Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Nutrition Plan

How do you maintain energy through 30wks of training and then through the final 140miles of swim, bike, run?

I've read conflicting points of view on dietary habits.  Some say a diet of 70% carbs/ 20% protein/ 10% fat vs. others that recommend 40/ 40/ 20.  Given that a love of carbohydrates runs in my DNA, I opted to follow the first recommendation.

Below are the general guidelines I followed for the first few weeks:
- 2500 to 3000 calories a day (depending on amount of training)
- 5 to 6 meals per day with about even calorie intake from each
- carbs from a mix of foods: oats, cous-cous, bulgar wheat,  rice, quinoa, lentils
- minimum 10 veg and 3 fruits per day
- the more color a meal has, the better
- limit all sweets (2 to 3 per month, I can only avoid brownies and all things peanut butter for so long!)

After a few weeks, my body said this isn't working, but I couldn't pinpoint what needed to change.

Just then, a friend introduced me to his rowing-mate, a sports nutritionist (perfect).  I popped by his office in central London for a consultation, and sure enough, we've made changes
- closer to 40/ 40/ 20 calorie intake
- work to optimize body comp (64kgs, 12.2% body fat, weight is fine but target below 10%)
- added supplements to improve overall health, efficiency at burning fat for fuel, recovery and aid body comp goals
-  introduction of Depleted State Training (DST)

I've been following the plan for about two weeks and while not 100% implemented yet, still have to get some of the supplements, I can feel and see improvements already.

     The base of endurance training/ racing is aerobic work, lower heart rate work where the body uses carbs/ fat and oxygen for energy.  Typically the body uses carbs and oxygen, more efficient, and fat and oxygen, less efficient and lower energy output.
     DST was developed to tap into the body's fat stores which are far more abundant relative to the amount of carbs packed away (certainly not enough carbs to last a race of 10hrs or more).  Depleted state  adaptation calls for training with decreased glycogen stores in the body (i.e. low level of carbs) forcing the body produce more energy from fat.  In the end, the body is able to produce a relatively higher amount of energy from fat in a more efficient manner which spares the use of carbs, and should help body comp goals.
     This is not something I follow everyday, only on the weekends when I have longer, lower heart rate sessions.  So no carbs on Fri and Sat nights, but high fat.  Avocados and full fat cheese!
DISCLAIMER: I and the nutritionist with whom I work are not promoting DST for anyone else.  DST should first be discussed with a qualified nutritionist/ coach before pursuing.

Next consult is on Mon, Feb 21st.  Will keep you updated on the results and any new ideas that come out of it.

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