We heard a seminar this past weekend about nutrition for triathletes. The seminar was by Bob Seebohar and the focus was metabolic efficiency. The idea is that you can train your body to use fat instead of carbohydrate. This idea goes against everything that we know about endurance training. What about carb loading? What about gels and drinks and bars? As with any new idea, it can be immediately disputed because its new. I really wanted to keep an open mind and give this idea a chance.
Last year, I started to train by heart rate - the idea being that if I train in the correct heart rate zone, my body will burn fat instead of carbohydrate and that will allow me to go longer without hitting "the wall". I trained this way all last season and I would say it was a success. I did many triathlons, a half ironman (7 hours of movement) and a marathon and did not hit the wall a single time. Sure my body was tired and my muscles ached, but I did not feel like I was running on an empty tank. This really made me want to know more about this idea of training your body to burn fat with your nutrition.
The theory involves periodizing your nutrition to match your training - eating to train instead of training to eat. I like this idea, but it kind of takes the fun out of saying "I ran 13 miles today, I can eat as many cupcakes as I want". So, during your base phase of training, when you are training in lower intensity zones, buring fat as fuel, you do not eat whole grains...at all. You get your carbs from fruits and veggies. The, as your intensity increases during the next phases of training, you add back some whole graings but just around your training, not the rest of the day. You also add in some supplements - gels/bars/etc during your runs/rides, etc.
Most issues in Ironman come from intestinal distress - vomitting, bloating, etc. I want to do whatever I can to avoid these things, so we decided to give this new way of thinking about nutrition a shot.
On Monday, we started to put this into practice. My next few blogs will have my meals for the last two days and some feedback. It is an interesting experiment.
I must say that I am not recommending this type of diet for everyone. I still believe that complex carbs play a very important role in your diet. We are trying this type of diet out as a way to improve our performance for a specific event. This is just an experiment, we'll see how it goes....