Game Changer pt 2 – Preparation for the big dance
Weeks out from my first Ironman, and it’s starting to feel real. As my training has ramped up, I’ve noticed that my body isn’t responding quite the way I expected it to at this point. When I first became dizzy during a casual Saturday jog with my wife, I thought, perhaps I’d overtrained during the course of a tough week.
The truth was that it was time to start getting serious about my diet. There wasn’t anything necessarily unhealthy about what I was eating, it just wasn’t right for an endurance athlete. I needed to break free of the traditional high protein mindset I’d been trained to believe is best. I had to accept that I’m no longer training for muscle growth.
What I needed was FAT.
An Ironman competitor burns an estimated 7,000-10,000 calories over the course of a 140.6 mile (226.3 km) race. There are many thousands more burned in training with 10 hours+ training most weeks. Trying to replace those calories with a high protein diet just doesn’t cut it.
Excerpt from Ironman.com:
“Athletes who don’t shy away from fat, especially unsaturated fats, benefit from essential fatty acids (EFAs) called omega 3 (alpha linolenic) and omega 6 (alpha linoleic). Omega 3’s are found in the oils of flaxseed, walnut, and fish whereas omega-6’s are found in the oils of corn, soy, canola, safflower and sunflower.
The days when fat was considered a forbidden nutrient have been numbered. The latest thinking is that a diet rich in plant-based fats may reduce inflammation, lower disease risk, and aid recovery from sport. In addition, consuming a higher fat diet for 10 days prior to implementing a carbo-loading protocol before IRONMAN race day or some key training sessions may help initiate a favorable response in which the athlete is able to increase fat usage, thereby sparing muscle glycogen and enhancing endurance.”
As mentioned the days of fat being the enemy are thankfully coming to an end. I know now more than ever just how important they can be to a healthy diet.