Skeptical about what I’m about to say, a little too good to be true? I know, honestly I would be thinking the same thing but stay with me.
I remember a few years back I was training for the Rock Roll Marathon, not just to finish but also to beat my previous PR. I was so focused on this number; I wanted to control everything I could to make sure I reached my goal. One area I kept tight reins on was my nutrition, I wanted to avoid any weight gain out of fear it would slow me down (this is a whole other blog post).
I would do my morning runs fasted, eat a light breakfast, and have salad at lunch. But by the afternoon I was so hungry I would find myself snacking all the way up to dinner. I would try to hold off as long as possible before fueling during long runs to save calories or skip the post workout recovery meal. My training suffered and my weight didn’t change, I actually gained ~5lbs, when in my mind I should have lost weight.
Looking back now it’s obvious, the reasons I didn’t become leaner are:
- Under fueling during the day led to cravings and overeating later.
- Skipping the pre and post workout snacks likely increased my stress hormones, making fat loss more difficult and slowed my recovery.
- Without enough gas in the tank I couldn’t push as hard during workouts that called for higher intensity.
I’ve seen similar versions of this story with other active women I’ve worked with. They’re usually frustrated because overall they eat really well, train everyday, but their body isn’t reflecting that. Some are embarrassed because they weigh more and eat less than their non-active friends or family.
So if you can relate to this and are struggling with weight loss or if you want to recover quicker and perform better after workouts follow these tips.
- Front load your calories, think of it as an upside down triangle. Have a good breakfast that includes protein, complex carbs, healthy fat, and plants (if you want bonus points). Same thing at lunch, salads are great but make them a meal by adding 3-4 oz of lean protein, a couple servings of carbohydrate, and healthy fat.
- Avoid doing early morning workouts on empty; eat a small snack like a banana, low fiber cereal, etc.
- Be a smart snacker, always have a post workout snack or meal after intense workouts. For a complete guide sign up at the top of this post and I’ll send it to you.
- If training sessions are going to be >90 minutes make sure you take fuel with you. This will not only improve performance (which also means more calories burned) but you’ll have fewer cravings later on in the day.
If you’re a pretty active person think of eating split into two categories: Daily nutrition and Training nutrition. You’re daily nutrition is an area can modify to support weight loss but you’re training nutrition should focus on fueling and supporting that track workout or long bike ride. So if you’ve been struggling with the scale, take a look at how you’re eating around and during workouts. Is there one area you can tweak so you’re eating more, weighing less, and training harder?