If you're going to listen to anyone on the subject of optimizing athletic performance, you may as well start with an Olympian. After all, Rio is just months ahead and trials are underway. Professional triathlete Jarrod Shoemaker made the US Olympic team in 2008 and is currently gunning for his 2016 bid. He happens to be one of InsideTracker's veteran users, having connected with our founder, Dr. Gil Blander, four years ago.
Jarrod admits that prior to making a big shift away from processed foods 8 years ago, he used to chow down on Teddy Grahams, Goldfish crackers and frozen pizzas. That had a big impact on his performance!
"You go through this process and you learn. Certain things digest better with other things...it's kind of like learning what foods you should eat together and what might possibly help that absportion and what foods you shouldn't necessarily eat [together]," Jarrod explains.
00:30 - How Jarrod & InsideTracker found each other
02:00 - Forget frozen pizzas and cookies; taking a look inside can optimize performance
05:25 - Two surprises: high cholesterol & high vitamin D
07:00 - Knowing what your body is going to absorb: nutrition recommendations are key!
08:30 - Learning process: certain foods go together better
09:30 - Jarrod's preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio
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Erin: Super excited to be here today with Jarrod Shoemaker, not only is he a longtime user of InsideTracker, since the beginning in fact. So, you’re a relic, Jarrod buddy, you know that right? He’s also a professional triathlete and an Olympian. He was in the 2008 Olympics and he’s going for 2016 in Rio. So, we’ve got a lot to talk about. But, Jarrod thank you so much for joining us. Tell me, just to start off with, how you found InsideTracker all those years ago, in it’s infancy?
Jarrod: Actually, InsideTracker kind of found me. The first time I met Gil was actually an expo up in Boston. I was there helping promote a race that I’d worked on in Boston, it was in Marlboro, and one of … I don’t even remember who it was, but it was somebody else came over and said “Hey, this guy I know is starting this thing doing blood testing for athletes.” I was like, “That’s awesome, because I do that on my own with my doctor.” So, there’s a lot of stuff that we go and we add into the blood tests, more than a normal person would have. So, I said “This is great!” So, they said, “Oh yeah, well…” they were going to do something online and all this stuff. So, that’s like 5 years ago and so basically, I’ve been in with it since the start and kind of been slowly watching the growth and trying to help, and gotten lots of blood tests along the way.
Erin: Well, let’s get to that part then, because obviously you’re in a very unique position as a triathlete, which by the way, if anyone’s ever attempted a triathlon just, I don’t know, imagine a marathon and multiply it times all sorts of insanity and this man does it professionally, in the Olympics too. So, you kind of know what you’re talking about. So, talk about that a little bit, in terms of being able to get a look inside of your body, as an athlete who’s performing at such a high level, relying so heavily on ever single incremental edge that you can get.
Jarrod: Yeah, I think it’s interesting, because as athletes we either think we’re in shape or we think we’re ready to race. But, you don’t really know what you’re doing. That’s why there’s been so many metrics that have come out in the last 10 years. I mean you can use something like training peaks and it shows you your TSS score and cumulative training. And so, it’s kind of cool, because you can actually add data. And, it’s funny because good coaches already knew that intuitively. They knew where their athletes were, they could sense where their athletes were, and so they didn’t exactly need that data. But, for something like your body, there really is nothing that you could use. You could say, “I’m eating healthy.” But, is your body absorbing it? There are so many questions that I had, when I started doing it. I used to actually eat, I don’t want to say “unhealthy” but.. About 8 years ago, I kind of switched into trying to eat as little processed foods as possible. So, I used to eat boxes of goldfish and teddy grahams. I’d just go in there after a workout… I used to eat frozen pizzas, you know microwave frozen pizzas. It’s food right?
Erin: It’s food?
Jarrod: But, it’s not the best food. Yeah.
Erin: I don’t know if we’re can qualifying this as food, Jarrod.
Jarrod: And so, my wife and I really started to try and eat as healthy as possible. We tried to eat fruits and nuts, make more stuff. We’re not complete health nuts, but we try to eat as healthy as possible, within what we want to eat. So, we still make pizzas and eat hamburgers, but I don’t go out and eat them, we make them on our own. So, for me it was really interesting to kind of see, what my different levels were of all these random things. And then, beyond that, the other markers that are really important for us athletes, especially athletes who tend to be on that side of over training. It’s seeing stuff like your testosterone and there are actually a bunch of other markers that are in there, creatine kinase is one, that show how your body is breaking down and rebuilding. And, the stress markers, cortisol and testosterone are super, super important for athletes. I actually have one friend, who last year we were talking and I said, “Yeah, two years ago I was super overtrained and tired” and he was saying “Oh I just had that this year. I went over and had training camp and came home, and I was wondering why I was feeling bad. And, they took my testosterone and it was like, 5 times lower than it was supposed to be.” And so, if you’re getting that on a regular basis of...for instance if he had been using InsideTrack or [04:41] he definitely would have been able to see that drop off. Because, there is a certain point where it drops off and it affects your training and your performance. I mean, for those of us trying to make a living doing it, it’s something that’s extremely important.
Erin: Yeah. If you’re going to the Olympics, you probably want to know how your creatine kinase levels are. Or your cortisol for that matter. Since it’s a fairly stressful endeavor I imagine. So, from that perspective, being able to look at those markers that are so important to you, and obviously as a professional athlete you are sort of at that advantage, where you already knew, in a sense what you should be looking for, maybe didn’t know what was going on… I guess I’d wonder what you were able to work on to improve? Was there anything that surprised you, that you said “Oh my God, I can’t believe I have high cholesterol”? Something like that.
Jarrod: Well, there was actually two that kind of jumped out. One was a high cholesterol and one of them was a high vitamin D. And, the high cholesterol, I like to eat cheese. And so, it was funny because, there was one test I took where, it was two weeks straight of going over to my massage therapist’s house and we were doing dinner, I think, 3 nights a week because we just wanted to have dinner with somebody else. And we’re making all this stuff, but every night there’d be like a cheese platter out too. We’d buy different types of cheeses. I looked at it like “Hmmm that makes sense.” It’s interesting though, because vitamin D actually, I was super high on. Granted, I live in Florida, but I’ve always been high on that. So, I’ve never been able to figure out .. I just can’t figure it out, so there’s a weird one that’s always a little bit higher for me. But, most of mine have been pretty steady and pretty in the middle. But, there’s one or two times when I’ve seen a drop in stuff, like testosterone. So, for me I look at that and say “Alright, I might be on the verge of overtraining a little bit, so I and try and back off my training a tad and make sure I’m eating stuff that helps me absorb testosterone. So, I try to eat stuff that’s recommended on the site as opposed to … You can’t really take testosterone, but..
Erin: Well no…
Jarrod: Well, it’s illegal.
Erin: … not …
Jarrod: It’s about knowing what your body is going to absorb. And, that’s the cool thing for me about the back side of the website is that, you get your blood test, but then, you get the stuff that you should be eating. And so, if you make a list of that, it’s actually kind of fun to find recipes to use stuff like lentils or learn how to cook using brussel sprouts, which I actually really like.
Erin: And maybe less cheese.
Jarrod: Yeah, less cheese sometimes. But, my problem is, probably that I have grilled cheese sandwiches like everyday. That’s my go to lunch no matter what, so..
Erin: That’s alright. It’s hard to break old habits, what can I say?
Jarrod: Oh yeah!
Erin: At least, your habit is a grilled cheese sandwich and not a bottle of whiskey or a pack of cigarettes. Which would probably impede your performance quite a bit more than the grilled cheese sandwich, I would think.
Jarrod: Yeah! Exactly.
Erin: Although, I can’t get away with eating that every single day, or I might not actually fit in the screen the next time I try to.. Cool, just so you know, I also live in Florida and my vitamin D is low, so just goes to show that there are other factors at play. So, for anybody watching this, regardless of whether your vitamin D is high or low, you should get tested and see what all your biomarkers are doing. Because, you don’t operate in a vacuum, that’s for sure.
Jarrod: Right. Yeah, I think that’s one of the cool things is that, you go through this process and you learn too. So, you learn that certain things digest better with other things and certain things don’t digest well with other things. So, it’s kind of learning like, what foods you should eat together, that are possibly going to help that absorption or what foods you shouldn’t necessarily eat. Like vitamin C and calcium actually don’t go together that well so, buying an orange juice that’s fortified with calcium doesn’t actually help that much. You should be eating those separately. So, for me, I just find stuff like that to be really, really interesting.
Erin: Jarrod, Gil has taught you very well. You should come work for us full time. Clearly.
Jarrod: And my mom is a science teacher so I’ve learned that stuff from her..I’ve learned a lot of stuff from …”That’s silly.”
Erin: Ah! There you go. Very cool. Well, before I let you go, just tell us about your bid for the 2016th Olympics. Because, that’s coming up and that’s got to be pretty intense training-wise. So how are you using information that your getting now, looking at your blood and your nutrition to help you in that endeavor?
Jarrod: Yeah. It’s a hard process. I made the team in 2008, I was actually real underdog and I made the team in my first qualifier and was on it for a year leading into it. Did the Olympics, did well, got 18th place. Did super well. And, I was on track to make it in 2012 and then, I crashed in the first qualifier, and then I just had a bad day on the second one, well it wasn’t even a bad day, I came in 20th, 2 guys just did better than me. And so, I was ranked number one in the country..
Erin: That’s a terrible day.
Jarrod: Yeah. And so, I was ranked number one in the country, didn’t make it. And so, it’s 4 more years of getting back in the process and just working hard, and learning. And, honestly the thing about all of us pro athletes is that everybody works hard. It’s really a question of what you do on the other side of it. So, it’s taking your recovery seriously, it’s taking your nutrition seriously. And, I’ve seen a lot of people who, haven’t made it to that next step, because they haven’t been able to take it seriously. And, they haven’t really known what to do. They go out and eat too many bad foods or they just really don’t recover. And so, for me that’s what I’ve really been focusing on. Especially as I’m getting a little bit older in the sport and it’s a little bit harder on your body. It’s about making sure that you’re training as hard as you can the next day. You finish a workout and you just try to get the food in you, that you need to be ready and go for the next day. Because, you have to hit your workouts. You have to hit them as hard as you can. And so, yeah, it’s just a nice long process and I’ve got 5 month until our qualifier, in the beginning of May. Yeah, it’ll be a fun experience, one way or another, going through another Olympic cycle. I hope I make the team but there’s a lot of good guys and we’ll see what happens.
Erin: Well, we’ll do our best to support you. We’re obviously rooting for you and we hope that you have all the tools that you need, I think you do. So, I feel confident about it.
Erin: Thanks so much Jarrod.
Jarrod: Thank you!
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