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Eating to Train - Food as Fuel

December 12, 2017

Yes, it is nice to work hard and enjoy a treat every once in a while, but it is even nicer to work hard and enjoy results.​​

You'd be hard-pressed to find me working out without my heart rate monitor.  Connected to my big, bulky Polar A300 watch is a chest strap and bluetooth heart rate monitor, with which I can see my heartbeats per minute from my wrist at any given time during a training session.  This strap, which is less than comfortable and requires a strange pre-workout ritual of wetting the strap, the monitor and my chest beneath the bottom band of my sports bra before strapping it around myself and moving my sports bra over it to hold it in place, is the most important part of my training for two reasons:

 

One, it easily shows me what heart rate zone I am in so that I can adjust my training depending upon whether I am training in my aerobic or anaerobic zone (much more accurately than a wrist-based heart rate monitor like a FitBit could)

and

two, it counts, with great accuracy, the amount of calories I am burning during my training session.

 

At the end of a workout when I shut off my heart rate tracking, I am greeted with a screen that shows me the elapsed time, my calories burned, my heart rate average and heart rate maximum. After this, I immediately sync the watch with my phone and anxiously await the calories burned to come off of my total calories for the day in MyFitnessPal, my calorie counting app of choice.

On days when I had a particularly hard workout or multiple training sessions, I can burn upwards of 1,000 calories, and nothing makes me happier than seeing an abundance of room left in my day to eat whatever I want.  Some days, as a reward for working so hard, I would treat myself with Oreos, two bowls of cereal, a handful of pretzels and some banana "ice cream" with sprinkles. In that order. AFTER a full dinner.

 

With low energy levels, poor digestion, bad skin and a lack of any true progress (weight loss, change in body composition, increase in speed/strength, etc.) from my training, I realized something - I may have been staying within my calorie range each day, but I was not eating anything of any nutritional value. By depriving my body of the nutrients it needs to function after such grueling workouts, I was heading down a path toward injury and illness.

Yes, it is nice to work hard and enjoy a treat every once in a while, but it is even nicer to work hard and enjoy results. 
 

Once I started viewing food as fuel for my training, I got the results I was looking for.

 

Instead of coming home from a late-night spin class and devouring everything in sight, I started thinking about what was going to best fuel my morning weight lifting session, and prepping my lunch according to what foods would help my body recover the fastest.

 

Now, not only am I reaping the benefits of my training sessions (isn't it nice to work on your body and actually have it look better?), but I am able to train harder (thus better and faster results), recover faster (no more crazy soreness or days spent waddling around like a zombie penguin), have more energy, feel better and sleep better. All from deciding to skip the junk food, not because I "can't" have it, but because I choose to eat things with more nutritional value.

Are you ready to better your relationship with food?

Stop thinking about "calories" or "carbs" and start asking yourself  is this fuel or is this junk?

 

 

 

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