It is very important to determine your goal. Is it performance or weight loss? Before we go any further, let me define “performance.” For the purpose of this blog post, performance means any goal that requires you to run (or lift, swim, bike, row, etc.) further or faster than you currently do during the course of a normal week. This would apply to anyone that is training for a walk-a-thon to a marathon or even someone going to the gym and looking to lift more weight or cycle longer in spin class.
Are you currently (or thinking about) training?
So, are you currently (or thinking about) training for a running event, triathlon or bike ride? Or maybe even one of those obstacle races? If so, fantastic! Training for an event can be a great motivator to start and maintain a workout routine. However, far too often I hear people say that they are training for a particular event as a way to lose weight. What’s wrong with that you ask? Let’s start with what happens when you work out.
After a workout, the body signals for repair and growth of those muscle fibers
Challenging bouts of exercise, like those that boost performance, cause trauma to the proteins in working muscles. After a workout, the body signals for repair and growth of those muscle fibers so they get bigger and stronger for the next workout. In order for this process to take place, however, there needs to be enough protein (and the right kinds) coming into the body through nutrition.
The primary challenge to losing weight when you exercise is muscle growth
So the primary challenge to losing weight when you exercise is muscle growth. This is why so many people experience weight gain when they first begin exercising or try a new workout routine. The body is developing muscle faster than it is burning body fat. Now don’t get me wrong, this is good weight gain! Muscle is active tissue that burns calories; increasing muscle mass increases daily caloric burn (even at rest). Not to mention that good functional strength (the ability to lift using your legs and not your back) comes from good muscle strength. So in the long run, this increase in muscle will pay dividends.
Burning more calories can lead to an increase in appetite
A secondary challenge to weight loss is hunger. The body is a smart machine that likes to maintain its current course, so burning more calories can lead to an increase in appetite. This is obviously important for ensuring the nutritional support for proper muscle growth. But depending on the individual and activity, the caloric needs to support exercise may be counter to the caloric needs for weight loss.
A low carbohydrate diet can support an endurance adventure and can even aid your performance
But please don’t let this scare you from attempting a training challenge. Most people can benefit from adding 1-2 protein boxes on workout days to help prevent muscle loss (again the total can vary based on the person and activity). A low carbohydrate diet can support an endurance adventure and can even aid your performance.
Last but not least, have a goal and go for it. Because… sometimes the reward is found in the journey. Below are two great fueling options:
Apple and Almond Butter
To help give you a boost before your morning workout, try this snack: Apple and Almond Butter. Some claim that a morning apple can be as effective as a cup of coffee. Add the almond butter for some healthy protein and fat (and you never eat a naked carb).
Small Apple (1C) + ½ tablespoon almond butter (1P)
Turkey-Avocado Lettuce Wraps
You’re already cramming the workout into your busy schedule, so these are quick and easy. Use a full leaf of romaine lettuce and a couple slices of turkey and avocado. Boom, quick and easy food you can eat on the go! Note: Add some mustard or hot sauce to spice things up (both are on your Free Foods list).
Lettuce (free) + 2 oz. turkey slices (2P) + ¼ avocado (1C)