Discovering the Sirtfood diet was life-changing for professional sailor David “Freddie” Carr, part of the winning Land Rover BAR America’s Cup Team that competed in Portsmouth last weekend. And not just because he became leaner, fitter and more energetic.
He’s not alone: rugby player James Haskell, four times gold Olympic medallist Sir Ben Ainslie, and former heavyweight champion David Haye have all been transformed by this new approach to nutrition. Below, Carr reveals why professional athletes are turning to Sirtfoods to achieve physical greatness.
We’ve all heard of The Sirtfood Diet: the one that allows you to mainline Cabernet Sauvignon and Green & Blacks whilst simultaneously shedding the pounds. Surely it’s just another fad?
Not at all, and for the record you can’t stuff your face with chocolate on this diet. What I found fascinating about the method – devised by sports nutritionist Aiden Goggins – is the level of analysis that we had to undergo as a team. Every aspect of our cellular health was looked at. Goggins takes a much more scientific approach than most sports nutritionists.
What did you discover?
Well, I was pretty fit before, and I thought I ate relatively well, but the blood tests that came back revealed I was seriously at risk health-wise. My diet was putting me at risk for diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimers. It was such a shock, especially as I had no symptoms. I was a professional athlete, I worked out in the gym every day and was pretty fit for a fat bloke! I had been sailing on the America’s Cup circuit for some time – which is pretty gruelling. And yet on a cellular level, my lifestyle was not doing me any favours.
What was wrong about your diet before?
It turns out I was intolerant to starchy carbs: instead of turning them into energy I was storing them as fat. So my usual bowl of Cheerios for breakfast was the worst possible thing I could eat. I was also deficient in magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, folate and other nutrients. The upshot was I needed to make significant changes to my diet, introducing more protein and vegetables and cutting back on potatoes and pasta. You can train as hard as you like, but if you’re fuelling your body with the wrong food you will never achieve your best.
What exactly are Sirtfoods and how do they work?
The theory is that there are certain types of proteins, called Sirtuins, that can help regulate metabolism. They are found in chilli, coffee, red wine, dark chocolate and certain fruits and vegetables. These foods can also help protect our cells from dying or becoming inflamed through illness. I shed almost 15kg on the diet and am noticeably more energetic. I feel electric. It’s a comment that I often hear from other athletes on this type of regime: you feel as if you’re at your peak in terms of physical wellness. But best of all, my blood tests have come back much more positive, so my underlying health has dramatically improved.
Why has nutrition become so important in professional sailing?
Like many other sports, it’s all about the marginal gains. As a team, we are constantly looking for that last 30% of improvement in performance. Professional sailing has changed massively over the years. We’re not rum drinking pirates any more! The new America’s Cup catamarans are incredibly light, so weight has become more important. And the the physical demands on the team are much greater. We are athletes who happen to know a thing or two about sailing.
The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series is a racing circuit featuring the best sailors in the world, competing on foiling, wing-sailed 45ft catamarans. It is the first stage of competition in the 35th America’s Cup, which culminates in 2017 in Bermuda. The latest in the series kicked off last week (21st July) in Portsmouth and was a thrilling spectacle of high speed racing action, rounded off with a victory by Land Rover BAR, bringing them into first place overall. They were cheered on by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as well as thousands of fans on the shoreline. Land Rover BAR’s goal is to bring the America’s Cup – the oldest international sporting trophy – back to Britain for the first time since this highly contested sailing race started in 1851. Check out @ACWSPortsmouth for more info.
David ‘Freddie’ Carr has campaigned for three America’s Cups; in 2003 with ‘GBR Challenge’, in 2007 with ‘Victory Challenge’ and most recently as a grinder on-board 34th America’s Cup Italian entry, ‘Prada Luna Rossa Challenge’. He has a multi-hull racing background, having competed in five Extreme Sailing Series and was crowned the 2009 Extreme Sailing Series Champion with Oman Sail. Another BAR sailor who came up through the ranks of the RYA Youth Programme, he was inspired by his sailing father, former RYA Director, Rod Carr.