A question from Twitter friend (I don't like the word "follower") Justin A. "@itsFLAGSHIP
"@muddyorbloody With all the training you do, do you find it difficult to get the caloric intake you need to fuel yourself? Have any tips? "
There is a common assumption from people around me that all I do is eat and a misconception in the notion that I'll eat anything or that I try to eat as much as possible.
I'll elaborate further down but here's the snack sized version of my post:
1. I eat every hour or so
2. I eat very small portions
3. I eat for quality not quantity even after workouts
4. It's all relative (Your goals, training, physique and other factors should guide you.)
I'm not a trained athlete. I'm a guy who trains like an athlete and I don't have a coach so I have made and often continue to make mistakes along the way. Up until a few months ago I was operating under the assumption that because I trained so hard I needed to eat hard too. I would eat 5-6 full sized meals a day and during training runs I wouldn't pay much attention to caloric intake. For the most part I was fine with it because I would train in the morning and then eat as much as I could throughout the day hoping that I would heal up in time for the next days' training session. I found that during my races I would bog down after a few miles and no matter how many energy packets I would suck down, how much cargo drink I would consume I couldn't go faster.
So I went back reevaluated everything from the sleep habits, training sessions and diet. I was lucky enough to gain support from Hammer Nutrition and they opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking about nutrition and calories during training, races, recovery and the occasional day off. (Yes I do rest every once in a while!)
Hammer suggests a lower caloric intake than one may think during races and periods of extended exercise. They believe that it is better on the body to give it an amount of food it can handle processing than to overwhelm it. Hammer provides a ton of knowledge on how to fuel during training or a race and what kinds of fuel work best.
Every day I start my day with a cup of hot water and fresh lemon juice. It doesn't matter if it's a day off, a day of training or there is a race. This is how I wake my system up.
I work a real job so I have to get up pretty early to train for an hour or more so I won't eat or at the very most I'll have toast with honey. I find that when I eat too much and don't give it enough time to digest I feel heavy and if the training session is short it doesn't make sense to me so I just work off of the energy I have stored up.
Later that night during the work week I'll train again for about 2 hours. I try to begin my prep about 2 hours before I get out of the office which means I am eating energy packed foods, hydrating and taking any supplements I might be using. After my workout it is usually getting pretty late and I try not to eat after 8pm so I will consume Recoverite (by Hammer) and have a bowl of rice with veggies, or scrambled eggs, a recovery bar or even a small bowl of cereal. Just not too much too later because it keeps your body from fully resting and recovering during the night. Nobody wants to work the night shift!
On weekends It changes a bit because I have more time so I will eat breakfast before training and will go out for about 4-5 hours and do 2-3 different things snacking, refueling in-between.
I eat small power packed meals often because I find that it keeps my energy level consistent through the day.
See I am a runner first an foremost and so I am not concerned with bulking up but I am concerned with getting stronger so that means I eat high quality foods packed with protein and vital nutrients. I make sure I recover properly and take advantage of the effort I put into my workouts to realize the gains I want to make. I don't eat meat, I don't drink alcohol, I stay away from simple sugars and I get plenty of rest. Coupled with a solid diet I am able to go further with my training which translates into results. Now this is not to say I don't enjoy the occasional strip of bacon, or put syrup on my pancakes every now and then but it's the foundation for the way I live and train.
I take in between 3500-4000 calories a day spread out over 16 hours which breaks down to 200-250 calories an hour. It's more of a guideline than a rule but I rarely ever feel stuffed, bloated and tired from eating.
I'm not qualified to say any of this is based on science as I am just a dude working at a tech company in Southern California. I just wanted to share what I have found works for me because I get asked.
TIP: Start experimenting cooking with power foods. I made a lasagna on Sunday with all organic ingredients. I have been eating it all week for lunch and not only did it save me coin it's healthy and tastes freakin awesome. I don't know why lasagna tastes better on the second and third days. It's like pizza the next day.
Things I am often stocked up on: kale, bananas, sweet potatoes, avocados, brown rice, spinach, apples, almonds, almond butter, honey, flax bread, carrots, other veggies, pasta, quinoa, eggs. I like to make my own pizzas, cookies and breads because I know what goes into them.
Supplements: Hammer bars and their vegan recovery bars, HEED, Recoverite
Let me know what you're training for.
Thanks for reading.
note: I am sponsored by Hammer. I use their products not because I rep them but because they work. If they didn't I wouldn't!