Cold and high altitude, Casiraghi: “This is how Barmasse nourishes himself for his businesses”

The nutritionist and triathlete talks about the alienation of the mountaineer in the most extreme feats: isotonic sport gel, freeze-dried food and recovery drink

Luca Castaldini

When in 2017 Hervè Barmasse climbed his first 8000m peak (the Shisha Pangma) in the record time of 13 hours, on his return he explained that this performance was due to the specialization achieved in the preparation program. In one of the aspects that makes it up, namely nutrition, the Aosta Valley mountaineer has been followed for years by Elena Casiraghi, an expert in nutrition and sports integration at Equipe Enervit.

Casiraghi, how did your collaboration start?

Starting to talk about training and nutrition, we both understood that it was essential to add more and more scientific method to the world of mountaineering. Nutrition can support the various stages of preparation and reduce the risk of stress injuries. We also understood how important it was to plan training towards the sporting goal, in his case an expedition.

What dietary strategy did you recommend and recommend?

A balanced diet that takes into account the protein requirements according to the training period. They should be divided into meals and snacks, with a choice of vegetables as well. The right amount of carbohydrates from whole grains and good fats from extra virgin olive oil and omega 3 to reduce the risk of stress injuries.

In view of an expedition like the current one on Nanga Parbat, for example, when does Barmasse’s diet begin, why and when does it change, if it changes?

The power supply does not change. Or rather, the foods on the plate are always the same and support the training stimuli. However, greater attention is paid to the integration of vitamin C, cocoa flavanols and omega 3 fatty acids to favor the body’s adaptations to altitude and low temperatures. With an eye to maintaining, as always, the state of hydration.

What precautions must a mountaineer observe in the acclimatization phase and the first test climbs?

Altitude and temperature are in themselves already two important stimuli for the organism. Approaching the departure, already in the mountains of the house we go to sleep at high altitude, so as to begin to adapt the body to the demands of the expedition. It also reduces the volume of training and focuses on its quality, maintaining the same frequency of the sessions. It is called the tapering phase.

What is the “menu” at base camp, taking into account the logistical difficulties?

There Hervè made sure to bring home food, Italian: pasta, organic extra virgin olive oil. And take care of the protein intake. This happens more easily mainly thanks to the protein powders. Also because the altitude tends to reduce the perception of hunger, the risk is to significantly lose lean mass.

Barmasse assumes three days for the ascent of the Rupal (the third for the descent), at worst five (3 + 2). What should he have in his backpack to feed himself?

The goal is to be as light as possible but, at the same time, equipped with everything you need for sustenance. This is why sports supplements are essential in this phase: they guarantee the lightness of the backpack and at the same time the right energy. The Hervé Nutrition System provides for the integration of an isotonic sport gel every 100 minutes and an R2 recovery drink blend to be sipped during; as soon as the break begins, it takes wp recovery proteins which are rich in BCAAs to promote recovery. Followed by freeze-dried food and herbal teas to conserve heat.

Once the expedition is over, when can a mountaineer’s diet return to that of his normal life?

Like all athletes, mountaineers are subject to “selective hunger”. It is an instinct thanks to which the body leads us to desire a food rich in substances that we lack. There is a desire for fresh foods such as vegetables and fruit, yogurt and at the same time to find some foods that satisfy the palate such as pizza or rustic bread. The perception upon returning is that everything is better. Finally, attention must be paid to supporting the hormonal response after the long period of stress linked to altitude and low temperatures. In this the supplementation of omega 3 type RX, pure and certified, assumes a strategic role.

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Cold and high altitude, Casiraghi: “This is how Barmasse nourishes himself for his businesses”