Back in February I wrote a blog post about a 3-week low sugar experiment that 31 runners participated in. Didn’t read it? It is a must read for the epic results and ah ha moments. Just return to the blog section of www.runwithgina.com to check it out.
As mentioned in the low sugar blog, the biggest ah ha moment for me was that many of the runners were eating like dieters and not athletes. The bottom line is, if you want to perform your best, your nutrition needs as much attention as your run training. As far as nutrition goes, I believe some recreational runners have fear based thinking. The fear of gaining weight, so they don’t eat appropriately for their level of activity. Many out of shape or overweight individuals will take up running as a way to lose or maintain weight loss and maybe it works for a minute, but if you chronically have higher energy output (exercise) and chronically lower energy in (calories), your body will get out of whack and the weight loss plateaus or like me when I trained for my first marathon, gain weight. You will also notice performance decrements after a while too. I gained 10 pounds when training for my first marathon, yikes! It was not muscle weight, as I have pictures to prove it.
The runners in my 3-week low sugar experiment were excited to move onto a second, longer experiment with all the improvements in objective variables; decrease in scale weight and inches off the hips/waist and equally important, subjective variables; improved sleep, clearer skin, less joint pain, no heart burn, less sugar cravings, less bloat, and less fatigue.
The second experiment was an 8-week experiment where each participant would have a goal of the same macronutrient profile. However, each runner’s calorie needs were calculated based on their age, sex, height, weight, and ACTIVITY level using the Mifflin-St.Jeor equation. When the numbers were crunched, the backlash began, and the excitement waned away. One participant felt the calories were too low compared to what she typically consumes. Many and quite honestly, I lost count, but let’s just say everyone that chose to reach out to me regarding their calories told me it was too high compared to what they typically consume. Why was this a problem? Fear based thinking…I don’t want to gain weight. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, after spending I don’t know how much time crunching numbers for 34 participants, most of them chose not to fully participate from the get-go. With that, I cannot give the best synopsis of the experiment over a larger sample size.
What can I tell you? During this experiment, I asked the participants to take pictures so we could see body composition changes. Five participants did and we did indeed see body composition changes. This is a shift in fat and muscle. The scale can remain the same even if you lose fat, due to a gain in lean muscle mass. This was one of the big lessons of this experiment. You can eat more, when your body requires more, and you will not gain weight back that you previously lost. The participants also took part in this study during ever increasing training mileage and didn’t miss training to fatigue or under recovery, which is where under fueling would fall.
If you participate in a sport at a recreational level and want to be the best you can possibly be, this requires a mindset shift not only with appropriately loaded training, but with fueling your body like an athlete. We live in a time when there is an abundance of information literally at our finger tips. As a healthcare provider, I frequently have listened to consumers (of information) tell me, “I read” or “I heard” this and that and it couldn’t be farther from the truth or a twist on the truth. One of my runners once told me, “Everything you tell me is completely different than what everyone else has ever told me”. How did that make me feel? It made me feel proud quite honestly. I don’t coach by tradition or trends. I coach by science and with it comes a feeling of pride and integrity. Do you want someone to invest in you the way you should invest in yourself? Check out the services section of www.runwithgina.com
P.S. I was going to include some of the photos of the participants (as I have been given permission), but I think I will leave it up to them to share if they choose when they share this blog post across social media.