micke-midlife on March 29th, 2009

7daystorotterdam7 days to go. It’s Saltin diet time. The Saltin diet is an extrem form of carboloading and got it’s name from the Swedish professor in physiology Bengt Saltin, MD, who developed this method in the late 60’s and 70’s. He’s nowadays the director of the Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre. Asking five people, you get six opinions on the Saltin Diet. Many say it’s outdated and out right dangerous.

The diet works in three phases. Phase I: a week before race day you do an carb storage emptying long run and reduce the carb content in your diet.

Phase II: in the following two to three days, the diet is almost totally protein-fat based, and contains of meat, fish, milk, butter/margarine, eggs, cheese, avocado, salads, etc. Training continues with one hard session, e.g. 2 x 3-4km in your intended marathon speed.

Phase III: Three days of carboloading where your diet consists of 70 - 80% of carbs. You stick to bread, pasta, rice, cerials, potatoes, etc.


Picture source: Wikipedia, originally in the German running guru H Steffny's book "Perfektes Lauftraining"

The three phases in the picture above are depicted in the read line, where phase III is split here in 3 and 4. For a marathon race on a Sunday the Saltin diet days go like this:

  1. Sunday
  2. Monday, Tuesday
  3. Wednesday
  4. Thursday, Friday, Saturday

The other lines, green and yellow are comparisons if you’d just increase carbs towards the race day (green) and if you’d do one emptying run, but continue to eat normally and then increase carbs towards the race day (yellow). Prof. Saltin’s research showed that the supercompensation effect is that muscles can be overload to 125% of their normal carboloading capacity.

The tricky part is phase II, you really feel down and out. Especially the hard training session can be hell, since it’s just not rolling well. The immune system is also on lower guard during those days. Some nutrition advisors plainly condemn the Saltin Diet as outdated and unnecessary. Well, marathon running comes down to beliefs at some points. This is one of those points. What I have experienced in my youth years is that you also loose some kilos, one or two. This is a nice side effect. I’ve read somewhere that every half kilo gains you 40 seconds on a marathon. Again, it’s all opinions and beliefs. You pick what you want. ;-)

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.