You should have read the “Beginning the conversation on NUTRITION” article now. If you haven’t, check it out HERE
The intent with this conversation is to help you improve your diet, improve your health, improve you performance, and help you understand the differences between eating for health versus eating for performance. To give yourself the best chance of reaping the rewards of this, you need to understand and be dedicated to the diet philosophy AND you need to be dedicated to the prescribed training; they compliment each other.
Last month on our ECo System Facebook page, I challenged you with one goal: limit your carbohydrate intake to under 150 grams (that’s 600 Calories) per day. Were you able to do this?
The philosophy behind this is that we want our bodies to be less reliant on sugar for fuel and more reliant on fat during rest and during exercise. This won’t happen if you continue to shovel sugar (and lots of carbohydrates) into your system.
You won’t feel immediate positive results! It takes about 3 weeks to adapt to this and begin to thrive. It is easy to give up and go back to eating the way you were, but trust me, the body adapts.
That said, this type of eating isn’t right for everyone, and if it is not something you want to try or if you tried it and didn’t like limiting your carbohydrate intake to under 150 grams, we can develop a different plan for you.
But… If you WERE able to keep the carbs under 150 grams last month and are ready to take it to the next stage, then read on!
The general dietary guidelines for February are illustrated in the picture above:
Protein: Average .7 – 1 gram per pound of lean body mass/day – depending on activity levels (more at times is fine). Aim for ~20-30 grams of protein 4 to 5 times throughout the day, especially in the morning, after a workout, and before bed. This helps with muscle protein synthesis and provides necessary substrates for gluconeogenesis (making new glucose). Be careful with this… Don’t overeat protein… this can counter the effects of a low carbohydrate diet since protein can be turned into glucose.
Carbs: Our goal this month is to drive your total carbohydrate intake to around 50 grams of NON-FIBER carbs (fiber carbs are not counted in this total). So, to estimate the number of grams of carbohydrates you eat, look at the nutrition label on a food item. Subtract “Dietary Fiber” from “Total Carbohydrates” and you have your net carb intake for that item. Try to limit “Sugar” to close to ZERO on your food items.
Before, during, and after heavy exercises sessions, we can increase carb intake as needed to replace glycogen stores. Carbohydrate TIMING is important. Sugar during and after LONG sessions (>1 hour) are OK. *more on carbohydrate TIMING below.
Fat: Enjoy freely but sensibly for balance of caloric needs and high dietary satisfaction levels. When we talk about healthy dietary fats, we are referring to natural, unprocessed fat. These fats are found in real foods such as seeds, nuts, butter, olives, avocado, and coconut oil. Stay away from harmful fats like processed vegetable oils and AVOID TRANS FATS AT ALL COSTS!!!
Follow these guidelines and you’ll do great.
Now… we are TRAINING. We are training every day. And we burn more calories than the general population. Folks in our situation need to strategically periodize their diet. So, here is where it gets a little tricky…
We perform best and at our highest capacity when we burn carbohydrate (glucose). High intensity exercise is anaerobic (meaning ‘without oxygen’), and anaerobic metabolism relies on glucose. So, to perform best at your High Intensity Training (HIT) sessions, we need glucose. Your power, endurance, and total training effect will be compromised if you try to do HIT session in a carbohydrate-deprived state. This is a fact.
So, it is seems like a paradox to on one hand hear that we need to eat low carbohydrates for health and to ultimately enhance our endurance performance and on the other hand hear that we perform our best at high intensity by burning glucose. How can we resolve this paradox?
Remember that ‘endurance’ activity is by definition, mostly aerobic, hence maximizing fat utilization is important. BUT folks that promote the low carbohydrate philosophy for maximum athletic performance are missing a crucial part of the story!
It is necessary to incorporate HIT into the training program to be the best endurance athlete we can be. To maximize the HIT sessions (and maximize the training program as a whole), we need to make the HIT sessions the highest quality we can. Hence, adding carbohydrate into the training diet specifically timed with the HIT sessions enhances the training effect and your overall endurance performance.
So, what are YOU supposed to do? Most of our training sessions this month are ‘aerobic’ (conversational, easy, mellow…), however we will have a couple of high intensity training (HIT) sessions every week. We need to be sure to get the maximum effect from the HIT sessions. TIMING the carbohydrate with high intensity exercise is critical.
Here are my guidelines for using carbohydrate (glucose) for fuel during HIT sessions.
Immediately before the session: ~25 grams (100 Calories) Carbohydrate (1 gel or ~2/3 eGel) *some people don’t handle this well, so try it and see if it works for you.
If the session is over 30 minutes, take in ~25g CHO every 30 minutes throughout
Eat a carbohydrate-rich meal/snack within 30 minutes of the HIT session
After 30 minutes, go back to eating by the “low carbohydrate” guidelines listed above.
That was some heavy stuff, and you may need to read and re-read the information above many times. Ask questions on the ECo System Facebook page and we will keep the discussion going.