Monday, August 6, 2012

Transition From Eating To Lose Weight To Fueling For Performance

Great post workout meal. Egg whites,
brown rice, spinach, tomatoes, feta cheese.
Many times my clients inspire me to write about certain topics.  This is one of them.  A lot of times people come to me after they have lost a significant amount of weight.  When people lose a lot of weight many times they want to take on a new challenge.  In many cases that is a triathlon or marathon. Many of these clients are currently at their goal weight or very close to it.  Some have lost significant weight.   In some cases people may have had an addiction to food when they we're overweight and they may have a very distorted view of food.  Some view food as the enemy or as what made them fat.  My goal is to get them to view food in a whole new way.  
When you train for a triathlon especially half ironman or full ironman you MUST fuel your body very different from when fuel for weight loss.  When training for endurance events each day you may have multiple workouts.  There are several days a week when I have a run and a swim scheduled.  How I eat before each of these workouts will sometimes be the difference between having an exceptional workout or a mediocre workout.  Here are some suggestions when fueling for performance:
  • Have a plan going into each day.  If you know you have two workouts scheduled have two pre-workout meals planned as well.  
  • Don't view carbohydrates as the enemy.  When trying to lose weight many people will limit their carbohydrate intake.  If you are eating good carbohydrates  from a non-processed source they will be the best energy source you can get and the best fuel for your training.
  • Zig-zag your calorie intake each day depending on your activity level.  Don't just stick with a 1500 or 2000 calorie diet.  Your calories should vary each day depending on how much you exercise.  
  • For activities longer than 90 minutes you need to have calories during your training.  
  • Get to know your body and what food works best for you before a workout.  
  • Don't be so obsessed with how many calories you burn during training. 
  • Keep a log of what you eat before each workout and document how you felt during that workout.  
  • Make breakfast your largest meal.  This is tricky if you workout first thing in the morning.  You don't want a lot of heavy food before a workout.  If you have an early morning workout have something light before.  After your workout have something like egg whites, brown rice and vegetables.  Before you could have:
    • Power bagel with peanut butter (maybe even a half of one)
    • Whole wheat english muffin with peanut butter and jelly
    • Oatmeal with some strawberries or blueberries
  • If you will workout in the evening make sure your lunch isn't too heavy or too late.  If you eat a heavy lunch late it will still be digesting by the time you have to workout.  This could have a negative impact on your performance.  It is best to have a light lunch such as chicken breast, brown rice and some vegetables.  About an  hour prior to your workout you can have a bar or 1/2 peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  
Eventually you will find what works best for you.  It is so important not to limit your calories too much.  Each time you eat think about when your next workout is and how what your eating will help you perform for that workout.  You can't view food as the enemy because now it will help you perform.  I suggest  people weigh themselves only once a week.  You could play with your calorie intake if you are gaining weight.  Stick with healthy foods and non-processed foods.  Avoid sugar except what you will get from natural sources like fruit.  The other sugar you will consume will be during workouts.  During long training runs and rides you will need some simple sugars.  For running I use cliff blocks or welches fruit snacks.  For biking I use cliff bars.  It is important during training to incorporate a balance of simple sugars and complex carbohydrates such as maltodextrin.  Your maltodextrin sources will typically be in your sports drink. 
If you fail to fuel your body when you are training for any endurance event you will likely fail to make it through that event.  If you do make it through the event then you will most likely not perform as well as you hoped to.  


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