The Iditarod Effect
8 March 2009
The Iditarod is a long-range dog sled race in Alaska .
The latest winners have found that their dogs become stronger , less tired and more enduring on a diet of fat and long times running .
Instead of running them 6 hours on , 6 hours off (an anthropomorphic standard) , the winners ran them up to 14 hours at a stretch . They did not get tired after the first 2 hours , but became stronger . Google "Iditarod" to see .
How can this be ?
Dr Michael S Davis of Oklahoma State University , on behalf of DARPA , investigated . (The military would love this .)
It is theorized that a metabolic switch enables the dogs to utilize fats directly and directly excrete the byproducts , bypassing the normally more efficient sugar mechanisms .
It is not about efficiency . They run like hell all day , leaving a streak of valuable nutrients in their shit and urine . This is compensated from their diet . Eat faster than you excrete . The metabolic switch goes back to unicellular days .
The value to a cursorial raptor is obvious .
The switch uses the "push-down" storage mechanism evolved for fat cells . Breakdown products are simply encapsulated in fat envelopes and excreted via the digestive tract .
Another way of thinking of it is that tiredness (lactic acid , etc) is simply the body trying to be efficient in the usage of scarce resources . If resources are not scarce , it simply discards even usable remnants . But this switch is stubborn .
Carbohydrates are a poor man's diet .
This goes back at least 100 Myrs
See http://andreswhy.blogspot.com "Death of the Dinosaurs"
Most of the epigenetic and PNA switches are configured for oils or fats .
A dinosaur or pterosaur did not get tired . It just went on and on until it ran out of fuel.
One of the reasons they went extinct . They did not have to be efficient with so much surplus energy around .
Do humans have this ?
Of course . All mammals have . We even have a name a name for it : the Atkins diet . See previous posts .
By bypassing the carbohydrate-energy efficiency metabolism , diabetic problems are , well , bypassed . The body does not try to store surplus energy . It is excreted as fatty globules .
Thus , the worst thing a long-distance athlete can do is carbo-load . He is simply telling his body to be as efficient as possible . Get tired quickly . Get constipated (usually put down to nervousness before the big event , but actually just the body doing what a body has to do .)
Remember how the mechanism works . If there is sufficient fats around and no carbohydrates , the body does not try to be efficient . It simply encapsulates foreign matter in fatty globules and excretes them .
Heat and cold shock .
At first sight these seem dissimilar .
But the heat-shock chaperones depend on the garbage disposal of encapsulated rubbish to get rid of fragments that cannot be immediately be reprocessed .
Note vaseline .
From studies (see "The ice man cometh" in New Scientist of 21 Feb 2009) , the biggest drop in core temperature is after the person leaves the cold water and stops swimming . He switches from a wasteful fat-mechanism to an efficient carb-mechanism .
Oh well , nobody said it was smart .
So , if somebody is in shock , even blunt trauma shock , do not give them sugar water A good dose of oil is called for .
I would recommend that this is first tested before you try it in a life threatening situation .
Drug trauma .
The same mechanism would apply . Excretion of foreign molecules .
Chug a liter of fish oil . Cheaper and safer than snake oil .