tagged on various social media posts by Sarah Piampiano and Jordan Blanco. I am wary of allowing social media to influence my decisions (on anything), but I messaged Jordan ask her about Scott. Jordan enthusiasitcally encouraged me to contact Scott. She shared how Scott’s program works and that she was impressed with his work. Her recommendation in combination with my first zoom call with Scott made it clear that his program and coaching was exactly what I was looking for.

Scott is warm and intelligent. He is plain spoken about nutrition and its impact on sport performance. He has experience working with a range of athletes from NHL hockey players to America’s Cup athletes. He is incredibly hard working. When I started working with Scott, I gave him the history of my eating disorder, my athletic history, and my nutrition goals. He was appropriately confident that by timing carbohydrate consumption, increasing my protein intake, and keeping an eye on how much fat was in my diet, my body would change. Over the course of several weeks, I did see a shift in the shape of my body. I also lost the few pounds of mass I was aiming to lose. My results were something I’d not seen before in all my years of racing and working with past nutritionists. Because of these shocking results, I asked Scott if he would partner with our team for three months and help our squad stay focused on nutrition this season in the absence of racing.

Over three months this summer, our athletes learned the different “traffic light” system Scott uses to prescribe meals that match the an athlete’s fueling needs for their specific training. Green meals contain higher amounts of carbohydrate. Typically green meals include things like pasta, white potatoes, bread, etc. Orange meals are lower in carbohydrate and the carbohydrates usually consist of greens, hearty grains, or sweet potatoes in set amounts. Red meals are usually lower in carbohydrate and those carbohydrates are normally from vegetables like greens, peppers, broccoli, etc. Scott provides recipe packs every few weeks to his “tinlaners” and most recently shared an awesome “in case of emergency” resource that includes how to eat out and still follow the traffic light protocol.

The simple program allowed my athletes to experience that the timing and dosing of carbohydrates is so important and that every meal as an endurance athlete does not need to be filled with breads and pastas. My athlete reported not feel flat or sluggish for their training. In fact, when I was working with Scott, I rarely felt hungry and I had plenty of energy on days when I had high intensity work or long sessions.

As a coach, one of the most helpful things Scott did was work with my athletes on their race day nutrition. A pillar of successful racing, an athlete’s race day nutrition plan is something that needs to be practiced with consistency year round. Most amateur athletes fail to be consistent with their nutrition plan in training which can lead to a disaster on race day. Scott worked with each athlete to create a fueling plan that worked for them. He and my athletes tracked their in session carbohydrate consumption, fluid intake, and sweat loss over the course of several months. Athletes developed an awareness about how much carbohydrate or fuel they could tolerate before their stomach started to become upset. With that information, similar to an FTP test, there was some baseline data that the athletes and I could use when making decisions about fueling in training and allowed Scott and I to see if we could train an athlete to tolerate more carbohydrates over several weeks. There was also an added layer of accountability having Scott track fuel and hydration intake over time. Scott also reviewed athletes blood work using Inside Tracker and helped each athlete understand the importance of supplements like vitamin d, vitamin c, and the one supplement he thinks all athletes (regardless of sex) is creatine.

Scott’s work enhanced my own work as a coach. He is detailed. He is driven. He gives a shit about his clients. This care and connection is so important because nutrition can be such an emotionally loaded aspect of wellness. I cannot recommend him enough.

Before I wrote this blog, I asked Scott for his take on what it was like to work with our squad. Here’s what he had to say:

“It has been a great experience working with the diversity your group. On one hand, we have a few athletes returning from injury with subsequent fat loss concerns who are still wanting to ensure performance gains, to the other side where we have several athletes wanting to gain weight and better understand how to maximise their carbohydrate tolerance whilst biking and running.

It is really interesting working with your group of athletes as it becomes very apparent that despite being involved in a sport that should be driving health and healthy habits, that this is not always the case. I have seen through working with your team that the perceived intake of vegetables and fibre is adequate when in reality it is far from that.  What has been extremely pleasing to see is the ability of almost all the athletes to apply themselves to change their dietary habits and in doing so they are seeing improved health markers and subsequently performance gains.

It is all well and good to talk about the fancy science behind improving health and performance yet if it is not practical then I am failing as a nutrition coach. The other aspect that has struck me is how so many athletes have never practised fluid or carbohydrate tolerance testing. This is not unique to your athletes, it is widespread. It probably explains why so many athletes describe bonking or having GI issues during racing.  Working with your team has allowed me to refine that process of testing and now we are seeing athletes managing to consume 80+g/hr on the bike and around their body weight in grams per hour on the run. This is really exciting to see and I believe that with more “gut” training that these athletes will be able to maximise their performance.  Working alongside you has made this a possibility and for that, I am truly grateful.”

The athletes have your expert eye refining their training program and I am simply sprinkling nutrition over this to ensure health, fuelling and recovery is on point. 

For more information about Scott check out his website or follow him on IG @tinlaneco and on Facebook.

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