It’s the New Year, and if you are like many of us, probably put a couple pounds on over the holidays and are now eager to start working it off. This is also the time of the year where you see a lot of “diets” popping up. Keto, Whole 30, etc. These are fantastic diets for quick weight loss, cleansing, or kick-starting a healthy change, however (IMO), completely not sustainable for the endurance athlete looking to improve performance AND lean out long term. Yes, we all want to lose weight fast, but what’s going to happen when your diet is done and you start introducing your typical ironman fuel again? I have tried it all- Keto, Gluten free, dairy free, long training sessions with zero nutrition, but I was recommended something else last summer which really helped improve my training sessions, speed up recovery and lean out prior to Kona. It’s called the Core Diet developed by QT2 Systems coach and founder Jesse Kropelnicki. It’s simple to follow and excellent for long term weight loss and health. I tweaked it a bit so if you are looking for the exact plan/facts, I would suggest looking it up or purchasing his book.
This is basically how it works:
Directly before, during and directly after training sessions is the most important part to fuel.... lots. Many of us, and I have been guilty of this too, think that by cutting calories around workouts will help us lose weight easier. Doing this will not only result in crappy training sessions, but you will more than likely over-eat or make poor food choices later on in the day when your metabolism isn’t burning as fast. (Think of your training sessions as a furnace. You’re working hard so you need to fuel it as much as possible to keep it going. Later on in the day, your furnace doesn’t need as much)
Within 2 hours of your first workout (I usually find one hour before is best), consume a meal that is high in carbs, low fat, with a bit of protein. Don’t skimp, but don’t make yourself overfull. For example: bagel or toast with small amount of nut butter and honey. My go to is oatmeal with 1/2 banana, and 1/2 scoop protein powder. About 300 cal.
During: This is where it took a bit of adaptation for me. Biking for example, I started with 325 cal/hr and was able to work my way up to 450/hr over a few weeks. Carbs and simple sugars. Running was less but still upwards of 300-350/hr. Key- make sure you are fuelling often... keep the blood sugar consistent. ie: drinking sports drink every 10min instead of a lot every 30min.
After: pay close attention to this one, especially if you want to drop a few pounds. Be sure to consume something, usually a recovery drink is best, with a 3:1 carb to protein ratio. 300-500cal. Then, your “recovery window” should be as long as your workout was (two hour session means a two hour window). This is where you eat good carbs (grains) and some protein. IF losing weight is your goal, remove this “window”, AFTER you consume your recovery drink. In theory, you should have consumed enough before and during your session to put yourself in a slight deficit, but not putting your body in a starvation mode. You will find that the more you can consume during, the less hungry you will be the rest of the day.
The rest of the day: this is where grains and sugars are cut out. Your diet should consist of fruits, veggies, lean meats and good fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, olive/coconut oil, etc.). Remember.... your furnace isn’t working has now, so there is no need to “fuel” it with simple carbs and sugars.
So.... carbs and sugars are GOOD around training sessions, and “bad” outside of this. These are your main source of fuel, and VERY IMPORTANT, but is it also important to not consume these and eat almost “keto-like”, for the rest of the day.