Why Todays Lunch Is Ruining Next Weeks Race
Having the 4 macronutrients, protein, fat, carbohydrate and water, together in a mixed diet not only keeps you healthy, but has so much to do with how well you train and race.
More fat equals more endurance
In recent studies examining the effects of diet on human and animal performance, scientists have found that an increase in dietary fat enhances aerobic capacity and endurance. Also the longer the exercise goes for the more benefit the diet had.
However there seemed to be no significant benefit for short high intensity efforts. Though increased carbohydrate intake slightly improved performance over the shorter duration.
A major downside to eating a high carbohydrate low fat diet…
was the increased production of lactic acid. The increase in lactic acid was not only during exercise but also at rest. This is put down to the idea that the body trains itself to use carbohydrate as the primary fuel source and in turn limits the bodies ability to utilize fat. So once the carbohydrate stores are depleted, it’s struggle time.
With high carbs come high risks
Studies have also found that high carbohydrate low fat diets result in increased risk of coronary heart disease. These diets increased the chance of low HDL (good cholesterol), high LDL (bad cholesterol) and elevated triglyceride levels.
There is still no definitive correlation between diet and health (theories are changing constantly), but for the time being, it is safest to stick to a balanced diet containing all 4 macro nutrients for performance and health.
Decreased testosterone levels have also been found to be a side effect of low fat diets.
Testosterone is a very important hormone that helps rebuild the tissue that has been broken down by exercise. When fat was increased in subjects’ diets, testosterone production also saw an increased. Eating fat in its natural state like in lean meats, plants, nuts, seeds, and natural oils appears to have no negative effects on health.
A lot of cultures live quite well on high fat diets based on these kinds of foods. The issue with the typical American diet is that most of the dietary fat is saturated, hydrogenated, altered, processed, or artificial. Eating fat is not a problem unless its chemical structure has been altered by food producers.
As with general health, the foods you eat a week before an event may have a direct effect on your performance on the day.
Don’t ruin your hard work in training with bad food
All those weeks of training for your target event, all that time and dedication you have put in, could be undermined by poor choices in food leading up to your race.
When making your final preparations for a target race, your performance may improve if you’re eating a moderate fat diet in the vicinity of 30% of total calories and by carbohydrate loading for two to three days before. On the morning of the race, a pre-race meal should include up to 200 calories for every hour until race start.
So, if you eat three hours before starting your warm up, you would be looking to consume no more than 600 calories. Most of the calories for events that take two hours or less should try to come from low to moderate GI carbohydrates. Small amounts of protein maybe included.
Endurance performance in longer events may benefit from including a bit more fat in this meal.
Periodization of Diet
The perfect diet for peak performance will vary from person to person much the same as the perfect training plan varies from athlete to athlete. Not everyone can just eat the same thing and the same amounts and get the same results.
What was available for our primal ancestors to eat for the last 100,000 years is important for what you should eat now. The bottom line is that you must work out what combination of food works best for you.
If you have never experimented with this, don’t automatically assume you have found it already.
You may be surprised at what benefits can be found when changes are made at the dinner table. Be sure to make diet changes gradually and allow at least three weeks for your body to adapt before making judgments based on how you feel and your performance in training.
It typically takes at least two weeks to adapt to any significant changes before seeing any kind of results. During this adaptation period, you may feel tired and under perform in training.
For this reason, it’s best to try diet changes very early in your season or after your target race is over.
Be aware that as you get older, changes may occur in your body’s chemistry, requiring additional changes to your diet. An optimum diet to enhance performance and recovery involves not only eating moderate amounts of macronutrients but also varying the mix of these foods throughout the year.
Protein should serve as the anchor for your diet and should stay fairly consistent throughout the year as fat and carbohydrate rise and fall alternatively.