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Endurance Athletes: Fat is Your Friend

For long distance endurance training/races, there are multiple reasons to consider the switch from sugar-fueling to fat-fueling:

  • Leaner Body Composition.  Stabilizing blood sugar levels by increasing dietary fat and reducing sugar intake will help to balance hormones and regulate appetite (less fueling needed during training/races). Managing

    Smashed Avocado with Spices

    insulin levels reduces the risk of excess insulin that will be converted to adipose (fat) tissue in the body, resulting in a lower body weight. This process improves power-to-weight ratio, which may aid in faster hill climbing – both on the bike or on a run.

  • Sustained Long-Distance Performance.  Visualize two gas tanks. The “sugar tank” has 2,000 available calories for use and the “fat tank” has 40,000 calories for use. Which would you rather have? Fat, of course. Even the leanest athlete has 20x times the carbohydrate (sugar) storage in their body available. The challenge is tapping into this fat tank. It can take several weeks or months for an athlete to train their body to burn fat as their primary fuel source.
  • Less reactive oxygen species.  Sugar can be toxic to the body, especially in large doses, and can generate a large amount of ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) which inhibits cellular function. Cellular function is integral to our body’s functioning correctly, as cells are responsible for all communication and can affect athletic performance.  
  • Increased Serotonin Levels.  Including healthy fat in your diet can improve mood, lend to more happiness and provide a sharp, focused mind-set during long training periods. Recent research is showing naturally occurring saturated fats boost mood and cognitive abilities.

How do you become “fat adapted”?

You can go one of two ways: immediate clean-out of all sugars in diet (including natural fructose found in fruits) or gradual reduction of sugars. If you decide to completely remove sugars from your diet overnight, you may experience a slight dip in immediate performance as you implement these dietary changes, however, long-term benefits will be had. It may be necessary to consult with a sports nutritionist to review sodium, vitamin, & mineral levels, as these factors can impact your journey to optimally utilize fat stores in your training.

What are sample snacks/meals for a “fat adapted” athlete?

         Smashed Avocado topped with..

  • 1 Tbsp. of Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp. Unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tsp. Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds

    Scrambled Eggs with Garlic

  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 tsp. Heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp. Ghee or Grass-fed Butter
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • Sea salt & pepper, to taste

    Directions:

          Beat eggs, cream, sea salt and pepper in a small bowl until well-blended.

          Heat ghee/butter in a frying pan.

         Add garlic and saute for 1 min.

         Pour egg mixture into pan.

         Continue lifting and folding eggs, until thickened.

         Remove from pan.

         Enjoy!

 

         Baked Salmon

  • 3-4 oz piece of wild salmon
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Sea salt & pepper, to taste

          Directions:

          Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

          Season salmon with salt, pepper and top with crushed garlic.

          Bake salmon for 12-15 minutes. (You should be able to easily flake salmon with a fork.)

          Serve with a side salad or veggies.

          Enjoy!

Additional Resources:

Dr. Phil Maffetone

Volek and Phinney

 

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