The aim here is not to tell you what to do. I wanted to provide you with all the research and science in a palatable format so that you, as individuals, can make an informed choice about what is the best nutritional approach for you.
In More Fuel You, Renee offers a good introduction to different approaches and strategies for nutrition. In all honesty, I was a bit daunted by the prospect of reading and reviewing a nutrition book, imaging it to be quite dense and more like a textbook, but that’s not true of this book at all; it’s really accessible and readable.
This would be a great starter book for anyone interested in nutrition. It doesn’t give you a detailed breakdown of what your food intake should look like, or have any sample menus. Instead, Renee offers her informed and honest perspective on a variety of different approaches, and makes it easier for you to identify which might work best for your body and your energy needs.
The first half discusses general nutritional needs. The second half then considers a range of approaches to nutrition (things like low-carb diets, veggie and vegan athletes, and intermittent fasting), and different requirements (for example for female athletes or older athletes). The result is a very broad overview which might be less useful for working out exactly what you need to eat after a training session, but is incredibly helpful for considering your overall diet. I would have appreciated a short conclusion after the discussion of each approach with Renee’s professional judgement on how effective/appropriate it is, but later found that information in the conclusion instead; the approach seems to be about giving the reader the information and letting them make their own conclusions.
There are stories from athletes throughout, and I appreciated their openness in sharing what had/hadn’t worked for them and how changing strategy had benefitted them. There was, however, one almost unbelievable story from a chap who takes emergency jelly babies on every run but says he now manages his nutrition well enough that he has not once resorted to eating them. Quite frankly, this seems like a massive waste of jelly babies. If I had emergency jelly babies in my bag, I can absolutely guarantee that every single run would involve the sort of emergency (my legs are a bit tired; that hill looks a bit steep; better keep my energy levels high in case it rains) which would justify eating them. Probably the most likely conclusion here is that the chap concerned has much better self-control than I do!
Jelly babies aside, what really came across for me was how sensitive and individualised Renee’s advice is. She acknowledges that different approaches work for different people, and doesn’t try to offer a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s refreshing to read a nutritional book that doesn’t try to sell a specific diet, but instead acknowledges the pros and cons of many different approaches and ultimately highlights the importance of eating a diet that’s in line with your values as well as what works best for your body. The whole discussion felt very nuanced; at one point Renee does touch on the importance of eating ethically, but acknowledges the sheer difficulty of making consistent ethical choices.
I really appreciated the sensitivity which Renee writes with. Food is such a difficult topic and comes with so much baggage for so many people, but Renee offers her advice with compassion and empathy. More Fuel You is an expert discussion of how to make appropriate nutritional choices that will work for you, and explains when it’s time to be flexible and try a new approach to nutrition.
(With thanks to the lovely folk at Vertebrate Publishing for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.)
Predominantly climbing/outdoors literature, mountaineering history and nature writing.