How many of us have said or thought, “I train to eat”? Probably a lot of us. We think exercise gives us the excuse to eat whatever we want. While we all deserve a splurge every now and then, we must be careful to not overindulge, especially if we want to perform well during training and on event day.
So what does our body need and how do we achieve improved athletic performance?
It’s all about metabolic efficiency. This simply means improving the body’s ability to utilize nutrients at the right time during training and on event day. Simply stated, it will allow the body to use carbohydrate and fat more efficiently.
Most of us love carbohydrates. Who doesn’t? But we tend to overindulge. This overindulgence of carbohydrates can lead to weight gain, as well as make it difficult to lose weight, and teaches our body to use carbohydrates as a primary energy source (and not fat).
Our body will use what we feed it. If we eat a diet large in carbohydrates, our body will primarily use carbohydrates as fuel. Carbohydrates are good sources of energy, we are not saying to completely cut them out, but there’s a great energy source we often miss out on – fat. If we eat more (healthy) fats, then we teach our body to use fat for energy. Fat provides more energy per kg than carbohydrates. (Note, this doesn’t mean to eat more fat than carbohydrates, rather to eat more fats in your diet).
Want to teach your body to use more of it’s fat stores for energy? Then follow these guidelines for improved athletic performance and metabolic efficiency.
Step 1: Eat healthy fats. Foods like dairy, meats, nuts, avocados, and oils are great sources of healthy fats. Fats from foods and stored body fat are excellent sources of energy.
Step 2: Eat healthy carbohydrates. It’s important to keep eating carbohydrates and not completely cut them out of your diet. Make an effort to reduce your intake of grains and favor fruits and vegetables. We don’t have to work hard to get carbohydrates in our diet, they are everywhere. We need to learn to be selective in the types of carbohydrates we eat on a daily basis. So that means reduce the intake of brownies, muffins, sugary cereals, etc., and favor the healthy carbohydrates – fruit and vegetables.
Step 3: Be patient. Diet changes take time to implement. It takes about 3 weeks or more to build a habit. As you make it a habit to favor healthy fats and eat more fruits and vegetables, monitor how you feel. In a short time you should discover you have more energy, feel better, and may have even lost a few inches!
Step 4: Give yourself ONE cheat day per week. It’s impossible to eat perfectly all the time. It’s impossible, really. Giving yourself one day per week to eat whatever you want will help you keep those cravings at bay. It’s when we cut them out completely that we overindulge and give up on our diet goals.
Step 5: Try this recipe!
We challenge you to give this a try! We would love to hear your feedback!Reference: Bob Seebohar, Author of Improved Metabolic Efficiency, 2009.