Last week I met with a nutritionist specializing in endurance athletes to dial in on my fuel intake before Ironman Arizona. Over past week I've had a chance to put my new fueling plan into practice.
I realized there were three main problems with my daily routine: I was not eating often enough, not eating soon enough after morning workouts and not getting nearly enough fat or calories. This past week I have been working on...
1. Eating a small, nutritious meal every 2 to 2 1/2 hours
I learned that not eating for greater than 3 hours is the equivalent of "metabolic starving". I've almost cut my potion sizes in half and now eat almost twice as often as I did in the past. With the mini-meal portion size being much smaller than a typical meal, you are definitely ready for the next meal within the 2-3 hour time range!
2. Eating IMMEDIATELY after a workout.
This is definitely my biggest challenge! After an intense workout, the muscles fibers use protein and carbs that aid in faster recovery. You already know that. I already know that. But rushing to work and refueling your body don't always go hand in hand unless I plan ahead of time. Also, consuming calories sooner in the day helps to prevent creating a calorie deficit later in the day that leads to eating too much too late in the evening.
Eating EARLY enough and OFTEN enough levels out my energy throughout the day. Instead of needing caffeine in the late afternoon, I've ditched the 'Diet Coke between 3-4PM" habit. For the most part.
There is a HUGE difference in my recovery after starting to supplement with BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids) right after a morning training session and Magnesium in the evenings.
3. Consuming the correct amount of calories
Before the consult, I was not eating enough calories, fat or carbs to maximize metabolic efficiency. I prevented my metabolism from burning at a higher rate by eating 300-500 calories less than my body needed. I eat the majority of carbs in the morning, healthy fats in the late morning to early afternoon for satiety, and spread protein intake throughout the day.
At the start of the appointment I took an RMR test. Knowing my Resting Metabolic Rate, or how many calories my body burns on a daily basis, was crucial for meal prep & planning. I was glad to finally know the correct calorie range, the right protein:carb:fat ratio and gain an understanding of the correct times to eat certain foods during the day.
Example Day #1
Meal 1: Post-Workout Recovery Shake: 1 & 1/2 scoops whey protein powder, 1/2 cup almond milk and PB2 (Powdered Peanut Butter)
Meal 2: Avocado toast w/ 1/4 medium avocado, 1 egg, 2 egg whites & 1 slice wheat toast
Meal 3: Quest Bar
Meal 4: Frozen Banana w/ 1 tbsp Natural peanut butter mixed w/ 2 Tbsp. PB2 & 1/2 scoop Whey Protein Powder
Meal 5: 1 Cup Carrots w/ 2 tbsp Edamame Hummus & half mango
Meal 6: 4 oz 90% lean Bison, kale & spinach w/ 1/3 large sweet potato
Meal 7: Greek yogurt w/ 1/2 scoop whey or casein protein powder